I have been writing this blog for three years now and I have been amazed at how many people have read it during that time. At the last count, someone had read at least one of the pages in 47 countries across the world, that means that what I have been writing about resonates not just nationally, but internationally. In short, family separation, if my blog readership is anything to go by, is a global issue. (OK I am extrapolating wildly for the sake of dramatic effect here but you get my point).
During the time that I have been writing this blog I have been working with separated families on a large scale. I have also been working with some of the most conflicted families and I have, through doing this, begun to form the foundations of a methodology for assisting families experiencing alienation.
I have also continued to work in the family courts as well as with government, developing new services for separated families.
There have been some spats along the way. I seem to have fallen out with many people in the field of family separation, not least the single parent campaign groups and more recently the domestic violence lobby. Fallen out, not because I am bloody minded, but because I cannot stand by and watch as the lives of good men and good women and their children are ruined by the kind of blind adherence to a narrative that is only true in the bubbles that these groups create.
You may have guessed, from the tone of this blog, that I have decided that it is time to move on from my very public commentary on the politics of separation. I returned from my holiday thinking that it was time to move on and although I had second thoughts and felt that I should continue, the reality is, for me, that I have come to a bit of a cross roads in my professional life. I have come to a place where I feel that it is, for the sake of the families that I work with, important that I concentrate upon my work with children who reject a parent.
You will recall that I was recently attacked by a firm of lawyers, for being so outspoken about what is wrong with the field of family separation. That attack made me think carefully about the ways in which, the things that I say, can be used not only against me but against the families that I work with. I make no apology for being so outspoken, what I have said needs saying and I shall, through my work with the Centre for Separated Families, continue to put pressure on the people who need to understand what is happening in the outside world. But when it comes to public commentary, I shall, in future, reserve my thoughts for those who sign up to receive my posts, at my new website, which I will launch later this month. The website is dedicated to my work with families and will showcase some of the work that I have done, the research work that I intend to do and the outcomes for children that I have worked with. I am incredibly excited by the opportunities to deepen my understanding of the alienation reaction in children and to develop the work that I have done in building a model of intervention that works for these families. I hope that everyone affected by the issue will continue to visit my new site and I will look forward to being able to help more families through this site and the Family Separation Clinic which is part of the Centre for Separated Families.
I could not let this final blog go by though without having one last rant. This week it is about the ways in which academics and their third sector counterparts manufacture the myths that cause fatherhood to be so maligned in our country. I am sure that in other countries too, this kind of thing goes on all the time. Academics, speaking gobbledygook together in an effort to make us all believe that they are worth their money.
I received an invite this week to an event which is being hosted by the Fatherhood Institute. This event will launch a University of East Anglia report on fathers in complex and contested post separation settings. The wording of the invite suggests that if you work with or study separated fathers, you should not miss this event which is focused upon supporting fathers after separation or divorce and which will give both evidence and insights…
Billed as a must attend event for policy makers and practitioners alike, this event will showcase a report upon the work of an ESRC-funded international review of interventions undertaken since 2005 seeking to support separated fathers and their families.
The great names of family separation academia will gather at the event, including Liz Trinder who will sit on a panel, presumably to answer questions from the participants keen to learn at the feet of the great misrepresenter of reality herself.
And there will be discussion throughout the day, no doubt based upon the report that is being launched, a report which has been unashamedly described as being a study of fatherhood through a feminist lens.
Quite a coup for the Fatherhood Institute, whose CEO was the author of the infamous conclusion about separated fathers –
‘and it seems likely that when this population is not well supported or advised this will impact negatively on the financial and other support that they can provide to their children and their children’s mothers.’1
Which will no doubt go down extraordinarily well with Trinder et al, as well as the author of the report being launched by this particularly unpleasant gathering of self important academics (barring Richard Collier for whom I have a great deal of time for).
I have wasted a bit of my time this afternoon looking at the summary of the report. I shall not bore you with its details, suffice to say that it was a study of 23 fathers in rural East Anglia, it was undertaken through a feminist lens and its conclusions are about as relevant to the real lives of separated fathers as Liz Trinder is. Never-the-less, the event is billed as an opportunity for academics, practitioners and policy makers to hear about and debate new research findings on fathers in complex, contested and vulnerable family settings.2 Yeah right!
And on that note, it is off I go to the next part of my life and work. I shall continue to write and report and comment but it won’t be public and you will need to sign up to receive my words of wisdom in the future. I remain deeply concerned about the field that I work in and I am not convinced that the tides we hope to change are going to do so dramatically any time soon. But I will continue to fight, continue to push, continue to agitate for change to come.
I will notify all of my readers of my new site as soon as its ready. I hope you will come and join me in my new abode and continue to contribute your words of support for each other, your thoughts about your world and the ways in which we can, together, change the whole world, for each other, but most of all for our children.
Thank you all for reading. Its been a blast.
1The father’s Journey: a survey of help seeking behaviour by separating and recently separated fathers – Ross Jones, Adrienne Burgess and Vhasti Hale