Blame projection and finger pointing: the importance of differentiation in alienation

I read a comment from a reader today who sounds really angry that I write about targeted parents in ways that encourage them to understand how a child becomes alienated and how their own behaviour might contribute to that.  The gist of this appears to be that all targeted parents are innocent of all wrong doings and that the only debate to be had is how to prevent parents from alienating children.  This blame projection and finger pointing is not useful when working with children who are alienated and it is very definitely not useful to the targeted parent. Understanding how a child becomes alienated and whether the alienation is something that can be avoided by changing behaviours, is a far more empowering approach to helping families.  Differentiating between those cases which can be changed by therapeutic intervention and those which require a more robust approach is also a far more direct way of rescuing the child from the dilemma they find themselves in.  Either way, based on the evidence of many years work with families where children reject a parent, finger pointing and blame projection are not the way forward to helping to change the child’s reality.

How does a child become alienated?  To begin with it is important to understand that not all children are at risk of alienation, even children in the same family can be more or less at risk of it.  Secondly it is important to recognise that not every withdrawal from a parent by a child IS alienation. Sometimes the withdrawal is temporary, sometimes it is justified (and I know there are those who hate it when I say it, but some children justifiably withdraw) and sometimes it is a result of intolerable levels of cross projection of blame, which we would call hybrid.  Pure alienation, which is when one parent is actively, either consciously or unconsciously working to undermine the relationship between a child and a parent, is very recognisable and the closest in presentation to Gardner’s original formulation of alienation.  In my view this is the smallest group of families within the risk category of withdrawal but it is often presented by rejected parents as being that which they are experiencing.

And this presentation of a case of a child’s withdrawal as being pure alienation when in reality it is because of the cross projection of blame or the behaviours combined of both parents, is incredibly difficult to unravel.  The comment I read today, full of anger and self righteous indignation on behalf of targeted parents, reminds me just how difficult it can be to let a parent who has been rejected know that there IS something they could change to make it easier for the child.  When we tell a parent in such situations that this is not pure alienation (based on our extensive and comprehensive assessments) but is hybrid and as such is something that can be treated and changed, some seem almost disappointed.  It is far easier it seems, for the blame to be wholly placed upon the other parent, than to understand and take responsibility for what belongs to the self and what therefore can be readily changed.

Parental alienation, which in reality has several things underpinning it, causes a child to withdraw from a parent in order to either a) conform to the parent’s unspoken wishes and carry out for the parent and unresolved trauma pattern (pure and unconscious) b) conform to the parent’s spoken or otherwise clearly articulated wishes (pure and conscious) c) conform to transgenerational patterns of behaviours (pure and unconscious but sometimes conscious) or d) cope with the intolerable pressure of two parents who are entangled in conflicted behaviours and blame projection (hybrid).  Rarely does a child withdraw entirely on the basis of e) something a parent has actually done (justified rejection).  At the clinic we are currently examining the category of hybrid alienation to differentiate it into sub categories because the more we work with families, the more we recognise that the hybrid alienation cases, where a child utilises withdrawal as a coping mechanism, are not served well by the family courts because of the lack of nuanced strategies that can be applied in the family courts.

When we work with differentiating alienation we do because we know that it is the best way to develop treatment routes that help the child. And it is the child with whom we are most concerned because it is the child who has been forced into using the coping mechanism of splitting their feelings about parents into all good and all bad and it is the child therefore who is most at risk.

Our commenter this morning is angry about lost periods of childhood and lost time with the child and whilst I understand that anger and frustration my concern is that the child’s loss is not the time with that parent but the destruction of the healthy mind and perspective that comes with that loss.  I have absolute sympathy for targeted and rejected parents, the experience of being in that position is a pain like no other, a seam which runs underneath everyday life which can be unbearable at times.  But for the child, the suffering is not painful like that, or at least not in any way that they could articulate. What it is, is seriously damaging, causing psychological and emotional life changes which are difficult to repair and using energies which would be far better utilised in every day living.

And so for me, it is imcumbent upon all parents rejected, targeted, aligned and alienated to recognise what they can change and when and how and what they cannot change.  If all that happens when a child withdraws is that a parent spends their whole time pointing the finger and projecting blame, nothing can change and the child will remain frozen in time and space.  If your specialist tells you that there is something you can do to bring about change, it is a time for rejoicing not being furious. If your specialist tells you there is nothing you can do to change things because the withdrawal is due to a one of the patterns of behaviours demonstrated in a pure case of alienation, then it is time to seriously worry about your child and hope that the family court process can bring about liberation.

Of course we all want it to be impossible for a child to become alienated and the ways that some professionals approach alienation does deepen the problem because they treat it as a he said/she said issue.  Hybrid alienation is not a he said/she said situation but it is one which is more readily treatable through behavioural change in both parents and this is why differentiating alienation is not about blaming rejected parents, it is about helping them.

Stamping one’s feet and demanding that all alienation is the same however, serves no purpose other than to create a situation in which many children cannot be helped because blame projection remains high.  Is that what targeted parents want? I don’t think so.  I think targeted/rejected parents want information, education, support and strategies so that they can take responsibility where it is possible so that their children do not have to.

Which after all, is the corner stone of healthy parenting, something the alienated child very desperately needs.

18 Comments

  1. Thanks Karen. Very helpful post. I for one would modify my behaviors or timing or anything if it meant helping my child to reconnect or to cope better or heal emotionally. I have tried everything and I think in trying so hard I have made mistakes. But even in a case of hybrid, is there anything a targeted parent can do if the other parent holding all the cards refuses to entertain the slightest request to self assess or mediate or even correspond on the subject that we both need to change something to help our child because her rejection of an emotionally available parent is not healthy for her and must be a huge weight?
    I have tried to diplomatically, without blame, ask the mother to read an article like this before, but never a response unless to say it is the child’s decision and the child can contact me whenever she wishes.
    What can be done to prod the inertia if Court is no longer an option for so many reasons?
    Max

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    1. Difficult to give generic advice but generally when the alienating parent has entered into a place of safety behind the iron curtain of a court decision for example there is not much you can do immediately. But there is much that you CAN Do as part of a longer term strategy, the first is to remain visible, the enemy of alienation is visibility because your presence reminds the child of your existence. Time is alienation’s friend AND its enemy and again, if this is a hybrid case, time will help but if it is pure it will not help one jot.

      The problem we have in the UK is that those making decisions to cut parents out of the lives of children in the family courts a) refuse to believe in alienation and b) are not trained in the dynamics of family separation and alienation. I have this week read one statement in which the CAFCASS officer stated clearly and boldly that he does not believe in alienation and therefore all of the child’s statements about her mother absolutely have to have basis in truth – for this court advisor, what the child says the parent is IS what the parent is, no analysis simple repetition of the child’s (alienated) voice. I have also heard another CAFCASS officer tell a parent that she does not receive any training in implacable hostility or alienation as part of her role. Without that level of training or awareness or even belief in alienation, what can possibly done even when the court route is not exhausted?

      There is quite a lot you can do that I can advise you on, perhaps it might be best to drop me a longer outline of your situation and the events leading up to the withdrawal to office@familyseparationclinic.co.uk so that I can tailor the advice. I have to be explicit in that you cannot treat your own case of alienation just by picking up generic pieces of advice, you have to map it, know it and understand the possibilities in it first. Mark your email query from the blog and it will get sent to me. K

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  2. I have mixed feelings about this issue. Yes, it is always the best thing to work to become the best parent, child, employee, employer, citizen you can without beating yourself up over lack of imperfection. It is very difficult when a sociopath is not allowing you to be human in your child’s eyes, or anyone else’s. It is hard to hear this when you’re in deep grief, battling lies and simply trying to get through the day without crying at work or a gathering. Another issue is that parent blame is so popular in this culture. The alienating parent seems to come out smelling like a rose, forgiven for ALL kinds of abuse, while the targeted parent has impossible expectations put upon them. A targeted parent of an obsessive sociopath, I do encourage targeted parents to seek healing and support so that they and their love for their child can be as healthy as possible. I think the problem here is that some targeted parents are experiencing mild attacks and some of us have experienced horrible threats and are in fear for our alienated child and ourselves. Some of us have kids who have had suicide attempts once in the alienator’s “care” and a host of all kinds of issues that CPS won’t address if the father is a businessman or has some other type of status and is adept at maintaining a façade.

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    1. It is always difficult when I post about differentiation and hybrid cases because everyone thinks I am talking about them and negating their experience of life with an impossible ex, I am not, far far from it.

      Let me try to put this in a way that will help you to understand what we do at the Clinic, that might help you to read this in the way it is intended.

      We know at the Clinic that all cases of alienation are different. They are as different as each tumour a cancer patient has, horrible analogy but in fact very very real when you come to do this work with families. You wouldn’t want your oncologist treating your cancer the same as everyone else these days now that we know that each cancer has its own pattern, its own genesis, its own response to treatment routes. To simply blast you with a massive dose of chemo and say there you go, that’s you done, would horrify you. It is the same with alienation, where the cancer of conflict or an unco-operative ex or a downright psychopathic ex is all different and all created not by one but two and sometimes more people. Because let’s face it, you cannot have parental alienation without more than one parent… Those people who argue that all alienation is the same and all alienation is caused only by one wicked parent acting against one innocent parent have not experienced the spectrum of behaviours/attitudes/psychological problems/personality disorders and more that go to make up the alienator and alienated parent community, they have only experienced their own and perhaps some others that they have been in touch with. It is just not possible to say that this is alienation and it only looks like this because if we did we would fail to help those children who are not caught in a one parent = bad the other parent = good situation but who are caught in the cross projection of blame.

      That said, in hybrid cases we are not saying that parents should change their behaviour because they are being abusive. We are saying that in hybrid cases THERE IS something that the rejected parent can do to shift the dynamic and free the child – and surely the liberation of the child, however it is achieved is what we all want, isn’t it?

      I completely and utterly get that there are some really nasty alienating parents out there who will be hell bent on shoving you out and getting rid of you. I Have met the sociopaths, the psychopaths and the downright scaries that cause some alienation reactions. But i have also worked with children who are alienated whose aligned parent does not fit that profile when assessed, so what do we do about them? Do we call them evil and point the finger of blame at them too? Children become alienated for a lot of different reasons and this post is not victim blaming. If the differentiation does not fit your case and on assessment we can see that this is pure, we say it is pure and we tell the court what to do about it. In the UK the court is not very good at taking robust action quickly and far prefers the hybrid diagnosis believing that therapy is all that is needed and if everyone is just helped by the nice therapist they will see the error of their ways and sort it out. But we do not apply hybrid unless it is hybrid because we know that if we do we will end up with a failed treatment (and I have had to learn that the hard way, through failing children sadly). I have also had to learn that if you believe every case is pure and try to treat every case as if it is pure the child involved is not well served (and I have had that happen so that a reverse of residence goes wrong because it was considered pure when it was hybrid). When the differentiation is as close to right as it is possible to get the outcomes are quick and clean (if you can get the court to do what is needed and that is not always easy). When it is wrong is causes the child to suffer even more. Something no-one would want to inflict upon a child.

      So to summarise. Differentiation is about helping the child. It is not victim blaming and I write about it because if I don’t, too many children who could be helped will not be. Hope that helps to explain. K

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      1. Thank you. Yes, that makes sense to help who you can in the way that you can. I think the rest of us feel so desperate, frustrated, helpless and afraid. So many professionals have no clue about sociopaths (Dr. Jayne Major spoke about the problem with sociopaths in the courtroom) and victimize us further by telling us to work with them — that only empowers more opportunities for abuse. It is good that you are addressing the mild forms of PA. I think some of us are feeling greedy for relief and understanding from our kids, society, and professionals. :0)

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      2. absolutely it does T2P and I would not advocate anyone working with a sociopath or anyone with a severe personality disorder because it doesn’t work and only further abuses. I should be clear though, mild alienation does not equal hybrid, hybrid can be a severe and fixed reaction in the child just as a pure case can. I think that what most people are calling alienation here is actually what we would call pure alienation in which a personality disordered parent or mentally unhealthy parent, coercive controlling parent or a parent with trans generational trauma issues, uses the child against the other parent. Those are the cases when we see the child present with all of the eight signs in a rigid, cold, angry and fixed presentation. That is often accompanied by a parent who is fixed, angry, disordered and discernibly dysfunctional. Those cases should be the easiest to spot for mental health professionals but they are not. Why not? because for too long there has been a real lack of care about what happens to kids in separated families across the globe. Pressure to focus on those kids is a good place to start when lobbying for attention for the issue of alienation in my view. K

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      3. Other moms I know also feel we sound crazy having to describe a sociopath ex’s games to a counselor, so we are often reluctant even before the professional tells us we are being difficult or paranoid. I don’t completely blame the counselors, had I not been a victim, I don’t think I could ever conceive of the schemes a sociopath will engage in — “that’s the stuff of ridiculous soap operas” I would have thought. An hour in the office is not enough to explain the decade of patterns that point to something so unimaginable. Indeed, I was blind in the middle of it and it took years and distance to put it all together. Another problem I think is that even professionals don’t want to hear such impossible horror stories. Helen Beverly (her pen name, as she is a victim) writes about spotting a sociopath and why so many counselors are pulled along with the sociopath in her book The Other Side of Charm: Your Memoir and has a blog by the same name. We must have counselors, but how can we have the needed accountability of all those involved, including counselors, in influencing the recommendations for an alienated child? Unhealthy counselors in our community colluded with one another: court records shows points to a triangle involving three female counselors — one who was caught practicing with fake credentials, yet the female judge allowed her testimony to take the kids away from the mom — these counselors always sided with the dad, even creating interviews that never took place). This has not been proven in court (other than the unlicensed counselor brought to light by one angry mom) — it is too traumatic and expensive to go through a board hearing after going through the hell of a custody trial with a sociopath, not to mention the hell of seeing signs of extreme distress in one’s alienated child via Facebook, etc. Educational blogs like yours that everyone can access is one answer to these issues too many of our children are enduring.

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  3. As the person who stimulated the angry response referred to, I am not at all opposed to the detailed study of alienation. Yes, there will undoubtedly be great variations and subtleties in the manner of precisely how the abuse is carried out, and we need to be as sophisticated possible in knowing how to identify it.

    I’m sure none of us targeted parents are averse to learning how we could be better parents – if we could only be given the chance to BE proper parents!

    The frustration expressed probably derives from the outrageous scenario of how reality has been reversed and it is the abuser is now presented as victim – while it is the abusers’ victim – who is now made out to have been the abuser in the situation.

    We’ve talked before of how exceptionally high male suicide figures would seem to be driven by this…there hasn’t been any equivalent discussion of how, in this situation, the target parent’s body may involuntarily start to collapse and decline – quite apart from any self-harm.

    Does, describing it as a ‘pain like no other underneath everyday life which can be unbearable at times’ – actually quite do full justice to what is happening here? The point is that ‘everyday life’ for the targeted parent may actually have collapsed in a way from which it may be extremely difficult to ever recover.

    Being that much younger, the children are less likely to experience such somatic deterioration (at least, yet…although my 18 yr old daughter complains of weakness and exhaustion which already seem to me to be symptoms of depression) the impact on children may be more in terms of the long term psychological damage, and the impact of the loss of critical support they will be needing during their formative years – leading to the crushing of the hopes and dreams for their adult lives.

    The frustration may represent anger at what seems to have been the failure so far (in the country at large) to highlight that separating children from a loving parent – currently widely considered to be acceptable, and even strongly recommended – constitutes serious child abuse crime on a massive scale – so that consequently this is where the biggest emphasis needs to be.

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    1. yes and i have no problem with the articulation of anger, it is a valid response and a normal one. What I do have a problem with is people who will not allow there to be anything other than one form of alienation, it does not serve children well at all. I think that there is also something of a misreading of what we are saying about hybrid alienation and I don’t know whether it is deliberate or whether it is symptomatic of the dynamics in the alienation situation. I am not saying, never have and never will, that the rejected parent in a hybrid case has abused the child – if I said that I would not be an alienation specialist, I would be a generic practitioner. In all hybrid cases the rejected parent has not alienated the child but may well have contributed unwittingly to the child’s alienation reaction. If that is the case then the unwitting part of it can change and when it does the child is freed. Yes life collapses for some rejected or targeted parents, yes it is a truly dreadful and terribly wrong thing that is ignored by too many people but the anger which is directed at those who are working to liberate children is wrongly directed in my view. Unless we have studies, unless we have differentiation, unless we have evidence there is nothing anyone can do to change the blinkered attitudes to alienation in this and other countries. This is why we do it and this is why I write about it.

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    1. I’ve read a couple of cafcass reports that suggest that the targeted parent should accept some responsibility for the alienation of their children. I’m trying to link these comments with what you have said in this blog. What should a targeted parent beware of in own attitude, behaviour, words? I’ve suggested to them that they should think carefully about anything that might have given the cafcass officer ‘that impression’. But it’s very difficult to stand back and look closely at oneself when someone is on the receiving end of alienating parent behaviour and the grinding and frustrating lack of progress within the court system.

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  4. Just to be clear – to be sure – those who project alienation (i.e. blame the targeted parent as being responsible for their own abuse…I’m sure most of us will have experienced this) will almost certainly be the alienating parent and Family Services personnel – and most unlikely to be those seeking to work with alienation!

    I do think most of us understand alienation abuse as being on a continuum and full of unique circumstances, and that throughout the spectrum, the perpetrators will generally be in denial as to the damage they are doing. This is hugely supported by wider societal attitudes which wish to minimize the importance of direct male involvement (in particular) in children’s lives – and/or believe that a biological parent can be easily substituted for.

    Richard Gardner talks about the extreme difficulty of getting alienating parents into therapeutic programs – even in places where alienation abuse IS recognised.

    The ‘Community Sound’ idea currently in development – aims to provide a community based informal space to which alienating parents (as well as anyone at all) can be invited. Of course, it can be pretty much guaranteed that alienators will at first fight extremely hard NOT to go…but if the community music events (based on the most emotional pop music of the last 60 years) work as intended…then it is anticipated that eventually a pressure to attend (a mixture of curiosity, and the pain of being left out of a significant event) will start to build.

    Once there, it is hoped that the emotional environment which is generated, with maximum emphasis on participation (singing, and/or drumming along) will make it difficult for a person, no matter who they are, to remain unaware of and untouched about – any area of their life in which they may be being oppressive to others.

    I do apologise that the project is still in development – and not available yet. However, the hope is that a film explaining the initiative will be available by August and that other people can be stimulated to use this to develop similar local projects (anywhere in the world, really, since music is so universal) and that we will be able to share the resources that are used (the lyric videos and power-point presentations about the songs) that will be developed by all of us along the way – so helping the whole thing to take off relatively quickly.

    I’m struggling a bit with all the various graphic design related elements and other basic (database etc) tasks involved in making the film and further preparing for the project, so as to get it done in time – so if anyone has any skills in this area and thinks they might be able to assist, then do please contact me at abbeywoodcommunitymusic[at]gmail.com

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  5. “Those cases should be the easiest to spot for mental health professionals but they are not. Why not?”
    Standard practice amongst those who could reliably alert mental health teams i.e. Cafcass / SS, seems to be designed to help conceal any signs e.g even when informed that an obstructive and delaying parent is clearly and obviously avoiding cooperating (constantly changing appointments at the last minute, things always cropping up beforehand etc) the social workers steadfastly refuse to just knock upon doors and see for themselves. In the meantime the alienating parent (with some insight of their problems and how they could be perceived) uses the opportunity to set their house in order and refine the script. Social workers seem to bend over backwards to give an alienating parent all the time and space they need to complete their tasks.
    Surprise, surprise, when they do actually engage the alienator, most of the evidence of things, the target parent will have been concerned about, will have been hidden or removed.
    When this interview takes place, it is common practice to see children on the same day, in the alienating parent’s home and possibly within earshot. This seems to be designed to deliberately influence the child’s voice.
    There is often great reluctance to look behind the veil. They simply do not want to see anything – which they know – will not support the view they are promoting.
    Consequently the alienated parent feels even more hopeless, frustrated and isolated when those who claim to be acting in a child’s best welfare interests are actually complicit in the harm being caused.
    Instead of providing good, unbiased and factual evidence the social workers seem hell bent upon reducing each case to another he said / she said, bickering contest.

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  6. Yesterday was my day for having my son over and he would normally stay the night, me seeing him off to school in the morning………….a great experience for any Mum or Dad who loves being a parent.

    It was exceptionally busy for me at work over the weekend so my time with my son would be curtailed even more than normal. He texted me whilst I was at work to say he had been up to the house and was disgusted at how untidy it was and there was washing-up left in the sink.

    When I left work I sent my son a message to ask him what he would like for his tea, but he didn’t reply. After shopping I tried phoning him to tell him I had steak for our tea. He told me he thought he wouldn’t stay with me that night. I said, oh why? And he said he was annoyed; annoyed that my house was in a bit of a mess. I told him that the fact my house was in a bit of a mess shouldn’t be the criteria upon which he determines whether or not to stay with his Dad. (I was annoyed to think he might not be staying with me because my house was a bit untidy).

    I texted him a message saying my house may not be right but I am still here. I attached a smiley face. At home I was alone and feeling unfairly rejected by my own son. This is the repayment you get for working most of the weekend! The anger I felt at the time fairly soon turned to depression and self-reflection. I went out on a bike ride to expend some physical energy and mournfully stopped by the church to see the congregation in evening service.
    I began to feel paranoid about the actions of my Ex and how she might be behind this plot to keep my son away from me. After all I knew my ex is a stickler for cleaning and tidying and generally sifting out any excess clutter.

    I returned home as the light was fading and began pottering about in the garden. I began to contemplate life alone.

    I could be very angry with my Ex and blame her for the absence of my son, accusing her of helping my son to use the fact that she had a relatively tidy house to deter my son from continuing to see his Dad……………………….I guess that might justify my position as the target parent and her as the alienator.

    But then I thought she doesn’t need to discourage my son from visiting me; the simple fact that he has lived most of the last seven years with her in her house is enough for him to have been heavily influenced by her without her having to do anything underhand to deter him from visiting his Dad.

    So, here I am in the unenviable position of most “contact” parents having precious little time to keep the paternal relationship healthy and sustainable (but that doesn’t stop me from trying). It is perhaps not so much that my Ex is a fully operational alienator but rather she just carries on doing what she believes in, and that could be enough to convince my son that I have to comply with Mum’s ideals and standards before he can visit me.

    I had my hand in the potting compost and a lobelia ready to be transplanted when I heard a rustling sound coming from inside the house. I looked up to see my son standing tall in the frame of the back door. I casually said “Hi, how are you, nice to see you, how has your day been?”………….and we carried on our lives as if nothing had happened. No questions, no interrogations. He was pleased to see that at least I had made a start on clearing up the mess in the front room. That night I rested easy in the knowledge that he lay peacefully in the bedroom next door. I didn’t even feel the need to have my radio on through the night to keep the demon thoughts at bay.

    Kind regards

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    1. Beautifully written and contemplative of the pressures upon your son and the way in which the conditioning of living with his mum who is tidy in the extreme, might affect his tolerance levels for living a different way. Children who live in two homes have a particular task to achieve that children who live in one home don’t have to, they have to be able to adapt to different ways of living. That is nothing to do with his mum, it is only to do with his life in two homes. This is such a clear exposition of how transition difficulties can be tripped into believing it is alienation when it is not. Thank you for writing it. Your son is clearly secure in his love and relationship with you, if he was not he would not be able to tell you his feelings, he would simply be angry with you.

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  7. Hello Karen, It’s been almost 13 years since I’ve seen my now 24 year old daughter and son 25. I write my daughter and son monthly and include a Dunkins certificate. My daughter will write back occassionally. I had them with me for 9 years until the ages of 10 and 13, went through another GAL investigation and with the lies they were telling the school (which I had no idea there was a problem and they were even seeing their school counselors) – let them go live with their dad and step-mother (she works for DSS) Was told in the courtroom that after they got acclimated, family services would set up a visitation schedule – that NEVER OCCURRED. Yes, I was a drinker – which never took off until after they left – I’m not in denial or have no reason to believe that was a problem where it never came up in any situation as a problem. There’s been no one to ask either. I am sober – 6 years now and relayed that to both of my kids. I am also divorced from their step-father (which seemed to be a problem? yet unknown because no one wants to address any of the issues) There’s too many UNKNOWNS!! And it’s left me in a huge difficult situation where I’m unable to have closure and unable to know how to approach my children. Do you have any advice?

    Much Appreciative – Dannette

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  8. The Sociopath.

    That’s your Ex. The one that’s doing despicable things, sometimes manipulating your children as part of their dastardly plan to undermine you and your relationship with them.
    The children seem to be physically ok. They are fed and watered and clothed, it’s just that they don’t want to know you and are rude, obnoxious, discourteous and sometimes violent against you.

    Your ex is in control. They are the bully. You can see your children are suffering emotionally. You are not asking a lot just 50:50 parenting time like that nice Lady from Ukip who when finding she didn’t get enough time with hers came up with the idea of 50:50 shared parenting as part of the Party manifesto.

    The struggle for family justice continues on a political level, but your search for a very personal solution needs your best attention on your unique and special case. What are you doing?

    How can you regain some self-respect? How do you get past the necessity of blaming your Ex for such callous behaviour? You are held fast in the vice-like grip of victimhood from which there seems no escape.

    Is it just a waiting game until the kids grow up and leave home or is it something less intractable that is worthy of more thoughtful endeavour at this moment?
    For most of us who have families there have been times when the family functioned reasonably well as a unit. This is where we are headed; to a place of relative calm and tranquillity. The chocks have been pulled away and the shackles are loose. With our renewed vigour and sense of responsibility returning we accept all things, we look to our association with our children in empathic ways and we abandon our “house of correctional facilities” in favour of more gracious responses.

    We cannot be dismissive of our children’s feelings nor bizarre logic, for this would be dismissive.

    We will not leave our parenting duties to the whim of the world for this would be abandonment.

    We will not rule supreme in our dictate being superior or right in any self-indulgent command because this would lead to division and war.

    We wish to and will be parents of empathy, forever listening, confirming what we are being told, embracing and sharing pain, rejoicing love, celebrating endeavour regardless of its outcome.

    Kind regards

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