I am reviewing 2022 and find that despite another difficult year in doing this work, I end with a powerful sense of hope. This comes from the work that I have done with parents in the rejected position who have taken up the journey of therapeutic parenting with gusto, joining me on our Holding up a Healthy Mirror Course and latterly on our Listening and Learning Circles, where we have approached the experience of being rejected by a child with attuned care. It also comes from joining the Hope Conference, an international collective of parents who are seeking to change the way that the experience of being rejected is seen by the outside world.
The first Hope Conference was held at Cambridge University, bringing together ordinary people who have no previous experience of the problem of children’s alignment and rejection, in a day packed full of creativity and most of all love. Designed to bring understanding of the lived experience of rejected parents, in a way which is rooted in evidence and full of the dignity of living in the truth of what happens when children align and reject, this group of people are bringing change to the world by living it. This, for me, is the way we will bring light to the darkness of this problem, it is the way that truth will overcome the harm and the way in which deeply traumatised parents can find a foothold in reality. As someone who has worked with this issue for long time, the seeds of hopefulness which are brought about when parents work together to educate others about what lies beneath a child’s rejection, are the signs that spring has arrived after a long dark winter of misunderstanding.
As someone who faces daily, the negative projections of people who are angry and unwell, those very same projections, which are infused with the anger and primitive defences of those who are ideologically driven, my feeling as I left that day, was that here was a healthy response to the terrible toxicity which has tainted this work over the past years.
Hope is a healthy response to the venomous determination away to drive those of us who do this work, it provides a grounding in reality which is often needed in a world where primitive defences of hatred, fear and anxiey hold sway. Rebalancing the understanding of what is happening to children who align and reject, is about moving away from the binary opposites of DA vs PA and digging deeper into the stratified layers of psychological disarray in which these children are mired. When we understand what really lies beneath and teach that to parents and practitioners, the capacity to rebuild relationships and wake up sleeping attachments increases. When we educate those with the power to make structural changes about the harm that is being done to children with a latent vulnerability who have maladapted their attachments to look as if they are coping when in fact they are not, intervention to protect the child becomes possible.
In this light, the splitting and projections of those who live in a world of heroes and villains are possible to see clearly, meaning that the reality of this work, does not become entangled with the shadow side of those who live in an ideologically split world. Beyond all of the lurid headlines which are written by those who call themselves ‘investigative’ journalists but who in reality are simply pursuing a belief system which convinces them that what they want to believe is the truth, the work to bring the problem of children’s alignment and rejection continues. And it continues with hope and heart and determination that this horrible problem, which faces so many children and parents around the world, will never again be buried beneath the shame and blame of those who are seeking to hide child abuse.
In total I have worked with almost three hundred rejected parents this year, a large handful of families and twenty five severely alienated children. I have interviewed older adults who as children rejected a parent and I have trained thirty plus professionals, working alongside some of them in teams to deliver change for children. This year, more than any other, I have seen the power of rejected parents to help and heal their children from the attachment disruptions and the psychological harm that is caused when pressure in the family system causes splitting, denial and projection. I have seen this in my work in the family courts, I have seen it in my work with families around the world with older children and I have seen it in the groups and circles I have been holding online. I know for sure now that the therapeutic approach to working with this problem is successful because I see its success, I hear about its success and I understand why it is successful. It is successful because it utilises structural power to remove the power and control and works in harmony with the attachment between the child and parent to restore connection. When that parent is then trained in using therapeutic parenting skills, the flow of attachment allows the underlying maladaptations to be reconfigured.
Hope comes from the centre of the hurt. The power of rejected parents to help and heal their children is in their hands and in 2023 with our results from evaluation providing an evidence based and our development of resources to support parents and practitioners, we will put more power into more hands in a way which brings health, healing and most of all hope, to many more families around the world.
Thank you for reading and joining with us on this journey to find the power to help and heal alienated children, it has been a long and winding road but we are now in that place where all of our exploration is bearing real fruit. In 2023 we will be making many more resources available to support parents and practitioners. In addition, I will soon be announcing the new schedules for our Listening and Learning Circles which have proved to be so popular and which have delivered some wonderful results in terms of healing relationships.
If you would like to join our mailing list for information about our therapeutic parenting courses and circles, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you our Therapeutic Parenting Newsletter which will be published regularly in 2023.
If you would like information about the Hope Conference, please email me at email@example.com and I will put you in touch with the parent collective running this.
The Family Separation Clinic is now in an intensive development phase and will be producing handbooks, resources and other materials to support practice with families where children align and reject. We are grateful for the investment in this phase of work which supports us to focus upon putting this material out into the world.
I have been honoured to work with so many parents this year who are proving over and over again that love never dies, it leaps all hurdles and waits through endless days and nights to arrive at reconnection with hope.
The lives of many generations of children to come will be changed by the hope I have seen kindled this year. I am grateful to be on this journey with so many of you.
In deep gratitude