Penelope Leach and the Mcintosh Mash Up.

Whoops, seems like seventies styled parenting guru Penelope Leach has made a massive misjudgement over the launch of her new book for divorcing couples. Heralded by the headlines, children under five are harmed by overnight stays with their father, Leach and the Mindful Policy Group who are behind the publication of the book are very much in danger of looking out of step with modern day parenting.

The Mindful Policy Group are an interesting organisation, championed by father friendly Tim Loughton and working in the sphere of neuroscience, a discipline which tells us much about how children grow and develop healthy bonds and working interpersonal relationships.  It is a shame therefore that they have so badly misread the landscape around this issue, because they do have something interesting and different to offer to this field.  The story behind the headlines however is also worth exploring because this is our very own Mcintosh mashup and I have been waiting for some time for it to come to the surface in the UK.

Those of you in the know will remember that Jen Mcintosh, once champion of shared parenting, changed her stance on it when she came across the work of Allan Schore, a neurosicentist whose research demonstrates the way in which the brain develops in young children. From advocating shared parenting, Mcintosh did a turn about and began to lecture Australia on the dangers of overnights away from mothers in children under five. A perfect storm erupted and Mcintosh has recently been confronted by Richard Warshak’s review of literature which is endorsed by 110 acaemics and which supports shared parenting for children of all ages.

Penelope Leach and the Mindful Policy Group appear to me to be somewhat naive to think that they can launch the same arguments as Mcintosh into the UK debate without all hell breaking loose, especially in the same time frame as Warshak’s research has been made available and Mcintosh has come under such pressure. Nevertheless, it’s done now and war has been declared.  Buckle up folks,  for in the run up to the election we are once again about to witness the parental rights groups going into battle over the issue that just will not go away.

The argument is framed around whether children who stay overnights with their dad are harmed if they are under five. This however is, in my view a red herring which simply polarises the position of mothers groups and fathers groups around a difference In research outcomes. Armed with Warshak on one side and Leach on the other, the two sides are already eyeing each other up over the divide and sabre rattling is much in evidence.  Whilst this is going on however, the real issue at the heart of this matter continues to be overlooked, which is that shared care, for children of all ages, can become problematic because of attachment issues and understanding how this happens, why it happens and most of all, what to do about it when it happens, is quite simply THE most powerful tool in the separated parenting toolbox.

The truth is that Schore’s research is very valuable because what it does is show us how children’s brains develop, who they are more likely to be aligned with and when and how attachment, which is the conduit through which children build their brain function, can be mediated between two parents even if they do not live together. The evidence from Schore’s research is, to me quite clear. Time away from mothers in the first three years needs to be mediated carefully between parents, giving the child all the support needed to detach and reattach to the other parent when moving between and similarly, over three it needs to continue thus with more emphasis on time spent with dad.

Schore does not say that children should not  be with their father in the first three years nor does he say that overnights are harmful, that’s Mcinstosh’s interpretation and now Leach and by association the Mindful Policy Group. Schore talks about mothers a lot and is explicit that the last trimester prebirth and the first six months after are a particular focus in the building of the brain in babies, but he does not state that this means children should not stay overnight with dad, or grandparents, or anyone else for that matter.  My view is that what  Schore’s work actually tells us, more clearly than ever before, is what kind of support and education parents need after separation so that they can frame their care co-operatively around children’s needs.

In the midst of the arguments which have erupted on both sides we have people using emotive images of babies being forcibly removed from their mothers and buckled into cars howling and distressed and counter arguments about how kids adapt if they just get on with it. Neither of which addresses the reality which is that some children need help to manage their attachment and get over the transition bridge safely. Getting that help to children and their parents is what prevents attachment problems which in my experience lie underneath a lot of alienation reactions.

This is an important debate but it is one which I fear will just end up with two sides throwing rocks at each other, getting us nowhere and ultimately only delaying the moves towards modern day shared parenting which we know benefits children. Leach looks, in the midst of this, like an outdated grandmother lecturing a younger generation who are going to do it their own way anyway.

For me, the arguments for and against shared parenting are red herrings, the real debate is in how we get the support to parents that they need to make shared parenting work. Because the children who do experience attachment issues are often those who are in shared parenting situations. Leach wants to avoid this by simply cutting out dads and ending shared care and the single parent/women’s rights lobby are going to back that all the way. On the other side we have the 50/50 and all will be well brigade, they too will be fighting that corner as hard as they can, because too often they are blind to everything  but the utopian dream of equal time which in their world means equal love. Both sides, in my view, heading off the cliff like lemmings, squabbling all the way.

Meanwhile, left behind, are the families who do share care, who would like to share care and those who struggle with children’s reactions to shared care.

That’s where our focus should be. That’s where the research tells us our focus should be.

That’s where I’ll be.

 

42 comments

  1. Brian · June 17, 2014

    What about the children who go willingly to their father, but then have to be prised off to go back to the mother at the end of a too short contact period, as was the case with my eldest son. He was absolultely distraught to leave me, but quite happy to leave his mother. How does Leech’s theory fit with this? Did she forget that 1/3 of children form their strongest attachement to someone other than their primary carer? Prof. Michael Rutter had already found this in his book “Maternal Deprivation Reassessed” in 1972.

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  2. Johnnie · June 17, 2014

    That’s where I’ll be too Karen.

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  3. FCF · June 17, 2014

    The matter of whether children under should be spending overnights with their non resident parents was discussed on the BBC’s JVS show on 17.6.14. My comments below:

    The show was the usual wastage. Not one expert on the show. Nothing but subjective experiences here and there. Too much reliance on the ‘primary parent’ tosh. A show designed to produce an argument and make entertainment out of a serious subject.

    Only 20% of the world’s cultures have the unnatural ‘primary parent’ model, imposed not as a child developmental necessity but a toxic by-product of Western – style Industrialisation. Men in general went out to work long and exhausting hours and the only time the women were not doing the same was when they were exhausting themselves under harsh conditions as mothers, more often than not without the help of the working father. No work, no roof for the child. No choice. The primary parent model was an oppressive imposition of business owners that we have not yet got around to addressing.

    Post-WW2 research on attachment by ignorant white academics who grew up within that model and knew nothing better made the dumb and invalid mistake of creating the ‘primary parent’ and discredited ‘maternal deprivation’ concept, and forgot to include dads.

    Most researchers at the time distanced themselves from Bowlby, who largely took the credit for someone else’s work and built some strange additions that really did not fit with the evidence. Bowlby had clung to Robinson’s coat-tails when Robinson exposed the poor conditions for orphaned children in a TV documentary, and the law changed for kids in care as a result. TV was a brand new phenomena, which Robinson used well. Bowlby found himself in a clique as psychology was elevated into credibility due to a massive boost of investment by the US government in post war studies in Europe. Bowlby messed up the opportunity he was given, and admitted as much just before he died. He wasn’t malevolent, or silly, he was just a pioneer without guidance who became fixated on making wrongful observations seem credible and ended up a maverick. Jennifer McIntosh, Bowlby’s modern day equivalent, has just had her career destroyed by over 100 child experts who have got together and slated her tripe research. Leach is filling the gap to sell her book, released by no coincidence on father’s day. Why wasn’t one of the real experts brought onto the show?

    Laws still keep the employment status quo to benefit not mothers or children or fathers but business; it’s pretty much impossible to live otherwise. We should be looking at ways to reduce the damage of ‘primary carer parenting’, where possible, not compounding it. Enlightened jurisdictions such as in Scandinavia, referred to in the program, go some way to achieving exactly that. The problem is that law tends to follow culture change, and those who are making the money out of the status quo have ensured they occupy the key policy positions and not only keep the others out, but keep them impoverished with no voice. The culture change must happen despite their contrary agenda.

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    • Eric D. Tarkington · July 20, 2014

      FCF certainly has the right scope for an overarching problem – something that we will have to use eventually if we are to come up with a theoretical basis for the relationship between family, state, and society. Although I think about it a lot, an equal parenting activist can’t wait for a well-founded theory, because decisions are daily being made about children’s lives by incompetent courts and experts, and the damage to children and parents hurts now.

      Entrenched authorities are happy to seize on any interpretation of research that confirms their biases, and willing to ignore the large body of research on several topics that shows those (usually father-hating) biases to be fundamentally wrong. Combined with fear, uncertainty about the truth keeps the authorities in power, but doesn’t appear to make them humble or cautious in the way they handle their subjects.

      Fortunately, there is ample research showing that children’s needs and the demands of human rights are in sync; a wide range of outcomes in terms of school success and psychological health shows that near-equal parenting time is generally best for children following divorce. Unfortunately, the courts are feudal institutions that will casually wipe away human rights if they are not fought, and the people most motivated to fight are the ones undergoing the disabling trauma of family conflict. People need help, not a political battle.

      Of those with a possible access to this blog, there are probably millions of single parent fathers and equal parent fathers who have had children of tender years in their care, and at least as many children who have been in their care, and people who know those fathers and children. The vast majority of those people know from experience that fathering is every bit as precious and nurturing as mothering. To those people, it’s not just unseemly for family court judges, lawyers, social workers, feminist academics, and pop culture authorities to scrabble for any scrap of evidence that fathers are some sort of threat, it’s cold, and it’s cruel.

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  4. Kat · June 17, 2014

    Well said Karen I agree that a debate on how to make shared parenting work is much better than one about the arguments for and against. Unfortuantely before that debate can start you do need to have answers to the big powerful groups, who will simply shoot it down by stating that shared parenting is damaging to children, so debating how it can work is pointless. Thus whether we like it or not the debate of how shared parenting can work, will feed into a pro-shared parenting argument.
    Having said that I am (maybe naively) quite suprised at some of the responces that have resulted from this debate. “Single mothers need to have a brake” where is the child focus in that argument for shared parenting? “All the evidence suggests that younger children should not be separated from their primary caregiver” Wake up to the modern world: children go to their grandparents, to nursery, childminders etc every day and they manage quite well – probably because all adults involved work together to make transitions work for the children. Our children certainly formed close attachments to their carers at nursery, not as substitutes for their mum and dad, but in addition to.
    I would like to see how Leach et al. suggest that close attachemtns to the father are formed if they are visitors only in their children’s lives for the first three to five years?

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  5. padrestevie · June 17, 2014

    Hii Karen

    Yet again, I think you’ve read the situation critically and accurately.

    This old clip from Monty Python summarises the state of play for policy and the system surrounding separating families.

    Polarised positions, contradictory statements and specious arguments abound. It’s easier than ever now because if you feel like a “Monty Python” style argument there are endless blogs, twitter, face-book and countless other vehicles to indulge this passion.

    Warshak comprehensively demolished Mcintosh’s interpretation only for Leach to jump into the fray and misrepresent the same research. After Warshak debunked Macintosh, new papers and articles appeared within weeks. These masqueraded as new studies but in reality they simply recycled, spun and cherry picked other peoples old work. The people that deserve the most credit here are Penelope Leach’s publicists. If increased book sales and reviving a flagging career were their intentions then they’ve done a great job.

    With the next election looming the advisory groups and charities are limbering up whilst drawing attention to their principal role as lobbyists and inadvertently challenging the tax breaks and funding they receive at our expense. The fathers rights charities tweet their outrage and scream at the opposition from the touchlines just like the last time these issues hit the headlines.

    But, so many forget that these same arguments have been simmering and breaking into a boil for years and that after a program of family law reform, children and fathers are arguably now in a worse situation than before this process started.

    Take a step back and from a longer distance ask what does all this look like? I don’t know about you but it looks depressingly familiar. It’s a virtually identical landscape to that which supported the process when the alienation reaction kicked in: when we convince ourselves that self righteously repeating the same “right” things will ultimately bring about change and all that really happens is we line other people’s pockets and we make a rotten situation even worse.

    If there’s a single lesson to take away from it all it is that repeating the same things and expecting anything to change is utter madness.

    As I reached for the keyboard and reacted predictably to pour out my outrage at Penelope Leach’s outburst I had to pull myself back because old habits die hard and apart from that I’ll soon have to go and pick up my daughter from school.

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  6. John Milnes · June 17, 2014

    I also listened to the Jeremy Vine show on Monday and could not believe what I was hearing.
    The lady from FFJ put forward a good argument which included the idea the many career mothers are away and indeed leave a lot of the caring to fathers who are at home during the evenings at least or are stay at home full time carers.
    No doubt there will be many lawyers or perhaps judges that will clutch on this bizarre notion in future “don’t let the children have overnights with dad argument” 😦 I’ve seen similar before now.
    I sort of went through this process some time ago and mother was trying to pursued the court that overnights were not an option, while my 3 year old daughter was always asking to stay with me overnight if not many days at a time. She’s 9 now and those days have gone and we have a lovely relationship.
    I believe Penelope Leach will be on the JV show next Monday to be challenged which could be interesting!

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  7. woodman1959 · June 17, 2014

    For me, shared parenting is about teamwork.

    Exactly how the teamwork divides up can vary according to each individual situation. The problem is that many separating parents “won’t play ball” – in fact some have no idea that it is even necessary to “play ball”.

    The absolutely essential thing – in any situation of conflict…is to put whoever IS the most interested in being the “team-player” – in overall charge.

    The team-player parent will always be anxious to acknowledge the unique qualities of the other parent, and incorporate them in the children’s lives as much as possible.

    Parents now competing to be team-players.

    Problem solved.

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    • karenwoodall · June 17, 2014

      The issue this research raises though is not about absence of conflict but mediation of attachment, the conduit through which the brain is built according to neuroscientists. Attachmennt in Bowlby’s world was about the bonds, attachment in this world is about why the bonds are important and what they are doing to the brain. The reason why so many interpret this research as ‘evidence’ against shared parenting is because they do not beilieve that parents CAN share care in a child focused manner after separation. And then fail to put support in place that makes that possible, concentrating instead on building barriers higher and higher to prevent it.

      In the quiet space between two parents who love each other, the attentive responding that builds the child’s brain functions takes place. We need to focus on helping separated parents to have that quiet space so that children can keep on doing what they need to do, which is grow and develop into secure and confident children. I work in that space between separated parents, I know what it does to my consciousness as well as my brain, children living in that space need our help and their parents need our help too. And if we could all stop arguing about whether. Shared parenting is good or bad and just get on and help parents to do it, those kids, who are navigating that sace right now, might just cope better so that their kids, when they come to have them, stand a much better chance when they are born.

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      • woodman1959 · June 17, 2014

        Absolutely so…I completely agree. Very well stated.

        The entire problem in my own case is the Judge doing everything she can to prevent any possibility of conflict…which for her means eliminating any opportunity for that all important shared space to exist at all. I guess she MEANS well…is doing what she has been told – and that would be a typical scenario?

        That’s why I’ve maintained, over and over, that we have to get the attention of the Judges.

        As I see my older, alienated 17 year old deteriorating – it is that key phrase you’ve used…attentive responding…which she’s been missing for the last several years. She’s been led to believe (by her mother) that she needs neither of us…certainly not me – and certainly not her mum either…who cannot be asked to act like a parent at all (is hardly capable of doing so?) but is busy doing her own thing all the time.

        It can obviously suit a teenager to think that the ‘attentive responding’ we’re talking about is something that belongs to childhood, and that she doesn’t need it any more.

        What is actually happening – is massive neglect at a crucial phase in life.

        Actually there is sinister purpose in all this neglect – the end result will be to try and ensure long term dominance and control over her child.

        All taking place in the Judge’s nice “conflict free” zone.

        When the Judge was told about my daughters failure to achieve as she should have done at GCSE…she merely shrugged and said…”that’s unfortunate…”

        Please…can we start finding a way to talk to the Judges?

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  8. suewhitcombe · June 17, 2014

    “An integrative perspective suggests that the goals of attachment and early parental (typically paternal) involvement with very young children after separation are mutually attainable and mutually reinforcing rather than exclusive choices. An optimal goal for the family is a “triadic secure base” developed through a co‐parenting environment that supports the child’s secure attachment with each parent and the recognition by each parent of the other’s importance to the child. Cautions against overnight care during the first three years are not supported. The limited available research substantiates some caution about higher frequency overnight schedules with young children, particularly when the child’s relationship with a second parent has not been established and/or parents are in frequent conflict to which the child is exposed.”

    Pruett M K, McIntosh J E & Kelley J B (2014) Parental Separation and Overnight Care of Young Children, Part I: Consensus Through Theoretical and Empirical Integration. Family Court Review 52 (2) 240-255

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  9. Anonymous · June 18, 2014

    The idea that parenting our child is the sole responsibility of their mother at any age, from the point of conception to adulthood is an anathema to me. The very notion that one parent could set themselves up as the sole arbiter of childcare makes my blood boil. Why so high and mighty? What possessed you to think that the whole world revolves around you? I see this as an assault upon my fatherhood. If the child is in danger then surely it is from your maniacal sense of self-importance.

    Phew! that’s the feelings dealt with

    Whether you like it or not the child’s need to have their mother and father exists both prior to and post the parent’s separation.

    The fact that, as a society, we choose to view the two situations differently is our downfall.

    From a child’s perspective they would like both parents, preferably one’s that don’t spend the rest of their lives arguing whilst the children need their attention.

    So you have the big fall out in year two. Dad’s been around mostly every night feeding, soothing changing nappies and then in walks this Leech character and whisks your child away till they reach year 5. Over my dead body. I would like to wring her f……..ing neck. Who the hell does she think she is. No wonder they call me Mad Bad and Dangerous (MBD)! If I am MBD she must be psychotic. Makes you wonder though doesn’t it. What kind of childhood she had. Based on the neuro-science? Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm quite.

    That is how I feel.

    Kind regards

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    • karenwoodall · June 21, 2014

      The thing is what you describe is a strong attachment with child at the point of separation, Leach backtracks and says if the attachment is already there then it is ok. Actually what is going to happen now that she has launched this hand grenade into the hornets nest is that kids whose attachment to dad is stron and healthy, are going to be ripped away from him and prevented from overnights based on Leach’s headlines…thereby, using her the research evidence she relies on to support her arguments, damaging the child’s brain….the research she relies on is clear and it is useful, the way she interprets it is wrong and not useful. Based on her headlines for her book launch alone I reckon we will have a wave of kids who are well attached to dad, suffering separation anxiety because they will be prevented from overnights after separation. I think it is a great shame she didn’t know the politics around family separation a bit better before she marched in telling everyone how to do it.

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      • woodman1959 · June 21, 2014

        Penelope is clearly someone who very much cares about children. This is certainly the first time I have ever heard anyone speak openly about parental alienation on national TV. This alone, therefore, may constitute a breakthrough moment for us. Perhaps this will start to give you some opportunities to step in, Karen!

        Penelope also raises the question of how we deal with the need for a succession of relationships over a lifetime – in regard to the welfare of the children. I haven’t heard anyone else do that either.

        So perhaps we need to thank her deeply – for opening up the debate, if that is what it can become. Perhaps family breakup is happening increasingly earlier, when children are younger, and so the issues she is concerned about may be happening more.

        For example, I was waiting at Arrivals in Heathrow, this week, and saw a mother and young child (about 1 year – 18months) reunited after what had obviously been some time apart, while the father, in the meantime, had obviously been the care giver. The child struggled to relate to the mother after this period of absence…refusing her mother, and needing to be with her father even though she had clearly recognized and responded to her mothers excitement on her return. All this was happening within a relationship between the parents which was extremely loving, it seemed to me. It simply demonstrates the level of cooperation required to do right by the child.

        Penelope actually acknowledges that in a situation where the father is the primary care-giver, then the same considerations about continuity of care should prevail.

        From another interview I watched she seems deeply concerned about the effect of children living one week in one place, and one week in another. I agree that this is also an imperfect solution…however…it is going to be infinitely better than not (or hardly) seeing the father at all. She herself acknowledges the crucial importance of father involvement – so it is vitally important that she makes up her mind and comes out and says that this is definitely the “lesser of two evils”.

        The best case scenario that she wants, is for maximum cooperation. That’s great, and more should be talked about this. However, in this regard she seems somewhat naive – as Karen, suggests, is she not aware of the ferocious war against men that is happening…and how her perspective is actually going to be used to further damage children by denying them meaningful time with their fathers – and overall encourage less cooperation, rather than more?

        As mentioned earlier, I think the Courts should be looking for the parent who is the most of a “team-player”, and award residence, ideally – to them. Only that way will the issues of continuity and stability that she is so concerned about, be addressed.

        Finally, although she wishes to address the child as a victim, she does not address the issue of one of the parents being a victim. She presents parents as being equally responsible for what is happening. This may certainly not be the case, and the child may be a victim largely because one of the parents is a victim of the other one…and if so the child’s suffering will not end until this is addressed.

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  10. Y · June 18, 2014

    What’s most interesting, I think, is that the corporate media never invite Karen onto their shows or to write in their toilet newspapers. For me, that says a lot.

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    • karenwoodall · June 18, 2014

      Not sure that’s a compliment! Fact is I do get invited sometimes but I won’t do it because I am not interested in the taking sides approach. I wouldn’t go up against the O Connors on any show anywhere anytime because they are bullies and fixated on self promotion and I haven’t any interest in the single parent lobby arguments. My only interest is getting help to children and their families and that doesn’t make news sadly.

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      • woodman1959 · June 18, 2014

        Hopefully, it’s just a matter of the ‘right show at the right time’?

        It must be difficult having to be both up with the academic side of things, and to deal with us lot on the ground!

        My feeling is that it wouldn’t take ALL that much to swing public opinion towards us, though – once the effort is really started…with women leading the way, alongside men.

        There IS still a widespread conservatism against men getting involved in childcare to contend with…but the removal of good, responsible, loving men from a position of leadership in children’s lives will be seen as a step WAY too far – once it becomes common knowledge.

        The other barrier, apart from conservatism, is the “cult of the expert”. People generally have been led to believe (and it makes their lives a lot simpler) to leave all this stuff to the experts. They have the degrees, and the PhD’s – so surely they must be doing something useful with their time – so who are we to argue?…so the line will run.

        Even when it all seems counter-intuitive…or just plain wrong…it doesn’t seem conceivable to the majority that such hate-crime could be happening on a massive scale. There has to be some “justification” for the various “isolated incidents” which some men seem to be experiencing. It can’t really be a serious enough issue to justify wider public attention.

        So this is the ‘credibility factor’ that I think we have to get over.

        I think we have to focus on the wider public, rather more than the “experts” we are particularly concerned about…whose attitudes will repulse the general public once they start to become more widely known.

        The only way to achieve this, surely – will be through the media spotlight?

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  11. Just watched Penelope Leach on This Morning. Poor woman totally contradicted herself on a number of occasions. Talk about trying to dig your way out of a hole, epic fail. One book to avoid.

    As long as children are loved and cared for by both parents then why should they not continue by sharing the parenting of their children. I worked with a couple a few years back who where both nurses that worked opposite shifts and it made obvious sense to continue sharing the parenting of their child when they split up. As long as the child’s needs are put first and they are given time and support through any adjustments to their living arrangements then this can only serve to benefit the child(ren) in the long term.

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    • karenwoodall · June 21, 2014

      i think this is the bit Penelope missed from her book..as long as they are given time and support through any adjustments…exactly what the Jersey Centre for Separated Families is doing for children on the island right now…making shared parenting work doesn’t have to come with a political boxing match attached to it, quietly, out of the glare of publicity and far away from the rights based arguments, there is something magical happening on Jersey (and the Isle of Wight) and soon in Wales and the South West…people who know what is needed and are committed to delivering it – those people are where the research tells us we should be…changing children’s lives right here and now.

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  12. ChrisTR · June 19, 2014

    I have watched the complete excerpt from This Morning. For those who are interested, here is the link: http://www.itv.com/thismorning/hot-topics/family-breakdown-controversy-penelope-leach.

    Without having read her book, I do not know whether, in this interview, Penelope Leach is back-tracking on what she has written and, more to the point whether the media have chosen to pick up on something which they consider as controversial in an attempt to generate high viewing and readership figures. Nevertheless, can she show the evidence she used in order to come to the conclusions she has drawn?

    The reactions from the pro-fathers rights groups is typical and to be expected in the same way as the pro-single parents groups react. Isn’t it about time these groups started working on focussing on the whole of the family, as Karen does, rather than taking opposing sides, man against women, ex-wife against ex-husband?

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  13. Anonymous · June 20, 2014

    I think it was Einstein who said, “one of the most important decisions we make is whether we live in a hostile universe, or a friendly one”

    If we choose to believe that we are right and are prepared to defend that premiss there are plenty of takers out there who are prepared to oppose us.

    We could name our former partner or any number of prominent figures with particularly annoying viewpoints. As Padresteve has pointed out if an argument is what you want then feel at liberty to search for one. There are plenty to be had.

    In a friendly Universe there are all kinds of wonderful things which make me smile. There’s me. I am wonderful to me, not in a boastful way but in a contented and meainingful way, a kind and gracious way. These feelings I have for me I am now able to offer to those whom I come into contact with. I want you to feel good about yourself also.

    I acknowledge your anxiety, your worries, anger, frustrations and will listen with attention until you would have me listen no more. I will resist the desire to pass judgement, but will be available to help should you think that appropriate.

    I will move forward in this world, anywhere without fear and without retribution. As I speak to my child and make myself available to them I do so in a unique and special way that accounts for their feelings, because I know that this is important to them. (As mine are to me).

    Kind regards

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    • karenwoodall · June 21, 2014

      Lovely words if we could all get to that place the world would be different.

      Like

  14. padrestevie · June 20, 2014

    Here’s a link to Penelope Leach’s spot on “this morning”.

    http://www.itv.com/thismorning/hot-topics/family-breakdown-controversy-penelope-leach

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    • karenwoodall · June 21, 2014

      Thanks Padrestevie this is useful , i have just watched it and found it very interesting to watch the two TV presenters being so articulate on the importance of overnights for dads and kids, Philip Schofield spoke movingly and convincingly on the beautiful moments of tucking a child up in bed and reading a story. leach looks like a bit if a dinosaur in the face of modern day parenting attitudes, especially when she doesn’t tackle the fundamental reason why 90 percent of ‘primary’ carers are mothers. Fact is it has been designed that way through the use of Child Benefit as the gateway benefit – most holders of CB are mothers…it has also been designed that way through groups like Gingerbread continuously shaping the narrative around family separation as being about dads who leave and mothers who are left behind…mothers are THE number one parent in our legislation and feminist dominated narratives but how interesting is it, to listen to the female presenter on this programme say – yes, mother is the most important one whilst they are inside but at birth the child becomes BOTH parents primary responsibility. It made me realise that beyond the ring of feminist steel around westminster family policy, modern day parents do it all very very differently these days.

      To be fair to Penelope Leach, she did say several times at the end of the interview that to alienate a child is the very worst thing you can do. Pity she didn’t headline her launch with that but then it wouldn’t have caused the controversy that has put her on the front of every newspaper and every tv screen in the land this week. Her book will sell as a result but it is such a shame that we will now be dealing with the impact of this on children for many years to come now, I already have a family where mum is ulling back on overnights because the kids brains will be damaged….she should have had more care and more concern for her audience, those kids will now be the single parents of the next generation…

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      • padrestevie · June 21, 2014

        Hi Karen
        As usual, I think you are right. It warms me when i see nephews and nieces share their role as parents with their partners. Funnily, they were all influenced by mothers who held feminist beliefs but thankfully it seems to have acted like a sort of vaccine. When i watch them i’m convinced that they are trustworthy guardians of the future. I think they appreciate that what they have is as good as it gets.

        And, my daughter too is progressing in leaps and bounds. She accepts very little at face value and has a healthy scepticism. She’s not happy to just read the results. She wants to inspect the apparatus too.

        Actually she saw Penelope’s pic, and read the headline over my shoulder. Her reaction was, “What planet does that woman live on?” She followed with, “I have two homes, why would anyone want to change that?” I think that says a lot and perhaps children like her, with their insight and experience would be more audible against the white noise that is now being generated.

        I felt a bit sorry for Penelope when i saw her because i think that she sincerely means well but the words used to launch her book could have been better chosen. I fear they have unleashed a monster.

        I don’t think we’ve heard the last of her and some of what she is now saying by way of clarification may prove useful.

        If you have not already seen it there’s a follow up piece in today’s Guardian.

        Like

  15. Barry Hammond. · June 20, 2014

    RESPONSE TO PENELOPE LEACH

    This is just another piece of superfluous junk thrown onto the bonfire of family breakdown to keep it burning and to cause a distraction from the truth – that family destruction is a top down instigated plan to prepare civilisation for the NWO.

    On each side of the battle, pseudo experts line up against each other and the 40+ year cacophony of argument continues. Closer to the truth, is that there are no good outcomes for children post divorce, well managed or not.

    Children thrive on the dynamic relationship they witness every day between their own parents. If there is no relationship, there is nothing to witness.

    The parental relationship is the child’s blueprint for the future which they subconsciously refer to in their own adult relationships. Put another way, the children are watching you – and they learn what they live.

    In a single parent family, there may be little conflict, but neither is there a blueprint for the children to copy. Children from single parent families may appear well balanced and grounded because the symptoms have yet to surface.

    The future will tell a different story as the adult children of divorce form their own relationships and continue the cycle of deprivation. More children will become impoverished emotionally and financially as their own parents, devoid of the skills and knowledge required to make the relationship work, set up two separate homes and buy all the appliances to go with them.

    Recently Bloomberg reported that divorce has been good for the American economy. This crass comment reflects a growing lack of empathy and also illustrates how the social engineers use the divide & conquer strategy to create two tribes who will never cease arguing.

    In the great scheme of things, I doubt that Penelope Leach is aware of who she is really working for, but she has made a useful contribution by keeping the bonfire burning. At some point in the future the fire brigade will arrive and put the fire out. Then they will tell the experts how things are going to be in the NWO.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · June 21, 2014

      Apart from the NWO which I am not going to have discussed on this blog Barry, I agree with every word you say, particularly DIVORCE HARMS CHILDREN. We don’t say it often enough in this society in my view.

      Like

      • Barry · June 22, 2014

        We can say it as often as we like, that divorce harms children, but until this narrative filters through into the mainstream media it will be business as usual. Who would have believed that in this country a top judge could be berated for supporting marriage? Well it may be astonishing to some, but not to me. Nevertheless, the treatment that Paul Coleridge has received illustrates how far we have descended down the slippery slope. He has stated the obvious but the gatekeepers have closed him down. Do we need any more evidence that we are in an information war and that those who control the public platforms such as the BBC are part of the deception? On any battlefield you will find soldiers performing different roles. Strategists, front line soldiers, first aiders, communication officers etc, who all work together for a common cause, respect each other and are in no doubt who the enemy is. That’s the way to win. It’s a pity that those who work to defend the family are confused about who the real enemy is, are pulling in different directions, and show little respect for each others efforts.

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      • karenwoodall · June 22, 2014

        I agree with you about Paul Coleridge, I think it is incredible that we are not allowed to speak of marriage in any kind of positive way without being lambasted for somehow being anti this or anti that. I know you have your enemy firmly in your sights I just don’t think it helps the discussion on this blog to go down that road myself. I want to concentrate on what we can do for people on here, I can’t put the genie back in the bottle or control what happens in the wider world and having tried for 15 years of my life to show government what is really going on and having it fall on deaf ears – I KNOW they KNOW why we have a fatherless society and I know also that they just DON’t CARE…if they did they could very easily change some things to make a lot of things happen differently but they know what they can change and they know why it should change but they are not going to change it because it is just not important enough to them to do so. The only thing important to government is making it look like they are doing something – which is why those charities who sit around government sign away any real visions and values the minute they are funded by government. They are simply there to be two way mirrors – they reflect back to government what government wants to see happening and they reflect out to the wider world what they think they need to in order to get the funding to keep paying their armies of people who don’t do very much other than make their margins for the people at the top. It’s a corporate world in exactly the same way as any other sector only this one is run by women for women.

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  16. padrestevie · June 21, 2014

    Hi Karen
    Here’s a link to today’s guardian article. This is far more balanced.

    http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jun/21/wrong-to-use-children-as-weapon-divorce-separation

    Like

  17. Y · June 21, 2014

    It doesn’t really matter if lone voices like this are either for or against shared care. The fact of the matter is that the government already employs a thoroughly criminal organization to make sure that shared care is virtually impractical for fathers. I’m talking about the CSA of course, and until you’ve experienced them from a father’s point of view, you cannot understand how bloody-minded, manipulative, dishonest and untouchable they are. You may share the care, because you have prioritized your children over career advancement. This puts you into the low income bracket, where your chances and opportunities are very low, and consequently, the opportunities for your children are low. You have all the bills and expenses that the other parent has, and yet, because you are male, you also have to pay the man tax, as it is called. Add to this the fact that the CSA illegally take more money from you than they should be doing, leaving you with nothing, simply because they know that they can get away with it and there is no legal process in place to hold them to account. They steal to the point where not working is actually a better option, because then at least they cannot steal that much, and you can claim benefits. But of course this is demoralizing, and leads inevitably to court again, where the mother claims that you can no longer support your kids. So we can squabble all we want about how much time moms and dads should have, but until the fundamental disease of the CSA is cut out, and all economic motives removed from litigation, you won’t be doing any favors for children.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · June 21, 2014

      It supposedly has been cut out Y – though help and support for separated families, the somewhat lame duck which emerged from the so called reform of the ‘sector’ is hardly what I call a substitute strategy and it is most certainly not what Henshaw had in mind….you can supposedly make your own arrangments now, though I guess those on the old/new/new/old/future/scheme whatever it is called these days will still be caputed in the web of the pocket pickers. I completely agree with you, Child Maintenance is not the business of the state, the Child Support Agency came in on the back of the rise of births outside of marriage in the eighties/nineties however, to make sure the single never married mothers were not draining the state coffers for the care of their children. Since then it has had more changes of image than Lady Gaga in concert, with an attempt to move towards supporting collaboration. This however has been dragged back into the same old mire and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see a reformed reformed reformed Child Support Agency version 103 being introduced at some point early on in 2016. Here’s our answer to the child maintenance AND shared care issue – at the point of separation BOTH parents should be considered single parents and BOTH parents should be considered paying parents. Both should be assessed for child support and the configuration of funds should be based around an agreed amount of time spent in BOTH parental homes.

      Like

      • karenwoodall · June 21, 2014

        and it does actually matter that lone voices like Penelope Leach has said this about shared care, I already have one mother pulling out of an overnight routine of 2 nights him and 5 nights her for their children on the basis that it will damage the children’s brains. It will do no such thing but how do I get that through to her now and what is worse, how do I get that through to the CAFCASS officer or the Judge if the Judge has decided this is something that must be taken account of? Headlines speak volumes and I don’t believe Penelope or the Mindful Policy Group in their fervent backtracking – someone wrote those headlines into their press release and it is those headlines that will stick, not Schore’s research which Penelope has, in my view, badly misinterpreted.

        Like

      • woodman1959 · June 21, 2014

        That sounds like a great suggestion to me, WHEN two homes are available.

        However, surely, of equal importance, will be working on situations where they are not? How many of us have been thrown out of situations where we have had a family home with all the facilities that the children need, into a situation where we only have a flat or a room somewhere which is really just somewhere for us to survive, and cannot meet their need?

        Or, if there are several children, then maybe the facility we have means we can entertain just one of them at a time, and at that just fairly briefly?

        It is just not a “level playing field”, at all. As family people generally realize, it is not just the individual interactions between parent and child that count in children’s development, but group dynamics of the family – which are of crucial importance.

        Can we as a society actually afford to duplicate 50% (and rising) of children’s homes in two places? Absolutely not!

        Surely we have to decide what is most important in children’s lives? They need both a home that meets their needs materially as far as possible, and equally, the presence of two supportive parents WITHIN it! If Penelope Leach really supported children as fully as she makes out, then she would realize that both are essential…and that we have to find some way to achieve it.

        The only way I can think of, when there needs to be a degree of separation, is to put the parent who is most responsive to the needs of the other parent – in charge of the family home. This would end all parental alienation at a single stroke, and would suit Penelope fine, I would have thought…as she really doesn’t seem to like the two household solution that much anyway.

        The majority of separations seem to be instigated by women on the assumption that they will have charge of the children regardless of how they behave towards the children’s father. Taking that automatic power assumption away and making it conditional instead would change the entire family separation landscape. Many men – probably most men, wouldn’t want to take on this responsibility, but the fact that they might be able to – would keep everyone cooperating, which is the most important issue for the children.

        Resistance to this idea would demonstrate that the whole issue has so far been about the adults – rather than the children. As soon as we genuinely put the children first…then this solution would be a no-brainer. I do like the fact that Penelope is trying to throw the spotlight decidedly back onto the children…I just don’t think she is following through enough on this – as of yet…to the logical conclusion of her own perspective.

        Like

  18. Y · June 21, 2014

    Sorry, I’ve obviously underestimated how naive some parents could be, so as you say, I suppose this psychobabble does matter. The only contact disputes that I am familiar with have to do purely with money, and the ability to use a militant and dysfunctional CSA to abuse the other party.

    I don’t think we can say that the CSA has been cut out. It’s only become more powerful, more arrogant, more untouchable and more criminal. The more child-focused parents (not many seem to exist these days) may come to their own arrangements, but the chance to continue bullying your ex-husband (and seeing him pay to be bullied as well) will only be too appealing for the majority.

    I agree the CSA should exist for cases where it can be proven beyond a doubt that the dad is a scoundrel, but in all other cases it just makes things so much worse, and causes untold damage to children. The only reasons for it existing in all these other cases are financial, and have nothing to do with the welfare of the child. This is what the media fails to report.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · June 22, 2014

      THE number one argument from women’s rights groups in opposition to the Child Maintenance System changing to allow parents to make their own arrangements ‘HE will bully HER to accept less than SHE is ENTITLED to.

      And there’s me thinking child maintenance is for children….

      and there’s you thinking that women bully men!

      Like

    • Yvie · June 24, 2014

      I couldn’t agree more with you Y. If there is conflict between the two parents at the point of separation, the CSA will always make it worse.

      Like

  19. Y · June 22, 2014

    Child maintenance has never been for the children, sadly. So you are right there.

    There is a consensus at the moment that the new system will be bad for children all around. We can speculate on the various reasons for why child maintenance came into existence, but it there s no doubt that this is more about politics, typically using children as an excuse.

    I and many others would not be in such massive debt right now if we only had to support our children, and this itself points to the fact that child maintenance is not and never has been for children.

    Back to my point though, which is that the very existence of the CSA undermines the ability of children to enjoy relationships with both parents, making Leachs article just a distraction from the more fundamental injustice.

    Like

  20. Pingback: Sleepovers with Penelope Leach: | ExInjuria
  21. daveyone1 · June 22, 2014

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..

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  22. Anonymous · June 24, 2014

    Which points incontrovertibly to one thing; that solutions lie not in our ability to outwit or outmanoeuvre our perceived opposition

    It is our ability to share our personal vision with those who would most benefit.

    We cannot stop Ms. Leach or anyone else from saying what she says, publishing her book, using media snaps as a means of promoting her ideas. To oppose it would to be invite argument. To moan about it would create cause for complaint. This is why Monty Python has an “argument room” and a “complaints room”.

    I believe the problems facing partners who split and their children is fundamentally an emotional one.

    I need to repair myself and I need to help my children and former partner in their repairs too.

    We have visions and creations in our mind that do the job that needs to be done that would make the family, post-separation a better and safer place.

    If Dandlebear Bridge is broadcast as a useful tool for separated families in protecting and helping children then its’ strength and longevity will determine the necessity for children to keep both parents post-separation.

    So nobody needs to engage with Ms. Leach on her rather cruel 5yr rule. In fact, as Padresteve has already pointed out if you want to argue/engage with Ms.Leach the only outcome that can possibly result is more argument. The harder we fight the stronger the defence.

    The best riposte is the promotion of “Dandlebear Bridge” and “Sowing Seeds”. If these “tools” are widely accepted there will be no need to counter Ms. Leach’s 5yr rule. Her idea has no meaning in a post-separation environment where couples living apart are working on the stability of their Dandlebear Bridge, making the transition for children a happy one.
    I sometimes think that these circular arguments we have are the same self-serving one’s that we had when we couldn’t reach agreement with our former partner’s.

    Kind regards

    Like

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