What I mean by the above title is that twenty or so years ago mental health was simply not discussed in the public domain the way it is now. Be it via television reports, shows, documentaries or social media, mental health is now discussed and reported on across numerous mediums in a much more positive light.
My point is that as a modern day society we appear to be collectively much more comfortable in our skin discussing mental health. Now I am by no means stating that there is no prejudicial opinions of mental health still out there, nor am I stating that the positive changes made are enough. Of course they are not. The progress made in challenging the stigma against mental health has come a long way. However it is and must still remain a work in progress.
Regarding parental alienation, I view this contentious subject being where the concept of mental health was ten or twenty years ago. Arguably parental alienation is now beginning to be brought to the attention of the masses.
For those unaware of what parental alienation is, it is a form of abuse whereby one parent (in most cases the resident parent) deliberately damages, and in some cases destroys the previously healthy loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent (the non-resident parent). For a more detailed description see our page What is PA?
Why is it so contentious if it is a form of abuse?
Why is it simply not criminalised?
These are the questions no doubt asked by the incalculable number of alienated parents, grandparents, step-parents out there. It is not just viewed as contentious, it is also viewed as controversial by it’s opponents.
These opponents, in their most extreme views put forward the argument that parental alienation is used by abusive fathers to gain access to their children. For example, their flawed argument is that following separation a mother is most probably denying her abusive ex-partner contact with their children to protect the children from further abuse. These opponents of parental alienation, with flimsy evidence based arguments claim that this scenario happens in most cases of parental alienation.
Now I am certainly not stating that such scenarios never occur. These are and should be viewed as false allegations of parental alienation. We know that false allegations of rape occur. However this does not and should never be an argument to not continue treating rape as a criminalised form of abuse.
Statistics inform us that parental alienation is perpetrated against fathers more than mothers. I accept there exists a gender bias within the family court system. However parental alienation can and does happen to either gender. Just because it happens against one gender more than another, does not make it a gender issue. That is simply not equality. This topic is explored in more detail in one of my recent posts The Inequality of Fighting for Equality.
In When a Child Won’t See One Parent (published 12th September 2018) Jeffreys states “there is no consensus and not a great deal of research.” However there is a plethora of evidence out there that informs us not only of the prevalence of, but also the the long term detrimental effects of parental alienation.
We currently have a flawed system that is struggling to understand the complexities of parental alienation. While this system plays catch-up it is also tragically and knowingly avoiding accountability and knowingly allowing this abuse to carry on unchallenged.
Alienated parents around the world spend huge sums of money returning their cases to court again and again. Tragically not all alienated parents have the financial resources to do this, so they are left with little choice but to give up. This flawed system financially profits from alienated parents simply fighting to have a relationship with their children.
Should a parent have to pay thousands upon thousands of pounds to fight to be a parent?
Despite it’s opponents, it’s complexities and the fact it is a money-making machine embedded in a flawed system, parental alienation appears to be coming to the attention of a wider audience. Much the same as the subject of mental health did ten to twenty years ago.
Like so many social changes that have come about in the past, they are not pushed or promoted by those in power. They are almost always pushed, promoted and fought for from a grass roots level. By the very people directly effected by the needed social change. As was the case with those effected by mental health and demanding social change, this time, in terms of parental alienation, it is us. The affected parents, grandparents, step-parents, the list goes on.
We the effected, are fighting for social change, for reform. Not for ourselves, but for our children.
On the same day asthe following report was broadcast on the BBC’s national news programme.
The BBC wrote the following regarding the above reports:
Are you affected by any of the issues raised above? Share your experience by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:
WhatsApp: +44 7555 173285
Or Upload your pictures/video here
Send an SMS or MMS to 61124 (UK) or +44 7624 800 100 (international)
Regarding the above statement from the BBC, if you are affected by parental alienation and it is safe and appropriate to do so, please consider sharing your experience to help raise awareness.
“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.” (Cesar Chavez, 1984)