The title of this blog will have many turning cartwheels.
I was working in education when the ‘voice of the child’ was the way forward, those that were promoting this way of education did so for all the right reasons, but it is a very different thing when it involves family law.
The idea that when parents separate the child is involved and their wishes and feelings should be listened to, has a fundamental flaw in this practise.
Those of who have been at the heart of family separation know only too well how this can go horribly wrong.
Children should be allowed to be children, they should not be asked who they want to spend their time with, they love both their parents, they want to be free to just be children, to run, play have fun, not go through the adult world of separation.
In far too many cases the reality of separation can become entrenched in revenge, anger and viciousness.
A child whose life up to this point has been uncomplicated, filled with love and security, suddenly is thrown into the turmoil of this vicious cycle.
Children are naturally loyal.
They want to please both of their parents, hearing horrible things about one of their parents is an emotion minefield. Children learn very quickly to say the right thing at the right time to the right parent. It is their self-protection kicking in, they say things they believe their parents want to hear.
When separating parents are going through this they often become unable to communicate without having a ‘go’ at the other parent.
We all try to bring our children up knowing what is the right way to treat others, and yet the role model of too many separating parents is totally the opposite.
They see the two people they love, being unkind to one another, hurting one another and causing hurt and pain.
Not the role-model that we have been telling them they should be.
We can only imagine what is going on the heads of these children.
Sadly many will have been going through the insidious process of Parental Alienation.
The children are learning that there is a bad parent and a good parent, and the process of rejecting a parent begins.
Which takes me back to the title of this blog.
If you have a child that has been poisoned in this way, how on earth do ‘wishes and feelings’ work?
Obviously they don’t.
A child will be briefed in what to say, will say what they believe will help the aligned parent.
No child should have to choose.
This week Cafcass announced their new assessment framework https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/2018/10/11/cafcass-publishes-new-assessment-framework-for-private-law-cases/ many experts have written at length about this, and the response from them is generally negative.
I am no expert so can’t really comment.
What I do know is that a child who has been alienated needs to work through it all, in a safe and non-judgmental place. They need to know they are loved and that we are here when they need us.
There are thousands of families who separate and do it well, they do what we should all do.
They put the children first.