It would appear that society remains either ignorant or hostile to the plight of men, including fathers. But as parental alienation, the contrived rejection of one biological parent by the children, as a result of the negative influence of the other (usually resident) parent, grows to impact more mothers, will it be treated with the seriousness it should be?
Well two developments in the last week may hold out some hope.
Firstly, the good news is that the WHO or World Health Organisation now recognises parental alienation and this must mean that agencies like CAFCASS will have to up the pace of their long debated reforms.
The second incident, however, was yet another tragic case in which another resident parent (in this case a mother) and her partner (not the biological parent) killed and injured six children in their care in one night.
I won’t share morbid details here but there are now too many of these incidents occurring for society to continue to turn a blind eye to the fact that BOTH genders are capable of cruelty and that actually the SAFEST scenario for the children of separated families is for shared care, enabling both biological parents to co-parent, share the pressures and provide safeguarding safety nets.
Much-respected shared parenting advocate Dr Sue Whitcomb explains:
“IMO the gendered lens used far too often conflates the violence of men with the violence of fathers, as in this heavily cited paper “The murder of children by fathers in the context of child abuse” – 62% of the “fathers” were NOTin fact birth fathers “
“A failure to undertake independent, objective research through a non- gendered, ideologically driven lens leaves children at risk of harm. This research report from DCSF again suggests birth fathers are no greater risk to their child than birth mothers.
As Dr Sue points out, the relentless depiction of men as child safety risks falsely maligns birth fathers. The actuality is that bad people are capable of bad things regardless of gender.
Mothers and new partners are likely to present a higher physical risk to children when all factors are taken into account. And that is before recognising the harm that emotional and psychological abuse of children causes rather than physical abuse alone especially as the former is far more prevalent including issues like the alienation of a child’s biological non-resident parent and the impact this has upon their development and wellbeing in the medium to long term.
To illustrate these points consider this haunting story from one of the parents in our large social media community of parents desperately trying to either address the alienation of their children or re-connect with them, mindful of the harm it is doing to their children and them personally.
“My former partner used to work with me in our HR function. I used to respect her for being efficient and professional when dealing with matters like redundancies and tribunals etc. Little did I know that those “skills” would be used to cause me, my family and our children immeasurable hurt and harm.
She left me shortly after the birth of our second child, a bolt from the blue as, despite the normal pressures of starting a family, we had a fairly idyllic life.
I soon discovered that all was not as I had thought. She had been siphoning money from our business, had shut down my backup financial accounts and moved finances into the children’s accounts to which only she had access.
We initially agreed to split amicably and focus on the children. But soon her lawyers began a ridiculous abuse narrative that my solicitor naively felt we shouldn’t challenge for fear of recriminations. However it was her fast track to seemingly bottomless legal aid at the time, something I never realised.
We had shared every aspect of parenting but she had moved the kids hundreds of miles back to her parents. They then colluded in the asset stripping that followed using the children as leverage.
The worst happened, however, when she moved her new boyfriend into the house my assets financed. He started emotionally “grooming” our youngest and most impressionable. This guy would literally turn up to events we were all at, our young daughter in his arms and spend the whole time grinning and winking at me.
I discovered that she was using this new “babysitter” to go out with girlfriends, and he would have free access to bathing and putting her to bed. To cover his tracks, he soon stopped her from coming to stay with us during her “court allocated” Daddy time.
When I would call for the children, he would stand in the window with our youngest laughing at me and mocking me, stroking her hair or kissing her. How I retained my self-control I will never know.
They then started making additional financial demands, the implication being that they would make access to the children harder unless we complied. When I refused to play ball, they took me back to court and used the pathetic “abuse” narrative to gain legal aid.
During one especially public event, he turned up on his own with our youngest and I confronted him, politely and said that we should “make an effort to get on literally (if reluctantly) offering the hand of friendship.
He refused. He just stared at the floor frozen with shame and fear while the entire neighbourhood looked on.
That night I was invited to attend the local police office to help them with an “emotional abuse investigation”. It turned out I was the “accused”.
The gloves literally being off now, I went to my MP, the Headmaster of the school, wrote to the senior partner of her legal firm, wrote to the Prime Minister and District Police Commissioner and lifted the drains on the case. After a few weeks of hell in which I still faced prosecution for allegedly “bullying them” (somehow), I eventually received a formal apology from all concerned. But the abuser faced no charges or consequences and I was told to “trust Mum’s judgement”. When I politely declined the investigating officer privately agreed with my judgement.
A week later her lover left her. This stranger who had bathed my children, who got into bed with them and babysat them unsupervised had been cheating on her the whole time. When he failed to extort money from me and could see that I couldn’t be intimidated, he left overnight.
But far from concluding and improving matters, this now tipped the children’s mother into a new phase of hate and rage. Of course, she blamed me for her latest woes and turned up the heat on the children,
Our youngest never came to see us again something that still bends me double with indescribable anxiety, and our eldest lasted several more months despite constant negativity, surveillance while with us and control via electronic devices.
We turned to the court for help. But they were pitiful, constantly reinforcing the sexism and even corroborating the “Mum knows best” line. Despite formally warning her to comply with the order they took no action to address her behaviour.
There is no doubt our lovely, lovely innocent children have been abused, whether physically I can’t confirm. But most certainly emotionally. They have been treated inappropriately and they will now sadly see this behaviour as normal, which is outrageous.
During the very occasional moment of civility with my ex, perhaps most terrifying of all is the fact that she never takes responsibility for her behaviour. At work she used to blame others when she was ruining people’s lives. Now she abdicates responsibility to lawyers, her mother and other parents who “advise” her. She even blames the children for not “wanting to come and see us”. Again, she is woefully negligent in her parenting and this will have a lifelong impact on all of us. It is truly terrifying that the powers that be don’t, won’t or can’t recognise this behaviour for what it is, deliberate and calculated alienation, bullying and abuse.
The most obvious missing link is the understanding that passive aggression is often the worst form of abuse and that is where we are now…zero communication, zero contact, complete bullying by ignorance and denial of loving parenting, a child’s most basic right”
Now this parent’s woes have not turned out as tragically as some, in a physical sense. But he has suffered years of constant abuse simply trying to be a father and fights back terrible depression caused by the emotional, financial and coercive abuse his former partner and enablers have deliberately directed at him using and abusing the authorities and his children.
But still his greatest pain comes from knowing what she is capable of and now teaches the children without any checks and balances from him.
If you have a parental alienation story to tell, then please do share it either here on the social media platforms. We will only end this social disease linked to mental health abnormalities if we all keep talking about it. Silence is sadly compliance so please, please speak up. Yes, it hurts. But your children will be hurting for a lot longer…your grandchildren too, unless we can stop this.