Child led parenting after separation – the madness that is CAFCASS

Tuesday during a quiet time of year.  Everyone is off on their hols, its been hot.  Most of us are depressed by the way in which the Coalition government has spectacularly failed separated families.  I am planning how to provide the antidote to the appalling government farce that is help and support for separated families.  Elsewhere another ghastly government department is gearing up for its latest  fiasco, yes folks, its the Voice of the Child Cafcass Conference in Birmingham.

From the Cafcass website I read, with a sinking feeling the following

The Family Justice Young People’s Board is hosting a conference in Birmingham on 9th August 2013. The conference will be an opportunity for Cafcass stakeholders and other members of the family justice and social care sectors to explore the system from young people’s points of view.

Delegates will hear real life stories from children and young people with experience of the family courts, and have the opportunity to discuss best practice with young people.

Key decision and policy makers will also give presentations at the conference, highlighting novel and creative ways to ensure the voice of the child is heard in family proceedings.

And wonder which bleeding heart liberal came up with this bright idea.  I know, when parents cannot agree on caring for their children after separation, why not get the kids to tell us how to do it. Great idea, what a wheeze, like all the other lefty liberal ideas in the field of family separation, let’s abdicate our adult responsibilities and give them to the kids!

I cannot think of anything less helpful to children than to burden them with the responsibility for what rightfully belongs to their parents.  But, like all trends in child led parenting, where your kids are called your ‘mate’ and you ask them what kind of parent they would like you to be, its all about people who haven’t grown up or cannot accept that they have. I despair of CAFCASS and its upper echelons, who plough onward into this child led nonsense as it if were the holy grail, instead of something which contributes to many of the attachment disorders I see in my work and the ‘parentification’ of too many children after separation.

I note that F4J are planning a demo at the conference. This has been viewed by CAFCASS with horror and warnings have been ladled out about children needing to be safe and secure.  Activists are expected, no doubt they will be fathers. Children must be protected from these big bad wolves at all costs.  Security at the Conference will be tightened.

I am reminded of the way in which our nationally funded services around separated families treat men with either fear or disdain.  Children must only be allowed near their fathers after separation where its safe to do so.  Careful kids, those F4J chaps might just bite you, either that or you will be in danger of being parented by them, (not sure which is worse in the eyes of CAFCASS).

CAFCASS are not all bad, no, really, I mean it.  Some of the CAFCASS staff I work with really ‘get’ what is wrong and want to work in a different way.  Trouble is, in the lofty branches at the top of the CAFCASS tree, there is a rather distorted sort of vision.

And its not just CAFCASS who have this idea that children are the people who should be telling us what to do after separation either.  The Kids in the Middle Campaign, which has reared another version of its pointless head, has not only landed the kids with the responsibility for telling other kids how to feel and what to tell their parents about it after separation, it has lumbered them with the responsibility for raising funds to deliver it too.  And NYAS have popped up in my consciousness this week too, spouting their own version of children should be doing it for themselves.  Do you know I am not even sure why we bother with parents in this society of ours these days, why don’t we just make kids raise themselves and sit back and put our feet up?

Child led parenting?  What’s not to like.  Nothing to do, no-one to guide, no problems to solve, no tears to wipe, no decisions to make, no bearing the burdens so our kids don’t have to.

Off now to find a child to make me a cup of tea and tell me how he would like to be parented after separation.

Bit of a breeze this work isn’t it?


  1. “Off now to find a child to make me a cup of tea and tell me how he would like to be parented after separation.”

    My son will make you one Karen…according to my youngest a morning ritual has developed where mum asks “where’s my cup of coffee A ? each morning and A who was 10 at the point of separation duly complies. Have I developed a caffeine stoked beverage separating parent syndrome? When my old man left i would often at my mothers request bring a cup of tea to her in bed. The joke was that my fingers were often ink stained …Spooky?

    Is this country going mad?

    Recently i applied with the two hermanos for a small grant to do a graffiti art mural at a local lower league football club with local children. The grant we received was from a former premier league footballer (fair play to him) and they met him today which was great. we were also asked to meet the panel.
    In traipsed four very awkward and uncomfortable young teenagers. it was good but in other ways it wasn’t if you see what i mean?

    listening to what children want and letting them make decisions is I presume a good thing in context? Letting them make decisions in the heat of conflict and separation is in my book bordering on state sanctioned low level abuse and is where CAFCASS have been for a long time. Its lazy. Its more than that of course and now is imbued in court culture.

    I had it in court. I suspect she may have been an agency worker (constantly working from home) but our CAFCASS woman and her lazy adherence to WAF supported by mum (based on two phone calls) was thankfully seen through by our Tammany Hall Judge. I shudder to think where it may have gone otherwise.
    “We don’t want A getting involved in all of this do we?”
    I will carry those words to my grave. With a smile.

    I wish F4J well with their protest. How more poignant it would have been however than to have a parade of children walking past with “we want sweets” placards?
    I can hear them now…

    “what do we want?”
    “late bed time”
    “when do we want it?”
    “Err most nights but…”

    They keep raiding my cigar box. Something about Cuba and “Call Of Duty”?
    Think I will stick to my own brew up although it can be a long walk to the Rum cabinet?

    Forget I even thought that…


  2. One of the great problems with family law generally is that it infantilises parents. Once you set up a system which offers parents the resolution of issues which should be their responsibility to resolve you take away their authority as parents and hand it to the state. It is then only a small step to take away their children as well.

    Back in the 1920s they were debating whether to give mothers the same rights over their children as fathers (Guardianship of Infants Bill). The concern many had was that this would lead to intractable disputes which could only be resolved by a court; Lord Askwith said,

    “The mate of a ship may be as good or better seaman than the captain, but he must either take his place and act in his stead, or else remain the second in command. No ship-owner would contemplate giving him equal authority and power. One man alone must dictate the course and prescribe the speed. Divided counsels in bad weather would make for ship-wreck, even though both parties aspired to save the ship.”

    Sir Claud Schuster, Permanent Secretary and Clerk to the Crown in Chancery, warned that allowing the entirely inappropriate and irrevocable intrusion of the court – and especially the lay magistrates court – into the private realm of the family was intrinsically undesirable; it would introduce discord, and be irreversible.

    The problem was that the issues which would cause disagreement between parents were not those which were open to resolution through clear legal principles: they were not justiciable. Instead they were issues of opinion and differences in parenting styles; Schuster asked, “To take a ridiculous instance, a dispute whether a child is to go to one school, or to another school – how on earth is the court going to deal with that?”

    Nowadays, of course, the courts are routinely asked to resolve ridiculous disputes between parents over the choice of school, the choice of a surname, whether a child can go on holiday, whether or not a child should be vaccinated, etc. As soon as parents enter the family justice system, the ability to resolve these matters as parents is taken from them, just as once they instruct solicitors, the ability to speak to each other is taken from them and they can henceforth only communicate through lawyers.

    As for Anthony Douglas, he was saying back in 2005 that children as young as 7 should be asked which parent they want to live with, which is the same as asking them which parent they want to lose for ever. Some courts have placed this responsibility on 5-year-olds. God knows what long-term effect this has on children. I just hope F4J understand why they are protesting, assuming they actually pull this one off.


    1. I would have thought that wherever possible, the main task of the court ought to be; rather than taking decision-making powers onto themselves – instead to allocate the primary decision-making responsibility in the family to whichever parent, regardless of gender, who can demonstrate themselves to be the most considerate and inclusive of the other – and by the same token, to remove this responsibility from any parent, regardless of gender, who demonstrates that their aim has been to try to dominate the other parent in, or eliminate them from, the decision-making process.

      I think this would be the greatest measure towards getting parents to start to collaborate better outside of the Court system.


  3. I would just add, that these disputes, in which the courts usurp the parental responsibility of parents, now form the courts’ stock-in-trade. They are decided, not on evidence (how can you present evidence in an argument over two schools?), but on the judge’s discretion. This discretion, which relies on the judge’s education, training, prejudices, etc, effectively introduces into the court a whole body of evidence which the parents cannot see: the judge becomes his own expert witness, but he cannot be cross examined.


  4. This is exactly why the early interventions project that was approved by the judiciary in 2003 would have such a difference. Instead of the Judge having to make a decision based on the balance of probabilities, families would work with professionals trained to understand the psychology and separation and its impact on children (and I mean truly trained, not Relate trained or Liz Trinder trained, I mean trained using empirical evidence which is not tainted with standpoint politics).

    Much of the work that I do with families is the kind of work I would expect a family court welfare service to offer. It is psychologically based, educative and therapeutic. It offers both parents the opportunity to work through the blocks and barriers they face as parents and allows them to make agreements which are based upon the long term best interests of their children. They make the agreement, it is not imposed upon them, but they make it together when they are relieved of the psychological burden of conflict arising from the separation. That is when they can see clearly, when they are not being influenced by stand point politics which surrounds them via either statutory services or organisations set up to support their rights as a woman or rights as a man. When they are helped as an individual separating couple, to understand the impact on their kids over the longer term and how to avoid the worst of it, they can and do make their own arrangements.

    This is not Relate’s Parenting Apart approach or CAFCASS’s PIPs, both of which draw on Trinder’s research and both of which are just the same approach to family separation dressed up as something collaborative. What is the point of putting parents in a group to learn about the impact on children of their separation, when they themselves are bleeding from open wounds. Its madness in my view and Relate, who appear to bend their delivery of services to meet the needs not of parents but of whatever funding stream happens to be available from government, are doing a national disservice to separating families in my view.

    If a Judge is to be prevented from being his own expert witness and making arbitary decisions based on who knows what, then he has to be supported by services which are informed, impartial, skilled and child focused. Only that way will we stop the nonsense that goes on right now. Sadly, because services which are all those things are father inclusive, there will continue to be a concerted effort by the women’s rights lobby to prevent change in that direction. We should be clear about this. What is happening in our family courts is nothing more than the upholding of women’s rights over children’s rights. Children are collatoral damage in the ongoing struggle to ensure that women have dominion over their own lives. Scratch the surface of any of the lone parent organisations or DV organisations and it stares you right in the face. And that, is what Judges are being advised by when it comes to kids and their relationships with parents after separation. A well constructed, massively funded, domineering women’s rights lobby which has changed the law in favour of women and will continue to hold the law in place by peddling lies, untruths, misinformation and a culture of being ‘offended’ should anyone dare to try and change it.

    Time for change before another generation of our kids is sacrificed on the altar of this madness.


  5. I’m sure you have already read this report… I actually cannot believe the way fathers are vilified, yet again, they all appears abusive and/or demented, but all mothers appear to be perfect parenting specimens, and the courts are doing just fine according to the authors in the enforcment of non-contact orders being trangressed. Oh and, interesting there is no credible rationale given why children refuse contact, nor any remedies for alienation, so this denied contact and alienation must just be a figment of imagination of so many divorced / separated Dads. This report is so self serving.


    1. I have Tracy, I read it when they rushed out their findings to deliver to the Scrutiny Committee on the Children and Families Bill…a perfect example of stand point politics…Trinder used reports from CAFCASS to analyse the issue of enforcement…CAFCASS are trained using material researched by Trinder et al…those reports were written by people influenced by her..what she is telling us is that the people she has influenced, who have written reports on cases where enforcement was required, have decided that no enforcement was necessary and so, therefore, no enforcement is necessary… its an incestuous, circular, piece of nonsense which has sadly served to further reduce the effectiveness of the proposals in the bill to virtually zero and, has ensured that the enforcement that could have delivered a difference, has been dropped. She is truly a mistress of the sleight of hand and we are all daft for allowing it to continue. Shameful in my eyes.


  6. On whose authority does Cafcass release confidential information on private law cases to Liz Trinder? I thought such information was considered highly confidential.
    And where does Liz Trinder gain her authority to receive and use such information.

    There is something very unsettling in the way Cafcass grants itself, probably unlawfully, authority over the use of such private information, particularly when parents in such cases are strictly bound by secrecy rules themselves.


    1. My concerns indeed Paul given that those cases would not be released to other people but she examined every case between a particular period of time, perhaps we should be asking on whose authority she did that. K


  7. Does Liz Trinder have any particular experience in working closely with children post-separation or is her area of ‘expertise’ selective research of facts and figures which she publishes to suit her doctrine?


  8. Yes, the child does dictate the parenting strategy after separation.

    I remember one barrister whom I had the misfortune of meeting telling me that dads had no boundaries and that’s why they were no good, and that’s why they should not be involved.

    Such sexism was quite appalling at the time. More amusing was that she called herself a feminist.

    But it has become more appalling in light of my own circumstances, because in my own case it is the mother who has no boundaries and lets the child do whatever he wants, which means that when he is with me, all he has to do is say that mommy does it that way, and that I am not nice for trying to exercise more discipline.

    If CAFCASS reviewed my case now, I would probably have no contact, simply because I do not give into every demand made by the child. It seems that trying to raise a child in the right way has been undermined by the state. And the state wonders why Britain’s youth is so hopeless.


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