Moving on…

I have been writing this blog for three years now and I have been amazed at how many people have read it during that time. At the last count, someone had read at least one of the pages in 47 countries across the world, that means that what I have been writing about resonates not just nationally, but internationally. In short, family separation, if my blog readership is anything to go by, is a global issue. (OK I am extrapolating wildly for the sake of dramatic effect here but you get my point).

During the time that I have been writing this blog I have been working with separated families on a large scale. I have also been working with some of the most conflicted families and I have, through doing this, begun to form the foundations of a methodology for assisting families experiencing alienation.

I have also continued to work in the family courts as well as with government, developing new services for separated families.

There have been some spats along the way. I seem to have fallen out with many people in the field of family separation, not least the single parent campaign groups and more recently the domestic violence lobby. Fallen out, not because I am bloody minded, but because I cannot stand by and watch as the lives of good men and good women and their children are ruined by the kind of blind adherence to a narrative that is only true in the bubbles that these groups create.

You may have guessed, from the tone of this blog, that I have decided that it is time to move on from my very public commentary on the politics of separation. I returned from my holiday thinking that it was time to move on and although I had second thoughts and felt that I should continue, the reality is, for me, that I have come to a bit of a cross roads in my professional life. I have come to a place where I feel that it is, for the sake of the families that I work with, important that I concentrate upon my work with children who reject a parent.

You will recall that I was recently attacked by a firm of lawyers, for being so outspoken about what is wrong with the field of family separation. That attack made me think carefully about the ways in which, the things that I say, can be used not only against me but against the families that I work with. I make no apology for being so outspoken, what I have said needs saying and I shall, through my work with the Centre for Separated Families, continue to put pressure on the people who need to understand what is happening in the outside world. But when it comes to public commentary, I shall, in future, reserve my thoughts for those who sign up to receive my posts, at my new website, which I will launch later this month. The website is dedicated to my work with families and will showcase some of the work that I have done, the research work that I intend to do and the outcomes for children that I have worked with.  I am incredibly excited by the opportunities to deepen my understanding of the alienation reaction in children and to develop the work that I have done in building a model of intervention that works for these families. I hope that everyone affected by the issue will continue to visit my new site and I will look forward to being able to help more families through this site and the Family Separation Clinic which is part of the Centre for Separated Families.

I could not let this final blog go by though without having one last rant. This week it is about the ways in which academics and their third sector counterparts manufacture the myths that cause fatherhood to be so maligned in our country. I am sure that in other countries too, this kind of thing goes on all the time. Academics, speaking gobbledygook together in an effort to make us all believe that they are worth their money.

I received an invite this week to an event which is being hosted by the Fatherhood Institute. This event will launch a University of East Anglia report on fathers in complex and contested post separation settings. The wording of the invite suggests that if you work with or study separated fathers, you should not miss this event which is focused upon supporting fathers after separation or divorce and which will give both evidence and insights…

Billed as a must attend event for policy makers and practitioners alike, this event will showcase a report upon the work of an ESRC-funded international review of interventions undertaken since 2005 seeking to support separated fathers and their families.

The great names of family separation academia will gather at the event, including Liz Trinder who will sit on a panel, presumably to answer questions from the participants keen to learn at the feet of the great misrepresenter of reality herself.

And there will be discussion throughout the day, no doubt based upon the report that is being launched, a report which has been unashamedly described as being a study of fatherhood through a feminist lens.

Quite a coup for the Fatherhood Institute, whose CEO was the author of the infamous conclusion about separated fathers –

and it seems likely that when this population is not well supported or advised this will impact negatively on the financial and other support that they can provide to their children and their children’s mothers.’1

Which will no doubt go down extraordinarily well with Trinder et al, as well as the author of the report being launched by this particularly unpleasant gathering of self important academics (barring Richard Collier for whom I have a great deal of time for).

I have wasted a bit of my time this afternoon looking at the summary of the report. I shall not bore you with its details, suffice to say that it was a study of 23 fathers in rural East Anglia, it was undertaken through a feminist lens and its conclusions are about as relevant to the real lives of separated fathers as Liz Trinder is. Never-the-less, the event is billed as an opportunity for academics, practitioners and policy makers to hear about and debate new research findings on fathers in complex, contested and vulnerable family settings.2 Yeah right!

And on that note, it is off I go to the next part of my life and work. I shall continue to write and report and comment but it won’t be public and you will need to sign up to receive my words of wisdom in the future. I remain deeply concerned about the field that I work in and I am not convinced that the tides we hope to change are going to do so dramatically any time soon. But I will continue to fight, continue to push, continue to agitate for change to come.

I will notify all of my readers of my new site as soon as its ready. I hope you will come and join me in my new abode and continue to contribute your words of support for each other, your thoughts about your world and the ways in which we can, together, change the whole world, for each other, but most of all for our children.

Thank you all for reading. Its been a blast.

1The father’s Journey: a survey of help seeking behaviour by separating and recently separated fathers – Ross Jones, Adrienne Burgess and Vhasti Hale

27 Comments

  1. I wil be joining you Karen at your new home, but I think it’s a shame that your writing could not continue to be easily available to all publicly. Your messages and insight are critical to the unknowing. You are one of the few voices of reason in this god forsaken industry of family destruction. We really don’t need you being bullied into silence. Know that there are those of us out here that would willingly and happily defend you for what you do. Please, never stop the great work – children depend upon it.

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    1. thank for your kind words. Its not such much that I am being bullied into silence as the way in which this industry will use anything that I say publicly about the politics of separation, in the court process to try and undermine my evidence. It has been, for a long time, a dilemma for me because I know that the way in which the legislation is created and enacted is the underlying cause of why so many families end up in the courts in the first place.

      I didn’t set out to work in the courts, or with alienated children. I have however, found myself increasingly involved in very difficult cases of alienation and I have, as a result, come to depend on being able to show that I am working from the perspective of children’s relationships with their parents. Whilst I can write it a thousand times, there will always be someone who can pick sentences out of paragraphs that I write and use them to ‘prove’ that their client has not been given a fair hearing by me. Thus I come to a choice which is really me weighing up how I can do the most for people. Do I choose to write publicly so that I can be misrepresented and potentially ruin someone’s chances of a relationship with their child, or do I write for private consumption and continue my work with the Centre for Separated Families and push for change that way – which of course also allows me to continue my work with families in the court process. The answer seems clear to me.

      I shall not stop speaking up at all of the events that I attend or any of the round tables I am invited to attend and we will, at the Centre for Separated Families keep on keeping on with the fight to being a fairer and more just system to our children’s lives after separation. I have enjoyed writing immensely and have so much enjoyed meeting people and discussing issues on here. I very much hope that that continues at my new site. Very best Karen

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  2. Karen,

    I hope you will see fit to attend the event because it seems there is nobody else able to properly take these jaundiced academics on.
    I wish you well in your onward journey and recognise the importance of your work on alienation but do lament the loss of the one articulate advocate that fathers have had.

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    1. Hi David, I am considering attending, we are, at CSF, considering how we can raise the alarm about the event and the report so that we can ensure that it does not have the impact on policy that the event holders envisage. A study of 23 fathers in rural East Anglia does not offer anything of any value or import to policy makers, the fact that people like Liz Trinder et al are attending however could persuade some policy makers that the report has credence. I will be writing to the people that I know in government with my concerns about the report and we are certainly tweeting about it today at CSF. We will do all we can to highlight how this kind of rubbish badly affects the lives of fathers and their children. K

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  3. Karen, it is such a pity that you have decided to back off publicly challenging the lack of state system(s) that exist for protecting alienated children. I can however completely understand – finding justice within the arena of PA is a truly exhausting process. I hope therefore that after some brief respite that you will find the energy to raise your refreshingly un-PC voice again and get rattling some more cages. You are quite unique. For severe PA cases, especially where there is a personality disordered alienating parent to steer around, even the Court appointed experts on my case came up against a brick wall. I am lucky that I have the funds, the IQ and other resources to manoeuvre round and manipulate the ‘system’ to slowly resolve my severe alienation of my child by my ex husband; however I feel that I am in the minority. Those less fortunate families need protection that comes from the system if they don’t happen to be ‘pushy mothers’ like me. With Government and the Court system predominantly dominated in this country by MPs and Judges who have a distorted view of family life thanks to their boarding school upbringing we desperately need family/child insight experts like yourself to help them understand the realities of how children’s lives can be ruined so easily. Especially when you are not just on an angry rant – you have easy to implement solutions to share. You’ve done so much great ground work with them already – please come back soon.

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  4. Thank you so much, it sounds to me that you have the grit, determination and insight to outlast the dynamic that prevents you from being in your child(rens) lives, keep on keeping on. Over at my new site I will be holding regular seminars/online groups and workshops as well as letting everyone know about workshops we will be holding around the country from November onwards. Please join me and work with me and others so that there is a place where we can share survival strategies and coping mechanisms as well as research, knowledge and new thinking on coping with PA. Very best Karen

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  5. You have to put your alienated families first Karen. They need you the most and you cannot allow your energies to be depleted.

    I would love to be invited to join you and the others in your new home.

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    1. Hi Yvie, of course you are invited, if you are signed up here as a follower you will get an automatic notification of when the new site is ready to visit. If not keep coming back here and when we are ready we will redirect to the new site. If you want to be able to read or comment on what is already on here, you will soon need a password to do so. If you want a password let me know either on here on by following this blog and you will get one. Thanks for reading, look forward to seeing you in the new place! Very best K

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  6. Karen, you were one of the few persons working in this field with a real understanding and real humanity. It will be a real shame to lose a public spokesperson like yourself who can show up the inhumanity of academics whose only concern in life is to publish the kind of nonsense that tows the party line in order to go on receiving their funding. I’m incredibly sad. Who has the kind of compassion, balance and qualification that is anywhere near comparable to stand up to political bullies like Liz Trinder, who seem bent on making Britain’s children so miserable?

    We will all miss you, but we trust you are doing what you think is most important, and so respect your need to prioritize the hands-on work.

    Take care.

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    1. Dear Bartholomew, thank you for kind words, you are not losing me entirely, I shall still comment and still be working hard behind the scenes. I just need to protect the families I work with by ensuring that things that I say publicly cannot be held against me. I am still available too at the Family Separation Clinic and also the Centre for Separated Families. I will also be doing a lot more work directly with parents through our workshops for families which are set to expand in the new year. All that news, discussion groups and more at my new site and you can still access material here with a password which will come out shortly. So you don’t need to miss me (and I would definitely miss you and all the people who share on here,) I am not going anywhere other than a bit less public so that I cannot be misquoted. will be back with you very soon. Best wishes Karen

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  7. Hi Karen. For a moment there… (when I first started reading this latest posting).. I thought you were retiring completely, sheesh! my heart dropped for a few seconds. Then the penny dropped. Now you see Karen what you and your work really means to us all, that to lose you and your input would be such a great loss to us involved in the sad and unjust process of trying to get back to our children. A loss too for those who may become involved in the future, (Heaven help them) I guess your decision to concentrate on children and the p.a. issue is a choice for you and you alone and perhaps having to many fingers in to many differing pies may have made you feel that your efforts were being diluted somewhat, not that you wanted them to be. Since I have become a campaigner myself I started off with the rights of fathers, then broadened out to mothers rights too. Also now I feel I have to get involved with the injustices wrought by the Social services, etc etc… it can go on and on, the issues are never ending. So, sometimes I can understand the need to get back to streamlining ones efforts in one area. We can’t be everywhere all at once, although coming to have known you a little, I can bet that you’d like to be. Whatever you do and wherever you are Karen, you will always be respected for the wisdom you have and share with us all. When you open your new website I will anticipate that the same logical approach of common sense and love for family unity will still shine through it. You will always have my support, because you care, thats one thing about you that I do know. Regards… Paul.

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    1. Dear Paul, thank you for those kind words, for people like you and your son, it is vitally important that we get a tested and evaluated model of intervention into the court process asap. I had to make a choice, I know I have made the right one – but being a bit of a big mouth, you will still get regular doses of my observations at the new site. See you soon. Very best Karen

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  8. A voice for those who should be heard

    I spoke to you at a certain time when i was in shock and pain, trying to get my head around handovers.
    I met with support,,human kindness and words of wisdom that i will never forget. Made things better for me and more importantly the children.

    the workshop? A toolkit of empowerment that has again reaped dividends for me and two small boys. Knowledge is power and where there is an imbalance of power in the quest for sanity and justice.? Well these things are worth their weight in gold.

    I can never thank you enough Karen and of course the priceless work you do with children in the court circus must take precedence.

    the new site?

    Hope to join if the new membership policy will allow a cigar smoking cynical old leftie?, Often deliuded and soon (hopefully!) to be a veteran of the family court circus?
    One thing i have learnt is that this pain (for that is what it is) touches all classes creeds genders etc. it brings out the worst in some as i found on another forum. In others though it gives us the pearls of the human condition.
    Compassion, strength, hope and above all love . My suffering is less than many and more than only a few but wherever these parents, these grandparents, these partners are on their journey they have shared, cajoled and above all understood. Here and elsewhere.

    The new site will no doubt reap dividends for those who matter least in some places? Our children.

    Separation leads us down a path we would rarely have chosen and in that respect we could all no doubt say that we would rather have not met? Once we stumble along that road though we soon realise that fate brings us darkness and hurt but also a light that in some strange way is precious more than all we ever thought some things in life could be? We learn the value of what we should have valued all along. we are in a different place.

    As one father wrote in his last letter to his children
    ” Above all, try always to be able to feel deeply any injustice committed against any person in any part of the world. It is the most beautiful quality of a revolutionary.
    Until always, little children. I still hope to see you again. A really big kiss and a hug from Papa”

    Venceremos!

    Gracias.

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    1. El Dermo, thank you. I am glad that what I was able to do had positive effects in your life. It seems to me that all it takes is compassion and a willingness to understand as deeply as possible, the blocks and barriers, sadnesses and pain that face people on the separation journey. Having undertaken it myself, I know that for the sake of a minute or two more of real listening, a life can be changed. Its about being human and real and about the relationship that we have with each other. Come and join me at the new site. Your wit and your wisdom and the way in which you have coped with great dignity and great spirit is uplifting, especially for those who are in the most difficult places. I have enjoyed the perfume of the cuban cigar that emanates from your posts, keep them coming. Very best wishes, see you again soon. K

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  9. I too will be joining you at your new site Karen. I’ve enjoyed your writing immensely and never fail to be surprised by your uncanny ability to keep providing still deeper insight and understanding on this crucial issue. Inspired by your own work, I recently started a blog with a series of posts about children who resist post-separation contact with a parent and I appreciate how much time and energy it consumes.

    It’s crucial of course that every available ounce of your expertise, experience and skill is utilised in the most effective way. It’s difficult to imagine anything more important or badly needed than what you’ve just written about here:

    “.. to develop the work that I have done in building a model of intervention that works for these families.”

    To be able to showcase that and the outcomes for the children you’ve worked with will be incredibly powerful when others see what you’ve achieved; not by treating people as stereotypes but as individuals who are part of a family.

    I wish you every success. Like the rest of your followers here; I’ll be expecting great things from you in the future.

    All the very best.

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    1. Thank you Expofunction and I wish you well with your blog, the real voices of children that I work with every day clamour to be heard in the outside world, it is so important that there are people in the world who can offer a route for that. As one little girl said to me very recently, ‘my mum hasn’t spoken to me for a week now because I said that I liked my dad’s new flat…it makes me feel horrible and like I am invisible..’ and some say that ‘alienation’ does not exist! Alienation is part and parcel of the post separation family landscape, it is neither mysterious nor is it made up. It may not be a syndrome and it may not qualify for the DSM V, but it is a phenomenon that is so easily conjured by the bitterness and sourness that permeates post separation family life. Whether mild or severe, the phenomenon hangs like a ghost, haunting the children who have to live in this no man’s land….I could go on, I will save it for the new site. Glad you will be joining me, see you there soon! Very best wishes Karen

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    1. Thank you Calvin, I shall continue to do everything I can and I hope that you will join me at my new site. Very best wishes Karen

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  10. Karen,
    It has all been said already, but I too am sorry that your wise words for the sake of all children will not be ‘out’ there.
    As you know I run a support group for grandparents who are denied contact and after several months of being discredited etc ,I too had to think long and hard as to whether to continue. My family certainly told me to pull away as the personal effect on us all was very damaging.
    So, for the time being I am going to continue, albeit with certain restrictions.
    I started my support group and blog inn 2007 when we and my son were denied contact, that hasn’t changed, my sons daughter is still not allowed to be part of his daughters life, for him and the thousands of children in the same position, caught up in an adult world of conflict, I will carry on.
    No doubt until the next knockdown.
    I wish you well Karen and thank you , I look forward to new beginnings.
    Best wishes
    Jane

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  11. “The great names of family separation academia will gather at the event, including Liz Trinder who will sit on a panel, presumably to answer questions from the participants keen to learn at the feet of the great misrepresenter of reality herself”

    Dear Liz and your Cronies try this one on for size…….

    Shock revelation

    Cheryl Cole admits that she was domestically violent and abusive to her soon to be ex husband Ashley Cole.

    In her book she states “before I knew it, I was lashing out at Ashley in every way I possibly could,” she explained. “I hit him in the face – I couldn’t help it. I was shaking him, kicking him, scratching his face, pushing and shoving him like I was a lunatic”

    So the message to the single parent lobbying group who claim that it is only men who abuse women please discuss the following;

    Is it

    1/ Totally un-acceptable that Cheryl has done this because no matter what the non violent provocation is, that it is unacceptable for her to hit another person

    or

    2/ Acceptable that she has done this because

    a) She is a woman and he is a man
    b) He has cheated on her
    c) He is a famous footballer and has damaged her ego
    d) There is no such thing as a woman being domestically violent towards a man
    e) He deserved it
    f) He is a footballer and get worse when playing football
    g) She is a woman and can do what she wants because he will look like a cissy if he makes a complaint
    h) She is a woman and even if he makes a complaint he wont be believed
    i) She is Cheryl Cole and is the darling of British TV and possibly couldn’t have done such a thing

    Should Ashley or the police press charges? The Police have all the evidence they want as it was Cheryl’s own admission

    Now lets reverse the situation and headline

    Ashley Cole found out that his wife of two years was unfaithful to him, he admitted to become angry and in a moment of anger lashed out at Cheryl causing cuts to her face, she even claimed he pushed her to the floor. Ashley was later charge with domestic violence and is now awaiting his trial date

    Equal rights equal treatment? Don’t think so, the whole system is a crock and enough of a crock to be labled not fit for purpose, maybe we need to call in trading standards or some kind of ombudsman………..(erm it would have to be an independent body if I remember the Hillsborough cover up rightly)

    Karen, I will await your email with the invite to the new site. If possible can you mail me direct I have a few ideas that I wish to discuss with you that i think you may be interestead in. I await your input

    Cheers

    Russ

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  12. Sorry to hear you are leaving the public arena Karen. What with Tim Loughton also disappearing and Cameron preoccupied with other worries, it’s been a disappointing few weeks for separated fathers and their children. Who will now keep the flame burning for reform of the Children Act? And what can we do to help?

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  13. Hi Karen
    I can only say good luck to you and well done for being brave enough to speak out against the status quo. Lke many we think of fathers alienated from the children when maybe its about the kids being alienated from those that love, cherish and support them. I’m not a signed up follower but i would like to be as i need acces to information to fight for my daugther. I speak as an alienated father of nearly a year whose daugthers future is being decided right now as i speak in a foreign religous court whose only concern is the religous well being of my child and not the fact that her mother ( who others have described as damaged ) is abusing our disabled daugther ( mother has gone into denial of disabilty ). the lawyers in the uk are not interested in a british citizen child being mistreated since its not in UK ( in the UK social services call this a child protection issue). I’m trying to get support via groups and MPs ( and informaton about the effects of aleination/ abuse on children ) but its slow and hard. Even CAB washed their hands of it and the word i heard about the injustice/abuse was “tough”.
    So i say to Liz Trinder and her cohorts that its your mentality that allowed a non british woman ( who stated to me that the english court always side with the mother ) to inflict violence on her husband, inflict abuse on both disabled father and disabled child and to use the both the english law and a religous law abroad to hide behind.

    good luck with the new website and i look forward to being able to read it.

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  14. Hi Karen
    I am sorry to hear that your blog here will no longer continue.
    I would however be most grateful if you would be so kind as to include me as part of the following in your new site.
    All The very best and i look forward to your next edition!

    Dean Marciny

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  15. Hello Karen

    This is the first time I have been pointed in the direction of your blog and I am sad to see I have arrived as the party is ending so to speak. I have carried out a piece of research into fathers’ experiences of child protection in Edinburgh for which I am initially disseminating results at a seminar next week. This has been a piece of practitioner research which perhaps is coming from a different place than those you allude to above. I am a fathers worker and have quite a different perspective from the orthodox. I’d be delighted to send you a copy of my report if you would have the time to give it a read.

    Nick Smithers

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