On hearing the voices of children

There is a  trend within family services to listen to the voices of the children who are in the midst of family separation. This trend, which appears to me to be growing stronger, is focused on the need to put the child in the middle of the separating couple’s relationship breakdown so that they, not their parents, can determine what should happen in the years hence. To me this is a tragedy nothing less than child abuse because the very last place a child should be is in the middle of the breakdown of the relationship between parents, with all of the attendant horrors that brings. Never-the-less, from the birth of CAFCASS’s Wishes and Feelings reports, to the training undertaken by Social Workers and Mediators, listening to the voice of the child seems to be all about making sure that children say what should happen when the family separates. So much so that slavish devotion to the voices of children, even when it is abundantly clear that those children have been deeply damaged by the relationship breakdown, seems to be a trend which is going to be hard to change.

But that doesn’t mean that those of us who understand children living through family separation shouldn’t try to change it. In fact those of us who work closely with children affected by family separation have, in my view, a moral duty to try and change it.  Here’s why.

Children are not born knowing everything there is to know about human relationships. They learn what they come to know through being in relationship. In fact there is sound neuroscientific evidence which clearly demonstrates that children’s emotional and relationship experiences build the capacity of the brain for emotional literacy, critical thinking skills and more.  Children depend upon the adults around them to be in relationship with them, their very development of self rests upon the healthy relationships they are able to count on. When children are faced with broken and fractured relationships, with two parents now snarling at each other  instead of smiling, their route to healthy relationships on which their emotional and psychological selves depend, are closed off.  This causes children to have to adapt and when children adapt they also build defences and when children are defended the energy that should be going into building brain capacity and strong neural pathways is shut off. Little wonder that children who face adverse life experiences such as the divorce of their parents, can be seen to suffer emotionally and psychologically. They are also, if neuroscience is to be believed, suffering physiologically too.

So why, in our wisdom, do we consider that the best people to tell us what should happen to relationships with parents after separation are the children who are negatively affected by that?  Would we ask children to drive our cars if we were unable to do that or go to work for us?  Asking children to decide what should happen to their relationship with a parent when the family separates is like asking them to do just that.

So, your mum and dad can’t drive the car to work Jimmy, here’s the keys, perhaps you could do that for them.’

So, your mum and dad can’t agree where you should live or when you should see your dad Jimmy, perhaps you could tell us what you think you should do.’

Before anyone snorts with derision at the comparison and starts telling me how ridiculous a comparison it is let me explain this.  The part of the brain which is engaged with driving a car is the same part of the brain you are asking a child to engage in critical thinking about their relationship with their parents after separation.  There is a reason we don’t allow children to drive cars until they are 17 (UK), that is because we consider that their developmental selves are not ready for that responsibilty.  And yet we routinely see practitioners not only asking children what they think should happen but relying upon that as ‘evidence’ that their work is child focused.  It is nonsensical, it is not child focused and it is frankly, terrifying.  I don’t know why we even bother with parenting sometimes so utterly fixated on what a child says are some of the family practitioners who work with children in this field. Better to simply hand over the responsibility to the child to get on and bring themselves up.

What a godawful state of affairs.  So godawaful that in some situations children who have clearly been abused by a parent, who are clearly unable to know their own mind let alone express it, are handed all of the control for ‘deciding’ what happens simply on the basis of what they say.  The disgrace is that as the voice of the child juggernaut trundles on, becoming ever more trendy and the focus of family services up and down the land, generations of children are being subjected to what is, in my view, an absolute abdication of adult responsibilities.

Children’s voices should be set against a backdrop of understanding about their developmental needs, it always used to be when parenting meant taking care of all aspects of a child’s life. Now that parenting can seem at times more like being a child’s friend or mate, family services reflect that same lack of boundaried care and adult responsibility.

Hearing children’s voices in the experience of family separation, without critical analysis is wrong, it is abusive to children and it causes them harm.  It requires children to carry the toxic burden of their parent’s unresolved issues and it denies them the right to the loving relationships and freedom from defended behaviour that bring emotional and psychological health.

When a child says ‘I don’t want to’ and family services simply report that as fact and act to uphold the child’s ‘decision’ the child is placed firmly into a double bind from which they cannot wriggle free. When family services examines ‘I don’t want to’ and sets that against the need to help the family to adjust to liberate the child, the child is freed to drop the defence and move back into the flow of living.

Which is what we all want for our children isn’t it?

21 Comments

  1. I have documentary evidence of a Social Worker in Brent waking a 3 year old up from his afternoon nap to quiz him about his opinion on a recent court order. Surprise surprise after the 3rd question he gave a suitable reply which ensured his court ordered holiday with his dad did not take place. That was in 2007, now such malpractice is much more commonplace. It is pure unadulterated child abuse and worse it then burdens the child when it becomes an adult with guilt over an answer it gave as a child in the midst of parental hurricane.

    The child is totally innocent, but for the parental alienators and those myriad psuedo professionals who proliferate in children’s services and are automatically anti shared parenting it is a wonderful tool of convenience.

    Please please always campaign against this most insidious form of child abuse. Some day it will be seen for what it is after yet another generation of vulnerable children have been damaged.

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  2. Reblogged this on | truthaholics and commented:
    ” ‘So, your mum and dad can’t drive the car to work Jimmy, here’s the keys, perhaps you could do that for them.’

    So, your mum and dad can’t agree where you should live or when you should see your dad Jimmy, perhaps you could tell us what you think you should do.’ …
    When a child says ‘I don’t want to’ and family services simply report that as fact and act to uphold the child’s ‘decision’ the child is placed firmly into a double bind from which they cannot wriggle free. When family services examines ‘I don’t want to’ and sets that against the need to help the family to adjust to liberate the child, the child is freed to drop the defence and move back into the flow of living.

    Which is what we all want for our children isn’t it?”

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  3. I couldn’t agree more. It’s like asking a child if they want to go to school and how much time they would like to spend there.

    If the child dislikes the experience of seeing one parent the emphasis should be on improving the relationship, not excluding the parent who needs support in parenting their child.

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  4. Karen, you write some truly breath taking and common sensical reports and articles….supporting alienated parents, understanding alienated children’s thoughts and highlighting what a complete and utter ‘joke’ CAFCASS and family Courts can be…Well, it would be a joke if it was not such a deeply important subject. All my 4 children have been sucked into the claws of alienation from me their Mum. My eldest is thankfully finding his own feet and ‘coming out the other side’.. I am not so hopeful that my other 3 childeren who were 11, 13 and 15 when we divorced, will manage to cope and not be damaged by their experiences. CAFCASS were weak beyonf belief….yes, a fine example of not simply allowing but encouraging the children to make relationship decisions. There is no way they had the capacity to do so and I know they have suffered emotionally at the hands of the system.
    Thank you again Karen.

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  5. Karen, I couldn’t agree with you more. As someone interested in neuroscience I have understood for a while the neurological impact the trauma of parental alienation has on both the child and targeted parent.

    Your driving analogy is also interesting. There are some neuroscientists who believe the legal age for driving should be higher. Recent scientific development has brought to light the neuro-structural changes that happen between the ages of 18-25, with suggestions that 25 should be the new cut-off point for adulthood.

    I find it shocking that this absolute madness, where children get to decide the relationship they have with the non-resident parent continues, appears to be growing and is seen as being empowering for the child. Yet in the same boat, these professionals would not agree to a child making a decision about whether they need an education or not.

    The damage that parental alienation has on the relational areas of the brain directly impacts emotional and psychological health, as you have highlighted in this post. This damage can have life-long consequences and I find this truly heart-breaking.

    Somehow, at some point in time, the neurological damage that is occurring to a developing brain of a child held hostage within this family dynamic must be seen by the professionals involved in making decisions about this child’s future.

    I only see this happening through correct education and training by professionals knowledgeable about this issue. It’s going to be a long journey of change I am sure, but thankfully there are people like yourself who are bringing these issues to light.

    My hope is that any professional that might be reading your blog, and is actively involved in influencing the decisions made re a child’s relationship with their parents post-separation, takes these issues seriously.

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  6. The voice of the child is the cop-out used when lazy, abusive and trendy social workers and judges have no particular motivation to assist a child. It is a means of escape for professionals but framed as a release for the child. It is part of a managerial policy aimed at efficiency rather than effectiveness, enabling minimum input and easy-out engagements, with the plug being pulled at will, under the pretence of lawfulness. It works in family courts due to the weakness of the statute using the word: ‘ascertainable,’ or “to find out definitely; learn with certainty or assurance; determine.”

    To do that, you have to know the dynamics of parental alienation, be skilled at forensic interviews with children, be altruistic and honest enough to seek the truth and ensure the right evidence leads to the right decisions. You have to give a f***.

    The level of ascertainability is aligned to the competence of the person doing the assessment. So the best way around that little legal problem is to have interviewers with no relevant training, not be interested in the truth, unaccountable, self centered, learning in isolation, who don’t give a f***, and have no need to, because courts and regulatory bodies only check to see if they have followed the laid down process. If the laid down process has been legitimised by watery standards, then all’s fine.

    So what’s needed is a set of processes that each child has to go through, designed by real child professionals (we may have to import them), alongside specialists who can spot trauma and signs of parental alienation, and other serious forms of abuse, and deal with them at early intervention. But that would ruin the industry currently in place. An industry built on profiting from families rather than helping them, itself legitimising by removing the family from legal personality and protection and replacing it with consideration for just the children, as if the child and family were and are separable.

    So alienators really do have it all their own way. They make children vulnerable between ages 0-8, then hit hard as the child hits the impressionable developmental phase where they are impressionable and vulnerable to manipulation, and all the alienator has to do is string out the proceedings by toying with the court until the child is old enough for the court to deploy specious excuses, such as the voice of the child. You couldn’t make it up. But somebody has.

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  7. As you know Karen, this is a subject that i have very strong feelings about. Usually, wishes and feelings are referred to in the context of the 1989 Children Act. The preceding word i.e ascertainable is essential to our understanding. It is there for a purpose but it is inconvenient in the context of a totally different agenda shared by many involved in the system. Therefore, it is simply omitted.

    Most people with an eye on the family court – since Sir James Munby took up his position – will have noticed that the state employed family professionals advising the court have been at the receiving end of a great deal of well earned criticism in a growing list of judgments. The court’s stated dissatisfaction, with dismal standards which have become all too commonplace (and many of us will have experienced at first hand), seems to be filtering downwards in deep time. A lot of people are clearly resistant to the concept of changes that don’t conform with their belief systems.

    You mention driving, but there are so many other things that involve children being protected from taking responsibility for their actions, which could affect the rest of their lives, until the state considers them mature enough to accept responsibility for making their own mistakes. I’ve been surprised to see this conventional parenting role being repeatedly labelled, in what has become a pejorative sense, in the literature. The word “paternalistic is the term of choice to describe behaviour that could just as easily be called “maternal”, “caring”, “nurturing”, ”pastoral”, “guiding”, “parental”, “motherly” etc etc. Unfortunately, none of these words have the appropriate shaming value that is used daily to stifle discussion and debate. The language used is pervasive and does not merely undermine the value of parenthood: it also makes alienation easier.

    The family law textbooks and articles contain reams of rhetorical argument about children’s autonomy, their rights, their voices etc. But, in most instances that could prove harmful e.g refusing medical treatment or food or education, the state would intervene. Similarly, children cannot enter contracts, cannot smoke, cannot get gun licenses, cannot drink, cannot bet, cannot consent to sex, cannot buy petrol, cannot buy fireworks, cannot watch certain films, must attend school and have to wait before taking control of inherited assets. Yet, casting aside a good parent is ok, relatively trivial and the courts refuse to use their available powers to enforce contact. Parental responsibility seems to have been relegated to a position having even less importance than brushing ones teeth.

    The neuroscience is proving that the conventional wisdom underpinning the legal debates about autonomy and children’s rights could not be more wrong.

    Science has served us and continues to serve us well. There are few aspects of our lives that are not made better for it. Yet, incredibly, we seem to have no hesitation in ignoring it’s methodology when it comes to the development of policy that has the potential to harm and ruin the lives of our most vulnerable citizens who are the most precious to us. A change is long overdue.

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    1. Cafcass themselves say they are aware of the impact of parental alienation on ‘the voice of the child’ as detailed in their document ‘My Skills Knowledge Bite – Coached Children – Understanding the impact of parental alienation’ – link here https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/208165/response/536230/attach/5/Coached%20Children%20Knowledge%20Bite.pdf

      The author of the document is the Cafcass librarian (or at least was in 2014) so, presumably, it’s an internally circulated document. It’s certainly one of the (only) two documents Cafcass say is ‘in use’ (my highlights) by practitioners who are assigned to cases that involve parental alienation or implacable hostility – the other one being the ‘Impact of Parental Conflict Tool’ link here https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/208165/response/536230/attach/3/Impact%20of%20Parental%20Conflict%20Tool.pdf

      Within the ‘My Skills Knowledge Bite – Coached Children – Understanding the impact of parental alienation’ Cafcass highlight the following ‘Key issues’ in the body of the document:
      ‘- The needs, wishes and feelings of children are based on the adult’s interpretation of what’s best for the child, rather than what the child actually wants
      – Children feel under pressure to support one parent or the other. This can lead to them ‘modifying’ their views to match those of the alienated parent. This may lead to the child trying to placate the
      parent e.g. if they see the alienated parents at contact and enjoy it, they may tell the alienating parent that they had a terrible time and were forced to interact with them.’

      Cafcass also give advice in the main body of the document regarding how to recognise ‘Signs of coaching’. They say:
      ‘Children who have been coached are likely to display the following signs:
      1. They exhibit hatred towards target parent.
      2. They copy/imitate the alienator.
      3. They don’t want to spend time with the alienated parent.
      4. They are delusional or express irrational beliefs.
      5. They are not intimidated by the court process.
      6. Their reasoning is clearly based on what they are being told by the alienator and is not based
      on personal experiences.
      7. Their feelings appear to be unambivalent.
      8. They align themselves with the alienator.
      9. They show no outward signs of guilt, just obsessional, irrational hatred.
      10. They can present as normal until asked about alienated parent.’

      In the references at the end they point to further resources including ‘Weir, K. (2011). High conflict contact disputes: evidence of the extreme unreliability of some children’s ascertainable wishes and feelings. Family Court Review, 49,788 – 790’ – link here http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1744-1617.2011.01414.x/epdf

      Key points in this referenced document (copied verbatim here) include:
      ‘- Fifty-eight children met the criteria for inclusion in the study—the child’s consistent opposition to contact with the non resident parent (NRP), despite the court having determined that there was no good reason to constrain contact. My assessment routinely included attempted observation of the child at a visit with the NRP. Despite their stated views most children had a positive experience in those visits that took place, and despite the fact that most had not seen the NRP for a long time.’

      The article comes to the conclusion that …’that courts might exercise caution when evaluating the views of children and young people in this situation, and emphasises that assessors should consider
      including at least one observation of the child at a prolonged visit to the NRP. Because of the new orthodoxy some parents may be tempted to misuse their child’s right to a “voice” in court in order to achieve their own ends. Practitioners who advise courts may need to be more aware of these difficulties.’

      Data came from a retrospective study of 58 children who had voiced and/or demonstrated consistent resistance to contact with their non resident parent (NRP) during high-conflict contact disputes (HCCDs). The children were all assessed by Kirk Weir, acting as an independent expert at the court’s request. The article considered the numbers in the study to be sufficient for some statistical analysis.

      In conclusion the research (copied verbatim here) found that …’The results suggest that in HCCDs there needs to be a reconsideration of the court’s approach to its duty of ascertaining the wishes and feelings of the children concerned. I came increasingly to the view that in this type of case such questioning was potentially misleading, possibly distressing, and that the assessment of the child’s wishes and feelings was incomplete unless there was an observation of contact with the NRP. For some children it seemed that their stated opposition to contact had been a false solution to the conflict of loyalty created by the prolonged conflict between their parents. For others (especially the younger ones) it might have been that they had developed false beliefs as they had no positive experience of the NRP on which to form a judgement. The results may not be surprising to clinical practitioners and researchers who know that children’s (and indeed adult’s) expressed wishes and feelings are readily subject to change and influence (Ceci & Friedman, 2000; Smart, 2002). Although the measured outcome was based on the result of a single observation of contact, information gathered afterwards by my continuing involvement or indirectly from lawyers, Reporters and Guardians suggested that one successful visit was often a turning point in a child’s relationship with the NRP, and that in some cases, contact resumed after the apparent failure of the first assessed visit.’

      In the case in which I am involved the Guardian made no effort to set up a meeting between NRP and child, despite all of the indicators of the reactions being as a result of PA/IH being plainly evident. Questions were not asked, signs and symptoms were noted but ignored. There was no connection made between extreme, irrational and un-warranted behaviour and language (on the part of the child) as seen and evidenced, and the medical and psychological explanations that Cafcass themselves at least in some way signpost to.

      Further FOI research shows that there is a seeming correlation between the increasing demand that the ‘voice of the child’ is heard, and the tick-box mentality whereby Cafcass practitioners can demonstrate that they have ‘listened’ to the voice of the child, even though they have clearly not understood what is was they were ‘hearing’. The correlation can be made that if, as a practitioner, you can ‘demonstrate’ that you have sought to ascertain ‘the wishes and feelings of the child’, and, as a practitioner, you have then acted and made recommendations in accordance with ‘the wishes and feelings’ of the child, then ergo, you can prove (statitistically in hard percentages) that the child has been ‘listened to’.

      Many other people, more qualified than me, have given the view that in any other area of life, if a child stated a strong view to say, never going to school again, or wanting to engage in a dangerous activity, the answer would be that it may be what they SAY they want but its not in their long-tem interest, and they’d be sent back to school etc, disuaded from activity etc. But in this case, arguably the most important for life-long metal health, all the power is given to the child to take (give) away one half of their own identity, whilst re-inforcing for them that no-one, in any position of authority is going to help them get out of the hell-hole they are in.
      Craig Childress makes the point in his writings that some children can clearly identify if a practitioner is going to be able to help them deal and cope with the awful situation they find themselves in, or not, and if they sense that practitioner can’t help they they will clam up even more. He says that for these children it’s very clearly a case of ‘If you can’t help me then leave me alone’.

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  8. I know the potential for the alienation of mothers has been described as “collateral damage”, but I’m sure those involved know that the whole “wishes and feelings” concept is meant as an attack on the paternal presence, rather than the maternal one.
    In court as an observer the other day – surprised to find myself listening in on some conversation between professionals involved, during breaks in proceedings…was shocked to overhear a police officer describe the veritable “deluge” of new male victims anticipated to be turning up in court as a result of the forthcoming rollout of “coercive behaviour” – the latest category of DV offence. Then the same guy suggested that ALL his married male colleagues would actually consider themselves at the “receiving end” – of exactly this kind of pressure – in terms of finances, in particular, within their relationships.
    However, this is clearly not remotely a development intended to bring women to court…
    (Interestingly, the young man whose case I was observing had suffered years of physical violence from his partner – and even in the most serious moments – never made a single complaint against her. What male is going to start bringing “coercion” charges against a woman?)
    The DV architects are seriously pumping in more fuel for the alienation fire.

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  9. Forcing children to choose one parent over the other parent is the work of criminal minds. Who else could it be? It has name and last name; the working group to the Convention on the Right of the Child. It is article 12 of the the Convention on the Rights of the Child, “The right to be Heard” The Committee on the Rights of the child vehemently defends it as one of the four pilars of the Convention.

    It is the prouct of the same warped minds that came up with the illusory “Best Interst of the Child.”

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  10. Karen, am I missing something here or is the historic dereliction of duty commonly exhibited by judges, social workers and other intermediaries not the one and same dynamic you ,ever so eloquently, detailed in your 9 Apr-15 post in relation to coercive control (“Alienation watch – the abuse that children suffer when they make false allegations of sexual abuse”)?

    In a similar manner to which an alienated NRP finds themself targeted is it not, often, the case that the social worker also finds him or herself cast into the role of adversary by an RP determined to win the “perceived battle”, at all cost.

    Lest we forget, this is the RP’s “soap opera” (in which he/she and the supporting dyadic cast are fighting for survival) and, therefore, when faced with an opponent who is nowhere near as emotionally invested in the outcome and who, in most cases, will NOT go that extra mile when the RP “ups the ante” it’s hardly surprising the winner of that battle is, more times than not, the RP. To all intents and purposes, with their professional reputation intact, often, the social worker then becomes the RP’s advocate before the judge – a judge who fails to see (or chooses not to see) the power and control exerted by the RP in the case…..the same power and control that has “enabled” a number of child-related scandals we’ve heard so much about over the past few years.

    It’s no wonder that, against this backdrop, the “voice of the child” has been used by so many in such a disingenuous way for so many years……….indeed, “all power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

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    1. …..and, make not mistake, the most vulnerable to being corrupted (and are) tends to be the weakest link of all – those very same children

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  11. The idea that children should make decisions about where they should be living when the parents split up is a dangerous one and may have far reaching negative consequences.

    Having taken responsibility for whom they should be living with the child’s emotions will be in turmoil. Whilst the child didn’t want to lose either parent they have been given a life changing decision to make. They are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. If they choose the parent where they currently live most of the time, they will be left with the guilt of rejecting the other parent whom they also love and need. If they choose the parent they see less of then they face the wrath of the parent where they spend most of their time.

    Do we really want these children growing into mature adults thinking that when they have important life making decisions to make the answer lies in rejecting one point of view in favour of the other? Whatever happened to democracy, diplomacy, compromise, fair play e.t.c? We are far too quick to reject our adversaries; we need time to form strong inclusive alliances that include everyone. (Used to be called the family)

    Listening to the wishes and feelings of the children is part of a “splitting” process which we see so evidently when talking to professionals in this field. Karen I think showed how shocked she was when talking to professionals in Plymouth.

    …………………………………..

    This is an excerpt from her blog: “Abolishing the alienation Angels and dispelling the Demons”

    On Saturday we furthered this theme with alienated parents directly and unpacked the issues that lead to a situation where a child refuses to see a parent after separation. During this session and on Friday night I became increasingly aware of the ways in which the splitting reaction of the child – that of dividing parents into all good and all bad in their minds – is readily mirrored by family court practitioners, family support workers and parents themselves – demons and angels being the overall motif that emerged from discussion and debate, something which mirrors the attitudes I experience projected towards me at times, from parents as well as practitioners, many of whom are either for me or against me, seeing me as wholly good or wholly bad but rarely from a balanced perspective.

    …………………………………

    Somehow we have to return to a social philosophy that has as its’ bedrock a fundamental belief in brokering good shared parenting arrangements and sound empathic training and education for parents. A belief that in spite of all else the family unit, based around understanding and compromise is a goal worth fighting for. The world is not made up of those who are right and those who are wrong. It is a place where people learn to understand compromise and forgive, where different opinions are welcomed and empathy remains the true path of growth. Above all it is the adults whose responsibility this is, not our innocent and fragile children whom we all love so much.

    Kind regards

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  12. The wishes and feelings of the child…….

    I am spokesperson for all children going through these difficult circumstances where parents are living apart and seem to have lost focus on their children.
    (I may be old now but once upon a time I was a child)

    It was not my fault that my parents split up; they must take responsibility for that, both of them.

    I would like things to carry on as they were when Mum and Dad weren’t quarrelling, but realise this may not be possible. (Thanks to the parent who thoughtfully read me the book “Dinosaurs divorce”)

    This is an extremely difficult and bewildering time for me. I am angry and may miss-behave. I feel nervous and anxious especially when it’s time to move between Mum’s and Dad’s.

    I wish you would stop fighting over me. I am not a possession.

    I am a human being and need to be acknowledged and loved and accepted for who I am.

    You both seem to be out to be prove that you are right. I don’t understand why you find this so necessary.

    When I arrive at the doorstep of the parent whom I don’t see much of, screaming at them and blaspheming, using words that I don’t know the meaning of please do not react in a way that I meant what I was saying. I was simply expressing the feelings of the other parent that hates you so much. It is very important in these circumstances how you react to me. Empathy is key. Do not attempt to deny my words or feelings even if you believe none of it to be true. Try to see me for who I am at that particular moment and then act according to someone who is in distress. (You can find appropriate ways to behave if you have read the book, “The heart of parenting” by Gottman. Also the book by Faber & Mazlish, “How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk” is an excellent one). Like all good listeners who master the technique of good counsel you will feel empowered when you see the benefits of your good work soothing my feelings.

    Don’t miss an opportunity to paint a good picture of my other parent then at least I will feel more comfortable about being there and maybe in the fullness of time they may learn to calm down a bit.

    You may think that you are powerless because you see less of me but there are ways of working with me which will make you realise you can help the other parent calm down and accept you and your role. Believe me; read the books do the parenting course. You can not change the other parents opinion by asking them (they don’t like you and they don’t agree with you). You have to skill up as best you can.

    I need you to accept the other parents point of view and ways of parenting in spite of your differing views on the subject, because I am capable (as I always have been) of accepting you both as my parents just as you are. Respect yourselves and each other and I will then be able to respect both of you.

    I am only becoming alienated because my parents can not see a way to share their time with me in an amicable way. Your fighting and accusations are irrelevant so please focus more on what I need. Being recognised for the things I do at school and your involvement is something I will treasure and help me realise how much you care. Don’t bring your fight to school, bring your love and care; offer your being.

    Don’t become too introspective, you can spend a lifetime trying to make law and politics more favourable to the situation but in the meantime I need to be parented by you.

    Try not to get too depressed or angry, it will consume you if you let it. Repair yourself mentally (read the NHS leaflet….get the book). Learn to re-direct your frustrations and depression into positive and uplifting action that serves me.

    Stop asking the other parent to behave differently they don’t like that and it makes my life there more uncomfortable (you seem like a needy child yourself). Just focus on me and my needs, likes and dislikes. I love you. I love you both.

    …………………………………..

    Addendum

    Next week I am due in Court to tell them all the crimes my father has committed so that they can bring closure. Based on my wishes and feelings.

    I really want to tell him how much I love him but I am trapped in a terrible bind.

    Oh what a cruel and despicable world we live in

    Kind regards

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  13. A child (or teen) saying they ‘don’t care to spend time w/ a parent’ is a red flag for parent alienation. When my sister was just five years old, she told our mother we didn’t need her to visit anymore because “we had a new mother”. She was influenced (ie: brainwashed) by my father, the enraged, alienating parent. I was four years old and became mute over the topic of my mother. If you asked me as a teen if I wanted to see her again, I probably would have sounded indifferent, or more likely, said no out of fear of my mother. He controlled what we thought (expressing desire to see Mother meant causing anger and rejection from father). Dr Craig Childress spells this all out on his blog and in his book, Foundations. Mental Health professionals must NOT take children’s words at face value. We must not underestimate the control that the custodial parent may have over the child. Children absolutely need professionals who are trained and aware enough to rescue them from their own position.

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  14. And for a further example of children being manipulated by professionals to achieve the desired outcome, ie. secrecy in the “Family” Courts:

    “4.2 It was agreed between the President and young people that the best people to determine the degree to which children’s privacy and safety might be compromised by judgments on Bailii, are young people themselves.” …..”It was also acknowledged that young people have internet skills few adults can match.”

    http://www.familylaw.co.uk/system/redactor_assets/documents/3417/Brophy_-_Judgments_on_Bailii_and_Childrens_privacy_and_safety_-_FINAL_REPORT__Oct_15_.pdf

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