There have been a lot of threads and discussions over the recent months regarding problems with contact and Parent Alienation Syndrome. I just wanted to share my experiences of problems I''ve had with contact.
My ex left when my children were 5 & 2 years old. For the first 3 months, contact was arranged between myself and my ex. He came to see the children once every 6 weeks. After 3 visits, I received a solicitors letter out of the blue, requesting contact happens once every 6 weeks, for full weekends.
At this point, although contact had only happened 3 times, I had concerns as my children were not coping with the visits. The situation was new, I knew the children had to adjust, but things just were not working. I agreed to the contact, but did not agree to full weekend visits. My ex decided at this point to stop seeing the children. He has not seen them for 17 months now.
That is a brief overview.
Anyway, my Child had a check up with the Health Visitor when he was two and a half years old, the normal milestone check. Could he recognise colours? build a tower from blocks? complete a basic jigsaw puzzle ect. Its a run of the mill check, that all children have. He performed very poorly, and I made excuses saying he was clingy and upset because dad had left 6 months previously. They were concerned and scheduled a further appointment 3 months later to see him again. 3 months later when they saw him, he was no better. At this point, I was sure it was down to adjusting to the new family dynamics.
I knew in my heart that there was something wrong. I knew my child, and knew that he was acting very strangely. I read loads on grief and the grieving process and convinced myself that my child was going through the grieving process for my ex. All of the literature had the basic bullet points, red flags to look out for, and my child fitted the bill.
In the meantime, the Health Visitor had referred my child to be assessed at the hospital. Initially, he was assessed and Separation Anxiety Disorder was mentioned as a possible cause. I hung onto this, went home and researched the literature and yes, my child fitted the bill. Again, all the bullet points, were true to my child''s behavior.
My child was then seen over a period of a year by a Speech and Language Therapist, Consultant Peadatrician and Clinical Psychologist. He was monitored in my home, at Nursery School and within the hospital clinic setting. After many assessments, and being monitored in all the different environments, he was diagnosed with being Autistic.
My ex is adamant that I have tried to alienate the children. He has continually stated that I have blocked contact. Yet, he has never been to one assessment regarding our child. He has been invited to every appointment, but declined.
The medical professionals have stated that my child would be this way whether Dad had left or stayed. They spent a year, seeing which behaviors were down to parental loss, and which were the other underlying problems, Autism. They were very thorough, and now we can move forward with the proper guidance that I need to help my child.
So I guess what I am trying to say, is to just say " Oh, yes, Parental Alienation Syndrome is what''s happening here", is just madness. Posters throw this around all of the time, without having the knowledge or knowing the RP.
I thought my child was suffering grief, then separation anxiety disorder, I was convinced of this, and I am his Mum and know him better than anyone.
It just goes to show, that only the Medical Professionals are able to diagnose conditions, and this has to happen over a period of time. My child does not understand past,future or abstract ideas, and the Psychologist has explained that this is the main reason why 6 weekly contact didn''t work. Also, change of routine and the thought of the unknown would be enough to cause a panic attack. At the time of contact, I thought he was having a terrible tantrum, but it was panic attacks.
I would ask that posters have a little thought,and look at the bigger picture, before blackening the RP name with Parental Alienation Syndrome, or similar. In my case, its proof that the Medical Professionals are fantastic and are the only ones who can really unearth what is going on a child''s mind.
Good post, BoysMum. I share your concerns that accusations of parental alienation (in itself something that experts can''t agree on) are being thrown around here far more than is warranted. There are all sorts of explanations for contact not working or being refused by the child, and encouraging people to believe that it is all a deliberate ploy by the RP is not helpful.
I just wanted to share my experience and show that things are not always black and white, and there are a huge amount of shades of grey.
There are also many posts regarding children resisting contact, not letting the children decide for themselves, and the example of School always gets raised. " Children have to go to School, its not a choice, you make them go". I completely agree with this, but again there are shades of grey.
My child started Mainstream School this week. It''s School, his education, he has to go, no choice. However, mainstream school may not be the right thing for him. We are going to give it a try, but it may well be the case that he will not cope, and the school is not adequate for his needs. If this is the case, then he may have to attend a Special School who are better equipped and trained to care for him. It''s trial and error. So yes, although he must go to school, its not set in stone which school he will eventually end up in. He will be placed wherever is best for him, and where his needs can be met the best.
So relating that to contact, I agree that children shouldn''t be able to choose, especially at a young age, but it has to be contact that they can deal with, and their needs have to be met.
This is indeed an interesting post, particularly with regard to schooling, and it is certainly true that mainstream schooling doesn’t work for everyone. Alternatives, especially for teenagers, can be remarkably effective at turning around behaviour and transforming children’s expectations and potential.
However, the analogy doesn’t work terribly well in either respect, and while there are numerous options for education, you only get one dad.
It is dangerous not to realise that there may be many reasons – some unsuspected – why contact may not always work, but it would be equally dangerous to use a single case to argue against parental alienation.
It has been a major component in my own case, and although I have had sole residence for two years, there are still incidents which can trigger an alienation response, causing fear, anxiety, increased heart rate, etc. In my child’s case this is also linked to severe PTSD. At such times I need to keep my distance and allow time to calm down. Sometimes Mrs Forseti is very good at controlling the situation.
I agree, I have many options regarding Education, but there will only ever be one Dad.
In an ideal world, Dad would work with me, and be fully involved in the courses available to us, learning how to deal with our Son and learning how the Autistic mind works. Sadly, this is something he will not commit to
I just wanted to raise the point, that as a mother of 4 children, who thought she had seen it all, been through every stage of childhood behaviors, and worn the T-Shirt, I was wrong. Reading literature on a certain topic can be very misleading and you can very easily convince yourself that a certain hat fits, when in reality, you can be way off the mark.
foseti, interesting as at the point my ex left our youngest who now lives exclusively with his father I am pretty sure was experiencing severe PTSD (actually writing about zombies and blood, drawing pictures of people being knived, telling me that he wanted to commit suicide).
Strange as he was the one who was shown the most affection from his Dad. Since then 4 years have moved on and our eldest can now feel safe enough to say that he doesn''t love his dad (three years into weekly counselling and therapy) and middle daughter is sort of handling her life and has now got herself a very good job at a young age having temporarily gone relatively off the rails.
Complex thing relationships.
I am diagnosed with Acute Stress Reaction and Acute Anxiety. I don''t think I would want to see if I have PTSD seeing as my family ordeal is still ongoing.
There is such a thing as parent alienation and it is not in my belief either gender specific or birth parent specific (works both ways).
Shortly after my ex left to live with my best ex friend they stopped me picking up our youngest son from school (at the time I was on a rota with some other parents from my village).
Anyway, any excuse to refuse even a 10 minute contact a day with my youngest son.
As I was no longer the parent with parent responsibility in law (I still believe I have parental responsibility in law) I used to secretly where I could look in his school books and his school home book to see what was happening.
I took photocopies of everything I believed to be significant - especially the fact that his school work took a dramatic turn for the spectacular - he went from a child who stuggled with the written word to an almost A level student over night (bit odd bearing in mind I took him for speech therapy for over a year and he was released from school for that) and that I removed him from state education and put him into a private education system for bright children with special educational needs.
Always in my view take each individual case on its on merits. Hard to stay objective, on that basis who would want to be a social worker, a judge or a Police Officer?
Solicitors and barristers should in my view think on about that and what they are doing to society in general.
I think they are the ones that need to go on an abuse awareness course.