Again, based on personal experience and has no relation to the work of practising members of the psychology profession!
I have been intimately involved in parental alienation for several years now. I have researched the hell out of it, and since the start of this blog at the start of the year I have also come across dozens more cases, some with their own blog, others through my twitter feed.
Most of the cases appear to deal with a simple refusal of one parent to allow the child or children to see the other parent and associated bad-mouthing of the absent parent. The courts don’t seem (at least at the lower levels) to acknowledge PA and the abusing parent is given time to entrench the alienation they are causing.
I have read about cases where the children want to see their absent parent, and they do not let go in cases where the abusing parent just blocks contact at all costs. They carry on wanting to see the absent parent. My case appears to be different, and a lot more advanced. Not only was the game plan of my ex to stop me seeing my children – as I found out later from friends of hers that had cut her off for what she was doing to me! It was also to change my image in the childrens minds – completely.
If you see this happening, take a note, talk to your lawyer – this is emotional abuse of the children.
Perpetual bad-mouthing is probably a ‘good’ start, over a period of years you can get to a state where even doing something normal is perceived to be ‘bad’. My children were obviously interrogated every time they arrived back home after a day with me. To such an extent that my ex found out that Raffi didn’t like that cutlery I had bought for my 50th and it was branded “Cheap IKEA rubbish” by my eldest at a subsequent visit – as if he cared about my cutlery!
Indicating complete mistrust in the capabilities of the absent parent to be a good parent also adds to the image of the loser father (Yes they did actually call me loser at one stage). Jonathan once told me that his mother didn’t want them to come and visit me, and that is why she never went away on the weekend that they were with me. What signal does that give? She even managed to get them to believe I was a thief and they emptied their piggy banks on one visit in secret to take the contents home with them.
Another way is to continually advertise the apparent ‘failings’ of the absent parent. With me this was the red-thread of swimming. I can hardly swim, and even though I tried to stop this, the children never stopped suggesting, and after I complained at a mediation the boys mentioned to me that I had done this! Even to the extent of suggesting a kayak ride on the fast-flowing river near to where they live when they were very young. The suggestion obviously came from the mother. I’ll give you one guess as to how good at swimming the step-father is. But he apparently never had time to go with my children, who loved swimming. Another time a rushed note to my children written in my second language (German) was apparently taken apart for grammatical mistakes at the breakfast table with everybody there. And finally a good but supremely simple trick was in winter to arrive early at the train station for the handover and stay in the heated car, and then say I was late because they had been waiting. I turned up on time to the second simply because it was -10C outside with snow on the ground.
Keeping the children up-to-date with (peripheral) court action is also a good one. Every attempt to ‘drag’ the abusing parent to court will perversely be used against the abused parent. “Leave Mami alone” is something I have heard so many times, even though I didn’t pursue the court route often enough, and did not even have the money to do so for several years. Incidentally, social services quizzed her as to why the children were informed of all the cases, even those that did not involve them (such as haggling over a signature on the 2009 tax return that she kept refusing for instance). Her answer – “They have to know where I was – they ask.”
And after a while even pure lies will be accepted because Daddy is capable of doing anything. Like not wanting to get into the hire car I rented to pick the kids up because it might be bugged! And my son accusing me “After what you did“, but not being able to explain what I did – Somewhat like that novella from Kafka – The Trial. Accused, but what of!
All of these tricks over a period of years has probably led to my children never wanting to see me again. I believe a ‘simple’ type of alienation based on refusal has a much better chance of ending in a reconciliation then the power version I and my children have had to endure. Talking to my youngest son the last time we ever spoke – we met at a spot where I introduced them to ‘pooh sticks’ and they were happy times. His reply to me when I said think of the good times “What good times.” and that was it. Gaslighting as it lives and breathes.
Hopefully, they will start to think what happened when they grow up and have their own children, or perhaps their partners will ask what happened. There is always hope. The last ridiculous reasons they gave for not wanting to see me again leave a little bit of hope open – getting on the wrong train once; having a step-son, so I don’t need them anymore; insulting their mother in English – only problem is that the insult in question would never have been said by an Englishman…
And leaving aside my feelings for the moment – what about the children. Not only have they lost a parent through this action, they have also learned the capability to hate and despise anybody. And what will happen when they eventually find out what happened? They will potentially never be able to trust anybody ever again.
As the social services and I, both said to her on one of our mediation meetings prior to a court appearance. “You are destroying your legacy with the children – they will find out.” To which she smiled enigmatically and said “perhaps not“.
© 2017 lostdad – All rights reserved
Spoton article. I believe categorisation of severity should be carried out time of first assessment, which should be first contact, which should involve cafcass practitioners being mental health professionals not social workers. A lot of ‘should be’s’ there i know but ultimately this form of abuse needs to be treated the same as sny other form of abuse.
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After my last article, I had a twitter conversation with a UK lawyer and a Fathers rights activist – who was quite embittered by court bias and the legal profession in general. The lawyer and I maintained the position that PA needs to be identified earlier – before the court is involved.
The only problem then is having a resilient and reliable set of sanctions available if mediation fails due to one identifiable party torpedoing it.
The reason PA occurs is that it has time to ‘fester’,. I am absolutely convinced that early identification of a parent who wishes to shut out the other parent would reduce severe PA, and even take pressure off the family court system.
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