Denigration, Division and Divided Loyalty: The Straw Man Trap in Parental Alienation

Straw Man Argument – Description: Substituting a person’s actual position or argument with a distorted, exaggerated, or misrepresented version of the position of the argument.

The straw man argument in cases of parental alienation is extremely common.  It is used by alienating parents who are unable to determine that their beliefs about the other parent are simply untrue, and it is used as a deliberate smokescreen when an influencing parent’s argument is weak.  Many rejected parents will recognise the straw man argument in parental alienation, it goes something like this –

‘The children do not want to see their mother because of her behaviours towards them, she was never really bonded to them when they were younger.  The evidence that she is not a very good mother is shown in her position statement, where she says that she worked from them being aged three.  This is clearly an admission that she didn’t want them and wasn’t a very good mother to them.’

The actual position statement however says the following –

When the children reached the age of three I returned to work. I did so because we were short of money and needed the contribution I could make. I was however, still the parent who did the majority of the care and who managed things like the school run.

The misrepresentation is that mother was not ever really interested in parenting and that she has given evidence of this in her own position statement.

The straw man argument is a clever one in parental alienation because it

a) works really well in a world which is already deeply divided into good and bad


b) it hooks vulnerable parents into a situation where if they try to defend themselves, they simply find themselves becoming trapped in the quicksand of the ‘he said/she said’ trap.

In our work with alienated parents, we work really hard to help them to understand the traps in parental alienation, the ‘straw man’ trap and the ‘he said/she said’ trap being two key behavioural tactics which are used by alienating parents and by legal people in the cut and thrust of the good/bad analysis which is used in the family courts.

The professional field of parental alienation is not immune from the ‘straw man’ and ‘he said/she said’ trap either.  It is used to most effect currently by leading people to believe that things which are written by experts in the field of parental alienation, are untrue and to promote a false belief amongst vulnerable parents, that there is a magical solution which is being withheld from them.  This is a particularly vicious form of straw man argument, which relies upon ensuring that the vulnerability of alienated parents is exploited, to inflame anger and frustration.  This is then channeled towards those who vulnerable parents are led to believe are somehow preventing the magical solution from being implemented.  It is cruel as well as misleading and it uses many of the tactics which are used by alienating parents, to control the way in which parents get help.

The professional field of parental alienation is a serious scientific field and it is damaging and deeply offensive to the many people who work tirelessly to resolve the issues which affect alienated children and their families, to have these straw man arguments on a repeated loop.  Families which are already riven with division and deeply harmed by what has happened to them, need clear and lucid guidance, not the lengthy attacks on other professionals and fogging of reality to obscure the many ways that parent can get help. Families need help, clear guidance and peace in order to digest the information they need to move forward.  To incite and encourage the kind of  behaviours amongst some parents in online spaces, which denigrate and attack, through the use of straw man arguments, is unfortunate, particularly in the light of the lack of scientifically validated evidence of the effectiveness of the solution one proposes.

Those of us who do this work have a responsibility first and foremost to the parents and children we assist.  We have a duty to ensure that they receive the best help we can give them and that they fully understand the way in which we work and the theoretical model we use and how it is translated into the legislative framework it operates within.  Anything short of that is selling snake oil as a magical cure all.  When the people who are buying this stuff are as vulnerable and desperately in need of help as those to whom this stuff is promoted, it is somewhat disturbing to see the way in which that further harms those are already deeply damaged.

I have said very little in response to the manner in which my words are repeatedly and intentionally misrepresented, set up as straw man arguments elsewhere on the internet and even less about the manner in which I have been stalked, abused, left messages which include threats against me, and had one person emailing around the world telling people that I am harming children.  I have not spoken about this because I am aware of the traps that I am being set and the manner in which everything I write is used to portray me as the person who stands in the way of the magical solution being supplied.  I will continue to say nothing at all about the person who generates these straw man arguments in order to promulgate the belief amongst his followers that he has the solution.  I see no value in addressing anything said directly, in such an untrustworthy environment it would be futile.  But I will say this.

I am extremely busy working at the Family Separation Clinic on reunification work, writing, collaboration with others around the world and research into the support needs of children in recovery and their once rejected parents.  Our aim at the Clinic has always to be to spread, as widely as possible our knowledge about what works with alienated children.  Much of what we do we do in our own time, much of what we do is done at low cost. Everything that we do is self funded, nothing is done without the effort we put in to make it happen.  Which means that the constant stream of negativity about our work which comes from one quarter and the need to protect parents who need help from the misrepresentation of our work, funnels our energy from where it really should be placed.

I understand why parents want a magical solution to parental alienation, I understand that believing in pathogenic infection is far preferable to the reality of life lived in the here and now. I understand the desperation that drives those who leave messages on here and send messages around the world about our work, but I will not stand by and allow the deliberate encouragement of this behaviour on the basis of the very straw man arguments which are used by alienating parents to drive children out of their beloved parent’s lives.

I respect the work done by Childress in curating his model (AB-PA, Bowlby, Beck, Minuchin, Hayley) and I believe there is something in it which is useful to the work being done to resolve parental alienation.  I have offered to test it in a UK legislative setting in clinical conditions in order that it can be included in the work which is done by UK psychologists, but I have not had any kind of response to that offer.  Instead what I have had is a continued drip feed of poisonous misinformation about the words that I write and the work that I do.  It is wrong, it is exactly the straw man argument which is unscientific and harmful and it is frankly, offensive.

Scientists build upon the work of others and they remain open to change.  They are able to review their own theoretical model against the others which exist and they co-operate with each other to move the project forward.  The idea that there is a group of experts who are conspiring to keep the magical solution away from parents all over the world is a straw man argument which has absolutely no basis in reality.

I am more than aware that all of these words will be taken, distorted, chopped up and changed, switched in meaning and then mercilessly attacked elsewhere on the internet. This is how the straw man argument works in parental alienation, this is how parents are completely evicted from their children’s lives.  This is the fate of those who are being encouraged to believe that those who do this work are either wholly good with messiah like qualities, or wholly bad demons who deserve to be abused with impunity.

The notion that practitioners who do this work are deliberately withholding a solution is completely refuted by the facts.  Facts such as the absolute reality that a diagnostic model such as AB-PA could not be used in the UK family courts as a magical solution.  Facts which seem to conveniently disappear in favour of repeated straw man arguments.

It causes me the deepest concern that some people who could be helped are being prevented from getting that help by a handful of people who are hellbent on forcing distorted beliefs upon vulnerable parents.

I say little in response to the nonsense which is spouted, the allegations which are made and the frankly nonsensical conspiracy theories which are promulgated.  I say nothing because I know that when a straw man argument is being used in alienation, the ‘he said/she said’ trap is not far behind.

Let me be clear. there is no conflict coming from Karen Woodall, other than my refusal to be bullied into believing that AB-PA is a magical solution, when it clearly is not.

Let me be clear, I have no desire to bury AB-PA, I have no desire to damage the model, to the contrary, I have offered to test it in clinical settings.  There has been no response to this offer.

Let me be clear, misinformation, misrepresentation and the deliberate encouragement  of damaged and vulnerable parents to attack other people who hold different views, is not acceptable.

Beyond these words I will once again fall silent on this subject.  The experience of being targeted by Childress and his followers has, at least, offered me a deeper understanding of the experience of being a target of alienating behaviours, and so nothing is lost.  It is simply a shame in my view, that the reality of the work which is being done in this field, is obscured for some parents, by the incitement to believe in conspiracy theories which have no basis in fact.

It is clear to me that parents who are already facing these tactics in their own lives, deserve better in the online spaces which are set up to help them.  Practitioners who work tirelessly in this field, facing the attacks of parents and the stress of the family courts, deserve better.  And ultimately, this scientific field, which is serious, which has developed powerfully by passing on the knowledge and building collaboratively, deserves better.

Straw man arguments cause divisions and divided loyalities, both of which have no place in fighting the horrible problem of a child’s complete and unjustified rejection of a once loved parent.  Especially amongst the parents upon whom the child will ultimately depend for long term health and wellbeing.

Families need our love, our guidance, our assistance and our ongoing work to shift the blocks and barriers in the systems which enable parental alienation to flourish.  I am going back to that work now and I hope to be able to continue it in relative peace now that I have set the record straight.

Discussion, collaborative development of theoretical models, respectful debate and building upon each other’s work is the way that professionals progress this field.

Straw man arguments, the ‘he said/she said’  trap, deliberate misrepresentation of words and meaning, lying, leaving abusive commentary and writing abusive emails to other  people is not acceptable in the world of alienated parents.

It is not acceptable in  my world either.

(with thanks to the sender of the most recent online debate about my work which sought to misrepresent what we do and to the people who attempted to clarify the way in which distortion and lack of scientific evidence is being used to do so).





    1. I am used to working in this environment but it grieves me that so many parents may be prevented from hearing what we say or getting our help because of this noise. I would love to just on with the work that we do, I will continue ignoring it again now. K


  1. Karen,
    Before I “found” you on the internet I was just about ready to throw in the towel. All you have said about PA is exactly what I have experienced but until I discovered your work I was one mum lost and alone with apparently no-one understanding my situation!

    The “family” you have joined together on your blog are all of us parents who have found away to survive this hell we live on a daily basis!

    I thought I was the only one…..

    You have helped many of us have the strength to go on and keep fighting because you have shown us…it isn’t our fault!!
    I am one I’m sure ,who at times have felt unable to go on day after day, but day BY day is how you’ve shown us to go on!

    My ability to understand and accept what has happened has only been through what I’ve learnt here, with you, and others who share the same heartache!

    Take heart in the amazing job you have done and are still doing keeping our heads (especially mine) above water.

    Frankie x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Frankie, that you have found understanding and acceptance and can live your life in relative peace is incredibly important to me. What we always want to do at the Clinic, is help where we can to reunite parents, help where we cannot reunite parents, to bring peace of mind to their lives and protect those parents so that if their children reach out that parent is there. This is all I ever wanted to do too in starting this blog, we will go back to our finding of peace now, back to mindful gardening and the good things that help hearts to survive and thrive xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well argued, Karen. I will be forever grateful to you that after one Skype meeting and one face to face at a creative workshop nr Liverpool Street a few years ago gave me massive comfort, confidence and information. to help me cope. My own alienation situation was relatively short-lived 2 years. My daughter and I are reunited niw almist 2 years and we are healed. You and your wirk are a Godsend. 💜💜💜

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am so glad to hear that you are reunited Catherine, that comfort, hope and information and confidence is what we want to get out to as many parents as we possibly can, that is what brings change within, the change without, in the structures and frameworks we continue to work on. K


    2. Catherine, you give us hope! You hear so few success stories and hearing even one makes my heart jump with hope for what feels like a living hell!


  3. In my view, the failures are not yours.

    Primarily, it is the failure of the medical profession, psychologists, social workers and judges.

    Medical and Psychological Professionals
    If the medical profession had its act together it would make the appropriate clinical assessments and low-level diagnoses that are available in the early stages of an alienated child’s obvious distress before the more serious stuff appears. They are not diagnosed with the more serious stuff either. PA not being in DSM/ICD does not excuse mental health professionals from using what is otherwise available. Your efforts to form comprehensive assessment an treatment routes are laudable but anyone who criticises you should first understand that if the medical and psychological professions were generally doing their jobs properly, you would not have needed to take up the mantle on behalf of alienated parents.

    Instead of targeting your proven practice, there are dozens of UK practitioners whose false and damaging assessments, methods and unaccountable opinions in secret family courts render them far more worthy of public attention, and I am sure the same goes for the US. There may be differences in approach insofar as assessment is concerned but your treatment routes are exactly the same as Childress’s, and any other practitioner adhering to those established principles.

    I fully agree with Childress that PA is not a standalone disorder but an incremental set of comorbidities enabled along a timeline because state services are awful, and do not intervene despite an obvious duty, and multiple opportunities to do so. But frankly, if the relevant professionals are incompetent, and ignore or misdiagnose, or their managerial approach is to not intervene, and you have to pick up the pieces much later and help with the cases where you can, it should not be reason to criticise you, but those who failed those children before you, and no doubt the far larger number of children not lucky enough to be caught within your net.

    Social Workers
    Social workers are not qualified to provide opinions. In these scenarios, they should be doing what real experts tell them to. So, in order to keep jurisdiction, PA is labelled by local authorities as ‘parental conflict’ to remove their duty to act for the child and deflect to the family courts. CAFCASS take over using the same ruse.

    Judges and the Courts
    Having reframed the problem, courts take jurisdiction over a problem between the parents. If the courts accepted that it is often one parent needlessly creating and maintaining a set of behaviours causing their children distress and disorder, there would need be more focus on mental health solutions rather than the legal profession hijacking these cases. Yes, parents need representation, but it does not have to be by a lawyer in a court. The current model appears nothing more than a model of perversely appropriating business that is extremely profitable for the legal profession but damaging to public health.

    But it is within that model that you have to work as effectively as you can, given the gap in practitioner quality you have to fill, the difficulties presented by social workers and the inflated influence they have on matters, what you are provided by the courts to work with (not much) the powers you have (not much), the stage of events at which you are instructed (very late indeed) and, even then, the battle you have to convince some judges who are authorised to sit where they do, but are unqualified to be there, especially where some are such cowards that they would rather misrepresent the intent of your reports than go against the political dogma guiding them to string out case management to all round detriment, then use any one of a long list of pathetic excuses to abandon children.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you IONSB, this is important observation from an expert in the UK family court system. I wonder if you would consider writing about the way in which the UK family court system would work with the concept of AB-PA? In the absence of any clinical testing, a third party expert in the field such as you, could give an independent opinion on this. K


  4. Hi Karen,

    This is something we’ve talked about and something I am also writing about at the moment. The issue has got quite a bit of attention lately: particularly in terms of the everyday language that has become commonplace in the family law and the family courts.

    For example, a story or an allegation is now labelled as a ‘disclosure’. The ‘disclosure’ term has become very popular in the context of false allegations, even though this use of the word was heavily criticised and indeed outlawed in the Cleveland Child Abuse Inquiry over 30 years ago.

    Lately, the Henriques report has criticised the use of the word “victim’ instead of accuser and ‘perpetrator’ in place of accused. Such loaded language is prejudicial to fundamental principles such as ‘innocent until proven guilty.’

    But there are still more subtle terms that I want to ‘out’.
    ‘Contact’ for example, to describe an ongoing relationship, with all the love that involves, between a parent and child, is misleading and undermines the significance of one of our most dear gifts. It is a cold and clinical term that provides a cover for the inevitable feelings of loss when contact is prevented.

    ’Indirect-contact’, is the euphemism of choice to disguise what really amounts to the severance of a parent / child relationship.

    ‘No- contact’ is used in place of severance because judges actually understand what severance means. Munby P’s words in Re C are often used to remind us of that and provide a valuable insight into the significance of a parent child relationship in the sphere of the courts:

    ‘‘…it must never be forgotten that, with the State’s abandonment of the right to impose capital sentences, orders of the kind which judges of this Division are typically invited to make in public law proceedings are amongst the most drastic that any judge in any jurisdiction is ever empowered to make.’

    There you have it, from the boss’s mouth, severing a parent / child relationship is only one notch down from having ones life taken away by the state! Yet, it is labelled as contact in order to mischaracterise it coldly and cynically as something relatively worthless.

    In the very recent Re J case, Bellamy HHJ uses the terms ‘highly conflicted’ to disguise the reality that a parent did virtually everything humanly possible to frustrate, thwart, prevent, impede and actually stop contact throughout the entire life of a 7 year old child. But, deliberately mischaracterising the actual deed made it possible for the judge to rationalise sitting upon his hands and consigning an innocent lad to a childhood of emotional abuse.

    There are literally loads of similar terms that stuff the family courts to the point of bursting. Thank you Karen for beginning to shine a light upon some very dark areas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that this work is essential Padrestevie and the work that you are doing will progress swiftly in this field. Language, intention and meaning are revealed when one analyses and one can be bullied simply by the careful use of words. If we let it continue we are complicit, I am not going to stand for it anymore.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I agree Karen and perhaps the use of euphemisms to suppress what is really happening and salve the consciences of law makers and judges is another issue. The terms which we use help to insulate people like Cafcass from living with the consequences of what they are really doing and the same can be said for many more court professionals. I think we need to translate things into basic language in order to allow people to realise the full consequence of their actions. I simply refuse to play that game. If you have not seen Re J I’ll send it to you. It’s an absolute shocker.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Again, Dr. Woodall, with all due respect to Dr. Childress and your fondness of his AB-PA theory, until we see published appellate court decisions upholding AB-PA, pathogenic parenting, legal abuse syndrome, et al we must be mindful of the stringent legal requirements under Daubert (America), Mohan (Canada), et al that the law requires of all scientific theories and expert testimony regarding the same. Scientific/statistical testing, scientific reliability, replicability, publications, peer-reviewed acceptance and known error rate are most of the legal challenges experts face in Court under Daubert in order for a Court to accept AB-PA or any model.


    1. Dear dean, thank you. I should say I am not yet dr Woodall although I will be on completion of my doctoral studies. I don’t know whether I would say I am fond of the ab-pa model, I think it has a lot of importance in curating the issues in pure cases of alienation however. I do understand though that I the USA it would have to pass daubert and Frye and in the uk I would have to fit the legislative system, which is what I keep repeating but which is ignored or distorted. K


  6. Irene b. Thank you for your comment which frankly is unwelcome. You may not find such writing as this helpful but many do. If you do not recognise attempts to help but prefer to see them as something else, that is not something I can change. I wish you well. K


  7. I am very moved by your email Karen. I had a session with Childress in the spring and then later saw what he had written about your work. His attack dog rhetoric put me off and I salute you for responding in such an elegant and succinct way.

    I am profoundly grateful for your life’s work and honor this example you have set on how to show up for oneself without devolving into the he said she said quick sand of negative equivalence.

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Leilani, thank you for your comment. I truly believe that if Childress dropped the attacks and recognised that there is a different way, it would be so much more productive and beneficial to families. It is important to me however to make sure that I do not mirror those behaviours because in doing so I want to protect vulnerable parents not harm them further. I know that some will never recognise this, others will though and getting help to those parents matters. see you soon. K


  8. Karen- I just posted this article and my commentary on Dr. Childress ‘ Facebook group. Thank you for your ongoing efforts to end parental alienation.
    Here is my post:
    Dr. Childress- kindly respond to Karen Woodall ‘s post?

    What I gather from her words is that she has offered to clinically test your AB-PA model of intervention in the U.K. courts…but feels attacked by the alleged “followers” of your model.

    I am a member of Dr. Bernet’s PASG, along with Karen Woodall.
    I have also written to you , numerous times- asking if you’d be able to present this intervention model in an upcoming case that could be a landmark in offering assistance to targeted families in Tennessee.

    I have read all of your articles-watched many of your videos.

    I believe we need to implement a multidisciplinary collaborative approach to ending this epidemic of alienation.

    We should work together, rather than discredit the efforts of our colleagues.

    I am an adult, who was alienated as a child.
    I am a mother, stepmother and wife who has experienced various forms of alienation in my lifetime.

    I spend many hours per day, unfunded, researching, writing, thinking and wrestling with a solution to this.

    I realize the solution is directly in front of us all.

    It will take a collective approach to identify, assess, intervene and treat families affected by parental alienation.

    Family court officials, lawyers, mediators, media, teachers, counselors and physicians must WORK SIMULTANEOUSLY to “fix” this.

    Education is key; my colleagues at Vanderbilt University have been exemplary in offering to help me design workshops for alienators, and the professionals who must deal with the trouble and drama they instigate.

    A total reform of the social , psychological, medical and legal systems in place is mandatory to swiftly address this issue.

    If individuals in the workplace or school settings behaved like alienators- they would be fired, suspended, expelled, fined, or institutionalized.

    An alienating parent has two choices: agree to attend therapy and workshops to learn new and healthier methods of parenting, or face criminal contempt and punishment.

    The unethical attorneys, mediators and counselors who fail to report alienation must be held accountable.

    The social service agencies who fail to investigate legitimate complaints filed by licensed professionals must be held accountable.

    Educators and administrators who fail to identify and intervene in the lives of alienated children must be held accountable.

    And lastly- psychological and psychiatric professionals must swiftly address the symptoms- which are pretty clear cut and easily diagnosable, of alienation- and DEMAND justice and intervention.


    1. Dear Heidi, I am so glad that you have had help from the PASG and Vanderbilt University, my experience of Bill Bernet and all those people in PASG is that they are concerned only to further understanding of parental alienation which can be used to protect children’s relationships with their parents. I find the group to be collaborative, warm and engaging. Of course, as in all broad tents, there are people with whom one feels a stronger affinity but the support that we have received in our work generally and from Bill Bernet in particular has helped us to move our thinking and practice forward. We are now reaching out and making strong connections all over the world, building channels for delivery of our thinking and having people take our work and build upon it and make it better and stronger and more effective. This is how this problem in families will be resolved, when we all play tag and pass it on.

      I should be clear that I not only ‘feel’ attacked by Childress followers, I am attacked. I am also attacked by Childress in what I consider to be deeply offensive ways. This is clearly something that Childress feels is his right, my right is to refuse to be abused by this behaviour. I made the offer to test his model in a clinical setting but received no response. I am not going to stand by and watch lies and misrepresentation ruin the chances of healthy parents who need help. Either the Childress model is the answer, in which case clinical testing is urgent and necessary and I would think he would jump at the chance, or it is not. In which case the continued denigration of other professionals is ALL that he has.

      It is time parents heard the truth of the reality of this field, which is that there are many strong and determined people working incredibly hard to bring about change. All of whom are doing all of what you describe above. I am grateful for your time in trying to bring about change Heidi and anything I can do to help in your work I will. Kind Regards Karen

      Liked by 2 people

  9. The straw man argument

    My husband to daughter as an adult : She didn’t bond with you when you were a baby.

    Truth : First child had just been diagnosed with a rare metabolic disease meaning our new baby had a one in four chance of developing the same thing. I was terrified of that happening. There were no tests and no cure. Meanwhile from birth onwards I loved my baby daughter and pleaded with her dad to pick her up but he wouldn’t. He wasn’t interested in picking up or cuddling our first child either and did no child care whatsoever. He just said “Babies and young children are boring. I don’t do boring’.

    My husband to me in front of daughter as an adult : Yes you were a good mother but she grew up and saw you for what you are.

    Truth : He decided he didn’t like me much and preferred daughter to me when daughter was 15. By the time she was an adult he’d won his prize by getting her to feel sorry for him because I’d supposedly treated him so badly (he was verbally abusive and controlling)..

    If there is one thing I would dearly like on my daughter’s 37th birthday next Saturday (other than my daughter back which I believe will never happen) it’s to get inside my husband’s head so it could be spelled out to me just what he was thinking for all those 19 years he was turning her against me. But that will never happen and I can’t even ask him to speak to her for me. I wouldn’t ask him because he’d do what he always did before I left him – shrug and smirk. Catch 22. (feeling a bit sorry for myself this month).


    1. Willow, this truly breaks my heart and I can totally understand! I too was a complete hands on mum even with postnatal depression! Now my children are told all kinds of horrific stories about me! More so, that I was a mental case and still am nuts!!

      In my selfishness, cld I ask advise? My 14yr old daughter still sees her daddy once a month for the weekend, basically because it’s the only way she gets to see her 17 yr old brother (my alienated son for 5yrs) She returns to me with her wee head melted! I’ve never stopped her from going as I feel she needs to see her daddy and brother, but after your comment I’m sorely tempted to! My daughter has had to grow up quickly and to me is very aware of what’s going on, shld I continue to let her go (which she wants to do) or stop her for fear of your situation repeating itself?
      I know this is a big ask but I’m curious to know what you think having been through it!

      You are a hero Willow and we are not unlike….. sometimes the connections Karen has enabled us to made on her blog help far more than she will ever realise! You are very much in my thoughts!

      Take care of yourself Willow, never give up hope!!

      Frankie x


  10. No one should be treated like this and I am very sorry that you have. I can’t say any more for the usual reasons, but all your comments resonate. 🙏🌿


    1. Karen-I applaud and commend you for all you do. This is a well argued article. Just keep on doing what you are excellent at doing and ignore the noise.

      I am in PA situation for 14 years and I have experienced everything that you have written. It is a grand moment when I read your blog and found someone knows my situation and writes about it so explicitly. You express it so well.

      The straw man argument in my situation: The father is the alienator in my situation. He thought the children to say that I was only good for the children when they were young, but then not fitting or a good fitting mother anymore. Meaning after they were toddlers I was no good and he took care of them after toddlers. He taught them that I was incapable of taking care of them. So I was a stay home mom for 16 years taking care of every need of the children while he worked. How does that statement make any sense? And the youngest child was always sick with bad asthma and I was constantly taking 3 children to ER to get her breathing treatment.

      So he would send the children to say exactly what he thought them to say. “you were only good when we were young and then daddy took care of us”. You were selfish and did not care for us. Though, i think this brain washing. Is braining washing tied to the straw man argument?

      Anonymous-mother of three


  11. Karen, just noticed how many mothers are now followers or contributors to your blog! I know it was always seen as a problem for dad’s because of vindictive mothers, but oh what a change I have witnessed, if only through contact via you! I think fathers are starting to realise that the only way to truly hurt their ex-wife or partner is to take the greatest treasure she will ever possess….her children!

    This is by no means a pop at dad’s….. I had the best daddy in the world, purely an observation from the contributors to your blog!

    Frankie x


  12. Frankie thank you 🙂 I’m sorry you’re going through it too 😦

    Your situation sounds much like my niece’s though her little boy is only three. She too doesn’t want to stop him seeing his dad but his dad makes it very difficult for her. Some of the things he sends her by text are horrible. I wrote about it on here a while ago but ended up as anonymous (my computer logged itself out otherwise I’d have been me) and some of the things her son repeats that daddy has said couldn’t be made up by a three year old. I truly hope that they don’t end up as I/we did but neither do I want to project my fears on to her.

    As for what you should do, I really don’t know because I have come to realise that people in our situations are literally damned if we do and damned if we don’t. It really is, catch 22 and in the lap of the gods.

    Maybe it it’s very different in my case because my husband was involved in racing (not horses) and we always went with him and based our holidays round his racing. He raced all over Europe and daughter grew up making lots of foreign friends around the campsite where everyone put their caravans & motor homes and then there were the BBQs and drink filled nights. When she was a teenager those friends were teenagers too and went from camp to camp. When it came to dating there were lots of boyfriends since it was a male sport and she was outgoing, popular and very attractive. She had boyfriends from all over the world.

    What I’m saying is that she LOVED that life. The social life for a teenager/young woman was amazing. It still is. She still goes off five or six times every year with her dad and is now on the world governing body committee so even more involved! She was therefore, ripe for the picking at the age of fifteen. Her dad basked in her popularity and it boosted his ego while I was relegated to ‘boring’ and you know the rest. And we all know that both he and she do not do boring. I was onto nothing but a loser. As my husband told me, he simply preferred her to me. (and he made that very plain especially on those racing holidays which I stopped going on seven years before I left him because I couldn’t take any more of the pair of them pushing me out and clearing off without telling me they were going)

    I often wonder if he’d had a very boring hobby that she wasn’t interested in and didn’t give her the social life it did, would he have taken her from me so easily. Who knows. I like to think that she’d not have been so easy to get onside without that carrot dangling in front of her.

    Maybe Karen can suggest something Frankie. I just don’t know. It’s like trying to through quicksand.

    I send a hug from me to you 🙂


    1. Thanks Willow,
      I know we all have different scenarios for each of our situations but the one determining factor is to win over and control the children! My story is not so different in as much as I wasn’t prepared to let my 13yr old son run wild and just do as he pleased! Daddy told him he’d never stop him doing what made him happy whereas I wanted to!!! Guess that’s why with my son at 17 I’m now unable to find out what happened when he was caught with drugs and his father’s house raided…. As his mum I have no rights because as he lives with his dad, or rather his granny, cause dad’s girlfriend kicked him out of the family home, he is deemed his legal guardian and data protection does not allow anyone to know this information if not permitted by the legal guardian….daddy!

      I gave birth, raised my son and removed him from an abusive home but I now wait to discover through local newspapers, what if anything, my son has done and what the outcome will be!!
      I wonder if daddy will think it worth the pain he’s causing me to have his son incarcerated? The saddest thing is, I don’t think my son’s dilemma will affect his father as much as knowing that it’s almost destroyed me!

      Yes, our stories are different Willow but the similarities are obvious!!

      Frankie x


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