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Would this be parental alienation?

(19 Posts)
twentytwotwentysix Thu 25-May-17 13:59:59

Ex partner is currently refusing to see DC. Arrangements for him to see them at the contact centre chosen by him have been started by me nearly 3 months ago, but he is refusing to fill in his forms.

Supervised contact has been advised by children's services following an investigation by them. There have been no court proceedings re. the children thus far although ex threatens them with every letter/email he sends.

When I filled in my contact centre forms our family support worker, in good faith, told the DC they would see daddy at a cc very soon. As more time passes they are getting more and more distressed at this not happening when they have been told it will, and asking me questions. (It is 8 months in total since they last saw him).

I've been advised on another thread to tell them the truth, that daddy has not been able to do what he needs to do. They are 2,5,9 (obv 2 yo needn't be told anything and isn't asking). Is it effectively parental alienation to tell them this? I want to do what is best for their mental health and wellbeing but I don't know what that is.

Options I can see next time they ask:
A) continue to fob them off by saying it's all in hand and will happen at some point (which is currently upsetting them and if he never gets his act together may damage their trust in me)
B) tell them simply and without undue negativity about ex the truth (which may make them feel like he has rejected them)

Additionally - is it parental alienation for me to acknowledge negative things that happened to them involving ex when they bring them up, and to acknowledge the negative influence they have received from seeing some of his behaviours towards me?
For eg. Dc1 this weekend was telling younger Ines if they didn't stop doing something he would kill himself. I spoke to him away from little ones about how it was wrong that his dad had said similar to him in the past, that the sw had told me it was wrong and that he should never have heard those things from his dad - in the context of trying to help him understand why he must not say these things to his siblings. (He has a CAMHS therapist who I've discussed this with).

I'm asking here as I think that legal bods have a more impartial view in these things.
Ex has fairly serious mental health issues which DC are aware of having lived with them, so I could use this to explain his not doing what he needs to do for contact - although truthfully I have no idea about the state of his health currently.

AliceTown Thu 25-May-17 18:52:57

This doesn't sound at all like parental alienation to me. I think saying the truth in a child focused way is sensible. So something just like "Daddy needs to fill in a form and he hasn't done it yet" and if they ask why say you don't know why, and being open to talking about how this impacts them (how they feel, what they think, not their fault, doesn't mean he doesn't love them etc).

Children do sometimes talk about killing themselves even if they haven't been told about the concept by other people. I suppose what I'd want to avoid is him having the idea that dad is bad (by him not showing up, not doing what he's supposed to be doing etc) and that he is somehow like his dad (by saying these things) and therefore (false logic) bad too.

twentytwotwentysix Thu 25-May-17 19:20:06

Yes, that makes sense - I will step back from bringing stuff that happened with dad into explaining why things he's doing are wrong. I only did that last weekend and I felt it might not be the best idea at the time.

Thank you for your advice on how to phrase the contact thing.

HerOtherHalf Thu 25-May-17 19:33:52

You could say something like "daddy isn't very well" (not a lie if he has MH issues). You're choosing to say "daddy can't be arsed to fill in a form" (implied: "that's how little he cares about you"). Is it parental alienation by legal definition? I don't know. Is it a mother doing her best to support a relationship between her kids and their dad? Is it fuck!

JanetBrown2015 Thu 25-May-17 19:37:25

It always fascinates me. My younger chidlren have never bothered one iota their father doesn't often see them. So why are some children b othered by it and not others?

Always just tell the truth and in a clear simple fashion for children. Something ilke - he seems to be too busy at the moment; that means we have lots of time to do XYZ exciting thing at the weekend so it's not a problem.

twentytwotwentysix Thu 25-May-17 19:39:58

herotherhalf I'm asking for advice to make sure I get it right and that I don't accidentally do parental alienation. I haven't chosen to say anything yet.

AliceTown Thu 25-May-17 19:47:58

There is not a legal definition of parental alienation as far as I am aware.

Is it a mother doing her best to support a relationship between her kids and their dad? Is it fuck!
The dad is refusing contact. The mother is asking for the best way to approach things. She can't sign the form for him.

AliceTown Thu 25-May-17 19:53:21

Is there a reason you've asked, OP? Has someone accused you of it? Most people haven't heard of PA unless they've experienced it.

twentytwotwentysix Thu 25-May-17 20:02:26

Just generalised anxiety and lack of confidence in my own decision making engendered by years of abuse, and set off by a recent thread on this board.

And ex telling anyone and everyone how I'm preventing him seeing the DC whilst simultaneously refusing to fill in his forms and explicitly trying to use the refusal as leverage to get me to do various things.

I don't give a flying fuck about my ex, but I care deeply about my children and I want to handle things in the best way possible for them.

twentytwotwentysix Thu 25-May-17 20:05:10

Sorry - hope that didn't sound combative - I appreciate your advice Alice

HerOtherHalf Thu 25-May-17 20:06:08

herotherhalf I'm asking for advice to make sure I get it right and that I don't accidentally do parental alienation. I haven't chosen to say anything yet.

No, you're asking for help on how to play the system. We don't all button up the back.

AliceTown Thu 25-May-17 20:06:19

I would look very suspiciously at any parent claiming parental alienation who was also refusing contact available, even if that contact isn't on their terms.

The children don't even sound like they are rejecting their father, so it's not PA for that reason alone.

AliceTown Thu 25-May-17 20:08:16

Play what system, HerOtherHalf? There is no court involvement.

Haffdonga Thu 25-May-17 20:17:39

Ridiculous comment by Herotherhalf. Ignore the GF.

OP, it would not be seen as PA if you tell the truth. Daddy can see you as soon as he fills in the form. but hasn't filled it in yet. No, I don't know why he hasn't. Yes it's very sad

twentytwotwentysix Thu 25-May-17 20:24:39

Thank you Alice and Haf - i will follow your advice.

sugarbeep9 Fri 26-May-17 05:40:50

i think its cruel telling them he hasn't filled a form and kind of sadistic. even if its true you don't need to twist the knife. all it means you're not important to him. even if its the truth let them reach that when they are old enough to understand things themselves.

for the sake of the children's feelings I'd say daddy isn't well if he has mh issues as pp said. the issue is bigger than not filling a form something else is going on with him.

twentytwotwentysix Fri 26-May-17 08:31:39

For sure the issue is bigger.
I have no idea whether he will see them again or not. I'm sure he loves them in his way, and I tell them this whenever he comes up. But he has told me repeatedly throughout the relationship that if we split he would never see them again. That kept me with him for years TBH, but eventually I saw that the damage of living with him and his behaviours was becoming evident in them and I had to end it.

I could say that daddy needs to speak to the people at the contact centre but hasn't been able to do it, and that I think he may be ill and we know he finds it hard to speak to people when he is not well.

I think it is the element of uncertainty that is really unsettling them at the moment. They have been told something will happen. The younger ones are just keen to see him. The older one is both scared and keen at the same time (because of his experiences at dad's hands).

I guess I can't take away the uncertainty because it is uncertain what will happen. Putting it in the context of the limitations that his illness can place on him may make it more understandable and give them an alternative narrative than that he has rejected them - which is better.

The reason for this thread is that I actually want to avoid inadvertently doing parental alienation. I have encouraged the DC to make birthday cards, drawings and messages for ex and sent these to him several times, I have sent him photos of them, encouraged DC to make video messages for him and sent them to him.
I've gone with his choice of contact centre, filled in the forms as soon as he told me which one, asked contact centre to follow up with him several times since he has not done his bit, asked his sister to intervene to tell him how much the children miss him.
I'm trying to do everything right for my children. I read the thread about not turning up in court and the judgement linked in it, and wanted to make sure I am seeing the bigger picture and not being selfish in how I deal with this with the DC.

Sisterland Fri 26-May-17 11:16:43

Can you not ask for support in how to deal with your children's feelings of bereavement and abandonment? From the sw or such. I guess that would also go as evidence that you're not trying to alienate their dad as well as helping you with how to answer the children's questions.

twentytwotwentysix Fri 26-May-17 11:24:42

Good thinking - I will do that.

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