Louise Tickle’s second blogpost of her Open Family Court project. Thanks Louise for raising awareness of the issues that are caused by an overly private Family.

The open family court

It’s over a month since I published my first Open Family Court blogpost, so this is an opportunity for me to say a huge thank you to everyone who emailed in response saying you’d like to hear more and get involved.

A quick recap on the purpose of this project as I expressed it in that blog:

“[It’s planned] as a collaborative exploration of how to recalibrate the balance between privacy in family courts – which exists for the very good reason of protecting vulnerable children – and freedom of expression, which allows people to speak out publicly about what the state has done to them, a right currently hobbled by the Administration of Justice Act 1960.”

Reasons for being open

Interestingly, just last week, The Guardian published an editorial advocating greater openness in the family court.

Screen Shot 2018-09-24 at 11.43.18

The paper’s leader writer set the need for greater transparency and scrutiny squarely…

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Another thought provoking piece from ‘lost dad’. Glad to see ‘lost dad’ back, well and writing once again.


Why is parental alienation not more widely known? why does it still exist after so many years, and more importantly, why isn’t anything happening to stop it?

Let’s take a somewhat different example that can be seen in every newspaper these days: Transgender discussions. Without going into any of the detail in the different arguments, or groups involved, let’s just take a figure: The UK assume that the number of transgenders in the population is around 0.1%, the United States says it is around 0.3%. Taking the figure to mean the entire population of the United Kingdom, that means that there are around 68,000 transgenders in the UK.

Why I am mentioning this?  Because this is the number at any one time. How many do you think are suffering from parental alienation at any one time? Children, absent parents, grandparents, etc.  Given that in 2012 according to the office of national…

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Regarding the raising of awareness of parental alienation I believe change is on the horizon. I am not naive enough to believe it will happen overnight. However, very much like the general public’s past lack of understanding of mental health, parental alienation is now starting on that same journey.

Last week parental alienation was reported on the BBC national news here in the UK.

Understandably this was shared across social media by the thousands upon thousands of alienated parents out there. It felt to me that the online anti-parental alienation community shared it with a somewhat cautionary sense of relief; that as much as we are sill denied reform, finally something so unjust as parental alienation is now being discussed on prime time national news here in the UK.

On the same day as the above reporting, the BBC also published the following related article on their BBC News website written by their Education Editor Branwen Jeffreys; When a Child Won’t See One Parent.

In her article Jeffreys explores the nature of parental alienation, all be it briefly, but at least, once again this form of abuse is on it’s way to reaching the attention of a much wider audience.

The article finishes with comments from Professor Liz Trinder, from the University of Exeter. Trinder makes the statement “the idea of parental alienation as a pattern of behaviours needs to be treated carefully, because the courts have a duty to consider the child’s best interests.”

Trinder then goes on to state “the problem with the alienation concept is that if your premise is the child has been brainwashed, it means you can’t trust what the child is saying to the court. So if you make an accusation of alienation it almost automatically casts suspicion on anything the child might say.” Even though Trinder appears to be coming from a cautionary perspective, she has clearly and unintentionally hit the nail on its head when she states “it almost automatically casts suspicion on anything the child might say.”

Anyone that knows anything about parental alienation knows that children are simply paraphrasing the alienating parent regarding their expression of negative views of the rejected parent. We all know alienated children have been coached and groomed into hating the other parent. Trinder conveniently chooses to omit that statistically children do not naturally reject a parent or care-giver. Even in cases of where the child is aware of the abuse, children remain attached to that parent. Children are hard-wired to remain attached to their parent(s).

In the above news report footage, Sarah Parsons (Principal Social Worker, Cafcass) makes the following statement “their [the affected children] only way of staying safe is to side with one parent and reject the other.” This view from Parsons, even by Cafcass’ standards is clearly the opposite view of Trinder’s regarding her call for services to be cautious with potential cases of parental alienation.

On 5th February 2018 Martin Daubney wrote an article entitled UK Dads are being airbrushed out of existence by family courts favouring and bankrolling Mums for the i Newspaper/website.

Daubney reminds us that free legal aid was stopped following the implementation in 2013, of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012. The only exception in terms of who would still be entitled to free legal aid was women who claimed domestic abuse, which leads to the application for Non-Molestation Orders.

Daubney then goes on to highlight the astonishing fact that in the year following the introduction of this Act, applications for LASPO boomed by 300%.

Daubney then reminds us that prior to the implementation of LASPO, the legal aid split was roughly 40% v 60% to men and women. Post-LASPO it is now 15% v 85% respectively. Daubney rightly argues that the change in these figures is clearly more than coincidental.

On 21st November 2016 parental alienation was also discussed on the Victoria Derbyshire news show on the BBC.

There is, in the following footage an all too familiar and disturbing interview with an anonymous child victim of parental alienation. The discussion in the studio that then subsequently takes place includes Anthony Douglass (CEO, Cafcass), Joanna Abrahams (Head of Family Law, Setford Solicitors) and Greg Mulholland (Liberal Democrat MP). Around the eight and a half minute mark Douglas is struggling to answer reasonable yet challenging questions from Mulholland.

It is incredibly important that those of us that have the time and resources to do so, to continue to chip away at this flawed system. It is incredibly important that we also continue to do all we can to actively raise awareness of parental alienation.

The above are just a few examples of the increase of discussion of parental alienation in the public domain. However despite the above examples, the current low level of public awareness of parental alienation remains unacceptable.

I do believe change will come. However like all past instances of social change, it is only ever pushed and forced on governments from the grass roots level of society; by the very people that are effected by the much needed social change. And this time, those people are us; the hundreds of thousands of alienated parents, grandparents and step parents.

We can do this, change will come. It is definitely time for the sun to set on this outdated and flawed system.

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

What I mean by the above title is that twenty or so years ago mental health was simply not discussed in the public domain the way it is now. Be it via television reports, shows, documentaries or social media, mental health is now discussed and reported on across numerous mediums in a much more positive light.

My point is that as a modern day society we appear to be collectively much more comfortable in our skin discussing mental health. Now I am by no means stating that there is no prejudicial opinions of mental health still out there, nor am I stating that the positive changes made are enough. Of course they are not. The progress made in challenging the stigma against mental health has come a long way. However it is and must still remain a work in progress.

Regarding parental alienation, I view this contentious subject being where the concept of mental health was ten or twenty years ago. Arguably parental alienation is now beginning to be brought to the attention of the masses.

For those unaware of what parental alienation is, it is a form of abuse whereby one parent (in most cases the resident parent) deliberately damages, and in some cases destroys the previously healthy loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent (the non-resident parent). For a more detailed description see our page What is PA?

Why is it so contentious if it is a form of abuse?

Why is it simply not criminalised?

These are the questions no doubt asked by the incalculable number of alienated parents, grandparents, step-parents out there. It is not just viewed as contentious, it is also viewed as controversial by it’s opponents.

These opponents, in their most extreme views put forward the argument that parental alienation is used by abusive fathers to gain access to their children. For example, their flawed argument is that following separation a mother is most probably denying her abusive ex-partner contact with their children to protect the children from further abuse. These opponents of parental alienation, with flimsy evidence based arguments claim that this scenario happens in most cases of parental alienation.

Now I am certainly not stating that such scenarios never occur. These are and should be viewed as false allegations of parental alienation. We know that false allegations of rape occur. However this does not and should never be an argument to not continue treating rape as a criminalised form of abuse.

Regarding the divisive subject of gender within the context of parental alienation, as Peace Not Pas we acknowledge that statistics inform us that parental alienation is perpetrated against fathers more than mothers. We also accept there exists a gender bias within the family court system. However parental alienation can and does happen to either gender. As a movement we are proud of our gender neutral approach to parental alienation; there is no justification for offering support to just one section of a victimised group and excluding another. That is simply not equality. This topic is explored in more detail in one of our recent posts The Inequality of Fighting for Equality.

In When a Child Won’t See One Parent (published 12th September 2018) Jeffreys states “there is no consensus and not a great deal of research.” However there is a plethora of evidence out there that informs us not only of the prevalence of, but also the the long term detrimental effects of parental alienation.

We currently have a flawed system that is struggling to understand the complexities of parental alienation. While this system plays catch-up it is also tragically and knowingly avoiding accountability and knowingly allowing this abuse to carry on unchallenged.

Alienated parents around the world spend huge sums of money returning their cases to court again and again. Tragically not all alienated parents have the financial resources to do this, so they are left with little choice but to give up. This flawed system financially profits from alienated parents simply fighting to have a relationship with their children.

Should a parent have to pay thousands upon thousands of pounds to fight to be a parent?

Despite it’s opponents, it’s complexities and the fact it is a money-making machine embedded in a flawed system, parental alienation appears to be coming to the attention of a wider audience. Much the same as the subject of mental health did ten to twenty years ago.

Like so many social changes that have come about in the past, they are not pushed or promoted by those in power. They are almost always pushed, promoted and fought for from a grass roots level. By the very people directly effected by the needed social change. As was the case with those effected by mental health and demanding social change, this time, in terms of parental alienation, it is us. The affected parents, grandparents, step-parents, the list goes on.

We the effected, are fighting for social change, for reform. Not for ourselves, but for our children.

On the same day as the following report was broadcast on the BBC’s national news programme.

[Thank you to The Cornerstone Community Project for the capturing of the above broadcast]

The BBC wrote the following regarding the above reports:

Are you affected by any of the issues raised above? Share your experience by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

WhatsApp: +44 7555 173285
Or Upload your pictures/video here
Tweet: @BBC_HaveYourSay
Send an SMS or MMS to 61124 (UK) or +44 7624 800 100 (international)

Regarding the above statement from the BBC, if you are affected by parental alienation and it is safe and appropriate to do so, please consider sharing your experience to help raise awareness.

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.” (Cesar Chavez, 1984)

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

Anyone that is aware of parental alienation will know, there are an incalculable number of alienated parents, grand-parents, step-parents etc. out there. As alienated individuals we are to some degree either victims or survivors of parental alienation.

However the real victims are not us. It is tragically the alienated children out there. Across the globe there are children that are denied a loving relationship with their loved ones.

Parental alienation is a form of emotional and psychological abuse. How else should we label a set behaviours whereby one parent deliberately damages, and in some cases destroys the previously healthy loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent?

Parental alienation is emotional abuse, which in turn is rightly recognised as illegal, as is the case with other forms of abuse.

However, as is the case with so many aspects of our so-called modern societies, many of the laws that we as citizens of our respective governments that are legally obliged to abide by, are outdated and not fit for purpose.

And to make matters worse, these laws at times are completely incongruent with the moral code of many aspects of any given society. Furthermore these laws and the systems and institutions they are invariably connected with have another aspect that makes ethically based reform difficult; financial incentives to remain unchanged.

For example, as we are discussing parental alienation lets look at the family court, it’s associated services and the legal regulations that underpin and reinforce this system.

Some might say that the current family court system, particularly in the context of parental alienation is flawed, corrupt and unethical. Anyone that has ever attempted to navigate their way through this flawed system will no doubt agree with this perspective. And as alienated parents etc., all we are asking for is a fundamental right of our children; for our children to have a loving relationship with both parents.

However, conspiracies aside, this system is arguably most certainly fit for purpose for those that financially profit from the unchallenged abuse that is parental alienation. The current family court system encourages an adversarial approach from the separating parents. On both sides, any legal advice or representation costs money. And we all know it’s not cheap. The system also encourages continuous returns to court. Who benefits from this, the legal profession or the children stuck in the middle.

As for the so-called professionals, front-line staff from Cafcass/CPS take very few risks and the legal system allows them to have minimal responsibility and accountability placed on their shoulders. And in turn judges within the family court are ‘guided’ by the ‘findings’ of Cafcass/CPS and in most cases will take the same approach as Cafcass/CPS. How many times has a targeted parent, fighting a severely alienating parent been told “you two need to work together!”

This term you two need to work together, has come to me to define how the family court and its associated services work. You two need to work together is a blanket term that appears on the surface to be a well intended piece of advice to the uninitiated. However this term is simply a call to action for all those within this flawed and corrupt system to attribute equal blame on the shoulders of both the targeted and alienating and abusive parent. By doing this the system is then not accountable for the abuse that they are all too aware of. And as such they are not responsible or accountable for an abusive set of behaviours (parental alienation) that they so clearly do not understand.

However, I personally believe times are changing regarding the challenging of this flawed system.

Type ‘parental alienation‘ in to Google and one will be presented with 1,170,000 results. #PAS on Twitter reaches an audience of 2,107,036 twitter accounts.

Amongst the online anti-parental alienation community there are a number of established and up and coming campaign groups advocating and fighting for a children focused reform of this flawed system regarding parental alienation.

Here are just a few amongst many:

Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE) is a human rights group that advocates equality for all members of society. They rightly state that inequality can affect anybody and should be everyone’s concern.

Erasing Family, a U.S based organisation. The producers of the 2014 Argentinian documentary Erasing Dad. They are planning on releasing their follow up documentary in 2019.

Families Need Fathers, is currently the UK’s leading charity supporting mothers, fathers and grandparents to have meaningful relationships with their children following parental separation.

The Voice of the Child, is a UK based team of researchers and associated members. This group frankly and rightly states that they will continue to challenge Cafcass; an organisation that is supposed to safeguard and protect children within the UK family law system.

The Cornerstone Community, is an up and coming UK based community that aims to bring all family rights campaigners, support groups and charities together under one roof. Their intention is to enable real-time collaboration with all campaigners/groups working towards common goals.

Come mothers and fathers, throughout the land
And don’t criticise, what you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters, are beyond your command
Your old road is, rapidly agin’.

(Bob Dylan, 1963)

Author’s Note: It is not the author’s intention to purposely exclude certain campaign groups or individual campaigners. The above groups are simply a small snapshot of the incalculable number of individual campaigners and groups out there. There is no financial gain or vested interest for ‘Peace Not Pas’ in promoting the above groups. The aim is simply to inform the reader that there are many voices out there that are challenging this flawed system. And as a movement we strongly believe change will come.

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

The word ethical derives from the Greek work ethos; meaning ‘moral character.’ Within the world that we live in most people, most members of society would agree that a moral character describes the characteristics of an individual whose overall behaviour is right in a moral sense; honest, fair and truthful.

In it’s simplest definition ethics are a system of moral principles. These moral principles influence how we make decisions and lead our lives.

Past philosophers have put forward the argument that ethics entirely influence the way people behave. They have argued that if an individual comes to the realisation that a potential behaviour or response is morally good, then it would irrational not to do so.

And then there is also the concept of moral ambiguity. Some individuals struggle with this concept as they may want there to be a simple and straightforward answer to ethical dilemmas or questions, but there may not be one. For those that struggle with moral ambiguity it may force these individuals to take ownership of their own behaviours and choices in the absence of simply falling back on conveniently placed customs or rules.

So this then brings me onto the topic of the institution that is the Family Court. This institution is defined as being a court of law that hears and makes legal decisions involving issues such as child custody and divorce.

As we know there are many services and institutions that ‘work’ alongside the family court. Services such are Cafcass here in the UK, CPS in the US and Children’s Social Services for example, to name just a few. These additional services are viewed by the Judge as their eyes and ears. These services should be gathering information, evidence from numerous sources and collating this ultimately into a portfolio of evidence from which the appointed Judge will be expected to make a legal decision on.

So moving onto a typical, genuine textbook case of severe parental alienation the following factors, dynamics will most probably be in place:

  • One parent (in most cases the resident parent, known as the targeting parent) will be denying contact between the children and the non-resident parent (known as the targeted parent).
  • The targeting parent will constantly denigrate the character of the targeted parent in the eyes of the children.
  • This denigration of character will also be underpinned with a false narrative of events being fed to the children by the targeting parent. For example a skewed account of the circumstances of separation, false allegations against the targeted parent etc.
  • In most severe cases the targeted parent’s family are also excluded from the lives of the children.
  • All of the above actions normally result in the alienating children unjustifiably completely and utterly rejecting the targeted parent.

Now in returning to the concept of right or wrong, here in the UK Cafcass CEO Anthony Douglas publicly states that parental alienation is recognised by his organisation as a form of abuse. Furthermore Douglas goes on to state that this form of abuse should be treated with the same severity as any other form of abuse. So in terms of ethics, so far so good!

In addition to the above statement from Douglas it is worth noting that in the same interview it is stated that according to Cafcass, parental alienation is responsible for around 80 per cent of the most difficult cases that come before the family courts. In my opinion, that figure coming from an organisation as inept and ineffective as Cafcass is more likely to be much higher.

Due to the nature of our campaign/support group we are privy, almost on a daily basis to overwhelming evidence of the continuing nature of biased, misinformed, prejudicial and evidence omitting reports that are being written by Cafcass Family Court Advisors (FCAs).

Now, lets imagine if  you will, that we live in a world where Cafcass FCAs do not write biased, misinformed, prejudicial and evidence omitting reports at all! I know it’s hard to imagine and that in the real world, such professional conduct from Cafcass FCAs is rare, but please bear with me.

So in this imaginary world we have fine upstanding Cafcass FCAs handing in well-balanced, well-informed and well-evidenced reports to the family judge in all cases of parental alienation.

Now at this point the judge will be informed by the FCAs that there is overwhelming evidence of alienating behaviours being exhibited by the targeted parent (as highlighted in bullet points above).

The judge will be informed that the children are being emotionally abused by the resident parent. The judge will also be informed that it is not in the children’s best interest to be denied a relationship with the targeted parent. There may well be a psychological assessment that informs the judge that there is little to no evidence of the abusive parent changing their approach.

Such scenarios have in most cases been returned to court numerous times already. This is due to the abusive parent having already breached numerous contact orders that would have lead to contact between the children and the targeted parent. So this is the evidence that the judge has before them.

At this incredibly pivotal point the judge is required to pass a judgement that will effect the future well-being, future mental health etc, of both the alienated children and the targeted parent.

Now lets return to the subject of human ethics. Lets imagine another scenario, we grab an honest, fair and truthful average person off the street and present them with the above moral dilemma.

Now would this average person see the above scenario for what it is? Would they see it as one parent emotionally abusing the effected children? Would they also see it as the targeting parent attempting to erase the targeted parent from the lives of the effected children? Would they see that there is no justifiable reason for these effected children to absolutely reject their other parent, who they had previously had had a loving and healthy relationship with? Would they see that a swift, robust, pro-active decision needed to be made in the best interests of the children. Would they see that the emotional abuse being inflicted on the children must stop. Would they see that these children need to be protected?

Perhaps you the readers could answer the above questions yourselves. Presented with the above ethical dilemma what would you do in the best interests of the children? Is it even a dilemma at all?

Or is the answer to all of the questions, obvious to any given person of ethical, moral character?

I myself am an alienated parent. I continue to battle to have a relationship with my children. I continue to navigate my way through a flawed judicial system. I get knocked down. But every single time I pick myself back up, I dust myself down and I carry on. I don’t carry on fighting for me. I carry on fighting on behalf of my children.

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

The following has been published with the kind permission of David Shubert (Founder of iWasErased) and Lynn Steinberg.

Lynn Steinberg PhD, LMFT, is a Therapist, Mediator and Expert Witness in the field of parent alienation and sexual abuse. Dr. Lynn Steinberg is a skilled and highly trained psychotherapist, specializing in the field of Parent Alienation as well as being an expert witness at court.

Over four decades, she has helped thousands of individuals and families with other interpersonal issues. Trained in the Family System Model, Dr. Steinberg works with families, couples, groups and individuals. For 30 years, she ran therapy groups to treat people who have been abused as children.

As an expert witness at court, Dr. Steinberg has worked on cases such as rape, child and sexual abuse, and sexual abuse in the workplace.

Dr. Steinberg is also a trained mediator, and worked with Superior Cases, private divorces as well as Malpractice cases.

Parent Alienation: Dr. Steinberg is collaborating with people all over the country (U.S.) to change the child abuse law, to include parent alienation as child abuse. In high conflict divorces an estimated 62% of cases, children are poisoned against one parent by the other parent. Many professionals who interact with these families in courts, the mental health area, the department of Child Protective Services (CPS) are untrained in this area. They fail to recognize the counter-intuitive nature of parent alienation and prefer a child’s testimony of abuse at their own parents’ divorce.

The tragedy of alienated children/ parents is witnessed in cases of suicide and homicide worldwide.

I recently had numerous conversations with a close confidante who is as passionate about lobbying for reform regarding parental alienation as I am. This friend of mine  raised a pertinent point during one of our most recent discussions. A point that I have reflected on several times since we spoke about it.

He brought up the topic of egalitarianism versus equality. From my point of view this was not something I had ever thought about or considered up until now.

The word equality in the Oxford English Dictionary is defined, the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities.

The definition of the word egalitarianism is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as the doctrine that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.

Now some of you may have missed the subtle but incredibly important difference between these two definitions, but I will return to that shortly.

Now lets consider the contentious issue of the abuse that in most cases is referred to as parental alienation. To the uninitiated, parental alienation is an umbrella term used to describe the emotional abuse inflicted by one parent (in most cases the resident parent). The alienating parent will deliberately damage, and in some cases destroy the previously healthy loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent (in most cases the non-resident parent). Despite it being a very real form of abuse, it is still very much a contentious issue.

On the one side we have those that have been adversely affected by parental alienation; former alienated children, alienated mothers, alienated fathers, alienated grandparents, the list goes on. It is these people that I imagine would wish first and foremost to be reunited with their alienated loved ones. Secondly, I would also hazard a guess that these victims want the emotional abuse that is parental alienation to be recognised as a criminal offence; for it to be recognised as an official form of abuse and as such be treated with the same severity as any other form of abuse.

On the other side there are the opponents of parental alienation. There are groups and organisations out there that dismiss this form of abuse as a made -up theory. They firmly  believe it should not be recognised as a form of abuse. For example The Feminist Family Law Movement makes the claims that abusive fathers often employ accusations of parental alienation as a way to wrest custody from protective mothers in family court.

Lets also look at The National Organization for Women Foundation’s (NOW Foundation) stance on parental alienation. Several years ago they made the following alarming statement about parental alienation, “proponents of parental alienation are predominantly right-wing ‘fathers’ rights’ groups.” On their homepage the NOW Foundation makes the following bold statement, “The National Organization for Women Foundation (“NOW Foundation”) is a 501(c) (3) organization devoted to achieving full equality for women through education and litigation.”

“We don’t diagnose rape. We don’t diagnose domestic violence. So why does Fortin believe that we should be diagnosing parental alienation?”

Jane Fortin a professor of law at Sussex University had an article published in the UK newspaper The Guardian on 29th November 2017. The article was entitled Crackdown on Parental Alienation Could do More Harm Than Good

In this article, despite Fortin being a professor of law she makes some very discriminatory and sweeping statements. She writes “hopefully it [Cafcass] is considering carefully the extreme dangers of mistakenly diagnosing parental alienation.” As a mental health nurse I would like to ask Fortin why she holds this somewhat misguided belief that there is even a need to diagnose parental alienation. By it’s very meaning, to diagnose something is to identify the nature of a given medical condition. We don’t diagnose rape. We don’t diagnose domestic violence. So why does Fortin believe that we should be diagnosing parental alienation?

Parental alienation, plain and simply is emotional, psychological abuse of children. Why would we need to diagnose such abuse? Such a statement from Fortin is a clear indication that she simply does not understand the complex nature of parental alienation.

As stated above parental alienation is an umbrella term used to describe the emotional and psychological abuse inflicted on children.

“Why is she making the assumption that the victimised parent would be a mother, as opposed to a father?”

In the same article Fortin also goes on to state “after all, failure to establish the real reason for a child’s resistance to contact may lead to abuse and/or domestic violence being overlooked, and, worse, to the child being removed from a victimised mother seeking only to protect her child.” I personally find this comment quite concerning; why is Fortin bringing gender stereotypes into her debate? Why is she making the assumption that the victimised parent would be a mother, as opposed to a father?

So I would now like to return to the concept of egalitarianism versus equality. The Feminist Family Law Movement, The NOW Foundation and journalists such as Jane Fortin clearly appear to be writing under the banner of equality. However such individuals and organisations are picking and choosing who they are fighting for regarding equality.

“They are unashamedly excluding all women who are adversely affected by this form of abuse.”

Allow me to explain. The anti-parental alienation camp, by their very opposition to the emotional and psychological abuse that is parental alienation they are unashamedly excluding all women who are adversely affected by this form of abuse. So that then begs the question, where’s the equality in their ongoing campaigning for equality? As stated above The Now Foundation informs us on their homepage that they are “devoted to achieving full equality for women.” However they are clearly not interested in achieving full equality for the incalculable number of alienated mothers, step-mothers, grandmothers that are alienated from their loved ones. And then there are of course the female children that are emotionally and psychologically abused by parental alienation.

So lets move on now from the somewhat unethical, immoral and gender biased notion of claiming to be fighting for equality but actually picking and choosing who you are actually fighting for.

“All people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.” 

And this is where I would like to return to the term egalitarianism. For those that did not pick up on the subtle difference in definitions between equality and egalitarianism, here it is. The definition of egalitarianism is defined as the doctrine that ALL people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities. 

The definition of equality ironically does not include the word all, whereas the definition of egalitarianism clearly does.

So that begs the following question, with such a contentious issue as parental alienation, why are we all not taking an egalitarian approach?

“Until you treat everyone one as an equal, you have no right to complain about the treatment you receive from anyone.”

btg dad

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

If you haven’t yet been made aware or don’t follow me on social media, I work with victims and professionals on the subject of personality disorders and parental alienation. It is a personal passion and it has driven me to take some huge action steps which I wanted to share with you.

In October this year, I am hosting a couple of conferences on parental alienation.  One in Lincoln and one in Havant.

I have been educating professionals for a while now on narcissistic parenting and parental alienation, which is great and really helping to spread awareness in my locality, but I wanted to do more.

For me the conferences fulfil four main purposes:

  1. Education
  2. Awareness
  3. Multi-disciplinary approach
  4. Numbers


I believe, from professional and personal experience, that children and family workers have not been adequately trained to deal with this level of severe parental mental health (see my blog post).  

As a social worker there was one module of mental health in my degree training and it was very generalised. We covered:

  • Values and ethical mental health
  • Social work practice and mental health (what is mental health, the medical model)
  • Legal and political context
  • Working with vulnerable people (adults and children)
  • Multi-disciplinary working

It certainly did not go in depth on personality disorders and their impact on others.  And I understand why but I am merely illustrating a gap in education. Today’s social work degrees do not include a mental health module at all.

Post qualification we do the NQSW (New Qualified Social Worker) training but this focuses more on assessment and practice than specific service user issues.  Additional to this is in-house training which, whilst really interesting and insightful, never once covered personality disorders. Even the Sexual Offending workshop didn’t delve into this complex area.  And again, I understand why.

Social work is just that – social.

Personality disorders (assessment, diagnosis and treatment) are medical.

Equally the legal profession know the law. They are experts in that area.  But they do not understand attachment theory, family systems theory or personality disorders.  They rely upon others who equally lack that knowledge.

Therefore these families tend to fall through the cracks despite the fact that evidence PROVES that mental health impacts families and children MORE THAN any other parenting capacity factor.

(from Cleaver et al (2001) Children’s Needs – Parenting Capacity, Department for Education)




So my aim for these conferences is to bridge that gap.  To provide education for those professionals who need it in order to protect vulnerable children.


Parental alienation is not new.  Agencies have been talking about it for a while now and lots of noise is being made.  But change is still coming too slowly in my eyes.

I actually believe the solution is really simple.  But without raising that awareness, it has become a kind of huge elephant in the room. We know it’s there but have no idea what to do about it and so it is largely ignored.

But the truth is parental alienation is CHILD ABUSE.

And we are all responsible for safeguarding our children.

These conferences will help to raise that awareness not just in professional circles but also the wider community.

They will also  raise awareness that there ARE solutions.  We don’t have to be scared of tackling this.


Everyone is coming at it from one perspective only – either legal, social or medical.  

And sadly this is a huge part of the problem, in my eyes, with the failure to get a real grip on parental alienation despite the fact that some experts have been working in this area for 30 years.

As stated above, social work is social and uses one model.

Legal uses another.

Medical uses a different one.

Parental alienation requires one model from all these approaches and that is relatively new.  And thus far un-designed. But I am working on it!

These conferences will give all children and family workers from a multitude of disciplines a chance to come together in professional curiosity to be part of the solution. That is my tag line for my training business – Be part of the solution.


Let’s face it, it’s a numbers game!

My training is more intense and in-depth but I can only train up to 15 people at a time. Whilst that is invaluable in the solution, it is also slow.

But these conferences will bring together 75-100 people all at one time.

And it works the other way too.

Delegates will get to hear from 5-6 expert speakers in one day.  That is exceptional. And a very rare opportunity.

I genuinely believe that these conferences have the power to take the elephant and slice it up into bite sized pieces, making what looks initially like a huge problem, into something much more manageable.

I have kept the price down as much as possible so that only costs are covered for us organisers and delegates get real value for money.  Most full day conferences cost well over £100. These are just £75. You get CPD points and a printed brochure to take away. Oh and we might throw in some refreshments!

The conferences are in Lincoln and Havant and all you have to do to register is click either Lincoln or Havant (or both, we have different speakers at each one) and you will be directed to my website with more details.

Even if you can’t attend or chose not to, PLEASE help us spread the word by sharing the details (this post and my posts about the conference)

Many thanks for reading and if you are coming along, I really look forward to meeting you and please do come and say hello.

Sarah Squires

AKA The Nurturing Coach and Director at NAPARRC Consultancy Ltd

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Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

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

The following is an individual’s experience of growing up with parental alienation. We have changed the individuals’ names in the following post.

I never knew my mum. According to my dad and my two older brothers, she walked out on us all for another man when I was only three years of age.

I remember as a child my dad only ever talking about my mum occasionally. And even when he did it was in an incredibly negative way. And this narrative was backed up by my brothers.

“As a child I never questioned this.”

They also never referred to her as mum. They would only ever refer to her by her first name, Jackie. As a child I never questioned this.

I was told by my dad that ‘Jackie’ was an alcoholic, a drug user, a serial cheater and that she was someone that did not deserve to be called a mother.

“I never questioned this narrative. Why would I?”

I never questioned this narrative. Why would I? This story was also backed up by my older brothers who, according to my understanding at the time would have been old enough to at least have remembered Jackie.

Once again, according to my father, shortly after Jackie left us, he met a new woman who he claimed was everything that Jackie was not. Her name was Sandy. My dad encouraged me and my brothers to call her mum, which within a couple of months of Sandy’s arrival became quite natural to us all.

As I got older and naturally became more curious as to the exiting of Jackie from our lives, my dad would simply repeat the same narrative. He would not elaborate any further regarding Jackie’s abandonment of us. With my father’s same response with each inquiry I eventually stopped asking about Jackie. I simply resigned myself to the fact that my birth mother was simply a very horrible person. My dad made me feel that I should be grateful for Sandy being more of a mother to me than Jackie.

However as I entered my teens, there was a change of dynamics in the household. Although on reflection, perhaps it wasn’t so much a change of dynamics, but more a new awareness of the family dynamics that I had previously not been aware of. At around this period of time one of my older brothers had already moved out. My remaining brother started being very isolative within the family home.

Around this time my remaining brother began arguing regularly with my mum (Sandy) and dad. I remember these arguments making my dad be very hostile and domineering over my brother. I felt very intimidated by my dad’s aggressive behaviours during these arguments. I wished I had  had the courage to stand up for my brother. There was something very unfair about my dad’s overbearing demeanour towards my brother, who was actually the more sensitive of my two brothers. My dad appeared to turn into someone else during these arguments.

Within a year my remaining brother left the family home and moved in with a friend. I was then left living alone with my mum and dad. As much as my dad had always been somewhat of a drinker, at around this time he began drinking every day.

“I started to find his behaviours more and more domineering, controlling and intimidating.”

The relationship between my dad and Sandy steadily deteriorated. At it’s worst, they were literally arguing with each other every day. My dad also became very controlling of both Sandy and I. He would always want to know where I had been, even if I returned from a night out with friends, even just five minutes later than I said I would be home. I started to find his behaviours more and more domineering, controlling and intimidating.

After another couple of months I also moved out. I went and lived in a different part of the country and moved in with a good friend of mine named Georgie, who I had known from high school.

As much as we had been good friends at school, it didn’t take long for us to become best friends. We both had dead end jobs; however we didn’t care. We were both living life as we had never lived it before, freely.

There was one particular night I will never forget. We had come back to our grimy little apartment after a night of cocktails. As we did quite often after returning from a night out, we stayed up all night talking. However on this occasion Georgie started talking about my biological mother. At first I insisted she refer to her as Jackie. Which she respectfully did.

“Most of them were spineless bastards and didn’t have the balls to speak out.”

However she went on to say something that would prove to be a trigger for a number of life changing decisions. I will never forget what it was she told me “you do know that most of the people in our hometown knew what really happened between your mum and dad? But most of them were spineless bastards and didn’t have the balls to speak out.”

Initially, I didn’t quite comprehend what it was she was saying. It made no sense to me what Georgie was telling me.

Trusting Georgie as I did, I reluctantly agreed for her to elaborate on what she had just told.

Georgie then went on to tell me words to the effect of “so basically your dad was cheating on your mum for years with Sandy. No one dared say anything though cos everyone in town was pretty scared of your dad. They all knew what he was really like. They all knew that he chucked your mum out in the middle of the night and basically told her to fuck off! He threatened her. He said that if she did not disappear he would make her disappear. So she left, she was heartbroken, but left because she feared for her life. Your dad used to beat your mum up. Everyone knew that. Everyone knew what really happened except for you kids [my brothers and I].”

I remember replying to Georgie’s above statement with something along the lines of “what the fuck are you talking about?”

However we continued to discuss this subject through to the morning. We both retired to bed at about four or five in the morning. Apart from waking up the next day with an obvious hangover, I remember feeling incredibly confused, conflicted and for some reason unknown to me at the time, very afraid.

That day Georgie and I spent the whole day together. In a state of sobriety we went back over the conversation of the night before. I vividly remember Georgie constantly apologising for what she had said. But ultimately there was enough evidence, my trust in Georgie and ultimately my gut feeling that allowed me to believe that everything Georgie had told me was true.

On further inquiry from me Georgie disclosed to me that my biological mother’s sister lived on the outskirts of town.

Within a few days Georgie and I had contacted my aunt, who’s name was Jean, and we arranged to go and meet her.

Given my father’s negative accounts of my biological mother’s general disposition and approach to life, Jean was not what I expected at all.

Jean warmly welcomed us into her home. She had never married. She lived quite modestly. She had a stall in a local market and rescued dogs from shelters to keep her busy and motivated. She immediately struck me as someone that was incredibly kindhearted, open and honest.

We invariably got on to the subject of my mother. Jean talked about Jackie with such warmth and love. Jean told us that Jackie had somehow ended up getting in with the wrong crowd at school and ended up starting a relationship with the ringleader of that group of kids. This of course was my dad. Jean stated that she never liked my dad. However she somehow had the ability to articulate this without actually talking overtly negative about my dad. She managed to be honest and open about how she felt about my dad, but did it in a respectful manner.

We then got on to the subject of the circumstances that lead to Jackie leaving her husband and three children. With an unintentional devastating effect on me, Jean confirmed Georgie’s account of events.

“Your mum understandably never got over losing you kids.”

This invariably lead to me asking the following question, “so where is my mum now?” As I said this question out loud I became acutely aware that it had been years since I had felt comfortable referring to my real mum as mum.

Before answering my question Jean came and sat next to me and took my hand in hers. She then told me “your mum understandably never got over losing you kids. Even though she realised within a couple of years she had married the wrong person, you kids were everything to her. She loved you kids more than life itself. She was prepared to stay in an abusive relationship rather than be chucked out to the street and potentially never see you kids again. This was the life she had resigned herself to. However it all changed when Sandy arrived on the scene. Your dad, being the kind of person he was simply discarded your mum. She never got over it. She came to live with me for a couple of years and then that was it.” 

This then naturally lead to me asking the next question “what do you mean that was it?”

I felt a tightening of Jean’s grip on my hand before she answered my question. “Your mum lived with me for a couple of years. I supported her as best I could. However I was no substitute for her children. She had tried to fight for contact through the court, however she simply run out of money at some point. She was ill-advised by an attorney who was clearly more interested in taking her money than supporting her to have a relationship with her children. Your dad would have known she fought as much as she could to get to see you kids. However I would imagine he never informed you of this”

Jean then paused before continuing. “As if your mum was not going through enough, about two years after spending the last of her money on attorneys she was diagnosed with lung cancer.”

I sat there frozen in time. I was inconsolable at the realisation of the reality of my mother’s life and that of my own took hold of me. With an overwhelming amount of compassion and empathy Jean informed me that my mum was no longer with us.

Several hours later my aunt Jean handed me a bundle of letters written by my mum and addressed to me and my brothers. Maybe one day I will have the courage to share them in a forum such as this.

I would like to end my post with the following statement, “I may not have known what it was called at the time. I may not have known what was being inflicted upon my mum, my brother and myself by my very own father. However I now understand that many people label it as parental alienation. Whatever we decide to call it, it is abuse and destroys not only relationships, but ultimately lives.”

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