Taking the longer view; an occasional observation from the field of family separation

Since I downed my bloggers pen, much has occurred in the field of family separation politics. So much has occurred in fact that I have, in just a few short weeks, been lured back to my desk to make one of what will be an occasional public observation from the field of family separation.

You will remember that my reason for waving goodbye to public blogging was the risk that I could be seen as being biased in favour of fathers, the issue being that I have, in the past, been supportive of arguments put forward by F4J and other fathers’ rights organisations about the problems with the current state of family law in this country.

Ironically, the events of the last couple of weeks have acted to ensure that no-one can accuse me of that now. When the CEO of FNF asserts that the Centre for Separated Families does not support shared parenting on air and F4J decides this means we are only in it for the money, it is hard to see how CSF can be construed by anyone as being anything other than what it is; an organisation working with separated families, to help them build co-operative relationships in ways that best benefit their children over time.

 

I am, however, also someone who spends my working life within the field of family separation and, as a result, I am well placed to observe and understand the different dynamics that influence this sector. Having had a serious dose of other people’s opinions about me in the past few days, (some might say a karmic return of my own tendency to opine at length about the world around me), I shall, perhaps, be circumspect about dishing out my views. Nevertheless, I shall continue to have my say, not least because from where I am currently looking, the family separation field wars look set to be heating up again.

Since I last wrote, there have been some major events in the field of family separation, all of which are noteworthy, none of which will change very much at all in terms of delivering better outcomes for children. The Consultation on Co-operative Parenting after Separation has reported and has chosen its preferred wording for the change in the children act and scrutiny of the government’s plans has begun through the Family Justice Committee.

The Centre for Separated Families, having considered the consultation, responded comprehensively and argued that the notion of a ‘principle’ that a child should have a meaningful relationship with both parents was the best of the pretty ineffective choices put forward. We also argued that labels such as ‘parent with care’ and ‘non resident parent’ should be abolished and the offensive term ‘contact’, which reduces a father’s (or mother’s) precious relationship with their child to something distant and derogatory, should be removed from the legislation completely. And we said that Judicial Guidelines on what is and what is not a meaningful relationship should be introduced so that arguments could be nipped in the bud from the start. We also argued, and continue to do so, that the whole of the architecture around family separation should be dismantled and rebuilt in ways that support both parents to share the care of their children and be supported in doing that.

Whilst that is not good enough for some (who trumpet triumphantly that the Centre for Separated Families does not support shared parenting), and others who judge that we are only in it for the money (which caused a ripple of merriment when I last looked at my bank account), it is good enough for me and it is good enough for the children that we work with and that, at the end of the day, is the only thing that really interests me.

I will let the fathers’ rights groups argue about the semantics of sentences that contain the word ‘presumption’. I have no real interest in spending my time debating whether that word, which I have always considered to be a red herring, is the holy grail or not. I believe that presumption without wholesale reform will change nothing at all, but I shall continue to support those who stand up for fathers over those that spend their time trying to find ways of wriggling out of their responsibility to do so. And whether I like them or loathe them, I know that F4J hold the hopes of so many who are discriminated against in this godawful system that we are working in. A system that so many powerful people and organisations are fighting to keep in place and which I have been accused of propping up, but which I shall continue to work in because of the children who suffer in it.

Which brings me to a recent report released by the Nuffield Foundation, that Charitable body which is charged with improving social well-being in the widest sense. This report that has released just as the issue of shared parenting is back on the public agenda is, in my view, far more dangerous to children than anything a man hanging off tower bridge in a spiderman outfit could do. Above all else, in this short ‘rest’ from blogging, it is this report which has prompted my decision to pick up my pen again, for to not do so, in the face of this kind of poisonous rhetoric, would be to seriously fail my duty to criticise the orthodoxy that has a stranglehold on family policy in this country.

Taking a longer view of contact1 is a report on a study of young adults who experienced family separation in childhood. The study undertook telephone interviews with 398 young adults who experienced the break up of their parents before they were 16 and 50 in-depth interviews with a sub-sample of young adults who were drawn from a group of 222 people agreeing to be interviewed.

The report is introduced by two contrasting case studies, both of which describe experiences of their relationship with their mother in glowing terms and one of which describes the ‘non resident father’ in very negative terms. The ‘resident’ father, described in the first case study is barely mentioned, but his ex-partner (the ‘non resident’ mother) is described in such a way that one is made to question why this child was ever parted from her mother in the first place. Even the fact that this mother left the family suddenly, is somehow glossed over as we are whisked along by a tale of such love, tenderness and self-sacrifice that our sympathies lie, once again, with the mother whilst the father becomes someone suspicious and concerning.

This introduction tells us more about this report than any of the so-called evidence that it produces. It also tells us about the researchers, their personal and professional belief systems and the underlying motives for the publication of this report at this point in time. The ‘lens’ through which this study has been undertaken is clearly that which is informed by the feminist hostility towards fathers and their relationship with their children. 

This feminist lens, which holds that children should be with their mothers after separation and do not need their fathers, never questions once why the young adults that they are interviewing may be reporting a more distant and dislocated relationship with their father and it never questions the reasons why these young adults have, somehow, almost universally portrayed their mothers in glowing terms. Rather than evaluate the experience of young adults and why their views may be so starkly split, these researchers have, in their words ‘given a voice to a group of people largely ignored in UK research on post separation contact ‘ (there’s that horrible word ‘contact’ – pay attention to it, it forms the core of what comes next).

When researchers reduce the relationship between a child and a father to the word ‘contact’ and confidently pepper their methodology with notions of ‘good contact’ and ‘bad contact’, it is a pretty safe bet that what you are going to get as an outcome is a validation of the researchers own personal and professional agenda. In my opinion, this report is, quite simply, nothing more than that. A reproduction of the researchers’ own prejudiced attitudes to their preconceived notions of what ‘contact’ looks like and feels like to a child.

This report, is riven with the word ‘contact’ and it is also threaded through with unpleasant connotations so that the word ‘contact’ quite quickly becomes associated with something wrong, something not to be enjoyed, something to be simply endured. As someone said to me recently:

whoever decided to call a relationship with a parent after separation ‘contact’ really knew what they were doing in terms of reducing and destroying the importance of that parent in children’s eyes

Oh how I agree!

It was clear to me, within five minutes of starting to read this report, that ‘contact’, in the eyes of these researchers, is something that is dangerous, wrong and not to be imposed upon children. The prejudice of the researchers comes screeching off the pages of the report, in sentences like:

‘children having a strongly moralistic response to their non resident parent breaking up the relationship by having an affair’

and comments such as

‘children responding negatively to non resident parent’s failure to overcome drug dependency, alcoholism, depression and violent behaviour’. 

In the world that these people inhabit, ‘non resident fathers’ are mad, bad and dangerous to know and children should not be subjected to ‘contact’ because:

‘Our findings indicate that children often emerge from the shock of their parents’ separation with a precocious maturity, a critical awareness of their parents’ frailties and considerable clarity over their own needs’

Now, in psychological terms, I would call that ‘parentification’2 which denotes a broken attachment hierarchy in the family3 and which is deeply concerning in terms of a child’s ongoing welfare. In short, these young adults in this study, who are described as ’emerging with a precocious maturity and a critical awareness of their parents’ frailties’, are children who have been at risk of parenting their own parents and on reading the case studies it would seem to me that they are still suffering from the role corruption caused by this. As such, as a therapist experienced in working with children in separated families, I would argue that they need significant and sustained help, as do their parents. And yet these adult children are those that the researchers in this study are using to base their belief upon that children should be given a greater voice in decisions about ‘contact’.

These adult children are, in my view, damaged children; damaged by the separation, damaged by the system that breaks the attachment hierarchy and damaged by being involved in research like this. And rather than questioning why these children have a critical awareness of their parents frailties and why they have considerable clarity over their own needs, these researchers conclude that these voices are those that should persuade us that more children, not fewer, should be making decisions about their relationships with parents after separation. 

In my view, this report is simply a series of interviews with children who have been subjected to institutionalised failures in our family services to support parents to work together. The evidence contained within it, from the adult children who have been interviewed, is, if analysed through a gender lens, a damning indictment of the lack of family support services that are configured around assisting mothers and fathers to keep on being parents after separation. It is also a shocking description of how researchers, instead of being concerned with the ways in which children have been able to become precociously aware, are so blinded by their own agenda that they fail to see the reality that stares them back in the face.

Has no-one in the academic world ever considered asking the question why these children so routinely report negative relationships with their fathers? Or even considered why so many children are precociously aware. And, instead of being so hell bent on contradicting the lived experience of so many fathers in this country, has no-one ever stopped to wonder what it is like to be a child who not only loses the care and safety of their parents in relationship together, but then finds one of them relegated to the part-time, distant and dislocated place called ‘contact’? 

I would give up working in the field of family separation tomorrow if I could. When one is bombarded with personal and professional attack on all sides, it is oh so easy to dream of better things to do. But reports like this stop all that dreaming in me and strengthen my determination to go on (and on and on and on) until this kind of research and reliance upon it is stopped for good.

For it is this research, released as it has been just after the Justice Committee have begun scrutiny of the government’s proposals, that could stop the shared parenting project in its tracks for a very long time. And it is this kind of research which, if left unchallenged, will allow the ongoing discrimination against men to continue in this country, rendering generation after generation of our children vulnerable to the loss of good fathers and, worse, coercing young people into participating in the damning of their own and other children’s relationships with their fathers, something that they have had neither choice about or chance to change.

I shall continue, with colleagues, to analyse this report through a gender lens and will report our findings when complete, to ensure that those who turn to this report for guidance, are able to set its findings against another voice and another view. One which is not so blind that it cannot see what drives the agenda and purpose behind it.

I am not going to give up my commentary and I am not going to give up my work (I never was really, I just like to dream about it now and again…) and I will take whatever anyone on either side wants to throw at me and I will keep on saying the same thing that we have always said at the Centre for Separated Families. Until the world in which we live is not ridden with gendered ideas about what it means to be mum and dad after separation, until the word ‘contact’ is eradicated and seen for what it is (a vicious attempt to ruin a precious relationship between a child and a parent), and until researchers are made to analyse their own personal and professional prejudices before they are let loose on our children and young people, I shall remain, steadfast and here. For all of our children, now and in the future, who deserve better than what these young adults and children for too many generations past, have thus far received. 

(PS – Can I thank everyone who has written to me and contacted me in recent weeks, your words have been kind, sustaining and encouraging. I am working hard to get my website up and running as I promised and I will, shortly after Christmas, be in touch to send you links and passwords).

 

 

 

 

1Fortin, Hunt, Scanlan 2012 – Taking a longer view of contact – University of Sussex and University of Oxford

2Parentification – is when a child is given the responsibility of looking after the emotional and psychological needs of a parent and can include a parent using the child as a surrogate or a spouse. Boszormenyi-Nagy and Spark (1973) describe this as emotionally deprived parents who unconsciously regard their children as parental figures.

3Children of Divorce – Shaw and Ingoldsby 2001

76 comments

  1. Harry · November 23, 2012

    Karen, why don’t you support a legal presumption of Shared Parenting in law?

    If you are involved in talks with the government about reform and you do NOT support Shared Parenting laws – then fathers have no hope whatsoever.

    Stop being stubborn and do what is right for children and support Shared Parenting laws, please.

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    • karenwoodall · November 23, 2012

      Harry, read what I write please and you will find out so much more than hanging on the word presumption and goodness knows why you are getting in a lather about me being in talks with government, I am not that important. As for being stubborn, if working for what is right for kids is stubborn, then I am the biggest mule on the planet.

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      • Harry · November 24, 2012

        Karen, imho It’s no good saying we should all be treated equally as if it will happen without ‘new laws’, Shared Parenting Laws being one of them.

        Even if all of a sudden we were all treated equally tomorrow, without Shared Parenting legislation then it would be all about a Primary Carer and a visitor parent. Meaning the battles would continue for supremacy and control of the child, not good for children or parents.

        By not supporting Shared Parenting Laws we just end up with parents continuing to fight to be the supremacist parent whilst the children end up with a visitor parent (meaningful relationship or not).

        The government is already getting rid of the offensive terms like ‘contact/residence’ but that means nothing if the result is still a Primary Carer and visitor parent. Having 2 equally treated parents (as you are hoping for) in a system that does NOT promote Shared Parenting, means continued destructive battles that emotionally harm children.

        Which is why there must be a ‘Presumption’ as a starting point for all parents to be aware of before they separate/divorce.

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      • Harry · November 24, 2012

        Not being funny Karen but everybody on all sides of the argument say they are working to do what is right for children, even David Norgrove, Joan Hunt and Nuffield etc

        What is right for children is Shared Parenting Laws as a starter at least, without that getting to treat both parents as equally important to children, will just never happen, not in my lifetime or yours I guess.

        I simply do not understand why you cannot back and promote a Presumption of Shared Parenting in law.

        Kind Regards
        Totally bemused

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      • karenwoodall · November 24, 2012

        harry, here’s one for you, straight from a family I worked with recently. She is a high earner, he is a mddle income chap, they have 50/50 shared care down to the last second virtually. She hoewever has managed to ensure that she gets just a sliver of the kids time more than him, bingo, she still gets the child benefit and he gets nothing. She is fleecing him for chikd maintenance, she doesn’t need it she just wants to impoverish him to make sure that he cannot provide the kids with as nice a home as she can, she is going to make sure that they get everything they want with her so that his home and his life feels somehow less than a real home, their hearts and minds will be captured by anything she can do, assisted by our fiscal policy to get those kids back into her primary care. So tell me how, on a world of presumption without reform of financial and other legislation (.consider the bedroom tax just about to come in, dads without the child benefit living in local authority accomodation will be at risk of losing their homes if they have a spare bedroom for their kids to stay in because they are not recognised as parents in fiscal policy even if they have 50/50 shared care), explain to me how presumption is going to change that inequality. Its not is it. Or tell me how, in a world which is set up to drive parental behaviour into primary and secondary carer roles, presumption is going to mean that dad is considered as important as mum in the services that are configured around the family. its not is it. My response to you is the same as it has always been, presumption without reform will change nothing at all, I do not agree that presumption of shared care in law will lead to all the other things that you think it will, it won’t. The only way forward is to rebuild it all and when we do we will have presumption of shared parenting in law but we wont need it because everything and everyone will behave that way anyway and it will happen in our lifetime, though I know that that will be too late for too many.

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      • Harry · November 24, 2012

        Karen, I fully agree with you ref the benefits and maintenance systems being appalling weighted against fathers, we all know you are so right.

        However, a Presumption of Shared Parenting will mean that these other dreadful discriminatory practices can be chipped away at as they will be more and more seen as bias and prejudicial to children’s welfare.

        The system will find it far harder to defend benefits to mothers only and maintenance only from fathers if Shared Parenting laws are in place.

        This is the big picture and how things change which is why it is crucial to support Shared Parenting laws imho.

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      • karenwoodall · November 24, 2012

        Dream on Harry and keep tight hold of that presumption miracle, in the meantime I will keep on doing what I do both with kids and their families and the rest of the work around dismantling legislation and reuilding it. I am sorry I disappoint you and others and confuse you but if you would read what I write and consider it fully you would see that there are many hands working to build a new future and you cannot simply stamp your feet and tell them there is only one way because there isn’t.

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      • Harry · November 24, 2012

        I’m not saying there is only one way Karen, it takes all angles to attack a destructive and powerful system.

        But we should not either stand in the way of positive movements and we should support them, which is what a Legal Presumption of Shared Parenting is.

        Please keep up the good work with the families you deal with and the ‘presumption’ is not a miracle but an important start in dismantling and building up a system that works for children.

        All the best

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      • karenwoodall · November 24, 2012

        i am not standing in the way of presumption harry.

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      • karenwoodall · November 24, 2012

        For me its not the start its more a small part of the whole, its the little bit in the middle around which everything else has to be reconfigured and when everything else is reconfigured the bit in the middle will barely be necessary anyway. Its the difference between thinking that if you smash your way into the middle and change that little bit, all the rest will fall magically into place, it wont. All the rest will just keep on doing what its always done, ignoring the fact that the bit in the middle has changed.

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      • Harry · November 24, 2012

        No idea what you are talking about Karen I’m afraid regarding bits in the middle etc.

        If you don’t promote a Presumption of Shared Parenting in law then what does that say about Shared Parenting? From the Govts point of view, here is Karen who says she promotes Shared Parenting in her work and to fathers in her blogs but she will not declare herself in favour of Shared Parenting in law, sounds fishy the Govt and others might say?

        If someone who says they believe in equality such as you Karen and works in the family field says sorry but I can’t openly support Shared Parenting in law, it just undermines the efforts of others who have fought for so long to get even this concession in law.

        On the one hand you help a small amount of individual families you come across to reach parenting agreements when in fact we need tens of thousands to enjoy the benefits of Shared Parenting, which will only come with a Presumption in law.

        Just looking at the bigger picture and we need to start now when at least the government are behind a shared parenting law (for the moment at least), lets make it as easy as possible for all families to enjoy the benefits of Shared Parenting that you know in the individual families you assist, works well.

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      • karenwoodall · November 24, 2012

        Harry you know little of what I do and how I do it, just read more about it and find out about me in the round instead of recycling other people’s ideas about me being fishy. paul is commenting on our work on the isle of wight, w template for wider work across the Uk, others will tell you about the work i do in getting early interventions into reality in the uk, if you just want to spend your time flinging pot shots at me then fine but you know nowt about nowt as we say in yorkshire and too much about your own assumptions. I dont think there are many who would say i do anything but work for the change we need to see in this country and if you cannot work out what i am talking about, time to learn another language i would say.

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      • Paul Randle-Jolliffe · November 25, 2012

        What Karen is about, and this is my assessment, is fantastic, I saw a parent 100% alienated from two boys, (an intractable lost case), brought back rapidly through very precise and detailed understanding of all the issues including high RP hostility and the court and Cafcass and lawyers doing what they always do, those two boys now have both parents. I saw that parent then model the work into a local organisation to repeat it for others and for that to be accepted and get referrals from the local court and solicitors and start working for others at the beginning of cases as well and short circuit as intended the whole nasty mess.

        I was pleased to be a part of that process and to tell you that Karen knows what she is doing and frankly the words of current legislation or even new ones mean nothing compared to the practical and proven and in progress model that is functioning on the Isle of Wight. And whats more is damn cheap and fast.

        As we all say its the outcomes that matter and this one sidesteps the need for all but court rubber stamping of what is decided outside of the agenda arenas.

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    • Harry · November 24, 2012

      Karen, I do not understand why you are getting so nasty when we are talking about a Shared Parenting Presumption.

      Helping a relatively few families as you do is great but the big picture is that hundreds of thousands or millions of children are going through their lives without fathers or them having a limited role.

      What you do in your clinic with the tens in numbers has nothing to do with helping the millions. Please stop thinking that only your work counts as all of us need to ensure that a Presumption of Shared Parenting is brought in for all the children of these isles.

      I’m not basing anything on assumptions, but on what you have said that you do not back a Presumption of Shared Parenting in law. That helps none of the children in this country and because you are voice in family law, your stance will just undermine others efforts to bring about change including F4J and other equal/shared/father groups.

      Please reconsider your stance.

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      • Harry · November 24, 2012

        Karen, for someone who works in the field of trying to resolve conflict between parents I think your responses when challenged about your views are very defensive and combative.

        I’m not sure that squares very well with trying to find a resolution to problems.

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      • karenwoodall · November 25, 2012

        harry, this is the last time I am going to say this and then you are not going to get any further chance to continue this pointless haranguing because I am going to allow anymore of your posts on this blog (its my blog, my views). You clearly do not get the point that I am making, which is that focus on presumption will change nothing at all without a wholesale reform of the services and legislative architecture around family separation. When I have more time I will write about that and what it looks like and what the elements of change are that are already happening that will bring about the changes we need for an equalities based approach to family separation in all of the lservices that touch the lives of separated parents (and please remember, first rule of equalities work, its not about treating everyone the same). Now you may have a view that my work is just an itzy bitzy bit of do gooding here and there, barely touching the lives of many but I know what I am doing and the strategy that it has for bringing about wider scale changes and so do others, You may also find me combatative, but strangely, as you are neither one of my families or one of my colleagues and someone that I dont know from adam
        in fact, i dont find it difficult to resist being irritated when you spend your time writing demands on my blog page. What gave you the moral right to tell me what I should be thinking and doing? Like others who have attacked me this week, you can interpret my refusal to be ordered around any way you please, I care not a jot in reality but I am darned if I am going to be told what to do and what to think and how to behave. You may think you possess the magic key and moral high ground, I happen to disagree with you so take no for an answer. And before you start lecturing me on whether I am skilled in conflict resolution, think about the fact that I spend every day of my working life working with warring couples, do you really think I want to spend my weekend arguing with you? I don’t. Now I have made my views clear, I have told you I will write more about psp and wholesale reform, be happy with that. And dont bother posting anything else because in the spirit of all the best fathers rights groups I shall be removing your dissenting voice from my blog. K

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      • pauldmanning · November 25, 2012

        Harry, I think I know Karen well enough to say she is a caring and thoughtful person with a vast knowledge in her field, I think its fair to say that you are annoying her. Badgering will get you no where and I think you’ve made you point clearly, but repeating it won’t convince her any further than it has. I have to come to Karen’s defence here because I have never, in all the time i’ve known her, seen her appear this perturbed at anyone. Please be aware that this is the first time Karen has blogged since she told us that she was laying low for a while. Therfore, we need her imput as much as we can get it. The divisions taking place over this issue have become widespread and it has become quite clear to me and to many that this will only weaken our reslove. We need unity and thoughtful deliberation, not bullying tactics that
        beat one into submission. I know that karen cares deeply for fathers and parents in general, so I don’t think you are being fair at all in your persistance. Lets see if we can all try to get this put right for all of us without the splits and segregation.God knows I really want an answer to the injustices taking place to many of us fathers, but all this just makes me feel that its so far off because we can only see our own narrow point of view. Lets broaden out and make the best of all idea’s, not just our own.

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      • karenwoodall · November 25, 2012

        Sorry Harry, I have said my bit and you have said yours and so in the spirit of all the best fathers rights groups, you don’t get anymore chances on here. K

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      • karenwoodall · November 25, 2012

        Paul, thank you for your support, I am not peturbed, just tired of being told what to do and what to think and how to go about my business! I know you know me, you can trust that what you know is what I am. I don’t want to be involved in splits and fights and I don’t spend my time hollering from the rooftops my views on psp, I keep them to myself and get on with the other bits that I consider are far more essential to tackle. Quite why people get themselves into a lather about it I don’t know but I can’t please everyone all of the time. This is a multi stranded issue as far as I am concerned and there is space for all the different hands that make the world a better place. And as for that old chestnut that I am only in it for the money….all I can say is why would anyone but solicitors be in this for money..being a lowly therapist, I am the least well paid of the lot but I do more work and get betters outcomes!

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    • Harry · November 25, 2012

      Karen, none of what you say is an excuse for your being against a Presumption of Shared Parenting in law. There is no intellectual or any type of argument that stands up to any type of scrutiny which says Shared Parenting laws are not best for children.

      Your stance along with others who do not support Shared Parenting in law abandons millions of children in these lands to no or little relationship with one of their parents (usually their father).

      Please support fathers by being loud and clear in your support of Shared Parenting laws, otherwise you are simply abandoning them, it’s really that simple.

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      • Harry · November 25, 2012

        Paul, there are plenty of caring and thoughtful people around who do NOT support Shared Parenting in law. Sorry that is not an excuse particularly if you work in the field of family separation.

        If people really care and are thoughtful then they will get behind Shared Parenting laws.

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  2. Kat · November 23, 2012

    Good post, very pleased to see this report challenged. Two things struck me when I flicked through it. The age of the adult interviewed, many were in their late teens or early twenties which in my opinion is too young to look back on your childhood with any kind of perspective. The other was how “contact” as that is their word of choice was reduced to entertainment, good contact was about doing something fun. Bad contact was having to engage in adult persuits or not doing much at all. Now I am all in favour of doing fun things with children, but family life is full of mundane pursuits and part of normal family life is to take part in these too. There has to be a balance, we cannot bring up children to believe they are only here to be entertained. It struck a cord because that is exactly the advice our solicitor gave us when facing severed alienation – don’t be parents, just entertain them!

    Your comment about the strong moralistic responce of children when their non-resident parent’s affair breaks up the family also strikes a cord. My husband’s children were quite young when they came and told us that the reason mum and dad were divorced was that dad would rather be with me. I still to this day do not think that they know dad only met me later on and that he filed for divorce after his ex’s affair. How many other children are left with such false beliefs?

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    • Anthony · November 24, 2012

      One heck of a lot Kat…for sure. They will always grow up with the ‘resident parents’ perspective of the ‘truth’..mine have! I’m afraid there is nothing you can do about it..you just have to live with it. I have a great relationship with my three now…adults…thank God..but any attempt to ‘set the record straight’ is met with immediate ‘switch off’.

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    • karenwoodall · November 24, 2012

      Absolutely agree Kat/Anthony, the division of children’s internalised experience into one more important parent and the other less important entertainer parent is quite the worst thing we could do to them. All these researchers have to do is analyse that and they will do so much more for future generations but, they won’t, because in their world, mum is always the more important parent and dad is simply secondary, there to be deployed when necessary.

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  3. pauldmanning · November 23, 2012

    Hello Karen.

    I was glad to see your blog name arrive once again in my email in-box. ‘Hey up!’ I thought, it’s Karen back again, so I was in a rush to read your words of wisdom. Yes I too read the report you refer to here and I agree with you, it was biased and floored. That word “contact”, a word one might use in describing distant aliens visiting planet earth, or a cold space craft touching down on the surface of a lifeless baron moon-scape, (remind you of anything?) Fitting really, because that’s how you are made to feel when as a father your monthly contact has arrived, but you know, (because of the unrealistic circumstances surrounding the contact) that it’s probably going to be cold, lifeless and your son has arrived to visit his alien dad and all allowed by good old mum, good on her! I’m still battling on after 4 years, I’m not going to give up either. 2nd appeal lodged and hoping for the best. Not had “contact” (yuck!) for 18 months now, but if I get it its going to cost, just like before. £80 a time, (for 2 hours monthly) not to mention the cost emotionally and in being seen by your own son as a potential threat…. He’s thinking… ‘Dad, I always see you with other people around, hmmm why? God you must have done something wrong, I guess iv’e got to be weary of you dad’. The whole issue of Contact these days is primarily set up around dads, its debasing, humiliating and eventually destroys your relationship with your child. I don’t want “contact”, I want a natural normal loving relationship in surroundings that reflect dignity for us both. So, lets call it ‘the human right to love your child time’.

    Had any contact with UFO’s lately? Otherwise known has… “Unidentified Fathers Off-limits.

    Still ill, still suffering, still need help. God Bless you Karen, you highly paid women you, (what nonsense!) Regards, Paul.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · November 24, 2012

      Am here when/if you need me Paul, keep on keeping on and, if you can, try to do things that nurture your soul and you spirit. I will keep doing what I can where I can to assist you x

      Like

  4. StuG · November 23, 2012

    Yep, if you want to produce research to attempt to show how it does not work, find a few kids who have never experienced shared parenting. Run the study on this limited sample for a few weeks and claim it has validity. Scoundrels…what a waste of public money. The study shows nothing more than the fact that children denied shared parenting have a skewed view of the world.

    at no.23 on http://www.sharedparentingresearch.info is “Manufacturing Ghost Fathers”……
    ( http://sharedparesearch.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/23-leslie-brown-etal-2008-manufacturing.html )

    ……which shows how the kind of fraudulent research made by the Nuffield Foundation creates the policies it aims to achieve….and even years after ghost fathers are created en mass, those fathers are blamed for ‘not being there.’

    Australians, for some reason that clearly escapes the Nuffield forgers, did it the other way around. I wonder why. They found thousands of kids who had experienced shared parenting, and tens of thousands more who had not (guess why) and used reliable statistical analysis which found unequivocally that the kids who experienced shared parenting were far better off in every respect, with the top performers being those happy kids whose parents shared care equally. Then they followed up the studies with another, to find out if the better outcomes came at the expense of happiness by being ‘forced’ to be in shared care arrangements. The outcome of that one was that kids were overjoyed at shared parenting and those who did it 50/50 actually liked it more than their parents co-habiting, albeit for the selfish reason that they tended to have more attention from their parents apart than together. Makes sense.

    Like

  5. expoƒunction · November 24, 2012

    Good to see you back Karen. I was working my way through this Report when notification of your post appeared in my inbox.

    I’m very struck by the following quotes you picked out:

    “children responding negatively to non resident parent’s failure to overcome drug dependency, alcoholism, depression and violent behaviour”

    “‘children having a strongly moralistic response to their non resident parent breaking up the relationship by having an affair”

    Kat has already highlighted both the potential for children to be misinformed about the situation and that sometimes the residential parent will have been the one to have had an affair (or drug dependency, etc). Is there really nothing to balance these specific quotes in the report?

    I look forward to reading your own report when you’ve completed your analysis.

    Like

  6. Chris beard · November 24, 2012

    Good work Karen, the way I see it, if you are
    For kids best interests, you are inadvertently a Trojan horse for fathers too, you know it makes sense to have a proper relationship with both parents ,( not the horrid contact word)

    Like

  7. StuG · November 24, 2012

    No play on words will ever produce legal change. The Holy Grail ‘presumption’ of contact is now on its way but is neutralised by caveats acting as obstacles to be averted or got through before we get anywhere near even considering the presumption. “Yes, there is a presumption but let’s deal with this little niggle for a few years first.” The whole thing has been a big scam; the antidotes to progress were already prepared before the Government offered four pathetic and non-defined options, all leading to the same outcome. When the Government puts this to a referendum, I’ll believe it has genuine intent. So long as change is left to the goodwill of the Government, it won’t happen, whatever party is in power, because these short-termers do not hold power over this issue.
    All family rights groups have one thing in common; none are yet doing it right and none will ever succeed by current means. There is no point being on the outside and throwing stones at a well defended fortress. After decades of campaigning and getting nowhere you’d think that some people would get real and realise that if they were not as dogmatic as the opposition we may be able to pool our resources and wipe the floor with them.
    One answer is to get involved with the system, get enough good people on the inside, be consistent, be firm but polite, be an expert and use the latest research to change attitudes. FNF may claim to be on the inside, but the only attitude changing is their own – their top bods think the latest scraps offered by the government are wonderful.
    Enter Karen. One person doing it her way will achieve more progress every day than others will in decades. Karen cannot support a presumption of shared parenting because she has to maintain an independent and open mind in order to maintain credibility as a professional. She cannot have a political position or agenda.

    Like

    • Harry · November 24, 2012

      Stu G, there are loads of professionals who state they are in support or not of a presumption of shared parenting in law – It does not affect their credibility in the system at all, why on earth should it affect Karen’s?

      I agree with everything else you say but people have to stand up and say what they believe in. People either agree with a Presumption of Shared Parenting or they do not.

      Parents or professionals should not hide behind a smokescreen of ‘being independent’. At least FNF, F4J and others say what they believe in when it comes to talking about shared or equal parenting laws. Anyone who wants to be taking seriously should also make it clear where they stand, otherwise it detracts from their views.

      Like

      • karenwoodall · November 24, 2012

        Harry, let it go for goodness sake, why on earth do you think the word presumption will make it all magically right. Presumption doesnt equal equality you know and equality does not mean treating everyone the same. I am not going to say what you want me to say and there is no point in badgering me about it, let’s face it, if being accused by F4J of being only in it for the money doesn’t do it, you’re not going to. Read what I write, digest all of the different levels of discrimination set within our social policy, understand what equalities based work means and then tell me that the world will suddenly right itself when Karen Woodall says she supports a presumption of shared parenting. I am not that important Harry and when and where do I not say what I believe in? Here you go – I am not for a presumption of shared parenting – is that clear enough for you? Stop living in a binary world of for and agin and start looking at the bigger picture – a) its more productive over the longer term and b) you don’t get stuck in a loop that leaves you disappointed when you get what you have longed for and find it delivers nothing at all.

        Like

      • Harry · November 24, 2012

        Karen, we all know about the levels of discrimination fathers face in many places, particularly family law, I agree with you totally.

        However, to change this we need laws and a Presumption of Shared Parenting is one of these laws. It is a start only but we need to get things going. The situation will not change in any other way or by itself.

        The bigger picture is to start with Shared Parenting Laws and use that as a wedge to bring about the changes you and I want. It just will not happen by itself.

        I’m very sorry indeed to hear you say you do NOT support a Presumption of Shared Parenting in legislation as I think your view is important. Think about it; if we have a wonderful world of equality as you hope for and we do not have Shared Parenting laws then it just means the scraps over kids become harder and longer, more children suffer longer. Shared Parenting laws stop this by telling parents that children will have both parents parenting them if practically possible (emotionally and financially). Otherwise we continue with the destructive winner takes all system we have whether we have equality or not.

        Shared Parenting is a must for the sake of children, I hope you will reconsider your views in the future.

        Like

      • karenwoodall · November 24, 2012

        harry for goodness sake read what I write and understand what I do every day of my working life, I work to bring about shared parenting agreements that work , with the most difficult and resistant people possible, I work within the system as it is now and i get shared parenting underway and working. If it makes you happy though here you go – I support a presumption of shared parenting in law – does that make you feel better? The reality is that it doesnt matter whether i support your presumption of shared parenting or not, that is not what drives my work and it neither makes it better or worse in my view because its a red herring which is meaningless without reform. But hey, if it makes you feel better I will say whatever you want me to say, just let me get one and do what I do and don’t confuse what I do with what the fathers rights groups are doing because is not the same.

        Like

      • Harry · November 24, 2012

        Karen, I know from what I read that you do assist in making Shared Parenting agreements, that’s great work and I applaud it but it is not enough, sorry.

        We need ALL the family courts throughout England & Wales doing the same as well as all professionals (CAFCASS etc) so the bulk of children have a chance of Shared Parenting agreements.

        Sorry I have gone on about this but a Presumption of Shared Parenting in Legislation is crucial for me and other parents who have suffered under the current discriminatory regime, its a start to make things better.

        Please carry on with your vital work as I know it can make such a great difference to children’s lives to have both parents involved in a shared care arrangement.

        Best Wishes

        Like

  8. Paul Randle-Jolliffe · November 24, 2012

    Oh the only real voice is Karen’s, “take it all apart and rebuild,” that’s more radical than the years of word fighting we have had to endure, in court and politically, after hearing this a few weeks ago I can no longer put my energy into moving the goal posts a few feet in the hope it can be made to work, the tugs of war is how the whole dysfunctional system is maintained and its part of it’s nature, time for a complete rewrite.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · November 24, 2012

      And rewrite we will paul and demonstrate the difference a different way makes as well, all linked back to the work on the Isle of Wight and all to play for now. K

      Like

      • Paul Randle-Jolliffe · November 24, 2012

        Looking at the work on the Island it really is incredible how simple the answers are, I think people would be amazed how effective things actually are, I remember sitting in court with LH several times and how the intention to set up an out of the box rescue program for all parents right opposite the court was formed and NOW IT EXISTS. Maybe people should know more and it should be publicized.

        Like

      • karenwoodall · November 25, 2012

        watch the csf space Paul, we hope to be expanding it on a wide scale very shortly. Thank you for your kind words on the work we have done on the island, none of which could have happened with the tenacity and care and determination of the people involved on the island, we will be back to do more work early next year and take things to the next level. For those boys, I will always be glad that I could do what I did, without the tenacity of their mother and the willingness of their father, even though he was hostile to start with, those boys would not have what they have today. All I did was be the person willing to walk with them through the conflict, which at times wasn’t easy but which provided outcomes for the boys that will last them a lifetime. Its all about co-operation, understanding and being willing to go that little bit extra – which everyone I have worked with on the island has always been. K

        Like

    • Gregory- · November 25, 2012

      HEAR HEAR. Karen, It’s good to have you back.

      Like

  9. Jane Jackson · November 24, 2012

    Hi Karen, I too was delighted to see you pop up in my inbox!
    I am so pleased that you tore the report apart in your usual balanced way, and as always talking on behalf of the children.
    One thing I need another word to use other than ‘contact’ ?
    Jane

    Like

    • Yvie · November 24, 2012

      Hi Jane – I agree also that contact is a horrible word. It demotes dad to the lesser parent in the family. As you might have gathered from ‘Think Tank’, my son has a shared residence order. On the odd occasion when I have slipped up and said the word ‘contact’, my son has put me sharply in my place and told me ‘I don’t have contact with my children – they live with me’.

      Like

    • karenwoodall · November 24, 2012

      hi Jane – parenting time, living with your mum or dad, going to be with your mum or dad, off to see your dad, going to your mums house. They all work well in my experience. k

      Like

  10. Anthony · November 24, 2012

    Don’t know why you have received such a hammering Karen. It takes enormous courage to stand up against the forces ranged against you…almost as a lone voice as far as i can see.
    For your moral courage alone- I salute you! I quote Edmund Burke:
    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil- is for good men to do nothing.” Again:
    “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing, because he could do only a little.”
    Bless you for doing as much as you can!

    Like

    • karenwoodall · November 25, 2012

      thank you Anthony, though at times it means I can’t do what I would like to be able to do for everybody. We will get there in the end. K

      Like

  11. Kip Miller · November 24, 2012

    All, This article, ‘Divorcing parents turn to ‘brainwashing’ children in custody battles’, from the Telegraph newspaper highlights the reason the Nuffield Foundation sponsored ‘research’, which is based on recollections of childhood experiences, called, ‘Life after parental separation: research challenges law change proposal’ should not be taken too seriously. kip

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/divorce/9699890/Divorcing-parents-turn-to-brainwashing-children-in-custody-battles.html

    http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/news/life-after-parental-separation-research-challenges-law-change-proposal

    Like

    • karenwoodall · November 24, 2012

      kip I agree. k

      Like

  12. Anthony · November 24, 2012

    One QN: What do you mean Karen by ‘dismantling the system and starting again’..an easy line..but almost impossible to implement…given the forces ranged against us. Surely we have to deal with the possible..the possibly achievable- which is what FNF is doing.. rather than the impossible?

    Like

    • Harry · November 24, 2012

      Exactly.

      Like

      • karenwoodall · November 24, 2012

        give me a chance and i will give you chapter and verse – though if you bothered to read what I write and went to the CSF website you could read it all for yourself anyway. Anthony, what I am talking about is not impossible, in fact its being done right now, the forces ranged against us are many, sometimes you just have to stop kicking at the wall and walk around it and build your own future. Will expand when I get a moment to think straight. K

        Like

    • Paul Randle-Jolliffe · November 24, 2012

      Not impossible, if you think that do give up now!

      Like

  13. stuart young · November 24, 2012

    Thank you Karen for your hard work in this field. It is great to hear of your support for our children who suffer the hardships of separation, The only way things will change is to get public opinion onside, that is key..

    Like

    • karenwoodall · November 24, 2012

      Thing is it is onside public opinion that is, if the yougov poll is anything to go by anyway. So what stops change? layer upon layer of the kind of discrimination perpetrated by this report, thats what. Big tasks ahead in dealing with this, girding loins as I write..k

      Like

      • stuart young · November 25, 2012

        Karen I am not so good in writing, I will think public opinion is onside when I walk through my local streets and hear people talking about the importance of fathers. I have suffered over many years through various government agencies in trying to be a father. My case study makes interesting reading. long story short: Unmarried father father of a 10 week old son when we separated. 15 and half years later gain residence order until he is 18. I totally agree with what you say needs changing and you have my full support. Things are not helped when the supreme court thinks it is ok to indirectly sex discrimination against fathers who have sro and not pay out child tax credits.

        Like

      • karenwoodall · November 25, 2012

        Stuart, I agree with you, everything at every level is against the well being of men and boys in my view, I am starting to realise how deeply ingrained this is and how many threads to unpick there are, but we will unpick them, we are unpicking them and we will grow a voice loud enough to be heard. In individual families I hear how much people value fathers, I see it and I hear it, in law and in policy and practice I cannot hear it at all. This country should be ashamed of that.

        Like

  14. Paul · November 24, 2012

    Karen, you are absolutely right to very concerned about this report and the timing is NO coincidence !!!! The reports authors are well know for there feminist ideologies in maintaining the status quo in women being given the freedom to make decisions about their lives independently of men without losing any control or making sacrifices in respect of their own relationship with THEIR children. Think it would be fair to say that many women who do allow contact with the childs father, agree to it for their own gain in freedoms rather than that they value the importance of the fathers role in THEIR childs life. Im saying this from the perspective that why would you think any different when you are constantly being drip fed messages about contact and all the connotations your rightly point out in your blog about that word. Culture has to change !!

    I dont understand the hypocrisy of these people around children, Society fully recognises that Society is enriched when men and women work well together and this is the culture they want our children to have when they become adults, yet they resist vehemently any changes that promotes good parental working together for children to model on. Surely their motives are obvious and they are not about a childs best interest because they promote two opposing agenda’s. You cant achieve a cohesive and balanced society with such opposing ends of the spectrum pedalled by these people.

    Remember, a similar research report was done around the inception of the Children act which was very influential in that first Butler Sloss case law, in that Shared Residence would only be in childrens best interests in exceptional circumstances and it took over 30 years to alter that one !!

    Be interested to read your full response to the report.

    Paul.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · November 24, 2012

      Yes Paul, I think what happened back in 1989 is on repeat mode here with this report. Will let you have a link when the analysis is done. K

      Like

  15. John · November 24, 2012

    Another good post Karen, and i applaud any debate as usual.
    Unfortunately for me it looks like my fight for my little boy might be coming to an end.
    After nearly two years struggling and fighting through court, CAFCASS have recently sent in their final report and it reccommends no direct contact, i was devestated.
    The reasons? Mothers anxiety towards facilitate contact would affect her parenting.
    A disgusting reason to deny contact from a parent, and i cant quite belive that CAFCASS has decided to go with this.

    My final hearing is in early December, and of course i will be fighting to the bitter end, but its not looking very good.

    For everyone else, keep up the good work 🙂

    Like

    • karenwoodall · November 24, 2012

      Ah the old ‘mum will be distressed’ approach, I thought that had started to go out of the window John. i am so sorry to hear of this news, if you need a helping hand or a listening ear I am here. K

      Like

  16. Anthony · November 24, 2012

    John,
    I think CAFCASS should be taken to major task if that is really the reason they have given…it’s 1. outrageous and 2. would not wash in quite a few Cafcass offices..they must be shockers. For how to take them to task..contact Vincent McGovern..he’s very good at it!!
    Good luck!!

    Like

    • karenwoodall · November 24, 2012

      And i endorse that comment entirely!

      Like

      • Paul Randle-Jolliffe · November 24, 2012

        Frankly the case should be taken for judicial review as entirely contrary to the best interests of the child, in fact this is an opportunity to change things for many.

        Public law is the set of legal principles governing the exercise of power by public bodies. If a public body makes a decision in breach of any public law principle then that decision may be challenged. Briefly, a decision may be unlawful if:

         the decision-maker does not have power to make that decision, or is using the power
        they have for an improper purpose;
         the decision is irrational;
         the procedure followed by the decision-maker was unfair or biased;
         the decision was taken in breach of the Human Rights Act; or
         the decision breaches European Community (EC) law.

        It is also unlawful for a public body not to do something it has a duty to do.

        Like

  17. pauldmanning · November 25, 2012

    Anyone having dealings with Cafcass get my sympathies and I would understand how they feel about these evil fabricating monsters. Cafcass is an organization that cannot afford to appear to make mistakes, every decision they make has to be reinforced as correct by all workers there. So, the result is that even if you complain and go through their procedure you will not win. The more you complain, the more you provide them with the absolute proof of their fabrications, the more they will close ranks on you and tell you that its YOU that are wrong and are being unco’operative and you aren’t putting your childs needs first. Their system is designed to frustrate you and to make you give up in frustration and confusion. I feel rage and anger when I think of the way they treated me. There is no reasoning with them, you will get that blank robotic stare that says.. we don’t give a damn! For me the first brick in the wall to go is Cafcass, because let’s face it judges dont make the decisions at all, they just rubber stamp the appaling advice of Cafcass, and that is usually…fathers out! I really wish we could all channel our efforts at them because of their cruel and debasing treatment of fathers. We need to get at those who make the decisions and that’s Cafcass. The judges are a just a mere formality, and most fathers know it.

    Like

  18. Paul Randle-Jolliffe · November 25, 2012

    Oh and it dove tails EI as well, its really the practical side of it, Putting Children 1st and EI, what more do you need???? The “Presumption” is built into both, just they dont, and deliberately so dont use the word, they dont need to.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · November 25, 2012

      You get it Paul, you absolutely get it. That’s one more of us in our growing band! K

      Like

  19. John · November 25, 2012

    Does anyone know when the changes to the Childrens act will become law?
    Will it be in effect early January as projected?

    Like

  20. Tracey · November 26, 2012

    Karen, it’s good to have you back, you have been missed! Interesting your comments about the adult children that have such a dim view of their fathers and why the so called professionals have not interrogated this? Have all these fathers been negligent, villianous, dangerous, dead-beat Dads? This does not sound like a balanced and intelligent report; it sounds decidedly one-sided against Dads and all in favour of Moms as being the ONLY parent worthy of a relationship with a child. Even with changes in law, if a parent is so determined to undermine another parent, to the point of alienation and rejection, it will happen, regardless of the law, as the law for the most part does not recognise PA.

    Like

  21. Katrina Redpath · November 27, 2012

    Keep going Karen your passion and determination never falters keep following your heart and the dreams will follow 😉
    Katrina

    Like

  22. Alastair · November 27, 2012

    Karen, your common sense and profound humanity do not deserve the likes of Harry who seems to think that the FJS will magically convert from being a toothless and occasionally well-meaning dog into… something that isn’t ironic in both name and deed with the application of a presumption of shared parenting. With or without anything being proposed thus far to reform the FJS I predict that *nothing* will change to improve the outcomes for children in the thrall of a determined parent with a toxic cocktail of personality disorders who knows that a 2-fingered salute to the judiciary will attract no consequences. The Nuffield Report must have been commissioned by a Coven of Trolls somewhere – we just need to find out who – the academics wouldn’t have funded it themselves. I have nothing to add to the well deserved vitriol that it has already attracted.

    Like

  23. Andy · November 29, 2012

    Harry, I love your idea that shared parenting should be something that the law should endorse. Good luck to you there. Karen, I am moved emotionally by all the good healing work you do with separated families. Through your hard work and aided with the knowledge of parental alienation you are have become a catalyst for healing in an area of deep unrest. I see a groundswell of positive change. The Fatherhood Institute are continuously highlighting areas where fathers are discriminated against and supporting schemes which show him in a vital role as a parent. Emlyn Jones is standing up for marginalised parents in court and with knowledge and conviction producing fair and balanced outcomes for our children. If separated Mums and Dads want to stay being parents it can be difficult, but not impossible. There are many ways in which we can help in this area…..from emotional to practical help. I feel a need for single parents to get together and form support groups, and help each other on a personal level, but also I feel that those among us who are strong enough need to join organisations such as Cafcass, Social Services, the Judiciary. A male teacher in Primary school or nurse in healthcare would be a good start……………….

    Like

  24. rahsoft · December 1, 2012

    Thank you for being brave enough to speak up again. There is nothing wrong with what Harry is proposing, its just that the reality is different, I believe Harry like most of us alienated fathers( my self included ) are hurt by what is being done to us. We can say things on paper or in law, but we know its useless without a change in the system or the mindset of our society. Take for example the issue of DV against men, its illegal to do this to any gender but we paint women as victims and men as aggressors. Karens point about changing the system to take care of the parents and the children is valid as we are supposed to be looking after the interests of the child. Presumed shared parenting doesn’t work in my case because I’m dealing with a Sharia court in the persian gulf whose concept of parenting is even worse than what we have here in the UK. There the interest is driven by religon and not what is best for the child.I’m not even getting support from them on the medical abuse being done to our child because of the religons view on sin and disability of children. The issue of cross border divorce cases ( and even cross religon/civil cases ) are going to get worse( even when the child like my own is british ), so we need to change our society mindset to drive the best interest.

    Karen.
    Sorry to ask this, but is there a source of research that verifies the impact of children who are alienated from one parent, or abused etc ).. thanks

    Like

  25. dermo · December 5, 2012

    “Contact”? horrible word. Have finished with court (hopefully!) and while i got the average (three overnights a fortnight) and bits and bobs i will always remember the judge looking at mum and underlining that what we have now is a “shared care regime” for the children. Its window dressing i know but you know what? it made me feel important as a parent.

    Last night i attended a parents teacher meeting with mum and our 12 year old son. It was strange because i have lost my fear of her. There was a time when i would have been physically sick with anxiety at the concept of it. It was how can i say “civil” and to give her her due she corrected herself when she said “i will speak to him” to “we will speak to him” in front of his history teacher.
    It was good for our son to see us together and discussing his school work. very much as it was before we split (mum results focused dad behavior and general demeanor focused) Dad of course taking the easy option of good cop but having been driven by poor working class parents for results my psyche and heart are in another place. neither of us of course are right or wrong. we are just what we are.

    So the pen has been lifted again? muy bien. Aldi have a seven year old Cuban rum for fifteen quid. The presents are being stocked for St.Stephens day. Perhaps the winter brings more than spring?
    I have the luxury of time now that many dads have not had or have been denied over time. I may lose it and so be it. My heart goes out to them and most of all their poor children.
    It a a strange rag tag army riven understandably by fear and most of all anger and hurt.

    Perhaps we are in the Sierra Maestras or at the outskirts of Santa Clara?

    who knows? I read this …..

    ‘Sometimes my mum and dad talk about me on the phone and what I have done at school and if there is anything they need to worry about. That makes me feel OK because it feels like they both still love me.’
    Corey – aged 10 after his mum and dad had completed the Children in Focus Course

    Time is important. It is no guarantee. words are important too. Either way its children who will benefit from your change of tack albeit one that was driven by the same concerns. I love your honesty. It’s rare as much in our friends as in our enemies. Wherever it takes us we will never give up?

    that was the first thing you taught me and to date it has held me in good stead. I can never thank you enough.

    venceramos.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · December 5, 2012

      Ah, el Dermo, nice to smell the whiff of the cuban cigar again and to hear that in your world things may have moved on from the most difficult parts and whilst I am sure that you are battered and bruised, your spirit remains and that, ultimately will bring your children through. That you have fragments of what you should have with them is something so hard to bear at first and then eventually something that you make the most of, I spent many days dropping off step children, dropping off my own child, silence in the car as the life we shared together ended like dropping off a cliff. What most people do not realise is that there is no happy ending after family separation, for adults at least, for we are those who must compromise our own hopes and dreams and take crumbs where we once had platters and accept little where we once had so much. I wish that everyone in the world could be educated to know that when you bring a child into the world, your responsibility to be there, )even when you are not allowed to be there), is ever present. This is why I repeat we never give up, never ever ever give up, even when the lines are drawn and the ink is dry on the court order, we never ever give up our hope that one day, the world will turn and show us a different face. And it does. Our children are grown up now, we have a grandson. This year we have achieved four weekends together and look forward to another one shortly albeit minus my step son because he is working. Those days are deeply precious and take so much organisation as they come from the far ends of the earth to each central place we manage to arrange to meet. But there are minutes and hours in those days when the magical moments of us, when the past days and nights when we as parents did not live together because the kids went to schools fifty miles apart and when all we had was a couple of nights per week together, when us as a family comes right back and what we worked for and strove for, even though we were robbed of so much, magical moments return and I see those three faces and I know that what we put on hold, what we did without, what we waited for was worth it all. We compromised so they didn’t have to and we never ever ever gave up. And neither will you dermo, and you, when the time comes and someone else is in that place where you were, you will pass that on and that way we will build a way of weaving relationships with children back into the lives of fathers as well as mothers. I wish you well and your children will thrive and this too will pass and the value of being able to have dad in their lives, however fragmented, will stay with your children until they have children of their own. x

      Like

  26. StuG · December 14, 2012

    Lifted from the Justice Select Committee’s latest paper, an extract from ‘Taking the longer view….’

    ( http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmjust/739/739.pdf page 58, para 163 )

    “….Our respondents saw contact between children and their non-resident parents as
    being vitally important in principle, it being a way of reassuring children that they
    are still loved and important to both parents. This was considered to be the case even
    amongst those who had never had any contact themselves and those whose own
    experience of contact had not been particularly happy
    And:
    Respondents were also more likely to rate their experience of contact with the nonresident parent as being positive if the following factors were present: the parents
    involved their children in the decision-making; there was little or no postseparation
    conflict between the parents; there was no domestic violence or serious concerns
    about the care the non-resident parent could provide; the resident parent encouraged
    the relationship between the child and the non-resident parent; the non-resident
    parent made time for the child; the child felt equally at home in both the resident and
    non-resident parent’s home; the non-resident parent either did not re-partner or the
    child got on well with their new partner……”

    So, the experiences of the children in the research were actually that they supported contact as “Vitally important.” Maybe Nuffield have done an artisistic job of blackening the central finding of the research.

    Like

    • Alastair · December 14, 2012

      There’s no “maybe” about it. The influence of the likes of Paula Caplan, Mavis Maclean and Liz Trinder abound and what you have written comes as no surprise.

      Like

  27. Andy · December 15, 2012

    It’s not long since our last meeting of Father’s in this sleepy town. All of us are searching for better connections with our children. All with our own unique set of circumstances. It’s led me to think about those emotional rips we experience throughout our adult lives and how we learn to cope with them and readjust to new circumstances. I am becoming more convinced about how important it is to be strong in ourselves, self-confident about our future and determined to speak out about the truth.

    Time with our children becomes more precious when it has been curtailed by forces seemingly beyond our control.

    What is important? Healing,respect,stamina, self-control,listening and focus,courage to keep trying something new. Physically and emotionally being available, loving and kind.
    Supportive and reaffirming.
    We have to heal ourselves to be of benefit to our children, and to our former partner. We have to make a stance, not in a provocative way, but simply as a self-assured person confident in the knowledge that we are being true to ourselves.

    Some of the barriers we put in place which prevent us from reconnecting with our children are self-imposed. They can be a result of fear of the unknown, guilt through absenteeism, lack of self-confidence and de-fault to social norms. If we are not careful these traits become entrenched and we find ourselves justifying our absenteeism with excuses such as it’s someone (usually the Ex) elses fault, the courts have prevented me, the children have been taught to reject me…………..e.t.c. Although part of our own reality, these barriers should never be impediments to rekindling full and meaningful relationships with our children.

    I wish I had a magic wand that could throw these barriers away, but unfortunately there is seldom an easy solution. Nobody is likely to pick you up one day, take you back to your children and say, “here you are you can start again where you left off x number of years ago”. There has to be a conscious and brave move to change what you do. You can pray till the cows come home that your ex will behave more favourably to your desires to be a parent but this will not happen unless you change yourself. Somebody once said, “change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change”

    Kind regards

    Like

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