This has been a somewhat tumultuous week on this blog and elsewhere on social media as my posts about alienated children appear to have stimulated some anxiety, confusion and yesterday some aggression projected towards me.
I want to be clear about the work that I do, this blog and why I write it and how, in my view, rejected and targeted parents are not helped by having the world that their children are attempting to survive in, divided into good and bad by practitioners or experts who blog as I do about this subject.
I realise that there are thousands of parents around the world who follow this blog. The web stats show that there are more readers in the USA than the UK now and that daily there are well over a thousand unique visitors from all over the world. Amongst those visitors there are legal people, mental health practitioners, grandparents and without doubt a silent readership of parents whose children are aligned to them and refusing to see the other parent. I recognise that in writing this blog I have a duty to all readers not just those who comment and that in providing my thoughts on the work that I do, I am also drawing negative transference from some quarters.
Negative transference in a therapeutic setting, is when someone behaves towards me as if I am someone else in their life, someone who has hurt and angered them. Some rejected parents project a belief that I am the only person who understands their situation. Then, because of the loneliness and horror of surviving as a rejected or targeted parent, when I begin to speak about children’s needs coming first, the rage towards the other parent, which is buried under the hurt, is projected at me. I recognise that vulnerable parents who are doing their best to survive, will struggle at times with things that I am writing. And that when they do, I have a duty to absorb the strong feelings and help parents to process them. Which is what I try to do when I respond to comments.
Yesterday however was a little bit different. I found my frustration leaking out because of people’s assumptions that when I say I am a child advocate, it must mean that I am blaming rejected parents. What also became apparent to me was that whilst I have written thousands and thousands of words supporting alienated/targeted/rejected parents on this blog over the years, the relationship that many readers have with this blog is in the here and now. Couple that with the fact that when I write, I write as me, the person who does the work of reuniting children with their parents, it is clear to me that I have a duty to readers to hold the negative transference and work though it to help parents to understand what makes me a child advocate not a parent advocate.
In short, I recognise the investment that many parents have placed in this blog and my writing and I accept the duty of care to ensure that my words are understood by all as much as possible. I will unpack much of what we have been touching upon this week in upcoming blogs, some of which I will repost from the past because in the archives there are thousands of words written in previous years on how to help alienated children, staying safe and well as a rejected parent, the horrors of the alienator and more.
And in doing so I will hope to lead readers to the place where there is a better understanding of the concept of the alienated child and why it is such a powerful route to assisting children and their parents.
In doing that however I am going to make a rule today, which is that I will not tolerate threats of harm towards me or any kind of bullying behaviours towards me or anyone else including other practitioners in this field. Yesterday, I read a comment from someone which, if it had not been left in what I know to be a heated state of mind, would have caused me serious concern because of its threatening nature. Earlier in the week I had spent time engaging with another angry father who ended up telling me that my professional integrity was in question because I did not agree with everything that Dr Childress says. This is not ok. It is so not ok in my view that it makes me want to walk away from this work and never look back. I say this not with any real meaning but when I turn on my computer in the morning and read threats against me on this blog, it makes me wonder what the point is.
I began to write this blog in 2009 because I was frustrated with the injustice in the family court system, the domination of family separation by the women’s rights lobby and the impact on children of losing a parent, which I witnessed too regularly. I went on to write about a whole range of related issues over the years, sharing my development of my thinking and my practice as I went along. Latterly I have focused purely on parental alienation and have shared with you the ups and downs of being a practitioner in this field, including the campaigns against me as well as our successes. In everything that I do and have done I am me, an ordinary person who happens to do this work because I understand it, I have lived a lot of it and I have practiced in this field for many years. An ordinary person who is affected by threats of harm and coercive assertions that I lack professional integrity because I will not give in to demands that I think or act or write a particular way.
Working in this field is not easy for any practitioner. In doing what we do we face personal and professional attack, we have to stand up to intense cross examination in court, our credibility is called into question in public and at the end of all that, we have to work with incredibly angry, vitriolic and damaged children to help them into a better place. I don’t write as an observer, I write as someone who spends my days doing this incredibly tricky psychological work in the midst of a war zone. And if I didn’t do it and write about it, there would be a space where knowledge and experience should be and the boundaries which we are pushing would remain firmly in place.
And for that reason I feel I deserve to be safe in this space that I have created and free from the threat of harm.
And so, as I unpack some of the subjects which have been raised this week and address some of the anxieties which have emerged, the disappointments and the confusions and the anger and the hurt, I am asking everyone who comes here to think before they comment and consider others before making threats of harm. The world is not divided into wholly good and wholly bad as your children have been forced to believe it is and discussion in this space before defensiveness, is what will help everyone to understand more about the world that your children live in. A world which they did not create and which they cannot change without help. Your help. Help which is better informed when we talk together. Help which is better received in an open state of mind not a vengeful angry one.
I am speaking to a minority of readers when I write this and they know who they are. Their comments are not being posted publicly but they have been archived and will be kept as evidence should there be a repeat of this in the future. I will not tolerate any further threats and I will not tolerate bullying of any kind either from parents to practitioners or from practitioners towards me or anyone else. This field is difficult enough to work in without having to dodge bullets in the safe space that I created to share with parents the knowledge I gather from my work with children.
This is my space as much as it is anyone else’s and I will keep it safe for all so that we can continue to develop our thinking and understanding together.
Thank you for reading.
Readers may be interested to know that I will be appearing on the Belgium TV News Programme ‘De Afspraak’ at 7pm European time Wednesday 7 June 2017. I will be talking about the work of the Family Separation Clinic in London and parental alienation including residence transfer and reunification programmes and our new partnership with Huis Van Hereniging in Belgium where I will be delivering training next week.
This work will link into the European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners which will raise awareness of the issue of parental alienation around Europe and which will standardise practice, provide support and training and protect practitioners to ensure that there is a growing provision of services for families in member countries.