We all know the enormous pain and grief of estrangement and alienation.
For a parent who finds themselves in the horrendous situation of being prevented from being part of their child’s life it is utter devastation. Non resident parents have to face going to court just to be able to see their own children.In many cases they are falsely accused of some of the most awful things, often these allegations are never proved, but the scars it leaves cut deep and don’t heal.
Those of us who have had experience of this ‘living bereavement’ and for 12 years of speaking to families who are trying to find a way through this, are all too aware of some of the most shocking things that can and do happen within the Family Law system.
The problem with any allegation, it is so difficult to refute them.
Some non-resident parents will also have experienced receiving letters via a lawyer from their children, that say they no longer want to have anything to do with them.
As a parent, to read those words, the hurt is beyond anything they have ever felt before. The more you read them the worse it becomes.
How can my child say things like that?
Of course the truth is that they don’t.
Children who have come out the other side of alienation, tell us that they were told what to say, it is not how they felt at all.
Even though we now have that knowledge, that letter is still there, those painful words are still there.
Yet again this week another Dad, found that he couldn’t continue his life without his child and took his own life.
How do these bereaved children deal with this?
As they grow older they will of course ask questions, want to know more.
I am often asked,
Why do people alienate, do they not know the hurt they are causing?
Honestly, I don’t know, but they have no conscience, and of course they believe they are right.
I have no doubt that they have a well rehearsed explanation.
When you consider ‘Wishes and Feelings’ that are used within the family court, it makes you realise what nonsense they are. Children are again told what to say, as in the letter I mentioned, they will stay loyal to the resident parent, they often know that the resident parent will get upset and sad if they ask about the other parent. To be told over and over again that one of your parents is a bad person you believe it.
Although I believe we should listen to children, I also believe it has gone too far.
For fear of showing my age!
I remember that children used to fit in around their parents not the other way round.
Have we become too child-centric?
An example often given is the one when a child says they don’t want to go to school. We don’t say,’Oh well of course you can stay home, I don’t feel like going into work today either, so we will both stay home.’ We say, ‘Well, I am sorry you feel like that but you have to go to school, no ifs or buts you just have to go.’
A parent is the parent and the child is the child.
They should never be put into the position of making a decision of which parent they should live with, possibly one of the most important decisions in their life. More importantly, they love both their parents and should never have to choose.
My thoughts are with the family and friends of Christopher Brown at this tragic time.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts ring: The Samaritans 116 123