Here is the template (F denotes father, M mother, C child) – to be stressed here is that both genders alienate and are targeted – this is just an example.
F and M live together, are married, or have a relationship of some kind. It doesn’t much matter for present purposes. A child is born. All are happy. Both parents look after and care for the child, probably taking in turns to babysit for the other parent. At some point F and M fall out. Maybe one of them is unfaithful, or whatever. It does not matter. At all events, F leaves.
M is unhappy and resentful. She tries everything to get F back. Nothing works. All she can do now is to hurt F as much as he has hurt M. And the best way to do that is to use C as a tool, a weapon. So begins stage one, the Brainwashing Stage. This is a familiar story, isn’t it?
Contact is stopped or severely curtailed.
F applies to the court for contact. The judge insists that they try mediation first but this is a wate of time. M does not engage with the process. Why should she? She has all the cards – the kids…So F goes back to court and asks for a contact order.
M makes sure that the child knows everything. M ‘over-shares’. The child gets all the information. He is given a sense of empowerment, though he is only 12 years old. He is treated like an adult by M (for these purposes anyway). Indeed, she puts all of her anger and resentment and weakness out there in front of the child so he can’t ignore it. The child is now the grown-up in this new little ‘family’. C has to support M, because she portrays herself as a victim, and F as a monster, or simply as someone that really isn’t too bothered about seeing his child.
M may do this in a very obvious way (“Dad just doesn’t love you any more”), or just ensures that the child overhears unflattering conversations about F. Or M deliberately takes C to the wrong meeting point for contact and tells the child that F just doesn’t care or isn’t bothered when he (unsurprisingly) doesn’t turn up. Allegations are usually made against F, typically that F has sexually abused C, or has been violent towards M or C, or some such. Note here that F alleged bad behaviour starts only after the separation…
M makes sure that the child sides with her and feels sorry for her. The child is ‘recruited’. The child becomes M’s protector. The child is punished if he gives a good account of contact with F and rewarded if he complains about F. Pretty soon, the child sees the lie of the land. Kids are clever like this! A child work out very quickly the behaviours that will earn it the wrath of the toxic parent, and the behaviours that will be smiled upon. Good behaviours will earn treats, affection, food, and so on. ‘Bad’ behaviours will earn ‘the silent treatment’, a screaming fit or whatever. Pavlov would have been proud!
So, to earn his treats, and avoid his punishments, the child rejects F. He goes along with stories about F being abusive, or will give the kind of weak rationalisations that Gardener talks about… “dad wears stupid shoes”. The conditioning is complete.
Now comes stage two (the Cowardly stage). M will protest to anyone who will listen, that she is trying to promote contact with F (notwithstanding her previous hideous allegations against him!). But, she says, the child will not go to see F. So now M hides behind the brainwashed child she has created and recruited. Nice.
Not very complicated is it? And this pattern is repeated daily, more-or-less, in court rooms throughout the land.
CAFCASS come in and do a ‘wishes and feelings’ report which, unsurprisingly, indicates that the child does not want to see F. CAFCASS take this to mean that C does not want to see F. And they conclude, as a necessary corollary of that, that it is in the child’s best interests not to see F. They simply repeat the words of the child, who simply repeats the words of M.
Back we go to court. And the judge just follows what CAFCASS says. So now, we have the judge simply repeating M’s words! And time marches on. F and C do not see each other. The alienation deepens.
Years go by as the courts fail to grasp the nettle. Fail to punish M when she breaches Orders, or, as with mediation, simply refuses to engage with the process. All they do is express ‘hopes’ that M’s behaviour will improve. Yes, they give her a real good telling off…but DO nothing. Review after review yields no change in M’s behaviour. Long after everyone else has worked out that M is an alienator, is obstructing contact and wrecking the relationship between F and C, the courts are still posturing…and doing nothing…
F eventually gets sick of this and at last appeals to the Court of Appeal. The CA sees through M and orders a change of residence to F.
But C refuses. He is now so alienated that he simply refuses to go – he is now aged 15.
The relationship between F and C is broken.
C learns that courts are a laughing stock, that authority generally can be safely ignored. He learns to hate the half of himself that is F. He drops out of school and turns to a life of crime, has kids and alienates them from their mother. Well, it works, doesn’t it?
And the cycle begins anew.