I am working with a CAFCASS colleague at the moment with whom I have established a strong and powerful alliance, even though we have never met. This colleague instinctively understands the complexities of human nature, particularly as they play out during separation. A conversation between us today revealed to me that the reality is that long drawn out court disputes happen largely because the people involved in working with families do not understand the intricacies of family separation and the psychology of what it is to be human. When they do and the work that they and we do instinctively complements each other, outcomes are faster, children are happier and mothers and fathers disentangle themselves from each other and see the world more clearly. And even where one parent remains determined not to change, outcomes are still faster and still better for children, when colleagues in the right places, hold the tension that creates change.
Known as I am for having my say about CAFCASS it is only right and proper that when I meet someone who not only ‘gets it’ but does so without any need for recognition, that I give the proper due respect. Of course my duties in court cases prevent me from naming people, however I am sure that this person will know who I am talking about and anyway, this is not about the personal but about giving respect where it is due and about recognising the massive potential that lies within CAFCASS when someone really understands the reality of what faces families as they struggle through separation. I am amazed at the difference this person has made and how my work has been potentized by our partnership, even though we have never met. Excitingly I can see how such partnerships could be developed across the country to deliver expert teams that make a fast and lasting difference to children’s lives.
I have worked in several teams with many colleagues in my time in the field of family separation and I am hugely appreciative of the power for change that has made itself apparent in recent weeks through this particular partnering. I know that the families and especially the children are too. So it heartens and excites me to report great strides in this way of working and I hope it also does the same for those who read this.
The critical difference between this partnership and others is that in this partnership there is –
A deep understanding of the complexities of human nature and the different ways that people struggle to get through separation.
A committment to helping children to keep in close relationship to both parents after separation.
An empathic understanding of the lives lived by rejected/targeted parents
An ability to cope with other people’s dislike and discomfort without the need to rescue them.
A clear understanding of dynamic processes without any requirement for recognition or reward.
That latter statement is really critical because working in teams and in partnerships brings its own layer of complexities. In some teams there are unspoken struggles between the top brass and the lower orders, in others there are power struggles over who is the most ‘expert’ and in some disastrous combinations indivuals may pull in opposite directions until the whole thing falls apart. Something I have witnessed more than once. The only losers, where this happens are children and it grieves me when it occurs because when it starts to unravel, all the ‘experts’ suddenly begin to hand on the potato to someone else, hoping that when the music stops, it will not be in their hands. That this can happen in the professional concentric circle around children in the family court process is not a comfortable thought but it can and it does. The psychology of working in teams is as complex as any other process and in teams around the separated family, each persons clear understanding of their place and ability to deliver the goods without recognition or reward, is the requisite for safe delivery of children from those captured places of alienation and withdrawal.
And so I salute this colleague who remains nameless but who has changed children’s lives for the better in the short time we have worked together. Even though we have never met, the power of understanding at a deep level and sharing a commitment is already proven in my mind.
In a world which can seem forsaken and at times leaves me feeling very forlorn, the power to heal and change hearts and minds with colleagues who also really care, is a really rather lovely feeling.