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The Rape of Innocence

I, like many parents, have been horrified by the creeping propaganda infesting children’s culture which recently plumbed new depths in a “cartoon” depicting the sexual assault of a fairy princess by Prince Charming.

This was widely shared by organisations like Amnesty International, allegedly as part of the #MeToo movement seemingly in an attempt to raise awareness of the need for mutual sexual consent.

Right!

sleeping-beauty-walt-disney

Of course, any parent in their right mind supports the aim of programmes and campaigns designed to improve the safety and security of our children. That isn’t my concern. What troubles me, as the title of this blog alludes, is the corruption of innocence and the erosion of childhood by the people behind this early-years targeting approach.

The cartoon in question depicts the archetypal Disney-esque Princess, a sort of mashup of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, in a deep sleep in a classic forest glade. She is then approached by the archetypal Disney Prince who first kisses and then, to use the street phraseology, clearly  begins to “finger” her.

prince

The message is clear and obvious once they over-lay the street patois and interject the chat about “meeting at a party” etc? But my biggest objection is that it would have been far more powerful and far less cynical to have made a film about teenagers for teenagers deploying the tropes, medium and platforms that relate directly to teenagers. But, I guess the issue is, they probably wouldn’t have stirred up the same controversy and outrage leading to the “buzz” the juvenile social media drivers seem to dictate.

The pressing questions I have with this cynical approach to alleged education is “where are the grown ups?” or “why has nobody stepped in to question the wisdom here?”.

The Disney Princess demographic is probably age 3-11. Like it or not, however, children are finding ways to access the internet using our devices a lot earlier than they should be. Children of that age range will see this!

Parents are most likely to be reading fairytales and stories to their children at that age. So are you ready for the “fanny banging” chat at bedtime?

Oddly, if you’re like the vast majority of parents and want to stimulate their imaginations and cultivate mysticism and magic and romance for as long as you can while gently and carefully introducing values, wisdom and life skills, you do not want teenage or other extreme propagandists dictating this for you.

It used to irritate me watching advertisements during children’s prime time tv that are devoid of male role-models, all aimed at mothers. It  disappointed me watching children’s tv programmes in which Dads are the perpetual idiots and butt of all jokes or superhero movies devoid of female role models. And I thought I had seen it all when I was forced to introduce positive male characters into certain stories like Mermaid SOS while reading them to the children as THEY were asking where the boys were?

But then I watched Maleficent, the re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty by Angelina Jolie, infamous for her personal family issues, and had to spend days reassuring the children that there were “good men in the world” after all, “honestly”.

maleficent-18

The use of fairytales as moral exemplars and ways of conveying the values of the times is nothing new. If you read the classics in their original form, they echo the big issues of their age, be they the danger of strangers, the difficult relations within extended families or the impact of dangerous play, disease, war or famine. And yes, they do deal with relations between the genders and romantic love as a bastion of stable society. These classics have been adapted down the years to suit changing mores and norms. But we now appear to be going way too far too fast.

What is it saying about our society when stories aimed at 3-11 year olds depict explicit sexual assault? Well, clearly, it sends very mixed messages via a format, the fairy story that should be a safe, innocent space in a world that seems to have fewer oasis of calm and innocence by the day.

This trend towards sexualiising  children and the undermining of their innocence through excessive involvement in adult matters is, in my view, considerably concerning given the fact that children are increasingly portrayed as disaffected and unhappy in virtually every opinion poll. I believe the same applies to the abuse of “wishes and feelings” reports used in child arrangements disputes. Adults are forcing children into positions where they are having to choose between parents underpinned by a mistaken belief that they are both neutral and empowered enough to make decisions that are only fit for adults. It is actually damaging to the children and completely misses the point that it is impossible for the child to be objective as they are being controlled by the parent with whom they spend most of their time and who has control over their schooling, relationships and key activities.

So what can we , as parents, do about this relentless rape of innocence?

A few quick and simple things.

  1. If you still have influence over your children, then please do monitor what they are watching and reading and when. It is YOUR responsibility to ensure they get a balanced picture in line with YOUR core values. Set parental controls on social media and devices and get rid of and/or have conversations about messaging that you believe is contrary to your beliefs.
  2. Source great stories or tales in films and books that support a balanced view and ensure these are easily available. I always had a great selection of the classics to supplement the inevitable Disney and sought out authors that I believe portrayed healthy role models. Ian Buckingham’s Legend of the Lost is a current case in point.
  3. Make your voice heard and complain about the buzz-feeding nonsense like the latest campaign or films like Maleficent that are nothing short of sexist propaganda.

clairepollardchalfonts

If you’re in a a dispute over shared parenting, you owe it to your kids to make your views known about the way wishes and feelings reports etc are used and make a stand for your kids.

Innocence doesn’t last very long. Our children need their parents, the adults, to stand up for theirs.

SO make your voice heard.

Remember, (and this is an apt use of the metaphor) you need to be clear about what is and isn’t acceptable.

Silence by those properly empowered to know better, actually does encourage abuse.

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Parental Alienation & Death in the Afternoon!

hemingway

I’ve long been a fan of the writing of Hemingway.

A complex, controversial man who had such a deceptively simple style. 

He would have loathed the current age because, in many regards, he may be considered to represent what certain factions have, with some success, managed to label “toxic masculinity”.

This movement started in the 50s, continued in the 60s and 70s when Germaine Greer famously humiliated Norman Mailer, another writer of “machismo” and has found fresh voice and plumbed new depths in the social media age in which, by some ironic twist of fate, Greer herself has now become a target, thereby exposing the fanatics for what they are.

You can dig out reams written on the topic, but in essence the term “toxic” refers to the characteristics of men that stem from the added dose of testosterone that comes with the gene package. It’s a catch-all pejorative to describe all acts of aggression and dominance attributed to testosterone, implying that they are throwback qualities of a pre-evolved state and have resulted in the wars and atrocities that befall society.

Of course, this entirely one-eyed narrative neglects to recognise that the same attributes blamed for the woes of the world could also, if properly focused, be credited for many if not most of the world’s advances, developments and achievements in most spheres of life from engineering through to the arts and that the style of the attacks are, in themselves, examples of intolerant toxicity.

But that’s another debate for another day.

The book from which the  headline is taken, is a book about bullfighting.

bullfight

Hemingway spent his life obsessed with masculine pursuits of the hunting, shooting, fishing and hard drinking varieties and was fascinated by the characters he encountered along the way.

But he was also famously a depressive as a consequence, extremely self critical and took his own life.

Traveling on the train last week, a poster caught my attention. It was one of many now appearing, sponsored by the Samaritans, a suicide prevention campaign clearly aimed at men.

Then, hauntingly, as I was reading, news came over the PA of someone who had thrown themselves in front of a train.

A death in the afternoon.

For the rest of my journey, I couldn’t get two images out of my mind….the iconic cover of Hemingway’s book about bull fighters. And that poster of the man standing alone in the shadows.

See, if you read tales of bullfighting written back in the day, the bulls are often described as monsters, savage beasts to be bested by the courage of the meek, even effete matador with nothing but dexterity and guile to protect him from the raw aggression and power of the mighty animal.

It suddenly became clear to me that this is exactly the toxic narrative we are being fed about masculinity now.

This repeated aggressor/plucky hero narrative makes it so easy for naive third parties to enable the immoral, vindictive and the maliciously intelligent seeking to use children as weapons to separate their partners from their assets and subsume their lives. But not by matching muscle with force, but by goading, hobbling and then using guile to abuse and then exploit them while fooling onlookers into believing that the one butchering the dumb animal in stages is in fact the victim.

No surprise that modern parents are confused at times. The world has changed so fast that following the example set by our parents and grandparents is very, very difficult.

Both genders are so often called upon to be strong AND sensitive, thrusting AND forceful yet accommodating AND compassionate. We can’t just choose a camp and remain in it like our forebears largely did. We are simultaneously expected to be providers and carers, warriors and nurses and it’s bloody difficult, especially while the previous generation have set a different example but criticise us for our choices.

Post-war fathers still expect sons to behave like the bull and treated them that way. Our mothers are probably more aligned to the matador.

Yet frankly, we’re opposed to blood sports altogether.

So what is the true state of modern parenting?

Well, we’re expected to believe that perfection abounds if we believe social media. But if you happen to be one of the unlucky millions separating from someone who either complies with these toxic stereotypes, is advised by people who do or you are being assessed and judged by them, then the resident parents will be portrayed as the poor little person waving the cape and the “other” as the raging bull. Lest we forget, hwoever, in bullfights the matador has an army of helpers who hobble and cripple the poor “toxic” beast fighting for its life before and during the “battle from whence few bulls emerge alive. The bull has only its stamina and instincts.

Perhaps there is some hope, however, implied in the narrative behind the narrative?

Hemingway’s book is actually a very intimate portrayal of the matadors who, as you follow their stories, turn out to be tragic figures. Despite the fancy clothing and headlines, even the very best only enjoy brief glories but then fade into obscurity, with very few exceptions.

Most importantly, people are now starting to see these blood sports for what they are; cruel exploitation.

Sympathy has now turned to favour the poor, tortured animals and there is scant respect for their sadistic tormentors.

I have little doubt that, eventually, the deliberate alienation of one parent by the passive aggressive parent, deflecting attention away from their sadism with flashy “due process” and an army of lawyers on horseback like fee-chasing picadors and toreadors, will come to be viewed by society as the cruel and selfish blood sport it is. But society has some way to go to look beyond the gaudy cape of excuses and the trappings of moral indignation that somehow justify the abuse.

PA is not society’s salve to soothe the wounds of toxic parenting or masculinity or authority as the sneak-thieves will have us believe.

Parental alienation IS toxic parenting.death

Passive aggression, of the matador variety, may not be as apparent as the outright aggression of the bull. But it burns deeper and longer and it is arguably even more destructive to children and society at large.

If the practice of parent alienation is allowed to continue unchecked, sponsored and cheered on by baying fiesta crowds of enablers, there will be many more tragedies.

But which death in the afternoon will it take for people to finally say “enough is enough”?

Your brother’s? Your father’s? Your best friend’s? Your girlfriend’s?

Yours?

 

 

 

 

 

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Parent Alienation and the Reluctant Hero

Last weekend I caught up with a group of old friends, a mixed group including happily married mates, happily divorced ones and the worryingly large percentage trudging through the #PA or parent alienation quagmire.

Our group also included Ian Buckingham, the relatively high-profile consultant and writer, an advocate for shared parenting rights and gender equality at work and at home who recently diversified from writing business books to writing children’s fiction.

As some people will know, he recently launched the first in a fantasy trilogy, a book called Legend of the Lost filled with positive messages about enduring family love and the power of reconciliation. It’s set in a supernatural context and is a great read for all ages.

He was relaying the positive feedback to date, including school visits and book signings, joking about how adults are often the actual main readership group and showed us photos on the related social media accounts of parents and their kids reading the book in remote and interesting places.

All really warm, positive news.

heros-journey_story

However, the only relatively negative response came from an odd source. It was someone connected with the marketing of the book whose daughter gave the book an unfavourable review.

Seemingly at odds with everything else fed-back to date and given their connection to the project, he inquired, politely, wanting to understand more as he’s now finalising the second in the series.

It didn’t take long to piece together a background of alienated child, alienating mother , lots of negativity and aggression and a coven of similar adult friends.

Given his understanding of PA, Ian gently explored the issue with the mother who, amid an outpouring of abuse, claimed the book  “didn’t fit with (her) view of parenting as s single parent with a deadbeat former partner”.

Surprised, he pointed out that the book was a fantasy fiction, out of the key characters, most of the leading figures are female and that only 1 of the 5 central children are boys. He also pointed out that the villains throughout the series are, where they can be identified, both male and female but most importantly, that the key message is about reconciliation and ending a family feud that had lasted centuries.

It was positive.

It soon became clear that she hadn’t bothered to read the book. But it didn’t stop her voicing an opinion, openly and abusively.

Fortunately, later that day, several readers and their parents sent photographs and stories of their children, girls and lads, enjoying the book and the volume of great feedback now grows daily on the social media sites.

But while it is perfectly fine for people to genuinely have differing experiences of  any art form, based on their preferences and tastes, this incident also shows how depressingly negative the behaviours associated with parent alienation can be.

For, just as hundreds of children are enjoying a magical experience, exploring a fresh and creative storytelling journey that they can hopefully relate to in some way, that woman’s daughter is clearly so unhappy at home that even an innocent story about a reconciling family is a source of negativity for her.

And why?

Because her role models, in this case her mother, and their close network of friends, her flying monkeys, have launched a narrative of hate that they are clinging to like a leaky raft of ill will that is slowly drowning them all.

Our personal mythology, our family stories, our fairy tales are powerful. Most children’s books involve an element of jeopardy that removes one or both parents, if you think about it, it’s what gives the kids the room to and license and courage to take risks and explore.

Not many involve cosy nuclear or extended families as adversity is often the pivot.

Let’s hope more and more people realise that they have to become the heroes for their kids and that heroism is judged by what you do for others, not just yourself. That means both parents taking responsibility, despite adversity for filling children’s heads with the right, positive values, not divisive nonsense and negativity.

If the trials of your journey are weighing you down, as they do us all from time to time, pick up a copy of the first in the Legend of the Lost trilogy. Do check out the website for inspiring shots of children and parents enjoying a great read.

If you contact Ian, the author, as several parents have done, he will sign and dedicate copies (while initial stocks last).

It is also available in soft copy/Kindle format now if you need a quick fix of inspiration and positivity!

 

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Alienation is no myth…but neither is reconciliation

As time passes and awareness increases, we’re slowly seeing a shift away from having to prove the existence of Parent Alienation or PA as a tactic of abuse and enforced parental estrangement enacted largely by resident parents. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that it’s a modern social disease and has been spreading fast.

The CEO of Cafcass has clearly and officially acknowledged its existence, as has Lord Justice Munby and many MPs.

So we now enter the “what to do about it” phase. That’s an even tougher task and one that alienated parents are understandably very impatient about given the extent of the abuse they and their children continue to suffer at the hands of self-centered people who clearly show nothing but contempt for shared parenting or the court.

While the anti-PA community has respect for the pioneering work of the more father-focused groups like F4J and FNF, established with a mandate focused on the woefully neglected area of father’s parental rights, we all recognise that PA, while mostly targeted at fathers, is not entirely gendered.

PA largely stems from the imbalance created when one parent, post separation, is empowered by being granted resident parent status (or simply takes it), dominates the finances and the children’s time and activities and then has both the power and opportunity to erase the other parent from the lives of the children.

Largely by manipulating the narrative, they literally re-program the children’s perceptions of the other parent in order to get them to reject them and to take everything for themselves.

Journey

 

The outcome, while convenient for the alienating parent, is severe psychological trauma for the children, damaging them for life and unimaginable suffering for the targeted parent and their extended family and new partner.

They are forced to face a living bereavement, are dangled on the end of an alienator’s puppet strings, enduring rolling grief with no idea if or when it will end given reunification can be the only antidote and that is the last thing the abuser will tolerate.

People find different ways to cope.

One is to reach out for support via social media, the online community, led by groups like FNF, the PNP movement of which we have been a pivotal part, NAAP, grandparents groups and committed individuals.

Some of the most vociferous include:

@fatherscontact; @sasquires3006; @JaneEjackson; @daddyduwsf; @DivorcePioneer;  @JoJoWAR_DRUMMER ; @Bgrandparents; @Peace_not_PAS; @mick_ogden; @stopalienation.

The extended anti-PA network includes “woke” social workers, legal and reconciliation experts and offers invaluable and informed support for affected parents, children and extended families.

So please do follow them on twitter and join in the awareness-raising conversations and protesting online.

One of the parents who has been instrumental in striving for change, by continually challenging the institutions and organisations to address the out-dated leadership, processes and culture problems that are allowing PA to creep into the cracks between agencies, has been transformation consultant Ian Buckingham. He has featured here before  in the ongoing Cafcass dialogue and change debate.

Ian champions the use of storytelling both at home and at work as a means of making sense of the challenges we face.

He reminds us that myths, legends and stories have long been the way of engaging with and educating children about the values and behaviours we hold dear; that life’s rocky road of adventure is never straightforward and that we need to be resolute in adversity and humble and balanced in moments of success.

Along with the business books, Ian has just published the first in a series of children’s fiction books. They are described as entertaining escapism, first and foremost, intended to entertain adults as much as children in the Blyton, Lewis or even Rowling tradition.

heros-journey_story

But as with the best children’s books, there is a clear moral undertone. Overcoming estrangement and adversity in order to forgive, re-focus and re-unify is the over-arching theme.

As you might expect, given they’re aimed at children 7-11 and young adults, the message is conveyed with the help of changeling children, mermaids, were-creatures, pirates, incredible magical items and a cast of thousands of animals who come together to save parts of the planet along the way.

If you are lucky enough to have anyone to read them to, or know a special young person who enjoys a cracking read and would benefit from a bit of escapism with an important message, then do grab a copy or two of Legend of the Lost, the first in the trilogy.

They are available online for orders now and will be in the shops the end of August.

As a special favour to our parent network however, Ian does have a limited number of advance copies of the first edition available.  He will be happy to personalise a message for you/someone special.

If you know a special someone who will benefit from that sort of message in an uplifting tale of overcoming adversity and reunification , then contact him via the website related to the books.

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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.

shadow

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.”

sadironman

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.

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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.

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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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1

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.

0

WARNING: PAS You’re Next!

motherinlawWe recently wrote a provocative post suggesting that in an increasing number of cases, “single parenting” has become a lifestyle choice.

We suggested that an alarming number of unscrupulous parents are deploying common tactics, shared within online networks, to strip assets, gain an income, often for life and then remove the targeted parent who no longer fits their narrative.

It has stirred up quite a response, because it’s painfully close to the naked truth, it seems.

Given the very many cases and situations we sadly hear in our various forums and platforms, we’re not surprised.

Just this week we heard of one mother who worked in human resources with her ex, spent two years sacking most of her friends, moved into his house after she was made redundant, started a family with him and then, three years later, “sacked him” too. She then blocked out her colleagues and spent years alienating him from their kids because he was an inconvenient truth.

Yet what is equally striking, is that for every decent human being who sees these people for who they are, with their petty but cruel behaviour and the victim narrative they create to garner sympathy for denying their former partner time to love and care for their own children, there seem to be twice as many people who turn a blind eye to this alienating abuse. They are supposedly friends, family and acquaintances yet by doing this, these people are condoning and enabling the obvious damage being caused to the children concerned.

You don’t have to actively participate in the gossip, to agree or even to encourage the alienating parent. Simply doing nothing, indulging them yet engaging with them makes the enabler complicit in what is now widely recognised as child abuse.

As Edmund Burke said ” “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”

Now, undertaking a calculated campaign of cruel spite is obviously deplorable from a wider ethical standpoint. But it’s much worse than that because it is deeply personal and will, very likely, have direct consequences for the enablers, the people who ignore the signs and choose to do nothing.

Why?

  • It makes what should be unacceptable behaviour an acceptable norm which, before you blink will spread to other families
  • Because, if the alienator, a member of your social circle can abuse their own child’s father/mother in this calculated and relentless way,  then how can you trust them with:
    • your husband/wife?
    • your children?
    • your contacts?
    • your life?

Let’s cut to the chase here.

Despite what the alienator may say, you know enough about the targeted parent to understand that they are dedicated to their kids and desperate to do the right thing.

You have seen them fight against overwhelming odds, desperate to stay in touch.

You’ve witnessed them turn up at school or events despite having to put up with incredible levels of discomfort and abuse.

You have seen your “friend” destroy the children’s love of their own parent.

You have watched how they have even used new partners to cause additional pain and abuse, before they too have left.

So why on earth would the non-resident parent still try to stick around unless they loved their children dearly?

Do you seriously believe they are trying to see their own kids just to annoy let alone “abuse”someone they no longer love?

Really?

Above all, have you ever stopped to ask yourself?

  • who the real problem parent is?
  • what sort of person would persist with so many cruel and petty actions that are causing so much damage to their children?
  • why the often hysterical parent won’t just do the right thing?
  • why they have prolonged this revenge parenting for so long?
  • what are they covering up?
  • what does this say about their judgement and their mental health?
  • how they behave with your kids/husband/wife when you’re not there?

but most importantly

what would they do to me if they ever fell out with me too?

targetwoman

Be honest.

How many parents who demonstrate these relentless alienating behaviours that clearly damage the children let alone the target parent, do you actually respect?

How many are or were independently successful and well balanced in their own right before they married?

How many actually only have what they have because they took it from their former partner yet can’t even show them basic respect?

How many of these people would you trust not to do EXACTLY the same to you?

Are you still happy to sit and listen while they spread poison at social events, at school or at your house?

What exactly would you do if they turned their sights on you and how would you want your network to behave?

How do you know they haven’t already?

Well?


Please Note: This blog deals with difficult issues. If you need support, we will gladly refer you to legal, mentoring and reunfication specialists. 

We are also more than happy to feature quality content by writers; any wish to remain anonymous will be respected, as is the case above.

So please do contact us.

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……

 

0

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
0

PA: Your kids don’t need a martyr, they need you!

As we enter the traditional remembrance season during which those who sacrificed themselves for the “greater good” are recognised, it is worth reflecting that men have been programmed for self-sacrifice since, well forever.

They instinctively sleep by the bedroom door, allegedly hard wired to be the first reactor, defender, first victim should something nasty invade the “cave”.

They learn from the overwhelming weight of narrative tradition in films and fairy tales that they are supposed to endure trials on behalf of the family, the community and to prove themselves worthy of a partner. And this generation of fathers still has the “muscle memory” of grandfathers who “went away” and sacrificed themselves for the greater good in world wars, allegedly doing so with a quiet, resigned dignity.

The problem is, it’s a cliché to which we’re now largely desensitized because it’s frankly expected, a given and as a consequence, it garners little sympathy, attention, credit or even support. In fact, it is increasingly used as a weapon against men, especially in court by unscrupulous individuals trying to portray the masculine as “aggressor and risk” and the feminine as “protective and nurturing” when the opposite can just as readily be true.

Is it, therefore, any surprise that men clad in superhero outfits scaling big monuments to give voice to the injustice of parental alienation, are largely marginalised and ignored because, well, most people expect suffering on behalf of the family to be part of the parent’s lot and certainly the man’s lot and are intolerant of what is perceived by many as self-pity or selfishness.

dead-captain_america

Of course, the flip side of that equation has been sexist stereotyping of women as passive princesses, objects of ambition, victims of the birth rite, nurturing earth mothers, long-suffering stalwarts and mainstays of the family “left behind” to cope when men march against men or lack the maturity to cope with family life.

But, as with the masculine stereotypes, how dated and inappropriately subordinate these female stereotypes seem to our modern minds. We’ve spent decades now subverting these clichés and evolving to a more empowered vision of the female gender.

Yet, let’s be honest, can the same be said of the sacrificial male archetype? Has this really changed or have we simply bolted more onto the weight of what we expect from boys, dads, brothers, fathers, grandfathers, men?

Modern, so-called metrosexual males, to varying degrees, have tried to play their part as reconstituted fathers, often in the face of hostility from Baby Boomer grandparents who are largely threatened by the criticism implied by this evolution of parenting. They have at least tried to be partners in the truest sense during the key phases of child-birth and nurturing, recognising, in return, the just cause of female equality in the workplace and home.

But what happens when the fairy tale family, the meeting of two apparent equals goes wrong, as more than 1 in 3 now does? Seems that our systems still operate to that out-moded gender polemic.

A large part of the  problem is, we have yet to create the precedent that is appropriate to the pace of the evolution of the individual models. In short, our divorce process is patently out of step with the vast majority of parenting processes. One has evolved while the other appears to have stalled. And it is here, in this gap, that the abuse of children and non-resident parents of both genders is happening.

In the movies, there’s a noble place for the self-sacrificing male who falls on the grenade for his colleagues, who takes one for the team or who helps the women and children to the lifeboats while he waits to drown. The problem is, how sensible is that action if he is the  only one who knows how to row, is the strongest, the best nurturer, leader or navigator? Chances are, they will all perish, he will only have bought them time. And this analogy applies to many divorces which lead to bankrupted fathers and alienated, badly damaged children forced to repeat the patterns of their parents.

Current divorce legislation seems to be the equivalent of the terminal threat to the growing number of fathers alienated from their children by the system. They may have been prepared to sacrifice their house, pride, fortune and even much of their fathering time to the “grenade” – strewn cause. But what if it destroys them? Who wins if the children are abandoned? And what if the real threat to the children’s futures wasn’t actually from the outside but was lurking within all along in the form of an unstable partner hell-bent on destruction? This is the nightmare that keeps all non-resident parents, regardless of gender, awake at night, most nights, I can assure you.

Parent alienation is an abuse of power by one party to inflict ongoing trauma on the other, using the children and family assets as weapons. It happens to non-resident mothers as well but, largely owing to the legacy of sexist thinking, the vast majority of non-resident parents are currently men.

Children need both decent parents in their lives for a whole variety of reasons. And it’s an irrefutable fact that, whatever their flaws, fathers are equally amazing. They get stuff done, they invent, they create, they engineer, they care, they love deeply and are among the finest of artists, always have been and yes when necessary they can be formidable warriors too.

So if you are unfortunate enough to be reading this without the benefit of a 50/50 shared parenting arrangement and sometimes the road ahead seems strewn with peril and jeopardy, just remember that your children need you and there is little point  sacrificing yourself, walking away or throwing yourself on that emotional or psychological grenade.

Society has evolved and our answers to challenges facing us need to evolve as well. Our children need answers not problems, parents not martyrs, peace not pas and  you really are man/woman/parent enough to find another, better way.