What alienated parents don’t know and what alienating parents don’t tell them

This post is part of the process of finishing off the book I am writing about parental alienation. Launching soon will be our therapeutic coaching services for alienated parents, using an approach which we have developed at the Family Separation Clinic.  This approach is unique to us and is based upon almost ten years of work with parents who are alienated from their children. It is an approach we are having success with and, combined with  our new handbook, it is an approach that we know will put power back into the hands of alienated parents.  This approach is based upon what alienated parents don’t know and what alienating parents don’t tell them.  This approach is, in our view, one of the secrets to resolving alienation in children and it puts power into the hands of the people who can do that most effectively of all.  You.

The approach we have been developing is key to understanding how alienating parents get to alienate the other parent and how they get to maintain the dynamics which keeps the alienation in place and ongoing.  Forget the courts, forget biased professionals, forget the gravy train, forget everything you have been told to believe by the parental rights based organisations.  When alienation strikes your family it does so because there are some particular dynamics in place which have nothing to do with anyone or anything else and everything to do  with you and your family. The courts, the biased professionals and all of the rest of the pantomime which surrounds your family when alienation strikes, are simply bit part players in a bigger drama.  The leading roles in this drama are played by you and your children’s other parent, the person you once loved enough to conceive a child with.  When you understand this, you are part way to understanding the secret to changing the dynamic in your family which creates and keeps creating the alienation dynamic.  When you begin to learn more about yourself in this drama, you begin to understand the things that you can change which no longer maintain the tension in the dynamic which maintains the alienation.  The approach we use is based upon the adage if you always do what you have always done…you will always get what you have always got…if you want something to change…do something different.

Doing something different is what our therapeutic coaching sessions aim to help you to do.

It never ceases to amaze me, when I meet alienated parents, that they are often completely unaware of what it is or was that led to the alienation in the first place.  Parents talk to me about the last time they saw their children and the road to their child’s withdrawal without any awareness of the ways in which their children were giving them signals that something was wrong, long before the alienation reaction appeared.  That’s possibly a little cruel of me, given that I spend my time with alienating and alienated parents and their children, something which has given me ample opportunity to notice, understand and analyse the ways in which children give off signals that something is wrong.  (It has also given me plenty of time to talk with and therefore understand at a deeper level, those parents who alienate children, some consciously and some unconsciously).  One of the reasons that I have written the handbook however, is to give alienated parents as many of the tools and strategies for being able to detect and therefore manage what is happening, long before alienation strikes.  Prevention is always better than cure with alienation and getting to work with strategies to reverse the problem is always preferable to trying to deal with a child who is in full flight and full refusal to see you.  Even so, we have had some interesting results in recent months, working with families where alienation is fully established, using techniques we have developed and which are discussed in the book.

But this post is not an advert for the book, the book is the book and you are free to buy it or not, just as you are free to have therapeutic sessions with us or not.  I am not a believer in using my blog to persuade you to buy things from me. I give away as much as I can freely to help everyone who needs it and you are always welcome to take what I post and use it yourself in the way you feel is best for you.

What I cannot do however, in blog posts is tailor your individual treatement route.  Every alienated parent has their own necessary treatment route because every alienation situation is uniquely individual to you.  If you want to know more, the book will help you and if you want to develop your knowledge I will be picking out different elements over the coming weeks to focus your mind on the important aspects of developing a road map out of the current position you find yourself in.

For now though I am focusing on the key part of how alienation strikes and what you, as an alienated parent don’t know and what the alienating parent in your family system is definitely not going to tell you.

The alienation reaction is a continuation of the dynamic which existed between you, the adults, before your relationship ended, only now it is being played out through your children.  In short, you are, quite literally, still in relationship with your ex through the conduit which is, your child.

Is that a shock?

Are you surprised, outraged, disgusted?

What do you feel when you read that reality?

A lot of you will, no doubt, in reaction to being asked how you feel about that statement, tell me the reasons why your ex is doing what he/she does, how she/he is being supported to do that by other people and how the family courts/professionals/government/social services/uncle tom cobbly and all, are to blame for that.

That’s not the question I asked you.  The question I asked you is –

how do you feel about that statement?

Talking about feelings in an alienation situation can be terribly difficult for alienated parents. That is because they have gone through the most terrifying experience possible, they have watched their children being turned against them systematically and they have been powerless to stop it.  Which is a little bit like watching someone break every bone in your child’s body and being unable to stop it or show anyone else what is happening.  This removal of your ability to care for and protect your children, creates a process in which, in order to stop yourself losing your sanity, you have to remove yourself from the horrific emotional and psychological pain that this causes you.  And so you go through a period of what is called distancing, in which you begin to intellectualise what is happening as a defence against the onslaught of suffering you are experiencing.  When you do this consistently over a period of time you end up numb and unable to feel anything.  Which allows you to function yes, but removes from you the normal reactions that creates a healthy and functioning mind body and soul.  When you have arrived at a place which is numb, it is then a short step to disengagement, in which you take a very big step back and attempt to reorganise your world in a way which is protective of your health and well being.

In short, the formula which is followed is very like the power and abuse cycle so beloved of feminism –

Abuse (control of your children) – attempts to address the abuse (family courts and social services) – failure to address the abuse (bias in professionals and the court system, everyone looks the other way) – psychological distress (you fear for your sanity because no-one will listen) – repeated attempts (all fail because no-one understands) – numbing begins (you have to survive) – disengagement (in order to survive in the longer term).

Recognise anything in there?

Many alienated parents who come to us for help are numb and cannot feel, especially fathers who face the above cycle on repeat often for years and years and years without anyone listening.

Feelings therefore are a very important part of restoring the functioning parent within you, restoring the functioning parent within you is a big part of getting you ready to use the strategies that you can employ to make the dynamic change.

For so many of you, the knowledge that you can no longer feel the feelings that are related to what has happened to you will come as a revelation.

To the alienating parent however, it is knowledge that they hug to themselves like a secret. When alienating parents can get you to the point where you can no longer feel anything about what is happening to your child, they are almost home and dry in their attempt to rid themselves of you.  Note the key word themselves.  Not rid the children or rid the family, but rid themselves of you.

What alienating mothers don’t tell you is that their efforts are designed to rid them of you and any reminder of you (and in some cases to exact revenge).

What alienating fathers don’t tell you is that their efforts are designed to continue their control over you, thereby managing to eradicate you  (and in some cases, to exact revenge).

What all alienating parents don’t tell you is that what they are doing to you now, is what they did to you before the relationship ended. They are just using your child as a conduit to keep doing it.

And yes, some are psychologically ill, in which case it is vital to remove the child from them and some are not but are nonetheless engaged in a familiar pattern of behaviour which they are unable to desist from.

All of which means that understand what is happening to your children means understanding what happened to you.  It means withdrawing your projections of blame (seeing the other person as the sole cause of the problem) and thinking about how the two of you created the dance which is the dynamic which now captures your children and holds them fast.

What alienating parents don’t tell you, but which we freely WILL tell you, is that the power to change what is happening to your children lies as much in your own hands as it does in theirs.  And alienating parents are afraid, very very afraid of you finding that out.

Which makes it all the more important, in my view, that you do.


Therapeutic Coaching sessions for alienated parents are available daily from the Family Separation Clinic, please email appts@familyseparationclinic.co.uk for an appointment.  Sessions cost £70 per hour and can be booked individually or in blocks of six at a cost of £300 (reducing the cost to £50 per session).

Therapeutic Coaching sessions with Karen Woodall can be booked at £90 per hour for individual sessions or can be tailored in packages which attract reduced costs, please ask for details.

Understanding Parental Alienation – Learning to Cope, Helping to Heal will be available shortly at a cost of £12.99. Pre-order here

79 thoughts on “What alienated parents don’t know and what alienating parents don’t tell them”

  1. I enjoy these articles very much. For the most part they are very comforting and informative. The only thing I have a problem with is the fact that they are mostly father based. I am a mother., one of many mothers who has been alienated from her child. I wish people would understand that it happens to mother almost as often as to fathers. And these articles should reflect that instead of being sex biased.


    1. Jenny, I would say that most of the time it is father on the outside and mother doing the alienating so it’s easier to talk mostly in those terms. However, I reckon you can probably just swap the roles, and the situation and advice are pretty much exactly the same.
      I say “pretty much” because, as equally tough as it is for a mother to be the alienated parent, I imagine there are additional challenges such as society’s taboo on mothers who do not live with their children. Fathers are expected by society to be the non-resident parent on the outside, so after separation, when we talk about not living with our children, society considers this normal. We even get called “great fathers” when we do what we are supposed to do and see our children regularly. Mothers, on the other hand, can be regarded by society in general as strange, not normal or worse, if they end up on the outside because most mothers are the primary carers and “in control” of the situation, post separation. So when they are not, “they must have done something really bad to be where they are”, is the general perception.
      I’ve certainly met a few in my time and my heart goes out to them.
      I wish you all the support, strength and success and I know that Karen’s support and methods are as much with mums in mind as they are with dads.


    2. In your case, I am really, really sorry Jenny. But I do not concur that “it happens to mothers almost as often as to fathers”. However, I feel I would benefit from any evidence that would ratify your statement though because it would help me to contextualise my own experience as an alienated father and I would have a greater understanding of the plight of these mothers who are also alienated.


      1. If you read Stuart Hontrees book on alienation it states around 40% of alienators as male. I havent seen my daughter for 17 months and i know 000s of mums going through this and rising as courts hide dv in an effort to achieve contact at any cost with abusive fathers.


      2. the disagreggated figures from the Family Separation Clinic’s service delivery 2019/20 are – guidance and support services 62% alienated mothers, 38% alienated fathers. Court work 45% mothers 55% fathers. Attendance at seminars 74% mothers 26% fathers.


    3. I don’t see how this article is biased though. It has examples of what alienating mothers and fathers do, then both. I know it happens to mothers too, I’m a mother myself, but it does happen to men a lot more 9 times outta 10. I know in my personal experience and talking to other ppl, that it happens to men a lot more than women. But every now and again you’ll see women that are going through it like I am. I’m sorry to everyone of you going through this traumatic time in your lives and I pray for each and every one of you.


    4. Hello Jenny. Like you, I am also a mother who is alienated and in shock and disbelief that so far this has been allowed to happen ( legally) and worse still, that the slow expensive process is encouraging the opportunity for it to worsen. I am bewildered/appalled at the lack of channels for educated support to prevent this moral crime occurring/continuing. Of course, added to this, is my own dire financial situation, physical/emotional well being and difficulty focusing fully on anything else in life. Just trying to survive each lonely day is bad enough….a mixture of longing, hurt, tears, anger, flatness and eventually the numbness required to complete daily tasks. A common attack of alienators ( particularly men) is to accuse the other parent of being “crazy” …..( and perhaps that is what they are secretly hoping we will become by denying us our child/children)….so we have the added pressure of not allowing the pressure to look too obvious to the outside world. Added to this, when we are asked by friends/co-workers etc…how we are or how it is going…..we have only the true depressing tale to tell ( and risk sounding like whinging victims all the time) or we must live a lie and say that everything is fine when it is obviously not. With respect to any good fathers who are without their children ….a mother’s bond stretches back to well before the child within her was even born….back to every mouthful of food or drink you carefully chose whilst pregnant….back to the possible traumatic birth….back to the days you alone cared for your child’s every need and lovingly held your child whilst you breast fed. Who has the right to attempt to destroy all the years of building such bonds? No court, no possibly misguided therapist, no needy, controlling selfish man!!! Worst of all, you are denied from raising the caring loving child you hoped to and instead, he is raised to bully and disrespect you as much as his keeper does. A shame for not only you, but for himself and society in general. Yes alienation is becoming a surprisingly common problem for ( good) women/mothers and certain laws ( such as considering a child’s ( apparent) living preferences )…….only encourage morally corrupt parents to manipulate a child’s emotions and perspective to their own advantage…and of course to your disadvantage out of vindictiveness.

      Liked by 1 person

    5. Why is it that there is always one person that tries to make a comment that does no good to anyone but themselves. None of this is gender biased, only trying to help people. I believe they are done intentionally. Maybe try to use your words differently


      1. Hi Anastasia, we have taken it down I think because you will be able to buy it through Amazon shortly. K


  2. It’s interesting, I believe that whilst the variable of the dynamics between the parents are infinitely variable the basic drive/cause/reason for the alienation to start to take place is because the parent attempting to do the “alienating” (and it can be at very subtle and low levels to start with) has the same “basic” psychological make up.
    My take on this is that if they were not of that basic type they would deal with post separation issues in a sensible way, like many parents do. So those that can behave towards each other and build the post separation “relationship” on more or less business (if not friendly) terms for the sake of the children are different types of people, lets call them “normal”
    Those that would seek to undermine the child’s relationship with the other parent and thereby establishing the downward spiral dynamic are, by definition, “not normal” they have a fault with their thinking (as normal people would look at it that is)
    I am thinking of labels in the NBP and BPD area.
    To my mind any court process starts when one parent would and does limit the other parents time with the child below the level that the other parent is motivated to take court action.
    So the would be “alienating” parent deliberately and for no justifiable reason reduces contact to a point that the other parent is not happy with and then makes an application.
    It is only these two conditions that are in play every time, every time, every time for the court process to start
    No other conditions exist that leads to court action, go on put some in and role play it.
    trouble is, the would be alienating parent either guesses or is told that (especially if they are the mother) that the courts would normally support their (non) reasons for not allowing contact (at first) and thus this person is given the space and time (we must build up contact slowly for the child to adjust poppycock court CASFCASS bullshoot speak) to establish more alienation.
    The would be alienating parent is motivated (even if its sub or unconsciously) to create the environment where they start to “put the boot in” and they are then supported by the “system” to continue the behaviour.
    No one tells them that what they are doing is wrong!!! they are lead to believe that what they are doing is right because they are supported and not told to stop.

    Its a bit of a paradox if you ask me, the very people who would abuse the system are given free reign and support to abuse the system for their own Machiavellian purposes, whilst the other party (if its a man) is given none.
    Thank you Karen for understanding all of this and being vocal and strong enough to stand up for the wrong that’s in the psychology of these types of parents
    and I understand that they may not know they are doing it and then must be “helped”


    1. What do you feel when you read that reality?

      A lot of you will, no doubt, in reaction to being asked how you feel about that statement, tell me the reasons why your ex is doing what he/she does, how she/he is being supported to do that by other people and how the family courts/professionals/government/social services/uncle tom cobbly and all, are to blame for that.

      That’s not the question I asked you. The question I asked you is –

      how do you feel about that statement?


      1. Hi Karen

        On a personal level it was put into perspective for me by my now wife. she said, and I quote

        “no matter what she is has done or will do, you chose to have a baby with her, so take responsibility for that, it was your choice!”

        I had to stop take stock and the truth of that comment enabled me to take responsibility and deal with what is now and not was then, it was the BEST bit of advice I could have had given that I was sinking fast in the emotions of my own distress.

        As soon as I took responsibility for my actions it freed me up to deal with matters differently.

        This is one bit of advice I would give all others, if you find yourself there it was by your own path that you got there, the alternative for me was that I was not in charge and I could not accept that!

        The courts are secondary to the choice of having a child with the person, if I have failed to spot the personality type (or don’t know about it) then that’s my bag and no one else’s.


      2. Hello Karen – I feel stunned! It makes absolute sense to me to read that and I’m still taking it in. I feel shocked I suppose, but on some level I feel relieved because that I can sort of understand, while just my daughter disappearing I cannot. That it’s our related to our relationship fits in perfectly with who he is and his motivations. It’s going to take some time to adjust to this way of thinking, but I know you’re right. Thank you.


  3. Hi Karen

    This is such an accurate description Karen. Having read everything I could about alienation the warning signs were loud and clear. But, this was a new language for me. In a happy upbringing it was not something I was ever likely to encounter. By the time one gets some insight the process will already be well underway. On an instinctive level I knew that something was wrong and had been for some time but I was blissfully unaware of where it was all leading.

    Intimacy is currency for some alienators and they know how to spend it, invest it or save it for the best returns. They know precisely how much bait to use and how best to present it. The “dance” or emotional roller coaster, vacillating between hanging on and pushing away, is such a powerful tool to use on any selected target – especially when it’s a trusting, malleable and absorbent young brain that craves warmth and closeness.
    The numbness you speak of is slightly different to the disassociation we experience during bereavement. The onset is much slower and, like depression, you don’t realise that it’s happening. In bereavement it kicks in suddenly.

    I can’t remember who said this originally but it’s a quote that I remember (if inaccurately),
    “Only two groups of people have predictable behaviour. They are economists and those with personality disorders.”

    Alienators have a limited repertoire of behaviours and they adore people that respond fairly and consistently i.e good parenting qualities. As partners, we facilitated their modus operandi well before the children arrived on the scene. As parents, we dug our own graves ready for them to push us in.

    I think that some alienators will want to expunge all trace of the rejected parent. But, they will do this only when there is someone else around that is able to soak up the projections in the way that the rejected parent once did. You played a vital role for them and they were priority numbers one, two and three. They need someone to fill that space. It is as vital as oxygen for their survival.

    Sometimes it is done for revenge. Other times I think it is for punishment. For the alienator the rejected parent becomes the repository for every painful experience in the favoured parent’s life. They become the embodiment of all things evil – either real or imagined.
    Being mildly upset is not something these people do. It’s either quiescence or full-blown rage with little in between. It’s as if any wrong provides a trigger for every single other wrong to come flooding back. It must feel horrible and terrifying.

    The best decision any rejected parent can make is to simply stop serving the alienator’s purpose by acting and re-acting (sometimes actually doing nothing) differently.


    1. Hi padrestevie

      What you are describing is the NPD & BPD types of personalities and I totally agree with you that sometimes not feeding them the oxygen of interaction is the right thing to do. I call it putting them in a “communication void”, that totally throws their strategy!


    2. What do you feel when you read that reality?

      A lot of you will, no doubt, in reaction to being asked how you feel about that statement, tell me the reasons why your ex is doing what he/she does, how she/he is being supported to do that by other people and how the family courts/professionals/government/social services/uncle tom cobbly and all, are to blame for that.

      That’s not the question I asked you. The question I asked you is –

      how do you feel about that statement?


  4. Russell – my son has found himself in the Family Court on two different occasions. He and his ex. were sharing care of the children post-separation, and in fact for twelve months my son had his children well over 50% of the time. The first problem arose when he text his ex. to see if she would consider splitting the child benefits. Shortly after that my son received a summons which alleged he was trying to abduct his children. My son was granted a shared residence order at that Hearing, 2.5 days week one, 3.5 days week two.

    All went well for a time until the children asked could they spend more time with my son. He text his ex. about this, who advised him to contact his solicitor with a view to mediation. My son duly contacted his solicitor, but before mediation could take place, his solicitor informed him that his ex. was attempting an Ex. Parte hearing. The grounds were that my son was an unfit father and did not look after his children etc. etc. The Ex Parte hearing did not take place however, instead there was a joint hearing. The outcome of this court application was, no extra time for the children with my son, but half the school holidays were incorporated into the original order.

    My son did not particularly want to use the court system on either occasion, but had no choice as his ex. had instigated the proceedings. My point in all this, is that I believe the solicitor representing my ex. dil was pro-active in instigating both these courses of action, and my ex. dil was only too happy to go along with it, as she did not want to loose her CSA or share the child benefit. The fact that the children could have lost contact with their father bothered neither my ex. dil or the solicitor who represented her.


    1. Hi Yvie

      Yes your would differ slightly from my “model” on the surface, however the alienating parent has used a trigger event as a reason to start the process, just because there was a period of quiet before the storm I bet a penny to a pound it was only working when she was getting exactly what she wanted (it may have suited her purposes to allow this amount of contact because she wanted the space rather than it being for the benefit and well being of the children, but once feathers were ruffled and knowledge of how the system works, she used it to the full.

      This is one reason that I am glad legal aid is not available to anyone, legal aid actually fuelled the solicitors who were just earning money out of other people’s childrens misery.


  5. I’m so glad Russell has stepped into this discussion. His powerful insights have helped me tremendously in my own situation, and I believe this kind of perception has been under-represented until now. I’m sure there may be many situations where the kind of approach Karen has been advocating can be helpful…and it is absolutely right to pursue it – but I strongly suspect there are probably more where it will not.

    I personally believe that the majority of the time what we are dealing with in alienation is an unrecognized mental health crisis. It will have differing levels of manifestation, of course…but that is the common denominator.

    The question then becomes…how do we deal with this mental health crisis?

    For example…there appears to be a general assumption (that I have heard repeated from an experienced Family law solicitor, now Judge) from that we are dealing with two people who once loved each other.

    I would say, that in the circumstances, would be an incorrect assumption to make. I would suggest that the alienated parent is likely to have loved the alienator – yes…but that the alienator is highly unlikely to have EVER genuinely loved the alienated parent. It has not been a two-way street that has gone wrong.

    The kind of personality disorder involved means that the incredibly sad reality is that the alienator will simply be unable to express genuine love at all – although ironically they may have a capacity to fake it very well.

    The fact that they do have the capacity to fake it means that all is NOT lost, however – and that with the right support it IS theoretically possible to step out of those disturbed circumstances, and experience a genuine capacity for love – although in practice this kind of support rarely occurs.

    The alientor, instead…as has been described so often…is instead typically given massive support and assistance in their alienation strategy – and this is a personal tragedy for themselves as well as the lives they are destroying.

    Any alienator suffering from the types of mental disorder described (the majority, I believe) will themselves be a victim of tremendous levels of trauma. However, the probability is that they will be unaware of this, or in denial of the impact of this on their lives.

    One can have all the sympathy in the world…but this simply will not help the victim by itself.

    The alienator is someone who, because they have been violated in some significant way, will simply not have a proper sense of boundaries as to what is acceptable behaviour towards others. They are ‘children in adult clothes’ who still require the firm boundary setting that did not properly occur in their childhoods. It doesn’t matter what age they now are, or how embarrassing this may be, but this is the only remedy possible to restore mental health.

    In such circumstances it doesn’t matter what the alienated parent does…what tactic they try…nothing they will do will make any difference unless they or someone else has the authority to insist on reasonable behaviour.

    In out highly individualistic, libertarian society we completely shy away from such interventions – which then of course leaves the perpetrators free to run amuck with total impunity. The so-called ‘feminist’ brigade have of course subtly and cynically used this mental health crisis to promote their own hidden agenda of matriarchal supremacy (itself a mental health issue).

    What proportion of alienation needs to be tackled in this way? From my limited perspective, it is difficult to tell…but from what I hear on this forum…as well as elsewhere, it is a LOT – and probably, as I have suggested, the majority of the time, to some considerable extent.

    It is a madness…and it is futile trying to REASON with such irrational behaviour. Somebody, somewhere, just has to put their foot down – and insist that the abuses of power which are blatantly happening all over the place by alienators are simply not acceptable.

    In the background of all this – we have a mental health model which has for some time insisted that such health problems are result of deficiencies of nature – rather than nurture. This is absurd – mental health problems are overwhelmingly created in upbringing, and NOT pre-destined. This means that we DO have the potential to put things right…but only if we tackle them in the right way, and that means starting by acknowledging, as Russell (and others in the past) have explained so passionately, the true extent of the problem – in the first place.


    1. What do you feel when you read that reality?

      A lot of you will, no doubt, in reaction to being asked how you feel about that statement, tell me the reasons why your ex is doing what he/she does, how she/he is being supported to do that by other people and how the family courts/professionals/government/social services/uncle tom cobbly and all, are to blame for that.

      That’s not the question I asked you. The question I asked you is –

      how do you feel about that statement?


      1. Hi Karen,

        I do want to apologize in a way, because as you can see, my main concern in my response was to highlight Russel’s perspective when I saw it…which I feel is of critical importance…and so you’re right – I didn’t properly address your question…as the writer.

        My answer to that would be…that as painful as it is – that I feel ‘confirmed’, ‘reassured’, in fact.

        I agree 100% that the alienated child is simply continuing to voice all the feelings and frustrations of the alienator towards us…even if, for example, the alienator may be pretending at times – that they do not have those feelings any more. A characteristic of alienators is that they can be extremely deceptive about the alienation itself.

        So yes…100% agree that we are still caught up in relationship with the alienator – by proxy…through the child.

        In support of this my daughter was furious a while ago…when in a somewhat argumentative state (typical of my relationship with her mother) I accidentally called her by her mother’s name. The process you describe…is SO powerful – that it can be incredibly difficult to avoid doing this sort of thing in the heat of the moment – as an emotional being I find it difficult to always be super-cool…and I don’t think I should be expected to be.

        What I find somewhat painful, is the perspective that we should somehow have known what we were getting into – with these partners…are therefore responsible for the mess we are in?

        This is completely unfair, and why I wanted to raise the question of the mental health model.

        Please can it be accepted – that none of these partners LOOKED to us at all mentally ill in any way that we could recognise?

        They are often good looking – sometimes very much so. They can be charismatic and appealing, and appear thoughtful, considerate and supportive and all the other things we need.

        The ability to disguise mental health issues – continues on with virtually all the health professionals they meet. Further than that some even BECOME counsellors and mental health service managers, GP’s, Social Workers and all the rest of it.

        Over the years I have accumulated many examples of this – but yet it still shakes me to the core when I see it. Often the giveaway moments of mental health problems are just like a flash in the pan…’blink and you’ve missed it’ – you have to be very alert to spot them.

        They are intelligent enough to fool just about everyone all of the time, and find ways to wriggle out of any situation where they have been caught out, or just might possibly be caught out.

        So what makes you think that we, the victims of this charade – SHOULD somehow have been able realize in advance – what we were getting into?

        Finally, I would suggest that this hidden level of mental illness is VERY high. I wouldn’t be able to put a precise figure on it…but I would say the chances of getting involved with someone like this – are probably as good as not doing so.

        Mental health is an issue that absolutely affects ALL of us…to some degree or another. Put another way – all of us can improve on our level of mental health. All of us have hidden tensions and unresolved emotional pain which affects our interactions with others. It is absolutely not an issue that only affects a distinct group of people who we can somehow identify by an odd demeanor or trait of some kind. It is continuum that runs right through society – and to me it makes perfect sense that family breakdown should be the area which particularly starts to reveal the hidden presence of this.

        As for strategies to deal with this…yes, that needs to be a key area of discussion. How we carve magical times out of the cold psychological grip of the other – as you so eloquently put it – how we can address our own weaknesses and failings…absolutely…we should consider these things as deeply as possible.

        But I think it is important to be fully ‘up-front’ about the reality of what we are dealing with…and I don’t think that has been sufficiently highlighted uptil now….although some of the language used here starts to suggest that you are more aware of this than you have been able or willing to admit is the case…but perhaps have needed to be circumspect about doing so.


      2. Obviously we feel angry (upset) and let down by the ‘system’. We seem to see so clearly the cause of the alienation problem where others are too blind ( or disinterested) to see…………….then when we have blamed everyone and everything, we finally decide to understand how we contributed to this situation in the first place. Once we go beyond that, we finally focus on what we need to focus on. The poor alienated child is crying on the inside and missing the alienated parent deeply, and like all upset kids will blame you because you are not there for them. They love you and miss you deeply – they are hurting.
        I see my 12 year old son rarely. It’s the classic alienation scenario you are all familiar with. Yet on occasions I will see him. I will lay the foundation to allow this to happen….to give him a justifiable excuse to the alienating parent that they need to see me. You need to be on the top of your game, flexible, creative and above all persistent.
        One ‘trick’ I used was to buy a greeting cards (with Darth Vader) where I wrote ‘I am you father'(he loves star wars)….I filled the card with confetti. Obviously when he opened the card the confetti went everywhere. I then put on the back of the card…..’Let’s see you use the force to clean this mess up then. Ha Ha’.
        I managed to speak to him on the phone the next day whilst the alienating parent was still at work and he was at home (he rarely answers my calls) – in fact before I called I sent him a picture of Little shop of horrors plant saying ‘feed me’ (he likes that song). When I rang him he burst into song. We talked and laughed for over 20 mins. He then said he needed to go (alienator was pulling up on drive)., but still it was an.interesting conversation that gave me a chance to ‘sow some seeds’.. But the point I’m making here is that he asked and got permission from the alienating parent to see me (not sure what he said to them). When I went to pick him up (same day as phone call – naturally I had to drop my plans for that night) he came out of the house and turned to the alienator and they laughed and smiled (as though in cahoots) and then he got into he car. So what was his excuse. ……I made a mess in his house so he’ll make one in mine. He had sneaked the envelope and confetti out of the house (that’s what he was in cahoots with the alienator over). He half heartedly dropped the confetti on my floor but that was his justification to come to mine. We had a great couple of hours and he talked about seeing me on Saturday to spend some of his (very old) birthday money. Naturally Saturday never materialized. 2 days back with the alienator brought him back in line. This happened Wed 18th Oct 2017.
        Well I can’t use that trick again, I’ll just have to think of something else. It’s time consuming to have to do this, just to see you own child, but I just think of him pleading on the inside to help him justify why he should see me…..I’m the adult here. I should take the initiative not him.


    2. “What I find somewhat painful, is the perspective that we should somehow have known what we were getting into – with these partners…are therefore responsible for the mess we are in?

      This is completely unfair, and why I wanted to raise the question of the mental health model.

      Please can it be accepted – that none of these partners LOOKED to us at all mentally ill in any way that we could recognise?”

      I agree, very often the mental health issue don’t appear until well into a relationship ( after the long honeymoon period) and even then it may take an external trigger to show itself.

      most of us are not experienced in the red flags that shows that someone can be unsuitable as partner. i spent a long time trying to figure what had happened to my exs abusive and violent behaviour. The best i got was a combination of BPD, sociapath and high level functioning austic.I only got out because I was able to borrow some money to flee the country back to the Uk( my ex controlled my visa status, held all the money, isolated me from friends and family, and threatened our child).

      If anyone wants to apply Karens advice go ahead, but i would suggest you apply it to a sitaution where you have some contact with your child( its a pity it couldn’t be applied to the PAS abuser), but don’t bother applying it to a violent person who hides behind the law, you are only enabling them to continue the abusive behaviour and that makes you as bad as all the courts, lawyers and “advisors”


      1. And how is that making you feel Rob? There’s an awful lot of do this and don’t do that and it’s nothing to do with me and everything to do with her and her BPD and other mental health problems in this post.

        I am offering advice based on successful outcomes in working with alienated children and their families. You don’t have to like it, you can walk on by if you want to. You can continue if you need to on your cross projection of blame or you can understand what it was about you that brought you into this abusive person’s sphere of existence.

        When you spend all of your time talking about ‘them’ and projecting anger about how you are prevented from, controlled by, forced into….. you just give all of your energy away and spend your time thinking if only everything else could change.

        But you don’t have to like what I write about, feel free to pass on by.



      2. and steady on with the angry diatribes Rob, I am on your side, you don’t have to spend your time demolishing me and my work just because it doesn’t fit into your world view. Top tip, if you spend all your energy trying to force everyone else to see things through your telescope, there’s precious little left for the kind of self reflection that brings change to fixed dynamics.

        I never said you should have known what you were getting into… I said take responsibility for what you did get into and deal with it instead of blaming it on BPD and every other mental health problem you can think of. If she was someone with mental health problems then work out why you didn’t know, at least if you do that it will prevent you from heading into another situation with someone else with that kind of problem.

        It’s not always about everyone else/the state/the gravy train/the greedy bastards that just want your money/ the PA specialist who tells you it just might be a little bit to do with you….

        There are no easy fixes in this field, even when someone is stark raving mad and the other is sane as it is possible to be, it still takes an awful lot of hard work to free the child – work which can be done by other people alongside you, but work which is best off done by you if possible.

        And that applies even when you have no contact with your child and they have been kidnapped and taken to a place far from where you are that you know not of and are unlikely to know of for many years. Just because you have no contact with your child does not mean that you will never have contact with your child and does not mean that you are not still your child’s parent.


      3. karen
        my apolgies
        Im not attacking you , but the labelling you use in the fathers who have no choice and and are not interested.
        That can feel like a very personal attack on anyone who has had to fight very hard with very little hope

        “even when you have no contact with your child and they have been kidnapped and taken to a place far from where you are that you know not of and are unlikely to know of for many years. Just because you have no contact with your child does not mean that you will never have contact with your child and does not mean that you are not still your child’s parent.”

        thank you for this becuase this is very rarely even mentioned to us if at all.
        being told( by others) that i’m a failed parent and will never see my child again is a very abusive attack on any parent


      4. If you read around the blog rob you will see that I use labels at times only to help you see things from different perspectives. I also recognise without a shadow of a doubt that you are still your children’s parent and that the experience you have been through has stripped you of feeling that you are. I know it is a cruel and horrible experience and I know that it leaves you exposed and raw and that it causes you to have to create a shell around you to protect that battered self. What I am doing in my work is assisting the self inside the shell to feel again, to come out with someone who can be trusted and really feel those feelings. I don’t ask you to do this without my continued support and guidance because I know that leaves you in a bad place, but when I work with you I ask you and help you to come out and feel again because when you can feel the world around you, when you can experience the parent that you are, when you can share that with someone and process what the loss you have experienced has done to you, you can move on, and when you move on, all sorts of things can happen. You are not a failed parent and that is not what I am saying, I am saying you are a parent who does still have the power to change something, I know it is hard to believe when you have been so badly bruised and abused but it is true. I know it is true because of the work that I do, not because of something I have read or something I have experienced myself (though I have personal experience of alienation in several different ways myself), but because of the work that I do with parents and with children. I know that each parent who has been forcibly removed from a child’s life has an unbearable burden to carry, this place, this space I have created, is somewhere you can put that burden down. I might ask you to pick bits of it up again to look at but the burden you carry of being failed, of being judged, of being brutalised, is something you can put down here. From Woodman to Anonymous people who post, we are all here for a reason, to learn, to grow, to share and to heal. There is hope, there is always hope. And even if hope is all that we have, sharing hope and the journey and the worth of who everyone who posts on here is, is, I hope, something that helps on the way. K


  6. Hi Padre Steve / Yvie

    Whilst it is tempting to assign our former partners behaviour with negative intent such as greed and avarice, a personality disorder or two, in the grand scheme of things they could equally well assign negative personality descriptions to us.

    You may have come across accusations such as child abductor, pathetic loser, wastrel or any number of hurtful and critical comments aimed your way.

    Wouldn’t life be wonderful if we could escape from this fragile and insecure world and have it replaced by something more amenable and cooperative?

    I was thinking how useful Dandlebear Bridge is at the point where the children turn to Dad and say, “we want to live here with you”. Surely this is the point where you listen very hard to the children and acknowledge their feelings; try to create something acceptable about the other parent that the children feel comfortable with. Make the move/transition between households an easy and happy path for the children. Reassure them that the other parent is ok. They will have different parenting ways. No two parents are the same and this is quite normal. In fact this is a good opportunity to demonstrate to your former partner how much you appreciate what they are doing as a parent. By doing this you are fulfilling your role as a parent. By using the children’s statement, “we want to live here with you” as a means to facilitate more time for them with you then you have indulged in “parentification”…………….you are using the children’s wishes to over-ride decisions that parents should be making. I think if Dandlebear Bridge is secure the children will be free to move comfortably between homes knowing they are accepted by both parents wherever they are staying.

    I too long for my children to spend more time with me and it pains me when the school jacket is not screwed up on the settee nor the little trails of toothpaste no longer on the wrong side of the basin. Of course these times are important in both households……………help me out here.

    In my own case, the children teenagers now, I still experience the cold instructions from my former partner, the blanking off of my attempts at conversation and the sinuous poison of disapproval that seeps through her friends into the community. But paradoxically bundles of fruit from the garden will still find their way to my house, I am allowed to deliver take-a way’s, the children are no longer blocked nor discouraged from their sporting activities with me.
    This rather oppressive regime that she creates makes sense to her. She sees her role as parent as something vital that she needs and my attempts to share the role are threats to her control. Nevertheless I am performing my fatherly role with my children in respect of having time to listen to them, share in their fortune and failure; do some Dad coaching, brief moments of carefree abandon, silliness. My Dandlebear Bridge is fairly strong at the moment and my children seem confident in my presence.

    I am still entangled in my former partner’s psychological grip. I behave as if her negative opinion/actions were stopping me doing the things I feel I have to do. I allow myself to be hurt by her behaviour and demonstrate as one who has been wronged.

    No more proof needed to convince me that healing comes from the self……….

    Kind regards


    1. and there, I think you have it in a nutshell. The other person’s psychological grip continues so long as we let it continue and yet, even whilst it continues, there are spaces which can be wangled out of the grip in which children have the time to breathe and reconnect. It takes a flexible mind and an emotional intelligence to be able to find the beauty of the relationship that you can have within the cold constraints of a controlling other – and to retain the strength and belief in the self that allows one to enjoy that.

      I lived a long time in such circumstances, navigating with Nick, the cold tight grip of the psychological other – the times we carved out of that, which were truly magical, are what we got as the children’s second best family, the crumbs of what the other parent felt she could allow us.

      And then the door to their twenties opened and all around came space and light and even, which astonishes me still, communication between their parents.

      And constantly, persistently, we navigated those years through self awareness, self questioning and shifting and changing our behaviours. It is not how I would have chosen to live and it is definitely not how Nick would have chosen to live but in between, for magical moments, we got space and time and we touched on being family. In between the broken spaces, we made some magic of our own and that became our family narrative – the children of the little wood house as we call it. Special and never ever to be taken from us.


  7. It is endlessley fascinating to me that the points that I make about understanding the self in relation to the other parent and the dynamic that your behaviour in relation to theirs creates – is just simply ignored. Woodman states that he is sure that there are some cases where the approach I am advocating is the right one, but leaps on Russell’s intellectual approach as being his preference, Russell gives us an intellectual discussion including assertions that these cases are BPD or NPD and continues the focus upon the behaviour of the other parent and the way in which the system supports that.


    and take responsibility and time to look at your own behaviours, your own place in this first and then and only then, look outward for reasons.

    Ask yourself this questions. What do you want – to be right and justified in your position, to claim your rights and uphold justice, or a relationship with your children?

    Because I would argue long and hard that for many of you who chose to have children with people who have ‘issues’ – you simply cannot have it all.

    what do you FEEL.

    Not – what do you THINK.

    Based upon ten years of working directly with children who are alienated and alienating and alienated parents.


    1. Well said Karen

      And yes I fell into the same trap of answering the question that I wanted to answer and not the one that you asked.

      Funnily enough I have responded above in the manner I have before answering this post.

      I repeat it here for clarity I said

      “Hi Karen

      On a personal level it was put into perspective for me by my now wife. she said, and I quote

      “no matter what she is has done or will do, you chose to have a baby with her, so take responsibility for that, it was your choice!”

      I had to stop take stock and the truth of that comment enabled me to take responsibility and deal with what is now and not was then, it was the BEST bit of advice I could have had given that I was sinking fast in the emotions of my own distress.

      As soon as I took responsibility for my actions it freed me up to deal with matters differently.

      This is one bit of advice I would give all others, if you find yourself there it was by your own path that you got there, the alternative for me was that I was not in charge and I could not accept that!

      The courts are secondary to the choice of having a child with the person, if I have failed to spot the personality type (or don’t know about it) then that’s my bag and no one else’s.”

      So how did I feel about it?

      Well it took some time to come to terms with my responsibility and that to get the result I believed was right for my child I was already embroiled in the court situation. And because I was still emotionally bound in the process I still fell into some deep holes which had negative implications for my dealing with the court for many years.

      Feel? It was hard to own and believe that I had chosen the person that I thought loved me (because I did love her, well at least for three of the years we were together) but the rest was in hindsight just a play or power struggle between the two of us, the agendas didn’t match and I was too nieve to spot it, no I was too much in love with the sexual chemistry that had gone before (more of that some other time) I was still in lust and did not want to let go despite the fact that the passion side of things was a long distant memory but I was still in love with it.

      When the final day came I still hadn’t got the message and it was only after meeting my now wife that I started to get some perspective, reality sometimes hurts, but its still the reality

      Karen from your point of view have I expressed or still avoided your question?

      regards and my total respect to you and Nick


    2. Hi karen are you saying I should blame myself for having a child with with someone who is sick and twisted enough to tell the family courts every hideous lie to alienate me from from my daughters life.
      And cause me to have a nervous breakdown
      And depression
      But I will sit back now and think long and hard for reasons to justify her disgusting behaviour.
      Cheers I feel loads better now 🙂


      1. Mickey, you had children with her, she must have had something that caught your eye – unless you are saying she tied you down and took your sperm against your will. What she has done is hideous it is true and what I am saying is not that you should blame yourself but that you should examine in yourself what brought you to this place. Was it a complete accident that you found yourself in this position, did she take off a mask and reveal herself to be the devil at the point of separation or did you see signs prior to that. If you did not see signs, why did you not see signs? If she charmed you and persuaded you, what was it about her that allowed her to do that, what was it about you? I am aware of how much horrendous pressure someone who does this puts onto you as the rejected parent however in my substantial experience (personally as well as professionally) finding and owning who you are and what lead you to this place is much more empowering than sitting and looking only at the power she has and the powerlessness this renders in you. You never stopped being your daughter’s father and regardless of whether you never see her again or you see her next week, that fact, that you are her father, can never be erased. You can choose to work on opening routes for your daughter and keeping them open or you can put your focus on feeling angry and bitter at your daughter’s mother and everyone else around you, including those who could help you. Unless we own who we are in the place we are in and look at ways of changing that, all we will get is all that we got, only in larger, more embittered doses. Nowhere, at any time, have I ever said, or would I ever say, that rejected parents are to blame. That’s your interpretation of what I write and I wonder whether, that fury at what you believe I have written is because I have touched something in you that wonders whether you are to blame. You are not. But sitting and projecting all of the blame onto your daughter’s mother is not going to help you and it is never going to help your daughter. Sending you my kindest regards, the journey is long and hard but you are not alone on it. K


      2. Karen hi
        I totally hear what you are saying and it does make me think that I did see signs throughout our 9 year relationship.
        She told a lot of lies and tall tales to people but I just dismissed it as ‘oh well people do much worse things than this’
        Not many people liked her and she didnt have any real friends.
        The list could go on but she was always great to me and we had some happy times I overlooked these things as nobody is perfect are they?
        Then she had an affair completely out the blue
        Left me
        Screwed me for xx amount of thousands.
        I had access to my daughter throw in a lot of snide tricks which I never rose too.
        After around 18 months she started to take my daughter to the doctors behind my back saying my daughter is self harming and afraid of me I had no idea??
        Refused me access full stop.
        Called the police and said I was going to kidnapp my daughter??
        So I took it to court..,,
        Apparantley I am (according to her)
        A cokehead
        Need anger management
        A heavy drinker
        Insinuated I had in someway been abusing my daughter
        I understand what you mean in the way you must of seen signs beforehand which I did, but nothing could ever make me see or predict this. I dont think anybody could predict any of this hiddeous behaviour.
        I dont see my daughter anymore as I gave up due to lack of finances and the fact I dont believe the family courts can deal with crazy people like this.
        I am not so much bitter now as its 2 years on and you find a way to live with it.
        I am what I would describe as a hardworking honest kind hearted have lots of friends and good family, and also 2 other children I have brought up with never any issues of this kind.
        The kind of woman that display this kind of wierd cruel behaviour, are gameplayers, selfish, and pure evil and until that mask comes off, I.e they have no use for you anymore it is then too late to sit back and blame yourself for future happenings.
        I will never blame myself just because she (my ex) is a complete fruit loop and is not fit to call herself a mother, and the family courts and co have not got a clue how to deal with these kinds of people.


  8. I think your point is fine when you still have some contact and you choose not to rise to the “baiting ” that goes on. When the mother has chosen the child as a weapon of choice

    But what do you do when the other party has gone so far as to engage in violence and other abusive behaviour( 4 categories) and child neglect as well?
    when the other party then uses a religous court of all things to completey remove your rights as a parent?
    When the end result is that you are completely legally removed from a childs life?

    I had that done to me ( including years of violence abroad for which local authorities stated that women don’t do DV). You cant go along and claim that your child is a conduit of how your ex feels. you don’t. you fight it as hard as you can, because that child is also afflicted with the abusive parents behaviour( in this case PAS, BPD and threats of suicide)

    “and take responsibility and time to look at your own behaviours, your own place in this first and then and only then, look outward for reasons.”

    so it was my responsibilty for taking care of a violent adult child?

    “Ask yourself this questions. What do you want – to be right and justified in your position, to claim your rights and uphold justice, or a relationship with your children?”

    a relationship with your children comes when you fight back, and I not talking about nit picking over who gets what shared custody, I talking about when the other person has not only being violent to , but has abused the child as well.

    PAS is only one choice of weapon that such behaviour produces


  9. At 40,000ft John sat contemplating his journey thus far. A tear dripped onto the text book he had been reading, “Umba Jumba for beginners”. He had mastered the basics and knew how to meet and greet and was feeling pleased at his attempts to add a new language to his portfolio. It had been six months now since the last brief note from his son; one that his son had written as if in final resignation that he was no longer going to see his father again.

    Although John was flying to a place he had never been to before and his tourist visa only allowed him residence in Jumba land for two weeks he couldn’t wait to find out as much as he could about his son and how he was coping. John had persuaded his brother-in-law to meet him at the airport and was hoping he would be able to glean as much information as he possibly could about the whereabouts and welfare of his son.

    John had visited the “Jumba embassy” back in England and enquired about the possibilities of changing his faith so that he could be accepted more readily into the local Jumba community.

    By the end of John’s two week stay he had been to his son’s school, learnt what was needed to gain recognition as a foreign national and forged friendly and sympathetic relations with his brother-in-law’s family. He had attempted a friendly wave toward his son from a distance and been ushered away by security. He had seen the local Mullah and the Fathers Rights group. He had left messages and gifts at places where his son might receive them. He was learning more about the culture of this foreign land.

    He left with promises to return. He had a plan to convert to his son’s new religion and a sponsor to help him do this. At 40,000ft he realised his trip had not been in vain. The seeds of hope from his jacket pocket had been sown and the cement for the parapets that were going to support Dandlebear Bridge had been mixed and added to the strong steel cages which would re-enforce the construction.

    Kind regards


  10. I certainly agree with some of the things that other people have said in this post about their ex, the alienating parent, abuser, call them what you like, and the possibility that they have suffered in their own childhood, may have personality disorders, mental illness etc etc etc.

    However, what I believe Karen is saying, which has been said to me by support workers, and even my own eldest child who works in that field, we cannot change the behaviour of the other person, only our own.

    Yes it is very frustrating, because as one person said, we feel that if only someone, that is the professionals, Court, etc etc, would put their foot down and say enough is enough, and stop the alienating parent in their tracks, everything would be okay.

    And maybe it would, but after decades of parents trying to bring about change in the system, it has still not happened, and no doubt will not in the timescale needed to be of use to those of us parents currently concerned about our children and going through this nightmare.

    However, if there is one thing that we can change very rapidly, it is our own behaviour. I think personally I have for quite some time been at the point of wanting to forget what might be wrong with the other parent, and to do something about my own behaviour.

    Unfortunately, that is not as easy as it sounds, and what I now find frustrating is trying to work out what it is about my own behaviour that I need to change in order to pave the way for a more positive outcome for two of my children who have become alienated.

    I have done lots of reading around the subject, but am non the wiser about what I can do, especially given that I already feel like I have bent over so far to accommodate the demands of my ex that I am looking out from between my knees.

    And when I discuss what I can possibly do to change further, I have friends urging me to be careful or I may appear to have ‘sold out’ and put aside the very qualities that are me, and be unrecognisable to my children if and when they do feel able to resume a relationship.

    So, my problem, one I suspect may be shared by others, is working out how to behave, such that it will improve the situation for our children, and sadly I cannot afford to travel to London on a regular basis and pay £50-£90 for coaching, I only wish I could, so what do I do?

    In answer to the question you keep repeating Karen, about how does it make me feel to effectively still be in that relationship with my ex?

    My feelings are mixed, and initially it is shock,horror and revulsion. She abused me throughout fifteen years of marriage, and has continued to do so for a further five years since using our children as weapons, not just against me but against elderly relatives.

    However, like it or not we are genetically linked through our children. Although it could not be described as a healthy relationship, that link does still exist, and whilst I never thought I would hear myself say this, I am glad that it does.

    My reason for feeling this way is not because I am sort of masochist, but because whilst there is still that link, rather than none at all, it can perhaps in time become healthier, meaning that at important times in their lives, our children can hopefully be supported by both parents, not just one or the other.

    If anyone I know reading this post recognises me, they will probably think that I have gone completely mad, and they would probably insist that such a harmonious situation will never occur, not least while she is still with her new partner, who certainly had issues of his own.

    But again, much as I would rather two of my children were not be growing up under the strong influence of that other man, it is also not something I can change. I must learn to live with it in the same way as another of my children who lives with me, has over the past few years learned to tolerate him in order that she maintain a relationship with her mother.

    However, going back to the old mantra…..if you always do what you always did you will always get what you always got…..so taking a more positive attitude and trying something different has to be worth a shot…….I just wish I knew what I needed to change about my behaviour to help produce a more positive outcome for all of my children?


    1. Hi J,

      Personally, I’m not convinced that we can, actually, and that we are banging our heads against reality to think that we might. If we have do have SOME limited contact, at least, with our children – then we keep on obviously…as best we can…but other than that – my feeling is that we are dealing with a crimewave…and nothing less than that.

      It is a crime, in my book, to take children away from a loving, supportive parent, and to try to turn them against that parent…and that is IT, period. In the case of NO other crime do we turn to the victim and make them responsible for trying to rectify the situation – and to do so is clearly absurd.

      The problem is that in the general population this is something which is not considered serious, and to the extent that it MIGHT be damaging…it is considered far secondary to the freedom of one of us adults to separate the moment the relationship is not to their liking or they want another one.

      I’m not sure how we are going to get the general population to get to see what is happening as a crimewave – unless we start talking like this…and take whatever flack comes from so doing. Essential to this, however, then…has to be a revision of ideas about the freedom of adults to separate when there are children involved. Personally, my feelings are that if there are children involved…it should become much more difficult indeed, to do so…without the religious perspective of the past, but on the basic humanitarian basis – of the tremendous harm it does to the children.

      What I mean by this, is that I believe we have to recognize that in order to support the children PROPERLY post-separation…means SUCH a high degree of cooperation – that in practice partners need to retain a level of communication which means that separation is not even achievable at a psychological level…even IF there is no longer any physical connection.

      In which case, this would mean that it needs to become widely recognized that once children are in the picture – separation from a previous partner us currently understood is no longer a moral possibility.

      My wife is perhaps an extreme example – she apparently planned from the outset to engineer a separation before the first child (of three) was even born…then maintaining that afterwards if she ever met me in the street – she would treat me as if she had never known me (and she has done her best to stick to that). However obviously most separations are not nearly as calculated as that…arising from either a gradual ‘growing apart’ or the emergence of an overpowering romantic attraction for one party or another which it seems cannot be resisted…

      However, ALL forms of separation – seem to rest on the very strongly and widely held idea that this will have a relatively negligible effect on the children. Whatever she may try to maintain, my wife is actually extremely sensitive to social approval – it is ONLY because she has come into this society (from abroad) knowing that she will face absolutely NO effective social stigma whatsoever for her behaviour, even from the most conservative religious element (she is a life-long Catholic, but also has highly evangelistic Protestant friends) that she has been able to go ahead with it in the way that she has.

      This indicates that for all practical purposes – religious morality has almost completely collapsed, exists in name only, has lost all the authority it once had…and is completely discredited. The new morality that is needed – can therefore NOT be a religious one.

      Obviously, I’m not against separation totally…there are more extreme instances where things go wrong to the extent that it may be necessary, of course. Personally, I believe that for the majority of us, the only way to responsibly satisfy the need for human relationship over a lifetime is some element of polyamory (having more than one love). In this scenario we can expand our capacity for relationship – rather than trash one relationship in order to realize another.

      Recognizing that it is actually NOT responsible to separate emotionally from a former partner when there are children involved – would be a first step towards achieving this infinitely more mature relationship style.

      If we want to end the horror of alienation – then we’re going to have to be really grown-up about tackling the separation issue in general. Surely this is going to be the only way we we can justify the argument that separation as we currently know it needs to become a thing of the past? We might wish that people will use the current freedom to separate ‘nicely and responsibly’ – but the experience of the last 30 years shows that it’s just not going to happen…the current attitudes to separation – are just a license for extreme selfishness.

      If there was ever an example of the folly of keeping on doing the same thing…all the time hoping for a different result – that would be it.


      1. I see where you are coming from Woodman, and I cannot disagree that it is a crime to turn children against and deprive them of one of their parents.

        If parents have to end up going to Court post separation, and could do so starting on an equal footing, and Orders were enforced then in many cases that crime would be prevented, and when it is not prevented the perpetrators would be sanctioned and deterred from continuing such behaviour.

        However, the reality is, at least for those of us going through this now, that the parents are not treated equally from the outset, Orders are not enforced, and the parent with ‘power and control’ can do pretty much what they like unhindered by the authorities.

        You are also right in saying… ‘In the case of NO other crime do we turn to the victim and make them responsible for trying to rectify the situation’.

        However, whilst I am pretty certain by victim you are referring to the alienated parent, and again I cannot disagree that those of us in that position could be described as victims, the real victims are the children.

        The real crime is that the system turns to those children, when they are considered old enough, and expects them to take responsibility for making decisions that could haunt and damage them for the rest of their lives.

        I have to admit that I am not entirely comfortable with this idea having to change, as I do agree with what friends have said about the danger of appearing to have sold out, so care does have to be taken to retain the morals and principles that make us who we are.

        However, the system is not going to sort this crap out for us, we cannot change the behaviour of the other parent, and we cannot directly influence our children if they are not able to see us, so in reality, the only thing we can try to change is our own attitude and behaviour.

        I can justify that to myself on the basis that by doing it, even if only in a small way, I am taking some of that onerous responsibility away from my children, and trying to lessen the damaging impact of the decisions they have been allowed to make.

        The problem I have with attempting to change, is knowing what my behaviour and attitude should look like to give the best chance, or any chance, of it helping to produce a more positive outcome for my children.

        I cannot afford to be spending £50-£90 per hour on a regular basis for coaching to find that out, but in any case that might be futile, the one big worry I do have is that without really realising it I have perhaps already gone through as much change as is possible for me to undergo.

        If of course I have already done everything that I can to change, with still no positive outcome in sight, then the situation will probably not improve for my children unless or until there are changes elsewhere in their lives, which might simply be them growing older.

        I’m not sure if that addresses the issues you raised Woodman. If it has, then you will have seen that whilst I agree with your sentiments about alienation being a crime, and it being wrong that victims are expected to take responsibility for rectifying the situation….I am also in a sense refusing to be labelled as a victim, because those are the children, and I am suggesting that since no-one else will take responsibility for it, if we as parents do everything we can to try and rectify the situation, at least we are taking some of the responsibility for that off the shoulders of our children.


      2. Hi J,

        You seem to be one of the gentle types most feared by the so-called ‘feminists’…bending over backwards to make allowances for others…and so obviously great with children.

        Yes, my experience of Family Court so far is that it has developed in the manner of a farcical ‘kangaroo style’ court reminiscent of dictatorships – operating with a pretense of – but actually completely outside of…any concept of justice.

        The reason this has happened, it seems – is because women as a whole have become absurdly exaggeratedly seen as a ‘victim’ group. This notion has affected even the ostensibly more educated women, such as Judges,,,though for a Judge (a housing lawyer by background, in my case) who couldn’t seem to differentiate between the terms “psychological”, and “psychiatric”…I’m not at all convinced about the level of training/understanding in regard to family matters.

        The victim mentality developed over the last 30/40 years has thus resulted into what I would say is effectively a “male punishment chamber”.

        The victim identity is thus an extremely powerful one. As Karen may able to elaborate on, feminists have worked extremely hard to get women to take on this mantle…and this has been the extremely “effective” result. Modern society does not like to think of victims being in its midst…and so resources do go out to address this.

        The ManKind initiative is finally starting to make some headway with this, after many years…and Women’s Aid, for example…is starting to feel threatened that resources are being allocated to another victim group in a situation which might undermine the perception of women’s overwhelming appropriation of victim status.

        The situation we are in…of psychological…rather than physical violence…is a lot more difficult to articulate, perhaps – but unless and until we are able to make the case for being victims…then personally, I don’t think anything will change – for us…OR our children. I think our fates are completely intertwined.

        When the alienating parents attacks us – then the closer we have been to the children…the more drastically it will affect our health. The more our health suffers…the greater the impact will be on the children in either the shorter or the longer term. Often WE will be hit harder first. As Karen has written, often children’s instinctive psychological survival mechanisms (normally called ‘resilience’) will kick in as a denial of reality to make out that they have NOT been affected. Sometimes, this will even manifest as an attempt to work even harder at school to ‘demonstrate’ this. Advocates of separation can then use this kind of data to support the drive to break-up ever-increasing numbers of families.

        The real damage to children will likely only impact years later…as the now adult struggles to cope with a huge chunks of missing emotional preparation for the challenges of later life…and can become overwhelmed with grief and anger at what what has been torn from them…but often unable to even begin to express the intangibles involved. Meanwhile the cruel misguided professionals who did this will be ensconced in comfortable retirements, untouchable from the now ‘historic’ abuse they perpetrated.

        For the present…the damage to children may consist of more low-level self-harming evidence which can be distracted away by means of particular types of substitute attention given to them. Or the children may simply be doing ‘less well’ at school – than might have been expected – but nothing that would trigger any alarm bells. Teachers generally refuse to investigate the reasons for under-performance or to try to motivate children. This the children are expected to do for themselves…in my experience it is outside of teaching culture for staff to be alive to psychological family welfare issues. Many, even counselors – will be divorcees who will instinctively align themselves with an alienating parent and may well be doing the same thing themselves to some extent…so pervasive has the culture of separation become.

        It is very difficult for many reasons…but I don’t think we have yet, together with our children, sufficiently presented ourselves as victims. The reason for that is that EVERYTHING in our male psyche rebels against this. The entire masculine identity is built around NOT complaining…about being strong, stoic…long suffering…around not even feeling pain…about being so hard…so tough…that we can endure anything. These are the qualities that we must aspire to…uphold – because this…we have been led to believe are what are essential to be attractive to women.

        Women are the ones who complain…who are in need of assistance…and we are the ones who protect…who come to the rescue…who sort things out – who solve the problems.

        What we are much more inclined to do is present as angry. This then, at least presents as powerful, and rescues our pride. But it is usually self-defeating as well…reinforcing the perception that we may be stubborn, difficult, controlling individuals.

        It is incredibly difficult, but I personally feel that until we can convey the utter humiliation, brokenness, weakness, fear, loneliness, desperation, sickness and pain of what has happened to us…things which women themselves (with all the permission to be ‘weak’ that they have historically had) have often struggled to do – then I don’t think anything is going to change.

        It may seem ironic that this is the way forward…but I believe it is. It seems to me that recently Karen has been edging forward towards this position also…in encouraging us to bring forward our stories. I think we need to pour out our grief in public…and then people will start to take this crisis seriously. In my own ‘heart on sleeve’ style, I have tried to do this…as regular forum members will know…but I think we far more of this…in writing…and on film, too. The world needs to SEE what is happening before they will believe it is something that has to be stopped. Maybe we need to have a YouTube channel for this.

        I think this will be the best way to effect change for our children.

        The feminists used shame as their primary weapon to affect change – and they have shown how well it works. If we don’t also use it – we are utter FOOLS. At the same time that is not the ultimate focus.

        The ultimate focus has to be HOPE. Hope for a new world in which men and women exist on equal terms…both being EQUALLY emotionally vulnerable – therefore SENSITIVE and so EQUALLY RESPONSIBLE AND QUALIFIED FOR RAISING THE NEXT GENERATION.

        I think that it is the sensitivity barrier that we have to break through.

        Sorry about caps…but I think you see my point for using them!


    2. My behaviour is but the surface froth. To change it, I have to be open to change at a much deeper level.

      I now have no contact with my 8 year old daughter, except in my dreams, and perhaps in hers. I have exhausted the legal process, or perhaps it has exhausted me. I desperately wanted to believe that the judge, or some other august person, would sort things out, like the gentleman on the train in the Railway Children who vindicates the childrens’ father and secures his release from prison. I recognise now that such persons may exist in Victorian and Edwardian novels but not necessarily in real life. Political change, if it comes, will not come in time for my child. Like you, I am left with the realisation that, if there is anything I can change, it is myself. I find Karen’s approach refreshingly ‘anarchist’, not in the bomb-throwing sense, but in the sense that, instead of waiting for the government to sort things out (if they ever do), we can make a start ourselves, here and now.

      I don’t want to misuse Karen’s blog as a wayside pulpit, but I see the process of change as a spiritual one, a process of letting go of control, and recognising that the only power I have over my child is the power of love. All parents have to go through this process of letting go, but we alienated parents experience it in a particularly harsh and brutal form. According to the way of the world I am powerless, but I still have the power of love, the power to live in such a way that, if and when my daughter tries to re-establish contact, she may recognise me as a kind and truthful and gentle person, the kind of person she might want to spend time with, learn from, have fun with, value and respect. My position is a bit like that of the Christian church under communist regimes, with no power except that of a peaceful witness to moral truth. My fatherhood is the grain of wheat that must die so that it may bear fruit. But I don’t see this as an exclusively Christian insight; other religious traditions have it, too.

      Without the consolations of religion and philosophy, and the prayerful support and counsel of likeminded friends, I don’t know what I would do. Go crazy, probably, which would do my daughter no good at all. It is not a matter of ‘faith’ so much as of practice, a spiritual practice of prayer and meditation that opens me to understanding myself better and becoming more compassionate towards others. For me that practice is Christian, for others it may be another tradition. Judging from your comments, J, you seem to have made a good deal of progress already in your path.


      1. Beautifully written…

        I too, come from a Christian tradition…now past…but the essence of the need to confront evil is not gone – instead stronger and sharper than ever.

        It may seem a paradox…but then need to admit defeat and brokenness…is essential to the warrior spirit.

        It is necessary as a movement (of which all our individual stories are part) to set aside strategies which have not worked…and learn from others (women, in this case) that have.

        I know that deep down inside…although they may not say so out loud – my children want me to TELL the world what has been done to them – and I am not going to let them down.

        That’s the most important part of being a father to them I can be – apart from the limited contact I do have.

        And yes…developing ourselves as best we can in the process.

        That’s for them too.


  11. Hello Karen – I feel stunned, tired, horrified. It makes absolute sense to me to read that and I’m still taking it in. I feel shocked I suppose, but on some level I feel relieved because that I can sort of understand, while just my daughter disappearing I cannot. That it’s our related to our relationship fits in perfectly with who he is and his motivations. It’s going to take some time to adjust to this way of thinking, but I know you’re right. Thank you.


  12. How do i feel?

    Well for a start you have it in a nutshell. It is the continuous engagement that makes it hard to move on. Its also quite bizarre especially if as in my case she has a new partner. For me it makes it hard to move on…or even contemplate another relationship. Its like a slightly surreal psychological ménage a trois. I hit a real low about a month ago but have started to get back on track as it were.

    I recently lost a niece to Cancer and returned home for a week. On the first day i stood by her coffin and looked at her beautiful serene face. her copper red hair. The thing that struck me is that i couldn’t cry. It wasn’t the natural shock of bereavement (albeit one expected) i realised that it was the continuous bombardment…the texts inviting conflict…manufactured conflict…the need to control…the inability to really move on. On the night i returned i received a couple of texts…hooks on a line…i think that numbness is a refuge we seek. Its self protection.

    The weird thing was as sad as it was to be home it actually was a rest. To be near family. Away from the physicality of a battlezone. It was strangely the mental equivalent of shore leave.

    I feel angry, sad, weary and frustrated. I realise that the only way to weave around it in practical terms is to communicate in a different way and to accept that this is our reality. Minimum engagement. A focus upon individual well being. A plan to allow myself to enjoy some of my life. That i am worth that. That i am more than a dad or a parent. The latter has been my only persona…built upon the insecurity and fear that follows us in our post separation purgatory.I doubt i will ever have the money for the Harley but i do have a bicycle.

    We all though bought the ticket. I loved her once. The children love their mother and that is as it should and always will be.

    On the third day i shouldered her. Its funny how childhood memories come flooding back. Funerals at home? I always hear the stamp of feet. The lull as the bearers change. Then the slow swell of that light shuffle,a crescendo. Hardly marching…
    I cried then. So all is not lost.


    1. Hi Dermo,

      Yours and other comments have been exceptionally moving, and, I feel…move us this Father’s Day – on to what is required now.

      Karen’s call for us to describe how we feel is a good preparation for the next step…a trauma workshop for alienated parents where we are prepared to go on camera about what we and our children are going through. Keeping grief private might help us personally a little but is simply not going to get us anywhere in terms of the overall picture. The difference is that we would be doing this not for ourselves only – but for all the countless others out there going through, or about to go through – the same ordeal as we are.

      I would suggest a two-night residential is necessary…as it may be very difficult, otherwise, for many of us to get into the feeling state we need to, quickly enough. Also, we would need sufficient time to hear everyone’s story that needs to be shared…and come to a better understanding of what has brought this about and how we can turn the tide against alienation.

      This is going to need some considerable sponsorship – some of us struggle to feed ourselves adequately…and it might be a financial strain to even travel to the venue. Professional level filming/editing expertise is not going to come cheap either.

      The format is simple – to tell our stories in a setting where we provide maximum emotional support for each other; but perhaps we would need some grief/trauma specialists to help us along. Where words alone fail I think it can be helpful to share music, objects…pictures – to express how we feel.

      Is there anyone out there who could help make a residential facility available to us for this purpose? Is there anyone who would be willing to help fund this exercise?

      I trust that Karen will be able to act as a central hub for all of us to gather around. For the women involved…I think you will find yourself surrounded by incredibly supportive men. For the men involved…the absolute key will be the physical presence of women who care, deeply – about what we have been through. We cannot achieve this without each other.

      Alienation is a problem that women and men cannot solve in separate organizations – we have to start to find a way to come together as one. I’m sorry to say that I have not heard back from Jude Kelly re. WOW or BAM…or even the forthcoming Children’s Cultural Rights Event in October.


      We should certainly not give up trying but cannot afford to sit around and wait for opportunities at such places which have so far simply been unable to come to terms with the uncomfortable truths at the heart of alienation. There is a lot of energy being expended from the SouthBank towards younger men where everything seems fine and dandy – but the testimony of older men who have been ‘through the mill’ and know the treacherous sands that lie only a short distance ahead – is being totally ignored. This subject, and anything remotely related to it – is avoided as if it simply does not exist…when the crime of alienation should be absolutely THE most critical item on any ‘gender related’ agenda!

      So it seems we have to go our own way and make our own provision somehow, initially. In addition, as Lady Elizabeth Butler-Sloss made clear in her recent FNF interview…it isn’t possible to legislate against deep-seated attitudes. This has to be a ‘hearts and minds’ campaign. I believe that it is ONLY by showing ourselves as men and women working together – that we can open closed minds and melt hardened hearts.

      The SouthBank is substantially resourced…but we don’t need anything remotely comparable. Hopefully the right person/right people can come forward now to help us in our hour of need.


  13. My name is the alienator.

    I have been given this rather damning and inauspicious label by my former partner. I don’t like it. It makes me feel like some god-awful ogre.
    I can’t stand the man; what possessed me to marry him in the first place is simply beyond me. It’s got to a point now where my friend was telling me he spreads the word on the media as if I have some kind of incurable disease. I hear he’s starting a club for all those suffering the scourge of the alienator; more like a bloody witch hunt!

    Is that man coming near my children? Not a cat in Hells chance. He’s unsafe; God knows what ideas he might put into their innocent minds.

    Why can’t he just be normal like Marie’s husband?

    I know I was angry with him when he took me to Court, but I didn’t really mean some of the things I said……………it was just in the heat of the moment, and it seemed as though he were out to hurt me. He didn’t seem to be the kind of person that I could trust.
    On reflection, he wasn’t such a bad guy. He was very good when H………. was first born. I remember him at the Hospital beaming from ear to ear cooing at his newborn child. He was a great help soothing H………. when he couldn’t sleep.

    Funny how people change.

    Kind regards


    1. Dear Marie’s friend,

      It’s very difficult for us to comment on a situation with so many unknowns, with so many possibilities, but at the same time I feel your comment demands a response of some kind, on the basis of what you’ve told us.

      You certainly sound as if you are someone who is likely to try and turn your children against their father. Now it’s just possible, based on information you haven’t given us – that you may be entirely justified in this – but actually, it’s highly unlikely.

      It all sounds more like a personality clash – the repelling that sometimes happens after an initial attraction. According to your account you haven’t really understood what has happened at all, but there will be some kind of rationale behind everything. It will be enormously helpful to the children for the rest of their lives – if you can begin to start to understand what did draw you to their father.

      People don’t change so much – as aspects of their character emerge which had been hidden (or perhaps we had ignored) before. From your account so far it sounds as if he has shown some eccentricities and values perhaps which highly embarrass you. We are often drawn to people who have characteristics which are somewhat ‘over the top’ so to speak…in an unconscious attempt to address a weakness in ourselves.

      You mention children…so this has been going on for a while, except that they are still quite young. Even if it may be a somewhat unconscious process, doesn’t it make sense that women will generally be selecting the father of their children – with some considerable purposefulness…selecting for characteristics which are important?

      From what you have said, despite whatever failings he may have, you have identified that that your children’s father has shown tenderness, empathy, delight, sensitivity, intelligence, passion, concern, passion, and determination. Considerable emotionality and what sounds like charm and charisma too.

      The fact that he has taken his concern to a wider audience is even more embarrassing for you, but it is unlikely that this happens lightly. Most likely – is that he hasn’t felt properly heard by you in the first place. He may have been making entirely unreasonable demands, but even that seems somewhat unlikely, as putting oneself in the public eye can lead to great humiliation if one is subsequently discovered to have behaved significantly inadequately.

      It doesn’t sound as if counseling options were properly explored – at all. Was this suggested, tried, rejected? Your reflective statements now, however – suggest that this would be entirely possible…however much you are protesting otherwise.

      Your justification, at the moment – for keeping his children away from him – is that he might express resentment to them about what has happened?

      Considering that your children are currently facing a lifetime ahead of them without a father who is half of their makeup – and who you have shown to have considerable positive traits…this would appear to be set to be extremely damaging to them.

      I can’t imagine anyone wanting to see alienation as incurable…although the reasons for it may be very deep-seated. On the contrary, we just want it to stop.

      I know we can’t see your full reality…and it won’t be possible to share it on this forum…but I hope these few words will challenge you to rethink your perspective…and transform a situation that is obviously of incredible heartache, which can only get worse for all those involved…and there will be many.

      As a mother you are in a situation of incredible power…to do great good…or great harm.

      We men are often acting out of a position of extreme frustration at our powerlessness…trying to level the playing field…balance things out etc etc.

      But that’s a whole untold story…


  14. This is a letter you wrote to your former partner just this morning.

    How does she/he feel?

    Dear ……………..(former partner)
    and mother/father to our wonderful children,
    I am writing to tell you of an important milestone in my recuperation from our break-up. It has been a long hard struggle of emotional turmoil for me as I am now convinced that it has been for you. We are both moving on with new adult relationships. I take full responsibility for any hurt I have caused you by my actions and now intend only to concentrate on my role as a father/mother to the children we brought into this world. I still remember those earlier years we had together that lead to the birth of our children as a welcome and wonderful chapter in my life.
    If there is anything practical you would like me to do regarding our children’s welfare please let me know. You have my indebted appreciation for all that you have done for the children and continue to do so. I enclose a token of my appreciation for all that you do and a token of my love for the children. I would love to know them like before.

    Kind regards


    1. Hi

      I think the answer will be – IF there are serious mental ill-health issues involved (which is a lot of the time in PA, imho) – very little…

      The key sentence, is of course, the last one – this is the result we wish for. We would be trying to shame our ex into behaving more responsibly.

      That may work with more healthy people, but not to the extent that people are ill. One of the commonest forms of undiagnosed mental ill-health is schizophrenia. It seems to me this is not an ‘all or nothing’ state, but on a continuum, like so much else. Schizophrenia is a state of denial about the past. Insofar as someone is schizophrenic – the past doesn’t exist.

      It doesn’t matter how good a time you had before the children came along…it no longer exists. It doesn’t matter how good a partner you were when they did – that time no longer exists.

      The schizophrenic experience is one of a continual now.

      There is no gratitude for what has been received before – that is gone.

      There is no guilt for what they have done – that is over.

      It is as if these events never happened…so what is there to feel guilty about?

      The future is altogether less problematic for the schizophrenic, compared to the past, so they can be full optimism as to what they wish to have. But it is always disappointing for them because nothing can really be savoured and enjoyed – because unlike you who cherishes your memories so fondly…the schizophrenics’ experience – slips away practically the moment it is had.

      In addition, much of a healthy person’s behaviour is based on what will be its impact on others – i.e. what they will think of them, looking back. Because the schizophrenic doesn’t look back…they care less about what others will think of them.

      The schizophrenic person is divided mainly – from their past.

      Once you are part of their past – i.e. not part of their everyday existence any more, you are effectively blocked out of existence altogether. They bitterly resent your presence reminding them of the past. The children are obviously an incredibly powerful reminder of the past with you. This is why everything has to be done to avoid this…and why the alienation takes place.

      How we deal with this…if it is possible at all, I think…is to deal with the schizophrenia…if that is what is going on. Since so many of us have had overwhelmingly painful experiences, I suspect degrees of schizophrenia are a lot more common than we have realized.

      Dealing with schizophrenia is about dealing with painful pasts. All this went out of fashion some years ago because parents understandably got fed up of being blamed for their children’s problems…so the biological model was brought in.

      What was missed out was that these painful experiences can happen in almost any family, without the parents necessarily being aware of it. The conventional family structure is little protection against psychic stress.

      The good news overall is that schizophrenia would be entirely treatable, as soon as we create a societal climate in which it is possible to address the pain of the past, and we develop ways of allowing people to express this.

      At the same time we need to change the family structure so that children growing up are far less likely to experience psychic pain – basically that means having lots more adults around to notice what they are going through…and to challenge all the kinds of behaviour – neglect, exploitation, intimidation & over-indulgence, that are likely to cause pain to the child.

      Just as physical pain is a warning system to the body that something is fundamentally wrong here which needs attention – so the pain of parental alienation tells us that something has been fundamentally wrong within the ‘social’ body for some time…and it is necessary to diagnose what it is and correct that.

      Yes…the body at large wants to ignore the problem and hope it will go away…which is why we must NOT stay silent. We have to scream out about what is happening. That is the function of pain. Nothing will be put right – until we do.

      It’s not easy…but it is necessary.


      1. I am the mother and my ex-husband has succeeded in targeting me. My children will not invite to their weddings, childbirth, etc. My entire family is now alienated from my children due to my ex.

        So much hope and so little progress.


  15. Finally to answer the question, how do I feel about that statement?

    I don’t feel anything much. Numb. Not surprised, outraged, disgusted, just numb. I have been feeling this way for at least a year and a half, since my daughter’s alienation reaction set in and contact broke down. The numbness is a grey cloud shot through with bursts of anger, sometimes towards my ex-wife and her older daughter (my stepdaughter), more often towards the professionals – Cafcass officer, children’s guardian, judge – who failed our younger daughter so badly. But the anger comes less often now; I am learning not to allow myself to slide into it. Which leaves numbness.

    I have long been aware of the numbness. At a fiercely contested contact hearing it caused me speak in a rather harsh and flippant way which helped me to lose the sympathy of the judge. When I told a close friend about the failure of my application for contact, she broke down in tears, while I remained impassive, though I was in despair. I did cry once, briefly, at Christmas, alone in my room, but that was the only time. The numbness makes prayer, which I have never been very good at anyway, even more difficult, as I just feel empty, impatient and occasionally angry.

    The numbness has been a friend in its way, a protecting cloak. It shielded me from the sneering contempt of my ex-wife’s barrister and the harsh and sometimes absurd remarks of the judge. It protects me from the repertoire of aggressive, manipulative and controlling behaviours displayed by two female work colleagues and therefore enables me to keep my job, without which my life would start to fall apart.

    But I would quite like to have my emotions back, not the overwhelming ones of anger and grief, but the ones that make life bittersweet but worth living.


  16. You asked, how do I FEEL about the statement “The alienation reaction is a continuation of the dynamic which existed between you, the adults, before your relationship ended, only now it is being played out through your children.”

    Background: I have been completely alienated from my 15YO son for 4 years now. Prior to his breakup with his father, I was my son’s main caregiver, our relationship was very close and loving. Numerous times he asked me to leave his father and take him with me. Leaving the relationship was terrifying and traumatic and having my son turned against me and align with his father was even more so. I understand why – my ex told our son that he would kill himself if he lost him. He had frequently used the “suicide” threat against me too, which had prevented me from leaving earlier. He could not hold a job and my income was frequently the main source of family income. He told me if I left, he would make sure I got nothing but the clothes on my back and would never see my son again. In court he testified that I was an unfit, negligent mother because I was the sole breadwinner for the family, did all the cooking and cleaning for the family, took my son to Dr appointments and hockey games – and in doing so “neglected” my son’s emotional needs.

    I spent well over $100,000CDN on court and experts and therapists… I was “strongly advised” by my lawyer and a well known PAS expert who reviewed my case to spend an additional $75,000+ (which I don’t have) going to court seeking full custody of my son (with no guarantees of a win) and then a reunification program to follow. I chose to give up the court fight and am now attempting to let go and move on. My son refuses to see me and is in contact with me ONLY when he wants something (money, new clothes, laptop, right now – he is trying to get a PlayStation VR out of me…)

    My first reaction to your statement was shock, and yes a bit of anger. How could I, 4 years after leaving my son’s father, still be in a relationship with his father? The same man who last spring, after I said that when my son turned 16 if he still refused to acknowledge me as his mother, I would apply to the courts to have him treated as an “emancipated minor” and ask that I be released from my child support obligation. My ex told me that the only reason I was still alive is because I send child support money each month for my son, he made threats to “tell the world I was a child molester” (which I am most certainly not) if I stopped sending him money… I was so fearful that I filed a police report against him. I am so afraid of what he might do if I press too hard for a relationship with my son. My ex completely denies that he had any involvement with alienating my son from me. He claims my son is alienated because of what I did and who I am. Nothing to do with him.

    But then I realized… You are right. He is still in my head, still controlling my thoughts. Lately I have been getting angry at myself for still feeling anxious and depressed… I spent almost 20 years in an abusive, unhappy relationship with him and suffered a lot of anxiety and depression – which my ex would cite as “evidence” of my inadequacy and unworthiness of his affection and attention. He said only I could make myself happy, and if I wanted to be happy I would be happy no matter what he said or did. If I was unhappy that was my own fault. Somehow I had thought when I left my ex, my anxiety and depression would get better. But leaving him destroyed my relationship with my son. I’ve been getting really down on myself thinking, maybe he was right. It’s been 4 years and I am still anxious and depressed and fearful. Maybe it really is because I am inadequate and unworthy and a failure as a mother. I didn’t actually realize before this moment how much he still controls my thinking.

    Hope is a funny thing. I am currently working on releasing my “hope” for reconciliation with my son – I absolutely will continue to let my son know I love him and want a relationship with him – but I am working to release the idea that I need to reconcile with my son to be happy. I have a lot more work to do to get my ex’s voice out of my head – the voice that tells me that I am a worthless human being and that I don’t deserve to be in my son’s life.


    1. I too have had to do a lot of work on releasing the trauma of being in a violent and controlling relationship, one that mirrored my father’s role in my childhood. Ive learnt to set boundaries and far from feminism being the malignant force it is spoken of here by some, it has given me the ability to see my experience alongside millions of other women. I try not to think of my ex at all apart from having to deal with him in court to get some contact back with our daughter. There are some good things he brought to her as a father, such as structure, but I also recognise now that alot of this need for structure was a facet of his controlling nature. I have no idea of whether I will ever see my daughter again but suspect that if the court doesnt use the power it has and that I dont, the answer will be no. And somehow I will have to make a peace with that or remove myself from trying. How do I feel about him and these revelations of internal growth. I feel sad that the pattern my father laid down and my ex acted out are being imbued in my daughter. She is being groomed into being the next generation of abused or abusing woman.


  17. Hi Karen! As always thank you for this insight.
    After reading this article, I questioned myself in a few areas..
    but I’d rather ask you for clarity to be sure I understood what I read..

    I wanted to make sure that I’m processing in a healthy way. Meaning, now that I’ve entered into a new phase of this grief, one of acceptance- I’m now seeking understanding on an intellectual level (comfort and a newer sense of self is emerging) because my mind spirit and body are showing signs of readiness to move away from the perpetual victimized feeling, the disempowered state, the anxiety, the agony, the longing, the paralysis, the depression- so on…. In order to regain a sense of self, and not allow this out right rejection and for sure on the hybrid alienation spectrum from my son experience – to continue to consume my mind and spirit, through the “distancing” phase you speak of to be able to live again.. through the “intellectualization”over time moms and dads will numb out and cannot feel anything?
    So is the “distancing” and “intellectualization” not a healthy process to undergo? Sorry so wordy..
    on one hand it seems in the article- it reads that the distancing occurs in order for the parent to survive but over time the rejected or alienated parent numbs out and is unable to feel? I feel deeply- I just want and need to live and trust the maturation process of my son as of life period that one day he’ll come back and I’ll will have lived well..

    Do I run the risk of numbing out as a result of distancing and through the intellectualism phase? Is that what your implying? And the other parent is happy about it once the targeted parent moves on? What if the other parent moves on through distancing but still feels deeply, they’ve just learned to accept and have learned the skills necessary to not allow it to any longer suck the life force out of them? Does the parent like that as well? That you’ve moved on, still feel but have gotten away from their control..
    Run on sentences galore..

    Make sense?


  18. In my distance,,I meant, I’d like to trust trust the natural maturation process of my son and of life period… typographical errors in my above comment there. It’s not an English class I’ll tell myself.. Haha..


    1. Hi Anastasia, I will respond in full to your question tomorrow, I am just closing down for the day now but will come back to you then. K


      1. Karen

        Have you replied? I’m still learning the website interface. From my cellular device to my lap top. So much information, different screens.. hope I didn’t miss your reply..


  19. Of course all of your descriptions of feelings about being alienated are spot on, but the generalizations, any of them kill me, you know? I know you say each case is different, but i could really pull very little from your advice in this one, as the strange part is that I had a great relationship with their father, or I thought I did. And then he was gone, literally, he went to Iraq and while there he detached and was manipulated, although it is probably not that hard to get a man to sleep with you when he won’t see his wife for months. But I remember, we had fougt maybe a handful of times in our 7 years of marriage. How crazy right? Then he left me for her on his leave from Iraq. If in anyway it is paralleled by their alienation in that I had a great relationship with my daughters until they were gone too. They weren’t expecting it when it happened, and it was really too late ro turn back once they told them it was time, as they had already gotten the attoeney, and just like that, just like their dad, their feelings of love and respect turned to sheer hatred as if overnight. None of it is logical, none of the hate they feel makes any sense, the reasons they give that they don’t want me are just nothing, when my daughters have relayed their feelings, but their dad and his wife ,especially, make me out to be some wreck that “lost” my kids. What they did was steal kids that were ready to party and get away with whatever, or so they thought, and they were tired of schoolwork and tired of having parents. They went where they could get wasted and stay out all night, all lost their virginities which their dad saw as no biggie apparently, but none of them stayed with the boy, and they were each 14 by my calculations when he decided to leave them open and unsupervised, raging hormones and he made them into sex symbals. Really, he did. Sickens me.


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