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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

btg dad


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Thanks

The Peace Not Pas Team

I see battling parental alienation very similar to playing a game of chess. They both require strategic moves. Both have an adversarial nature to them and there is no compromise. You either win or you lose.

Imagine if you will the Queen representing the targeting parent and the King representing the alienated parent. The Queen is the most powerful piece in the game of chess. The Queen can simply move any number of squares, diagonally, vertically or horizontally. In the power dynamics of parental alienation the resident parent is the most powerful parent. In cases of severe parental alienation the resident parent will be dictating and controlling the plans and strategies of services involved, without them even realising.

“The aim of such tactics is to destroy the previously loving relationship between the children and the non-resident parent.”

By comparison, the King in chess is viewed as not just the most important piece, but also paradoxically one of the weakest. Generally, in the opening and middle phase of chess games the King will rarely play an active role. The parallel here in parental alienation is that the resident parent will simply deny the non-resident parent contact with their own children. The resident parent will also make false allegations against the non-resident parent. The resident parent will also consistently denigrate the targeted parent’s character in front of the children. As such in the opening stages of any case of parental alienation, the targeted parent is in most cases powerless to prevent any emotional abuse being inflicted upon the affected children. The aim of such tactics, employed by the targeting parent is to destroy the previously loving relationship between the children and the non-resident parent.

In chess the Queen is at it’s strongest and the King at it’s weakest when the chess board is open; ultimately when the King is poorly defended. In parental alienation the resident parent is at their strongest when the so called support services are on the side of the targeting parent. This occurs when the targeting parent’s false narrative of events is unconditionally believed by the services involved. As a result of this the non-resident parent is at their weakest when they are seen as the aggressor, when their version of events are dismissed by the services involved. Rather incredibly this is quite often the case, despite evidence being available to back up the non-resident parent’s version of events.

“How mentally and physically crushed must a loving parent be to ‘give up’ on pursuing a loving relationship with their own children?”

In chess you win by a checkmate move. This occurs when the losing side’s King is placed in an inescapable threat of capture. In parental alienation a win may come about when the targeted parent has exhausted all available options. This is so often the case in the current biased and ill-informed ‘system’ that does little to acknowledge, recognise or effectively manage parental alienation. A win can also occur by voluntary resignation. This occurs when too many pieces have been lost or a checkmate move appears inevitable. In parental alienation, targeted parents often give up. Not due to the fact they do not love their children. Simply because they are broken, distraught and worn down by their opponent’s tactics. How mentally and physically crushed must a loving parent be to ‘give up’ on pursuing a loving relationship with their own children? In the most extreme of cases, non-resident parents tragically take their own lives.

So where are the children in this parallel between chess and parental alienation? I see children as the pawn pieces in chess. The pawns are seen as the most numerous, but ultimately, like the King, they are seen as one of the weakest pieces in the game. Pawns can only move forwards, they cannot move backwards. I will use my own circumstances as an analogy here. It is reported that all my children no longer have any happy or positive past memories of me. It is reported that they are happier that I am no longer around. It is reported that they do not want to go back to a time where I, their loving father, was an integral part of their lives.

PawnPieceKingsAndQueensPeaceNotPas.jpg

A pawn that advances all the way to the opposite side of the board gets promoted to another, more powerful piece. In parental alienation a child that moves forward with the new family dynamics, will get rewarded. For example, such a tactic is parentification. This occurs when the resident parent will emotionally transfer their negative perception of the non-resident parent on to the children. In turn the resident parent relies on the children for emotional support. Leading experts in the field of parental alienation see this tactic as an attempt by the resident parent to attempt to solidify the children’s loyalty to the resident parent. The resident parent then rewards the children’s loyalty to them by way of gifts, inappropriate praise, etc.

So in essence, both parental alienation and chess is an adversarial and tactical game. You either win or you lose. There are powerful figures and there are weak figures. But ultimately the pieces at the front and in the midst of the battle, the pawns, the children, they are simply dispensable to the more powerful side, the resident parent.

I would like to conclude this post by explaining how I came to write the above. Several years ago, prior to me being alienated from my children, I took them to the cinema. We watched a film called Legend of the Guardians. One of the songs that featured on the the film’s soundtrack was Kings and Queens by the band 30 Seconds to Mars. This was when I first heard this song. Musically it literally blew me away with it’s epic, progressive rock composition.

This song went on to become one of my son T’s favourite songs. He would often insist on it being played during car journeys. On one occasion we watched a live performance of it on YouTube. As a parent, seeing T’s reaction to such a powerful and emotive performance, was an absolute joy to behold. Seeing the world through the eyes of our children is one of the many special gifts we so often take for granted as a parent.

I love music. I love the feelings that certain songs evoke in me. Music gives me strength to carry on. There are so many songs that mean so much to me. I sincerely hope T will have a similar relationship to music as I do. I will always think of my son T whenever I hear this song.

“These lessons that we’ve learned here, have only just begun.” Jared Leto, 30 Seconds to Mars, 2009.

btg dad


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So if you align with our vision and ethos, have someone to recommend, are someone we would recommend or have something to say on the subject of shared parenting and parent equality in either a personal or professional capacity and would like a platform to have your say or contribute in some way to our cause, please contact us.

Thanks

The Peace Not Pas Team


[Warning: The following is a parody quiz containing at times a disproportionate amount of sarcasm! No offence to any particular individuals is intended. The aim of this post is to highlight the lack of compassion and care along with the unbelievable amount of incompetence exhibited by numerous professionals that work within a flawed system that simply exacerbates parental alienation as opposed to minimising it and safeguarding all those that are negatively affected by this form of abuse.]

Instructions for taking part in the following interactive quiz: Simply tap on the answer that you believe to be correct.

Q1. Who once made the following statement to me? “It’s difficult to know what to do once the damage has already been done!”
The current Case Manager at the time (Lead Social Worker)
Sorry, wrong answer!
Regional Service Manager, Cafcass
Correct!
This comment was remarkably made to me over the telephone following a complaint I had made against Cafcass. The above statement was part of the response I got to the complaint!
Jerry Seinfeld
Sorry, wrong answer!
The Children’s Guardian
Sorry, wrong answer!
Q2. Who once attempted to reassure me by stating the following?
“Trust me, I’m an expert, I’ve been doing this for years. The best thing you can do for those children is give them time!”
Ricky Gervais
Sorry, wrong answer!
The Court Judge
Sorry, wrong answer!
My solicitor/lawyer
Sorry, wrong answer!
The current Case Manager at the time (Lead Social Worker)
Correct!
This extraordinary response was made when I challenged the above view. He then later denied having made such a statement when I complained!
Q3. Who once stated to me “yes, the system is flawed!” but then later denied having made this comment?
The Deputy Service Manager of Cafcass
Correct!
This slip of the tongue was made me to me as part of a response to a complaint I made against Cafcass. The next time I met this individual, they denied having made such a statement!
Chris Rock
Sorry, wrong answer!
The Children’s Solicitor
Sorry, wrong answer!
The Case Manager
Sorry, wrong answer!
Q4. Who once told me the following? “If I were you I certainly wouldn’t mention the terms 50/50 or shared parenting. Judges will perceive this as the father trying to take possession and ownership of the children away from the mother.”
My solicitor/lawyer
Sorry, wrong answer!
The Case Manager (Lead Social Worker)
Sorry, wrong answer!
Mediator (a solicitor that provided mediation service)
Correct!
This astonishing statement was made in response to me saying that my long term goal was 50/50 shared parenting!
Eddie Murphy
Sorry, wrong answer!
Q5. With regards to the above mediation session, how much was I charged for the twenty minute session?
Absolutely nothing. The Mediator was of the opinion that the system is so unfair that out of the goodness of his own heart he said he would facilitate the session for free.
Sorry, wrong answer!
£50 ($70)
Sorry, wrong answer!
£25 ($35)
Sorry, wrong answer!
£110 ($155)
Correct! That equates to £5.50 ($7.60) per minute!
Q6. Who made the following statement in 2017? “The deliberate manipulation of a child by one parent against the other has become so common in family breakdowns that it should be dealt with like any other form of neglect or child abuse.”
My local Member of Parliament
Sorry, wrong answer!
Stephen Merchant
Sorry, wrong answer!
Anthony Douglas, Chief Executive, Cafcass
Correct!
Anthony Douglas made this statement in the following newspaper interview ‘Divorced parents who pit children against former partners ‘guilty of abuse,’ The Telegraph, 12th February, 2017. However despite this public statement, Cafcass as an organisation clearly struggle to disseminate this acknowledgement down to their front line staff.
Children’s Social Services
Sorry, wrong answer!
Q7. Following my case being referred by Cafcass to Children’s Social Services we had a meeting with numerous professionals in attendance. The question is, what was the outcome of this meeting?
A date was set for contact between my children and I, who I have been denied contact with since July 2016.
Sorry, wrong answer!
A co-parenting plan was formulated with clear aims and goals for contact
Sorry, wrong answer!
Another meeting was arranged!
Correct!
Rather unbelievably the only outcome was the arrangement of another meeting!
A Court hearing was arranged for the following week
Sorry, wrong answer!
Q8. I once complained to Cafcass. What was the outcome of the complaint?
I received a framed, autographed photograph of the Chief Executive. It proudly sits on my mantlepiece.
Sorry, wrong answer!
I received an email stating the following: “We appreciate the time you must have taken to write to us. We have reflected on your numerous points and as such apologise for the issues and concerns you raised. We will endeavour to improve our service in line with current legislation regarding the safeguarding of children.
Sorry, wrong answer!
I was invited to a meeting with the Deputy Service Manager of Cafcass to discuss my complaint in more detail
Sorry, wrong answer!
I received an email stating the following: “Dear btg dad, thank you for your email dated ######. We note your comments, however, we have nothing further to add. Kind regards, Customer Services Team, Cafcass.
Correct!
What an unbelievably unhelpful email!!!
Q9. Who once told me the following? “We must be careful when talking about parental alienation!”
Chief Executive of Children’s Social Services
Sorry, wrong answer!
The Mental Health Link Worker in my children’s high school
Correct!
What else can I say apart from how unbelievable is that?!
Lee Evans
Sorry, wrong answer!
My ex’s solicitor/lawyer
Sorry, wrong answer!

 

Q10. What UK Government sent me a letter with the following statement? “No parent should prevent a child from spending meaningful time with the other parent. It is unacceptable for either parent to breach a court order.”
The Ministry of Silly Walks
Sorry, wrong answer!
The Ministry of Magic (clue here folks as this UK Ministry does not apply to Muggles!)
Sorry, wrong answer!
The Ministry of Children and Families
Sorry, wrong answer!
The Ministry of Justice
Correct!
In my naivety I wrote to the Ministry of Justice seeking justice!
Bonus Question Time! Despite being denied contact with my children by their mother, who to this day continues to refuse to co-parent, a court ordered us both to separately attend a co-parenting course. The question is, what was the most valuable lesson I learnt on the course?
Not all sticky labels stick
Sorry, wrong answer!
Overhead projectors are unreliable
Sorry, wrong answer!
During afternoons I prefer coffee with two sugars instead of one
Sorry, wrong answer!
Far too many people that claim to be ‘experts’ talk utter rubbish
Correct!
Well done, correct answer. Thank you for taking the time to take part in this quiz.

Remember folks, it’s not always about winning, but about taking part!

The American writer and cartoonist Frank A. Clark once said, “I think the next best thing to solving a problem is finding some humour in it.”

btg dad


Please Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. 

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

So if you align with our vision and ethos, have someone to recommend, are someone we would recommend or have something to say on the subject of shared parenting and parent equality in either a personal or professional capacity and would like a platform to have your say or contribute in some way to our cause, please contact us.

Thanks

The Peace Not Pas Team

The recent snow here in the UK has reminded me of one of the best days of my life. A few years back now I went out for the day with my two boys, B and T; it had been snowing heavily and there was thick snow everywhere.

What else is a loving father and his boys to do if not go out seeking adventure for the day?

“The beautiful landscape that confronted us was truly breathtaking.”

So B and T, both being pulled along in a sledge by me, headed out in the thick snow and made our way to the nearby heath and forest.

We reached the peak of a path that lead us to the local forest. The beautiful landscape that confronted us was truly breathtaking. The snow had transformed the whole area into something similar to a scene from Narnia.

Narnia_PeaceNotPas

My boys and I found the first downhill pathway and we all excitedly climbed on the sledge and just sledged our way downwards. I vividly remember all three of us screaming and shouting really loudly with a healthy mixture of excitement and fear as we began our speedy descent down through the forest path.

We must have inadvertently picked the bumpiest hill in all of the forest! I clearly remember hitting bump after bump as we increased in speed downwards. Now, cheap plastic sledges purchased from the local hardware store are impossible to steer and are also impossible to slow down when in full speed! As such, at some point we must have gone off piste and all three of us rolled sideways out of the sledge and each of us tumbled and rolled (minus the sledge) at various speeds down the hill.

“Daddy! Lets do that again!”

As the responsible adult(!) I got myself up off the floor quickly and ran towards my boys, just to check that everyone’s bones were intact! In actual fact, where I had expected tears and possible self-reported injuries I found my two boys both laughing hysterically, clearly adrenalised by our high speed sledging stunt. “Daddy! Lets do that again!” One of them shouted. So we did, several times over!

After numerous more high speed tumbles down said hill we decided to brush ourselves down, check in with one another for any injuries and carry on with our snow adventure!

The next thing we did was what any responsible, fun-loving father does when taking his son(s) out for a day in the thick winter snow; I taught them both how to write their names in the snow! At the risk of sounding somewhat coarse, B and T just could not stop laughing at this opportunistic and previously un-experienced scenario with their dad!

“We all discussed at great length how we were managing to survive in such a tough sub zero winter environment!”

After our brief break we continued with our adventure in the snow. We next crossed a large opening in the forest. We imagined we were on some kind of adventurous trek in the North Pole. We discussed at great length how we were managing to survive in such a tough sub zero winter environment!

After successfully navigating our way across the North Pole(!) we then entered another part of the forest and began to hear voices in the distance, just ahead. As we continued, the voices increased in volume. There was the sound of screams, laughter and excitement.

We exited the forest at the next clearing and I looked attentively at my boys as they took in the scene in front of them. There was an incalculable number of people in various stages of sledging, sliding and rolling down a very large and steep snow covered hill. In fact by any means possible, these people were propelling themselves down this hill! We saw sledges, tea-trays, bin bags. I even saw a couple of teenagers propelling themselves down through the snow on an upside down police riot shield. God only knows where they got that from!

“Come on Daddy, lets do it!”

As is so often the case with being a parent, I saw this through the eyes of my children. And what I could see and hear was amazing; a cacophony of laughter and excitement could be heard from the many, many people there. The combination of the laughter, excitement and overall atmosphere was truly magnificent to behold.

I was awakened from my momentary amazement of the scene before me, with one of my boys excitedly shouting “come on Daddy, lets do it!”

And so, for the next hour or so we did what everyone else was doing. With complete abandonment and dismissing of any risks to ourselves and others, B, T and I relentlessly went up and down, up and down that hill. With each high-speed descent we aimed to get further down the hill without all three of us tumbling out of the sledge.

We reluctantly left that hill as the sun started to go down. We slowly trekked, in a homewardly direction through the thick snow. On the trek back home, all three of us agreed that we were completely exhausted but exhilarated at the same time.

On the trek home, us boys discussed how much of a success our adventure in the snow had been: We had successfully found our way to Narnia! We had managed to precariously sledge our way half way down a random forest pathway without breaking any bones! My boys had successfully learnt how to write their names in the snow! We had bravely crossed the North Pole in the most extreme of weather conditions! And we had finished the day on a high, by spending several hours propelling ourselves down a large and steep hill at high speed, time and time again!

Halfway home T said to me, in an incredibly affectionate and articulate manner, “Daddy, I’ve had so much fun it’s making me cry, can you please give me a piggy back for the rest of the way home!” Of course, I thought to myself, what else is a loving father to do?

And so, with T on my back and B pulling a broken sledge, we slowly but surely made our way home.

To the alienating mother of my children, I have something to say to you. “You may be able to, for now, prevent me from seeing my beloved and beautiful children. However you will never take such memories away from me. They are my memories. My memories to keep and cherish.” 

That day, truly was one of the best days of my life.

The Colombian novelist, screenwriter and journalist Gabriel Garcia Marquez once said “what matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”

btg dad


Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. 

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

So if you align with our vision and ethos, have someone to recommend, are someone we would recommend or have something to say on the subject of shared parenting and parent equality in either a personal or professional capacity and would like a platform to have your say or contribute in some way to our cause, please contact us.

Thanks

The Peace Not Pas Team

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

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

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

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

Frozen_PeaceNotPas

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

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

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

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

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

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

btg dad


Please Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. 

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

So if you align with our vision and ethos, have someone to recommend, are someone we would recommend or have something to say on the subject of shared parenting and parent equality in either a personal or professional capacity and would like a platform to have your say or contribute in some way to our cause, please contact us.

Thanks

The Peace Not Pas Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

It just doesn’t make sense.

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

btg dad

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The Peace Not Pas Team

[Warning: Once again the following paragraphs contain a disproportionate amount of sarcasm!]


I attended yet another meeting today. I was told, yet again it was a really important meeting. I was also told it was about the welfare of my children. I was also told it was imperative I attend, in order for my opinions and views to be heard.

“Welcome to the wonderful world of parental alienation!”

For those that read my last article I attended a meeting earlier today, I apologise for the feeling of repetition in the above opening paragraph. However today’s meeting was a really important follow up meeting to the aforementioned meeting.

All I can say is, welcome to the wonderful world of parental alienation; where every single important professional loves a meeting. But no single important professional takes any accountability in any of these meetings.

For those of you unfamiliar with my writing, I am what is known as an alienated parent. Due to contact denial by my ex, I have now not seen my children since summer last year (2016).

For those of you unaware of what parental alienation is, please see here for a more detailed description.

“So what happened in today’s really, really important meeting?” I hear you all ask?

Well, for a start I asked the eighth social worker I have come into contact with a number of questions. (Yes that right folks, you heard it right the first time, eight social workers!)

My first question was, “do you, as Children’s Social Services recognise parental alienation?”

“What do you mean by parental alienation?” Was the somewhat astonishing reply from the aforementioned social worker.

“Parental alienation, as a set of behaviours, not a syndrome. Parental alienation, as is recognised by Cafcass, do you recognise it within Children’s Social Services?” This was my simple response, beit a question.

At this point I did not feel the need to elaborate on the fact that Anthony Douglas, Chief Executive of Cafcass recognises parental alienation, but that his actual Cafcass practitioners do not. (I thought I would leave this battle for another day).

Evidence of Anthony Douglas’ recognition of parental alienation is in the public domain for all to see in his interview with The Telegraph, dated as recent as 12th February 2017. The full article can be found here.

“That article that I emailed you, did you have a chance to read it?”… “I read some of it.”

So in returning to my inquiry, an assistant practitioner who was present at the meeting interjected and asked me “what do you mean by parental alienation, as a set of behaviours?”

I directed the following reply back to the social worker “that article that I emailed you, did you have a chance to read it?” (A few days previous I had emailed the Social Worker Sue Whitcombe’s article entitled Parental alienation or justifiable estrangement? Assessing a child’s resistance to a parent in the UK.) This article is available for download on our Research Articles Page here. Alternatively, the direct link to the article is here.

The Social Worker’s reply was remarkable to say the least. “I read some of it.”

On further direct questioning from myself regarding Children’s Social Services lack of recognition of parental alienation, the aforementioned social worker stuck her neck out and went so far as to say “we recognise parental alienation as a term.”

“The level of potential malpractice and lack of recognition evidenced from today’s really, really important meeting was there for all to see.”

[I sincerely apologise to you the reader for my forthcoming expletives]. 


“Thank fuck Children’s Social Services recognise parental alienation as a term! Otherwise all us thousands of alienated parents out there would be well and truly fucked!” I thought to myself.

So there we go reader. The level of potential malpractice and lack of recognition evidenced from today’s really, really important meeting was there for all to see.

I did not inform the attendees at the meeting that I am actually an incredibly proud co-founder of Peace Not Pas. Nor did I inform them that as an organisation we have engaged with a recent Westminster debate that took place only two weeks ago with the aim of legal reform.

One of the key questions within this Westminster debate was ‘where there is no “evidence” of the non resident parent being a risk to their child, why can’t the courts – “the system” – order the re-establishment of contact within a matter of days?’ See here for full details of the aforementioned debate.

The affiliated organisation OnlyMums & OnlyDads are well worth a visit here. As Peace Not Pas we contributed to the debate. Our contribution can be found here.

Dear readers, I apologise for the disproportionate amount of hyperlinks in the above paragraphs. However as someone that will continue to fight this battle, I firmly believe that being as informed as possible is an intergarl part of challenging such a flawed systems.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela.

btg dad


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The Peace Not Pas Team

I have been touched by the cruelty of parental alienation. Perhaps from a distance but enough to have made me actually cry last Christmas. And enough for me to get so frustrated at the futility of the battle that I could explode!

“These young children were brainwashed, denied the truth and denied their father.” 

You see, my sister’s partner has been fighting to see his children for a very long time. At first, it appeared to be a kind of hell hath no fury like a woman scorned scenario, anger from the ex, torn clothes etc.

But it wasn’t long before the children become her weapon, her way to attempt to maintain power and control. These young children were brainwashed, denied the truth and denied both direct and indirect contact with their father. All this emotional trauma, facilitated by their very own mother.

The reason I write this is because I was once in the same position as this woman. I am a mother with a young daughter whose father, my then husband left me and said he didn’t love me anymore. I had all the typical feelings; hurt, fear, anger, bitterness. I felt like I wanted revenge and wanted to  make him suffer for hurting me! I did feel out of control like my future was uncertain and there was invariably a fear of being alone.

But and this is a big but. This is what separates me from a pissed off woman feeling scorned, compared to an alienating parent. I knew that my little girl loved her daddy and he loved her. They did things together, just the two of them.

“It is against a parent’s inherent natural instinct to not encourage the other parent to spend time with their own child.”

Being six years of age at the time, it was difficult for her to understand life without her parents being together. As much as I felt I hated him I had to remind myself that he still loved our daughter deep down. It is against a parent’s inherent natural instinct to not encourage the other parent to spend time with their own child.

That is why I cannot understand a woman who would deprive a loving father of their children. Empathy from being a parent myself surely makes you understand?

When you create little humans together one parent doesn’t have precedence over the other; it is equal, call me old fashioned.

If old fashioned is happy healthy children knowing they are loved for by both parents separated or not – then bring it on!

Written by

suzzymom


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The Peace Not Pas Team

I wish this was the beginning of a bad joke, but it is not. I wish it was the beginning of an article informing it’s readers of some good news, regarding our movement’s battle against parental alienation. But unfortunately, it is not this either.

I have now not seen my alienated children since the summer of 2016 due to parental alienation. For those readers unfamiliar with the term parental alienation, please see here.

This is an ongoing and relentless battle against a flawed system that enables my ex-partner to continue to deny me any contact with my children, with no legal consequences against her.

“How many social workers does it take to protect a child from parental alienation? Clearly seven social workers is not enough!”

Since 2016 I have seen and been in contact with the following professionals and government departments: Seven social workers, (yes you heard that right the first time, seven social workers!) Two of which are in senior management positions within Cafcass. I have also spoken to a clinical psychologist, my local Member of Parliament and have also been in touch with the Ministry of Justice. I have also spoken to numerous support workers that deal in supporting families after divorce. I have even been ordered by the local family court to attend a co-parenting course, despite being prevented by my ex the chance to co-parent!

So with the above information in mind I would like to return to the question; How many social workers does it take to protect a child from parental alienation? Clearly seven social workers is not enough!

HowManySocialWorkersHelpPeaceNotPas.jpeg

So in attempting to answer this question lets first explore the media’s discussion and presentation of this form of child abuse within the public domain.

“I think the way you treat your children after a relationship has broken up is just as powerful a public health issue as smoking or drinking.”

Cafcass social workers are not permitted to use the term parental alienation, as this form of abuse is not officially recognised by any government body within the UK. However Anthony Douglas the Chief Executive of Cafcass has publicly contradicted this in an interview he gave to The Telegraph on 12th February 2017. The article is entitled ‘Divorced parents who pit children against former partners ‘guilty of abuse’. In this interview he stated “it’s undoubtedly a form of neglect or child abuse in terms of the impact it can have,” said Mr Douglas. “I think the way you treat your children after a relationship has broken up is just as powerful a public health issue as smoking or drinking.”

In the same article it is also 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.” So it begs the question, why is this form of abuse not being recognised by the sheer number of social workers that can potentially be involved in such cases?

In order to explore this further we need to understand the psychological profile of those parents that severely alienate their children against the other parent. Statistically the proponents of severe parental alienation normally have some kind of underlying undiagnosed personality disorder. This theory is explored in more detail in a previous article of mine entitled Parental Alienation, Good Versus Evil.

In terms of my case, the mother of my children presents with a number of Cluster A presonality traits, which came from the findings of a psychological assessment. According to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) this cluster is known as the odd and eccentric cluster. It includes Paranoid Personality Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder, and Schizotypal Personality Disorders. These disorders are dominated by distorted thinking.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

This disorder is characterised by a pervasive suspiciousness and distrust of others.

  • People with this disorder assume that others are out to take advantage of them, harm them, or humiliate them in some way.
  • Such individuals put a lot of effort into protecting themselves and keeping their distance from others.
  • Individuals with this disorder are known to preemptively attack others whom they feel threatened by.
  • Such individuals tend to hold grudges, are litigious, and display pathological jealously.
  • Distorted thinking is highly evident in this presentation. They do not confide in others and do not allow themselves to develop close relationships.
  • Their emotional life tends to be dominated by distrust and hostility.

Schizoid Personality Disorder

This particular presentation is characterised by a pervasive pattern of social detachment and a restricted range of emotional expression. Therefore such individuals with this disorder tend to be socially isolated. They don’t seem to seek out or enjoy close relationships.

  • Such individuals almost always choose solitary activities. They also seem to take little pleasure in life.
  • These “loners” often prefer activities that involve little human interaction and appear indifferent to both criticism and praise.
  • Emotionally, they seem aloof, detached, and cold.
  • Such individuals present as oblivious to social nuances and social cues causing them to appear socially inept and superficial.
  • Their restricted emotional range and failure to reciprocate gestures or facial expressions (such a smiles or nods of agreement) cause them to appear rather dull, bland, or inattentive.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Individuals that present with this disorder are characterised by a pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal limitations. They have a reduced capacity for close relationships and experience acute discomfort in social settings. As such, these individuals tend to be socially isolated, reserved, and distant from those around them.

  • Unlike the Schizoid Personality Disorder, they also experience perceptual and cognitive distortions and/or eccentric behaviour. For example perceptual abnormalities may include noticing flashes of light no one else can see, or seeing objects or shadows in the corner of their eyes and then realising that nothing is there.
  • Individuals with this type of Personality Disorder have odd beliefs, for instance, they may believe they can read other people’s thoughts, or that that their own thoughts have been stolen from their heads.
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder tends to be found more frequently in families where someone has been diagnosed with Schizophrenia.

So in the previous paragraphs we have explored Cafcass’ contradictory public statements regarding parental alienation. We have also explored Cluster A personality traits. So are we any closer to answering the question, how many social workers does it take to protect a child from parental alienation? 

I feel we are, please allow me to explain. I am a mental health nurse. I work on an acute admissions ward within a local psychiatric hospital. A large proportion of the patients we admit, assess and attempt to treat are individuals with personality disorders.

“Not even one of our assessing team members is a social worker. And this is my point.”

We are a nurse-run team. We are all qualified and experienced in the field of mental health. We are equipped with the relevant skills and clinical knowledge. And along with the use of evidence based practice we are able, as a team to assess and diagnose a broad range of mental health issues and disorders. And this is where I lead up to what I feel is a pertinent point. Not even one member of our assessing team is a social worker. And this is my point.

My aim is to not belittle or undermine the important role social workers have within their field of expertise. However my argument is social workers simply do not have the clinical experience or expertise to recognise and identify personality disorders, particularly within the context of parental alienation.

At the beginning of my case, back in 2016 I attempted to highlight my concerns of a possible personality disorder presentation, regarding my ex-partners emotional abuse of our children. But Cafcass (who are essentially social workers) dismissed my theory.

So to conclude, I now need to present the reader with the answer to the question: How many social workers does it take to protect a child from parental alienation? 

My argument, in answering the above question is influenced by several factors. My role as a father and my own experiences within this previous relationship. Also relevant and influential are the many months I have navigated my way through the failed system that is child protection. However I feel the most significant influence is my role as a mental health professional.

So therefore my answer is as follows: It is irrelevant whether a suspected case of parental alienation involves seven or seventy social workers. My argument is that none of them, within their remit of social work, have the clinical experience or expertise to recognise, assess and highlight a severely alienating parent that may be presenting with certain personality traits. Social workers will all too often describe contact denial (which is arguably parental alienation) as a child custody issue. They do not recognise such issues as child protection cases. And even when they do, such as in my case, the damage has already been done.

I would like to close this article with two quotes. The first is from my Cafcass Case Manager back in 2016. I was trying to get the point across to him that my ex-partner’s presentation was indicative of an individual with a possible personality disorder, that he himself had failed to identify. He dismissed my argument and simply stated “trust me, I know what I’m doing. I’ve been doing this job for many years.”

HowManySocialWorkersEyePeaceNotPas.jpeg

The second quote is from William Robertson Davies, the Canadian novelist, playwright, journalist, and professor, who once said “the eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.”

btg dad


Please Note: We will gladly refer readers to true professionals who add value, deliver results and operate in line with our core principles. 

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

So if you align with our vision and ethos, have someone to recommend, are someone we would recommend or have something to say on the subject of shared parenting and parent equality in either a personal or professional capacity and would like a platform to have your say or contribute in some way to our cause, please contact us.

Thanks

The Peace Not Pas Team