A Christmas Letter for Fathers Alienated from their Children

23 Dec

Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet has been in the news lately, threatening to sue Fathers4Justice over an ad campaign criticizing comments she made in the media indicating she does not believe in shared parenting.

None of this 50/50 time with the mums and dads – my children live with me; that is it.

The comments appeared in Vogue magazine, and Ms. Winslet does not deny that she uttered them.

Winslet, who has three children by three different fathers, may or may not be handling her family dynamics well, ensuring that her children continue to enjoy the undeniable benefits of a continued relationship with their fathers. That is a moot point. Winslet’s personal circumstances are irrelevant. What IS relevant is her assertion that shared parenting, this “50/50 time with mums and dads” – is negative and detrimental to children’s well-being.

“Oh, my God! Those poor children! They must have gone through so much”.

Says who? They’ve always been with me. They don’t go from pillar to post; they’re not flown here and there with nannies.

Winslet’s first husband, Jim Threapleton, agrees with Fathers4Justice, and said he went months without seeing their daughter, Mia, but even so, the point is not how Winslet is managing her own circumstances – the point is that as a public figure, she is explicitly encouraging custodial parents to reject shared parenting.

And for that, she deserves to be called out.

Winslet makes her living as a public figure. Her words were not taken from a private conversation she had with friends. She made her statement in Vogue magazine, which she clearly understands will be read by millions of magazine subscribers and buyers. Total average circulation for Vogue magazine is 1.2 million, which only includes direct purchases. The number of shared reads (you read my copy) increases the circulation number even further. Indeed, that is the point of appearing in Vogue: it keeps her in the public eye and bolsters her value as a performer and public figure, allowing her to charge high prices for her services.

No one cast Winslet as a vindictive, alienating shrew. She did it to herself, so crying foul now is a bit rich.

The simple fact is that divorce, and separation from children is a critical public health issue. Divorced men are 39% more likely to commit suicide when they are separated from their children. The complete article is behind a paywall, but here is the citation:

Daniel S. Felix, W. David Robinson, and Kimberly J. Jarzynka. The Influence of Divorce on Men’s Health Journal of Men’s Health. September 2013, 10(1): 3-7. doi:10.1016/j.jomh.2012.09.002.

It is unconscionable that Winslet would promote separation as being good for her children, or good for her ex-husbands. She deserves every ounce of opprobrium she has generated.

I am the adult survivor of parental alienation following divorce, and I would like to spend the rest of this article addressing fathers who find themselves in this terrible situation. You can read the story of how the alienation played out here.

Christmas was always the worst time of year. My father was rarely a full participant in the celebrations, but he would drop off gifts, or have them mailed to us, and then be on his way. We had no idea at the time that he was in violation of court orders when he showed up, and that my mother would only permit him to stay for a few minutes. He considered himself lucky to have even that.

We hated him for thinking that being a father meant spending some money and then taking off at the earliest opportunity. Whatever presents or gifts he brought, it was never enough. We showed no gratitude. The words “thank you” were never uttered. We glared at him sullenly and perhaps begrudgingly conceded that some presents were “okay”.

We were utterly miserable and angry and ungrateful and terrible to him.

We had no idea that everything my mother had told us was a lie. I feel so wretched now, as an adult, looking back at how my brothers and I behaved towards my father, who, bless his courage and strength, never lashed out at us, and never gave up. I have no idea where he found the heart, but he did.

My father was no angel. He embraced a particularly violent form of Christianity that encouraged, interesting, shall we say, disciplinary techniques. He believed in the value of physical labor, and took that to extremes, sometimes. He believed in the character building value of hardship. He was not always the best father.

From those flaws, my mother built a careful psychological cage around her children and taught us to hate him. Not just dislike, but to actively despise and hate him. And she succeeded. He faced that hatred and never wavered. It is often said that women grow up to marry men who remind them of their fathers, and I have often said in the past that I am so glad I married a man nothing like my father.

The poison runs deep, and bleeding it out takes a long time.

The truth is that I married a man who has all the strength and character and goodness of my father. His cheerfulness is exactly like my father’s unwillingness to ever abandon hope. They are both relentlessly optimistic that things will work out, eventually. I was blind to that for a very long time.

I cannot imagine the pain I have caused my father, and I take some responsibility for that. As I child, I was more or less helpless against the lies my mother told. I could not understand how I was being manipulated, and I therefore could not resist. As an adult, I have fewer excuses. My father was the one who reached out to me. I cannot say if the day would ever have come that I would have looked for him. The truth about my childhood came as a complete shock, and yet, once I knew, it was all so obvious.

This is the hardest part. All across the world, there are countless fathers, facing down a Christmas season with children who hate them. Who resent them. Who are ungrateful, unappreciative, sullen, unpleasant and just generally unlikeable.

Their minds have been poisoned. They have been subjected to a kind of psychological torture called “parental alienation”. It is an extreme form of child abuse and the goal is to deprive both the children and the alienated parent of love.

And it works.

Oh, how it works.

But not forever. Resisting parental alienation as it is happening is incredibly difficult. I wish I could offer some happy solution. Here are a few success stories to consider. And a few more.

It is bitterly unfair that both the alienated parent and the alienated children are condemned to missing one another’s lives while the children are young and being subjected to extreme brainwashing. And the devastating truth is that the effects can last long after childhood.

In most cases of parental alienation, it is fathers and children who are victims of vindictive mothers – women who are fully prepared to destroy their children psychologically for their own twisted desires.

I am by no means suggesting that alienated parents give up the fight to have their children rescued from the psychological abuse that is parental alienation. Absolutely not. This is an issue that must be understood as deeply harmful abuse with long lasting effects.

I’ve lived through both physical and psychological abuse – the psychological was far more difficult to overcome.

And that is the heart of my message. My father was not perfect. And neither was I. I held on to my irrational anger for a long time. Much longer than I should have. I know that. My unwillingness to confront the truth means I lost my father for ten years. Ten years I should have had, but didn’t, because I was not willing to see the truth.

And believe me, this is no attempt to garner sympathy – “oh, no, JB, you were just a child, it isn’t your fault”. That’s bullshit. It violates the central maxim of my life: you don’t get to choose your childhood, but you do get to choose how you respond to it.

I chose badly.

My children have an adoring grandfather, my husband has a father-in-law he loves, my neighbors have a man who can fix almost anything mechanical, my friends have a conduit into my past and the stories that made me who I am, my community has a watcher who keeps an eye on the pets and children – and I have my father back.

Not because of anything I did.

Because my father never gave up hope.

What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.

Agnes Pharo

To every Daddy without his babies this Christmas season: Our hearts are with you.

stock-footage-father-helping-son-decorate-christmas-tree

May that give you the strength to never lose hope.

Merry Christmas.

All the love,

JB

19 Responses to “A Christmas Letter for Fathers Alienated from their Children”

  1. genderneutrallanguage December 23, 2013 at 17:07 #

    As usual we agree on what the problem is and we disagree on what the solution is. Family Court Hell is exactly that, Hell. Take the advice written on the entrance to Hell in Dante’s Inferno.

    Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

    This isn’t best for you. It’s not best for your children. The only real glimmer of hope is that it breaks the system so that your children’s children’s children won’t be walking through the gates of hell before they even die.

  2. TarzanWannaBe December 23, 2013 at 17:50 #

    Thanks for this, JB! Much thanks and Merry Christmas to you & yours!

  3. Akhilesh Yadav December 23, 2013 at 19:20 #

    I read this at almost 1:00 AM here in India…. And this makes me cry…. How many Christmases and How many Diwali’s would I have to wait… I am not sure. But one thing I am sur is one way I would be like your Dad…. Never giving up hope…..

  4. TWJ December 23, 2013 at 20:26 #

    I cant really explain how much it hurts to be alienated from my daughters. This will be my second Xmas without any contact with my girls and I am crushed.
    The brainwashing part kills me and makes me want to stop trying, not wanting them to be exposed to more of the same from both their mother and the state agency(nj)
    Thank you for writing this, my only hope these days is that someday, my girls will realize some degree of truth and know how much I truly do love and miss them.

  5. earl December 23, 2013 at 21:54 #

    I’m a single man without children…so I can only offer sympathy to those men who can’t see their children for Christmas. I don’t know that pain speficially…I can only imagine…and it would not be a good place for me to be.

    But every man needs the three cardinal virtues…faith, hope, and love.

  6. Michael December 24, 2013 at 00:31 #

    Thanks for this. It’s been a few years now since my ex took my children far away and told everyone she was a ‘single parent’. The humiliation of driving 6 hours each way to see my children for a few hours in some crappy hotel still hurts. The shame. Society won’t likely reverse that injustice anytime soon but it’s good to hear someone articulate what it feels like. Thank you.

    • judgybitch December 24, 2013 at 00:33 #

      Michael,

      That sucks. I’m so sorry.

      JB

      • Michael December 24, 2013 at 18:48 #

        You’re kind! I should fill in more lest I come off as some sort of ‘case’. Yes, it was wrong what she did but I did what I had to do and framed it as ‘the thing dads do’. I admit I wondered if my children would ever get how hard those days were for me. Probably not, is the answer nor will I tell them (now) sixteen years later.

        What gave me some warmth was reading *your* adult reflections and thinking some day my daughter or son might have the same insights. Not yet and maybe not ever but at least one daughter in the world wrote about it so that’s good.

        PS to dads put in my ex shoes. Tomorrow (Xmas) my children come to me, by their choice. So hang in there and don’t give up.

        • judgybitch December 24, 2013 at 19:20 #

          Michael,

          Thank you for sharing this and lending your voice.

          JB

  7. feeriker December 24, 2013 at 13:31 #

    The comments appeared in Vogue magazine, and Ms. Winslet does not deny that she uttered them.

    Just four words come to mind here: Wow, what a bitchiot!

    Winslet seldom ever opens her mouth without a flood of stupidity gushing from it, but she’s surpassed herself this time.

    Oh, and let her sue F4J. The resulting farce of a court case would expose her for the moronette she is.

  8. Dad December 24, 2013 at 17:50 #

    Thank you for this.

    My ex took our children, a son, three; and a daughter, six months; when I became a Believer in Jesus Christ. No note. No forwarding address. Nothing.

    It was 10 months before I found out that they were even alive, and that was in the form of my ex filing for divorce. I had to endure the system and all it entails. I was “allowed” to see my children every second weekend. That was nice but it tore my heart out to have to see them being held hostage by a very vindictive woman.

    Then I lost everything. My health, my business, and my home. I had no way to see my children anymore but I never ever stopped loving them and praying for them.

    I found myself living in a squatters camp on the side of a mountain. No power, no phone and a long way from my children. I trusted God through it all and held on to His promises that my children and I would one day be together again…

    16 years later. My sister was on Facebook and came across my daughter quite by accident. They connected and my sister shared about me, that I wasn’t the monster that they’d been told I was. She gave her my phone number and when the time was right, my daughter texted me.

    I was driving a truck at the time and I pulled over right where I was and cried as I “spoke” to my daughter for the first time in 16 years. It was so surreal. After an hour on the side of the road, we agreed to keep in touch. I still had no contact with my son.

    We texted for a few weeks and then, by the grace of God, I was in their city doing deliveries when we decided to meet for lunch.

    It was like a dream. My son and daughter and I together! It was still awkward but it was a start.

    That was a year and a half ago. this last week my son, who just earned his journeyman’s plumbing ticket, helped me in the truck. My daughter is still a bit messed up from not having a father but I know what God has done so far and I trust Him to finish what He started.

    Don’t give up is all I can offer as advise…

  9. Aphrodite December 25, 2013 at 10:43 #

    Separation shouldn’t be a disaster for the parents AND for the children
    But that’s unfortunately an utopia an many cases.
    And maybe I’m just conservative on that point, but I also believe that children need TWO parents to raise them, namely a mommy and a daddy.
    I’m maybe not the best person to talk on these issues, but from a pedagogic (college) point of view, rejecting shared parenting can turn out in a disaster and a split loyalty towards the parents, which can cause serious damage to the further life and psychological development of children.
    AND by the way, two people have made the children, so in my opinion, it’s unjust to reject the other person, being it a woman or a man, from raising, or just having contact with their children.
    Except maybe if the person is a downright bad person.

  10. ArticlesofAbsurdity December 31, 2013 at 14:42 #

    Had to share this one on my FB page.
    We have an ongoing situation in our home. My husband’s ex uses their son as some type of emotional pawn. She has been doing this for the nine years we’ve been together. But…..As her son gets older, we are noticing the resentment that is building for what his mom is doing. Nothing good can ever come of trying to alienate another parent, especially when the reason is pure selfishness.

  11. Joseph Goldberg May 25, 2014 at 22:56 #

    …Father’s Day, What Father’s Day ? ……..
    How Parental Alienation Effects Father’s Today
    ……………..By Joseph Goldberg, 2012…………………
    .
    .
    This is an important article for Grandfathers as
    well as for fathers.
    .
    I am spoofing the title of this article from a good
    friend of mine, Chaim Steinberger. He wrote a very
    insightful and brilliant journal article on Parental
    Alienation that he called, “ Father, What Father ? “
    .
    I decided to write about this holiday because many
    father’s will be hurting when it arrives. They won’t
    be getting to see their child or receive a call or any
    cards or any other acknowledgement because their
    children are alienated and that means come Sunday
    they’ll be rejected for very unjustified reasons.
    .
    For some dad’s who will be waiting to see their kid
    because a court order forces them to go, don’t be
    surprised when they show up- only to tell you they
    don’t want to be with you or only to say,” I hate
    you “… don’t expect them to change,,, that’s why its
    called a parental alienation dynamic.
    .
    I am writing my article just for fathers and for
    grandfathers, but the rest of you will hopefully
    also appreciate the message.
    .
    You know the old saying, “ Silence is deafening. “
    Well it’s deafening for a reason, and as another old
    saying goes, “ Everything happens for a reason. “
    Even though you may not be getting their affection
    on Sunday, it doesn’t mean your child isn’t at least
    thinking of you, and because they are alienated and
    unable to express to you that you’re not forgotten …
    and that they do love you, let me be the first one to
    remind you of that fact. Your kids do love you, and
    you’re not forgotten because Sunday, is also a very
    painful holiday reminder for them.
    .
    It’s painful to them to be without you because every-
    where they go and see a father with his son or, with
    his daughter; laughing, hugging, or kissing, smiling
    at each other, going out to lunch together, to dinners
    or a movie, driving together, talking on a cell phone,
    texting, meeting up somewhere, it reminds them
    that it’s also not them being with you.
    .
    Every time they turn on their TV that day, flip open
    their computer, listen to the radio, they will hear
    that it’s Father’s Day, and every time they pass by
    a store there will be an item for sale saying it’s
    Father’s Day, and they didn’t get you your present.
    They didn’t get to say, “ you’re my dad “ and then
    the words, `” I love you. “ They’ll try and block it
    out but how do you block out the sky, the ground
    below…. how do you erase the touch on your skin
    or what you feel deep in your bones ? It’s a psycho-
    logical skeleton.
    .
    Denial is a fixated condition for alienated
    children, so is breathing. Memories of love for
    father are never really erased they’re just
    buried below the surface and those memories
    will resurface on this Sunday, Father’s Day.
    .
    Take comfort in the fact that your picture may
    not be in a frame next to their bed or on the wall
    in their mom’s house, but they are not deleted
    from their memory. It is also hard to ignore
    mother trying to pretend how much better off
    they are without you, while the look on her face
    also reminds them she can’t be the father they’re
    missing out on today.
    .
    No matter what stepfather tries to take your
    place after you got replaced, displaced and
    erased, nothing is ever going to hold back their
    feelings of loss because they’re connected to
    their father when they see themselves in a
    mirror. Some likeness of you is something in
    their DNA that they can see in their own face.
    .
    Not only are there painful memories there
    are probably more than a few good ones.
    Like the time you took them to a show, or
    watched them at a school performance,
    or played some game with them, played
    with your pet, took them to visit your
    parents, cooked a meal for them, these
    memories are also resurfacing around them.
    .
    Imagine how it must feel for them to watch
    their friends getting together with their dads
    and how they have to explain or avoid talk-
    ing about you not being around on Father’s
    Day. Imagine anyone else trying to act as a
    substitute for the father they are missing in
    their lives and never saying,
    .
    “ Why don’t you call your dad today ? “
    .
    How is their behaviour going to be memorial-
    ized in the future ?
    .
    Father’s Day, is something I feel long after my
    own father has passed away. You don’t have
    to actually be around to be remembered and
    to be loved. I don’t need to feel bad about the
    father’s day I am not spending with him this
    Sunday, I will be thinking about all the good
    times with my dad and I know that your child-
    ren might want you to believe that they don’t
    love you back, but that’s just denial talking.
    .
    You’re as much a part of their life as you
    have ever been ( even more so ) and not
    because of being present, but because
    of being absent. Believe it because we
    know from all the social science research
    that this is truly how alienated children
    are feeling.
    .
    I feel my father is with me now even though
    he passed more than 15 years ago. I was
    alienated from him by a mother that
    extinguished him from my life, but not
    forever. We made up for all the lost time
    and years of alienation that was stolen from
    us both.
    .
    In the Jewish religion when a loved parent
    dies we say prayers, Kaddish, and we light a
    candle in memory of the parent. Perhaps as
    a way to remember that you are still a
    parent you should light a candle and keep
    it burning all day, on Father’s Day.
    .
    Say a prayer of love, memorialize your
    feelings of loss and perhaps to help be
    forgiving so anger does not take over
    the better part of judgment in your life.
    .
    As a targeted, rejected parent remember the
    good parts of the person you are and remain
    and strive to lift yourself up, don’t let any-
    thing change that belief in your-self because
    sometimes all we have is ourselves to believe
    in, and in truth that’s the one person whose
    opinion counts the most.
    .
    For more educational information please visit
    http://www.ParentalAlienation.ca
    http://www.ParentalAlienationEducation.com

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] JANET BLOOMFIELD: A Christmas Letter for Fathers Alienated from their Children. […]

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