Karen Woodall

The Terrorised Child: The Ideological Distortion of Parenting

One of the themes which is bubbling up from the media reporting of parental alienation in recent weeks is the ideological viewpoint that children have the right to decide whether they are ‘keen on’ a parent or not.

Accompanying this ideological viewpoint is a new phrase, which has also recently been seen bubbling up from the pens and mouths of those who hold the view that a child’s right to choose whether they have a relationship with a parent after separation is paramount.  This phrase is ‘pro-alienation’ which is used to reduce the status of anyone who is concerned with parental alienation in any way, to that of a fanatic who cannot be trusted.  It is a well worn strategy used for decades by academics who believe that they are somehow more objective than the rest of the world, forgetting conveniently that every word they ever write, in every study they ever produce, funded by every penny they ever attract for their wisdom, is funnelled through a standpoint perspective which is formed from a) their own experience and b) their own internalised drivers.

Those who call people ‘pro-alienation’ are those who live in their own psychologically split world of good and bad, where their views and standpoints are good and anyone who does not agree with them are bad.  As such these people when they use the phrase ‘pro-alienation’ do nothing more for the debate than reveal their own internal biases.  Whilst they are busy labelling everyone ‘pro-alienation’ (whilst pretending that they are uniquely impartial because of their research work), what they are really doing is revealing themselves as ‘anti-alienation’ with all of the attendant denial that brings.

What happens to the unsuspecting public however, when they are confronted by this ever so reasonable argument by such eminent researchers who present themselves as impartial, is that they are drawn into the pro/anti argument about the issue of parental alienation.  Couple that with a dollop of CAFCASS telling us that the subject is controversial and about two parents in conflict and the core message, that inducing and maintaining the psychologically split state of mind in a child is abuse, becomes diluted and lost in the ensuing ping pong game of pro/anti argument.  This is a classic tactic of feminists, in which the core reality of a serious issue is overwhelmed by the pro/anti women argument.

In my time I have worked for the UK government alongside heads of feminist driven charities and I have seen how this tactic swamps any kind of real debate for change in favour of keeping the focus always upon women first.  In one such scenario, where a colleague and I raised the issue of situational couple violence and the responsibility of women for their own contribution to the prevalence of this, we were shouted down as being anti women making everything we had to say null and void.  In another such scenario a deeply unpleasant academic wrote to Nick to tell him that because he had raised the issue of women’s violence in the home towards men and children, he was ‘a very dangerous practitioner’.  Other academics have dismissed the reality of mothers being alienated from their children as ‘the unintended consequences of feminist driven social policy’ and with a shrug of the shoulders have told me that so long as most women are in control of the kids after family separation, those unintended consequences are unfortunate but an acceptable level of risk.

Those unintended consequences are the children whose lives are seriously damaged by being alienated from their mothers and the mothers whose lives are reduced to a ghost like existence on the edges of their child’s lives. On the other hand, the intended consequences of feminist driven social policy, which is that most mothers assume the role of gatekeeper to the relationships their children have with the outside world, are presumably the utopian dream of such academics.

Forget the number of kids killed by their mothers, forget the risks to children from the mental health problems suffered by their mothers and forget in its entirety the impact of the loss of a relationship with a once loved father and paternal family.  None of that matters in the ideological world of the standpoint academic who pretends that she is impartial.  When you hear the phrase ‘pro-alienation’, switch on your counter intuitive listening device and hear the words ‘anti-alienation/pro-feminist’ and you will understand that what this person is doing is attempting to devalue the reality of what is happening to children, in favour of upholding the rights of women.

I have watched this week as Liz Trinder has rolled out this phrase and others like it to diminish anyone who makes an effort to argue with her.  I have also watched Branwen Jeffries of the BBC, valiantly try to justify her use of Trinder in her piece for the News at Ten.  What Jeffries doesn’t realise is that her piece touched the surface of an issue which has been taken on so powerfully by the parents who suffer the rejection of the psychologically split child, that Trinder’s faulty reasoning won’t wash for much longer.

CAFCASS, who have long relied upon Trinder and Mclean and Hunt et al, for the justification of their denial of parental alienation, have now rolled over and are seeking a way out of the mess they have made in the past two decades of denial of parental alienation.  Two decades in which the repeated upholding thousands of children’s ‘decisions’ to cut a parent out of their lives after family separation has left generations of children damaged.   Perhaps CAFCASS see the writing on the wall and realise that the game is up and something has to be done, perhaps they are genuine to some degree in what they do (although if they were one would expect a whole lot better than the obfuscation and misleading commentary produced in their recent podcast), whatever it is, a split between CAFCASS and their pet academics is clearly opening up.  What comes next will be a few more years of pro/anti alienation argument between CAFCASS and the anti-alienation brigade, whilst the rest of us get on and do the work we know is needed to provide resolution to the families affected by parental alienation.

Feminism spawned the whole ‘voice of the child’ agenda, which overburdens children and distorts the family hierarchy.  After several decades of attempting to throw men out of the family, the shift to putting the burden on a child by giving them the right to decide that they are ‘not keen on’ a parent has become the next tactic of choice for the ideologues.  Parenting after separation should not be viewed through an ideological lens  and  feminism and any other ideology has no role to play in the healing of family schisms and splits.

And calling anyone who is concerned about the pathologically split state of mind in a child of divorce  and separation,  ‘pro-alienation’  as a way of promoting an ideology in which the child is given responsibility for deciding what happens in parental relationships, is simply wrong.

The science of parental alienation is well established.  The existence of the pathologically split state of mind in a child is evidence that pressure is being placed upon them and that there is a need for further investigation.  And in that investigation, the needs of children for healthy parenting take precedence over parental rights.

That is our starting point for doing this work, that is the driver that anyone concerned with the wellbeing of children of divorce and separation holds central to everything we do.  There is nothing controversial about this subject other than the conflict generated by people concerned with parental rights.

Terrorising children through the destruction of the family hierarchy and then burdening them with decisions which are not theirs to make, is child abuse.  It is using children to further the rights of women and ignoring the unintended consequences of mother alienation as being an acceptable by-product of a feminist agenda and anti-alienation campaigners don’t want you to know that.

Which is why they use splitting to fog the reality.  Because whilst ever  parental alienation is conceptualised as a conflict between two parents or a pro/anti issue, the truth of the matter is hidden from public view.

The truth of the matter is that this is a child mental health issue  which is now accepted in the family courts in the UK and Europe and recognised as an urgent issue to address.

And in addressing it we accept all of the responsibilities of adults who care for children and all of the duties that are attendant with that.

We do not terrorise the child by over empowering them and we do not abandon the child to the ‘choices’ they make because of the defences they are forced to develop in the post separation landscape.

We act on our knowledge and we are courageous enough to bear the responsibility for that so that children do not have to.

And there is nothing controversial about that.