Tips for Practitioners Working with Families Experiencing Parental Alienation.

Insights on what an Alienated Child is experiencing, and how their perception of reality, and themselves, has been damaged by alienation.

When the mirrors reflect not your own self but that of the alienating parent and when the words which are spoken jar horribly with the language that the body of the alienating parent is speaking, the brain and the mind becomes used to responding to the ‘truth’ and not the lie which is heard. Of course the ‘truth’ is the lie and the lie is the truth in this world and keeping that firmly in the foreground of the mind as a practitioner is a critical element of successful practice.

Article by Karen Woodall

Karen Woodall

This week I have been working on several projects concerned with increasing parental awareness of what is happening to their children when alienation strikes.  All this alongside working with parents whose children are alienated and children who think that the parent they have rejected is quite simply horrible. I have also been working with parents who are so indignantly determined that their version of why a child no longer sees a parent is correct, that they will go to any lengths to ‘prove’ it.  The world of children’s rejection of a parent is indeed a world in which everyone is concerned about what they know. And of course,  everyone believes that what they know is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Working in the midst of this can feel a little bit like being down the rabbit hole with Alice, I half expect the mad hatter…

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A love letter from my child… I have saved every letter, poem, drawing and gift from her.

Love Letters To Our Children

The Way I Love You 

The way I love you will never end.

It will keep going on and on

The love is always on, never needs batteries

It runs on love.

I love you like Taylor Swift.

Poem by (Child’s name)

Happy Mother’s Day Mom

Thanks for cooking are meals taking us to fun places spoiling us and having us. We have some fun times together and some bad but I love you.

Mom you rock! 🙂 Love (Child’s name)

_Final-copwrite-and-disclaimer-image_Love-Letters-edited-2_edited-2

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(Montreal, Canada: June 2015) Dean Harper spent 16 agonizing years looking for his daughter Athena Glusing after his ex girlfriend took off with the then 2 year old child. Harper says his ex was upset about the end of their relationship and allegedly told him, “If you leave me, you leave your daughter“. Harper said he did not have financial resources to take legal action in family court. The ex girlfriend refused to let Harper see Athena, then moved with the child, cutting off all contact. Harper never stopped looking for Athena, and never stopped hoping they would be reunited.

Athena apparently had a very troubled life in the care of her mother, who put her into foster care at age 12. Administrators at Batshaw Youth and Family Centers had the name and contact number of Harper but never contacted him, and never attempted reunification with his daughter. Now that Harper has found his daughter, he is being slapped with a $7,800 bill for “parental contributions” to reimburse the state for foster care!

I don’t understand how they could have my daughter, know who I am, not look for me, then send me a bill once I find her.” said Dean Harper. Harper is very upset, and says he would have taken his child in, rather than have her go to foster care. He is considering taking legal action against Batshaw.

Harper is happy to be reunited with his daughter, who is 18 years old now, and has returned home, living in his care.

Commentary:

Harper has been robbed of the ability to be the father to Athena when she needed him most. The system first failed when the Courts did not give Harper any means to gain custody or visitation. And failed again when Athena was put into the chaos of the foster care system when she could have been given a safe, stable home environment. The government has inflicted great damage on this family, and continues its abuse by forcing Harper to pay for the state sponsored kidnapping of his own child. There is a very real possibility that Dean Harper will face financial troubles, and even punitive action if he does not pay the $7,800. And yet, Harper never wanted his daughter in foster care, and had been looking for her for 16 years. This is outrageous.

Obviously Batshaw saw more incentive to keep this family apart, and keep Athena in the system than to reunite her with her biological family. Why? This case should trigger and audit and in-depth investigation of Batshaw. I suggest following the money trail and the financial incentives for placing children in foster care. #JusticeforDeanHarper

– EJ Perth

Read More:

“Father finds long lost daughter after 16-year search only to receive $7,800 bill for foster care she was placed in without his knowledge” by Daily Mail UK, 6/2/2015:

  • http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3108466/Father-finds-long-lost-daughter-16-year-search-receive-7-800-bill-foster-care-placed-without-knowledge.html
  • “Dad joyous, bitter at finding long-lost daughter” by CTV, 6/1/2015:

  • https://youtu.be/Z5D-8yqr4gk
  • Some thoughts on how the loss of my children due to an unjust family court order has motivated me to fight for family court reform. This post give you a glimpse into my family, and what the loss of my children means for us.

    I dropped my youngest child (not involved in this custody dispute) off at preschool, he gave me the biggest hug and said “Love you Mommy… see ‘ya!” then ran off into the classroom. I remember the tight squeeze of my son’s arms wrapped around his neck. The softness of his hair under my chin. How he smells like bubblegum toothpaste and the crisp, wintery air that dusted snowflakes on his coat. I remember the sound of my child’s sneakers slapping across the linoleum floor when he ran into the classroom. And when the day is done, I will pick my child up from school, we will share our life together, as family.

    I treasure each moment with my youngest child because I know the deep pain of being forced to live without your children.

    My two oldest children have been unjustly taken from me and sole custody was given to an alleged abuser, with over a dozen child abuse allegations against him. As a result of the abuse, both children have suffered from anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, problems socializing, problems communicating and more. My daughter has been diagnosed with “adjustment disorder” for almost her entire life…I think it is a sign that she has never truly “adjusted” being forced to live an abuser. My son has clear memories of abuse, and when he was younger he would bang his head on the wall or hit himself in the head because physical pain was the only way to drown out the memories. My son now lives a “double life”. He has learned to project an image to the outside world, what he wants people to see…and hides who he really is. My son says that he on purpose blocks things out as a way to cope.

    The abuser is using sole custody to totally exclude me from the life of my children. I do not get basic updates about their care or schooling. I wake up each morning with a tremendous emptiness. I do not get the chatter at the table as we eat breakfast. I do not get the hugs. I do not know what my children do during the day, or if they remember to say their bedtime prayers at night. I do not get to see my little girl grow up, and cringe at the thought of an abuser, who has shown no respect for women, is now guiding my little girl as she grows into a teen…all those important questions and conversations a mother and daughter share, will never happen for us. My oldest son spends all of his time on the internet; he has a new family in video games and Skype.

    There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel the incredible grief for my children… the place where my children once nestled in my womb, safe beneath my heart, is empty.

    The future for my family is a frame with no photograph.

    It was my dream to be a stay at home mom. I wanted to be on the PTA, and attend play groups. I wanted to take my daughter to dance class, and play dress up with her. I wanted to encourage my son to develop his interest in science, and do crazy experiments together… Now I am the Mom involved in never-ending court proceedings. The Mom studying legal blogs, court rulings and rules of procedure—to fight a legal battle just so I can have a place in my children’s lives. I escaped the abuse to give my kids a better life, and now the Court is telling me their life is better with the abuser. Horrific.

    I am the Mom who attends meetings, speaks out and takes every opportunity to advocate for my kids…and others like them… families negatively impacted by the failures and injustice within the family court system.

    I will never stop fighting to keep my kids safe and to bring them home.

    — “EJ”

    Talking to a “Protective Mother” Who Lost Custody of Children
    Due to an Unjust Court Ruling: 10 Comments to Avoid & Why

    PART TWO COMMENTS #5-1

    These tips are for family, friends, community supports, professionals and others who are in a position to help or support a “Protective Mother”. It is devastating for a Mother to lose custody of her children—especially in a family court proceeding where she may feel victimized, violated and abused (and there no recourse for justice). Those closest to the Mother often struggle with what to say or how to help. Sometimes comments made to help actually hurt the Mother. Other times, those making comments struggle with their own emotions and/or grief and their actions and behavior causes hurt or harm because they are also struggling or don’t know what to say. Some just don’t believe that a court of law would make a mistake, and believe the Mother must have done something wrong to lose custody. These 10 Comments are commonly reported among Protective Mothers to be hurtful, and traumatic. I am sharing these comments to raise awareness, and offer tips on how to better offer emotional support to Protective Mothers.

    grief

    5. Don’t tell a Mother how you want to hurt or get revenge on the ex. And don’t vent or dump anger, hatred or plotting revenge onto the Mother. This happens when a Mother tells her story and there is a strong reaction that involves harming the ex or fantasies of getting back at him.
    The Reality: Holding in hurt, anger, hopelessness and other feelings intensifies those feels, and will ultimately cause more hurt and pain in your life—or that of someone else if you lash out. Words and actions to hurt or get revenge on an ex will negatively impact the custody case of the Protective Mother, and may cause her to be punished by the Court—even if she did not commit any crime or wrongdoing.
    I heard a lot of anger towards my ex after I lost custody of my children; it made me afraid of talking about my situation because I felt I had to take care of and protect my friends and family members from the bad news. As a result I felt alone. Or hearing intense anger about the abuser intensified my own feelings or triggered memories of abuse.
    If you are a friend or family member of a Protective Mother, and witnessed her being abused or losing custody, it is normal to feel empathy—to feel hurt, anger or frustration but don’t dump or project those feelings onto the Mother of the ex. Recognize that in your role as a support, at times, you will need support or rest—the loss of the child and trauma of family court will affect you as well.
    Another tip: Take time for hobbies, recreation, social activities and other activities that are important to you, don’t withdraw or isolate. It is important to have an outlet, and to keep a connection to the things that bare a positive for you. When you can use your energy in activities or ways that make you feel good about yourself, or offer a way to vent frustrations in a safe, healthy way—that will help you work through the pain and hurt, and lead to healing. It may also be something you can enjoy together with the Protective Mom, and be another way of offering support.

    4. Don’t completely Ignore the Situation and Act Like Everything is Fine.
    The Reality: Acting like everything is fine, and ignoring the most traumatic loss a Mother can experience—her children—IS NOT HELPFUL! This will make a Mother feel alone, isolated and that she has no one to turn to for comfort or support. It is better to be honest and up front about your own feelings and limitations, so the Mother knows what to expect.
    Then again, if the family or friends are acting like the loss of your children is no big deal, and seem unable to empathize with you, this may indicate an unhealthy relationship. You may have to reconsider this relationship and what your role in it.

    3. Should’s… Don’t tell a Mother what they “should” have done differently in Court or in their marriage/divorce. Or criticize the mom’s lifestyle, appearance, employment, religion, etc. to excuse/blame/justify what happened.
    The Reality: See #6. Similarly, don’t give a Mom “shoulds” if her appearance, demeanor, habits etc change after losing her children. Be understanding the loss of a child is incredibly painful and traumatic
    —it feels like a death even though your children are alive, especially when you cannot have contact with those children. So be sensitive and understanding to the needs of the Mother, and allow her time to grieve and process. If you see the Mother is struggling, gently ask to help or offer support but also respect her answer, don’t force yourself onto her. I remember that after I lost my kids, my church sent me a postcard that said “We prayed for you” and the prayer team signed their names to it—that meant so much to me. Simple gestures go a long way, and one of the most profound gestures is loving acceptance. Give the Mother your love and acceptance—not your “should’s”,

    2. Comments that you must have done something to make the Court take your kids/Good moms don’t lose custody of their children. Comments that Insist a Mother must “prove” her case. Examples: I don’t believe you//Judges would never award custody an abuser/Courts are always fair etc …

    The Reality: Fit, loving Mothers who are primary caregivers lose custody at alarming rates—this is happen across the US, and all over the world. Your initial reaction may be disbelief, and for good reason, but don’t project that disbelief onto the Mother—take some time to process your own feelings before approaching the Mother or take time to educate yourself on the issues. The Mother will be hurting, and will need your support. The questions you have are probably are ones running through the Mother’s mind over and over. And are questions family court reformers are struggling with now. Even if you don’t have the answers for what happened in court or in her custody situation, focus on what you do have control of and ways you can offer support or help—make a cup of hot chocolate, suggest a support group or day at the spa, lead a prayer, bring her a meal, offer to help with housework.. etc When the Mother is ready, she may open up and talk more about her situation, for her to do that she must have trust in you, and feel safe. That process begins with offering support, and being present with her in her pain—not questioning, just being available.

    1. Don’t say or do things that jeopardize the current custody case, custody situation or the Mother’s relationship to her child(ren).
    This may include: Social media posts that threaten, criticize or harass the ex. Contacting the ex or making deals in order to see the children (or for other reasons). Publicly criticizing the Mother or showing a lack or support. Not respecting the Mother’s wishes or requests regarding her children or need for privacy. Breaking court orders. Talking negatively about either parent in front of the children. Putting the child in the middle of the custody dispute. Attending court hearings and showing emotional displays or outbursts in court, threatening either party, being disruptive or dressing provocatively in court. Publicly criticizing, harassing or naming the judge, attorneys, or other involved parties. Publicly naming the children, and revealing sensitive information about abuse allegations or information that should be private (legal name, address, date of birth, where they live, etc). Getting revenge on either party.

    The Reality: DO NOT take the law into your own hands! Even though the Court situation can seem hopeless or that there is no justice, do not make it worse with aggressive, hostile or crazy behavior and actions that may cause the Court to further punish the Mother or restrict her parenting time—this is NOT helpful.

    Consider seeking support and finding a safe outlet instead. Support may come from friends, family, community. Church, Professional help (lawyers, support group, counseling, religious support, classes, grief group etc).

    Lisa Copen Quote