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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.

mackenziethorpe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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This blog deals with some difficult subjects.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I saw the love-light die in their little eyes

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

That was ten years ago!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Tell her you selfish prick.”

Naturally both children then started crying.

I was stunned.

All I could think to say was:

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m not sure I’ve ever recovered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is plainly and simply calculated abuse.

Tale II: My Valentine’s gift

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

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

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

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

Then the real abuse started.

child picture

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

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

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

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

I made it to Blue and locked the door.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s quite the reverse.


This blog deals with some troubling subjects.

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

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

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PA: the constrictor tightens its grip

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

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

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

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

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

I just left it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So now I feel like a mug AND angry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whatever I do next, the children suffer.

And she knows that…..


We deal with some distressing issues in this blog. If you would like to talk with someone who may be able to help with your legal or reconciliation battle then contact us and we’ll connect you if we can.

If you would like to contribute to the first-hand accounts we share, then drop us a line with a proposal.

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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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We’re being bullied and I’m scared!

A father who shares the parenting of some of his children talks about his first hand experience of the relentless process undermining his relationship with his children:

“I’ll admit it. I’m scared”.

Bullying is defined as someone with power over another using that power to cause them harm. I know that feeling too well.

My former wife abused her position of influence over our children and the fact that I couldn’t be both with them and at work, to undermine and bully them and me while we were together.

But despite being divorced for years, I feel like history is repeating itself… again and again and again.

My experience of  Parental Alienation is unique in many aspects and horrifyingly similar in others.

At the beginning of my divorce my eldest daughter was so angry with her mum. So much so that on a couple of occasions I had to physically put myself between them to stop them coming to blows.  Once my ex realised this she decided not to leave. Or at least she said that she wouldn’t. But of course, she was just stalling for time.

By this point I’ll admit I did not believe her. I knew we were living on borrowed time. But unfortunately I still had to go to work, leaving myself and the children vulnerable. And I was right to be scared. All it took to turn my eldest into an automaton was a week home ill from school and intense 1:1 time with “mummy” and her mind-bending words.

We had a good relationship before. But she had always been closer to her mother and her mum had always kept her close. My younger 2 were less favoured and I suppose I had compensated for that subconsciously and they always preferred time with me.

Soon after I was denied access to all 3 children, however. The claim was that they were suddenly  scared of me. The main mouthpiece for this was my eldest. My younger 2 daughters were contradicting everything she said. But social services ignored them. The age gap between my eldest and middle daughter is 17 months and 1 school year. Yet one was old enough to speak and the other wasn’t.

I went to court and won the right to see the children. But from thereon, it was frankly like living in a house with a spy who wouldn’t talk to me. So for example 1 night I got the silent treatment as I always did and her mum had made sure they were all in their rooms(yes I have had some crazy court orders but that is for another time). I was cooking myself some dinner and I set the smoke alarm off as it got too smoky. I didn’t burn anything. A minute later for me I got a chilling text from my ex saying smoke can be very dangerous. She was gone, but still very much there.

I’m sure many of you have been in this position.

The brainwashing control was so absolute that if you read a statement from my eldest it was almost word for word the same as the legal letters from my ex. The only people bothered by this or even seeming to notice were me and my solicitor. The best way I can describe it is with this clip.

Several months passed, my ex had moved out (this was odd but she let me buy her out of her house) and I felt my eldest daughter slipping away. So I had to make a tough call.  I backed down and became the one thing I never wanted to be. I became a weekend dad.

As per the patterns common to the experience of so many alienated parents, everything that could be done by my ex was done to disrupt the smooth running of the court order. Her specialism, however, was that all communication was forced through my eldest. If I refused to communicate through her I didn’t get the kids. This put an unfair strain on her. It was abusive.

Eventually I got an email attacking me saying that she never wanted to see me again. Given the strain she was being put under by her mom, I’m not surprised and I do not blame her.

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But it saddens me deeply that I have not seen my first born daughter now for 2 and half years.

This is where for me things got really odd and I still to this day don’t understand what happened. My middle daughter texted and emailed quite often. When my ex found  out her phone was taken and was then mysteriously broken. Computer time and hence her chance to email was stopped because of too much screen time when with me.

I got her a new phone and asked her what she wanted. She said she wanted to spend more time with me. All I said is she needed to tell CAFCASS when they asked as I was going back to court to sort things out. A week later I got an email from my ex criticising my care of the children, but bizarrely, as a result, she was sending my youngest 2 children to live with me from now on except for certain dates. Again, she was calling the shots as suited her and her new partner.

I went straight back to court and made it all legal before she had time to change her mind, however. The judge did not want to agree but my ex for reasons best known to her couldn’t agree quick enough. She further exerted her control on my eldest, however, but I had at least secured some of my family, much to my relief and that of my extended family who had been petrified of losing everything having already lost so much.

It was not the solution I wanted but it was better than most dads get in my position. I continued to fight and spend a fortune trying to get contact with my eldest but I got nowhere. This was early Dec 2015.

In April 2016 my eldest was removed from school without my permission. I knew there was something going on but I had parental responsibility still so I knew she had to ask. But nobody would be that brazen would they? Well actually yes.

One day she was in school the next day she wasn’t.

My middle daughter only found out when a teacher asked how she felt about her sister moving away. So I go into headless chicken mode trying to find out what had gone on.

I provided everybody a copy of the court order in Dec 15. But none of them had it when the time came. After many frantic phone calls I discovered that my eldest had been moved to Wales and had been taken out of full time education and bizarrely, without consulting me, my ex intended to home school her.

She lied and told the school that there was a non molestation order against me preventing me from seeing her and my eldest. Nobody thought to ask for a copy of it. (I did not know about the order part until much later when I complained to social services. Their defence was she said there was this order, but we should have asked for a copy.

Anyway back to court we went in May when again my ex returned to type with her counter applications. I think there were 5 this time. Attached to one was a 20 page essay marked like a teacher explaining why my eldest hated me and my mum so much. There was also, bizarrely, an application from the youngest 2 children to live with my ex.

In court before I could even sit down, to my surprise, the judge said that the essay was clearly child abuse dismissed all her applications on the spot and appointed a guardian to see what could be done to help my eldest and the youngest when they were at their mum’s.

Yet there were no “consequences” for the lies and deceit and bullying behaviour of my ex, no disincentive or rebuke.

The love bombing of my middle daughter then started. There were lies about me not be allowed to talk to their mother again. The result was my world falling apart.

An email from my middle daughter followed, almost a copy of the one from October saying that this time she never wanted to see me again. The judge, however, ordered her returned to me. Within 2 weeks she was saying she wanted to live with me again. Today she is grateful that she does not live with her mum. I never stopped her mum seeing her, despite the risks and her mum has tried since to get her to change her mind but she never has.

Now, having survived the last bout of bullying and abuse, my ex has turned her attentions to my youngest. I see the same tactics and patterns happening to her before my eyes. But I am powerless to stop it and so, it seems, is the law. This is the girl who would sulk and say she didn’t want to go whenever she had to go to her mum’s. Now she is telling me happily she wont miss me when she gets to stay at the fun house all the time.

Yet I continue to believe in shared parenting, despite the bullying, abuse and underhand behaviour and despite the fears that are giving me sleepless nights, from Thursday they go again to my ex’s,  someone completely hostile to me and my family, many miles away.

I know my family are absolutely terrified of what she could do. My middle daughter is now scared of her own mother.

And I am at my wit’s end, even though I still see most of my children, unlike so many thousands of alienated parents.

What I can say for certain is that the family law system is just not fit for modern purpose. I am not sure social morals were as dark as they now seem to be. Too many people use children as weapons to cause harm and abuse. I really worry about the impact this will have on the next generation unless the system can adjust to end the bullying of people who just want to do the best for their kids and who want to co-parent in peace.


This blog deals with powerful and disturbing issues. If you can relate to the writer’s perspective and would like to share your own, then please add a comment. If you want a larger platform or need reconciliation support, please contact us and we will gladly refer you to one of our trusted advisory team.