So I’ve been asked, what is parental alienation?… Simple… It is my ex stopping me from being a parent.

What does she stop me doing? Everything a normal loving parent does. I’m excluded from nursery, I can’t pick my son up from there. And I’m accused of being convicted of crimes falsely when I attend parents evening.

Parental alienation isn’t a syndrome… it’s an action, a choice and ultimately one parent saying “I’m superior to you.”

I have no awareness of his medical records, she thinks its acceptable for me to pay to get these, as I hold parental responsibility… Thank you very much for that.

I know nothing about his life other than the 52 days a year I see him.

Parental alienation isn’t a syndrome… it’s an action, a choice and ultimately one parent saying “I’m superior to you.”

I’m at a loss as to how to stop it; courts ignore it and the ex refuses to engage with mediation.

The current set up of courts and family law makes this acceptable for the resident parent to alienate the non-resident parent (statistics inform us that alienators are mostly resident mothers here in the UK). There are some resident parents who don’t misuse the system, but with the CMS (Child Maintenance Service) taking around 14% of my gross salary, the courts ignoring the issue and my ex’s refusal to engage in mediation… I feel it is portrayed as she is right and I am wrong.

All I want is fair contact, awareness of my son’s life and ultimately him to see me as a parent.

I would like to give you one final example of the kind of tactics an alienating parent uses. My son has got a birthday party coming up. But according to my ex, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) stops her confirming names of his friends to invite.  This is not an action against him but me. As she doesn’t want other parents to see the real me… A great dad to my son.

A belated show of support for all the alienated dads out there that had to endure Father’s Day. And well done to all the mothers out there that promote equal parenting.

It is controversial. It divides opinions. Does it really exist? And ultimately, is it really about the children? I mean deep down really, or is it just spite? I’m talking of course about parental alienation. If you are effected by it, you know the answers. Yes, this is as real as it gets. Doubters will always have their reasons for not accepting its existence. However, proving one way or another within a court of law seemingly is easier said than done. Until the legal system is updated accordingly, there will always be long, expensive cases which cause more upset and turmoil, leaving those negatively effected by parental alienation finding it hard to cope.

“Lets put it simply, it’s a battle, a war.”

So, the million-dollar question is how you cope with it, and what is the best way to get out of it? If you have the answer that suits everyone, then you’ll be extremely wealthy if you decide to sell it.  In my opinion, there is not one answer. Yes, the situation might be the same, as in you don’t see your child(ren), however, everyone’s circumstances are different, or should I say, whoever you are up against will differ.

Lets put it simply, it’s a battle, a war. One with no real winners. It has losers… The children.

Some lobby to change the law, but the laws that hinder us were first passed to protect those in danger. These situations still exist so is it as simple as, change the law to 50/50 shared parenting across the board? For me, that would be perfect, but the problem with that is that if my relationship with my children is put under so much pressure that it causes them more harm and distress then is that in their best interest?

“The extreme stress you endure during this time will ultimately cause you either mental or physical harm, most likely both.”

I should point out that I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with any form of trying to improve matters, but I think that we must look at this from all angles.

The extreme stress you endure during this time will ultimately cause you either mental or physical harm, most likely both.  Like most men, I wouldn’t really speak to anyone about my situation. I bottled everything up which ultimately led to quite severe stomach pains. After finally agreeing to see the local G.P. thinking I would get some medication to treat the pains, I found myself with a prescription for antidepressants.  It seems that your stomach has its own nervous system, that’s where the term gut feeling comes from, and when your brain finally says enough is enough, your stomach is the first body part to feel actual physical pain. So, my advice is please, do not bottle things up, and getting some help is not a sign of weakness. I regret not going sooner as it does help put things clear in your mind.

So, what have I decided to do about my circumstances?…

Well, firstly I do not use social media to vent. It is very easy to swear and tell others exactly what has happened to you. Very quickly others join in with you and fan the flames of anger. One of the biggest messages you come across is ‘in the best interests of the children’, and it’s true. After all, the reason why you feel so low is that you love your children unconditionally. But is posting bad language and abusive comments about the other parent really in their best interests?

You must not forget that however much they have hurt you, and however much you want them to pay for what they have done to you and put you through, your children are under their control, and you are giving them all the ammunition they need to drive the wedge between you and the children even deeper.

“I get it, you’re hurting, you want justice and you want it now.”

Once it’s on social media, it’s there. With the added concern that Family Court will also scroll through social media, then it’s a very dangerous game to play.

But I get it, you’re hurting, you want justice and you want it now. But this is not an overnight fix because the harsh reality is if you were dealing with a reasonable individual then you wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place.

When I saw that there was no way that I was going to be allowed to have a relationship with my children by the other parent, I knew then that even though there was a court order in place, yes, I’ve done the court route and expensive and pointless is my conclusion; it was detrimental for them to continue seeing me. The issue with the courts is that they simply don’t know what happens behind closed doors. Lawyers can create scenarios to best suit their client, and the whole thing becomes a real-life soap opera, basically fictional.

Like a lion in a zoo, you can see in their eyes when they have given up the fight, I could see in my children’s eyes that they were suffering.

“There is something positive about living in the present and not the past. Churning over memories will drive you insane.”

I started to write my children letters, and just keep them safe. Nothing about the other parent, nothing derogatory or abusive. Just letters about how much I loved and missed them. The letters continued, and I then also started making videos. There is something positive about living in the present and not the past. Churning over memories will drive you insane. By talking to them as if they were there is calming and pulls you back into the present and even the future which is a much more positive place than the past.

After a while of making these videos and letters, I then got a little frustrated that they were just sat on my phone.  I’m sure everyone has heard the ‘one day when they are older’ line, but my thinking was… What if they think I’m an asshole?

So, I came up with the app Absent. One platform where people can reunite and learn the other side of the story. As we all know, there are always two sides to every story, right?

AbsentLogo_PeacenotPas

Included in Absent will be a private journal feature if you wish to use it. The private journal feature will safely store all the letters and videos that you make, ready for when your children are ready. Once you allow access after ensuring it is them, with some fancy technology, they will be able to digest everything you’ve put on there before you reunite.

As far as I’m concerned, that is in the best interest of the children.  Everything private, no manipulation of social media posts by anyone, no pressure put on them. Even though I am aware of messages being circulated about myself regarding the creation of Absent, by making that public, or responding in kind is not in the best interests of my children. It’s hard enough growing up these days without the added embarrassment of parents slinging mud on social media sites.

AbsentWhatDiIDoToDeserveThis_PeaceNotPas.jpg

Even though this might take some time, it will provide a chance of a long lasting meaningful relationship. Again, there are other avenues to take, but having an Absent account running alongside will do no harm whatsoever.  If things change sooner, before the need for an Absent account, then amazing.

But if you’re not that lucky, you might be glad you had one.  Why not check it out in the App Store.

AbsentReview_PeaceNotPas


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 Peace Not Pas Team

For the regular followers of our movement, you will probably be aware that we recently wrote an open letter to The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) CEO, Anthony Douglas.

We also emailed him the letter directly to him.

This initial communication of ours with Anthony Douglas can be found in the following link:

Open Letter to Anthony Douglas, CEO, Cafcass

Anthony Douglas did indeed reply to our email.

Due to overwhelming demand we are publishing his reply below:

Dear Peace Not Pas Team,

Thank you for your letter, which expressed your concerns about the impact of parental alienation on children and their families.

We recognise parental alienation and our primary focus is the child impact of alienating behaviours when they are identified, including when they are present alongside other risk factors within a family, such as domestic abuse or high conflict. Our practitioners are aware of the potential for children to be influenced by parental views and remain live to this issue throughout the assessment and progression of a case. The focus is always on the safety and wellbeing of the children.

We are currently working on finalising an evidence-based assessment framework to help our practitioners assess the complexity of alienating behaviours. Thank you for your kind offer to meet in person but we have already met with and received input from a range of knowledgeable groups, including the judiciary, lawyers, academics, and men’s and women’s groups. The issues raised in your letter have been noted and will be considered along with the feedback already received.

Yours sincerely,

Anthony Douglas CBE

 ReplyFromCafcassCEO_PeaceNotPas

The above reply raised more questions for us. So we replied back.

Although already published the reply can be found in the following link:

Our reply to Anthony Douglas, CEO, Cafcass

We still await a response from Anthony Douglas following our second letter.


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 Peace Not Pas Team

Even if you don’t follow celebrity news, it would still be incredibly difficult to avoid the recent news stories regarding Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and their very public custody battle.

Type ‘Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Judge’ into Google and approximately 26,400,000 results suddenly become available. The results from Google highlight the incredibly high number of news outlets that are currently reporting on this very public custody dispute.

All five of the first results from various news outlets use terms such as custody battle, custody dispute and divorce battle.

However on further inspection of this very public story, in my opinion it has all the makings of a case of parental alienation.

For the uninitiated, parental alienation is a set of abusive behaviours; whereby one parent (in most cases the resident parent) attempts to damage, and in some cases destroy the previously healthy loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent (the non-resident parent). This damage can be intentional or unintentional on the part of the alienating parent. And it is factors such as this that aids professionals that understand parental alienation how to classify it. For a more detailed description of parental alienation see here.

According to the numerous news reports released today, the court Judge has ordered and stated the following:

“It’s harmful to the children if Angelina continues to restrict access to Brad.” The Judge is reported to have stated this regarding Pitt’s lack of contact with his children.

Another article informs us that the Judge has ordered Jolie to allow Pitt to have the children’s telephone numbers.

In addition to the above order, the Judge has reportedly stated that Pitt should be able to call and text each child at will. The order also included the statement that Jolie should allow these to be facilitated without her monitoring the conversations/texts.

It is also reported that Jolie has been ordered to be nicer about Pitt in front of their children.

Jolie has been ordered to tell their children that the “court has determined that not having a relationship with their father is harmful to them,” that they are “safe with their father,” and that having a healthy relationship with both parents is “critical.”

Now, lets take a step back and apply some straight forward critical thinking to the above reports.

As I have already hinted at, I am finding it difficult to ascertain how this can be viewed as a straight forward custody battle. Nor does it present itself as a custody dispute. And as for the term divorce battle, this is clearly more than a battle regarding the divorce. It appears to me, that Pitt is simply battling to have a relationship with his children.

Even if Pitt did lose his temper with his children, even if he did have a drink problem, no one is perfect. I am certainly not condoning any of his allegedly reported behaviours that subsequently led to Jolie filing for divorce. Even if the reports regarding Pitt’s behaviours were true, should this equate to Pitt having to battle to have a relationship with his children. Ultimately the judge involved in the case must have had enough evidence to put the above-mentioned orders and directions in place regarding Jolie’s current behaviours.

This raises a somewhat obvious question. Why does Jolie need to be ordered to conduct herself in such a way that is not jeopardising or even damaging the relationship between Pitt and his children?

If she were not ordered to change her behaviours what would happen? Well as already stated above, according to numerous reports the Judge stated “it’s harmful to the children if Angelina continues to restrict access to Brad.”

So as somewhat of a self-taught expert on parental alienation, this situation between Jolie, Pitt and their children appears to me to be a clear and obvious case of parental alienation.

However, this in turn raises another question. Why is this not being reported by the incalculable number of news outlets as a case of parental alienation?

The conduct of such public figures are constantly over-judged by the paparazzi that watches their every move. I would imagine the Hollywood paparazzi are not keeping a watchful eye on this sad state of affairs in the best interests of the children. They are simply looking for a story; plain and simple. They are not interested how they present the story. The terms they use to sell their stories are irrelevant to them. They just want to get their stories out there.

“No amount of money takes away the pain of being an alienated parent.”

However this appears to be a very public and personal battle by Pitt to simply have a relationship with his children. I would imagine there are individuals out there that would put forward the argument that at least Pitt as the financial resources to take this matter to court. My response to this would be, yes he is fortunate enough to be able to afford to take this to court. However, regardless of income, should a parent have to pay extortionate amounts of money in what is essentially a battle to have a relationship with their children? Another point of mine would be that I would imagine no amount of money takes away the pain of being an alienated parent.

“What if the public were made more aware of parental alienation due to the reporting of this story?”

While writing this article I continued to struggle with the misrepresentation of this case by reporters and there misuse of various terms. If only they were more well informed about parental alienation and the harm that it does. If only something positive came from this tragic story; what if the public were made more aware of parental alienation due to the reporting of this story?

This point continued to play on my mind while attempting to bring this article to a close. So I had a more in depth search online regarding this story.

I came across an article online by People Movies. Their headline rather frustratingly included the term custody case! The article then begins with the term custody battle! Just as I was about to carry on searching elsewhere I came across the following content in the article:

Family law attorney David Glass, who is not associated with the case, tells PEOPLE that it “is extremely rare” to see a court intervene in this way, though they typically do so after extensive evaluation and to prevent children from being alienated from one parent.

David Glass then goes on to talk about the difference between estrangement and alienation. Although he does not use the term parental alienation he does use the term alienation cases.

David Glass’ input on the article ends with the following statement “the schedule worked out by the court is the typical post-alienation reunification schedule.”

The question for me still remains; why the lack of public discussion of parental alienation?

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, 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 Peace Not Pas Team

The following is an anonymous contribution from one of the alienated parents that we support. In the interests of professionalism and confidentiality we have changed the individuals’ names.


So I was in family court the other day for the umpteenth time. My name is John, I am an alienated parent. I am a father to three beautiful children that my ex has denied me access to for almost two years now. My ex has effectively brainwashed my children against me. To such an extent that they state they no longer want me in my life.

I now represent myself in all court hearings having already spent in-excess of £25,000 (approximately $33,500 USD) on legal fees. Due to the lack of legal counsel I ensure I am always accompanied by a trusted friend or family member at each court hearing.

So I arrived in court and I met my family member in the main foyer. As we were talking the Children’s Guardian walked round the corner, spotted me, walked over and politely said hello. I replied with the same level of courtesy.

Now, here in the UK, a Children’s Guardian is a role within Cafcass (The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service). They are appointed by the court to represent the rights and interests of children in family court proceedings.

In the interests of confidentiality I will refer to the Children’s Guardian as Dory. Any perceived link from readers between this chosen change of name and the Finding Nemo character of the same name that suffers from short term memory loss, is purely coincidental.

IWasInFamilyCourtTheOtherDay_Dory
© Walt Disney Pictures

In the interests of bringing some context into the following dialogue I would like to inform the reader of the following information:

The day before this court hearing I received an email from Dory informing me that “there is no more that Cafcass can assist with.” Now, obviously I found this quite concerning, given that the hearing was the very next day.

So I emailed Dory asking her to explain to me why “there is no more that Cafcass can assist with?” I received a reply but not an answer to my question. So I then sent an additional email to Dory’s manager, who I shall refer to as Groucho Marx; I also copied in Dory. In the email I asked Groucho the following three questions:

  1. Why “there is no more that Cafcass can assist with?”
  2. Why is this case not  being treated as a case of parental alienation, when Cafcass have identified it as being a case of parental alienation?
  3. Why Groucho, are you and Dory taking the opposing view of your very own CEO in such a complex case? [CEO, Anthony Douglas publicly states that parental alienation should be treated with the same severity as any other form of abuse.]

I received a reply from Groucho, but he was either unable to or unwilling to answer my above questions. He stated that such questions should be asked in a final hearing!

So in returning to my day in family court and my conversation with Dory the following dialogue between us took place:

Dory: “Sorry John for not replying to your email. I was busy writing a statement for today’s hearing, but my understanding is that Groucho Marx responded to your email.”

Me: “Well he did respond, but like you Dory, he chose not to answer my questions.”

Dory: “Well you do ask a lot of questions John.”

Me: “Well I may ask a lot of questions, but to be fair Dory, you don’t answer the majority of them. I was wondering why were you unwilling or unable to answer the very simple question that was why there is no more that Cafcass can assist with?”

Dory: “Well there are lots of factors involved, hence I asked Groucho to respond to your email.”

Me: “He responded, but he still didn’t answer my questions.”

Dory: “Well you need to take this up with Groucho.”

Me: “But Dory, you are the Children’s Guardian. You are the one that informed me that there is no more that Cafcass can assist with. So surely you have the answer. I simply don’t understand why you couldn’t answer this question yesterday.”

Dory: “As I have already answered you, I was being preparing for today’s hearing.”

Me: “Okay, I have a different question; the decision that there is no more that Cafcass can assist with, was this decision made prior to yesterday?”

Dory: “I don’t know what you mean?”

Me: “Let me rephrase the question. You know yesterday?”

Dory: “Yes.”

Me: “Was this decision made before yesterday?”

Dory: “Yes it was.”

Me: “Okay, in which case, this begs my next question; why was it decided to only inform me of this yesterday. You and Groucho both know that I represent myself in court and that I need to prepare.”

At this point Dory was beginning to appear flustered. It is only speculation on my part, but I can only assume that she was beginning to feel frustrated with the constant bombardment of questions she was either unable or unwilling to answer for me.

Dory: “John, you are never satisfied!”

Me: “I’m sorry that you feel that way Dory. However I haven’t seen my three children for almost two years. I do not know if you have children, but if you were in my shoes and you were having to fight for an organisation such as Cafcass that is so obviously incompetent, just for it to do it’s job properly, would you be satisfied with the service that you received from such an organisation?”

Dory: [No answer].

Me: “So returning to my previous query about the decision to only inform me that Cafcass can do no more, only yesterday, can you not see it from my perspective? Such a decision smacks of an unknown ulterior motive or strategic decision to give me less time to respond such a decision that was clearly not arrived at yesterday.”

Dory: [No answer].

Me: “Okay, moving on, do Cafcass accept that this is a case of parental alienation?”

Dory: “Yes Cafcass do agree that this is a case of parental alienation. However you and I differ on the level of severity of the parental alienation.”

Me: “Okay, fair enough Dory. What factor’s would need to be identified by Cafcass for this to be viewed as a severe case of parental alienation?”

Dory: “There are far too many factors John.”

Me: “Okay Dory, I’m not asking you for a long definitive list of all the factors. If it makes it a bit easier to answer this very straightforward question, just give me one factor.”

Dory: “You would need to speak to Groucho about this.”

Me: “You are not really answering any of my questions are you Dory. What I don’t understand is that Cafcass’ very own CEO has clearly stated publicly on numerous occasions that all cases of parental alienation should be dealt with the same severity as any other kind of abuse. However the approach of staff such as yourself and Groucho to cases of parental alienation is the complete opposite of how your very own CEO states his staff should be managing such cases. Such a difference in theory and practice would not be acceptable in any other organisation, so why is it acceptable for Cafcass to conduct themselves in such a way? Particularly as they are an organisation whose job it is to protect the interests of children involved in family court proceedings?”

At this point Dory chose not to answer my last question. She simply stood up and walked off.

John


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 Peace Not Pas Team

 

As a campaign group we are proud of the steps we are taking in lobbying for reform with the intention of parental alienation being officially recognised and managed accordingly as a form of abuse.

As a growing community of alienated parents, step-parents and grandparents we are proud of the support we show one another.

As a movement we are proud of our constant promotion of the awareness of parental alienation.

All of our efforts are done in the interests of promoting equality and minimising harm to all those effected by parental alienation.

In the Oxford English Dictionary, equality is defined as follows; the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities. 

In my humble opinion, equality by its very nature and definition should not be turned on and off to suit a particular movement’s motives or needs. If an individual, group or movement is fighting for equality for a particular section of society, they should not, by the very definition and intention of equality, be opposing or seen to be suppressing the equality of other sections of society.

For example take Emily Linden’s tweet on 21st November, 2017: “Here’s an unpopular opinion: I’m actually not at all concerned about innocent men losing their jobs over false sexual assault/harassment allegations.” 

On the same day Linden also tweeted the following: “Sorry. If some innocent men’s reputations have to take a hit in the process of undoing the patriarchy, that is a price I am absolutely willing to pay.”

I would like to employ some critical thinking in analysing and exploring Linden’s above comments. As with many contentious issues, it can be all too easy to unnecessarily arrive at a somewhat knee-jerk and judgemental opinion.

Emily Linden is the founder of The Unslut Project. Linden claims that the purpose of this movement is to promote gender equality and challenge sexual bullying.

“No one, regardless of gender, age, disability, religion, belief or sexual orientation should be discriminated against.”

Linden states on her homepage “since The UnSlut Project started in April 2013, it has expanded to include the stories of people of all genders, ages, backgrounds, and nationalities. These shared stories not only provide hope and solidarity to girls who are currently suffering – they demonstrate to us all just how widespread the issues of sexual bullying and “slut” shaming really are.  Join us in spreading the word and changing our world.”

In terms of promoting equality, this is indeed a worthy cause. No one, regardless of gender, age, disability, religion, belief or sexual orientation should be discriminated against. To be discriminated against on any grounds is totally unacceptable. I am yet to come across any kind of excuse or rational justification for any form of discrimination. It is morally wrong, unethical.

If we look at the online #MeToo movement, it’s intention is clearly well intended. According to Wikipedia, it is an international movement against sexual harassment and assault.

The phrase “Me Too” was first used in 2006 on social media outlet Myspace by social activist and community organiser Tarana Burke, with the intention of providing support for survivors of sexual violence.

The phrase garnered more publicity via numerous social media outlets when in October 2017 American actress Alyssa Milano tweeted the phrase “Me Too.” The subsequent response was that numerous female celebrities then tweeted the same phrase. Arguably, due to these responses, it could have been seen as a movement that only supported women.

However in numerous interviews since 2006, Burke has stated that the movement has now grown to include the supporting of women and men who have been victims of sexual assault, violence or harassment. Statistics inform us that more women than men are victims of sexual abuse. However 1 in 6 men have also experienced some kind of sexual abuse in their lives.

Despite Burke’s comments from 2006 onwards, the movement has continued to have it’s fair share of critics; most notably public figures, celebrities, the majority of which were men. Which in itself has arguably created somewhat of an exacerbation of the division of the sexes and unfortunately diluted what was an appropriate debate and critiquing within the public domain of the movement’s aims and intentions.

Following such public criticism of the movement Burke stated the following in 2018 “those of us who do this work know that backlash is inevitable.” Burke went on to say that while the majority of any criticism had an underlying sentiment of fairness, she stated that the her movement was “not a witch hunt as people try to paint it.” Burke made the point that engaging with the cultural critique of the #MeToo movement was more beneficial than simply calling for it to cease. I totally agree.

So with the above clarification of the origins and aims of the #Me Too movement, why are public figures such as Emily Linden making such derogatory and negative comments under the banner of equality? I would argue that any inappropriate opposition to the movement’s genuine aims (as clarified by Burke), particularly by men is causing more of a division between the sexes.

So in the interests of equality, I feel the same standards should be used when critiquing Emily Linden’s aforementioned tweets, which she made under the banner of the sexual equality movement.

So lets remind ourselves of what Linden tweeted in November 2017: “Here’s an unpopular opinion: I’m actually not at all concerned about innocent men losing their jobs over false sexual assault/harassment allegations.” And on the same day she tweeted the following: “Sorry. If some innocent men’s reputations have to take a hit in the process of undoing the patriarchy, that is a price I am absolutely willing to pay.”

Several questions and points come to mind regarding Linden’s very bold public statements. Regarding the first tweet, Linden interestingly recognises that she is about to express an unpopular opinion. However I am intrigued as to whether Linden considered why such a comment might be deemed unpopular. Secondly and rather more pertinently, where is the sense of equality in her comments?

“Where would the equality be in such an approach?”

If I were fortunate enough to engage in a debate with Emily Linden regarding her above comments I would question her understanding of parental alienation. Anyone that has ever been negatively effected by genuine cases of severe parental alienation will no doubt be aware of the incalculable number of false allegations that are all too often part of the alienating parents’ tactics. I wonder if Emily Linden has even heard of parental alienation?

Statistically there are more fathers than mothers that are victims of parental alienation. This is a statistic that we are more than aware of. However if as a movement we were to offer support, guidance and advice to only men, this would be discriminatory and not in line with our movement’s ethos. We would ultimately be excluding and arguably ostracising women who are victims of parental alienation. Where would the equality be in such an approach?

Lastly, I would challenge Linden to read one of our most read articles entitled The Story of a Great Man and a Great Father who Suffered at the Mercy of an Alienating Parent. I would then respectfully ask her to reflect on her above comments, particularly the following sentence of hers “that is a price I am willing to pay.”

The American feminist, journalist, and social and political activist Gloria Marie Steinem once said “a feminist is anyone who recognises the equality and full humanity of women and men.”

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, 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.

Those of us who have had the truly devastating experience of estrangement/alienation know only too well the damage it causes.

When I became a grandparent for the first time, it was a truly magical time, somehow getting my head around the fact that a child of mine had now become a parent himself was surreal.

There was this tiny little girl in my arms, looking up at me with such expectation, what a privilege it was going to be, to watch this precious person growing up and grabbing life with both hands.

Life, so often doesn’t turn out to be quite as we would like.

After a few years it became clear that my sons marriage was breaking down, the visits became less and less, until that dreadful day when our son and ourselves were told we would never see his daughter, our granddaughter again.

Like most of you, I thought it would be OK, that we would be able to sort this out.

How naive was I.

That was just over 11 years ago!

When we have to face any traumatic event in our lives, we have a choice of how to deal with it.

As I found myself slipping down the dark spiral of depression, I thought I could sink or swim, I decided to swim.

Not only was I suffering this ‘living bereavement’ so was my husband and all family members, but for me more importantly our son was a broken man.

I am a parent first, and to witness one of your children suffering so badly is truly gut wrenching.

All we could do was to be there whenever he needed us, and to pick him up each time he fell.

Before this happened to us, I had never heard of such a thing, so I made it my business to research the subject, and to my astonishment I found that it was estimated that over one million children were denied contact with their grandparents following a family breakdown.

I also discovered that family breakdown can occur for all sorts of reasons, so not just as a result of separation or divorce, but alcohol or drug dependency, domestic violence within the home (DV is not gender specific), bereavement or family fall out.

I really wanted to be able to talk to other grandparents who were going through this, but it was quite difficult to find anywhere to go.

If there were so many people suffering in this way, it stood to reason that there must be some grandparents in my area.

I sent a letter to my local press explaining what I was trying to do and I invited estranged grandparents to ‘Tea and Cake for the Grandchildren,’ in my home.

To my astonishment 6 grandparents arrived on my doorstep, and so Bristol Grandparents Support Group started to evolve, and to date we have been contacted by over 6,000 grandparents.

The clue of what we do is in the name of the group, support.

We can’t change the situation grandparents find themselves in, but we can hold out a hand of friendship in those really dark times. Talking to others who absolutely get what you are going through is a very powerful thing.

It is so important that they learn to self protect.

Estrangement and Alienation can and does have an effect on our physical and mental health, so learning to be a bit selfish every now and again is a positive thing.

We have to allow ourselves to have those times in the day when we feel unbearably sad, let the tears fall in the knowledge that this time will pass.

There are practical things to do as well.

Setting up a blog for our grandchildren, writing a journal, recording life histories and family events, all help.

Having worked with children for over 15 years, I know that all children type their names in their computer. To see a blog for them is a revelation.

Often grandparents ask what is the point in sending cards and presents as they don’t even know if their grandchildren receive them, I always say that, if you do send them there is a chance they will get them, if you don’t they certainly wont.

Sending postcards can be useful, it is a non threatening way, a resident parent can see what you have written rather than a sealed envelope.

Just a word of caution though, never use these projects as a place for ranting or badmouthing anyone, it must be a place of positivity.

For those sceptics out there, and I consider myself to be one!

Around 6 weeks ago our son was contacted by his daughter, she has now been to see us all twice and she had found the blog, she knew all the things BGSG have been up to, she could see that she had never been forgotten, that we all still loved her and that we weren’t the people she had been told we were.

So, the sun will rise and the text I have now that says, ‘I love you grandma,’ is the text I never believed would happen.

Never, ever give up HOPE.

Jane

www.bgsg.co.uk


Please Note:  The issues we deal with in this blog are distressing. If you feel you need support over and above the resources available, we will gladly refer readers to professionals within our team, who can help deliver practical assistance and who operate in line with our core principles. 

We are also more than happy to feature quality content by writers. Any wish to remain anonymous will be respected as you will observe.

So if you 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

Dear Mr Douglas,

Thank you very much for your prompt response to our recent letter acknowledging that you will now take on board our points as part of the reform process.

However, unfortunately you haven’t addressed any of our concerns. While we again appreciate your reiteration that “we recognise parental alienation,” you haven’t explained why:

  • There is no evidence of this on the front-line, where your employees are contradicting you.
  • It is taking so long to engage your staff with this, re-train and re-calibrate the culture and practices there.
  • It is taking so long to develop the measures to combat parental alienation.
  • Shared care isn’t recommended in the majority of cases.
  • There has been no mention of re-unification of alienated parents with their children
  • There are no target change dates and milestones.

You may well have noticed that our 21 point document has started to circulate around social media, including Linkedin, where the issue is attracting the attention of a number of media contacts as well as organisational change and leadership commentators and experts.

As we stated in our letter, enough is enough.

We are aware of your own personal background so know that you will be able to appreciate the incredible distress this issue is causing a great many people.

With that in mind can we please ask you to expand on your generalised statements about the assessment framework and provide very concerned parents with more clarity and reassurances about the other change pathways and measures you alluded to in your press releases last year?

Given the number of people involved and scale of this growing issue, this is every bit as serious an issue for Cafcass as similar challenges presented to CEOs of organisations of a similar size; not least the Windrush scandal at the Home Office, VW’s emissions problems or even the culture change issues at Carillion. Arguably, parental alienation affects many more people, especially children.

The fact there is a plethora of evidence that this form of abuse has such a lasting negative impact on both the short and long term mental health of the effected children should make the urgency of any reforms that much more a priority for the numerous stakeholders/agents of change involved. There are also detrimental effects on the mental health of the targeted families. We are proud of our gender neutral stance, however with 97% of residencies being given to mothers by the Family Court in the UK, (Kielty, S., University of East Anglia, 2006) this forces those fathers that don’t get granted residency  into the highest risk group within the UK for suicide rates.

We can count amongst our numbers several well-respected leadership and change consultants who have worked with director’s general of senior government departments, including the Cabinet Office. They are appalled by the lack of apparent urgency, absence of collective responsibility and clear disconnect between your enlightened view and front line service user experience. Look at what Starbucks has just achieved on the back of a single race-related incident, having mobilised mass training and communication in under a month? Yet they are only entrusted to sell coffee, not influence children’s lives and their profit margins are considerably less than the money spent in Family Court, daily.

Please don’t take this as negativity or hostility on our behalf. We want to do all we can to help you bring about expedient change. But we do hope you can appreciate the seriousness of our concerns, the extent of our desperation and the strength of will to resolve the most important issue we all face, the future of our relationships with our children.

This will in part be decided by your next actions.

We trust you are able to reply with reassuring specifics about what you as CEO of Cafcass and your leadership team and board will deliver this year and when we can expect to see positive change in the practice of your front line staff.

We look forward to your response, ideally within the next seven days.

Yours sincerely,

Peace Not Pas

My divorce came after my wife made it clear to me that my function was that of a sperm donor. We wanted a second child, and after having sex once (scheduled by an Excel spreadsheet for her fertility) and not falling pregnant straight away, she insisted I have my sperm checked out and wouldn’t sleep with me anymore before knowing the results. She fell pregnant soon after and it became crystal clear that she had achieved her objective and I no longer mattered.

It took a while for the real meaning of that to settle in with me, but it did eventually. It ended up, so my lawyer tells me, one of the most conflicted, protracted and expensive divorces that took place in Australia in recent times.

“Little did I know that my ex had no intention of allowing her daughters a life that included their father.”

We have two daughters, my wife’s strategy was clearly laid out; she was on a mission to inflict as much damage on me as possible, financially and by using our children for revenge. And so the divorce took five years and a quarter of a million dollars in legal fees alone. I fought hard and was awarded joint custody, my daughters would spend around a third of the year with me, at least on paper. Every additional hour with my kids I negotiated cost me tens of thousands in lawyer fees. Little did I know that my ex had no intention of allowing her daughters a life that included their father.

As soon as the court matter was finished, she employed a new strategy: In all those years I have only found one term that properly describes her; pure evil. There would be zero cooperation in anything concerning the kids. Trying to arrange holidays? No chance, she would simply not reply to my emails. Arranging regular visitation times? My emails were left unanswered for months. She would respond one day before the next calendar period started and state that she disagrees with every single day I proposed and wants everything the other way around. No reasons given. No way I could plan anything.

When the kids were handed over to me, they would be dirty, smelly, with ingrown nails, inappropriate clothing (t-shirts and sandals in winter). If I’d say anything about it, they’d be more dirty and smelly the next time around. She would say she lost the kids’ passports a few days before I wanted to go on a holiday with them.  Asking for a drop-off one hour later than usual because of a special event – only possible if I get the lawyer involved. Not once, but every single time. She would make sure I couldn’t reach my kids on their birthdays and I haven’t seen or spoken to them on their special days for seven years. It became harder and harder.

“I had no idea what was coming my way.”

Things got so ugly that I came to the conclusion everything would get better if only I allow her to return to her home country of Switzerland (she said she wasn’t happy in Australia and I would block her from leaving). I would return to my native country of Germany with my new wife and our son. We would move to a city we have no friends or family, just to be close to the girls so I would be able to see them. We lived only two hours apart. I had no idea what was coming my way.

Back in Europe, my girls started turning against me so fast I couldn’t believe it. In the first few months they still visited more or less regularly. But they started cutting me out of their lives; they didn’t tell me anything about their lives. One of my daughters was almost constantly chatting with her mother on her iPhone when she was with me. If I said that I would like to spend time with her she would scream at me “stop shouting you bully.”  Any question I would ask, like “how is school?” would be treated like stalking or bullying them. They grew ever more distant. The mother became even more evil.

One day, I was supposed to pick the kids up behind the Swiss/German border, I was stuck in a traffic jam at the border, literally 200 metres away from my daughters. I texted my ex to tell her about the delay and that I would be there in 15 to 20 minutes. Her response was “if you are not here in 5 minutes you won’t see the kids.”

She sent me forged dentist bills and asked me to pay. These are just examples, basically every single action of hers was aimed at destroying my relationship with my daughters.

“I was simply cast away.”

Then around three years ago one of my daughters accused me of hitting her, completely out of the blue. It was a complete fabrication. Her sister was standing next to her when that happened. I couldn’t believe it when she refused to back me. I was lucky that my wife was also in the room, so there was no doubt that it never happened. But I have never seen this daughter of mine since. I tried over and over to repair things between us, but there was simply no cooperation or any goodwill at all. I wrote to their mother about the incident; no reply, as usual.

A few weeks ago, my same daughter wrote to me “you were born on a highway, because that’s where most accidents happen” that she wished I was dead and she called me a child molester. Once again I asked her big sister to show some spine. And once again she refused to have my back. Once again I contacted their mother. No response. I couldn’t believe how evil she was.

“I have to protect myself. It became too much to bear.”

For me, these years were traumatic. Now, after having suffered almost 10 years of abuse I have made the difficult  decision to cut my daughters out of my life, for now. I cannot stand the abuse anymore, I have a new wife and a son who need me and I have to protect myself. It became too much to bear.

I do not want to become depressive, I want to be a loving dad, and if they wont allow me to be that dad for them, then at least I can be a good dad for my son. The only way I can make sense of what happened is that they have been exposed to evil and raised by an evil person for so long that they have themselves become evil. I know that sounds really hard, but the way they treated me, my new wife and their own brother was so horrible that it seems the only word that properly describes their behaviour.

The ten years of aggressive parental alienation by their mother has damaged them and shaped them into becoming little clones of their mother. Full of hate and resentment, out to seek revenge for me “leaving them” without the rage ever abating, a total incapacity to reflect, to empathise, to say “sorry.” All actions dominated by spite, hate and lies. Lies everywhere about everything. They would move house without telling me where. They wouldn’t even send an email for birthdays, not even for their little brother. Presents I sent were left unacknowledged.

And so I ended up having to make this decision: I have to end my relationship with them, I cannot live a happy life with them being the way they are. Should they ever change, I am happy to accept them back, but I don’t have high hopes for that.

Where evil and malice is so entrenched over such a long time, I see little hope that these young women will ever develop the ability to empathise, to see things critically, to take a step back and reflect on what’s really gone on. I might be surprised, but for the moment all I can do is to stay sane and be there for my ‘new’ family; and I can only do that without constantly being exposed to malice, hate, abuse and manipulation.

I have loved my daughters through all of it, but being called a child molester by one and the other one refusing to step in and say a single word in my defence, it was too much for me. I have to move on, and if they can’t move on from a divorce that happened 11 years ago and for which they seem to hate me more with every day that passes, then I don’t see how I can help them.

Haters will be haters, the saying goes. At least I have removed myself, my son and my wife from the torrent of hatred, lies and malice of these people who I once called my family.

Life goes on. And who knows what the future holds.

I think it is important to draw a line, for the sake of the targeted parent’s emotional survival. I am so grateful I met my new wife and started a new family, I don’t even want to think of how things would be for me if I were alone in all of this horror.

Daniel, Dad of V and V


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 Peace Not Pas Team