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Reunification Case Study III: An alternative to a solicitor

In the previous two posts on the theme of re-unification and re-connection, we showcased some of the expertise of the children’s social work team by focusing on the case study of Will and his son Zac.

Complementing and enabling this work, by helping to remove the legal barriers erected by the alienating parent, was one of our network of McKenzie Friends, a much more cost-effective alternative to using a solicitor and a lot less daunting than representing yourself in court.

In this blog, Amanda outlines the nature of her interaction with Will and his son that paved the way for the reunification of father and son:

I became McKenzie Friend for Will after, disillusioned and around £30k less well off, he found himself needing to apply for enforcement.

He was referred to me and we met so that I could hear what had happened in his case. His 6 year old son Zac was living hundreds of miles away, following separation, and he had literally run out of money to deal with the relentless obstructions that the mother was placing in the way of their relationship.

At our first meeting, I viewed his paperwork and heard the story in his words. I could hear that there were most certainly elements of alienation here. When a parent has to return to Court time and time again, despite Court Orders, that is a big clue and whilst I had no criticism of the work that Solicitors had done for Will and Zac to date, it always concerns me when parents are “forced” to spend tens of thousands just to get Court Orders to spend time with their children with no guarantee of enforcement. Will had the money, and could have continued to pay for representation.

What about all the thousands of parents that don’t. Who helps them?

In any case, Will had decided that he wanted to give self-representation a go. And so we made the application, and forged onwards.  A good Mckenzie Friend will give loads of support and advice for free, which when dealing with high conflict or alienation cases, can be invaluable, and so we talked often and at length about what to do and what we needed to be asking the Court for.

It was very clear from the outset that the mother in this case was not going to comply with the existing Order, and we immediately asked the Court to appoint a Guardian under Rule 16.4, which they did. This then led to various interventions, including a third party organisation called Core Assets, attempting to work with the family.

They made a few attempts to work with Zac, whom the mother said had suddenly become afraid of his father (this had been said before), due to a whole host of allegations which included things that had happened when the child was very young (and had previously been dealt with by the Court and Cafcass), and new allegations, such as ridiculous assertions that Will had eaten the child’s food, and had returned him muddy and wet.

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It was observed by Core Assets that the mother would not leave Zac for them to hand him over to Will, and at one stage she was overheard telling him quietly that he “didn’t have to go.”

This is something we see time and again, the coercive control and manipulation of little minds.

At one very memorable meeting, with the Guardian, Core Assets, the mother and the mother’s partner, the hostility towards the father was palpable from both the mother and her new partner and it was at that stage that Core Assets said that there was nothing they could do, that the child was simply too anxious and mother too implacably hostile to work with.

At the next hearing, we made a Part 25 Application, for a report by a psychologist, and were lucky enough to get our preferred expert. Navigating such applications as a litigant in person is never easy, and we needed the support of both the Guardian and the mother’s solicitor to get this done and again I cannot stress as the financial burden was Will’s alone. Had he not had those available funds (in the region of £6,000) I am unsure that he would be spending time with Zac to this day.

The expert report was amazingly detailed and clearly identified alienation, along with a recommended action plan which included reunification work which then paved the way for us to further propose an Independent Social Worker for  to carry out the action plan.

Our preference was to use Alison (who features earlier), knowing how experienced she was in cases like this, but the Guardian was cautious due to the distance between her and the case. Again, the father’s willingness and ability to fund this work and cover the majority of the cost ensured that he secured Alison’s support.

As a McKenzie Friend, this case was one of my longest running, with proceedings from Enforcement Application to conclusion lasting just over 2 years. I continue to support Will, and he will call for advice, guidance and coaching on all aspects of co-parenting which I give for free, and currently things continue to go well for him and Zac.

I certainly hope we never see a return to Court.

I must stress that there are many, many parents that I work for as a McKenzie Friend who do not have the money to pay for my minimal fees, let alone a solicitor or a barrister and for whom the costs associated with a Part 25 Application such as the one Will made would be completely unaffordable.

It is one of the absolute scandals of our age that people are denied justice and a relationship with their children as a consequence of financial hardship, especially when this has been caused by the divorce process itself.

We hope we are able to provide a much more affordable and cost-effective alternative to trying to deal with alienation all alone.


Please Note:  The issues we deal with in this blog are distressing. If you feel you need support over and above the resources available, we will gladly refer readers to professionals within our team, such as those mentioned, who can help deliver results and who operate in line with our core principles. 

We are also more than happy to feature quality content by writers. Any wish to remain anonymous will be respected as you will observe.

 

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Ten Steps to End Parental Alienation

It has been well over a year since the CEO of Cafcass, Anthony Douglas, openly acknowledged that his organisation recognised the existence of Parental Alienation or PA and were taking steps to adapt their internal processes, procedures and staff protocols and training to help address it.

At the start of the Summer, I composed a letter with a select group of well-informed parents, requesting an urgent update and progress.

We were sent a polite, but clearly “holding” reply, although we were assured that our suggestions would be factored into the improvement work.

Since then we have seen little practical change. We have learned that Anthony Douglas intends to retire in March yet no commitment has been made regarding the outstanding work. Although worryingly, it has been suggested by certain commentators, that people see the change work taking around ten years.

A decade.

A childhood.

Sad Dolly.jpgOur network includes lawyers, doctors, social workers, entrepreneurs and management consultants. So we asked shared parenting advocate Ian Buckingham, a respected change management and organisation culture change specialist who has spoken out about PA in the past, for his views on the position and what could and should be done to address an issue now affecting millions of children and parents in the UK alone.

“I’ve worked on change programmes with organisations across sectors from investment banks and oil companies through to charities and government departments and the first point, which should provide some comfort to suffering parents enduring this abuse, is that change starts when a senior leader has both the conviction and drive to lead it.Mr Douglas clearly has the conviction, but now he’s leaving, the drive is going to be questioned.

The second point is that a problem as deep rooted as this needs to be addressed upstream nearer the source, not just downstream where the symptoms present. With this in mind, PA is not solely the responsibility of Cafcass. It’s pointless blaming them. Many agencies contribute to the root cause, from the legal profession and police through to social services generally.

A cross-agency approach to finding a lasting solution is clearly required. And  special interest groups like mothers and father’s groups don’t always help. They can entrench positions, if not careful. We are trying to change gender stereotypes and that isn’t easy because they have become ingrained in norms.

But to give people some sense of reality, you can change a corporate culture within 18 months. However, it requires cross-functional working between departments and the organisation needs a clear strategy. It must take a consistent systems and behaviours approach and implement it thoroughly and professionally with external support to keep the top team accountable and focused.

So, given the importance of the issue and the fact they have been aware and have acknowledged the problem, in terms of their sphere of influence, I would expect Cafcass to be most of the way there by now. I would also expect to see their CEO promoting a cross-agency solution, with the support of MPs. We have seen some signs of that. But progress appears to be very, very slow.

With regard to PA in the wider context, I believe the joint-working, cross-agency approach needs to bring about the following ten things:

  1. A law change to bring the same rigor to family law that we see now in employment law, where gender discrimination is illegal. This should mean 50/50 rights and responsibilities for both biological parents, meaning they both have to work out how to care and provide financially for their child and ensure that both parents have the security and stability to do so. This should be part rebuttable based on capability and fitness to parent based on hard evidence not conjecture or accusations.
  2. “No-fault” divorce to minimise acrimony and an exaggerated adversarial narrative.
  3. A law change to make shared parenting an absolute obligation, ensuring that biological parents have to work together to co-develop thorough child arrangement plans.
  4. Role of lawyers to change dramatically, with 1 lawyer appointed to a family and to focus on the needs of the children in the short and longer term based on the shared parenting and 50/50 premise and the child’s right to a relationship with both parents. This will take away much of the adversarial, winner-takes-all approach that currently creates acrimony and lasting harm. I would also expect to see different and better training of family lawyers to accommodate this.
  5. Much more support provided upstream for the family unit in the form of:
    1. marriage, relationship, grief and couples counseling
    2. facilitation and coaching to help parents move on respectfully and complete their shared parenting plans constructively
    3. child-centric mediation and conflict management
    4. child-centric courses and workshops
    5. mentoring and advocacy for family units
  6. Legal-aid available to family units, not individuals to help finance and ratify the agreements not prolong acrimony
  7. Court to ratify and finalise shared parenting only once these steps have been completed and to insist on a sliding scale of enforcement options.
  8. Enforcement to be a last resort, but to include:
    1. financial penalties (costs met by the defendant not litigant)
    2. community service
    3. modification of the financial arrangements and shared parenting plan
  9. Third party to provide a secure and confidential communications platform for couples to communicate about the child arrangements and to act as a permanent record, replacing contact books and the slew of ad-hoc data.
  10. An independent body (like an OFSTED) to own and review the process, continuously improve it and handle complaints.

Of course, the elephant in the room is that there are a great number of vested interests at play. Family law and its aftermath is a multi $£billion industry. However, resisting change for self-serving reasons renders complicit parties as guilty of contributing to child abuse as malicious parents. It is clear that unless the various government and other parties change, they will become obsolete. Witness the rise in LIPs and mounting talk of a class action by alienated parents.

The trade-off with this solution is that it is still likely that a similar quantity of funding will be required that currently trickles into the pockets of law firms and grief counselors downstream. Only, service providers who adapt to the upstream support model, however, will be able to fund their services. not as litigation specialists and enforcers, but as coaches, mentors, mediators and advisers upstream, preventing problems rather than creating or sweeping up after them.”

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Interesting food for thought from someone who knows about culture change and how transformation works within organisations.

But perhaps Ian’s final words are the most pertinent.

“Of course, multi-agency change is more complicated than just changing 1 organisation. But assuming Cafcass is on track, I see no reason why PA shouldn’t become as extinct as institutional racism or sexism within 2 years, provided the reformers get the right people in the “room.

After all, if this were an oil company with a leaking pipeline, it would be sorted by now,. Yet arguably PA causes much more damage. We just don’t have the same photos of impacted penguins to grab the attention of the world’s press. “

There is now a very strong wind of change blowing, motivated by the passion of millions of voting tax payers clearly being widely bullied and abused, as their children are, by a system oddly no longer fit for modern purpose.

And what’s more important than our children?

The right change shouldn’t be so hard, should it? But the big question is, what do the people currently responsible for child protection and family law really care about:

  •  reforming to end the bullying and abuse?

or

  • maintaining the lucrative status quo?

Very interested in your comments on this blog either by posting below or contacting us. Please do share this far and wide as we need to continue to raise awareness as, if you’re not affected, the odds are you soon will be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Alienated? You just don’t have the magic genitals!

First and foremost I want to say that parent alienation is not always gender-specific.

Although predominantly something resident mothers do to non-resident fathers here in the UK, where 97% of single-parent families are female led, there are exceptions and their pain is every bit as bad as the alienated father’s.

In the US in particular I know that access to attorney power, costing $$$ can often be the factor to determine residency. And as we all know, residency means time, control and stability, increasing the risk that the non-resident or target parent will soon become an inconvenient irrelevance to a parent looking to move on, especially if they are challenged in the “personality  and ethics departments”, shall we say?

However, despite those anomalies, the rank sexism in family courts is still so pronounced that I have coined the term “magic genitalia” as a sarcastic way of describing the Mom bias. For, when you take two parents, equally educated, with similar jobs protected by gender equality legislation, sharing the care of the baby and toddler or child and yet, somehow, courts choose to grant the mother resident parent status and gift her the house, assets and an income for life from the father, even though he may have introduced most of the capital, what else but rank sexism is at play?

Magic genitalia! It must be a thing, right?

Despite the sexism surrounding the gender stereotyping we hear about men being from Mars and women from Venus etc, most of it is quack psychology. It’s obvious that men and women of current child-rearing age are very different to the 40s and 50s stereotypes, largely because they worked hard to be more enlightened.

Don’t believe me when I talk of the magic genital phenomenon? Well perhaps you’ll buy into the GU or Golden Uterus theory of someone much cleverer than me, relationship therapist Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD who, for a decade or so has been helping people understand and free themselves from abusive relationships.

For the good doctor, the GU Mom displays the following characteristics, some of which you may recognise, ( I most certainly do):

1. GU and child are one and the same. The golden uterus child isn’t allowed to have his or her own feelings and opinions.

2. GU and child are a two-fer. If you want to have your child in your life after you separate or divorce, the GU believes she’s a part of some twisted package deal. The GU is allowed to move on with her life. You’re expected to remain on ice.

3. Disobedience is abuse to the golden uterus. If the children, father/husband/ex-husband doesn’t heed her demands, the GU perceives it as abuse. If you don’t parent the same way the GU parents (or mis-parents); you’re a bad parent. If you challenge the GU’s decisions, she’ll punish you by denying you access to the kids or taking you to court. “A GU believes that because she gave birth, she has exclusive rights to all decision-making related to said child, no matter what anyone else (including the courts or the father)

This applies to the children, too.

4. GU exceptionalism. Even though humans have been procreating since human history began, the GU believes her pregnancy and childbirth are the most special pregnancy and childbirth ever.

5. Boundaries are for everyone else; boundaries don’t apply to the GU. You must respect the GU’s boundaries, but you’re not allowed to have any boundaries. If you have healthy boundaries, the GU will accuse you of being controlling, withholding, abusive, unresponsive and, naturally, a bad dad.

6. All other child caregivers are irrelevant. Fathers are walking ATMs. A father’s role is to financially and emotionally support the mother (i.e., be her emotional punching bag/doormat and listen to her complain about how hard it is to be a mother). That’s it. Fathers get no real input into how the children are raised.

Step-mothers are less than non-entities. They are to act as servants to the children.

7. Once you have sex with a GU, she owns you for life. The golden uterus believes that if she gave birth to your children, you are “connected for life.” She should always come first (even if you’ve both remarried) and YOU OWE HER until death you do part.

This also applies to the children. GUs wield guilt over their children with staggering virtuosity. “I am your mother. I carried you for 9 months. No one will ever love you like I do. No one will ever break our bond. No one will ever come between us. I CARRIED you in my WOMB for NINE months. YOU can NEVER do that for me.

When the children become adults, the GU still believes she should come first in her adult children’s lives and take precedence over their spouses and children. A GU’s children owe her because she is their mother.

8. GUs like to take kissy duck face make-out photos with their children.

Social media addicted GUs like to post kissy-duck face-make-out photos with their child(ren).

It’s rather like manic, digital age pietas. “Look at meeee and my child who loves meeee! See! We’re so close we’re more like best friennnnnds!” Boundaries, shmoundaries.

These photos are similar in nature to the photos drunken college girls take of themselves with their arms wrapped around each other and their faces pressed together. Whenever I see a photo of a mother with her child in a lip lock-bear hug with a Joker smile, I think: ENMESHED GU.

9. Golden uterus mothers are “feelers.” The golden uterus believes that her emotions are reason enough for any action, no matter how despicable. In fact, the GU’s feelings often trump what’s really in the child’s best interests.

For example, “I’m angry with your father” means the children are denied access to their father. Cutting the other parent out of a child’s life is rarely in the child’s best interests. However, the GU is feeling angry, wronged, ignored, disrespected, challenged, etc., so that becomes her justification to attack and/or punish others—even if her actions violate a court order.

10. Once the GU gives birth, her job is done. “GUs believe that simply birthing a child is all they’re responsible for as a contribution to the parenting, raising and welfare of their child. From the moment the child emerges from her hallowed trough, it is solely on the father to provide all for both her and the child” (anonymous source).

Once a GU gives birth, she has her own little foot soldier to weaponize and use as a control device over the child’s father and family. This is when many of these women choose not to return to work. By giving birth, the GU essentially has her husband over a barrel. She knows it and she uses it.

11. Children are possessions; not their own persons. “The GU views the child as her possession. The GU will take all the kudos for birthing a child, but none of the responsibility. If someone tries to point out the discrepancies, the GU will will heave out emotional garbage to cover up their horrible parenting. The GU only views the child in context to herself.  Everything is about her” (anonymous source).

12. The GU uses motherhood as an excuse. “Becoming a ‘mother’ is the GU’s excuse for EVERYTHING. She can’t work because ‘mothers don’t work.’ My husband HAS to give her all of his money because she’s the mother of his ONLY child. She lost all identity as a woman and used becoming a mother as her free ride in life” (anonymous source).

Even after their children are in school full-time, GUs still use the kids and being a mother as an excuse not to work outside the home and often not to work inside the home. “You have no idea how stressful it is being a mom.” Um, the kids are in school all day. What do you do with your time? “You always minimize all the hard work I do. YOU HAVE NO IDEA.” Um, the breakfast dishes are still in the sink when I get home from work in the evening. The laundry is piled up and the kids haven’t done their homework. What did you do all day? “HOW DARE YOU DISRESPECT ME. I’m THE MOTHER OF YOUR CHILDREN!”

13. GUs are self-appointed parenting experts. Despite the fact that her parenting behaviors should be used as an example in  How NOT to Parent 101, “the golden uterus believes that having birthed a child makes them better and more knowledgeable than others; e.g., the “Well you don’t have kids so how would you know anything?” woman (anonymous source). If you should dare challenge the GU’s parenting skills and superior authority, see number 3 above.

14. Motherhood is a title and a power trip. “The golden uterus views mothering as a title rather than a relationship and a set of behaviors. Mothering requires selflessness at times. It requires sacrifice at times. It requires paying attention to the child and putting your time and energy into meeting their needs, which also requires seeing the child as a unique and separate individual from yourself, not a mirror of your own thoughts, feelings, and needs. A golden uterus mother fails at mothering and instead uses her title to extort things from others ‘in the name of the child.’ Essentially, they use their offspring as a way to get their own needs met” (anonymous source).

15. The GU is never wrong. “The golden uterus seems to expect that they get a total free pass on accountability for their own behavior. I have often told my husband that his ex lives on a one way street paved in double standards. Her own bad behavior is to be overlooked. Yet she will attempt to crucify him for any and all perceived weaknesses or ‘failures.’ She is judge and jury and quick to condemn my husband (and me, for that matter) yet she can do no wrong.

Well?

What do you think?

That certainly made a lot of sense to me when I first read it and sits rather neatly alongside my golden genitalia GG theory.

It has also given me an idea for handing out tiaras as prizes for the GUGG of the month. Nominations in the comments section please. But just to structure your expectations, this month’s tiara has already been awarded to the person I’m picturing in a range of “duck faced” pictures with my children currently doing the social media rounds. And when I last checked, no, sorry, my poor pecker’s decidedly flesh-coloured.

As for my uterus?

Well, still working on that.


 

This blog deals with a disturbing subject, the alienation of a parent from their own children, a form of child abuse and bullying. If you need to reach out for help, we’ll be happy to connect you with people who can offer practical support.

If it will help you to share your personal PA story, then please do contact us and we’ll see what we can set up for you, using this awareness-raising platform.

 

 

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Sadly football isn’t coming home…and neither are they!

We have been in the grip of football fever here, as “soccer” fans the world over celebrate the rise and fall of the roller-coaster ride that is the process of investing emotions in the fate of your national team.

England fans, in particular, have had a tough time down the years. So many of us are brought up on the fading memories of our only success in the World Cup, back in 1966. And fathers desperately want to share rites of passage like these with their children. So for fathers separated from their children, “rite of passage” moments like these are especially hard, as they are moments you shared with your own father and dreamed of sharing with your children too.

So they become bittersweet times., as reflected in these touching series of tweets from one of the dads in our network, sent in the aftermath of the Eng/Colombia game. He co-parents some of his children, but is cruelly separated from the others and can feel the weight of  the alienator’s relentlessly cruel, divide and conquer tactics:

Last night was great. I have waited my entire adult life for moments like that. I fell in love with football in 1990 with the run to the semi finals. It has been a huge part of my life ever since.

Last night I watched with my teenage & primary school kids. My eldest could barely look. It has always been that way. I used to go to football with all my children. My eldest went to her first game when she was 18 months old she loved it and fell asleep on me. We have been to away games together. She was always closer to her mum but we always had that bond.

mackenziethorpe

I stayed in a marriage that was not good because I did not want to be a weekend dad or not be in their lives at all. Football maybe means too much to me. But moments like last night do not happen often & leave me on such a high. But they will always be not quite perfect as I know 3 hours drive and 120 miles away my eldest daughter is hating me.

Believe it or not liking or disliking football has become a test of loyalty for my ex wife. If you like daddy or football you are disloyal to her. The irony is our teenager living with me was not that into football, sort of grew out of it. She is much more now & I’m sure it’s because she wants to show her loyalty towards me.

I live with a split family after my now after two of our children were handed over to my care via email when they were 11 & 3. I have been threatened to be run-over, have been scratched punched & kicked all for trying to keep all of the children together and in contact. But they are my children I am their dad. I do not own them but I have a responsibility to them as they are my children.

For all this the police have told me they can’t make people be nice to me and told me it was a civil matter. Yet accusations against me are fully investigated with police interviews of me. When my ex claims to scared a police escort is provided. But when she assaults me or her husband swears at me & threatens to beat me up in front of my children I’m told nothing can be done.

So, our children have been split at her behest. My eldest 2 each hate one of their parents & I have 2 in therapy. Ridiculous. But all my fault, apparently. In the end, this football has reminded me who I am & helped me keep going so next time someone says it’s just a game it is so much more than that in our house. It is something that binds us.

My story is repeated all over the world. This mess is what happens when we allow someone to make false allegations, be violent & break court orders with little or no punishment, give large amounts of government funding to groups that are gender hate groups, allow politicians to laugh at the high male suicide rate with no punishment.

I do get it I am a white privileged male who went to public school & had a comfortable upbringing. But think about this I was fortunate that my family in the shape of my mother supported me to see the legal fees through. Think of people less fortunate. Even then I have not seen my eldest daughter in 2 over 2 & half years. I work full time and bring up 2 children with no help from the state or my ex wife.

But on Saturday I will be watching the football but it will be alone as I don’t break court orders and I will take them to their abusive mother’s despite what she has done, because it is right that she sees them. If England win there will be nobody happier. The roar coming from my house will be one of the loudest. But I will watch alone & when it all calms down I will look around & realise I’m not watching with the ones I love and really want to share with. Uncontrolled Parental alienation does this. I can no longer enjoy something I completely love.

We can never be completely whole again because they are not here. And, like the football, despite living in hope, I have a very bad feeling that they are never coming home.


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This blog deals with some difficult subjects.

If you need support in fighting for your children or just a platform from which to speak about your alienation, then please do contact us and we will do what we can to help.

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“I saw the light die.” More PA terror.

This disturbing post features two stories from two different parents who have contributed here before.

The tales will upset some people as they show PA for the raw abuse it is.

Unfortunately, as our growing network tell us, incidents like this are happening daily.

If these parents behave like this toward the other parent and family, imagine what they do to the children:

I saw the love-light die in their little eyes

When she left to live near her Mum, the very “ground zero” where the root alienator dwells, the concerted campaign to destroy my loving relationship with our precious children started.

That was ten years ago!

EVERY pickup since then, every two weeks, was a masterclass in drip-fed bullying and abuse.

She would say nothing about the progress of the children in-between. Nothing about health, key decisions, events, school, nothing. She was in her 40s and allegedly a proper grown up, but would make all the decisions…with her mother. They used to brag about “stonewalling the narcissist”, as if I was actually the problem when I was simply but desperately trying to hang on to my parenting role.

The alienating duo would make me drive to car parks, service stations, garage forecourts and dank places to collect our children. Here I would see other fathers going through the same misery, waiting with a mixture of fear and anxiety that you could almost taste.

She would eventually drive up like in a scene from a cold war era spy-swap and, despite a very clear agreement to be positive and helpful, she would inevitably start attacking me verbally in front of the kids, telling me what I could and couldn’t do and how useless I was at everything.

Yet, regardless of the abuse, it would all be worth it as the smiles on the faces of our babies made it all melt away as soon as we got back on the road and they opened their special packed lunches and presents and we started singing together and telling stories.

I thought she would improve over time. But she never did.  Even after other men arrived and swiftly left. It actually made her worse. They clearly confirmed her own suspicions about herself and I was her punch bag because I wouldn’t go away.

child-crying-sad-sorry-upset-depressed-alone

There were far too many incidents over the years to recount, but one of the worst was when I turned up expecting to take the children on holiday, as per the court order. We had planned it for months, when she finally communicated which of the Easter weeks I would be “allowed” that is.

The signs were worrying when she was an hour late. Then, when they finally turned up, the kids ran over all excited to see me and the dogs and we started talking about the drive to Wales.

It was at this point that she wandered over and dropped the bomb:

“They have been invited to a party. I have said they can go. It is in three days. You can’t take them unless you say, on record, you will have them back by then.”

She was clearly late as she had been discussing “tactics” with her flying monkeys at the school gate.

I was naturally upset and not a little angry, but asked her, calmly, to come and discuss how we were going to solve this like parents and adults. But she said “No”. She then did something that has become a metaphor for PA ever since. She screamed “No” again and then picked up our eldest and held her in front of me:

“Tell her why she can’t go” she screamed at me.

“Tell her you selfish prick.”

Naturally both children then started crying.

I was stunned.

All I could think to say was:

“We will sort it out girls. We will go to Wales AND the party.”

As I then strapped the girls into their seats and started thinking about the emergency packing, sleepless night and drive ahead for 2 days away instead of a week, I felt something hit me on the back of my head and turned to see that she had spat at me.

I’m no pushover, trust me, But I just couldn’t think what else to do so decided to get into the car and get away. She then started waving her phone at me saying:

“I have you on recording. Get back here when I say or the police will be round. I know where you’re going to stay”.

When I ignored her and drove off, she ran after us, pulled the rear door open and tried to get into the car screaming so much she nearly went under the rear wheels.

It took most of the “holiday” to calm the children down.

I’m not sure I’ve ever recovered.

When I raised her behaviour in court, the judge simply said “this is a very difficult situation”.

Without any form of rebuke, ever, her behaviour has never changed. It got worse. She now believes she is above all court orders and she sneers at the process.

As a result, I have not seen my children for two years now.

They found it all too distressing and if I’m honest, so did I.

Not seeing them has nearly killed me, It still might.

But I had no choice but to stop as she was hurting us all so much.

It is impossible to recover from seeing the innocent love-light die in the eyes of your children. It is soul destroying that you can’t defend yourself yet there are no consequences for the abusers. Instead, they are lauded like icons of someone’s screwed up idea of empowerment by the enabling communities within the services supposedly set up to protect us.

It is plainly and simply calculated abuse.

Tale II: My Valentine’s gift

The situation was so messed up that at first, my ex had actually said we could still live together but separately.

I was at this point just saying “yes” to everything for the sake of the kids.

Then she said that I could go out to work and her and her new boyfriend could bring up the children and I would be allowed to live there too. Pressing every emotional button she could,  she said she knew I still loved her and that I was  her back up plan in case it went wrong with him. She said she always had a back up plan.

I just lost my temper at this point, said I no longer loved her and was not agreeing to that.

Then the real abuse started.

child picture

My car, Blue, had broken down because the battery got old. I replaced it but my ex refused to drive it anymore. So I agreed to take on Blue and she could have the other car.

The children had been with me as agreed. But my ex kept interfering by calling every 5 minutes  – no exaggeration. I took them home but I said I was banning mobile phones when with me because I could not get any time with the children without a call or text.

She then started screaming at me and started hitting and scratching me. When she slapped me in the face I decided to leave and turned and said I would be back at the agreed time for the children. At this point she tried to hit me with her recording device. This became her new tactic. She would create an argument get me shouting then start recording. Ironically when I didn’t react in the required way she would become more violent.

I quickly left the house feeling that I was losing control of the situation.

I made it to Blue and locked the door.

Just as I started to back out of my space I saw her charging towards the car. She started knocking on the window and screaming at me that “(I )was not taking that fucking car while she had the girls”. I shouted back that “I had spent money on it based on our agreement and it was tough.”

I should point out my mum and my step dad said I needed to stand up to her, I’d been tiptoeing around her up to this point, this was my chance to be firm but fair.

She then proceeded to unlock the door of the car with her key. She then shoved me in the face and started to try and take my key out of the indignation. When I stopped her she said she “wanted (my) keys for (her) car”.

I started to take the keys off for her and asked her for the key to my car. Out of the blue she punched me in the head and then threw both sets of my keys into my face.

While I tried to get myself together, she took the car seat from my car saying I could “have the shit one from her car”.

I let her swap them over, avoiding saying anything ass I was stunned, not sure what to do. I was in pain from being hit in the head, was upset and concerned for the kids.

Ironically, I’d booked a table for Valentines day ages before this and bizarrely this now flashed across my mind.

Then I suddenly realised she was taking the change from the middle of the car. Well to get to my mum’s its easier to cross at the toll bridge so I had put the 40p in the middle so that I had it. For some reason my brain kicked in that point and I said that “I needed that to get back to my mum’s”.  She told me “I was stealing from the children but I could keep my fucking money”. She came to the front of the car and started throwing the coins at me.

As the coins hit the window, I started the engine and tried to leave.

At some point my middle daughter had come out. My legs were shaking I got my feet muddled up and ended up revving the engine by mistake.

I left with my eldest looking out of the sitting room window and my middle daughter being grabbed by her mum.

The morning I was due to have the children my sister received a phone call saying the “children were scared of me because of my violent tendencies and my temper”. When I called her she started putting all these conditions on me seeing the children.

She had an obsession with my sister and my nieces and kept trying to involve them, as if the “sisterhood would get it”. I decided at this point that this was not fair on anybody so I refused. I phoned my solicitor who told me to go straight over, which I did with my mum.

I was denied access to the children. She had her car already packed and when we headed over, to my amazement, she left and went straight to the nearest police station claiming assault.

Fortunately I had recorded part of the incident or I would probably have been sent down.

Worse still, when I finally accessed the house, the children had been living in the sitting room, presumably because of her lover staying over. It smelt of poo and the bedding was wet and smelt of urine. It took 3 days to make the house habitable.

The police did nothing about the Valentine’s day incident as she claimed I tried to run her and my middle daughter over.

The police then tried to force me to leave the house I had bought and paid for. They also interviewed me for assault but didn’t charge me.

I was covered in cuts and bruises whilst they talked to me. But they treated me like a criminal. I may have shouted and I may have lost my temper but I did not touch her and tried to leave that situation and never could. I have never been physical other than in a limited defensive way.

We somehow still manage to share time with the children between two households, but it is a constant battle and hugely unsettling to deal with her.

I am sadly finding myself becoming an angry and disillusioned white middle aged man desperately trying to keep the peace for the sake of our kids.

Next time you see one of my kind, please don’t judge the book by its cover because there’s a reason and it isn’t to do with being aggressive or macho.

It’s quite the reverse.


This blog deals with some troubling subjects.

If you find yourself struggling and needs some support, then we’ll be glad to refer you to our reconciliation and legal support team. They will be pleased to listen and if they can help in some way, they will.

Alternatively, if you would like a platform to share your battle with parent alienation, then contact us and we’ll see what we can do.

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Parent Alienation: Collage of Love

Very happy to support this excellent initiative again, following the very powerful candle and Christmas decoration collages in support of cruelly alienated children and parents.

Please do check it out and send your messages of love:

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Here is the final collage in all its loving glory.

Children, can you spot the heart dedicated to you?

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Can you imagine how it feels to have someone separate you from your child?

This time we’re pleased to feature a mother from the USA.

I have known her for some time and she opened my eyes to the fact that PA (parental alienation) now happens to mothers too, especially in America where cash to buy expensive attorneys, is king.

Unbelievably, she has suffered at the hands of a calculating parent alienator , a man who saw the children develop inside her yet still betrayed her, for a large portion of her children’s lives.

You can sense two powerful emotions in her writing:

  • her passion to be re-united
  • her deep and intense pain

Here’s what she has to say:

I often lie awake at night, when the world is fast asleep, with tears upon my cheeks. Then, regardless of what I do, my mind takes a painful stroll down memory lane.  It’s a walk full of memories that yield heartache.

For I miss my children desperately.

Over the last few days, you could not have escaped the media coverage of immigrant parents being separated from their children.

Separated is a more mundane word than “torn”.  I prefer to say it like it is….children are being torn from the lives of parents.  And to most of the world, this concept is linked to only the present political stance of immigration.  But to so many other parents like myself, it triggers our own situations – and a horror I will address as “Parental Alienation.”

Being separated from your children….yes, I not only imagine how it feels.  I have lived it every hour of every day for way too many years. And I’m frankly amazed I’m still breathing.

Parents are separated from their children, children torn from the loving arms of a parent, every single day in our country.  And our broken legal system does not stop it.

Parental alienation takes place when a child- usually one whose parents are engaged in a high-conflict divorce—allies himself or herself strongly with one parent and rejects a relationship with the other (alienated) parent without legitimate justification.

Simply and more accurately put, the child doesn’t hate naturally, it is taught as one parent turns the child against the other parent. The child resists or refuses contact or parenting time with the alienated/targeted parent.  And as the high conflict divorces appear before the courts, child custody today has been plagued with parental alienation.

Judges and magistrates are not educated to spot the tactics employed by the alienating parent which aren’t full-frontal, they are systematic, passive aggression.

To those in the know, there are always signs that must not be ignored.  Otherwise, when a child becomes a victim of the courts, the parent using the child as a weapon is able to strip and abolish that child’s relationship with the other parent like tearing up a string of paper dolls.

Nothing justifies the minimization or removal of a fit and loving parent from a child’s life. Nothing.  But it has happened millions of times in the US alone now.

Denying a child access to a fit, loving, capable, stable, secure parent that the child has loved – is immoral, and abusive, ruining the parent and certain to scar the child forever.

The change in an alienated child’s behavior is often the hardest concept for the targeted parent to live with. The parent goes from being loved by the child to someone the child seems to fear, hate and despise.  As the alienating parent sends the child all sorts of non-verbal and verbal clues, the alienating parent often encourages and rewards the bad behavior.

The alienating parent is angry with the targeted parent, thus the child becomes angry with the targeted parent.  And for the child, anger is a coping mechanism as the child allows the anger to wash over his or her guilt, empathy, fond memories and positive feelings for the targeted parent.

blue

In the court system, legal guardians may be appointed.  So they turn the children into soldiers of Parental Alienation – not understanding the manipulation done by the alienating parent or just taking sides with what is easier to manage.

Parents are being separated from their children constantly – with no one supporting the reunification of child and loving parent.  Courts just want to move on to their next case, as decisions are usually based on who has the most money or power. And being the resident parent means a great deal of power, power over routines and normal life.

Yet, incredibly, alienators portray themselves as victims, seeking sympathy in whatever way possible. Lies abound.  What happens when these broken “families” finish their usually drawn out and harassing appearances in court?  Nothing.  There is usually nothing left of the relationship between the alienated parent and their child.  Nothing.

When my children were born, I always knew that there would be a time a time of natural separation as they grew older.  That’s part of a parent’s job. Never did I think it would have been so soon.  The separation came on unexpectedly, non-consensually, and because their other parent was in control.

My children were my life.

Without them, I did not want to live.

But I managed to.

So here I am – hoping to bring awareness to what so often goes ignored.

Like too many others, I did not get to see my children become teens, nor did I bear witness to their weddings.

I wasn’t there for first dates, to talk to them about love, to cheer them on at graduations.  Time was stolen from me.

I missed moments that turned into days that turned into years.

My children were ripped out of my life.

Clinical psychologist Mia Smith-Bynum, a professor of family science at the University of Maryland, states:

‘Feeling – and being- powerless over your child’s fate can also lead to something called “ambiguous loss”, in which a parent never gets the closure they need to fully resolve their grief.”

In my own words:  Parental alienation is the mourning that never ends.

I wish I could shout out my message to everyone.

Americans and people around the world are all so shocked, mortified, and angered by the separation of immigrant parents from their children.  While it is a horror of  it’s own – please recognize and learn what has been going on with parents who are American citizens – in the very same justice system!

We must educate the Courts, expose Parental Alienation, and stop it.  If you know someone in such a situation, do not look the other way.  Be aware of what the situation is.  You can make a difference.  It’s like the saying goes. If you see something, say something.  A child and a loving parent should be together.

So when I see those scenes on tv, can I imagine what it is like to be separated from a child?  My first response is , “Hell, yes!”….and my second:  “I didn’t think I could go on breathing”.

But then I had to.

Then one day I got a call…..

 

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This blog deals with some very distressing issues. We do have a reconciliation team and resources available to help you navigate the legal process involved and will gladly refer you if you need support.

Alternatively if you would like to speak out about PA as this mother has, then do get in touch.

You can contact us here.

 

2

A million voices crying out: “END PARENT ALIENATION NOW!”

That may sound like an exaggeration to some.

But it’s a fact.

In the last two weeks, the twitter account @daddyduwsf has reached 1million people, according to the twitter stats alone.

A year ago, when we began turbo-charging the online social media, one of our affiliated sites, PNP, received 7 or so views per post per day. It now receives nearly 200 on the back of much hard work and effort and support from our network.

Of course, we would all prefer to be focused on something else and not to need any form of awareness raising or to rest the voices of protest demanding change. We would very much prefer not to be needed because change would simply have happened and the rights and responsibilities of our children would be properly respected by both parents.

But we so haven’t reached that point yet, sadly!

The journey is just getting started, really.

Because attached to each of those 1 million voices, is a parent or family member, with a heavy heart, eyes red from grieving for a child so loved and yet so distant.

Given the insidious nature of PA, the online presence and courage of those affected is humbling.

While there will always be the armies of detractors and constant skirmishes with the selfish, the narcissistic, the attention seekers, the profiteers and the flying monkeys, we’ve seen off most of them now.

The outpouring of support for one another online is touching. As is the fact that it is growing as the scale of the problem accelerates.

As people’s feedback suggests, in some cases it has been life-saving.

Thank you for the messages and the encouragement.

But to conclude, I thought I should share the words of  a trusted anti-PA warrior only this morning:

“Not sure if I’m imagining this or it is wishful thinking but there do seem to be more and more examples of children reaching out or reunifications happening as a result of the persistence and love of the parents.”

Well, I’m not sure about the statistics, but if we reunify one child for every 100 messages, then let’s type until our fingers run red and shout until our voices are hoarse and sore.

x

@daddyduwsf

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Please note: We will be happy to feature content along similar lines from our community, so if you need a platform, do contact us.

Likewise if you feel you need support with reunification in any way. If we can’t help you ourselves we may well know someone who can.

1

Ongoing dialogue with Cafcass

A week ago, I co-crafted a letter to Cafcass CEO, Anthony Douglas, on behalf of distressed and concerned parents of the hundreds of thousands of alienated children and their relatives.

It sought clarification from the head of Cafcass, of the practical steps they were taking, at least a year following his strong affirmations that his organisation not only recognised PA but was implementing measures to stem, combat and address it.

His office were quick to reach out.

I returned to him for much needed details about the practical measures they are taking as the reassuring words mean little to our children and families, without change, without action.

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Dear Mr Douglas,

Thank you very much for your prompt response to our recent letter acknowledging that you will now take on board our points as part of the reform process.

However, unfortunately you haven’t addressed any of our concerns. While we again appreciate your reiteration that “we recognise parental alienation,” you haven’t explained why:

  • There is no evidence of this on the front-line, where your employees are contradicting you.
  • It is taking so long to engage your staff with this, re-train and re-calibrate the culture and practices there.
  • It is taking so long to develop the measures to combat parental alienation.
  • Shared care isn’t recommended in the majority of cases.
  • There has been no mention of re-unification of alienated parents with their children
  • There are no target change dates and milestones.

You may well have noticed that our 21 point document has started to circulate around social media, including Linkedin, where the issue is attracting the attention of a number of media contacts as well as organisational change and leadership commentators and experts.

As we stated in our letter, enough is enough.

We are aware of your own personal background so know that you will be able to appreciate the incredible distress this issue is causing a great many people.

With that in mind can we please ask you to expand on your generalised statements about the assessment framework and provide very concerned parents with more clarity and reassurances about the other change pathways and measures you alluded to in your press releases last year?

Given the number of people involved and scale of this growing issue, this is every bit as serious an issue for Cafcass as similar challenges presented to CEOs of organisations of a similar size; not least the Windrush scandal at the Home Office, VW’s emissions problems or even the culture change issues at Carillion. Arguably, parental alienation affects many more people, especially children.

The fact there is a plethora of evidence that this form of abuse has such a lasting negative impact on both the short and long term mental health of the effected children should make the urgency of any reforms that much more a priority for the numerous stakeholders/agents of change involved. There are also detrimental effects on the mental health of the targeted families. We are proud of our gender neutral stance, however with 97% of residencies being given to mothers by the Family Court in the UK, (Kielty, S., University of East Anglia, 2006) this forces those fathers that don’t get granted residency  into the highest risk group within the UK for suicide rates.

We can count amongst our numbers several well-respected leadership and change consultants who have worked with director’s general of senior government departments, including the Cabinet Office. They are appalled by the lack of apparent urgency, absence of collective responsibility and clear disconnect between your enlightened view and front line service user experience. Look at what Starbucks has just achieved on the back of a single race-related incident, having mobilised mass training and communication in under a month? Yet they are only entrusted to sell coffee, not influence children’s lives and their profit margins are considerably less than the money spent in Family Court, daily.

Please don’t take this as negativity or hostility on our behalf. We want to do all we can to help you bring about expedient change. But we do hope you can appreciate the seriousness of our concerns, the extent of our desperation and the strength of will to resolve the most important issue we all face, the future of our relationships with our children.

This will in part be decided by your next actions.

We trust you are able to reply with reassuring specifics about what you as CEO of Cafcass and your leadership team and board will deliver this year and when we can expect to see positive change in the practice of your front line staff.

We look forward to your response, ideally within the next seven days.

Yours sincerely,

 

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Status Update:

Still waiting……

 

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Forever young!

sadironmanSomeone who I know to be a very good man, has fought a lifelong campaign for re-unification with his daughter, who turned 16 today.

Parent Alienation is horrific, whatever range of terrible variables you happen to be enduring. But this man has had to watch his former partner set up home with a man who he knew to be unsavoury, but who has since been convicted as a paedophile and sexual deviant.

It’s every parent’s nightmare.

And yet still, he will not be seeing his own daughter on her birthday because, somehow, his ex, who clearly knew about her partner’s character, manages to alienate him.

He has recently posted various snapshots of the frozen twilight zone that his alienated life has become, including a very touching photograph of his daughter’s favourite dress, still hanging on the back of the door where she left it after last wearing it. But today’s birthday announcement reminded me of a time when I had been so full of pride, excitement and promise for our first daughter and the speech I gave at her Christening.

We, of course, put a great deal into the event. One of the features was a playlist of our favourite music, which we had played to both children when they were in the womb and to help lull them to sleep in their nursery. It featured the song, Forever Young, made famous by Joan Baez.

Of course, the sentiment at the time was that, like at Sleeping Beauty/Princess Aurora’s Christening, we all wanted to bless the baby with our wishes for health, wealth, innocence and happiness, that they remain young at heart.

Now, however, the song has become very painful to listen to.

Because it has come to represent something else, a malign presence crept into our lives, the dark disease of Parent Alienation.

For a parent alienated from their child/children, the child remains frozen in their minds at the age at which the alienation began. And there is evidence to suggest that, psychologically, the children also suffer lasting developmental damage linked to the distressing disturbance to their welfare incurred upon traumatic separation from a loving parent.

So, to some extent, as the father alludes in his birthday message, while the child ages, they remain, in our minds, and to some extent their own, Forever Young:

Parent Alienation MUST be stopped.

It is child abuse.

It is destroying loving relationships.

It is enabled by our ridiculously out-dated legal and social services systems.

It is an absolute disgrace and will be forever seen as a dark stain of shame for those so self-obsessed to have perpetrated it!


Please Note:  The issues we deal with in this blog are potentially distressing. If you feel you need support over and above the resources available, we will gladly refer readers to professionals within our team, such as those mentioned, who can help deliver results and who operate in line with our core principles. 

We are also more than happy to feature quality content by writers. Any wish to remain anonymous will be respected as you will observe.

So if you have someone to recommend, are someone we would recommend or have something to say on the subject of shared parenting and parent equality in either a personal or professional capacity and would like a platform to have your say or contribute in some way to our cause, please contact us.

1

The abusive nature of the vulnerable narcissist

lawyers

A guest post from another courageous parent speaking up about abuse so others may not have to:

I’ve never been a huge fan of the whole narcissism theory. For me people tend to be a great deal more nuanced than that and if we accept a polemic then all empaths are essentially doomed while society tears itself apart.
Granted, living with parent alienation, life can seem like that at times.
However, I have followed the tweets of Sarah Squires (look her up  ) and they have been interesting and informative, especially when she described the characteristics of the so-called Vulnerable Narcissist which certainly got me thinking.

She describes them as:

“Someone of either gender presenting as a victim who needs rescuing who then takes complete advantage of your kind nature by systematically obtaining more and more control over you until you are completely powerless in the relationship.”

When I first got together with the mother of my children, we had worked together for a number of years. I was in a pretty senior role, she was initially in a relatively junior role but I had been fascinated by her ability to somehow get herself into key decision-making meetings. I was busy on the front line and missed how it happened but suddenly she was making hiring or firing decisions, until I called my partners on this and accountability was restored.

The business went through a very difficult patch and I had to work with her again, this time more closely and, although not noticing at the time, she was suddenly perpetuating a victim narrative about her seemingly abusive relationship. She was so successful at this that I personally took it upon myself to step in and have a word with her then boyfriend who she accused of sexually assaulting her. He left.

I was living with a lovely person but we were at different stages in life and I reluctantly transitioned from that relationship and before I knew it, had somehow invited this needy person into my home. I had my doubts but “hey, it was my house and…”

One day I came home from a meeting to find that she had been going through my personal finances. She was accountancy trained and made some excuse about “rationalising accounts for ease of management”. She had an incredible habit of not lying, just not telling the truth, as if that’s not as bad.

Then the neighbours knocked on the door complaining about having a row with her. Later others did the same. I put this down to their sour-grapes at the departure of my former partner, defended her vociferously and left it at that.

However, I then realised that she had gone through my contact books and removed anything to do with former partners and friends she didn’t like from contact details to photos and momentos. She had also thrown out every scrap of anything related to former partners.

I know this sounds like I’m sort of pushover. I was certainly stressed at work and needed support. But I’m no wallflower I promise you.

I confronted her with the latest revelations, front, centre and frank, as is my preferred way. She immediately lapsed into what I now call her hyena mode, where her body language closes and she becomes theatrically upset and submissive.

But she knew she had pushed things too far. I then helped her pack and held the door for her and she drove off sobbing in her crappy car.

At midnight, however, she re-appeared on the doorstep begging for another chance and blaming her ex etc. Somehow I opened the door.

Having then committed I made up my mind to do whatever it would take to now make this work and before I knew it we were selling the house and starting afresh. Despite our high relative status as a couple, however, she was always complaining about people in our “posh” village making her feel inferior. Wherever we seemed to go she had issues with people,something I could never comprehend given she was very well educated and now comparatively well off, with a decent career and I certainly had no problems getting on with people.

In the next house, despite a quick pregnancy, the same behaviour toward the neighbours repeated itself. There were daily dramas and she fell out with every surrounding household. We even received a police visit for one physical attack on a man for parking his car inappropriately. At 7 months pregnant I had to pull her off the back of another woman she took a disliking to.

Despite all the concerns from friends and family, I stood by her and upped my contribution to compensate, literally doing everything in the house and outside and being the sole income driver. I even used my capital to create an online business for her in the hope it would cheer her up and give her a more fulfilling and empowering focus.

Gradually my family were alienated as well. Her parents, however, oddly, became our best friends, travelling from 200 miles away to stay with us virtually every other weekend and accompanying us on holidays. I stopped playing the sports I enjoyed, few of my friends came to the wedding and we focused everything on our new family.

I realise now how absolutely ridiculous this looks. Gradually my control over my own life was being eroded. But you know what they say about hindsight?

Needless to say, I came home from a very stressful client site one day, on my birthday, to an empty house.

She had colluded with her mother, in particular and emptied the accounts and removed everything of value as well as the passwords to all the financials and control over the accounting process. They had forged my signature on various documents and taken the cars.

That was over a decade ago.

I have fought, kicked and scratched with every ounce of everything I have while simultaneously doing everything I can to co-parent and continue to give my amazing children a father. But I’ve been outnumbered, out-gunned and undermined at every step.

Despite the perpetual and, at times, filthy abuse, I have succeeded in being there to influence the children’s most impressionable years and we are seeing those dividends coming to fruition in their performance at school and in their extra-curricular activities.

But, of course, their mother has deployed every trick of control in the alienator’s handbook. Every one, starting with the “non-harassment” gagging clause covertly slipped into my orders through to the “grey rock” refusal to communicate while she ignores the orders, conveniently flipping the ridiculous court support process to make it somehow appear that the controlling narcissist is actually me, despite the clear fact that I have no power in the process whatsoever, not even the guarantee that the simplest of commitments will be honoured, like a plan or a date.

True to form she has inserted herself into key positions within the community she returned to, where they now live, with the help of her extended and complicit family, from a school governor’s role to secretary of the local and influential sports and social club and the partner of the law firm representing her is now “a close personal friend”.

Let this be a salutary lesson to anyone setting up home with a partner. Whether or not you buy into narcissism theories, consider at least that there are two forms of aggression:

  • the active and overt kind (shouty, ranty and worse)
  • the passive aggressive kind (controlling, manipulative, lying).

If there’s a lot of either in your relationship and I mean EITHER, then you both have an issue and need help.

Do not introduce children into a relationship where control is an issue…or quite soon you’ll find you have none at all. That is a terrifying place to be, most especially for your children as these people will transfer their issues onto your children.

Parent Alienation is ALL about control.

Having not heard a thing from my beloved children for too long, caught tight in her abusive clutches, I certainly understand that now.

Yet I can do nothing, it seems, to seize any sort of balanced parental control back, other than to decide what happens to me. And that is a terrifying position for our children to be placed in by the impotence of our legal and family support systems.


Please Note:  The issues we deal with in this blog are distressing. If you feel you need support over and above the resources available, we will gladly refer readers to trusted professionals like as those mentioned, who can help deliver results and who operate in line with our core principles. 

If you need us, then contact us.

We are also more than happy to feature quality content by writers. Any wish to remain anonymous will be respected as you will observe.

 

6

End Parental Alienation – light a candle of hope

candleOne of the benefits of social media is the growing sense of online community. It can be a powerful way of communicating and is increasingly a source of information, help and support.
Anyone who has suffered or is still suffering the relentless pain of separation from their child or even children knows that it’s a pain that ebbs and flows but never, ever subsides. It is triggered by the simplest of things, an image, a noise, a scent, a memory, a kind gesture or a harsh word. We need all the help we can get simply to subsist and certainly need to unite if we’re to shake and destroy this disease, a blight on our generation.
One of the pathfinders at the sharp end of the anti-PAS movement is someone known to his Twitter family and friends as @fatherscontact. If you’re on there look him up. One of his inspired initiatives has been to create a series of what can only be described as collages of love and hope, an outpouring of affection from estranged parents worldwide for their missing children. It’s a way of reminding us all that we’re really never alone.
Take a look at the candle vigil he coordinated this month as a way of estranged families reaching out to the very many absent children who, owing to the misplaced malice of just one parent, are being abused by being denied the ongoing love and affection they deserve. He’s doing some wonderful things so please do get involved with the community if you can. Sadly, in the absence of shared parenting legislation, while our children are the gateway to family assets and while the epidemic of amoral behaviour persists, our children need all the help they can get.
Out of the darkness You will ride
You will ride by this candle light
A light of hope and love a new
By all who light a candle for you
Those who have not seen or felt your pain
But give you love and support all the same
For I have walked in your shoes
That’s why I write these words for you
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PA: the constrictor tightens its grip

What follows is the second installment of a story a father shared with us in a previous blog.

He shares the care of his children who are now split between two households, his ex having moved hundreds of miles away with her boyfriend, having simply abducted them from school one day.

He still has primary care for the two youngest after an acrimonious legal struggle to return them to the former family home. Out of principle, he continues to co-parent, but every time the kids go to his former partner’s house, the drama deepens. The alienation process has a hold and, like a constrictor, is tightening its grip……….

 I wrote last time about how scared I was. My fears in a way were all well founded…

When they are away I am meant to have a Skype call every Wednesday at 6.30. This did not happen. I tried to call, there was no answer. I could have tried my 14 year old on Facetime but she never answers when I do.

I just left it.

I went to pick them up on the Sunday. It is a long drive and not fun. The way that the court order is and the intimidation that takes place I don’t get a hug or a kiss  – not that my 14 year old does that anyway.

My youngest now said the obligatory “I didn’t miss you.”

My 14 year old was clearly distressed when she got in the car. Within 5 minutes  it all came pouring out. I had a 3 hour drive. My 6 year old fell asleep almost straight away after which my 14 year started talking and basically never stopped. I find it very difficult the different emotions. I drive there every time with this fear that she will not return them to me. She has done that so many times before. She hasn’t since the judge threatened her with arrest when she did it in the summer of 2016 but its still a fear. Then I get the children back and for want of a better phrase they are disturbed.

She started talking about how her big sister had new friends and they were all really nice. She said that her big sister had 2 sleepovers whilst they were there. She wasn’t allowed to join in. There is less than 18 months between them and only 1 school year. She said she barely saw her sister (it had emerged later that her sister went to the cinema with friends and she was excluded – my mum took her and 2 friends instead). The only contact I had whilst they were away was a text asking to have friends for a sleepover. My mum sorted this out for her.

She had gone to an RAF dinner with her aunt and uncle the Saturday before and so I tried to talk about that. I was trying to be positive.

For some reason like a mug I always encourage the children to go their mum’s. I understand that many reading this are unfairly cut out of their children’s lives as I am with my eldest. That’s part of why I try to keep the contact going. Its not even for their mum. Its for all 3 children. It may sound like an excuse. But who am I to decide they shouldn’t see the other parent?

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I also know the pain of not seeing my eldest and I know it’s the fault of my ex and her partner (I have made mistakes but that was her plan from the start) but I can’t in good conscience put another human being through that.

Having said all that after the latest visit I seriously considered not sending them back. I have actually reached the point where I think the ramifications of them not going are worse than them going. The one thing that has stopped me is that like it or not I am in a strong position I have something to lose. I open myself up to court or stop sending them I could end up worse off. I always win in court, if there is such a thing as winning in these situations, but I’m painfully aware its an expensive roll of the dice. I have been fully committed to co parenting but I’m afraid I get counter parented.

This time it appears that her sister has gone from a shy retiring bright child with no friends to a girl wearing short skirts and knee high boots. My 14 year old has always stayed away from that. I think it shocked her when her mum was like that. For the same reason she has stayed away from alcohol. She has seen the impact of her mum being very drunk. I don’t really like alcohol but for that reason I never drink in front of her. I let my family show how you can drink sensibly but I don’t drink to show her that its also okay not drink if you don’t want to.

As I drove home the stories gradually got worse. She started by saying the walls are really thin at mum’s. I can hear them every night. She then quickly went on to say everybody treats me like I’m stupid at mum’s. They think because I don’t talk much I can’t hear but I can hear everything. She said her mum and her step dad spend their time plotting and talking about her and her little sister. So I asked what she meant. So she said that I was never going to get that call on Wednesday as they planned it so I didn’t. They discussed the best way to stop it happening. They decided upon a film that would be half way through when I called. She said they did not bother to even open their laptop. At the end they pretended to remember that the call should have happened and said it was too late now.

I think the worst part for me was the end though. She suddenly blurted out mum said you quit your job so that you wouldn’t have to pay her any money. I was so shocked that I just laughed. It was out of the blue. I had lost my job because my ex kept on making me late for work by not turning up when she should. The she would call me on my desk phone, my work mobile and my personal mobile. I managed to get it stopped in court but by then it was too late for my job. Me quitting my job at that point made no sense. I was in the process of buying her out of the family home and this through all that into doubt. I explained all this to my 14 year old. I also explained I had another job 3 days later anyway – I contracted for 2 years after losing my job. It worked out okay but it did fit the unstable nature of my life at the time.

She explained that her mum had talked to her before she left that morning. This when she said that. She said her mum had wanted to come and live with her again. She just sat there feeling uncomfortable. Its not written in my court order but she has in the past been told to stop doing this by a judge and has promised not to do so. As many of you know court orders let alone promises mean very little in these situations. Her mum proceeded to tell her how to make sure she could come and live with me and there would be nothing that I could do about it. All she needed to do was to tell her teachers and she should do anyway because her little sister would soon want to live with just her mum because of her half sister.

So now I feel like a mug AND angry.

I try to play by the  rules.  I try to put the children first at every turn. She has used the children at every turn to hurt me. She has put her wants and needs first at every turn.

Then she tells a 14 year old girl how to make sure she does not see her dad again. In the end I just said she is right you can just say that but the same applies the other way round. I said I was very sorry that she had been put in that situation and I hoped that when she was an adult that she would know that despite the fact that I get things wrong a lot of the time and she has to experience things like this that when she is an adult she will understand that I have tried my best with both of them. When I write it down it all sounds so pathetic but I just don’t know what to do against that. I can’t protect them and I feel so useless.

Mu 6 year old said she didn’t miss me but has spent every moment she has hugging me and following me around. When we are home I can’t get away from her for more than 5 minutes. I can’t get her to sleep until late at night. She won’t sleep without me there to hug her.

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On Monday night she thought that her grandma was going to have her friends over for tea. I had to explain that she was going to her mum’s this weekend. Tuesday morning and she had a tantrum and fought me for an hour. I was trying to dress her and she was hitting me, kicking me and punching me in the face. She kept taking her shoes off and throwing them at me. She refused breakfast.

My 14 year old has not gone. I didn’t try to push her. She said it was because it was the last home game of the season fir our football team but really she goes because of me. She is not that keen. But I think it’s a good thing I think she needed a break from her mum. That makes me really sad to say but I hope that those of you who do not see your children can understand why I think it’s the best thing. She will go back for half term in May.

Lastly I was told via my 14 year old that I had to do 2 pick ups in a row because my ex did drop offs in a row. I tried to confirm this by email I have got no response. I therefore have had to arrange for backup at home in case my 6 year old gets dropped off there instead of me picking up.

This is how alienation happens. It isn’t usually one big thing.

It is the result of a morally ambiguous person tightening their grip, day by day, week by week, interaction by interaction.

And the worst part is, there is no easy antidote.

Whatever I do next, the children suffer.

And she knows that…..


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