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Peace Not Pas

A Parent's Story of Battling Parental Alienation

Month: December 2017

New Years Resolutions and Coping with Parental Alienation

As we are about to enter another year and are once again confronted with the somewhat cultural expectation to make New Years resolutions, some of us will see  this annual cycle for what it is. A way of invoking a ‘new beginning’, an attempt to implement some positive changes in our lives.

It could be argued that this is a parallel for how some of us approach life. Worrying about the unimportant things in life, being allowed to be consumed by what others think of us. This does little for our general well-being and even less for the impact we leave behind in this world.

“There are far too many elements that are out of the control of an alienated parent.”

So what the bloody hell has this got to do with coping with parental alienation? This is how I see it… I have now not seen my three beautiful children for over seventeen months and their mother continues to work very hard to prevent me and my side of the family from seeing them. I cannot control her alienating behaviours. I cannot at this stage change the unfair and overly biased legal system that does very little in challenging her illegal and emotionally abusive behaviours towards our children. I cannot make up for the time so far that I have missed out with my children. I cannot take away the pain that my family and I feel due to the children being taken and alienated against us by their mother. Ultimtaely, there are far too many elements that are out of the control of an alienated parent.

“True happiness comes from cultivating compassion and by eliminating anger.”

However in terms of coping strategies it is incredibly important to value and appreciate the elements that are, in such circumstances, in one’s control. The Dalai Lama says “true happiness comes from cultivating compassion and by eliminating anger.”

Lets first look at anger, which alienated parents will invariably experience. To keep from being overwhelmed by such a negative emotion, many parents detach from the situation. It is important to remind oneself that this is an act of self-preservation, not an act of selfishness. In many cases guilt invariably follows, as the parent feels uncomfortable in engaging or re-engaging in hobbies or pastimes. It is important to remind oneself that this is simply a distraction technique, not a substitute for or preference over the children.

Now onto compassion, which is defined in the Oxford English dictionary, as ‘sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others’. The Middle English word is thought to have originated from Anglo-French and in turn from the Late Latin word compassio, meaning to sympathise, to bear, suffer. In numerous philosophies and almost all of the major religions, compassion is ranked as one of the greatest virtues. Furthermore the ability to be able to identify with another individual is a key component of what makes us human. Mirrored behaviours start in early infancy, with the mimicking of facial expressions and body movements of parents and carers. Such behaviours are highly related to the concept of compassion.

However the idea that a parent can alienate their own children against the other parent is difficult to understand and comprehend. To engage in such behaviours requires a complete lack of compassion on the part of the alienating parent.

Divorce and separation is all too often painful and emotionally difficult and children invariably suffer to some degree. However as much as some parents are antagonistic towards one another, most if not all attempt to shield, to some degree, their children from the emotional and psychological fallout from the breakdown of a relationship. This is not the case for parents that alienate, narcissistic traits are what drive sever alienating behaviours, along with a nonsensical need for revenge and/or control.

“It is virtues such as compassion that drive us to continue in the most difficult of situations.”

Such circumstances allow you to find out who your real friends are. These scenarios can bring the alienated members of the family closer together, and an outpouring of compassion to one another occurs. Extraordinarily, it is with compassion that the victims of parental alienation at times examine the emotional make-up of the alienater, looking for answers, trying to understand why someone would behave in such an un-compassionate manner, with such devastating effects on all those around them.

In my humble opinion, I feel that it is virtues such as compassion that drive us to continue in the most difficult of situations. It is compassion that allows us to persevere in the face of adversity.

And so I return to the subject of New Years resolutions. For the alienated parent, a new year could be used to invoke a new way of coping, a renewed vigour. Perhaps a new found appreciation and love for those that matter the most. Although the alienated parent at times will have feelings of despair, sadness and grief, compassion in its simplicity counts for a lot.

As the Dalai Lama says “if you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

btg dad

[Writer’s note: This is an updated version of a previous post]


Please Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and 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.

So if you align with our vision and ethos, 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.

Thanks

The Peace Not Pas Team

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An Open Letter to the Alienating Mother of my Children

So here we find ourselves. You living in the former matrimonial home with our three children. And I have not seen our children since July 2016.

Between us I am estimating that we must have spent in excess of £25,000 each in legal fees. On my part, the legal fees were to enable me to  pursue contact through the courts in order to co-parent our children as successfully, as healthily and as appropriately as we can possibly manage between us. And I still continue to pursue this to this day.

Our children have a right to a healthy and loving relationship with their father. They had a healthy and loving relationship with me before we separated. That right should not be taken away from them just because we have parted.

On your part you have denied those children contact with me. You have in effect brainwashed them completely against me. Your alienating behaviours, if you continue in such a manner will have an incredibly long term detrimental effect on their relationship with me.

“What is it that drives these alienating behaviours of yours?”

There is a plethora of evidence that informs us that adults who endured parental alienation as children suffer low self-esteem, self-hatred, lack of trust and depression. They are also more likely to use illicit substances in an addictive manner. These studies also inform us that as young adults there is a high risk of them losing the capacity to give and accept love from trusted figures. Self-hatred is one of the most disturbing effects of parental alienation on the effected children. The children will almost always internalise the hatred targeted toward the alienated parent. This will result in them beginning to believe that the alienated parent did not want them or love them.

Whether you accept, understand or have even a little insight into the above mentioned consequences and risks to our very own children, the question I would like to ask you is what is it that drives these alienating behaviours of yours?

Fear

Is it fear? Are you fearful that by allowing me to be a part of our children’s lives, you will somehow have a lesser role as their mother. I can assure you, as I have on numerous occasions, you are their mother. You will always be their mother. No one is going to or is able to replace you. Just as they have a right to have a relationship with their father, they also have a right to a relationship with the mother. I would never deny you the right to be their mother. I do not seek full custody. If this is the reason, I can assure you, your fears are unfounded.

Anger or Hatred

Is it anger or hatred? Do you feel anger and hatred towards me, for me ending our relationship? Numerous studies inform us that anger and hatred can have long term, serious effects on the person projecting the hatred. A long term expression of hatred can result in feelings of exhaustion, sadness, chronic rage and in some cases depression and anxiety. Is this what you want for yourself. Is this what you want your future to be in terms of your own mental well being?

Revenge

Is it revenge? Is your aim to hurt me as a form of revenge for me ending the relationship? Revenge is arguably one of the deepest instincts we have. However revenge is counter-productive when such actions of revenge go to unfathomable extremes. The American academic psychologist K. Carlsmith undertook an experiment whereby a group investment game with college students was set up. The aim was that  if all of the participants cooperated, all would benefit equally. However, if any one participant refused to invest his or her money, that person would benefit at the group’s expense.

Unknown to all other participants, there was ‘mole’ in each group who convinced the group members to invest equally. However when it came time to put up the money, the ‘mole’ didn’t go along with the agreed-upon plan. As such the result was that the ‘moles’ earned an average of $5.59, while the other players earned around only $2.51 each.

In terms of exploring further the concept of revenge, Carlsmith offered some of the groups the opportunity to financially punish their respective ‘moles’. Everyone that was offered the chance of revenge took Carlsmith up on his offer. All of these participants expressed an expectation to feel better after taking revenge on the ‘mole’.

The results were very interesting. Those participants who took revenge reported feeling worse than those who had not taken revenge. However they believed they would have felt worse if that hadn’t taken revenge.

The participants who were not offered the opportunity of revenge, expressed a belief that they would have felt better had they been offered the opportunity. However the results were that the group that hadn’t taken revenge were the happier group.

Carlsmith believes that the results of this experiment suggest that anger is increased by revenge due to ruminations. He claims that when people do not get revenge, they tend to minimise the event by telling themselves it wasn’t such a big deal, hence the reason why they did not take revenge. Carlsmith suggests that with this approach it is easier to forget and move on. However, as Carlsmith suggests, when people do get revenge, they are no longer able to minimise the event. In actual fact, Carlsmith claims, they ruminate on the event and as such make themselves feel worse.

So I put to you, the mother of my children. If it is revenge that drives your alienating behaviours, according to the above exploration of revenge, it is in actual fact harming yourself.

I have no issue with openly admitting the following to you. By denying me contact with our children and brainwashing them against me you are causing me incredible emotional pain. However I am much stronger than I could have ever imagined. I love our children more than I could have ever imagined.

The fabricated lies, the false allegations and the overall denigration of my character to anyone around you no longer bothers me. I now walk with my head held high. I will never give up on trying to be a part of our children’s lives.

So to conclude, lets assume, rightly or wrongly your actions are self centred and driven by your own needs. Try and think about the following if you can; whatever the reason or justification you believe makes it acceptable to you to deny those children a relationship with their father, is it ultimately worth the risks discussed above?

One day, whenever that may be, you will ultimately lose out. Your relationship with those children will be under pressure and fragile.

Not if, but when the children find out the truth, obviously such a truth will ultimately jeopardise your relationship with all of them.

And it won’t be because of you or I, it will be because of the truth.

The following quote is taken from the best-selling novel The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini  “but better to get hurt by the truth than comforted with a lie.”

btg dad


Please Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and 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.

So if you align with our vision and ethos, 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.

Thanks

The CCA Support Team

The Season of Goodwill ‘Versus’ Parental Alienation

The ‘season of goodwill’ is one of many ubiquitous terms seen at this time of year, such terms conjure up memories and feelings of warmth that are synonymous with the coming Christmas period and in most induces a feeling of hope, a spirit of generosity and a kindly approach towards others.

In this day and age when people rightly allow themselves to enjoy Christmas in their own way, be it religious, secular, commercial or all, we are all arguably dragged into this impending season of goodwill.

Whichever way we choose to celebrate Christmas, the result is the same. If you are lucky enough to have a loving family around you, it will normally result in some time off work and time spent with loved ones. The giving and receiving of presents, cards and good wishes is common place for most at Christmas. It’s the time of year that people are smiling more, saying “Merry Christmas” to numerous shop assistants and relative strangers.

“This season induces in most, whether we admit to it or not, a spirit of generosity and kindness towards others, however small it may be.”

Charities receive more money over Christmas time than any other time in the year. Whatever Christmas means to you whether you are spurred on by commercialism, religious symbolism and phrases, Dickensian quotes or just nostalgic Christmas movies that are shown on television year after year; whether we like it or not, most of us will be encouraged to think of others more. This season induces in most, whether we admit to it or not, a spirit of generosity and kindness towards others, however small it may be.

However this is not the case for the alienating parent. The parent that chooses to prevent his or her children from seeing the other parent does clearly not buy in to this season of goodwill. In fact the opposite is true, for the alienating parent this is a time of opportunity, but not in the context of Christmas spirit.

As is all too often the case in parental alienation cases, the resident parent, will make false accusations that the alienated parent harmed the children in the past . This in turn kicks off a safeguarding referral and subsequent assessment and results in four to five months (in some cases more) of the targeted parent being prevented by the courts of any unsupervised contact with the children.

This window of opportunity is key for the alienating parent. If they have not already done so at this point, this is where the alienating parent will all too often build a psychological cage around the children, whereby the absence of the alienated parent is presented to the children as the alienated parent actively rejecting the children. The children will be told that the alienated parent has abandoned and rejected the children for a new life, when in fact the opposite is true.

The children will be shielded from the outside truth. An additional key tell-tale sign of parental alienation is when the alienating parent prevents the children from having any relationship with the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins of the alienated parents side of family, this tactic is used to reinforce and secure the false reality of what is the psychological hold the alienating parent has over the children.

“The absence of the targeted parent at such a crucial time of the year will be taken advantage of by the alienating parent.”

So we return back to the subject of Christmas. One can only imagine the multitude of emotions the effected children must be going through as they approach Christmas with their unfounded, but potentially entrenched belief that they have been abandoned by their absent parent.

The absence of the targeted parent at such a crucial time of the year will be taken advantage of by the alienating parent. The psychological cage provided by the alienating parent will enable them to continue with this denigration and hatred of not only the absent and alienated parent but also the alienated parent’s side of the family.

Evidence on parental alienation informs us that personality disorders are at the core of severe cases of parental alienation. As such there is no guilt or shame on the part of the alienating parent. There is only fear of the truth being found out. Unfortunately it is this fear of being found out that often drives such extreme behaviours.

So how do we as those effected by parental alienation manage such damaging and abhorrent behaviours? In terms of coping and dealing with such alienating behaviours, the advice is that we do not compete or engage in conflict, but remain compassionate and kind. In essence a dignified approach in the face of overwhelming adversity. In the spirit of Christmas, it could be argued that we should simply allow ourselves to actively engage in the season of goodwill with all its positive effects on ourselves and others.

To conclude, we can be grateful for those around us and the love and support we provide for one another in such difficult and testing times.

When Charles Dickens’ character Scrooge, wakes up on Christmas morning, he realises he can make amends for his past cruelties:

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”

btg dad

[Writer’s note: This is an updated version of a previous post]


Please Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and 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.

So if you align with our vision and ethos, 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.

Thanks

The Peace Not Team

Merry Christmas. Peace, love and hope to all

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

Prior to becoming an alienated parent some seventeen months ago, one of the most memorable and enjoyable past times I used to spend with my youngest child G, was watching the Disney film Frozen.

The cynics amongst you may well raise an eyebrow to the cliched plot, the over merchandising and at the time the somewhat ubiquitous soundtrack. However as a loving parent, seeing the world through the eyes of one’s own children is a joy to behold and treasure.

And with this point in mind I used to absolutely love watching this film with G. We would snuggle up in bed together in her bedroom and watch it on cold winter mornings. We would also watch it together downstairs in the lounge much to the eye-rolling dismay of her older brothers. We would also play the songs in the car together. G and I both knew all the words to all the songs, due to the amount of time singing them together. I still have G‘s playlist of favourite songs on my spotify account. I refuse to delete that playlist.

One of our favourite Frozen song was Love is an Open Door’. Both of us would sing the respective male and female parts. “I mean it’s crazy… What? We finish each other’s…” The last word “sandwiches!” we would both shout, scream or sing, regardless of where we might have been; home, in the car or in the local supermarket.

Frozen_PeaceNotPas

Another one of G‘s favourite Frozen songs was ‘Do You Want to Build a Snowman?’  Like all the other songs from the soundtrack, G knew all the words off by heart. And now after seventeen months of contact denial the following lyrics present a whole different perspective for me: “Come on lets go and play, I never see you anymore, come out the door. It’s like you’ve gone away… We used to be best buddies. And now we’re not. I wish you would tell me why!”

I sometimes watch Frozen alone. I like to imagine G snuggled up next to me. Where she should be, snuggling up next to her loving dad. When G‘s favourite songs come along I reminisce of the above described singing we would do together.

During this whole period of alienation I have not yet watched Frozen with anyone else. I don’t think I could. I feel that G and I have taken ownership of it. And that I should only be watching it with G, as I always did. The next person I hope to watch it with is G.

A lot of coping with parental alienation is detaching oneself from such memories as the ones described above. To constantly think about such memories is not sustainable. But such detachment runs the risk of inducing feelings of guilt for the alienated parent. Like so many aspects of battling/coping with parental alienation, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Every now and again it is almost as if I need a depressive episode to tell myself that putting such feelings aside is not dismissing them. I have such episodes when people may not even be aware of them. I give in to these episodes not as a form of martyrdom to disclose to others and seek recognition. But as a kind of reality check. Those that don’t really understand may interpret such behaviours as wallowing in self pity. I see it as a self induced reality check. I currently live my life trying to shut so much out. These episodes allow me to feel these feelings of sadness. A kind of self-reassurance that such feelings are still around, but by shutting them out in order to survive, I am not dismissing them.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, the American poet and playwright once said “they say when you are missing someone that they are probably feeling the same, but I don’t think it’s possible for you to miss me as much as I’m missing you right now”

btg dad


Please Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and 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.

So if you align with our vision and ethos, 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.

Thanks

The Peace Not Pas Team

The Madness of Parental Alienation

So in terms of current recognition of parental alienation here in the UK, we have Anthony Douglas (Chief Executive) of Cafcass publicly stating via numerous mediums that parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse. He even goes so far as to state that parental alienation should be treated with the same severity of any other form of abuse. The following is just one of many examples. Divorced parents who pit children against former partners ‘guilty of abuse,’ The Telegraph, 12th February, 2017.

However Cafcass as an organisation appear to be struggling with disseminating this acknowledgement down to their front line staff. From my own personal experience, Cafcass front line staff have told me they are not permitted to use the term parental alienation in their case notes, court reports etc! Again from personal experience, they have informed me that they are only permitted to use the term ‘exhibits alienating behaviours.’

So therefore this difference between theory and practice within Cafcass is of epic proportions. And even more concerning when they claim to be an organisation that safeguards children.

Remaining on the subject of recognition of parental alienation as a form of abuse we then also have Children’s Social Services. And this is where it becomes even more concerning, regarding the lack of safeguarding for children.

Children’s Social Services do not recognise parental alienation as a form of abuse. From personal experience, I have asked their front line staff and their only answer is “we recognise the term.” It doesn’t matter how many times you ask them, their answer is always the same. They cannot bring themselves to outrightly state that they recognise this as a form of abuse. Unfortunately for my three children, my case has now been passed over from Cafcass to Children’s Social Services. My children have been denied contact with me, by their mother since July 2016.

With regards to my own case, Cafcass were dragging their heels, but at least there was beginning to be some progress. However my case has now been taken over by an organisation that claims to safeguard children, but does not recognise what is happening  to them as a form of abuse.

As a mental health nurse the above incompetence, negligence and potential malpractice between these two organisations got me thinking of the following scenario.


Imagine if you will that as a mental health nurse I admit a patient to my psychiatric unit for a period of assessment.

Please imagine if you will the Chief Executive of the NHS Trust that employs me recognises depression as a form of mental illness and has publicly stated this on numerous occasions. However as head of this NHS Trust he is not disseminating this recognition down to his front line staff.

As front line staff we are aware of his numerous public declarations of the above. However we have been given no direct or formal guidance or training to enable us to recognise, assess and treat depression. Our only guidance is that we must not use the term depression or depressed, we must only use the term sad.

So in returning to my hypothetical patient, I have now assessed his mental state and overall presentation for a number of days. As a mental health practitioner, he presents to me as sad, possibly depressed. But imagine if you will, my clinical knowledge of depression is lacking.

As a mental health nurse I am asked to write an assessment report of my findings. I write the following: “Joe Bloggs presents to me as low in mood, minimal engagement, self-reports a sense of hopelessness and reports his current mood as one out of ten. Self care is poor, a lack of motivation, little to no appetite. My clinical impression is that he presents as sad.”

Joe’s parents visit him on the ward. On one particular visit they approach me expressing concerns regarding our current assessment of his mental illness. They inform me they believe he is depressed. They also inform me they have recently read in the media that my Chief Executive acknowledges depression as a form of mental illness. I inform his family, that although as an organisation we recognise depression, we have been instructed by senior management to not use the term depression, instead we must use the term presents as sad in mood. They rightly question this further and feel that the response from me is not good enough.

They put in a complaint against the NHS Trust. Within the content of the complaint they report that they have done some research regarding this NHS Trust’s assessment and management of depression. They report finding out that training for the assessment and treatment of depression is offered to front line staff, however it is not mandatory. They also report having found out that little to no staff attend. They also highlight their concerns regarding the nature of the training. According to their findings the depression training informs front line staff to approach cases of potential depression with extreme caution. The rationale for this is that the patient might be pretending to be depressed.

This complaint results in somewhat of an improvement of the assessment of their son Joe. As his named nurse I continue to document words to the effect of “my clinical impression is that he presents as sad.” However due to the complaint, management have become directly involved in his assessment and they are beginning to come around to the idea that Joe might actually be suffering from depression.

However, within this hypothetical NHS Trust culture, there is a reluctance to admit to this due to a lack of clinical expertise, an overall lack of communication between upper management and front line staff and of course fear of being seen as negligent and being vulnerable to litigation. Despite this negative work culture, the family are beginning to feel that there has been some form of acknowledgement, be it unofficially, of his depression. With this they feel that our assessment and treatment is slowly improving.

However, once again please imagine if you will that Joe’s period of assessment with us is now over. He is now about to be transferred to a neighbouring NHS Trust for a period of treatment. The family is initially pleased. They feel this transfer of care will result in their son’s recovery.

However they are horrified to find out that the NHS Trust their son is being transferred to does not recognise depression at all as a form of mental illness.


I accept the above imagined scenario would not be accepted in the field of mental health. So why is it acceptable within the context of safeguarding our children?

How can one organisation recognise parental alienation as a form of abuse (be it somewhat tentatively) and another similar organisation to them, not recognise it is as a form of abuse?

It just doesn’t make sense.

“In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” Laurence J. Peter, The Peter Principle.

btg dad

[Writer’s note: This is an updated version of a previous post]


Please Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and 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.

So if you align with our vision and ethos, 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.

Thanks

The Peace Not Pas Team

The shadow on the wall – Interview with a self-confessed (but reformed) parent alienator.

You’ve heard the phrase “it takes two to tango?” Well parent alienation requires an antagonist and an antagonised, a targeter and a target and a resident parent and a non-resident, in that order.

While there are a few exceptions to the rule, because parent alienation is the act of one parent turning the children against the other parent in order to exclude them from their lives, the alienator’s greatest weapons are time and proximity to the kids. So, for that reason, they tend to be the resident parent, often the one who has used the children to acquire the combined assets of the family. This tends to cause a great deal of ill will.

That is why it is such a lucrative but frankly filthy business and why alienators are so reviled by those in the know. So no surprise that no-one wanted to step forward for this interview as they’re either in denial or hiding in plain sight.

So much credit to Lizzy (not her real name), who describes herself as reformed following over a decade of war with her ex over parenting their children.

Q1: Why did you do it?

So straight to the point? It wasn’t something I decided on lightly. I’ve also given it lots of thought since. But there were a number of reasons. Firstly, I still loved him but my family didn’t after a big row about another family matter. Having a baby is stressful and my parents were not the easiest. He is not a man to be pushed around and I guess, my mother in particular took offence when she didn’t get to spend as much time with her first and then second grandchild. They lived far away and I used to be so close to them.

Secondly. my lawyer was worried that he would be a very good litigant in Family Court. My lawyer was my Dad’s friend and he suggested we start a storyline about him being a bully. He had shouted at me in the past and I him but there had never been any real fighting. If anything I had the temper. It would also get me legal aid. I thought that would save us money. But what the approach did was start a war.

“What the approach did was start a war.”

Thirdly, I was still getting over the birth of our second child, a boy. I was full of hormones and struggling to cope and not thinking straight. I went to see my mum for a week and the relief was so huge I just stayed. I didn’t think about the impact on him and my mother didn’t exactly help.

Q2: Why did you continue it for so long?

It’s a bit like telling a lie. Once you start then you invent anther and another and soon it becomes your life. I was surrounded by other women who had divorced and got rid of their exs. They had long lists of the things to do and when and there’s loads on online sites, you know, for abused women and stuff? Everyone knows you just have to say “I won’t do that with my children” and refuse everything saying you’re scared and the court and lawyers and social workers will side with you.

But it was tough. My ex is charming, a great role model and intelligent. He fought and fought and spent everything while I was getting legal aid.

“Refuse everything saying you’re scared and the court and lawyers and social workers will side with you.”

Q3: Didn’t you feel anything toward him in many years of fighting?

It seems odd but I was terrified he would win. He’s actually been better at me at so many things at work and stuff and I thought he would take the kids from me. But he was on his own while I had a lawyer, a barrister, my whole family, friends, other mums and everyone believed me first. A lot of people resented him and seemed to be on my side. And I was pretty messed up. The lawyers get in your head and make you do things you wouldn’t normally.

Q4: Why didn’t you both focus on the kids?

Well, that’s the thing, I thought he was, that he was after them, They adored him when they were little and I couldn’t compete. I was the one who wiped bums all week and put up with their moods while he was “good time parent”. I know I made it that way, but still.

It was a case of the more he tried the more I pulled and actually, it annoyed me that he didn’t try that hard to keep me. Yes, that annoyed me a lot.

Q5: How did you turn the kids against him?

It’s no one thing but it’s not that hard, When kids are young they will go to the one who offers the best sweets and presents. When older, they stick to the one who arranges things with their friends and takes them to activities. To go to his they would have to miss out and at 10 or 11 that really annoys them. So after a while they get embarrassed and annoyed and tired of the drama and all you then have to say is “you don’t need to go” or “would you rather go for that sleepover”. It’s easy really and no-one can prove you’ve done it. After that you just cut off all lines of communication. It’s called stonewalling. He’s left grasping at shadows.

Q6: Did you never feel guilty?

“It’s easy really and no-one can prove you’ve done it. After that you just cut off all lines of communication. It’s called stonewalling. He’s left grasping at shadows.”

All the time. I came close to breaking during tough nights alone. But they’re your kids and they’re worth it, And he had someone new by then anyway.

Q7: So what changed you?

Most of the women I know in this situation never stop and the kids don’t re-connect until they’re maybe late teens or at Uni. But for me, well my Mum passed away and he found out and despite everything, not seeing the kids for years, he was kind. Also I saw how the kids were so like him as they grew, Used to hate that at first but that changed. Also I started a new career and money wasn’t such an issue any more, I started going out more and he seemed an obvious choice to help out and I didn’t want the kids to blame me in future.

Q8: So if you had that time again would you……?

Do it again?

Well I don’t regret having the kids to myself and my family. It saved lots of arguments and compromises. I regret paying lawyers so much. But I knew that he would survive and he has proved me right. So I guess it turned out ok in the end.

In conclusion:

I agreed to publish her words without editing.

I also agreed not to add any interpretation or critical take.

The interview was offered in good faith by a friend of a friend.

She is aware of the site and wants her perspective to be used to help others understand both sides of the wall.

We hope this insight has been useful.

Feel free to comment below.


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We are also more than happy to feature quality content by writers; any wish to remain anonymous will be respected.

So if you align with our vision and ethos, 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.

Thanks

The Peace Not Pas Team

Growing up with Parental Alienation

I offered to write this piece as I wanted to share a view of parental alienation that I suspect is often missed. That of the child caught in the middle.

My parents divorced when I was about nine. As divorces go, I imagine it was fairly amicable. When we (my younger brother, sister and I) returned home from our summer trip to our Grandmother’s it just so happened that Dad was living in his own home. Something we had been told was going to happen while we were away. They had been in separate rooms for a while so we weren’t surprised.

I remember spending half a week with each parent, agreed from the start with no court order. Our Dad started questioning what our Mum was doing almost immediately, would call her names, would tell us it was her fault that they divorced, that he regretted they had split up and wanted to have her back but she was stopping him. He would say “you know I care most for you” or “you would be better living with me.” This went on for about a year, week in, week out. My reluctance to go home to my Mum’s increased with each visit. During all of this, our Mum said nothing.

After some time she got a partner. My Dad accused him of being gay, going so far as to accuse him of touching children, implying my brother was at risk. He’d tell us he wanted to keep us safe, that he loved us more than anyone else in the world and that’s why he was warning us.

I was still at primary school, not far off moving up to secondary school, when I reached the point of hating my Mum. After all, she didn’t love us as much as my Dad, it was her fault that the divorce had happened and that we weren’t a family anymore, we would have a better life at Dad’s. So I left one night and walked there, leaving a note saying I never wanted to see her again. To give him his credit he did immediately drive me home.

“I remember being so confused, suddenly everything that I had believed was a lie.”

Only at this point our Mum opened up. She had felt we were too young to understand so hadn’t wanted to speak to us. She gave me the facts about what had happened; that it was my Dad who had cheated, causing the divorce. I remember being so confused, suddenly everything that I had believed was a lie. My Mum was honest, she was unemotional and did not get involved in any of the name calling.

I came to dislike our time with our Dad more and more. Weekly we would hear “you are old enough to choose to live with me” and every time I would feel upset. I didn’t want to hurt him by saying no but couldn’t be disloyal to my Mum. He continued to tell us that she wasn’t a good Mum. The difference was that now I was onto him.

Our time continued to be split between a warm, loving and positive home, where no bad word was spoken about anyone and a home filled with hatred, disregarding the children that it was harming.

As a teenager I went off the rails a little. I was eaten up by guilt for the feelings that I had  had towards my Mum when I was younger. We were closer than ever at that point but it was so hard remembering that at one time I had detested her. It was hard living with the knowledge that one of the people I had loved most in the world had manipulated and lied to my siblings and I.

I started seeing a Life Coach who helped put things back together. She was the only adult who was completely removed from the situation and acknowledged the difficulties I had faced. Not long after my 18th birthday I saw my Dad for the last time, though didn’t know it then. Able to see the harm he had caused and more confident in trusting my decisions, it was my choice not to make contact again.

“Parental alienation is something we should all be more aware of.”

As an adult, I continue struggle at times with guilt around how I treated my Mum still. I realise I didn’t treat my Mum badly, that wasn’t my choice, I didn’t know. I also have difficulty trusting what people say at times, after being lied to for several years I think that’s to be expected.

Parental alienation is something we should all be more aware of. It can happen silently, without courts, without parents having to fight to see their children, it can happen in any family.

In the future, I hope professionals are quick to put help in place for affected families and children. I also want to give hope to parents who are having limited contact, or know that their partner is trying to turn their very own children against them. Those relationships can be rebuilt and now our little family unit is incredibly close, perhaps because of our shared experience of someone trying to pull us apart.


Please Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and 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.

So if you align with our vision and ethos, 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.

Thanks

The Peace Not Pas Team

The Dangers of Dismissing Parental Alienation

We represent a large group of alienated parents, grandparents and other family members who have been failed by a flawed system. As such, we felt we should urgently respond to The Guardian’s recent article crackdown on parental alienation could do more harm than good, dated 29th November 2017 written by Jane Fortin, Emeritus professor of law, at Sussex University.

Millions of people are desperate for Family Law reform. It has taken too long for parental alienation to be recognised. Yet this article argues that the proposed Cafcass crackdown on parental alienation could cause harm. How disappointing.

“Where we differ is, we actually have suggestions to propose, not just problems to raise.”

We argue that, the existing system is causing growing misery but acknowledge that if handled badly, any intervention could make matters worse given the relative complexity of this issue.  Our children need the right response, however, and need it urgently as the status quo places them at increasing risk. Where we differ is, we actually have suggestions to propose, not just problems to raise.

We know that our children and families are being harmed by parental alienation daily. According to the recent Westminster Dialogues, a conservative estimate of 1 million children are involved in repeat court cases at the moment with alienation at the core. That will just be the tip of the ice-berg. It is not acceptable.

The Guardian article states “as early as 2001, American researchers were warning that too often in divorce situations, all children resisting contact were being labelled “alienated” and their parents as abusive and “alienating parents”. That does beg the first question “what has happened in the last 15 years to improve the situation?”

Why have we allowed a system to persist where children do not enjoy healthy relations with both parents,?”

But from my own personal experience, as an alienated parent and a mental health nurse who works on an acute admissions ward, this statement also raises a number of nagging issues.

Firstly, it begs the question, “why have we allowed a system to persist where children do not enjoy healthy relations with both parents,?” Surely the adversarial nature of family law would be a good place to start, making the writer’s objectivity questionable (she is a family lawyer after all).

“Why hasn’t the legal profession campaigned harder to recognise and address parental alienation?”

In addition should we not question the efficiency (or lack of) of the labelling and/or assessment process if the article is stating “all children resisting contact were being labelled alienated”?  Certainly in the UK, Cafcass practitioners are social workers. But should not such initial assessments be carried out by mental health practitioners who would have the clinical expertise to effectively assess the mental state of all those involved, using a triage form of assessment early on?

The article also goes on to state “parental alienation is undeniably damaging, especially in its more extreme form.” This is a very valid and important point, it is also an unequivocal admission that it exists. So, again, why hasn’t the legal profession campaigned harder to recognise and address parental alienation?

“A social worker does not have the required skills or expertise to effectively assess the mental state of the alienating parent.”

There is overwhelming evidence that in most cases of severe parental alienation, responsibility between the parents is not shared. There will be a clear perpetrator and they will present with certain personality disorder traits. With this in mind, my argument is, that a social worker does not have the required skills or expertise to effectively assess the mental state of the alienating parent. Worse still, they may be ideologically unprepared to admit it when it is the resident parent targeting their former partner given the prevalence of sexist stereotypes.

The article raises concerns that “Cafcass’s plan to “help” “abusive” parents “to change their behaviour with the help of intense therapy” sounds Kafkaesque.” Our concern as a support and campaign group is that such terminology will unintentionally encourage further misunderstanding around the whole concept of parental alienation, which is already a complex and contentious enough subject. It will effectively deter intervention because it may be deemed too difficult and will be easier to sacrifice one parent for the sake of peace. We believe this has been the default position for far too long now and the cost to society in the short to medium term is unacceptable.

The old complexity argument misses the point. If the targeting parent has problems, those problems will not disappear by removing the target. Worse still,  by removing the target (the targeted parent), the children are denied a healthy relationship with a loving parent and their extended family which will cause significant problems later in life,  It also leaves them in the care of a parent with a psychological disorder and very real problems.

“As a group we welcome Cafcass’ recognition of parental alienation as a form of abuse. However their lack of understanding of it, particularly severe cases is worrying.”

The article states “hopefully it is [Cafcass] considering carefully the extreme dangers of mistakenly diagnosing parental alienation.” Once again, this is a valid point and relates to the concerns I highlighted above. However, the potential issue of having the wrong practitioners doing the wrong job will result in either over-labelling or under-labelling cases of parental alienation, or worse still, ignoring it. None of these outcomes are acceptable. Again, the latter has been the default position for too long. It could actually be said that for malign parents, it is their goal as evidenced by the rise in parental alienation cases in the recent past.

As a group we welcome Cafcass’ recognition of parental alienation as a form of abuse. However their lack of understanding of it, particularly severe cases is worrying. And the absence of urgency and pace in attempting to understand or ‘play-catch-up’ with the available evidence is distressing.

One of our many concerns regarding Cafcass’ current approach to parental alienation is their plan to “help” “abusive” parents “to change their behaviour with the help of intense therapy.” Such proposals and the subsequent reporting of such plans, (the above mentioned article is a good example) raises several concerns:

  • Firstly Cafcass currently fail to show any evidence of understanding or acknowledging the complex dynamics of cases of severe parental alienation.
  • They currently lack an evidence based diagnostic tool for assessing parental alienation and doing so early on.
  • Their approach has been based on what they diagnose as conflict. Yet conflict implies two equal parties with implacable differences. Parental alienation is, however,  more often than not, the sum of a targeting parent (usually the resident parent with the most exposure to the children) using their position of power to abuse the targeted parent (usually the non-resident) who is desperately trying to maintain a relationship with their children in the face of a prolonged barrage of counter-parenting, stonewalling (refusal to communicate) and disruption. Conflict is the wrong term. Abuse or bullying is a far more accurate description, reflecting the power play between respective parties. Non resident parents have no power whatsover. Even recourse to litigation or enforcement of orders is labelled as abusive. These parents and their children are being bullied.
  • As stated above, evidence shows us that most severely alienating parents will present with undiagnosed personality traits/disorders. Parental alienation sets in over time, making early diagnosis imperative. However Cafcass don’t currently have the knowledge to identify alienating behaviours and do not accept that such cases should be dealt with within the context of mental health. This is despite personality traits, behaviours and disorders coming under the remit of a mental health disorder.

“Articles like this fail to put forward the complexities of assessing and subsequently managing parental alienation… and offer no solutions.”

As a mental health practitioner myself, I am fully aware of the evidence that states that such disorders are not treatable. This means that parenting circumstances need to be adjusted and third party support in the form of coaching, mediation and therapy will probably be required and most certainly set within the context of mental health, not social care.

A further concern is the media’s reporting of such plans being put forward by Cafcass. The article calls their planned approach Kafkaesque. But articles like this fail to put forward the complexities of assessing and subsequently managing parental alienation, they add to the complexity, imply it is too difficult and offer no solutions.

This article, and others like it, make assumptions and project out-moded parental stereotypes. The last sentence of the article is a good example of this;  “failure to establish the real reason for a child’s resistance to contact may lead… to the child being removed from a victimised mother seeking only to protect her child.” Notions of victim mother, primary carer and aggressor father, primary income driver are stuck in the 1950s and do not reflect modern practices.

“A well informed, evidence based, media led increase in public awareness of this form of abuse is much-needed.”

In addition, the article in question, written by a lawyer, comes from a self-interested place. Note the final comments about legal aid. Funding isn’t the most relevant of points unless it is to point out that access to legal aid involves a victim narrative creating a pattern of abuser/abused that is often far from the truth.

An independent, professionally facilitated, multi-stakeholder approach to developing tools and methodologies for identifying and addressing parent alienation is now more important than ever. And a well informed, evidence based, media led increase in public awareness of this form of abuse is much-needed.

Cafcass have a Chief Executive who publicly states parental alienation should be dealt with and with the same severity as any other form of abuse. That is good news, at last. However, culturally Cafcass appear to be struggling to disseminate such values down to their frontline staff who even as recently as last week were still denying its existence. There is clearly much work to be done to ensure that Cafcass as an organisation will soon walk the CEO’s talk and there will need to be a mountain of work with the courts, legal profession, police and social services to address the harm still being done.

While parental alienation continues to fester unaddressed, given the importance of time in mitigating the severity of the psychological problems, children continue to be unprotected and abused and those uncovering the problems continue to be attacked and harassed.

This is simply not acceptable.

The residual problems for the children resulting from misunderstanding, whether by accident or design, is unacceptable. This is not just because of the clear psychological abuse but because parent alienation quite clearly hampers gender equality at home as well as undermining equality in the workplace, all of which will undermine the children’s futures.

Parents and children need peace not pas.

Critics need to bring solutions not denial.

This abuse has to stop and now.

Further reading, including evidence based approaches to parental alienation can be found on our Research Articles Page here.

 btg dad


Please Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and 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.

So if you align with our vision and ethos, 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.

Thanks

The Peace Not Pas Team

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