My views on emotional cutoff and family court process

I will start by re-iterating that I am in no way an expert on emotional cutoff/”Parental Alienation”, NPD/BPD or Co-dependency. I’m just someone who has through life circumstances felt the need to research these conditions. My opinions are my own and by reading on you accept that you abide by the terms of using this website.

In researching emotional cutoff I have read many stories by non-resident parents, adults who as children had an emotional cutoff from a parent and seen many videos reporting on the plight of fathers all round the world who have been denied access to their children. Nobody who has experienced it or seen it in action would ever doubt that this pathology exists.

When I came across the work of Dr C A Childress it was a reaffirming moment. Given my background in researching NPD/BPD, I can’t describe to you how good it felt to find a truly magnificent piece of work that laid out a scientific explanation which backed up what I had been observing with the children in my own family for years. It was like truly being able to understand why 2 + 2 = 4. My only focus now is making sure that those in my family who I believe are victims of Attachment Based Parental Alienation get the help they need.

Over the last few years there has been a co-ordinated effort to get “Parental Alienation” recognised by the courts across the World and in the UK. Cafcass for the first time officially recognised “Parental Alienation” and in 2019 started rolling out a new training program to help improve how they identify and manage “Parental Alienation” cases. Change has to start somewhere but do I think Cafcass’ new Child Impact Assessment Framework (CIAF) will bring the change required for children? Unfortunately, at this stage I do not. Firstly today (March 2020) only 61% of Family Court Advisors working on private law cases have been trained in the CIAF. Second, they only get about 36 minutes classroom training on the “parental alienation”. It is not enough background to be able to assess children who are showing signs of emotional cutoff. The messages coming out of Cafcass water down what this serious form of child psychological abuse is and the root cause (coercive and controlling parents who mostly likely have a personality disorder or strong narcissistic traits which are likely to stem from their own childhood traumas, whose behaviours cause reactions in ex partners and their children). Nor have they provided a good definition of what “parental alienation” is. Their heads appear to be stuck in the sand. They are continuing to peddle the message that a child’s emotional cutoff is as the result of 2 parents engaging in high conflict. The Social Workers who are performing the assessment have no mental health training and are not capable of assessing pathology. In addition, it doesn’t appear that Cafcass have taken the time to research worldwide best practice in this area to come up with a solution and, therefore, I have little hope their recommendations will get severely alienated children the help they need. As Judges rely so heavily on Cafcass, who they mistakenly believe are “experts” I do not believe things will change. Layer on top, vested interest groups such as Women’s Aid, who with their single lens propaganda, have strong influence over MP’s, Cafcass and the Judiciary, it is creating an environment where children are continuing to be psychologically abused and the impacts on their mental health and prospects ignored.

I’m really very grateful to everyone who works hard each day to bring attention to this kind of child abuse or helps to improve the process of diagnosis and methods of reunifying effected children.

How did a normal range/safe parent end up becoming rejected by their child?

I guarantee this is one bit of my website anyone reading this will not like because it sounds a bit like “victim blaming”. That’s not my intention, this is me with hindsight, trying to explain my understanding and hopefully sharing knowledge so that it doesn’t happen again. A parent is in this position because of their own choices, mainly who they picked to have children with. Love is a wonderful thing until you realise what you fell in love with was a highly narcissistic person.

Most likely you are a nice, passive kind of person. Those kinds of people tend to attract a particular kind of person, one who likes having their needs met. In the early stages of a relationship it’s difficult to tell because the people involved are on their best behaviour but there are always signs. For one reason or another you ignored those signs. Maybe they were charming and made you feel special to start before they turned into the creature from the Black Lagoon. Maybe you clung on waiting for them to change back to normal just like it happens in the movies. Possibly you saw the signs but ignored them because of conditioning from your own childhood i.e. you had a narcissistic parent and have adapted yourself to accept coercive and controlling behaviour. Whatever it was, you bear some responsibility for who you picked to have children with. Things like this can only be said with hindsight.

It DOES NOT MEAN that you have to accept coercive and controlling behaviour and it DOES NOT MEAN that you shouldn’t try to protect your children from it either.

So now you’re here in this awful place what can you do? Well the first thing you need to do is forgive yourself. Then what happens next is up to you.

You could get to the business of helping your child by working with the court system we have or get changes made to it. Quite why there hasn’t been a co-ordinated worldwide revolution in the streets about this form of child psychological abuse I’m not quite sure because I can’t imagine anything more emotionally painful than not having your child/parent in your life.

Alternatively, you could do nothing. Going through years of court processes with little result is financially and more importantly emotionally draining. You’re probably very angry, you have every right to be as far as I’m concerned. The current system is a miscarriage of justice. However, that anger will eat you up inside, it will cause you to make wrong decisions and continue to perpetuate the emotional cutoff either through giving the child real evidence that you are angry or because asking the courts for help is a double edge sword whereby as part of that process they get to judge you and your behaviour. Interestingly, the courts will focus on your anger more than they will focus on the behaviour of the coercive and controlling parent. It doesn’t seem to bother judges very much that the failures of the court process intensify that anger.

Whilst, for the sake of your child, I would encourage you not to give up there is no shame in doing so. The injustice of it will eat you up inside, it is not a healthy state so it’s unsurprising that so many people abandon all hope for the sake of their own sanity. Unfortunately, this gives the parent participating in distorted parenting practices exactly what they want, sole control over the child with you out of the picture. The child will not stand a chance to develop as an independent person.

Another alternative, if you’re the one in the relationship making the decision to continue in it or leave where you know the other parent has psychological issues, is to stay in order to act as a human shield between the other parent and the child. This in itself is problematic because it will on some level destroy your soul but leaving your children with an abusive parent will do that anyway. When a child rejects you in refusing contact, you will have no idea what is going on when you’re not there. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it, suggesting people stay in unhealthy abusive relationships to protect their children. Could you imagine if that was suggested to women’s rights groups, what a storm that would produce? Still given the state of affairs in the family court it is a valid option for anyone worried about leaving their children behind.

Courts and government are in no way responsible for the choices people make in who they have children with or how they behave. They are, however, responsible for the lack of legal framework where scope exists for overly controlling parents to manipulate the system. They are responsible for the process the children and rejected parents have to go through, the time it takes and the resulting compounded effects of harm as a result of delays. These bodies have a duty of care and are responsible for protecting and supporting children who are experiencing emotional harm at the hands of a pathogenic parent.

Anyone going through this has my full sympathy and I wish them the very best of luck in gaining access to their child and ensuring that the child gets the support and treatment that is needed quickly.