Sharing the care and making it work: lessons for mothers (part one)

Ok, so I write an awful lot on here about the injustices of our current system.  Given we are highly likely to be entering new territory soon, I felt perhaps it might be useful to write a bit more about how sharing care can actually work for kids.

Having been a mother with sole care with a biological other parent who had gone to the ends of the country to avoid co-parenting with me, and also, eventually a shared care parent with my daughter’s step dad, I have sufficient experience (I think), to offer a look at the future from the other side of the lens.

This then, is part one of an occasional series of lessons for mothers who are either willingly seeking to share care or who have that arrangement proposed or imposed upon them.

I shall write this as a question and answer piece, these questions are those that I have spent a long time grappling with as I came to understand my current day position.

1.  I carried the child inside of me therefore surely I am the most important parent?

On the day of your child’s arrival in the world you were indeed the most important parent, without you your child would not be here. In the days afterwards you were also at the top of the hierarchy as your child established a sense of self in the world.  However, coming a very close second is your child’s other parent and he will eventually overtake you in terms of his importance in your child’s development, especially if your child is under five years old. We do indeed carry our children inside of us and this, I would argue, means that our feelings about our children remain deeply held within the fibre of our being.  Days past, when men were not encouraged to bond as deeply with their children, it could have been said (perhaps) that the maternal bond was felt differently, in more recent decades, when men have become involved in every aspect of child rearing, from pre birth to beyond, It seems to me that the maternal and paternal bond post the very early days are very similar indeed.

2. But children need their mothers more than their fathers surely?

I would argue that what children need is their mother and their father and most of all they need a relationship between their mother and father that is conflict free and calm and possible to learn from.  If a child has to be on red alert each time mum and dad are together, then mum and dad together are not doing the children any good at all.  The argument that children need their mothers more than their fathers illuminates the feelings of loss and displacement that many mothers feel when they are confronted with the idea of sharing care.  Children need both of their parents, ideally in relationship together, if not then at least working together in a business like arrangement.

3.  But when my child stays over she always comes back upset and tired.  He doesn’t put her to bed on time and she gets into a terrible mess with her routine.

Children who are making transitions to the other parent need to be helped to do so in ways that are beneficial to them, not their parents.  The separation between adults is adult stuff and should be dealt with as adults.  Is your child spending enough time with her other parent?  Is staying over one night a week enough for her?  Perhaps if she were able to stay in blocks of three nights with her dad she would settle into a routine at dads home too.  How much are the two of you able to co-ordinate your routines? Children who have the same bedtime in each home, the same bedtime routine, the same smells even (check what washing powder he uses and either ask him to use the same as you or change yours to what he is using), are those who are best able to settle.  Transition is a big thing for children and one night a week or worse, one night a fortnight is just not enough.  If dad won’t deal with your questions because he is taking it as an attack on his parenting, show  him this and let him know its not about you its about your child(ren).

4. But he never turns up on time and he misses out on important days.

Parents who consistently do not turn up on time or miss birthdays and other important days are letting their children down not you. Ultimately it will ruin their relationship with the children.  However it is your responsibility to ensure that the boundaries are kept so that children are not confused or upset.  Use the three strikes and your out routine, turn up late once and there is an excuse, turn up late twice and you are on dodgy ground, turn up late three times and there are no grounds for further discussion, the agreement must be renegotiated, get to a mediator and do it fast  (and I can hear dads shouting at me for giving mums power to decide, however in my view it doesn’t wash, if someone is letting a child down consistently, then the other parent must act and act fast).  Similarly, I would advise a father to use a three strikes and you’re out approach and get into mediation and if necessary the court process (yes I know that currently dads have less power to do that but we are talking about the future here when the process will, I hope, have more teeth).  I am also strongly in favour of the three strikes and you’re out approach to enforcement of orders in the court.  Mums who deliberately interfere with parenting time should, in my view, face punishment and before any tells me its terrible to send mum to prison, the kids will be with dad throughout and he will be providing his usual parenting time care plus the time mum is serving inside.

5.  He’s only doing it to reduce his maintenance payments.

I am sure there are a few dads who will give it a go for this reason, there are many many more that want to share care because they want to care for their kids as well as pay for them.  What do you do in terms of maintaining your children?  Use the time you are not caring to go out and work, volunteer, go back to learning.  Life as an active parent ends and one day, when your kids are grown and gone, you will be thankful for the chance you had of developing your ability to look after yourself.

6.  He won’t share enough of the care.

Tricky one this because the status quo, which is the assumption that mothers will just do whatever dads won’t do and he has the choice whether or not to do it, is supported by the legislation we are trying to unpick.  Some dads do just up sticks and go and they have permission to that in our society because the state steps in and replaces him.  If he is sharing some of the care but doing it on his own terms then you are going to have to talk tough about what that does to his children.  If he wants the shared care status but not the responsibility you are going to have to hold some boundaries and make sure that you are not picking up too many pieces for him.  Difficult when your children are the ones at risk I know, ultimately, if you are trying to share care and he is not doing his bit, you have the right to ask for it to change and you should.  Use the three strikes approach and then act.

7. But my children don’t want to go when it comes to changing homes

Learn as much as you can about transition difficulties in children, most kids suffer them at some point.  However, the more fuss you make and the more upset you get, the worse it will get for the kids.  Just like when you drop them off at nursery and they fuss and they cling, if you hang around for five minutes and take a peek at them, they are usually fine and have forgotten you because the sandpit is far more interesting.  Kids find the crossing of the emotional boundary between mum and dad hard sometimes, especially if there is tension.  If it is too difficult then get someone else to do it for you but keep in mind that communication between the two of you is what will make it better.

And  finally –

Dads out there, avoid the following like the plague;  a) being stroppy/weepy/anxious on handover with your children’s mother b) using handover to have a go at the other parent c) not allowing your kids to take items back and forth.

Mums out there avoid the following like the plague; a) being stroppy/weepy/anxious on handover, b) using the handover to have a go at the other parent c) not allowing your children to take items back and forth (and that means clothes too, its not ok to hang on to kids clothes and not allow them to wear them back and forth, your kid is not a doll and their clothes do not belong to you, they belong to your child).

And sharing care, where there is violence on either side of the fence is not something I would advocate.  Family violence hurts children, as does making allegations of violence where it doesn’t exist.  I am not advocating that anyone who is in danger or whose children have been hurt (and I mean by mothers as well as fathers) should be forced into a shared care arrangement.

Sharing the parenting of your children after separation is not something you or their other parent are inherently equipped for but you can learn how to do it and how to do so that you are child focused and not adult focused.  Sharing parenting is not about dividing the child, its not about allocating fixed blocks of time that never change, its about renegotiating the parenting relationship between you which is separate from the end of your adult relationship.    This requires you to be an adult, to accept responsibility for what is your stuff and to know the difference between someone being hurt and angry and someone being abusive.

Too often we mix up the personal, emotional mess that comes at the end of the relationship with the relationship we have with our children and they become the carriers of the toxicity between us and their other parent.  Avoid this outcome at all costs, when your kids are mixed up in your hatred of their other parent, it is they who suffer most.

Your children are not just your children, they are the product of the love that once existed between you and their other parent.  Give them the respect that they deserve and love the whole of them enough to put your adult feelings about their other parent to one side.  And be adult enough to expect the same from the one that you once loved enough to bring children in to the world.

When you do that, your children will continue to be children and one day, when they are parents themselves, they will thank you wholeheartedly for it.

28 comments

  1. StuG · May 5, 2012

    Now we just need to get this message into the thick skulls of social workers, policymakers and judges. And especially the venal, profiteering, mealy mouthed lawyers. Because whatever ‘changes’ may be on the horizon, if they are deliberately usurped by these intermediaries who reward intransigent resident parents by sustained and deliberate discrimination against the ‘other’ parent (what a disgusting label) it’s all just a load of hot air. The new intent must be accompanied by indictable offences for lawyers and social workers if they do not promote shared parenting in the evidentiary absence of good reason. The threat of criminal sanction is the only way these professional fraudsters will change their despicable culture. For those above accountability, such as the judges, they have to have a clear message: ‘shared parenting, unless there is strong evidence to the contrary – no more procrastinating and manufacturing of narrative – or sit and rubberstamp TV licence defaulters all day.’ Do not promote them to the Court of Appeal, do not allow them to become President of the Family Division when they have abused human rights and blown the chance of introducing workable contact arrangements (Making Contact Work – he made sure it didn’t) in 2003. When Bruce Clarke et al strip the statute of its true spirit and intent by replacing the words when forming policy, making policy work in the polar opposite direction, throw them out on their ear; throw them in jail. Train judges properly this time around so they can distinguish statute from opposing policy and deal with it properly when it happens in front of their noses. Don’t repeatedly waive it on for no reason other to fill up judicial work diaries. And, for God’s sake, stop giving money, commissions, media space and false credibility to the big mouthed likes of Trinder, Hunt, McIntosh etc and start forming and following through on policy based on the properly conducted research of real, hands on professionals. The cultural change required to deal with the problem of intransigent resident parents won’t happen until ethics and professional standards are imposed on their bottom feeders.

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    • karenwoodall · May 5, 2012

      we’ve got such a long way to go still Stu that’s for certain..events last week tell me that even when change comes through some in the legal system will do all they can to prevent it. K

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  2. kat · May 5, 2012

    This really ought to be common sense. I am constantly appalled that it is not.
    Interesting that you suggest that there shouldn’t be co-parenting where there has been abuse involved – presumably to go with that you would suggest some real effort put into investigating allegations of abuse and if they are false regard this as a type of abuse in itself? This sounds easy in theory but I am sure in practice it is very hard to determine and there would be huge grey areas where no one really knows who is telling the truth.

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    • karenwoodall · May 5, 2012

      Hi Kat, where false allegations are made there should be stringent measures to ensure that the control over the dynamics are placed in the hands of the one that had the allegations made against them. False and vexatious allegations damage children as much as violence damages them, its is an act against the child as much as their other parent in my view. The issue of violence and abuse is so complex because of the endless push to interpret actions of men as violent, we have gone from battering to the oft heard cry these days that dv is more than physical violence. I have a real interest these days in the work being done around family violence in Canada, where the issue is being taken apart and examined with great care in order to properly understand and differentiate what the dynamics between two people are and what impact they have on children.

      When working to understand allegations of DV in separation cases I am of the view that all allegations of DV should be fast tracked and heard separately with a ruling on the allegations as quickly as possible. That makes it possible for the issue to be put out of the way so that it cannot cause endless delay in making parenting agreements.

      K

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      • Kat · May 5, 2012

        This makes sense. I suppose my slight concern is that many highly manipulating people successfully manage to portrait themselves as victims when in fact it is the other way round. Also I cannot currently see a way to puncture the myth that only men commit DV.

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      • Johnnie · May 7, 2012

        In the U.S. state of Oregon, it is now explicitly against the law to file claims of child abuse when one knows them now to be true, with fines of up to $750 being imposed if found guilty.

        http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2011/05/controversial_bill_on_child_ab.html

        The type of punishment is important but the fundamental move forward here is the fact that in the midst of a Family Law case (where ‘the balance of probability’ means that a Resident Parent making such accusations where no evidence is found to support them, is not able to be punished) a part of the case e.g. allegations of child abuse, can be moved to the criminal court (where a verdict can only be given ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ which means that the emphasis is completely put on evidence) which is where crime should dealt with whether the crime is mother crying wolf or father abusing or vice-versa. Then there is a definite conclusion to such allegations and, right or wrong, BOTH mother and father are held accountable for their words and actions.

        The common sense aspect of this is, hopefully, obvious for all to see.

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      • StuG · May 7, 2012

        Jonnie,

        From research I can see that California has had similar laws for decades. They report better conviction rates for genuine DV perpetrators (30%). The same happened for a short while in Australia when the ‘uncooperative parent’ clause was introduced in 2006. As I have often stated, if the authorities are not barking up the wrong trees they can catch the real offenders instead of fitting up the innocent to make the stats fit the activity. And, as Robert Whiston clearly shows on one of his blogs, DV is a serial crime; you catch one offender you prevent a series of future offences, often against different partners as they drift from one relationship to another. As the same authorities are responsible for detecting and responding to child abuse it follows the explanation for the drop in child abuse rates could be that departments can actually do their jobs if not overwhelmed. Couple the criminalising of false reporting to a legal right for children to maintain meaningful relationships with their separated parents after family split and the state automatically recruits an extra pair of eyes for the majority of the most vulnerable children. A initial watchful eye on mum’s new boyfriend and stepfather is no bad thing until they are shown to be no risk to the child and an even closer eye on mothers who abuse and kill twice the children that fathers do will also help. Remove the antagonistic laws that stress and anger the parents and children will be safer by default. For instance, almost every child murder by fathers I have monitored has had the element of a contact dispute in the background.

        But of course, its not the protection of children that sits high on the agenda. It’s the protection of jobs. Many of those jobs are staffed by marxist/feminist ideologues who need problems in society to stay in work. So they infiltrate key positions and by a process of nepotism, get their mates in everywhere else. They control the management, the complaints procedures and the policy. They get away with their specious claims because they are marketing to each other and not the general population. Just like paedophile networks. Except they do more harm than paedophiles:

        Judge Watson L. White:
        Superior Court Judge, Cobb County, Georgia:

        ‘There is something bad happening to our children in family courts today that is causing them more harm than drugs, more harm than crime and even more harm than child molestation.”
        http://news.realfathersforjustice.org/index.php?itemid=571

        Effective detection of DV and child abuse and enforcement of law against genuine perpetrators does not help feminist operators in state funded jobs, domestic violence agencies, Police CSU units, social services or even the pseudo-social workers now proliferating in schools. Nor does it help the legal firms who are enmeshed into all these agencies to the extent that they are all effectively controlled by rabble rousing, profiteering lawyers. For these agencies to maintain their extreme levels of power and funding, you have to invent an enemy – men. Once you have invented an enemy, you can do what you want and say what you want in ever increasing steps. A dedicated but separated father now finds himself fighting the same policy on several fronts with each agency indoctrinated to oppose, criminalise, trap and fit him up.

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  3. stephen callard · May 5, 2012

    Judges common sense i have not seen this in the 12 years i been going through the system and why oh why do i get different judges sitting in my case? my last trip to court ended with the judge sighing when he asked the mother why she swore abuse at me over the phone when i called her to arrange the next staying contact, and her reply was “well he shouldn’t of rang” the judge then asked why as it was in the order i had to ring her to arrange the next staying contact and she said ” we don’t communicate by phone we communicate by letters” so this is right up there in his face how this abusive mother will use every trick in the book to evade contact.
    But new news also came to light that now after two years my son is saying he want’s nothing more to do with me he’s 13 years old, and two years ago we had such a good relationship we couldn’t of been better buddy’s and now he hates me, and i feel so sad that this has turned out like this, i asked the judge to set a finding of facts hearing and he refused it, so im not getting the chance to present any evidence to support my case. and now i’m being forced to have monitored contact sessions with my daughter and not my son this is not needed as i have never been shown to be a risk to my kids, and its just the way the mother wants things to be like. There is so much hatred in that house either to towards my daughter because she wishes to see me no matter what she has to go through to get to see her dad, or there’s animosity between the children about the differing views about seeing me. the mother has been advised by the guardian to parent the kids equal and to not get caught up with personal comment about the kids different views about seeing me, but this is never going to happen in there house the mother does not like her daughter much, and this is clear and she is brainwashing my son to hate his dad and when my daughter hears this she feel she has to defend me ( i’ve never asked he to) its in nature that if you hear bad things said about someone you love and you know its not true you will feel compelled to speak against this. my son is confused about what he hears and i know in his heart he loves me but the overwhelming derogatory comments made about his dad he’s beginning to Aline to the tune of his mother’s hatred.

    When we were together as a couple it was a rocky partnership in as much as i felt like walking on egg shells all the time and never knew how she would be at one time to the next, she has never seek’ed help for her mood swings and i have clear evidence to back these anger outbursts up by revelations from the kids up to two years ago, but also continually told by my daughter over the last two years and this is also reflecting in the children’s behavior, my daughter is acting out in a not normal nature and has become involved with the police and has been arrested for shop lifting she is just 14 years old, there are many other things i could say but there are to many to write them all down here, my son’s behavior at home has become much worse but the mother has said to the court that she is working on that, but this does not hide the fact that both children are still bed wetting and at this age they should of stopped this, when they were visiting me two/three/four and five years ago i worked hard with them in helping them to stop and we got so far with it by reducing it by around 90% ( the kids estimate).

    So i gathered all my paperwork and prepared to go back to court to have contact again ordered and i agreed for the children to be self represented by a guardian but since i agreed to this ( for the children to have a voice and to be heard) now i feel its not a good stance to have the cafcass represent them, i have caught these people out on numerous occasions and im sure they make it up as they go along, they have put a seed in my daughter’s head to suggest that she wants contact to be in a contact center before staying contact takes place, this is not true its a lie as i asked my daughter outright. but the cafcass guardian said in court this is what the children feel comfortable with (lie) is this in the children’s best interests? i don’t think so. the guardian never listened to any of my worries or reported on any of them, but had put much of what the mother was doing to help the children (again fabricated evidence) and so it was ordered to have 6 monitored and recorded contact sessions with my daughter and for the guardian to persuade my son to join us but i wont hold my breath on this. I hold an acute understanding of this system now and see its a living hell for any good father to keep a relationship with his children ongoing when their bitterness and vindictiveness from the living parent.
    Time for change well in my case the damage has already accrued, my only hope now is that the children wont be scared for life by what they have had to endure by this sick system who just want money!! they don’t care at all about the welfare or else they would see that in two years that i have took a step back for the sake of the kids sanity (and mine a bit) the outcome for these children by that final hearing in 2009 to grant the mother the residence against the children’s wishes has now come back to haunt them big style. The children have had a rough ride over these years without their dad, this was maybe my only mistake thinking it was for the best, but i am only human and saw what this was doing to them every time i had to take them back to her.
    With my contact with my daughter on fb i thought my messages were getting to my son and messages of love and miss u from him to me through my daughter, either this is the case and he has just said these things to please the mum without understanding the concept of such comments, or he has been Alienated against me! i would like to think the former was correct, then i would know he’s managed to evade the derogatory remarks made against me, however my daughter plays outside much much more than my son so he is influenced much more by having to listen to all her moans and see those regular moods swings more than my daughter, this was learnt very early on by my daughter that going out to play saved her from taking all the flack and as such probably the reason why she has got into allot of trouble.
    I am going to these contact sessions as i know it will go well but i will be recording everything myself like a documentary as i know how devious these people are and could easily twist a comment no matter how small and use it against you in court, so with the scene set i stand to ask my daughter age appropriate questions and at anytime she feels uncomfortable we can stop, but i have to do this to expose the truth as i cant rely on the people who have become part of this systematical segregation of children and their absent parent.

    My tip for anyone who have just split up please please please try and work out these parenting issues between yourselves as the courts DON’T CARE FOR YOUR KIDS THEY ACTIVELY ENCOURAGE POLARIZATION BETWEEN YOU TWO, ENTRENCHING YOU INTO BATTLE AND CAN GO ON FOR MANY MANY YEARS LIKE MINE 12 YEARS SO FAR, i thought it was 10 years but i found some old paperwork and see its dated April 2000, my kids have been emotionally wrecked i just hope i can sort this out before they themselves do the same to their future children as for 12 years they have been taught nothing less than heartache, tears, sorrow, hate, anger, pain, hurt, bitterness, injustice, betrayal, for nine years i was the only positive thing in their life and i will beat myself up daily for walking away in 2009 i did what i though was best but trust my people NEVER GIVE UP NOT EVEN IF YOU THINK ITS THE RIGHT THING TO DO ITS NOT, ALL YOUR CHILDREN NEED YOU IN THEIR LIVES! I PRAY FOR US ALL THAT ONE DAY THIS MESS WILL BE LOOKED BACK ON IN WONDER HOW IT WAS EVER LET TO BECOME AS CRUEL AS IT HAD :~( PEACE AND LOVE TO YOU ALL :~)

    and a big thank you to you Karen for allowing me to share my inner most feelings :~)

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    • karenwoodall · May 5, 2012

      Stephen you are welcome and your words will be shared by others who need the support you offer and the advice you give. Do not beat yourself up, you stepped back because what you have gone through is soul destroying as well as physically and mentally and emotionally draining. I am glad you are going to see your children, they do need you as you say, take it all one step at a time but most of all keep well and as healthy as you can so that you can be there when your children are free to come back to you. Sending ongoing support K

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  4. KD · May 5, 2012

    Karen, I would be most grateful for your thoughts on how parents can share care when there is some physical distance involved between the parents, but where the non resident parent is desperate to be more involved in the childrens’ lives…I have a family member in this situation. Perhaps you could provide your thoughts on the matter now or in the future. Many thanks

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    • karenwoodall · May 5, 2012

      Hi KD,

      Physical distance is an issue that can be gotten around but it may take a bit of a mind shift in order to do it.

      Sharing care of children can take many different forms, from weekends with one parent and weekends with the other to one week here and one week there. It can even take the form of six months in one country and six months in another, I worked with a family who had a daughter who lived in France with her father and England with her mother and for a time she swapped homes every six months. She was able to as she was home schooled but she loved her life and was bilingual and well travelled. Not everyone is going to be able to do that but the six months here and six months there example contains the elements of what really works in shared parenting.

      The mother in this family had a good job and enjoyed her non parenting time, she also spoke to her daughter on the phone on a regular basis and was in daily text contact. The same happened in reverse for dad. The parents shared all of the decisions about their daughter as she grew up and they were there, together for the big days.

      The key to this was their communication. They worked incredibly hard at it even though, dad left mum for another woman and there was a lot of hurt involved at first.

      In this day and age of immediate technology, it should be easy, if there can be a foundation of good communication between mum and dad for regular input from a distance and then longish period during holidays when together time can be shared.

      In your family’s case is there any communication between mum and dad? This is the first question that I ask. If there is, what does it look like at the moment. Who makes the big decisions, who knows about the dental appointments, the doctors visits and who does the disciplining and guiding. However far away parents live, this kind of shared decision making is a must for a good basis for shared parenting and, most importantly, the children need to know that their parents are making those decisions. I hope very much that when the government makes their announcement that shared decision making is featured in it.

      Apart from that then regular communication between parents and their children is a must and this needs to be relaxed and comfortable and it needs to get more flexible as kids get older. Checking in daily with a younger child is not in my view something odd or too pressured, a goodnight call for very young children gives them a sense that their parent is there and thinking about them. Far too many parents separate and go straight into a routine that is far too dislocated for the age of the children. However far away a parent lives, he or she should always be checking in with children and letting them know they are there and thinking about them. And parents who block this are damaging their children in my view, it is appalling how many kids have one parent ousted from their lives only to be eventually ‘allowed’ to have a weekly conversation, that is, in itself, abusing a child in my view, it is most certainly damaging their attachment.

      I can give you more detailed help if you email me with more details, age of children, distance parents live apart, current patterns of time with each parent, current levels of communication and shared decision making.

      K

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      • stephen callard · May 5, 2012

        Thanks Karen, i like you latest reply too it touches on my issues and what i know to be fair in the children’s opinion is 1 year at mine then one year at mums, this was talked about between us 4 years ago on a summer holiday at mine for 4 weeks, so i see that if a child can accept these terms i see no reason why they could not be put in place by the courts, only in my case there is the element of bitterness from the mum that will only make this solution a harder reality to bring about, so i have never even asked for it to be looked at. but i was in the notion that the distance and schooling would be a problem, although i would do everything within my power to facilitate communication between the children and their mum when staying with me, i just thought the courts are so old fashioned they wouldn’t even consider shared care, but your post kind of says the opposite but now the kids are much older and one has turned against me kinda sets this option aside. but if this is Alienation at work then the only real option is to remove my son from the care he’s in, but without being given the chance to put my case across for change of residence i think he will grow up into a confused lad with bitterness about what has happened to him, so far noone has picked up the signals of PAS but i’m sure its there from what i know and what i have been told, i think he may need a psychological evaluation by a professional that are trained in spotting the traits of PAS but i’m open to ideas as i’m not sure if i should put him through this as i feel he’s been through far too much already or do i risk more damage if i don’t force the issue to have him checked by a trained professional along with the mother, also i hear that the social services that have these trained spotters are not good and can alter reports, so i would have to show and ask for my own Independent department that i have looked into and can provide if necessary. research seams to suggest leaving a problem like PAS unchecked can be so damaging and sometimes never healed and this is why i’m so worried as before 2009 we got on so well. The cafcass guardian said back in January my son was confused about how i felt about him and wanted to know how i feel about him so i wrote him a letter to give to cafcass to pass onto him at the next court date 24th April at this meeting she said that Tom refuses to talk to her and he handed her a note that said he wants nothing more to do with me, him refusing to communicate with the cafcass guardian seems weird to me being that she is there for him and tell a bigger picture to me like he’s been told not to talk to her what do you think? i tend to use my instincts and heart feelings but with this one i cant make any mistakes but my gut feeling is to push for it.
        any advice would be graciously appreciated.

        Steve.

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  5. PapaMissingKids · May 5, 2012

    Another excellent post, of course!
    Just wanted to add the following;
    Point 1) Yes, without the Mum and her tummy the child would n

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    • stephen callard · May 6, 2012

      So is it about time they introduced lie detector tests in the high conflict cases where DV has been alleged as in these days with a 98.9% accuracy could it be said this would balance out the status quo as it stand right now, where many people are falsely accused and have that used against the accused, thus per-longing the damage and heartache. In the majority of false allegation cases getting to the separate investigations these are then proven to be false, again needlessly dragged out for the benefit of the accuser, and even after its proven a false allegation, still nothing is sanctioned upon the accuser for his/her twisted mindset. Seams to me the difference in accuracy far outweighs the small percentage for getting it wrong and we all know this tiny margin IS the only reason this device have not been used. Lets face it head on here, if it were to be brought in many things would change i don’t need to put them all down here but one BIG change would be the amount of accusations being made and the other major change would be the lack of case work being made through the system as we have now and the system after the introduction of tests, as cases would have no room to place arguments if your found out to be a liar then you risk everything simple really. but really why do they not bring this and anything else by today standards of technological advancements it can only come down to one element and were talking (MONEY) ITS THE SYSTEM AS IT IS THAT BRINGS IN THE MOST CAPITAL SO WHY WOULD THEY CHANGE ANYTHING TO REDUCE THEIR LIVING THE ANSWER IS… they wont :~( 12 years i have been waiting for the government to get off it ass and help our children but i see it as the system is actually as it was meant to be :~(

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      • Kat · May 6, 2012

        I am no fan of lie detectors and believe there are very good reasons why such evidence is inadmissible in criminal courts. I don’t think they would be much use in DV cases as the dynamics between two people that underpins this is not black and white and often you will have two different perceptions of what has been going on and both people believe that their version is true.
        Some false allegations are completely made up and the person who makes them knows this. However many will be exaggerations or a twisted version of events that really took place. Thus the person making the allegation genuinely believes there is an element of truth in it.

        Like

  6. PapaMissingKids · May 5, 2012

    Another excellent post, of course!
    Just wanted to add the following;
    Point 1) Yes, without the Mum and her tummy the child would not be here. Umm… Who put the child there so that Mum could have the privilege of being a mum?

    Another Point) As a Mum, Mum should be putting her children’s welfare above her own. So what does it say about her being a (good?) “Mum” if she poisons her children against Dad?

    Just something for the “Mum’s” to think about.

    [earliee post posted In error]

    Like

    • karenwoodall · May 6, 2012

      Hi Papamissingkids,

      Number one statement from dads …

      ‘We give the sperm without which they could not be mum.’

      I don’t know if you have ever read Marge Pierce, Woman on the Edge of Time? A world in which children were incubated externally from both parents so that each gave their genetic material but the argument over who did most to bring the child into the world was removed. In that world I would consider the men and women to be utterly equal in every single aspect of their parenthood.

      However, whichever way you cut it, the sperm that is given by man to fertilise the egg that is given by woman is grown within the woman. That is a biological fact that we have not yet got around. During that process, chemical and hormonal shifts and changes cause the magical process of the brain of the unborn baby to develop and its body (and some would say soul) to grow.

      Giving up the body in order to grow that child is no mean feat and neither is labour. All of those processes cause changes in the mother to be and in the body and brain of the child.

      And having a deep respect and sensitivity for that is the start of child focused parenting in which the needs of the child come before the needs of the parents.

      Now I know and you know that many mothers use the ‘I had the baby, therefore its mine more than yours approach’

      The argument against that is the developments in neuroscience which demonstrate without question that the hierarchy of attachment changes as the child grows and dad becomes the more important parent in terms of helping the child to develop brain function. We used to say that dad provided boundaries and a link to the outside world, what is being discovered now is the massive input that dads have on the brain and the child’s ability to self regulate behaviour.

      And mothers need to learn this and have the same respect for the importance of dads in children’s lives as dads need to have for the role of mothers.

      Because whilst mum as incubator and birth giver is essential at first, dad as developer of the child’s brain function and as guide into the world becomes essential next. Our children are on a journey and as parents it is our responsibility to work together to provide safe passage, when family separation happens that working together breaks down but we have to find a way to renegotiate our responsibilities together.

      Dads need more power to enforce their part in that journey, hopefully it is coming soon. But when it does, whatever happens, we must not let that blind us to child focused parenting because if we lose sight of that our project will fail.

      K

      Like

      • PapaMissingKids · May 8, 2012

        Hi Karen,
        Ok, I hear you.
        Makes a lot of sense when someone explains it calmly and sensibly. And, very important – when one has begun to trust that person’s judgement.
        I think there is a lot in this reply of yours and I will ensure to read it several times.
        Many thanks 🙂
        PMK

        Like

      • PapaMissingKids · May 8, 2012

        Another point: When people want to adopt;
        *) isn’t it normal for the the adoption agencies to check BOTH parents credentials?
        *) don’t the adoption agencies insist on there being a mother AND father being present?
        [There may be instancies of e.g. same gender couples adopting, but that’s not what I’m alluding to nor is it relevant here peeps – unless Karen wants to say anything (cos she says relevant stuff, not because it’s her blog)]

        Like

      • Kat · May 9, 2012

        You do not need two parents for adoption. Right or wrong but a single parent can adopt

        Like

      • PapaMissingKids · May 9, 2012

        Aah….in that case, better to have one parent than no parent. Also, in such cases there is no resentment/hatred/reviling of the other parent….

        Like

  7. pauldmanning · May 6, 2012

    As usual Karen your common sense is to be applauded, if only our family court judges had the same logical information programmed into their short sighted arrogant brains! Like I always say Karen… if only, if only…. if only the day would come when what you say in your astute postings was to come true NOW, tomorrow, then how happy I would be, but how long will fathers wait till it all comes about? Will we have lost our children by the time we see its fruition?

    Like

  8. SG · May 7, 2012

    An interesting read, as the new partner of a dad who has tried to arrange contact with his two children through mediation and the mother has refused and started making accusations of DV my observation is that the system takes the route of least resistance! Of course if there is any doubt that children are in any way at risk this needs to be checked however all the time (now two years of court battles) that the Father is excluded and portrayed as a violent and bad person this is doing harm too far more harm than the false accusations. When does the system look at the person making the accusations and their ability to be a good parent? I too have been accused of being an unsuitable adult to be near the children and am being investigated by CAFFCAS all on the accusations of the Mother who has never met me because three years after separating the father has moved on in his personal life. I know I am a good person however it leaves a very nasty taste in my mouth and another hurdle put in the way of a dad that loves his kids and want to be a positive part of their lives.
    SG

    Like

    • StuG · May 7, 2012

      SG; I have had two relationships ruined because I could no longer put the new partners through the agony of watching what was being done to me and said about me when they knew the reverse was true. I watched them turn into different people because, unsurprisingly, they had no coping mechanism for this perverse and malicious world of family law. I’ve had planned evenings out ruined by Police harassment during restaurant meals (they like to phone at around eight or nine in the evening), holidays cancelled due to unexpected and endless strings of court hearings and surprise days and weekends away with the kids ditched because mum decides to play with contact. I applaud any lady who can put up with it.

      Like

      • Sarah · May 8, 2012

        So sorry to hear that I can identify with what you say . I am lucky so far that I have the resilience to cope and focus support on my partner I have an excellent support network myself which helps.

        Like

    • stephen callard · May 7, 2012

      SG, your’ll know by now cafcass is just out to cash in on any family problems but however now they are involved from what i gather you, your hubby/we absent parents need to lick ass as much as possible. I truly believe its not about whats right or wrong in a case which it should be, but from my own bitter dealings with these people as an outsider i’m classed as the bad guy. and so i’m being forced to go back to a contact center like me and the kids did 5 years ago and as these idiots don’t do follow ups on the outcomes of orders made it all starts again from scratch.
      I’m not sure how easy it would be to revert back to the time before they were agreed to become involved because from my own research and my last dealings with them i would much like to tell them where to go politely, maybe Karen has a better knowledge with this respect ( how hard would it be to un-employ the guardian after they become a guardian) because i know now they are guardian’s to the children they get PR, this i feel will make it an enormous job, but if there was any chance of doing this i for one would be trying it.

      The report was one sided and because she could not pin anything on me she claimed that i was too emotionally involved that was it, and for this reason we have been forced to go back to the contact center. I even explained that I’m obviously emotionally involved as its me and my flesh and blood that this is happening too, I cant just become a 3rd party character like the guardian or judge, and so when i see total injustice being done it does hurt. I’ve never expressed anger just tears and i refuse to hold hurt in, if this shows I’m weak then that’s tough this is me, and i’m being me throughout this case as i have on all other hearings.

      The system is still in such a mess and i have one huge issue with the last judge in my hearing who sat there for near on 10 minutes trying to find a Chanel 4 program on his laptop, making jokes with the cafcass and solicitors sat around the other party, it was a sham i asked for a “finding of facts hearing” and he blankly refused it, i’m sure this was just because i was representing myself, my human right was to have a fair hearing and i did not get one. I’m aware i can appeal but again this is done in secrete and i feel i will be refused again on the grounds i’m representing myself, and if its granted i will have the opportunity to cross examine the mother. however i don’t feel this is acceptable to refuse a facts finding hearing based on this reason, why shouldn’t i have the chance to ask her questions i have many fundamentally important topics to discuss and unless i get this chance nothing is going to change for the better until the children are old enough to walk out of her house, ie just under 2 years time.

      Question Karen if a minor of the age of 15-6 walks out and refuses to return to the residence where the order is been placed, what can the law do to make this happen? i ask because i know someone who rang the supreme courts and he had an order made out there and then and was faxed to him on the grounds that the child did not wish to return, in this case it is like mine where the child is being kept against its wishes and thus its life is in dire straits. in his case his ex called the police to have the child returned but he showed them the faxed court order, so it was left that the child continued to live with its father, his child was 15 years old at that time.

      Like

  9. Bartholomew · May 9, 2012

    Sounds like points 1 through 7 could be helpful if introduced into pre-natal classes, and if GPs and health visitors, etc., all appreciated these basic facts. Someone above wrote that all this ought to be common sense, and I agree generally; but this is an indication of how far we have moved away from common sense, or of how blind we are to common sense, in this country. Equality of opportunity is also common sense, but everywhere we look, gaps are just getting wider. And I’m not entirely optimistic that the gap between dads and moms will not just continue to grow too, to the detriment and damage of our children. There are too many unhealthy elements advising government at the moment, e.g., Gingerbread, and other individuals who have turned feminism into a vulgar gender hate game rather than a useful tool for overturning a patriarchal status quo.

    Like

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