parental alienation fatherlessness

Mention the fatherless epidemic in the United States, and the arguments are polarizing:

Why fathers walk away after divorce

It is either:

  1. Men are irresponsible douchebags who abandon their children to mothers, who are left to raise the children with few resources, or …
  2. Women are conniving, malicious, entitled nut-jobs who alienate fathers from their children while taking all said fathers' money — all of which is supported by the family court system.

After studying this issue for the four years I've had this blog, I understand that the issue is complicated and nuanced, and there is plenty of legitimate room for both of these points of view.

Struggling with not seeing your child? Struggling because you miss your dad? Consider online counseling. BetterHelp is rated A+ with the Better Business Bureau, and offers a free 7-day trial for unlimited text, email, video or phone sessions with a certified, licensed therapist.

Find a counselor now with BetterHelp for rates starting at $40/week, unlimited>>

Ready to take action? Join MomsForSharedParenting.org — an activist org devoted to changing policy, law, culture and attitudes around parenthood. Time for 50/50 default parenting! 

A father's experience with parental alienation

What I haven't reported much is the point of view from the checked-out dads, many of whom have shared with me articulate, thoughtful, and often heart-breaking accounts of why they are not part of their children's lives.

These stories resonate with me, as they have challenged my earlier, blind admonishments that every parent has a moral obligation to fight for their children, no matter what.

I still believe this, but I also believe in empathy, and for recognizing each other's humanity.

Here is one story from a commenter on the above posts:

Related: Parental alienation: A call to change parenting culture — and law

Point of view from a dad who doesn't see his child

From John G:

From my own experiences, I believe it's widespread for women to use children as a weapon to exact revenge against the ex during, and after, divorce proceedings.

During my lengthy divorce, my ex-wife claimed I was abusive, that she was ‘afraid for her safety,’ and tried to get ‘supervised visitation.’

None of it worked, because it wasn’t true, and because, as an educated professional I had enough money to spend six figures on an attorney.

However, it was still a waste of time and money. Even after the divorce, the games continued.

My son was being tutored on what to say to me (did you ever hear a 7-year-old respond ‘I’m not comfortable talking about that’ when asked a question?) and being instructed to call me by my first name and not ‘dad.’ I grew tired of making phone calls that weren’t answered, or of being put on hold and the child not coming to the phone, and of canceled visits.

It was heartbreaking seeing the child slip away from me, little by little.

I went to court on several occasions. There is the assumption that the man will just sit there and take the abuse because he does not want to lose the child.

She stuck by the letter of the law, and was able to severely limit my contact with my son by way of orders of protection and maintaining to the courts that he was a ‘danger.’

Orders of protection as divorce strategy

Of the divorced, professional men that I know, all of them had orders of protection against them by their wives.

This is even a problem that is recognized by the courts. Some attorneys go so far as to admit that the ‘afraid for my safety’ issue is part of the ‘gamesmanship of divorce.’ I went from the mindset of being a father to the child, to being reduced to the status of a ‘visiting uncle’ or a ‘Disneyland dad’ allied with thinking all the time like an attorney.

I was often worried what would happen if she started to make untrue claims that I had (for example) abused the child. When he fell over and scraped his arm when he was with me, I was advised by my attorney to go to all the trouble of going to the doctor, having the scrape bandaged and so on, just to legally cover myself in case she would claim that it had in fact been intentionally caused.

While on the lookout for anything that could be used against me, all the while constantly being told I was a bad person, a bad father, and all my involvement with my son was systematically stripped away. The whole process became a painful sham.

Father refuses to see his child? Not quite …

I eventually reached a crossroads with four paths. Some men commit suicide because they can’t handle the anguish. Others resort to violence and anger against the ex-wife. Others take the difficult road, and sacrifice years of their happiness, battling on a hopeless battle with the ex, just to maintain some sort of contact with the kids. The fourth way, is to simply give up, and decide that the cost to the child through seeing the conflict, and to oneself, is too high.

Consider online therapy to help you through painful challenges >>

I considered all the above paths for a long time and was tempted by more than a few of them. In the end, I walked away from all contact with my child more than two years ago.

Mother keeping child away from father

After I had calmed down, I tried again and contacted the ex. I had hoped she would have calmed down and would be willing to work with me.

But no, she is still the same bitter and vengeful baggage that she always was. Rather than attempting to discuss things and put things on the right track, she is willing to communicate in writing only.

She refuses point blank to let me contact the child. Everything has to go through her.

Some people will say it would be the noblest thing to carry on fighting regardless. ‘I would do anything for my kids!’ they spout.

Frankly, I feel that’s very naive and is almost always a view propagated by women.

Any father here who has been generously granted a weekend every two weeks knows the feeling when you say goodbye.

You’re just getting used to having them around, and they are gone. It’s like having a wound that never heals. Like a band-aid being ripped off over and over. The pain never really went away.

During those days, I used to recall these lines from Shakespeare's King John:

Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form;

Logically, I have to balance the damage to myself, my life and mental health, the possibility of the conflict damaging the child, against the damage done by my absence.

People who don’t know the situation raise their hands in horror, or pass judgment, assume that this is a choice that is taken lightly and easily. It is not.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about it. Sometimes I see children in shops that look like my child and find it hard not to break down.

Sometimes I can’t take my eyes away. Even the shoes are the same. I don’t like to watch movies with children of that age in them.

I had to remove all the photographs that I had of my child and every other item and put them in a box. And that’s where all those emotions are now.

In a box, held tightly under control, so that I can try and enjoy some semblance of a normal life. It usually works.

I spoke to my ex recently. She claims that the child is just fine. She doesn’t seem to think that I’m needed and believes that my seeing the child is a bad thing.

She told me that the gifts I had been sending postally were in a box and he never got them. What is the point of trying? Who am I to argue?

She lives with the kid and does the real parenting. All that I could do, once a month or less (she lives a long way from me) would be to visit for a shallow shared visit, a museum trip perhaps – that’s not parenting – that’s just being a Disneyland dad.

I am in despair that many people and the courts expect the impossible. They expect the man to be totally interested, committed, involved with his child’s life – and yet – they make it impossible for that involvement to happen.

How can you remain interested and involved when you are given no information about the child’s everyday life, when even the most basic contact is made difficult or impossible, when you are limited to four days a month contact time if you are lucky?

In far too many cases, the father is merely viewed as a source of income.

The mother is viewed as the ‘real parent’ who almost always gets physical custody of the child. And once she has the child, she is then almost entirely free of the threat of any consequences.

Consider online therapy to help you through painful challenges. Very affordable, convenient and anonymous (no one will see your car parked in front of the counselor's office!), get the help you and your family need via video, phone or text therapy. Find a counselor now with BetterHelp for rates starting at $40/week, unlimited>>

How fatherlessness affects children

This is a great shame for the children involved who will probably be involved in divorces of their own or be afraid of marriage because they have seen the consequences when they fail.

I shouldn’t be surprised if more and more men eschew marriage and traditional family values over the next century.

Personally, I refuse to be blackmailed by my better instincts. I refuse to be reduced to the level of a Disneyland dad by some judge, attorney, social worker or indeed his mother.

I refuse to beg for access, or beg for photographs, or ask permission when I can please take him on vacation.

No. They will have no more of me.

One day, I will be able to get in touch without going through her once the child is old enough. Until then, I intend to get on with my life.

Please listen to Terry Brennan, co-founder of Leading Women for Shared Parenting, explain why default every-other-weekend visitation leads to absentee fathers.

Note that in cases where ‘standard’ visitation is awarded — every-other-weekend — fathers become depressed and non-involved, and within 3 years, one study found, 40 percent of children in an unequal visitation arrangement had lost complete touch with their non-custodial parents, which are nearly always the father.

Have a listen:


Read more about Emma Johnson's stance in favor of shared parenting, empathy for absentee fathers, and other related topics here:

The real reason your ex doesn’t see the kids

Related books:

Kickass Single Mom, Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children, By: Emma Johnson

Blend, The Secret to Co-Parenting and Creating a Balanced Family, By: Mashonda Tifrere

Co-parenting with a Toxic Ex: What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse Tries to Turn the Kids Against You, By: by Amy J. L. Baker, PhD and Paul R Fine, LCSW

Divorce Poison: How to Protect Your Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing, By: Dr. Richard A. Warshak

What do you think? Are you a dad who no longer sees his kids? Why? Please share in the comments …

Or, are you the mother of a child with an absentee father? What is your response?

Here is my advice to moms and dads whose other parent is not involved.

If you are tempted to turn your child against the other parent, or not sure what is the best kind of parenting time arrangement, keep it simple, and equal. In fact, there are now more than 60 studies that prove that equally shared parenting is best for children (and, moms and dads!).

While we're at it, have a read about why a simple, fair 50-50 shared parenting time with no child support is the best, fairest, and most feminist arrangement.

Why coparenting is important

To prevent this kind of trauma, here are some tips to how to make co-parenting work:

  • Accept that mothers and fathers are equal. This is a gender equality issue
  • Accept that just because the other person doesn't parent like you do, that is not abuse.
  • Let him fail, succeed and find his own parenting style. Many dads become better fathers after divorce because they have to.
  • When communicating with him, use ‘your house' and ‘my house' … not ‘Home.' Same when you address the kids – “daddy's house” and “my house.” Both places are their homes..
  • Keep him posted on matters large and small. Even if he doesn't show up for the teacher meetings, or make the doctors appointments, keep him abreast of what is happening with the kids.
  • Buy him holiday and birthday presents on behalf of the kids.  

One of the first co-parenting apps, and widely used app, OurFamilyWizard, which features chat, information storage (like pediatrician and teacher contact info, prescriptions, etc.), and financial record-keeping. 30-day free trial,  discounts for military families, and a program to provide OurFamilyWizard free to low-income families. Each parent can add unlimited numbers of other people for free, including children, grandparents, step and bonus parents, as well as attorneys.

Try OurFamilyWizard for free for 30 days now >>

Read OurFamilyWizard review on Wealthysinglemommy.com >>

But the bigger challenge is to change our culture, from one in which it is presumed that fathers are incompetent, and mothers are the default primary parent. Terry Brennan of Leading Women for Shared Parenting, and an equality activist. Listen to our podcast conversation:

For more on co-parenting communication, and reasons for better shared parenting, read: Co-parenting rules–even with a difficult ex

Are you a child of a father who is was not around? What do you say to this dad?

About Emma Johnson

Wealthysinglemommy.com founder  Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist and author. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Emma's Top Single Mom Resources.

526 Comments

  1. Aria on May 28, 2020 at 8:14 pm

    I feel your pain! I am a mom with my son’s dad and the judge denied our son reunification with us. There is a history of domestic violence perpetrated by my son’s father onto my son and I and restraining and visitation orders broken by the two of us. Although it is important to note that while the previous sentence is true, my son’s father for 3 years had received anger management training, completed dv classes and produced that proof at the last court hearing, done community service and had been and was on probation before I decided to take our son to see him. Unfortunately though, my son’s dad’s violent history and angry outbursts at social workers during our case and the fact that I was not able to maintain long term separate housing from my son’s father, led to the judge denying custody returned to me. I feel so desperate and in despair. I am being punished for being a victim and labeled as a mother that did not protect her child by returning to live with my son’s father because my child desired to see his father and my aunt and uncle would not let me parent my own child (they are the ones that called the police on my son’s father and I for violating restraining and custody orders because I took my son to his father’s house to see him on Father’s Day which he said he wanted to do.) The visitation order stated a professional monitor had to be present and the visit had to take place in a public setting. I am getting punished with my son’s father because I took his side. Reading this was heartbreaking and I feel and truly empathize now with father’s pain. I hope one day this hell changes for fathers in society and we stop victim blaming and shaming mothers for supporting the fathers of their kids. ❤

  2. Cornell on May 19, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    I am 39 years old and had my daughter at the age of 24 with a college sweetheart. My daughter is 16 years old now and I spent the first 14 years doing everything possible to be an involved father and relentless commitment. She was my first daughter…my pride..my ambition..one of my main sources of motivation from a professional standpoint and personal growth standpoint. I had a great dad growing up and I wanted to be even better than that, to my own daughter when I got the chance. Her mother has suffered with depression and other emotional challenges..but when my daughter turned 14, her mother started a lot of toxic behaviors (i.e. not allowing me to see my daughter, sending my daughter to me to ask for money for her mother’s own benefit despite me never missing a child support payment, encouraging my daughter to call the mom’s boyfriend “dad” etc). Things began to get worse. The mom started to allege false claims of abuse and initiated 2 phone calls to child protection services that alleged that I abused my daughter, never fed her, etc. Both CPS investigations were, of course, unfounded, butI had to spend 2 critical years and approximately $25,000 on lawyers and therapists fighting for my daughter. At the conclusion of the case, my daughter’s mother filed an order of protection, which was dismissed as the judge knew that I had no reason no interest in communicating, let alone harassing her. While she was blocking me accessing to my daughter, she was also taking me to court for an increase in child support. She manipulated the courts to keep me away which was not sucesful, but she was able to destroy the love and the chemistry that my daughter has with not only me but also my parents and her siblings. I was very exhausted…she managed to brainwash and coach my daughter to say things that I never did. She instilled fear, hatred and animosity in our child that never existed. Many women find it hard to deal with a divorce or break up from someone that they don’t even like, just imagine how torturing it is to have your child…someone innocent that you adore, cherish, and love ripped from you….as you did nothing wrong. The emotional baggage was eventually too much to bear, and at the age of 16 years old…I decided to become an absent father to her. Not out of desire..but out of emotional survival. My daughter and I were close..so I had to hide pictures….discourage ppl from asking me about her and really surppress the pain and hurt, because I was prone to cry at the most random times. I would not wish this circumstance or feeling on my worst enemy.

  3. Renee Rollo on May 12, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    My ex partner is charming, attractive, intelligent and manipulative. I had been with him 2 going on 3 years. We have a little girl 10 months old. Before we separated I had given him ample warning that I wanted us to separate he has addiction problems that we had tried to work through with drug and alcohol services however I realised he only ever did so much because he didn’t really want to stop. His family warned me along the way but I thought he was really trying. I asked him to move out at this time he was arrested for drinking and driving and was bailed to our address and told me it needed to go through court before he could change his bail address . I reluctantly agreed to wait for that to happen this carried on for 6 months. In the end I put my foot down and told him it was time to move as he was begining to unravel arriving home drunk and on recreational drugs. I understood addiction isn’t easy but he had all the services to help he suddenly stopped going. Despite this we wrote up a mutual agreement which allowed him to have baby two nights a week at his mother’s farm where he would be living. This was on the bases that if he drank he would let me know and I would keep baby until he was sober. This agreement lasted a 2 months then I noticed his habits were changing he was drinking more often and started turning up at my place unannounced drunk. I was mentally drained and needed some structure and stability as he wasn’t respecting boundaries. I went to the courts to have an agreement done which lead to supervised visits but the judge allowed me to decide who would supervise I chose his mum and she signed a contract. I pleaded with the judge that he is a good father when he’s well but that he needed rehab to sustain sobriety and strict rules around his baby, I said he loves our daughter she was the only thing stopping him from having a full blown relapse. Judge organised a follow up court which to decide on directions. Before we got to court babies father turned up unannounced again pleading for me to take him back. I was still in love with him but I knew I couldn’t just go back together he needed help that I couldn’t give him. I had two choices ring the cops or let him sleep it off and keep trying for our baby. He woke was sorry he left. This behaviour kept happening and his mother allowed it I went to check baby and his mother that signed to be supervisor wasn’t home he had baby on his own now he wasn’t drunk he was hungover looking the reason I checked was because his mum came on her own to pick up baby saying he had to do some work on the farm I did trust his mum but said in future I need to see that her father is straight headed. I let her know that I couldn’t allow anymore bad behaviour that I know he’s a loving father but if I kept agnoring his behaviour we could both loose our baby. Anyway it didn’t stop his mum began to become two face with me and things got worse in the end I had to report him to police as he arrived at home again. My babies lawyer stopped all visits I’ve had a hard time explaining that he needs rehab nothing would work until he’s had extensive rehab. I feel sorry for my baby she loves father so much and goes round calling dada. He is now saying I’m using baby as a weapon and that I am controlling as he sees his addiction isn’t a problem because he has managed to cut down. I’ve left out alot because it would be pages long. Basically he is walking away but managed to make it seem like I am keeping him away from our baby but all I wanted for baby was safety, healthy boundaries and structure I would do anything for our baby girl even work around her father’s addictions as there is drug use also he has managed to cut it down to 2 days a week but the behaviour didn’t change I love him dearly and wish him well and will tell my girl all the beautiful parts of her father as I know she will look for him one day and I will help her I just hope she understands what she finds I will do my best to teach her without tainting her few of her father. ❤️

    • D on May 16, 2020 at 12:57 pm

      What about the woman who has to go through all the baggage and pain with the father?

  4. Donnie on April 11, 2020 at 7:11 pm

    I came here because I am struggling too. My girlfriend and I decided to relocate to FL in 2006. We had our first son in 2007 and our second in 2008. We were in our early 20s, and we scraped by. We met as teenagers and had our ups and downs. In the final year of our relationship, she filed for child support while we were still together. Doing this behind my back, the first I heard of it was when my work received the judgment. I assume she used her mother’s address as her residence and had the paperwork sent to our house, and since she was unemployed, she could check the mail. She explained it was best because if things didn’t work out, I would not start in arrears. This caused issues because I would get paid, but we would have to wait for the child support to be loaded. We were already so stretched that this caused our electricity to get turned off while waiting on the child support on one occasion. We became miserable; I would go to work and come home, and the house was a disaster. I offered her to have a baby sitter a few days a week, which we could ill afford so she could have some time to get things done. We decided to separate, and she would get a job and live nearby. Instead, she had been talking to someone on FB back from Ohio, so one day, I came home, and she had our car packed up and was moving back to Ohio.

    I was devastated. I was in FL with no family with minimal means. No car and could barely afford a place to live. I didn’t know my rights. At first, she would let me call and talk to the boys. I would fly up for the holidays. The communication became less and less frequent. Then one day, she sent me a long email explaining what she did was best for the kids, and she was getting married. She suggested a stepfather adoption at; first, I resisted. Over time, with less and less communication and barley surviving because of the amount of child support. I thought maybe it was best. I could only see my boys a couple of times a year. She made it difficult to communicate via phone. So I agreed. Well, then she strung me along, and finally, I realized that was not going to happen. Instead, she just cut me off, blocked me on everything. She moved multiple times and then moved to Seattle. I tried to find ways to open a dialog but had no way to communicate. Years have gone by, and I had to stuff the emotion down deep. The more time that went by, the guilt and hopelessness built up. I didn’t have te resources for a legal battle.

    Now 11 years since she left, my boys are 11 and 13, and I don’t know what they look like or much about them. Now I am in a much better financial situation. I purchased a home with four bedrooms, so we had plenty of room. I have thought about reaching out to her husband to try to appeal to what’s best. I was a far from perfect father and made mistakes I was just a kid at the time. I was never violent or aggressive with her nor the kids. I just can’t understand for the life of me why you would want to rob the kids of knowing their father, especially one that wants to be involved. My father past away when I was 18, he was far from perfect, but he loved me and showed me every opportunity he got. I can’t imagine not knowing him. My hunch now is it’s probably easier for her to block it out. I have paid child support uninterrupted all these years. There is going to come a day where they look for me and will want to know the truth. As a mother, you would have to see that it hurts them, and maybe they don’t talk about it. Just as a parent, you would have to know that. I am flawed but want to be involved.

  5. Gabe on April 11, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    I’m about to go down that road myself. I have a two year old daughter that I have yet to be allowed to even meet yet. My ex started blocking me out the day that she told me that she was pregnant, and broke up with me. I tried talking with people in her family to “circle the wagons” and come to a cordial co-parenting agreement “moving forward.” She filed for a restraining order a week later saying that I was “harassing” her family and that “I scared her.” The judge granted a temporary restraining as a “cooling off period.”

    I’m about 7 months deep into an APR case, represented myself pro se for the first few court dates, and only was able to establish paternity and child support. I’m paying $400 a month and have not met my daughter yet, due to me opening a CS in human services to establish paternity, HS gets to establish CS regardless of visitation, or lack thereof. My case is split in two for now.

    I have a lawyer now, we are trying to schedule mediation, which according to the judge, must take place before I get 2-two hour visits with my daughter a week with a CFI present for the first five visits. Due to covid, I don’t have the money to pay my share of the mediation bill, my work hours were cut to only 6 total a week.

    I don’t feel like a dad… I have only seen 3 pictures of my daughter, the first of which was my exes new boyfriend holding her. I’ve missed out on everything. I tried a few days ago to visit my exes grandmother to see pictures. She called me a sperm donor, and told me that my daughter has plenty of father figures and that I should just walk away and start a new family.

    I hate my life. I miss my daughter. I want to be a father, but his is honestly not working. Sometimes, I think that I should just walk away, because lord knows the cost benefit analysis says that I should. No matter how good of a father I can be, it will never over-come being a weekend dad, and having my daughter grow up the majority of the time in a family that doesn’t like fathers, and only surrounds themselves with men that are subservient to wishes of women for the sake of sexual access…

  6. Steve Saragoza on April 5, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    That ending statement was really beautiful. “One day”, I am sure they’ll come see and want to get to know you. For whatever lost time, they’ll come around because you’d still love them

  7. Ciccio on April 3, 2020 at 8:04 pm

    I feel your pain. I am there, ripping off Band-Aids and sticking them on and having them ripped off, it’s so frequent that the skin is coming off, and the flesh is tearing apart, and I am nothing more than a skeleton of a man of the father that I wanted to be, that I am not allowed to be. My baby is the only blood I have ever known, I’m adopted. My adopted parents kept any information from me of my birth family, and now the mother of my child is keeping my birth child from me. I feel like a paycheck, I just wanted to make my baby the happiest little girl, and now I can’t do that do, because I’m being pushed away by her mother, which is in turn hurting my baby and me. I pay my child support. I recently tried making videos and writing a letter, but who knows if that will ever reach her. I feel like giving up until she’s old enough, but I wonder how my daughter would feel knowing I didn’t try and if she would be broken because her father felt like she wasn’t worth it. She is. She’s worth every ounce of pain, tears, emotional damage, and I would go through it a million times more just so she doesn’t ever have esteem issues. So, I feel your pain, but, I don’t agree with leaving the small place I have in my daughter’s life. Fuck my life, not hers.

  8. Mark S Herod on March 27, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    Would it matter if I explained all the craziness in my seperation, no, it’s only how it has ended, I have not seen my daughter in 3 years nor has my family, you can send gifts , texts, cards and try all you want once that bond has formed between your child and the other parent there is nothing that will break that, every action of my daughter, her words were just a copy of my ex’s, I had a great and loving relationship with my child , it hurts so much to realize what I have missed with her, you almost have to start to believe your child is dead, and in many ways it’s the truth, you can only hope as they grow they will see what has happened , and realize what they lost and who took it from them. I only hope my bitterness does not grow like my ex’s and I can be there for her, like I was before any of this happened,

  9. Renee on March 27, 2020 at 3:35 pm

    Sadly, men do this as well. I knew he was upset and wanted to hurt me after I left. I saw the lying and the strategy through the long, drawn out hearings and the controlling behaviour towards me. But I never thought it would actually get to the point where my little one felt the need to lie. According to him, she says things that are of a neglectful nature and he reports it back to me. These things simply are not true. What is going on? I’m not even an emergency contact. What is the point of a court order if it is not enforced? This, this is heartbreaking. My heart goes out to all the parents, men and women and to the children stuck in these horrible circumstances.

  10. Linda on March 15, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    I just wanted to say something:
    I know that I may be the exception, not the rule, but I tried to not be prejudiced toward my son’s dad- even though he assaulted me many times (I had to have stitches in my lip/mouth and he put a hole in my mouth), I complied with the weekend visitation rules- but I did so in fear and trepidation that he might start abusing my son.
    I felt helpless- I tried to hold my toddler son back a few times from visits when his father was acting angry, but all that just threw us into family court, where the judge scolded me and told me he was going to put me in jail. So I was compelled to continue with the usual visitation routine– all the while hoping and praying my son wouldn’t get assaulted, like I’d been.
    Abut a year later, he was assaulted by his father. There was nothing I could do, except go back to court and try to get supervised visitation, which I did.
    His father was a charming, intelligent man who was also extremely bright. He was also very funny- he kept the mediation people in stitches with his jokes, and our main mediation counsellor was a woman who found him attractive and was dismissive towards me. I saw this from the very beginning, and there nothing I could do to change it. So I don’t agree that many men aren’t given a fair chance- my son’s father was given every opportunity to change, but he was an abuser, and he continued to go in that direction- ultimately, sexually abusing, and deeply scarring our son. Years later, when he was 11, I was finally able to recover money from the state of CA f-$10,000- for counseling sessions for my now pre-teen. He’s doing well today, thank God- and I really mean that- we human beings think we’re so smart, but sometimes we need to stop trying to make everything “perfect” for the parents, get out of the path of narcissistic people as much as possible, and think about our child’s best interests, not the parent’s.

    • Lauren on March 28, 2020 at 4:54 pm

      I have been physically abused by my ex for the last 4 years and the last time he almost killed me was in front of our daughter. He was arrested and charged and now has a restraining order and can’t come near me. I don’t feel safe because his family has threatened me in the mean time and therefore are condoning his behaviour. I was willing to compromise but after all the threats I got I can no longer. I am getting full custody and visitation once a week supervised. I fear for myself and my daughter and therefore I should have the protection I need. It’s not every case where the child needs their dad and vice versa (if the mom is not good).

    • Steve Saragoza on April 5, 2020 at 9:24 pm

      Dam. That’s horrible. Hope the best for you and your son for so many years ahead. I just hate molestation

  11. John on March 4, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    I am the father of a 2 year old. My ex pushes me away any chance she get. She likes to control. I cannot do anything unless its under her rules or she revokes my access. I had visits every other weekend. Which was going fine until i got into a relationship. She forced my girlfriend to go over to her place with me which was really my ex only drilling her with questions. My parents, sister, friend no one is allowed to watch my kid at any time. I must be present 24/7. I cannot post any pics on social media and neither can my family. So she puts me in a trapped position. I had a dinner planned and it is at a time my child would have to be back with their mom in like half an hour. So i told her a week in advance that i will bring her home an hour early. She tells me the day of that she is not going to let me go to the dinner. Its my time with my child. Well sorry things come up in life where i child can be watched by someone. She will not allow that and revokes my access. Any little thing i do or need to do she accuses me that its more important than my kid. And that when my kid was born i gave up my social life.i dont believe that at all. I am allowed to have a social life and be a parent. She is making my life hell. I am not going to live under her rules and control and i am not going to court wasting thousands of dollars just to lose and drown in debt. I have unfortunately come to the conclusion i cannot take her bullshit anymore and am going to stop seeing my kid. When she is older i will gladly see her. Righy now my ex is making my life impossible to live.

    • Lisa on April 22, 2020 at 4:15 pm

      for your daughter sake you need to fight for her and your rights, i dont know how much you make , but you can go to court and fill out a form based on your income so all your court fees will be waived but you need to put a stop to your child mothers behavior . I first you start with filing a visitation order and once the mother does not let you see your child on your vist day call the police show them your visitation order stamp by the court, they will give you a card , then file a contempt of visitation and put her ASS in jail . also in your visitation order put in there if this becomes an on going issue with her not obeying court order you want to seek full custody. but you do want to apply for joint custody you have your child 50 percent of the time, if you go through the courts she will be following the court rules. any communication with her let it be through text message so you can show the court what type of person she is . when my friend mother was treating him the same he did all of the above, and when it was time for him to pick up his child, the mother orders was at visitation time the father would blow his horn and the mother would let the child walk out and he had do contact with the mother. you can not give up on your child , their is to much free soures out here to help you
      and if your child goes to school in the order on the days you have your child you pick them up and drop them back at school and the mother will get them from school on their days and give a copy of that order to the school . in the order put you want access to your child schoold rtecords and emergency contact and most important add that the mother can not leave with your child out of the state or without a court order and if she moves she needs to give you and the court notification within a certain lengh of time. do not give up . you can contact me at Mothership320@gmail.com

  12. Joe on March 3, 2020 at 5:24 pm

    These anecdotal accounts are nothing compared to what has been actually occurring nationwide for decades. A scientific report was prepared for former North Carolina Senator Richard Burr around 2006 regarding the fraudulent practices and actions of states in enforcing the federal statute CSPIA. Essentially ~95%+ of all domestic violence accusations made in family court are completely false or fabrications, as admitted by the actual petitioners (the vast majority of whom were female), in tens of thousands of interviews in family court houses across the United States. The top reasons given were to seek revenge on their ex-husbands (or ex-wives to a lesser extent), or to cover up their own infidelities. Limiting or barring access altogether to children was almost unanimously admitted by said petitioners to be utilized in order to maximize child support payments to the petitioners (mostly, but not always women mothers). State family court judges, the report concluded, also directly participate in the scams by ordering zero or minimal visitation, while being cognizant that the federal rules allow for financial incentives to the courts based on the sheer value of child support dollars collected. Divorce attorneys are also enriched by being needed to defend the respondents (mostly, but not always men) from said false charges. CPS and DCSS child protection agencies also contribute a sizable stake in incentivizing maximum child support collections via each state’s formula calculations, which disfavor the non-custodial parent most discriminately (again, mainly men). Given that anywhere from two-thirds, three-quarters, to four-fifths of all DV restraining order petitions are dismissed, leaving the remaining 5% of presumably ‘legitimate’ petitions result in a grand total of between 98.3% up to 99% of all DV restraining order petitions being complete nonsense, if the petitioners had not perjured themselves in the other 95% of cases. Yet, we are to simply “believe” women in the vast majority of these cases in the #MeToo generation? Recall that two of the three ‘witnesses’ in the recent Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing blatantly admitted total fabrication of their accusations, without any repercussions.

    My personal experience is that merely because I am a law abiding firearm owner, I was discriminately forced by court order to forfeit custody of my child through systematic forgeries and unsubstantiated allegations. Then, a pseudo-justification of parental alienation by the mother ensued, which mandated involvement of a mental health professional, which has resulted in a single contentious supervised telephone call to my child in a four year period. I am allowed to send cards and letters, without any response to date mind you, but no other contact has been allowed by the ‘mental health professional’ so far. It was suggested that I seek personal counseling to deal with the “loss of my son”, that offering him gifts was paramount to bribery, and I should be patient because “it could take a year” before I can call him. In summary, the entire court, mental health therapy, and legal system conspired to completely destroy my family, or what was left of it. The mother, my ex-spouse, finally admitted to the ‘mental health professional’ that it might have been her fault for abandoning the child by leaving him with me initially, and hence he missed his mother dearly, even though I insisted that they both have regular contact with each other at the beginning of the separation period. Her violent conduct when I started dating again, after nearly two years of separation, and several rejected attempts towards reconciliation resulted in a bitter divorce battle. In addition, six days after agreeing to the visitation schedule, of which I had physical custody, the mother literally kidnapped the child. She then raced to the courthouse to get a bogus PFA request, which was temporarily granted ex parte, all the while a criminal warrant was issued for her arrest. Police said that her PFA petition voided the arrest warrant, without so much as a hearing on the criminal charges. So the police conspired to assist her family court extortion, all under the guise of “fear for her safety, and the child’s safety”. Albeit no criminal charges were ever filed against me personally.

    Astonishingly, I had asked my attorney what would happen if the child were suddenly motherless, as I have it on good knowledge that she is in very poor health. His answer was that he would automatically be ordered to be in my custody and care immediately as the only surviving biological parent. Bewildered, I’m asked how would that be possible. He stated that I was not or never deemed an unfit parent. But, I cannot see my child or speak to him through the court order because I might be “dangerous”, and he’s “afraid”, and “uncomfortable” with me.

    As you can easily read, my parental rights have de facto and in a pro forma fashion been terminated, albeit not officially. Nor would they ever be terminated. If that were to happen, then I would not owe anymore child support payments. There in lies the rub. In this society, men, and some women, are seen as mere wallets, ATM cash machines, and sperm or egg donors. The no-fault divorce signed into law beginning with old ‘conservative’ California Governor Ronald Reagan in the 1970s opened the door for “Kramer versus Kramer” style judgements across the USA. Currently, I am paying $18,000 per year in total child support payments with absolutely no visitation. That is >60% of the total average cost to raise a child to age eighteen, and three times the cost I incurred whilst I was solely caring for my child individually. This was supposed to be split between two parents, yet was not. It essentially is a version of backdoor alimony, as it is generally disallowed in modern times. However, I was never stingy financially when my child lived alone with me. We ate in fine restaurants most days. I spoiled him generally. But the child support payments are 20% of my annual gross income. This is supposed to be split between two parents, but, it rarely is.

    As a result, with my new partner, I will not publicly acknowledge her as anything more than a partner, a business relationship only. I insist that we split everything, and if we should have our own child, I have demanded that I not be on the birth certificate whatsoever. I will spilt evenly, child expenses as long as we remain together. We have agreed, in writing and verbally, that if she leaves with the child, which will be inevitable in my opinion, then contractually she cannot pursue child support payments in the future. The decadence of human familial relations and general society in favor of the state is preferencially dissolving.

  13. Chris on March 3, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    Well i think women are just bitter i come from foster care and Ive seen a lot the courts side with the women whether their truthful or not it doesnt matter what the father has to say where just suppose bow down to the women. I look forward to being a father just to shut out told im not going to raise he’s my child by the mother and just send me money money and not you cant send stuff for him so there’s really no help for guys who want to do the right thing and bet the family court system that set up to make men fail and be trapped it really sad and get to be depressing sometime women can lie on the man and we have to deal with the consequences its not right.

    • Steve Saragoza on April 5, 2020 at 9:29 pm

      No dude no. In some case, itll be, “yeah”, or “maybe”, in some situations for men that deal with a “bitter and vengeful baggage”.
      But no dude no.

    • D on May 16, 2020 at 1:06 pm

      It’s not that women a bitter, some men are very controlling and manipulative that use their kids to hurt the mother. I’m a parent of 1 trying my best to be civil but nothing that I do is very good enough. I’m always portrayed to look like the villain.

  14. Lila on February 29, 2020 at 12:44 am

    This is so sad! I have 2 grown children. I divorced their father when they were little. The stepmom was abusive. I tried to talk to him about it, but he wouldn’t listen. I didn’t want to be the mom who kept their kids from their dad. I limited overnights when they were little. As they got older I let them decide when & how long they stayed.
    I have a baby now. An unplanned pregnancy. I support the father’s requests for visits. He chooses to get our baby every Friday through Saturday. He also video chats with him during the week. He has him now for 4 days because his family is in town and wants to spend time with him.
    Kids need to come before adults. Kids need both parents. I’m far from perfect, but will never interfere with my kids relationship with their father.

  15. Adrianne on February 26, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    That black and white thinking is evidence of a serious problem with logic and reality. There may be MANY reasons a father is not involved, aside from just number 1 and number 2. You completely fail to mention domestic violence.

    • KR on March 16, 2020 at 5:42 pm

      Adrianne, you’re projecting your own situation on everyone else. Everyone’s case is different. You sound very angry and biased against men. Despite what you seem desperate to believe, every custody case does not involve “abuse”.

      This is coming from a custodial mother, by the way. Seek help.

  16. Karen on February 25, 2020 at 9:49 am

    Parental alienation crosses gender, race, class, and economic boundaries. What this father talks about happens to mothers as well. It is the standard alienator handbook 101…..the targeted parent is “abusive”, the kids are told to call you by your first name, told not to smile in pictures with you, to mistreat you, swear at you, be destructive. I have lived through hell and back…then hell and back again. I am a woman, a mother of my three children, and my x husband is an alienator. Not just any alienator, but an obsessed alienator. Call it bitter, call it immature, call it mentally abusive, whatever the reason is, my x husband cannot co-parent and uses the children as pawns to hurt me. He either is not able to understand why this is damaging to the children, or doesn’t care. But whichever it is, still doesn’t make it right. Parental alienation crosses all boundaries and what you describe is not specific to being male. it is specific to targeted parents. Men are alienators as well. Sadly, we live at a time when there is so much more to be learned about parental alienation. Giving up is not the answer. I know its hard, as I have done it for 6 years. I have spent over $300,000 fighting in court just to know my own children. But I have to tell you, that through my own developed strategies, and a good lawyer who specializes in parental alienation, and a reunification therapist, I have managed to continue to know my children and in fact, rebuild my relationships with my kids. I was at the point of complete estrangement from my children, and now I am able to hug them, kiss them, and they smile in pictures again and call me mom. If you asked me if I would ever be here 5 years ago, I would have never thought possible. It is only now that lawyers, therapist, judges and other professionals are starting to understand what parental alienation is. We are now learning how damaging it is for the child to be forced to choose sides and placed in a loyalty bond. As hard is it is for the targeted parent, it is harder for the child trapped in this dysfunctional and abusive dynamic. No to make anyone feel bad, but walking away is like leaving the child in an abusive situation. No one would do that if their child was being sexually abused, or physically abused. So why do we find it acceptable to give up and walk away when it’s a case of emotional abuse? Parental alienation is domestic violence. Internal scars can last a lifetime. If you research the long term effects of parental alienation, you will see that it needs to be taken very seriously. Don’t give up. Inside your son/daughter is a child crying out for the love of both parents.

  17. Ann on February 20, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    I am a grandmother to a child whose parents are divorced. I love my grandchild and used to spend time with her every week including her spending several nights with me each month. Since the divorce it is a struggle to see her once ever 3 or 4 months. I call every week, send letters and packages in the mail. My daughter in law who has custody has many excuses why “it’s not a good time for a chat or a visit”. She won’t even allow me to babysit when she has other things on her schedule and cannot take the child. The “forced estrangement” has been very Sad and painful.

  18. Kirk Brown on February 17, 2020 at 11:33 pm

    I was a responsible father. A vicious game played by the ex wife to get as much money out of the father that the courts allow while supporting the collution that the father is no good. Money unfairness aside, my adult kids have divorced me. They have stopped responding to text and calls. One has asked me not to attend her wedding because its uncomfortable. But they didnt seem to mind me being in their life when I was paying for college, a car or student loans after graduation. The well was poisoned at seperation. Its been 18 years since the divorce. The mother-child bond is naturally too strong to have a chance. Time to give up on the adults kids and move on.

  19. Ed Langston on February 17, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    This is my situation to a tee. I have a bitter ex wife who has been making it extremely difficult to see my children since our divorce over 3 years ago. It started by not giving the phone to the kids when I would call or hanging up the phone repeatedly when I call. I would have scheduled visitation and at the last minute, I would get a text saying they were sick or being punished. I eventually stopped taking excuses and would would insist on my visitation being honored. It has escalated this year. After my wife and I got a new house and my ex’s alimony ended, my ex made an accusation that I abused my children and was granted a protective order. This protective order prevented me as well as my family from having contact with my kids for almost a month. Despite the acussations being proved false, by virtue of this woman saying she was “scared” I was not able to see my kids almost a month. This order was based on a forged note allegedly written from my kids but civil courts don’t have to prove that it is true, just the person is scared which prevents fathers’ from seeing their kids. Luckily I was able to afford a lawyer but even then I was only able to negotiate “supervised” visits. And get this, the supervisor is my current wife. My ex wanted to make it where my wife’s life was impacted as well. It is important for people to hear these stories and know what is really going on. Kids are coached what to say. In the forged note, my 10 year-old said he was “emotionally scarred”. What 10 year-old talks like that. Mine doesn’t. People are very quick to judge a situation in which the fathers aren’t in the children’s life. I was mentored kids until my time became consumed with getting access to my own kids. I too questioned how a father could not be in their kids lives but I totally understand now. IF I wasn’t able to to hire lawyers, I would not have any access to my kids. The laws in this country allow many mother’s to use kids as weapons, ultimately doing causing them lasting emotional harm.

  20. Donald McArthur on February 16, 2020 at 5:12 am

    Fathers can be daft, I am the grandfather, my son in law left suddenly we were aware he had changed behavior, but it was a surprise when my daughter with a broken foot that day and a 6 month old and 2.5 year old was left at 11 30 pm breastfeeding without any actual explanation,. he didn’t return and met for two hours in two weeks, stating it was her fault ! and the house wasn’t clean enough. and she was asking him what was wrong all the time.
    In fact he was having an affair, staying away 3 days a week for 8 months, and had just decided to return to single life. He kept the pretense through mediation till discovered, for 9 weeks.

    But he wanted access to the children every other weekend, ok so they went to his mothers for 4 hours, difficult as breastfeeding and he broke into the house to raid for papers somewhat alienating himself, demanded half the home she bought with her fathers money, and 104000 pounds with a clean break, exceeding all capital she had , however she earned 23000 after tax and him 66000 after tax, their total capital ends up as 300k after mortgage
    it was impossible after he stopped paying food hle council tax and had taken refunds to the day of leaving for her to manage.
    So she filed for financial remedy.
    He clammed up, on a pickup where he and his mother refused to say where they were taking the children and he filmed her reaction, he reported her to the police for a false report of assault,
    dropped by police as she just pushed the phone from her face.
    he then spent and spent 125000 in 18m
    65000 cc 35000 car 18000 bachelor pad and holidays with girlfriend, so his outgoings to loans matched his income, and his what assets and earnings he has.—
    the court seems pretty powerless,
    he all the time continued access every 2-3 weeks demanding longer hours or overnights pretty impractical with a baby.
    the contact wasn’t regular enough to maintain a relationship he had every contact he asked for but his life got in the way.
    Now he is bringing action for full weekend contact from 2 with his girlfriend 10 years younger no children as the cares at his 1 bed city 10th floor bachelor pad,

    1.5 hours travel.
    each way.
    regular visits frequently ins essential to the well being of the children who rarely mention him but genuinely enjoy the visit but are disturbed at night after for three days,
    he comes he disappears, better not to come at all is my opinion,
    if he cared he would support them financially.
    he genuinely cant see he has done anything wrong and the wife is all at fault, how do you break through that.
    and she has to sell the family home now as the children start school.

  21. Sara on February 14, 2020 at 11:27 am

    I watched a most atrocious example of this tragic situation with my ex fiancé and his son. He was a beautiful, kind and loving father to him and his ex wife trashed him for ten years in and out of court. He has not seen or spoken to his son in over four years. To say it was heart breaking is a gigantic understatement.

    My ex husband is doing this to me over our 13 year old daughter as well. He tells her things like I was happier before I had her. He convinces her to keep a journal of every time we argue and she does. He tells her I have anger issues and that it’s not normal to argue with your mom. I could go on and on ad nauseum but you all get the point. She’s going to live with him at the end of the school year – in a different town. I’m afraid, after seeing that there is no protection against this type of abuse for either the child or the targeted parent, that this is the beginning of the end of my relationship with my daughter.

    Again – heart break doesn’t begin to describe the situation. I have been fighting to try to prove myself a decent parent for 10 years. I’m tired. I’ve stopped believing in any kind of higher power. I can’t do it for much longer.

    My heart goes out to all targeted parents. It’s not right.

    • Kim on February 24, 2020 at 1:47 pm

      I was scared of my daughter going to live with her father. I knew that over time that l would be deleted from her life, after only one year of living with him she stopped all communication. It has now been a heart breaking 3 years since l have heard from her. It started with him telling her l was mentally unstable and l should not cross her boundaries. Giving a hug if she did not want it was me abusing her and trying to be controlling, if l entered her room or had conversations for more then 10 minutes l was mentally abusing her. Ever aspect of being a parent was slowly changed into me being a horrible parent, l was not able to have a voice or opinion. How is hugging a child abuse ? Not only did her father convince her of this, but his whole family supports and reinforces this value system…Iam only one person against an a large group of influencers the effect her life on a daily bases…? Every day is a struggle, my heart is crushed and lam exhausted. I miss her, yet lam afraid that anything l do will reflect badly on me…Narcissist never stop controlling you now matter how much you try, the only have one goal at all cost to ruin your life…He promised that and has followed through

    • karen on February 25, 2020 at 9:55 am

      Yes, targeted parents can be the mother or the father. It is not specific to the fathers, although it is more prevalent for women to engage in parental alienation. I think what this father describes is the experience of an exasperated targeted parent. He describes the experience of every targeted parent — male or female. I think that his idea that it is because he is a father is misplaced blame. Really, it is a dynamic of parental alienation and domestic violence that he describes.

      • John Smith on March 9, 2020 at 8:29 pm

        Being in almost the same position as this man.
        My daughter is 5 and I haven’t seen her in years. Last tome she was 6months old right after court order child support. ( mother keeps her away and moves constantly and courts don’t do a thing ) police don’t enforce court orders for the father yet it’s kidnapping if I did it.

        To those that may also be what I did was-

        I have opened an email for my daughter and email her on occasion (I.e. – when it’s a holiday, birthday, her brother was born and Disney trip she missed yet wished she was there )

        With technology the way it is today it’s only a matter of time before she reaches out to me and I’ll give her the email and password and show her I did care and tried many times but am open to a relationship now if she is….

        Dad loves you Lacey where ever you are.

Leave a Comment