John T. Steinbeck is a parental alienation consultant. He and his son’s relationship was under attack in a deplorable campaign of parental alienation.read more
French Protest Saint-Michel in Paris “We demand an end to the family profiteering on the backs of our children.”
Press release of October 25, 2014
Parents moved Place Saint-Michel in the 6th arrondissement of Paris to denounce the practices of family business which too often do not meet the right of children of separated parents to be raised and educated by each of their two parents.
The current operating mode of justice is inadequate to the field of family.This family justice operates on an adversarial mode that creates and aggravates the conflicts in which children are always the first victims.
Decisions stereotypical family judges are too often
discriminate against fathers and do not respect the principle of equal both parents before the law.
This is primarily the parents have the responsibility to define what suits their children and not to a third party to decide arbitrarily when it has neither means nor the time to know the reality of the family.
In case of disagreement, using a mediator should…
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The words “narcissism; “sociopath” and “psychopath” are thrown around on television daily in describing those responsible for heinous acts of school shootings, murder, rape and child abuse. ‘Narcissist” is currently one of the most searched words on the World Wide Web. Meanwhile, the field of Psychology wants to eliminate “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” from its references.
The factor most dominant in PAS is the intent of the resident parent to cut off communications between the children and the non-resident parent (nrp).
In the past this has been fairly easy. Letters and gifts could be removed before the child sees them, and phone calls could be blocked or monitored. Schools and places where the children go could be informed to stop the absent parent visiting.
With the advances of technology these barriers can be bypassed to a large extent. A child with a mobile phone only needs to know the number of the absent parent to contact them directly without the knowledge of the nrp. Furthermore, many nrp’s will themselves have more than one phone number, a website, and various ways of being contacted indirectly through work, relatives, and friends who also have these facilities.
There have already been cases of children looking for their fathers via the Internet, and at least one child set up his own website specifically for this purpose. The non-resident parents who use these advances to keep lines of communications open have a considerable resource.
- Work to a plan.
- Keep a diary.
- Sort out all the correspondence related to your case, and take copies of everything.
- Use the copies to highlight all the key points that you may have to refer to later.
- List all the people who are in touch with your ex-partner, your children, and other key people in the case.
- List all the people who are willing to support you if needed.
- List all the places where you can make more suitable contacts, such as schools, clubs, parks, and appropriate locations.
- Find out what events are going on at schools and such places that you might attend and see your children.
- Check if you can participate in local events that will bring you in contact with other parents or key people who might help you.
- Check for ways that get publicity that could be seen by your ex or children, or those close to them.
- Check if you can become a school governor, helper, coach, or in any way a participant in events that involve your children.
- If you ex is part of a group: religious, cultural, educational, etc. see if you can join the group or get to know those associated with her.
- Check out events such as birthdays, holidays, festivities, etc that give excuses for you to contact your ex or children directly or via relatives and close friends.
- Check out the parents of the children who are in your child’s class and see if you can contact them. They might well know your child via their children.
- Chance plays a big part in life. It is possible that there are other fathers in your situation who have children at the same school. If so, they may have information that is useful to you.
- Cultivate and practice your fathering skills at all times. Ask others about their children, and try to help out. It may make you sad at first, but any children that relate to you will eventually give you satisfaction and help you through this period. There are very many children in need of fathers.
- Keep up with your children’s interests. If they like computer games, then try to learn a bit about them.
- Work out your Family Tree. If allowed to, then send it to your children or someone close to them. If possible, set up a website about yourself and your side of the family. If possible, make this information available to your children.
- If you see articles or letters in papers and magazines about similar cases to your own, reply to them. Also see if there are journalists who might cover your case.
- If possible, send material to the friends and relatives of your ex-partner. They may well be sympathetic to you if you don’t impost on them.
- If you are in a position to, offer work-experience to students in the school where your child goes.
- Check out the school and find out exactly what information you are entitled to. It might be more than you are voluntarily given.
- Find out who the school governors are, and how they can help you.
- Find out about your ex’s neighbours, and see if there is any way to link up with them.
- If possible, set up a child’s bank account (Building societies sometimes do this), and start putting money it. Make sure your child knows about it. When the child is old enough you can give them the bankbook. If the child is a minor then it will be a joint account. When your child is no longer a minor you can still keep it as a joint account.
- Buy Premium Bonds, or the occasional lottery ticket for your child. If it comes up you will have a good reason to contact them.
- If you can, make a video of yourself and your family. Get some close to you to send it to your child. Use a festive occasion as an excuse to do so.
In all, the approach is always to be doing something so that you are never in a situation of feeling helpless. With determination you will find that there are many opportunities to further your situation, and more will turn up as you think about it in a logical way. Overcoming the feeling of helplessness is essential to dealing with the problem.
If you can retain some form of contact then it is unlikely, but it some cases it could be years before you see them again. From a survey taken on this, children usually start coming back to the father in early teenage years. There are several reasons for this.
a. They grow independent of the mother.
b. They want money.
c. They find they can control the mother with threats of seeing the father.
d. They have a natural curiosity and emotional need to know their father.
e. The father offers an alternative lifestyle that may well be inherent in the child.
It has been said that ‘The best revenge is to be happy’. This will show that all the mother’s machinations will have failed. The FNF survey on PAS produced well over 700 replies. The most common answer to the question ‘Do you have any suggestions on overcoming PAS?’ got the answer “Stay with it, and do not abandon your children”.
The easiest way to deal with any problem is to divide it into parts.
Separate the parts you into three categories:
1. Those you can deal with right away.
2. Those you can deal with when the time comes
3. Those you can’t deal with now, and have to be sorted out later, perhaps with expert help.
In common sense terms, PAS is a form of ‘Emotional Child Abuse’. A child is deliberately deprived of the love and support of the father, and done so with the implicit threat that the mother will not love him or her if they do not reflect the mother’s attitudes.
The document ‘Working together under the Children Act 1989 (P.49 Para. 2)’ does define emotional child abuse as:
“Actual or likely severe adverse effects on the emotional behavioural development of a child caused by persistent or severe emotional ill-treatment or rejection. All abuse involves some emotional ill treatment. This category should be used where it is the main or sole form of abuse”.
It continues to define variations of abuse as ‘Significant harm’, ‘Ill treatment’, or ‘Impairment of health of development’.
The D.o.Health also publishes an annual breakdown of ‘Children and Young People on Child Protection Registers’. For example, in the year 1994 in England there were 34,900 children on the Child Protection Register. This covered:
Physical injury 38%
Sexual abuse 28%
Emotional abuse 13%
The total percentages are over 100% as some children were registered in more than one category. Bearing in mind that emotional abuse is normally part of other forms of abuse, the category of ‘Emotional abuse’ is virtually non-existent as a form that can be registered.
There is also the fact that alienated children do not need to be taken into care or be protected in the sense of requiring ‘child protection’ by the State.
For the same year of 1994, ChildLine produced statistics for their own organisation. They counselled around 82,000 children claimed to get up to 10,000 calls a day. These are categorised as:
Sexual abuse 13
Family relationships 12
Physical abuse 12
Third party concern 10
Problems with friends 4
Partner relationship 4
Facts of life 2
Running away 2
Although only two categories due to ‘family relationships’ (12%) and ‘divorce’ (2%.) seem to be related to broken families, other statistics suggest otherwise. The figures below taken from the Internet, and relate to studies in the USA, but experience and media reports on social problems indicate these figures might well apply to the UK to some degree.
Children from fatherless homes account for:
63% of youth suicides
71% of pregnant teenagers
90% of homeless and runaway children
70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions
85% of children who exhibit behavioural disorders
80% of rapists with displaced anger
71% of all high school dropouts
75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centres
85% of all youths in prisons
US Dept. of Health & Human Services. Bureau of the Census
US Dept. of Justice. Special report Sept. 1988
Criminal Justice & Behaviour Vol. 14 p.403-26 1976
National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools
Rainbows for all God’s Children
Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. of Corrections 1992
The UK government does not collect statistics on these figures, and does not even know how many parents are fined or jailed for disobeying court orders, though the Sedgemoor and Mendip Magistrates Court inform me that “The types of orders most commonly disobeyed are probably contact orders, though no statistics are kept in regard to this”.
On the other hand, the UK government does collect statistics on single-mothers. The percentage of single-mothers aged 20-39 in 1991 was 10.1% (Eurostat). At that time German ran second with 7.7%. (Italy 2.3%) The UK had the highest percentage of single-mothers in Europe.
As the figures are ten years old, and do not include teenagers or the growing number of single-mothers over 40, then we can guess that the UK continues to easily top the league table for single mothers, as it does for divorce, and unmarried partnerships.
There is always a danger of relating one set of statistics to another, but we do know at the time of writing that crime figures have jumped to the point where the police say it is uncontrollable, and that teachers are leaving in droves due to difficulty in controlling children and trying to teach at the same time. The lack of discipline in classrooms and on the street are easily related to the lack of a father figure to control and offer a role model for children.
Most child welfare experts believe that these matters should be dealt with by those trained in Family therapy and child psychiatry rather than the courts.
PAS is not easy to define legally, and is essentially a medical problem, so should be dealt with by experts in that field. But this in turn creates another issue. To be dealt with medically, PAS has to be recognised officially as a medical ‘disease’ or a definable ‘syndrome’.
A ‘syndrome’ is a group of factors that are found together in a disorder. In the Parental Alienation Syndrome the factors include:
- The child hating the father
- The child stating that it does so of its own accord
- The mother stating she has not influenced the child
- The child’s ‘hate’ extending to all the fathers family and acquaintances
- The mother cutting off all forms of communication between the child and the father
- The mother exploiting every situation that will denigrate the father
The problem for psychiatrists is that the ‘syndrome’ factors are spread between the mother and child, and it is the father who suffers. It has no parallel with a syndrome where the sufferer alone has all the factors.
The closest ‘syndrome’ to PAS that is accepted officially is the ‘Stockholm syndrome’. This is where a hostage is so frightened of their captor that they obey everything they are told to do, and will even be frightened of being rescued in case the captor harms them in the process. To that extent they will identify with the captor and denigrate anyone attempting to rescue them.
Children suffering from PAS might be classed as hostages. They have lost one parent and are in fear of losing the other. They reflect the attitudes of the mother regarding the father, and in turn, the mother rewards the child for its ‘truthfulness’.
Over a period, the child might start to ‘remember’ bad things the father did. This falls into the ‘False Memory Syndrome’. The mother will have removed all evidence of the father from the family home, so the child will have little to reinforce real memories.
The LCD is in charge of the courts. It cannot influence the courts but can carry out studies on the efficiency of the courts, and promote changes in the law and the codes of practice. The LCD was responsible for getting unmarried fathers Parental Responsibility Orders (PRO) that had only previously been available to divorced fathers. It has also carried out studies on why contact orders are not obeyed in so many cases.
It is the Family Law courts that deal with custody disputes. At the lowest level there are the Magistrates courts, then the District Courts, and the High Courts.
It is advisable for fathers to avoid the Magistrates courts if possible. Magistrates are typically drawn from volunteers whose experience in law might be limited to something like having been a legal secretary for some years. Their knowledge of child welfare might well be limited to their own family. The majority of Family law magistrates are women, and one might assume they are sympathetic to mothers. And again, Magistrates are volunteers, so the attraction of the job is the power rather than the money. In most cases it is the father who is pleading.
The LCD is making great efforts to improve the Court system, but by its nature of being historically reluctant to change; operated by the Judiciary which is effectively ‘beyond the law’, and by archaic laws conceived to deal with crime and property rather than family disputes, it may take a long time.