Today is Parental Alienation Awareness Day around the world. In the UK we are launching Living Losses, bringing together women from mainland UK as well as Jersey in London to begin a year long arts based project to raise awareness of the problem of alienation and how it affects mothers, fathers, grandparents the wider family and most of all children. The project is already supported by women from all over the world and will begin a series of sewing circles in which women will sew the names of children to a growing tapestry which is testament to those they have lost to parental alienation. The tapestry, along with audio, visual, written and other creative media testimony, will be displayed in London at an exhibition entitled Living Losses in 2016.
The battle for the child’s mind which is caused by parental alienation is hugely damaging and can cause long lasting harm to children. In the UK, where this battle is increasingly forced upon the child by the reliance by family services, on children’s wishes and feelings to determine outcomes, the problem of alienation is set to grow bigger. Giving enormous amount of weight to what a child says should happen when parents separate, especially in the family courts, only encourages those parents who are willing to use the child’s mind to win outcomes to go further and stronger in their efforts to influence and persuade their children. And yet this approach is endorsed and practiced systemically in the UK and is held up as good practice, when in fact it is nothing short of collusion in the systemic abuse of a child.
Children’s wishes and feelings should not be the determinant of what happens after family separation. For certain children should be consulted and their views taken into consideration, but at no point should any professional concerned with the wellbeing of children, ever give the child (or their parents) the idea that what the child says goes. This only gives the child the message that they and not their parents are in charge and paves the way for an alienating parent to do what they do best, which is use the child’s mind to influence outcomes.
Today I will be working with women all over the world to begin to raise awareness of this problem as well as begin a multi layered approach to recording and analysing the problem of reliance on children’s wishes and feelings and the contribution this makes to alienation. Today we will be sewing, but over the coming year we will be recording, filming, writing, painting, making, stitching and more to gather testimony from families affected by the problem. We will be working with women in our sewing circles but as the year unfolds we will be opening the project up wider and wider to include all of the voices of families affected by parental alienation including alienated children and those previously alienating parents we have worked with who have healed. Our aim is to bear witness to the problem, the lack of help available to overcome it and the way in which the battle for the child’s mind is made worse by the focus on over reliance on the child’s wishes and feelings. We will also be writing and publishing new ways of working with families in the area of parental alienation and domestic violence, examining coercive control patterns and their presence in post separation struggles between parents.
Living Losses launches today on Parental Alienation Awareness Day 2015, but the work we will do throughout the coming year will bring vital evidence and testimony of families themselves to help us to understand further the problem and how to help to heal those affected by it. Our aim is to create a movement of people who know what is needed so that we can bring pressure to bear on those things which need to change so that we as adults and parents take responsibility, so that our children and our children’s children, do not have to.
Living Losses launches today at the Family Separation Clinic in London. Audio and Visual testimony from mothers affected by the problem will be available here shortly and at Livinglosses.wordpress.com and soon on Instagram. A twitter account is now promoting the project @livinglosses hashtag PAAD15