On contact centres and the erosion of fatherhood

The showing of the BBC4 documentary Kids in the Middle which comes at the time when the government are considering a legislative statement in support of children having good quality relationships with both parents, was, for this watcher at least, a quick rinse through of the standard steps that sever a father’s relationship with his children.   Just under an hour long, we learned from this programme, through scene after painful scene, the ways in which the children in this family were influenced in their ultimate rejection of their father.  From the contact centre manager, with her views on the importance of contact centres in the lives of ‘absent parents’, to the emotionless statements issued by the children themselves on why they didn’t really care whether they saw their father or not, the pointlessness of it all was stitched into the very fabric of the programme.  As the children’s mother said towards the end –

My mum and dad split up when I was young and I saw my dad about once a year, but I still feel like I know him a little bit‘…

It was difficult to tell whether this statement was being made to explain why her children only saw their father every other weekend or whether it was being made to show how generous she was being in allowing them to see him at all.  Either way, the whole programme was permeated with a feeling of so what?  So what if they don’t see their dad, so what if he wants to see them more, so what if their older siblings would like to see them?  So what if they have a dad at all, he doesn’t really matter anymore, so what?

The programme showed what too many fathers and their children live through.  The fathers at least however, are able to know what they are losing, the children in this programme as in so many other families, never really have the chance to know what they had and, as the saying goes, you don’t miss what you don’t have.  Watching the three girls in this programme, aged around ten, two twins and one girl born quite shortly after, I was struck by the way that they, like so many other children that I work with in these circumstances, quietly parroted their mother’s feelings.  The overriding expression of feeling being, I don’t really care.

Mum’s narrative was that she had been ‘worn down’ by him asking her to marry him and he had ‘broken her down’ until she said yes.  She went on to tell the interviewer that the relationship was not right for her, he had hurt her too much and, when she was working a lot of nights, he had locked her out of the house one night and she had had to call the police.  She ended up in a women’s refuge, not because there had ever been any physical violence, but  ‘domestic abuse isn’t just about physical violence.’

Dad said that the two of them had never really been friends in the marriage and that without that friendship it was clear it wouldn’t work.  Dad couldn’t understand how he had arrived at having to see his children in a contact centre, his relationship with his children from a previous marriage was fine, there was no reason to be concerned that he would be a threat to his younger kids.

His younger kids however were not, in the words of their mother, ‘comfortable’ with seeing their dad in any other setting.  Listening to the children talking, it was easy to see why.  In a three way conversation between the girls the issue of conflict came up and Vicky, the daughter closest to dad started off by saying that you could end up getting killed if there were arguments.  I was confused about this, as a therapist working with children, it is not the case that they will automatically assume that an argument will lead to someone being killed.  The next daughter however enlightened me by talking us through the steps to being killed.  First of all there is verbal violence and then there is domestic violence and then you could get killed.  These girls had clearly been learning their domestic violence awareness lessons. No need to wonder then, why they felt so uncomfortable with seeing their dad outside of the contact centre.

And so the three girls saw dad for two hours every other weekend at the local contact centre, where human relationships are reduced to confines of a small room with dirty cushions and over used toys and where anxieties are magnified and relationships feel stilted and false.

The voice over at the start of the programme told us that it is common for children to feel uncomfortable when they are with their non resident parent and that contact centres are places to spend precious time.  If a relationship between children and their father was not uncomfortable before they began using a contact centre, it certainly will be within a few short hours. I wondered about the wisdom of such words and whose voice and whose agenda we were hearing.  Centre Manager Katie Walker told us how vital the contact centre was for the ‘absent parent’ (what century is she living in) and that in time seeing children this way can lead to a build up of trust between parents.  As I watched a centre worker interrupt dad and his kids on the computer, asking what they were looking at and why, I found it difficult to understand what the benefits were and easy to understand why some dads give up completely.  What hope could there possibly be for the restoration of trust between the parents in such an environment and further, what would be the point of such trust between parents anyway when the actions of the centre workers were eroding the trust between dad and his children at every opportunity.

The children were delivered by mum to the contact centre fifteen minutes after dad had arrived and settled himself. On this occasion, mum was seen crying because dad had brought his elder children to see their younger siblings and this was, in mum’s words, ‘another part of his game.’  The centre workers asked the children if they would like to see their elder siblings and, contrary to mum’s anxieties, all three were keen to do so.  A couple of happy hours later and all of the children were hugging their dad, the elder siblings in tears at the way that their dad was being treated.  Predictably, despite all three younger children being completely at ease and enjoying their time with their family, mum decided to put in for an order to restrict this kind of behaviour by dad.  Clearly it just wasn’t on for her children to have a nice time with the other side of their family.

By the time it got to three quarters of the way through the programme I was placing private bets with myself on the outcome.  One of the girls had enjoyed a reasonably good relationship with her dad in the early days of the separation, after he had fought to get overnight stays with him every other weekend.  The two of them had managed to spend from 6pm on Friday to 3pm on Sunday every other weekend and this had protected their bond, at least for a short time.  The other two girls had only seen their dad at the contact centre and were much more aligned with their mother. Dad had, unfortunately, contributed to this, by telling the girls inappropriate things and asking them awkward questions.  He knew what he had done however and he knew how much it had impacted upon his relationship with them.  Small mistakes, in the midst of high tension and a marriage in disrepair can lead to very severe consequences and it was obvious to this watcher at least that this dad was going to pay a high price.

This mum and dad’s relationship had, it seemed, simply fizzled out and as a result there was little interest on either side in remaining on good terms.  Mum appeared to be depressed throughout and reluctant to talk about some areas, whilst dad appeared to be bewildered and unable to understand quite what had happened.  Unlike other relationships that I work with, where conflict is high and the fight maintains the ongoing connection between former lovers, this marriage was over and done with and mum was keen to simply get on with her life and looking after her kids.  I got the impression that she, like many other mothers in this situation, was quite happy to be bringing up her children on her own.  ‘I thought he might back off a bit when he got into a new relationship’ she said ‘but its made him more intense’.  For mum, wanting to have a relationship with his children makes dad intense and she just cannot understand why he will not simply go away.  Once again the pointlessness of dad was underlined and the feeling of so what, so what if the girls don’t see their dad?

One of the upsides of this dad’s story is that his new partner could see what not seeing his girls was doing to him and this made her all the more determined that her own children, two boys, would continue to have a good relationship with their dad.  But this was possibly the only upside.  All too soon we were seeing dad moved from supported contact to supervised contact with scenes that I am all too familiar with, desperate dad, being scrutinised by two women from the contact centre, writing down every word, every interaction and turning that precious time into something akin to being in an experiment.

The programme then, wandered to its sad but inevitable end and we were told that Vicky, the child that had spent weekends with her dad, had been seeing him regularly.  As the credits rolled however, we were told that the court process had now ruled that the children were old enough to make up their own minds.  Vicky, we were told, now sees her father ‘occasionally’.

I reflected upon the way in which the programme  had told us that children feel uncomfortable with their non resident dads and that contact centres were a way of keeping the relationship between children and a parent intact. And yet, as in the programme itself, the reverse is so often true. I thought about the ways in which this dad, like so many others, was treated as if he were a threat to his children and how those mistakes that dad made cost him dearly. Finally, as dad’s behaviour was interpreted as being controlling, the mother of his children removed herself and all three girls to the nearest refuge.  From there on his relationship with his children was confined to a contact centre.

I thought about the girls, their lessons in domestic violence already learned, at the hands of a mother who herself had only seen her father once a year .

And I thought about  the girl with the stronger bond, who now sees her father ‘occasionally’ and the other two who presumably do not see him at all.

And I wondered what their  own relationships with men will be like when they become women.


  1. Hi Karen.

    I am so pleased that you too saw the programme in question, I thought of you as I watched it and wondered what conclusions you might have reached. On reading your blog comments here my own feeling are confirmed by yours entirely, but you certainly have a better way of expressing them.

    I watched it in total sadness and somehow understood the plight of the father, Keith, I felt that he was belittled, humiliated and treated as though he was a possible threat to his own children, especially when reprimanded for showing his kids the computer, how dare he! I expressed similair thoughs on my own blog about the programme, as you may be aware. I know I talked about “power”, but it seemed to me that this father had none at all! I know it is not about power, it’s a shame to mention such a word in this context as though each parent should consider it as important. However, it seemed to me that the programe showed that Dawn was the one given all the decision making choices, even when his older children wanted to see their own half siblings, she had to have the final say on it and was given the greater consideration.

    As you know may know Karen, I am still battling to see my own son, I feel that if I am given this stark choice, to see my son at a contact centre (again) I feel I may turn it down, not for my own selfish reasons, no, but out of consideration for my son and his feelings. I don’t know if I am right in this, perhaps you can advise me? I have already spent many months at contact centres and my son hated it, he wanted to go out and we couldn’t, he kept asking why we always had other people hanging around, it unsettled him, the whole thing put us both in a false setting and we both felt spied upon and I felt I wasn’t trusted with my own son. I don’t have the heart to put him through it again, if I am offered this choice at a contact centre, as much as it will break both our hearts I feel I can’t do it, I love him to much for that.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your wise perspective on the programme, I agree entirely with all of them. The whole idea of fathers having a realistic relationship with their children at such places is beyond me, I should know Iv’e experienced these places, I always left feeling degraded and always left in tears, what the hell am I going to do?


  2. Sorry Karen, I have re-entered my comment again realising that I had left many spelling mistakes in my original one and have now corrected them.

    Hi Karen.

    I am so pleased that you too saw the programme in question, I thought of you as I watched it and wondered what conclusions you might have reached. On reading your blog comments here my own feeling are confirmed by yours entirely, but you certainly have a better way of expressing them.

    I watched it in total sadness and somehow understood the plight of the father, Keith, I felt that he was belittled, humiliated and treated as though he was a possible threat to his own children, especially when reprimanded for showing his kids the computer, how dare he! I expressed similar though’s on my own blog about the programme, as you may be aware. I know I talked about “power”, but it seemed to me that this father had none at all! I know it is not about power, it’s a shame to mention such a word in this context as though each parent should consider it as important. However, it seemed to me that the programme showed that Dawn was the one given all the decision making choices, even when his older children wanted to see their own half siblings, she had to have the final say on it and was given the greater consideration.

    As you know may know Karen, I am still battling to see my own son, I feel that if I am given this stark choice, to see my son at a contact centre (again) I feel I may turn it down, not for my own selfish reasons, no, but out of consideration for my son and his feelings. I don’t know if I am right in this, perhaps you can advise me? I have already spent many months at contact centre’s and my son hated it, he wanted to go out and we couldn’t, he kept asking why we always had other people hanging around, it unsettled him, the whole thing put us both in a false setting and we both felt spied upon and I felt I wasn’t trusted with my own son. I don’t have the heart to put him through it again, if I am offered this choice at a contact centre, as much as it will break both our hearts I feel I can’t do it, I love him to much for that.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your wise perspective on the programme, I agree entirely with all of them. The whole idea of fathers having a realistic relationship with their children at such places is beyond me, I should know Iv’ e experienced these places, I always left feeling degraded and always left in tears, what the hell am I going to do?


    1. Dear Paul i really understand your feelings around contact in a centre, i saw my daughter last year for just over 3 months in a centre, the staff were ok, my daughter was only 2 and a half and i had not seen her since she was 9 months old. after a couple of sessions my daughter didnt want to leave me after 1 hour of contact this went on for a while until my ex read the fantastic reports.
      my daughter did not want to stay in the contact room with me and i wouldnt false her.. i could see how distressed and confused she was(obviously from the mother’s input) i couldnt continue do do this to her or the finance’s £65 a week to see my daughter distressed for 3 mins!!
      I have a final fact finding hearing next week, i have lost my public funding due mainly to funding my contact with my daughter(with help from family) so really what chance do us fathers have of having a meaningful relationship with our children??
      The Judge in December said she had flicked through the reports?? what a joke.

      Kind regards


      1. Dear Andy.

        Thank you for the response to my posting here on Karen’s blog. I can say with all my heart that I fully sympathize with your sorry plight and how you must suffer deep trauma in your battle to see your beloved daughter. I have the same feelings as you on the subject of contact centres. They are unfriendly and sometimes dirty unwelcoming places, certainly not fit to carry on a realistic meaningful relationship with our children. I have just yesterday got back from my 25th court hearing myself, and I am no nearer to having contact with my son than when I started 4 years ago. There is an injustice being done to fathers in the court system, we are depicted as some kind of threat to our own children when we know deep down that we are guilty of nothing at all. On this I know you share the same feeling, its as if we need to prove ourselves as good and proper fathers, but this privelige is afforded to mothers automatically, why is that? I often wonder why the hell I carry on, and why I allow them to debase me as they do, all I can say is that I love my son to much to give up. I am with you in spirit Andy as we both battle on to see those we love. Regards, Paul Manning.


  3. Perceptive as always. This ‘disgraceful’ process is happening to tens of thousands of ‘new’ children to their parents separation each year, whether it includes contact centres or not.

    Many of those within the system simply do not understand what they are involved in, others don’t care and some others do their best to protect children’s relationship with both of their parents.

    Simply not good enough!


  4. if some strange alien but child focused out of planet creature came down and watched this they would probably conclude that humanoids emotionally abuse their children. It was as sad as it was bizarre.

    His “mistakes” and lord knows we have all been there through fear and bewilderment were few and totally surpassed by mums victim status and lack of any empathy with regard to her childrens needs. A prime candidate for the gingerbread forums.

    the scene with the computer was outrageous. how to undermine a parent and reduce the poor man to a potential threat to his children in the eyes of his children. horrible.

    i have been in court this week for the first time.(yes its always me me me!)

    it was interesting.the CAFCASS report based on telephone assessments stated that children should be given a choice and contact should be flexible.by that i think they mean my 12 year old should spend less time with me and if he chooses not to come thats fine..i have asked for every other weekend so he can go to town with his mates and stay with me just as he would at mums (he is 20 minutes away).mum was very open to a wishes and feelings report and had even shown him the CAFCASS website.

    the judge asked me to explain what i meant by contact had been allowed but undermined? i gave two (i could give a hundred) examples. my seven year old said last summer”mum said that if you are keeping me here she will come and take me to nans (her mothers).

    secondly i produced a contact schedule given to me by my ten year old son which agreed to him staying one night a month. It was drawn up between her and the children. At this point mum had taken me off his facebook page.It was six weks after we separated..the schedule was full of phrases like “best interests” and “wishes and feelings”. when i mentioned in court that she was a childrens social worker with 15 years experince you could have heard a pin drop..

    the outcome?

    i now have them one weekend night overnight a month which means i have five overnights a month. the judge said it was “high risk” we shall see.next on the agenda are holidays and i suppose there is a good argument for children not seeing their dad on christmas day? i have had boxing day and a second christmas and it some ways that feels fine. but it seems that as much as we bend and weave to placate hostilty we are caught between a rock and a hard place.

    the contact centre is no place for these girls nor her father.Its an insult to our children. the “feckless father”? who would not walk away?

    insanity. state sanctioned. . .


  5. Fully agree with your comments. My story is very similar but without the contact centres. To me, PAS was overflowing and the mother was in need of parenting lessons and counselling yet all the contact centre staff appeared to do was to fan and inflame the flames.. If we , the viewer, can see what was portrayed, then why is there not a proper process to ensure that controlling parents like that are given the required help to ensure that “their” children have a healthy, secure and loving future ahead of them and that they can see life in a better light. It;s not the absent fathers who need the counselling!! (In my own case, many have told me that i should go for counselling.. perhaps that’s the “politically correct” way for absent fathers to forget and erase their children from their lives??) .. I particularly noted the mother’s comments about her own father and like in so many other examples i have seen, the damage from one generation permeates future ones… And my final point, of my four children, the two younger were under ten and the two older over ten. The 1989 Children’s Act allows their views to be taken into account after the age of ten.. How many older children in all these cases still want to have contact with their absent father when asked their own views?? My guess, based on my own two children, is that none will volunteer to have a relationship whereas my younger two were subject to a court order which gave me greater but not the required access that I wanted. Again, this piece of legislation needs overhauling…we can see the effects in this documentary….


  6. I at this moment of time is seeing my daughter in a contact centre for 1hr every monday afternoon… Although my marriage broke down through violence towards me by my wife…. I have a 9year old son who stays with me weekends nd holidays and myself and his mum still have a great Relationship!!! Anyhow back to my daughters mum she comes to contact centre with her mam and dad too and on numerous occasions have tried to interfere with my session with my daughter, Luckily the ladies at the contact centre report this down and realise how problamatic my wife and her parents are! Reports time and time again show this…… Especcially my wifes mother! She is reported a lot as being interfering!!! I will be back in court soon caffs caffs visited house and said how nice my home is and child friendly and went on to say that now is the time for daughter to come to dad away from contact centre…. I do feel I shouldn’t have been going there but the contact centre where I go are helpful and also keep myself safe until my wife and her parents leave with our daughter…. I hope some sort of LAW will develop and help good parents from both sides (mam or dad) have rightfull access immediately!!!


  7. I found watching this program painful. The children empowered to do exactly what the recident parent wants and in the process thinking they are making the decisions themselves. How adult their language suddenly was when they were talking about their parents relationship, not at all how they spoke the rest of the time. It reminded me of a grotesque puppet show with the children and courts as the puppets.


  8. Thanks for your take on the programme Karen. I did not watch it with full attention…but will go back and do that in due course.

    What did strike me as a very telling statement was the one you highlighted….regarding the children’s mother only ever seeing her own father once a year. It struck me that she must never have experienced a father’s influence in her life; and so had no comprehension of the benefits her own daughters would reap from having a meaningful relationship with their father.

    The way in which the contact centre operated; and the scenes from the programme (notably the computer incident) were abhorrent to me. Such an artificial and contrived atmosphere in which both parent and child cannot act naturally for fear of attracting attention! How is that supposed to create or foster a good relationship?

    I would be most interested to know how many of the families who use these contact centres across the UK manage to create and continue with healthy “normal” relationships; and how many end as did the one depicted…in little or no contact.


  9. Something else that the mother said that I thought told so much about the underlying dynamics of the situation was in her response to the older siblings’ presence at contact. She said something along the lines of “Am I supposed to stand by so they can all play happy families together while mother pisses off down the road?” In other words, mother was not prepared to suffer her daughters’ happiness if it meant that she would feel rejected in any way. I’ve felt this ‘perceived’ rejection personally when I have seen my child being very happy with ‘the other side’ but the key in these situations is awareness of our feelings and their source. My child never really rejected me at these times in the same way that those 3 girls in the programme weren’t rejecting their mother by enjoying a relationship with their father and siblings.

    The saddest thing about this story and so many similar stories is that mother passes on all her insecurities to her children and the cycle continues.


    1. I agree Johnnie – and the Courts are slow to take action to prevent this whilst still claiming they have the best interests of the children at heart.


    2. Well said Johnnie and well spotted, I mean the point where you quoted the mother: “Am I supposed to stand by so they can all play happy families together while mother pisses off down the road?” I remember thinking along similar lines to you when she said it. In fact my thoughts were… “no mum, what you ought to be doing is joining in with the reunion on behalf of your chilldren and put aside your own petty thoughts of being left out of the joy of the situation”. As you so well indicated, it takes unselfishness and a big heart to to examine ones own motives realistically and then apply what makes for the happiness for the children. I had the impression that this mother was only interested in furthering animosities and making as many issues as she could for the father in that particular matter.Would’nt it have been wonderful if she could have only put aside her differences with her Ex and come out to meet his older children in a spirit of peace and reconciliation, all for the good of the younger children. I don’t think that anything had gone on in that past that was ‘so’ serious that either of them could not work it out, if only they could forgive and show some maturity for the sake of their children. I am of the opinion that the father would have welcomed such a spirit of cooperation, but I think the mother was far too entrenched in her own wants and ideas of self justification. Overall I’m sure the father would have done anything to see his kids more, even to sit down and talk with his ex, I didnt get that idea with the mother.


      1. I can’t help but wonder how many of these mothers who are so difficult about their children having a relationship with their fathers actually go out to work?? I am a working single mother to two children, one of whom is disabled and very needy and, my God, I would LOVE my ex to ‘play happy families’ a bit more often with them so I could (and I certainly wouldn’t put it as ‘pissing off down the road – lol!) have a bit more time for myself!!


  10. A child forced to see his/her father in a contact centre as a matter of course is an abuse of the child, the father AND the centre – particularly when it is run by voluntary staff.

    My son was condemned to spend a derisory amount of time at a centre following my ex agreeing to precisely nothing. He was scared, unhappy…and in court it was presented that it was due to his fear of me. Broken toys, dingy hall and desperatly unhappy fathers and children.

    It reminded me of nothing so much as a prison waiting room. I was treated like a prisoner too…asked if I considered it appropriate if I changed my son’s nappy. I responded by asking what I was guilty of…and was met with the inevitable silence.

    My son and I did `our time’ for whatever we were guilty of and we moved out of the damn places. In not so many words the staff told me we should not have been there and that my ex clearly had issues she needed to resolve. Never mind…it was nothing I could use in court.

    By the time I left, having had a frank (but friendly) conversation with the manager of the centre (a voluntary church-based one) and asked how she felt that her valuable time and effort was being wasted by parents driven by malice and control issues rather than concern for children. Once again…I didn’t get much a response.

    I tried to be constructive however – I gave leaflets to the centre given to be by FNF. I approached dads in these centres and after hearing their tearful, lost, heartbroken stories I recommended they contact the charity for the support they needed. The most terrible thing? It was obvious most of them wouldn’t do so…they would stick with a solicitor who had already served them appallingly and remain in the contact centre some of them had been visiting for several years.

    I feel scarred by my time in these places.


  11. i can remember spending four months in a contact centre just over eighteen months ago.after alot of horrid false allegations,related to me wanting my daughter to have holidays abroad with me(i have family abroad)the ex thought i wanted to abduct her.my daughter was often bewildered and continually asked if we could go and do the activities we did before.the place stunk of stale urine.after watching a feminist journalist on sky recently(i care to forget the name).explaining that children are dragged there kicking and screaming because they dont want to see there father.i would beg to differ with that and never saw any of that.what i did see was alot of demoralised males and children who were wanting to be released from outdoor prison.these places are supposed to be for children who are a slight risk to there parents.and ive been told that they were first created for parents who had been released from prison.thank god ive got a great relationship back with my daughter again.


  12. Excellent article. Karen has a big heart, and genuine insight. We need more people like her throwing light on these gender issues, and how men and women hurt each other, and hurt their children very badly in the process, to the point that the children grow up and repeat these awful mistakes.


  13. It seemed to me that Dawn exhibited some of the classic effects of fatherlessness – she was insecure, emotionally barely more than a child herself, and clearly depressed. And yet it was Keith who had to submit to psychological evaluation and the girls who were sent to anger management classes. These patterns are repeated in case after case, and yet the system seems incapable of identifying where the source of the problems lies.

    It also struck me that although Keith had decided to represent himself in court, he had not sought advice elsewhere. Had he done so, he might have avoided some of the more obvious mistakes he made, which may have been trivial, but were ultimately fatal. I live fairly close to the contact centre featured and know many who have used it – there are numerous support groups for fathers in this area. No one should go to court alone.


  14. Robert Whiston discussed the subject of reducing contact for fathers in his blog post about Rational Choice Theory (https://motoristmatters.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/30/), and in particular the means by which fathers could stop the remourseless reducing of time with their children;

    ‘But why are the courts so intransigent, so insensitive ?

    are they ignorant know no better ?
    are they being deliberately difficult ?
    are they sexually/gender biased against fathers ?
    are they unaware that their actions ensure fathers remain ‘engaged’ in their game ?
    But they could, of course, be perfectly well aware of Rational Choice Theory and be simply applying it to make absolutely certain that fathers remain ‘engaged’ in the their game.

    If this is the case, one of the antidotes is for fathers to become ‘disengaged’; to ignore courts and court orders and/or to publicly disown their children before the presiding judge. This is the essential element of the Retreat Strategy advocated by Ivor Catt. It takes great courage to be prepared to take that stance and defy threats made by a court. Few have actually adopted it but when they have, they been successful.

    The reason for this must be the father’s promise to the judge never to see write or communicate in any way with his children again (he becomes dead to them). This neutralises the mother’s challenges to the court’s authority and places the court on the horns of a dilemma.’

    And in this and his later discussion on ‘Collective Action’ there might be a solution.

    What if fathers collectively and individually decided to simply not take part in the system as it stands today?

    What if they simply told the Courts – fine, have your way. I no longer wish to pay and play the game. I won’t ask for contact, I won’t pay the barristers and solicitors any more money…I won’t attend a Contact centre, I won’t write or communicate with my children from this day forth. In the future you the judges, the CAFCASS officers, the social workers and mothers can explain what happened to the now-grown-up children (though being universal it might be tough)why you didn’t see your dad.

    And accopanying this will be the promise that if the system changes – changes hugely and postively then you will recommence contact.

    How many solicitors and barristers will be able to continue funding their expensive houses and cars with no fathers to pay for them? How many local authorities will consider closing Contact Centres if no fathers use them? How many CAFCASS officers and social workers will have to be rendered redundant with no work for them? How many Family Court staff will have to be let go?

    Ultimately those abused by the current regime – the fathers and the children, have the most power.

    To simply not take part.


  15. That’s a very interesting and powerful strategy and one that could only work en mass. Otherwise each participating father would simply add to the statistics of fathers who walk away from their children. Mothers would most certainly confirm this view with the children as they were growing up, who would blame their father all the way. The question is, who could organise such a collective protest? And what father would take such a risk, dependant on all the others doing the same? I know I wouldn’t.

    Nevertheless, I wish something like what you describe could happen. In theory it could work.


  16. its an interesting concept. you could do it for one day to highlight the current situation. dads on strike type of thing? it is a high risk strategy of course and a lot of exs would love it no doubt. i suppose the most the big question and one that would be open to public scrutiny is how would it impact upon the children?

    f4j have tried this of course and i would suspect that it has had little impact on public opinion although i admire their tenacity and willingness to put the debate on the public agenda. your talking about not just legal reform but a major cultural shift. that takes time and would need a strategy that is well planned and thought through. f4j have done that to some degree.

    i think you will only get so far with documentries although they are good of course in terms of pushing the agenda for change. the recent doco on the history of fatherhood was good but probably only reached a small number of people anyway. A major breakthrough would be a ken loach/mike leigh type drama looking at the situation of PA from a childs viewpoint and exposing the anolomies of the family law system and the predominance of “wishes and feelings”.. humour would be good of course too. contact dad could be an indearing character and i can think of many moments of dark humour in my own situation which would be funny if they were not so sad for my children.

    schools seem to be a fundamental area that has been ignored.? my sons were refered to a school mentor by mum. the mentor is a very nice lady and has been great with the children however i doubt she has even heard of parental alienation. this is an arena where our children will spend much of their development time.

    the idolitry of the lone female parent struggling against the odds is very powerful. thats ot to say there are’nt single parents abandoned or in need of our support but it in a perverse way leads to the exclusion and undermining of fatherhood as excess to requirements..the cause of course needs allies and in that respect i think its has been our biggest failing. easy for me to sit and say of course. the left are terrified of anything that could be perceived as anti-women and the tories while enraptured by a genuine respect for fatherhood and enraged by the lone parent on benefits on council estates scenario, are mindful of the huge female vote that they got at the last election.

    the forces against change are very powerful. Gingerbread and the legal eagles want the status quo and of course they got it with Norgrove. Would it be niave to suggest a conference for change and a manifesto for change focusing on why so many children grow up without a father and its impact upon our children? the recent radio five doco “is mum enough” was interesting in that in general terms it highlighted that chidren who lose their fathers are missing out on something potentially goodmaybe its been done before?.

    At one point Fidel and Che had eighteen companeros left in the mountains.I’m off to smoke a Cohiba. Being alienated does not mean you can’t dream! .


    1. Dear Paul, thank you for your kind words, i feel depressed and disheartened to hear your story of 25 appearances over 4 years and being no nearer to seeing your child. its been just over 2 years for me and i am close to walking away… because i dont think i can take much more pain. i would do anything for my little princess however when the system does not protect you children, and the mother is hell bent on not letting you see them… it does to much damage to our kids.

      I am struggling emotionally with not seeing my girl and my mother dying of cancer, but having found this site its good to know i am not the only one struggling. thank you Paul, thanks everyone.

      KIND regards

      Andy Winn


      1. Andy know this, you are not alone in your struggle, it saddens me to say that there are hundreds of fathers out there who are being prevented from seeing their children, many of them I know personally. It is a national scandal what is taking place.here in the good old UK, but I know in my heart it’s going to take a lot of time to change things. I hope you don’t find what i’m saying here discouraging, but I’ve been at this so long I have lost most of my hope, this is the actual intention of the court system to make you give up, I guess I just won’t go away. Love for our children is the most important thing, the bastards can’t take that away from us no matter how hard they try. Keep your chin up mate and know that the feelings and pain you have I understand, because I have them myself, pain and more pain that just won’t leave me, I know how you feel, and Im struggling too. Keerp the faith bro, and stay strong if you can. Paul.


      2. can anyone explain to me what……. to file and serve a trial bundle compliant with president’s directions mean????????




  17. Hi Karen, Thanks for your reply on your other writings it was read and i took note 🙂 Thanks!

    here is a line to the contact center(org) i am about to visit to see my daughter however you will see these people’s attitude towards male victims of Domestic Violence, clearly to these people we don’t exist and on visiting their website due to me receiving a simple leaflet regarding contact resorted in me responding to them about their policy surrounding DV.


    here is my response.

    I’ve browsed your website and nowhere can i find support for male victims of female perpetrators of domestic violence and was quite put back on your policy around this issue, that from your view all males are perpetrators and all women are victims, How wrong can you people get it, i was beat on nearly daily by my ex partner but yet nothing is seen to be directed towards reforming her behavior, nothing! i have been strangled repeatedly by her my children have told me many things they have had to endure at the hands of their mother and when i have raised any concern to the judge its just ignore, this is a disgrace that i’m being treated like a monster due to accepting DV took place within our family but not once did anyone acknowledge it when i stated that i was in fact the victim not her. We are in 2012 not 1960’s its about time the system woke up to this issue instead of brushing it under the radar, This HAS ruined my kids future! over 12 years i have been in and out of court trying to get contact and continually the mother has denied me that contact without good reason, this is just the latest act of hers to continue the abuse of me and our children whilst sitting back in her house laughing at what she is putting us through.

    At first i though it could be advantageous going through your contact center due to my son refusing to see me due to PAS but now as he is still refusing to see me i am forced to see my daughter through your center even when there has never been any issue with my child’s safty. I recieved your leaflet today, so i visited your site and i will say i’m disgusted that your view on DV that only accommodate female victims when the fact is 40% of victims in this category are men! and you site says nothing about men victims. so with this in mind i’m at the understanding you either are ignorant about male victims or actively encourage females to cry wolf (pun intended) so to continue ongoing payments to your agency.
    If you did have the “Child’s best interests” at the for-most of your dealings with the parents then surly you would have to agree woman are just as capable of being perpetrators as men are, and with my significant research i have done on this subject i have to inform you of my total disapproval of your lack of commitment to have a unbiased approach when dealing with Domestic Violence and contact between the absent parent and HIS children, i also believe you will not facilitate contact to the best intentions of my daughter but by your own best intentions to suit your interests. i will make it very clear on my contact with my daughter whilst being recorded and supervised that i have never been a threat to her ever and to be forced through this system is only serving the mothers systematical abuse of not just her ex but with no empathy at all for her daughters feelings too, its a sheer disgrace of humanity, so i urge you to make changes to your website to include male victims at a ratio of female60/40male in line with statistics and not prejudice.
    Your website sparked this reponce not my attitude so before you slander me for abusing you please acknolage your wrong doing its hidetime the system sorted out this injustice to reflect modern day society and put Equality back on the even keel it should of always been on.

    Yours sincerly

    Stephen Callard


  18. The whole system starting from the marriage, break up, state involvement and child management is a total disgrace. The United Kingdom should brace its face with its own hand, she should endeavour to make clean its own house before making policies and enforcing laws that are virtual to existence.

    Men are seen as slaves, sperm donors, object of systemic emotional and psychological abuse while the state praise and support the perperators leaving the children on the field of war not protected. The state is quick to pronouce the 21st century generation with no clear understanding of giving the young ones hope.

    The best word for it is SHAME SHAME SHAME. Marriage as an institution is a play field in the UK, the home as a virtue of priceless worth is just a profit making venture where legal team, maniplative parents and the state counts their financial gains at the month end.

    A hope for restructuring is another hope for destruction.Generation over generation,it is just a roll over system where the uncommon common sense is a question of genuity! supposed individuals whose work is to make the sytem dead alive are victims of such troubled manipulative foundation themselves, an apple will not behave like a plum.


  19. To all the fathers out there:

    When you do wrong, there’s twice as much unfairness. Small things are picked on and magnified against you (i am a father and i am still suffering despite my knowing of the do’s and don’ts). It becomes difficult, it is hard to deal with the daily pains. Battles take take forever and at most never gets resolved. But ultimately the right thing to do is swallow your feelings, silence your heart and be there for your kid if possible.

    In my own mental state of mind, i keep telling myself if something is within your reach then with open arms go ahead, grab your chance and give yourself a cry but along the way never forget things that are impossible is never worth the try. Avoid telling yourself ‘its easier said than done’ (thats the easiest of all thoughts and actions). Begin with accepting your reality.

    If your not strong enough to do right then bravely don’t be weak enough to do wrong. Let the best part of you come out and allow love to prevail no matter how painful the long enduring path.


    1. Your comments remind me of this famous address:

      The Man in the Arena: Citizenship in a Republic

      “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

      Theodore Roosevelt
      from his address delivered at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910


  20. Hola
    Su pagina web karenwoodall.wordpress.com probablemente no este preparada para ser vista por diferentes dispositivos moviles.
    Esto es una pagina responsive, asi se lo conoce hoy.
    Podemos ayudarlo a que karenwoodall.wordpress.com sea full responsive y este preparada para recibir visitas desde cualquier dispositivo.
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    Envie Su telefono y lo contactamos, x SMS o escribanos a mariaesterav@hotmail.com
    Aguardo Su contacto


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