What follows is the second instalment 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 6.30pm. 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 three hour drive. My 6 year old fell asleep almost straight away after which my 14 year old 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 two sleepovers whilst they were there. She wasn’t allowed to join in. There is less than 18 months between them and only one 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 two 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?

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.

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…..

Please Note: We will gladly signpost individuals to true professionals within our wider network who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. 

We pledge to never request payment from such individuals, nor request a finder’s fee from these professionals for any referrals made. We pledge to never make a profit or any other form of financial gain from any individuals affected by parental alienation.

We are always looking for guest writers. Please note, your writing will always remain your own intellectual property, even if it’s published on this site.

Please Contact us for more details. 

The Peace Not Pas Team


As our network continues to grow, our gender neutral approach and constructive, child-centered, shared-parenting ethos is attracting a fast-growing movement of like-minds. This community now includes parents, step-parents, siblings, grandparents and professionals who share our vision.

Alison Bushell has been with us from the beginning. She is one of our trusted advisers and one of a very select number of individuals we will be happy to recommend as we trust her approach and her motives. As an illustration of why we are happy to endorse her and in order to give those experiencing the darkest of days hope, we have asked her to share a reunification case study, which we will serialise over a series of posts:

 Zac and Will’s Story Part 1:

I received a referral from my now team member Amanda (more from Amanda later) who was at that time working in an other company as a McKenzie friend for a dad, Will. Not uncommonly in this day and age, sadly, he had been in and out of court for nearly the whole of his young son’s life.

The mother, after separation had gradually and consistently interfered with the relationship causing little Zac to become fearful of his father…there were many allegations but all unfounded.

Zac was now nearly 6 and the Court had effectively it seemed reached a stalemate trying to get some parenting time for this dad and son up and running and the psychologist who was instructed had recommended me. I had worked with her with another family and had good results. Word of mouth is everything in family law. Its just too important to get wrong.


She had helpfully set out what she felt I needed to do in terms for working with the family and the elements of reparative work she felt were needed to ensure that this fractured attachment was mended.

A very specific and detailed letter of instruction was sent to me. It was stated that this child had certainly been alienated from his dad and that this dad -about whom there had never been any safeguarding concerns- would need to work closely with me and my team and take advice on an ongoing basis.

Not only this but he had to pay for this input, the mother having stated that she had no means by which to contribute.  Fortunately he was in a position of being able to do this. Not always the case.

The plan of work  from the psychological assessment formed the basis of my instruction and was also included in the Court Order. This made it clear that this wasn’t something that was a choice for the family, this was an Order of the Court, non compliance with which would have consequences.

Will would of course have to be observed with Zac and have those observations picked over and scrutinised. His parenting style and his approach to Zac would be the subject of feedback and advice sessions.  It was recognised that the complex family dynamics also needed work or the prospect of change was somewhat distant.

I was also required to work closely with the maternal family and ensure that they understood that the process of reuniting this son with his dad was not negotiable, that the consequences of their non compliance with the plan of work were likely to be that he would be removed from their care and placed with Dad.

This involved spending time speaking to each member not only of the immediate family but having worked out fairly early on that the maternal grandmother was a significant authority figure, ( a view shared by the psychologist) I felt she also needed to be interviewed and included in the work.

This was done with limited success and some notable resistance. That never puts us off though, quite the opposite. Resistance without cause is a PA indicator.

This also meant considerable direct work with Zac, which involved doing life story work with him and spending time speaking about his family.  With young children I find that using play and art gets consistently good results and I have whole collections of ‘sylvanian family’ characters and loads of colouring pens and glitter glue which seems to be a favourite of the girls especially!

I was tasked also with monitoring the mother’s progress with her newly involved therapist and looking at whether she was able to consolidate and put into practice what she was learning through that intervention.

No pressure then!

An essential first step is to build a relationship of trust with the child. My practice is always to meet the child in a ’neutral place’. Having worked as a Children’s Guardian and social worker for many years I was aware that even a parent out of sight, in an adjoining room can have an effect on a child’s ability to be open and at ease at this stage.  I therefore spoke to the primary school and travelled to meet with the form teacher before even planning my meeting with Zac.

Good social work involves an understanding of what I call the culture of childhood, that is recognising the significance of those early friendship networks, the centrality of play in the development of the child’s imagination, and crucially the authority and esteem attached to the teachers at the first school. Much is learned by working with the teacher who is closest to the child and an alliance with that person will, if observed by the child, increase trust in the social worker.

The fact that Mrs Phillips introduced me to Zac in the first place meant in fact that I was already viewed as a trusted person.

Hand-Printed-Dove-For-PeaceThe first interviews ( for want of a better word) with the child particularly at this age are necessarily unfocused and informal. Sitting on the floor playing and drawing and definitely NOT talking about family or any other emotive issues tends to be the pattern for the first two or three visits.

It never fails to amaze me that children who have been alienated will volunteer their thoughts and feelings as soon as they feel emotionally safe, and sometimes this happens at the first visit. It’s important to just note what they say and not jump on it, this is a skill honed over years of practice, and is a skill central to good evidence in child protection work.

If they need to they will often without prompting return to the discussion, usually when there is no direct eye contact such as when drawing together or sometimes when playing in the park.

Zac was no exception. He said to me on the very first visit ‘I don’t like my Daddy’ something completely out of context ( we were talking about pets) and which I reacted to with slight curiosity but nothing else.

He then told me in this first and again in the second session that Daddy was ‘a bad person’ and that he had smacked him when he was one.

He also told me that Daddy hadn’t been there when he was born.

Yes, that is certainly an odd thing for a child so young to say but those of us working with alienated children have heard it many times. The child rewrites history according to the script given to them and through repetition of this script, comes to believe it. This is so damaging , eroding as it does the trust a child needs to have of their parents.

Due to Zac having said these things so early on I was in a position where I needed to gently explore and challenge these ‘truths’. To do this I usually ask for photographs of the child with the estranged / alienated parent, from as early as the child can be recognised by him or herself. Luckily Will had a photograph from when Zac was born, he was holding him and the picture included the mother in the maternity unit.

I was able to show these to Zac when I took him for a pizza on our second time meeting together and when he realised he was the baby in the picture ( he is an only child) his face lit up.   We agreed that he was ‘mistaken’ about daddy not being there when he was born and he looked happy about that.

Another photo of a family holiday at center parcs was shared and this included a cousin on the paternal family side who Zac hadn’t seen for 3 years.  It is common that all relatives on the ostracised side of the family are viewed in the same negative way resulting in the child losing not just a loving parent but also the extended family on that side. Including grandparents.

An important factor in this work is again to try to see things through the child’s eyes…as an idea how long 3 years might feel for a child try to recall how long the summer holidays seemed when we were at school..they seemed to go on for aeons…yet 6 weeks now? Goes by in a flash.

So that’s not only more than half of his life,  it will also seem to him like a lifetime.

Well, it was a gamble but it paid off. As it has before.

I decided to use the young cousin ( and his mum) as a ‘bridge’. This means that instead of immediately introducing Zac to his dad I utilised the extended family to make more phased and gradual progress towards that end.

I intuited that whilst it was perhaps too early to introduce Dad, ( I had had scarce time to make a meaningful start on the life story work ) that Zac was ready to see other family members.

And it worked.

Next time…….bridging from the extended family to re-uniting with Daddy!

Please Note:  If this post has struck a chord, we will gladly refer readers to Alison and her colleagues or other proper and respected professionals who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. Should you wish us to refer you to Alison please contact us here.

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

So 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.

It is Parent Alienation Awareness Day 2018.

The abuse of children and their alienated parent’s civil rights is happening in every town, every day.

But the fact that people still need to be educated to understand what it means, speaks volumes.

Because people who aren’t experiencing it either ignore it or  just don’t get it.

They say things like:

“How can you expect us to believe that your child has turned against you because your former partner made them?” 


“Nobody could be that cruel to do that to their own children. The courts would stop it”

Well, sadly the truth is quite the contrary.

As the now millions of people suffering this worldwide know, parent alienation is a deliberate and calculated process. It is the product of many repetitions of negative behaviour that, over time, makes a relationship with the targeted parent so uncomfortable because of the behaviour of the targeting parent (usual the one they live with because they have more time and opportunity), that the child has no choice but to reject the parent they don’t live with. And the courts do nothing to stop it, often making the process worse.

What that does is plant a psychological time bomb that will ruin their lives.

In this post, fathers, mothers, grandparents, step-parents and siblings who have contacted us via the Peace not PAS network, give actual snapshots of how PA manifests itself and the common tactics deployed. See how many you recognise:


“ She split the children up using new boyfriend to love-bomb our youngest, often in front of me. Then when the boyfriend cheated on her and left under a shadow of suspected child abuse, quite incredibly she then blamed US for making him leave and the kids were clearly ashamed.”

“Pressurising the eldest whenever she came over to spy on us, take money and use her phone (which we didn’t know she had) to take photos/videos etc of the house”

“Using the eldest as the “negotiator” an adult role, then setting up clashes of arrangements so the child was in an impossible position.

“Not agreeing holidays or forward dates despite knowing how this will impact work arrangements etc…..relishing the power it gives her over us”

“Crying hysterically during pickup, terrifying the children”

“Forcing pickup from alien places that the kids don’t like”

“Marching into our house but never letting us into hers for “security” reasons creating a whole “fear” culture….yet she was happy for me to spend five years with the children as babies, in my sole care.”

” Advised the children that if they did not like anything I did as a parenting skill, to call the police. Incredibly they did on numerous occasions.”

“ Made false allegations of alcohol and verbal/emotional and sexual abuse, none of which were found to have any truth but there were no consequences for wasting police time or causing me and my partner extreme distress”

“Booking things when the child should be at his dads, he knew what he had to choose”

“Throwing away and breaking toys, books or any gifts / cards purchased for children”

“Encouraging children to do harmful (dangerous) things to physically hurt our family members, pets and even our trees and flowers in yard!”

“Punishing the children for expressing any joy regarding their time spent with us so they would phone us up in floods of hysterical tears and blame us.”

“Kids won’t take anything to Mum’s we buy them as it becomes a red rag to a bull.”


“Frequent involvement of the police- allegations of abuse, restraining orders and arrests (accusations of breaching restraining order)”

“Teaching a 3 year old to say “Daddy is horrible” and much worse to neighbours, nursery workers and social workers. Claiming these are completely his own words and that actually she constantly tells him “how much Daddy loves him”

“Outright refusing any contact, even when dad begged for it :(“

”Children are not allowed to mention our names at their mum’s house or are punished severely.”

“Ipad banned from 10yr old for 4 days because my step daughter messaged me to say she missed me. She was told if she ever messaged ‘that woman’ again her Ipad would be destroyed”

“Mother has supervised every moment I’ve spent with my daughters since we separated.”

“Youngest daughter told me on phone (aged6): “Daddy said if we see you we’ll be taken away”

“Forcing all communication through the children”

“Threats and acts of physical violence followed by false reports to the police in order to “get in there first”


“Love bombing the children with pets, gifts, special/adult perks and then trying to turn them against me”

“I apparently jumped in front of an ambulance to seek attention and deliberately drove my car into a ditch. I allegedly tried to kill my self several times in front of several children”

“I was hospitalised for a week with meningitis last year but it was apparently for attention and to gain my children’s sympathy, and I’d lied about staying in for so long!”

“Threatening physical violence from her family members if I show up at the court ordered time to pick them up.”

“Telling me to give her money (on top of what she already has) otherwise I don’t get to see them”

“False allegations of physical violence, mental abuse and even rape, all dis-proven yet continually raised in legal letters with NO consequences”

“Keep parent out of resident parents house yet absolutely no safeguarding issues indicated.”

“Monitoring every single phone contact. Allowing child no privacy to speak to target parent”

“Constantly refer to “contact with MY/HER child or “visiting” rights”

“Telling the Judge that my 3 year old daughter was hitting the floor with a stick, saying ” I am killing my Daddy”

“Telling the Judge that I can’t be around our children without a beer in my hand.”

“Telling the Judge that my 3 year old’s constipation has improved since I moved out.”

“Sexualizing the fact that my daughters saw me naked to 70 + year old Judge.”

“Withholding cards and letters and poems expressing my love.”

“Refusing my daughter’s wishes to even call me”

“When my ex and her parents and friends badmouthed me if my daughter spoke up she was called a traitor and a spy in the camp.”

“Love bombing my daughter’s who now won’t speak to me at all whilst treating my sons as second class whenever they have both”


“Told kids I had left her so was leaving them all and no longer loved them.”

“False allegations of physical harm.”

“Telling kids they didn’t deserve a dad like me.”

“Alienator told the children in the months before their father married me that she was dating him again but she hadn’t even spoken with him”

“She told children to steal my favorite clothes and bring them to her; when I searched for my favorite jeans one day, the girls laughed at me and stated “mother told us to tell you a “ghost” stole them.”

“Alienator told the children she was a vampire witch and cast a spell against people she hated- and that she hated us and would hate them too if they weren’t careful”

“Told the children to give me the silent treatment. I was to blame for the divorce and I was not worthy of their love and attention any more so they must forget I existed.”

“Now extended to FaceTiming/messaging her step sister; they were best friends, every other weekend was a sleepover party for them. They loved it, BM hated it so stopped it. My daughter kept trying to message her step sister but after months of no replies, she gave up. Especially sad when it’s the children they hurt.”

“Deliberately not being in when it was our time to collect children, then telling children that we didn’t come for them because “Daddy has a new family now.”

“Hit me with the car when I was waiting by the gate”

“She had an affair & asked my husband to move out 2yrs before we got together. With her hatred to me & my children you would have thought he had an affair with me.”

“Throwing away the phone we had been using to text each other, and letters going missing.”

“Co-opting / involving school and health professionals and school-gate Mums by repeating false allegations. “

“Our middle grandson was told his birthday party would have to be cancelled because they had no money now …as Nanny and Grandad had taken it all and their son was just like them”

“We the grandparents are not to be mentioned to them or allowed in their home ever again.”

“Latest one is asking my son’s kids to admit they love me more than her then punishing them if they don’t answer.”

“I could go on indefinitely, it seems she is only limited by  imagination in thinking up ways to turn my children against me. It might be worth noting her parents are equally as vindictive. I thought it would stop over time if I kept behaving reasonably, 4 1/2 years later it’s getting worse if anything.”

“Youngest contaminated my eye makeup by dipping mascara wand in toilet- I had an eye infection so severe, I lost partial vision in my right eye permanently. When they heard about it- the oldest grinned…youngest stated her mother gave her a tutorial on what to do to my makeup to make me “sick”

“Within 2 days of moving in with new partner she had attacked her daughter on Facebook, sent the police round claiming we were “ganging up on her”, sent kids round with phones to film the house and told 5 year old to leave house for neighbours claiming we were imprisoning her. Also her boyfriend wrote a letter for youngest claiming she didn’t love me any more and wanted his family instead. He admitted this after leaving her.”


“Mother treats our young kids like her partner, over-sharing inappropriate things.”

“She framed/frames child’s time with Dad’s family as unfortunate obligation
Mother repeatedly told/tells child he will be able to/is now old enough to choose to not see Dad at all (note past tense…they no longer come to see us)”

“Allowing the children to “decide” whether to spend time with their father or not, then scheduling events during visits or undermining the value of time spent with Dad, giving them ultimatums where (obviously) they are not going to choose to visit, withholding love or gifts if they go on visits”

“Lying to them about their father in order to make them afraid of visiting him, ie. telling them that his neighbourhood is unsafe and if they visit they might be in danger, implying that their father is inherently dangerous and that visiting him puts the children in peril”

“Falsely accusing Dad and his family of abuse, both past and present, towards Mom as well as the children, the alienator presenting a “Victim Complex” and blaming their behaviour on their (supposed) mistreatment by the target parent, repeatedly involving the Child Services to investigate false claims of bullying, terrorizing and physical violence”

“Generally associating visits with negative thoughts and feelings, then blaming the target parent for those things when they are actually stemming from the Alienator”

All pretty detestable behaviour, I’m sure most decent parents would agree. But by far and away the most commonly mentioned tactic, the one to trump all others, was this one:

“They [the alienator] simply refuses to comply with court orders claiming the kids don’t want to and they know that the court will do nothing because they control all of the children’s events, friendships, schooling arrangements completely and with absolutely no reference to me/us.

They refuse to even let us speak to the kids now.

Yet they lives in the home I paid for.”

We would like to say a big thank you to every single person that contributed to the above article. It takes courage to not only live with what is being done to us, but sometimes it can take courage to put pen to paper and actually see the abuse in black and white; for that is what parental alienation is, abuse. Plain and simple.

Once again, thank you

Please Note: We will gladly signpost individuals to true professionals within our wider network who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. 

We pledge to never request payment from such individuals, nor request a finder’s fee from these professionals for any referrals made. We pledge to never make a profit or any other form of financial gain from any individuals affected by parental alienation.

We are always looking for guest writers. Please note, your writing will always remain your own intellectual property, even if it’s published on this site.

Please Contact us for more details. 

The Peace Not Pas Team

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

The tales will upset some people as they show parental alienation 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:

Tale I: 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 40’s 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.


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.

Please Note: We will gladly signpost individuals to true professionals within our wider network who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. 

We pledge to never request payment from such individuals, nor request a finder’s fee from these professionals for any referrals made. We pledge to never make a profit or any other form of financial gain from any individuals affected by parental alienation.

We are always looking for guest writers. Please note, your writing will always remain your own intellectual property, even if it’s published on this site.

Please Contact us for more details. 

The Peace Not Pas Team

Part II of our guest post from a professional head of social care.

Parent Alienation: Is it Me?

In part one I talked about the need to make a concerted effort to combat parent alienation, positively targeting marginalised men as an antidote to the growing problem of fatherlessness.

I talked about my belief in shared parenting and the importance of my own father in my life and what an inspiration he has been to me.

In part two, I would like to share some simple but effective tactics we’re employing to make this belief and need a reality.

As a Social Worker, we love an acronym!dddy

So in my training for father engagement, I use:  IS IT ME ?

  • Invite them
  • Share with them
  • Include them
  • Talk to them
  • Meet with them
  • Engage them

It is my firm conviction that we should offer fathers no different service than we would the mother – as this is in the child’s best interest. I also believe that if we don’t, we may soon face legal consequences aside from the moral and social ones.

I believe there are already a range of best practices or principles we can and should apply.

Some Principles of good practice with fathers  

  • Genograms – every case-child, should have a Genogram which cover at least three generations and covers both maternal and paternal families
  • No Assessment should be agreed or considered completed unless the biological father has been involved
  • Understand family dynamics, culture, ethnicities – social differences
  • Recognise the value of fathers to children
  • Commit to empowering parents – both of them
  • Be aware of own assumptions, prejudices and personal biography that may influence your view of fathers… consider your own experiences
  • Be empathic, be respectful
  • Be consistent, open and honest
  • Be prepared to understand and support difference
  • Practitioners must be prepared to involve fathers and paternal family from the outset
  • Family Group Conference should be used at the earliest convenience

In some cases, social workers haven’t even bothered to make much effort to identify who fathers are, such has been the focus on the maternal relationship.

How do we (IF) Identify Fathers?

  • We must exhaust all options to locate fathers
  • Be curious, creative and persistent
  • Make time to investigate (even if multiple fathers as any of them could be a risk or a resource and protective)
  • Speak to family networks, school, partners, professionals
  • Locate a copy of child’s birth certificate
  • Police checks / LA checks / DWP checks / tracing agencies if required
  • Ensure accurate information is obtained and recorded
  • Mothers can ‘gate keep’ the fathers identity (research evidence this occurs in 66% of all cases)
  • Do not give up – ask at every meeting and challenge non-compliance

If in any doubt about the additional workload, I have to hold in mind my own experience. My father was the best anyone could have wished for, and of course I know not all fathers are like mine, and not all children have the experience I had. But most parents love their children if given a chance.

In alienation cases, most often perfectly good fathers have been desperately trying to maintain a connection often for a very long time. We need to support them more.

loving dads

It keeps me awake at night worrying: “what if there are more and more fathers out there who are like mine? What if more and more children could and should have an amazing father in their lives, an amazing role model and someone who loves them unconditionally… what if?”

Surely based on this “what if”, we have to investigate everything fully. Doing nothing is not an option.

The case social worker has to build trusting relationships. Sure, we have to think the unthinkable when working with families. But  we must remain opened minded and assess the whole situation. What if the unthinkable is that a good father or co-parent has been deliberately alienated by the other parent’s deliberate actions? We all know it happens.

Surely the alienated parent, not to mention alienating parent need help, for the sake of the children and WHOLE family.

In recent times, I have noticed something of a “sea change” happening in certain quarters and there have certainly been cases where:

  • Children have secured permanency with their father as the father has, it turns out,  been the protective parent despite calculated attempts to depict otherwise
  • With the right support and understanding co-parenting can be successful if both parties do it for the child. Many cases have closed to social care as both parents have managed to put the needs of the children first and their differences aside
  • We have seen an increase in father participation in case work
    • They attend meetings, they are involved and engage with us in a more meaningful manner
    • Assessments have father’s voice within them
  • We have taken a new attitude to feedback, we have learnt from experiences, we collate feedback from families and use complaints to inform our practice further, so we can replicate what works and adapt.

There is still a long way to go. But social workers can and must do this differently and some are doing it differently; we just need to continue on this road of change and inclusion but perhaps change gears.

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, as is the case above.

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.

We are very pleased to provide a platform for another progressive voice for change.

This time, our guest blogger is a senior social services manager who is a change catalyst within her social services department.

She recognises that parent alienation is extremely concerning and a growing problem, largely because it is not properly understood, is often wrongly blamed on non-resident parents and very little is being done to understand and promote the importance of children having a loving relationship with both parents. She wants to change that situation.

The Peace Not Pas ethos is that parenting should be shared not bossed or governed by one parent simply on the grounds that they somehow obtained primary carer status, usually by way of adversarial legal processes that too often cause severe and lasting damage.

There’s an important amount of information so this will be a blog in two parts.

Here is the first:

Including Fathers (or other alienated/absent parents):


As a daughter of the most wonderful and precious father, a man who was my hero and my inspiration, and I miss him every day.

I write this blog in his memory detailing why fathers (or other absent parents) must be part of any process. Children need fathers in their lives, I would not be who I am today without mine, children need both parents.

The problem of erasing parents from the lives of children is hugely destructive and is growing.

Whilst this two-part blog will look at fathers, who are still by far and away the group most targeted by alienation practices, it is meant for the alienated parent generally (regardless of gender).

Make no mistake, if we do not address the problem of parental alienation, more and more mothers will become targets as well, as gender equality at home catches up with the gender laws at work. Already, former same sex parents are enacting parental alienation dynamics too.

So, how do we ensure equality in parenting and prevent parent alienation becoming a disturbing, abusive norm? What does absent/alienated parenting mean? How do we change this and include alienated parents, especially the Hidden Men…

As a social worker, and a manager and I have worked across many domains in both public and the private sector.

I am passionate about:

  • Good social worker practice
  • Upholding parents’ rights, families’ rights, including the rights of those, for whatever reason, are absent/hidden in children’s lives.

I advocate for families’ rights every day and develop teams where this is held in high regard and the whole family at the centre of all we do.

I want people to read this blog, who may find that they are lone parenting and to stop and ask themselves, “How did this happen?

Is it me?”

For if we all change our behaviour a little for the better, our children will be the ones to thank us for it.

I design and deliver training on ‘Hidden Men: Fathers can safeguard too.’ The training is meant to open our minds to the fact there are as many good fathers out there as mothers, they are very valuable and they have rights the same as the mother, and should be included fully by the social worker in everything they do.

Social workers often work with the ‘main carer’, it is often that work is undertaken with them to support change within the family home. Who that person is, is largely decided before our involvement.

Learning from serious case reviews, one of the revised approaches for improved practice includes:

  • Identifying the men in the child’s life
  • Involving fathers/men
  • Seeing men as protectors

This indicates that there has been learning from serious case reviews.

But has it really changed our practice?

What is clear to me is that we need to fundamentally change the culture of social work, changing the thinking, believing that fathers can safeguard. But also, mothers can harm.


Children need safe parents and where safe to do so they need BOTH parents.

It has to be all about the children, their needs, their voice and their wishes not the agendas of the adults, which will not always be child-centred. Alienating one parent from another is clearly a growing, of less well understood or publicised cause of harm.

My minimum expectations in social worker practice is:

  • Genograms are undertaken from the outset, who is who in the child life; these are done with the adults and done separately with children and young people. This enables us to assess those absent adults
    • Genograms allow us to start conversation with the resident parent/main care giver
    • Absent comes in many forms, working full time, service families, and those parents who do not live with their child, absent parenting takes many forms and I want social workers to engage, include, speak with, visit, share, the same level of work, support, everything they offer, share or give to the main care giver
    • Social Workers also need to fully understand parental alienation and the signs, signals and proven pathways and tactics that lead to it
  • The alienated/absent parent, must be included, invited to meetings, sent reports, information should be shared equally with parents
  • Sessions with the father (absent parent) should always take place, their voice is vital within any assessment, court report or intervention being offered, regardless of where they reside.
  • If a child is open to social care, there is some concerns, therefore the non-resident parents may be a protective factor, and this cannot be disregarded.
  • Two parents sharing care in some form will, more often than not, be a safeguarding asset rather than an additional risk.
  • Mediating can be useful, but social worker must remain focused on the child and they need to have the view that the child needs both parents in their life.
  • Assessments should not be signed off by managers unless there is a clear voice of the absent/alienated parent – the assessment needs to understand how parents conflict impacts on the child as well as parental alienation, assessments and reports need to offer a balanced view, where all sides have been given equal weight and outcomes are evidence based with the child at the centre.
  • Some resident parents may not be open about the alienated parent, they may say they don’t know where they live ect… it is the Social Workers job to build a relationship with the main carer to ascertain this information and keep talking about the importance of the child.

What we need to do to involve fathers:

  • From the very beginning, emphasise to parents how crucial the father’s role is to the child’s well-being in the context of both parents being important.
  • Encourage fathers to attend appointments and classes. Make appointments for times convenient to them, such as evenings.
  • Involve fathers and male carers in assessments. Ask them directly about risky behaviours such as drug and alcohol use and offer them services based on their needs, if there are any such needs.
  • Make sure fathers and male carers, including those who are not directly involved in mothers’ and children’s lives, know about concerns relating to their approach so they can take any necessary improvement action. Consult them about plans, invite them to child protection conferences and include them in core groups.
  • Some fathers (parents) may still choose to not engage, this is their choice, but a social worker MUST try to understand this, and still include them regardless.

We need to change the narrative from seeing men as threats and to start properly appreciating their role, especially as protectors.



  • Estranged fathers and ex-partners may be able to give crucial information about a mother and children. Likewise, the siblings of an at-risk child can give insights into family dynamics and important people in their lives.
  • We must explore the potential of estranged fathers to offer protective care and stability; many can if we engage them.
  • Fathers can safeguard too. Paternal family can safeguard too, we must adopt a whole family approach.
  • Children need to know their wider family; they have a right to understand their whole journey and we have a duty to provide this.

It is clear that alienation of non-resident parents, predominantly Dads, can and is having a very detrimental effect on the development of thousands of children.

Social workers can and should adapt practice, do this differently and in many cases are doing it differently; we just need to continue on this road of change and inclusion.

In the second part of this blog I will highlight some of the ways in which I am modifying social worker practice under my control to be much more inclusive of fathers and male role-models, combating alienation practices wherever we encounter them.

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, as is the case above.

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.

[The following is written by an anonymous contributor]

Easter Sunday, April 22nd, 1973.

I saw my father for the very last time, when I was aged three.

He travelled down to South Jersey to see me. I heard him knock on the door. My mother shushed me to my bedroom.

I peeped through my Mickey Mouse curtains; saw my beautiful Aunt Debbie’s red ’67 Mustang parked in front of our apartment.

My daddy’s knocks grew louder… I heard him say my mother’s name… Begging her to please let him in to see me. He began to sob… The knocking stopped and standing on my tiptoes, I watched him get in the car and drive away. I never saw him as a child again.

My little heart shattered and my childhood ended on that day. I never had the chance to call him ‘Daddy’ again… Never held his hand, visited the zoo or rode in a canoe with him again. No walks on the beach… No kisses goodnight.

I found him 34 years later.

408 months; 12,410 days; 297,840 hours; 17,870,400 minutes.

He is too wounded I believe, to have a relationship with me in the present. He is too broken and bitter from the lies of the past.

My wise attorney once said, “nine months is an eternity in the life of a child.”

I spent my childhood in a form of emotional and physical purgatory.

And yet still, I love them both.

I haven’t seen either my mom or dad in over a decade now.

The alienated child, if she survives, lives in exile from the parents she loves.

Why? How could this be?

Because it is what they both taught me to do.

But don’t feel sad for me; I have built a beautiful life filled with music, laughter, teaching, children and a nuclear family unit that is living and loyal.

My purpose and mission in life, I believe, is to break the cycle of abuse… To bear witness to its existence.

And to be the voice of every child who has none.

Please Note: We pledge to never make a profit or any other form of financial gain from any individuals affected by parental alienation.

We will gladly signpost individuals to true professionals within our wider network who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles; contact us for more details. 

We pledge to never request payment from such individuals, nor request a finder’s fee from these professionals for any referrals made.

The Peace Not Pas Team

Parent Alienation Awareness Day is 25th, April.

We clearly all need to make a concerted effort to bang the PA awareness drum on that day using all available channels.

To this end we want to publish a talking heads style article on our blog adopting the MeToo style format.

We would really appreciate if those that are effected by parental alienation please list in the comment boxes below the following:

The three most harmful tactics the alienating parent has deployed against you and the children to destroy your relationship.

A one sentence bullet point will be enough.

We will them list these as a summary and reference that they have come from our anti-PA community to reveal the extent of the abuse and the fact it is directed at Dads, Mums, step-parents, grandparents, step-kids etc?

Don’t worry about duplication, we’re expecting some. But don’t hold back, we want people’s eyes to be popping in outrage by the end of reading it.


The Peace Not Pas Team

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, as is the case above.

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.

I cannot recall how many meetings I have attended since my battle against parental alienation began back in the summer of 2016. Some meetings have had numerous so called ‘professionals’ in attendance and still little to nothing is gained. And then following such time wasting meetings, I have attended so called ‘follow up’ meetings, just to make sure no one knows what they are doing!

Yesterday I went to yet another meeting. However it was like no other meeting I have attended so far. It was a meeting with the only mental health worker currently involved in my case. I was supported in this meeting by my partner.

So what made this meeting so different? Please allow me to explain; unlike other so called professionals I have had numerous meetings with, the professional yesterday spoke to me with respect. This professional actively listened to me. They validated what I told them. They did not interrupt me. They empathised with me. They wrote down notes of pertinent points, issues and concerns I was making. In summary they gave my partner and I the impression that they genuinely want to help us.

As I write this I am suddenly aware that I am commending a professional for behaving and conducting themselves in a caring, compassionate and ultimately professional manner. I am ultimately commending them for doing what they should be doing!

“Most professionals involved in cases of parental alienation are arrogant, uncaring and lack any sense of empathy or compassion.”

However, as anyone affected by parental alienation will know, most professionals involved in such cases are not like the one I discussed above. In terms of interpersonal skills, anecdotally most professionals involved in cases of parental alienation are arrogant, uncaring and lack any sense of empathy or compassion. In terms of professional competence, once again, anecdotally the majority of them appear to be ill-informed, judgemental and not willing to have their opinions or findings challenged.

So in returning to the subject of yesterday’s meeting, at some point I was asked the following question, “so what kinds of activities did you used to do with your children, how did you used to play with them?”

Since I have been battling against parental alienation, not one single professional involved has asked me such a question. Truly unbelievable.

“Such memories are locked away for safekeeping in the back of my mind.”

For the next ten to fifteen minutes I talked about all three of my children. I spoke about the nicknames I used to call them. I talked about the activities I used to do with them. I also explained how I used to play with each of them. I could have so easily have broken down yesterday during this part of the meeting, but I did not. Maybe I should have, who knows.

Up until yesterday I had not talked to anyone about my children at such length and in such detail; not since becoming alienated from my children. Such memories are locked away for safekeeping in the back of my mind.

In scientific terms, these memories, up until yesterday were probably consciously or subconsciously exiled to the deepest, darkest parts of my limbic system; the part of the brain responsible for memories. Although they are positive memories, once again, anyone affected by parental alienation will understand the need to detach oneself from such memories and feelings. Does thinking about your children less, mean you love them less? Of course not. It is simply a coping mechanism.

I went straight from that meeting to work. Due to the chaotic and busy nature of my job I did not have time to process or reflect on my lengthy discussion about my children.

However the minute I left work, it hit me like a brick wall. It was as if the memories of my children that I had verbalised, had metaphorically left the limbic system and were now in the front of my mind. The frontal lobe part of my brain that was now attempting to make sense of what felt like to me an emotional outpouring earlier on in the day.

For the rest of the evening these memories, thoughts and feelings of my children remained very much on my mind for the whole evening.

Those memories, thoughts and feelings are still with me now as I am writing this. I do not want them to go away. I just want them once again locked away for safe-keeping.

Dr Seuss once wrote “sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” 

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.


The Peace Not Pas Team

Christopher McCandless is attributed with scribbling the words “happiness only real when shared” above the Doctor Zhivago passage: “And so it turned out that only a life similar to the life of those around us, merging with it without a ripple, is genuine life, and that an unshared happiness is not happiness…”

In 1990, after graduating from University, McCandless donated most of his savings to charity and travelled across the North American Continent for the next couple of years.

In 1992 he decided to step away from modern society. He hitchhiked to Alaska with minimal supplies, hoping to live off the land. McCandless’ journey tragically ended there. Only four months after making it to Alaska his decomposing body was found by hunters in a converted bus. His official cause of death was ruled as starvation.

McCandless’ story was the subject of a magazine article by Jon Krakauer in 1993. Inspired by McCandless’ life story, Krakauer went on to write an extensive biography in 1996 entitled Into the Wild. This in turn was adapted into the 2007 film of the same name, which was directed by Sean Penn.

McCandless’ life story subsequently became the subject of further articles, books and documentaries. Since his life story has became known to a wider public audience, Candless has become somewhat of a divisive figure. Krakauer and others have sympathised with the young traveller. While others, particularly Alaskans have felt the latter part of his travels were reckless and that his story has become over-romanticised by today’s popular culture.

I personally came across McCandless’ story several years ago. I read the book, watched the film and listened to the soundtrack.

I very much admire McCandless’ gung-ho belief that there is more to life than the nine to five rat race. However what really struck a chord with me was his handwritten comment “happiness only real when shared.” I have recently reflected on this, particularly in the context of parental alienation.

As human beings our brains are hard-wired to be social creatures. Even during prehistoric times we seldom lived in isolation from one another. Our ancestors came together and built small communities, eventually these became civilisations and finally over millennia they became nation states.

In our current post modern society, the way we communicate may be changing with the advent of new technology, however most of us still have this inherent need to stay in touch with one another, by whatever medium we choose. As did our ancestors, we consciously or subconsciously seek out friends; partners to share our lives with.

Our idea of what it means to be ‘a family’ is also changing with societal trends and changes. For example, terms such as blended families and step-mum, step-brother etc, rightly so have no less a meaning in what constitutes a family unit.

“An alienating parent will effectively ‘brainwash’ a child into rejecting the other parent.”

However in the context of parental alienation the aforementioned dynamics and social constructs that define modern societies and families do not apply. The available research and evidence on parental alienation informs us that in most severe cases, personality disorders are at the core of the alienating parent’s emotional make-up. The behaviour of such severe alienators is vengeful, malevolent, dangerous and abusive.

As such alienating parents see no wrong in destroying a previously loving relationship between their child(ren) and the targeted parent. An alienating parent will effectively ‘brainwash’ a child into rejecting the other parent. This is despite, as stated above, us human beings, being hard-wired to naturally form parental-child bonds. Evidence also informs us that such bonds still remain in place despite the most adverse of relationship dynamics. However parental alienation appears to be the exception to this theory. In essence these alienators, like other individuals that suffer from similar psychological disorders are often intensely unhappy and anxious.

As both an alienated parent and a psychiatric nurse I would argue that those individuals that perpetrate such severe alienating behaviours are emotionally incapable of experiencing such emotions as happiness and love. Anyone effected by severe parental alienation would also agree such individuals are also incapable of engaging in any form of shared parenting.

“Any happiness an alienated parent is prevented from sharing with their alienated child(ren) is not happiness at all.”

So in returning to McCandless’ statement happiness only real when shared, I have come to the following rather tragic realisation. A severely alienating parent that brainwashes their child(ren) against the targeted parent gains no happiness from such toxic behaviours; it is merely about control and abuse for the alienator. For the effected children, there is no happiness; just incredibly negative short and long term consequences for their mental health. For the targeted parent, any happiness they shared with their child(ren), simply become but memories. So arguably any happiness an alienated parent is prevented from sharing with their alienated child(ren) is not happiness at all.

However rather tragically the abuse that is parental alienation is all around us. It continues to go unacknowledged, unrecognised and unpunished. An incalculable number of parents are alienated from their children throughout the modern world. In addition to this an incalculable number of alienated children will grow up through their formative years feeling rejected and unloved. Research and evidence clearly informs us that such children are at high risk of developing long term mental health issues.

This is despite the fact we are supposed to be living in a post modern time. A post modern society that over the last one hundred years has seen scientific breakthroughs and technological innovations that have radically changed the way we live our lives.

However what kind of society are we if we continue to turn a blind eye to abuse such as parental alienation?

“Happiness only real when shared” Christopher McCandless.

btg dad

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The Peace Not Pas Team