“It’s not time to make a change, just relax, take it easy, you’re still young, that’s your fault, there’s so much you have to know.”
The opening lines from the Cat Stevens track Father and Son. I have always loved and admired this song, particularly the lyrics. Such poignant and touching lyrics easily evoking loving and reflective emotions in any given loving father.
I hadn’t heard this song for quite a while until a couple of weeks ago. It came up on a random Spotify playlist I was listening to and it immediately caught my attention and I instantly viewed the track and particularly the lyrics from a whole new perspective. Lyrically the song portrays an exchange between a father and a son. It is the son’s desire to break away and shape a new life. However the son cannot really explain himself. The storytelling within the song strongly resonated with me.
I am what is known as an alienated parent who has been denied contact with my three beautiful children since the summer of 2016. The mother of my children has effectively brainwashed my children into believing I no longer love them and that I have rejected them and that I no longer want to be a part of their lives. My children are being emotionally abused by their very own mother.
“I continue to fight to simply be a father to my children.”
The family courts and Cafcass are aware of both the abuse and contact denial on the part of my children’s mother. However due to a multitude of issues with Cafcass, a biased and outdated judicial system and many other factors (that are way beyond the scope of this particular article) I continue to fight to simply be a father to my children. My ex-partner is determined to completely erase me from my children’s lives.
For anyone unfamiliar with the term parental alienation please see here for a more detailed definition.
“My children are being forced to live a life without their father.”
So as an alienated father the opening lyrics to Father and Son take on a whole new meaning. “It’s not time to make a change, just relax, take it easy, you’re still young, that’s your fault, there’s so much you have to know.”
My children are being forced to make a change. My children are being forced to live a life without their father. Ultimately it’s not time to make a change. That change is being forced upon them.
“Just relax, take it easy.” As an alienated parent I am unable to protect my children. Even worse than that, professionals currently involved have confirmed that my children have been groomed into being scared of me by their very own mother. They are only children, and yet they are being groomed to be scared and anxious of their very own father.
“You’re still young, that’s your fault.” The fact that they are so young and easily impressionable is being capitalised on by a parent whose sole aim is to brainwash my children into believing I have abandoned them. Evidence shows that children that are fortunate enough to be reconciled with a former targeted parent carry a lot of guilt. Research shows that as part of the emotional fallout of the reconciliation, former alienated children invariably blame themselves for rejecting the former targeted parent. To my children, I would say your only fault is your young age. Which of course is beyond your control and simply being taken advantage of in the context of the emotional abuse that is currently being inflicted upon you all.
“There’s so much you have to know.” With regards to this line, where do I start? If only you were allowed and encouraged to believe that I have not abandoned and rejected you. If only you knew the truth.
“Find a girl, settle down. If you want you can marry.” The emotional abuse currently being inflicted on my children, if left unchallenged will have a detrimental affect on their short and long term mental health. In particular with regards to their own understanding of what is deemed a healthy relationship. The emotional damage being inflicted on my children has been highlighted by numerous professionals to their mother. However she chooses to disregard and ignore all of these concerns.
“I fear being an old man when I hear a knock on the door.”
“Look at me, I am old, but I’m happy.” I struggle with the thoughts and possible outcomes this line forces me to envisage. My biggest fear is that I will never be reunited with my children. I fear that too much emotional damage has been inflicted upon them already. A lesser fear, but no less worthy of mention is the fear of the amount of time lost between us if and when we are reunited. I fear being an old man when I hear a knock on the door.
“But I am happy.” This latter part of the aforementioned line is of huge significance for me. This relates to my recent struggles with my own mental health. It has taken me a long time to realise that I have the right to be happy in other parts of my life. In being so, this does not lessen the unconditional love I feel for my children. I have accepted that thinking about my children less does not equate to me loving them less. (This concept is explored in more detail in an earlier post of mine entitled Does Thinking About Your Children Less, Mean You Love Them Less?) Thinking of them less is simply a subconscious coping mechanism which is required to get myself through each day without them.
“I wish I could be there for my children now, as my father was for me.”
“I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy, to be calm when you’ve found something going on.” This line prompts me to reflect on my own childhood. I grew up with a loving father, who has been, and still does to this day continue to be such an important and integral positive role model in my life. My dad has helped me through so much in life, as loving fathers do as part and parcel of fatherhood. I wish I could be there for my children now, as my father was for me.
“But take your time, think a lot. Why, think of everything you’ve got, for you will still be here tomorrow. But your dreams may not.” This line evokes in me the idea that my children are being forced to not take their time in their thoughts. They are effectively being told what to think about me. “For you will still be here tomorrow.” I am fortunate enough that they still live a couple of minutes up the road from me. This is despite their mother attempting to abduct them abroad. However due to the enduring risk of parental abduction by her, there remains in place a travel ban on her and the children. As such I take some reassurance from the fact that they “will still be here tomorrow”. The line “but your dreams may not”, means to me that they are struggling with the separation of their parents. Separation is invariably difficult enough for children, even with the most amicable of speparations. However evidence has shown that their mother’s own anger and hatred is being transferred onto my children. In turn they are wrongly living and feeling her emotions for her.
“How can I try to explain, cause when I do he turns away again.” This is a painful line for me. My eldest son claims he has no positive memories of me. We previously had a loving and healthy father and son relationship. It is reported that both my sons have blocked me so as not receive weekly emails I used to send them. Emails attempting to reassure them I have not rejected or abandoned them. Messages of hope, hope of reconciliation. Messages of positive memories. But the emails are reported to be either ignored or blocked.
“All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside. It’s hard, but it’s harder to ignore it.” For me this line is very much what it means to be an alienated father who is denied access to his sons. I suffered from a bout of severe depression due to the cruel nature of being denied contact with my own children. I manage my depression well enough now. I have learnt not to keep everything inside. Everyday is difficult as an alienated parent, but it is so much harder to simply ignore these feelings of hurt and emotional pain. Arguably they are put to one side in order to cope mentally, however they are most certainly not ignored.
“A system that is ultimately protecting my children from the wrong parent.”
The song for me solemnly ends on the following line “now there’s a way and I know that I have to go away, I know I have to go away.” This particular line strikes a chord with my ongoing battles with an outdated, biased and ultimately draconian system that simply does not understand and recognise the complex nature of parental alienation. A system that is ultimately protecting my children from the wrong parent and continuing to fail to protect my children from the ongoing abuse being inflicted upon them by their own mother. I’ve very quickly learnt a lot about this flawed system and parental alienation in a very short space of time. I now know “there’s a way of dealing” with such a system in a much more effective way. It is difficult, exhausting and all consuming. However it is this system that is ultimately forcing me “to go away”. Unbelievably, such systems that are supposed to protect children are actually enabling my absence from children’s lives.
To conclude, “I know I have to go away.” But I will continue to fight on. And I have to hope that one day I will have a loving and healthy father and son relationship once again.
“No love is greater than that of a father for his son” as Dan Brown wrote in his novel Angels and Demons.
I am an alienated parent of three. Part-time psychiatric nurse, part-time writer. I am also an online activist against parental alienation. I use my knowledge of mental health and lived experience of parental alienation to promote awareness of parental alienation.