P.A.S and my son

My son is now seventeen and has joined the Royal Navy. This means he is finally away from his father and potentially this means I could be safe to make contact... But I have decided not to. He has changed his Facebook profile to list his father's civil partner as his mother (there is a stepmother option) so I will leave him to it rather than trying to get back into his life and screwing him up. Hurts me like hell but I put him first when I decided not to use him as a pawn when his dad started game playing, and I'll put him first now.

I still hope for contact in the future but the first contact HAS to come from Rhys. It would be wrong (quite possibly cruel) for me turn his life upside-down by suddenly getting in contact when he is settled. If one of my cats was lost and turned up years later happily settled and loved in a new home... I wouldn't dream of tearing it away from the home it was settled in just to bring it back to me; that would be selfish and I won't be selfish regarding my son either.

My name has changed a couple of times since we were last in contact so it may not be so easy for him to find me if he searches... so for this reason I will say that my name used to be Alison Wilkes, that is what he knew me as. This page will remain online I can always be contacted through this site.

Blog entry -

29th November 2009

Until today I had been doing a good job of not letting the time of year get to me... but not anymore. I woke up thinking about the annual birthday notice I place in The Argus newspaper - January 5th is not far away and this one will be my son's fourteenth birthday. In June 2010 it will be five years since my ex husband succeeded in his mission to poison my son's mind and not only turn him against me, but also move right out of the area without giving me the address.

For most of the year I cope. I've trained myself to believe that he is fine and well looked after - Nikki classes Rhys as her son and looks after him well. Rhys is the closest she will ever get to a child of her own (she is physically a mixture of male and female sexual organs, complete in neither way) so at least I know with her there he will be properly cared for - I would not be able to relax at all if Rhys was alone with his father as I know that, to him, Rhys is merely a pawn that he never actually wanted (as he himself told me).

This has never been my favourite time of year. The "magic" of Christmas has never existed in my life as I knew from a very young age that "Father Christmas" wasn't real - no pretence at all, was outright told that I couldn't have what I wanted because mother couldn't afford it. Despite the family not wanting to indulge me in the happy fantasies all children should be able to enjoy, every year I tried to find the magic for myself. I wrote my Christmas list and excitedly filled myself with anticipation, trying to convince myself that the family were mistaken and Father Christmas was real after all! Every year I felt let down and was reminded that "people like us" don't deserve anything special.

There was one year that was slightly more positive than others. I was thirteen, agoraphobic due to school bullying, self harming regularly, andon the verge of starving myself just to feel some sort of control over my dismal life. One of the local churches gave us a plastic carrier bag filled with small presents that had been kindly donated by it's parishoners. In the bag was a cassette called The Wild One which was given to me - that was probably the best Christmas present I've ever had. I think that was also the Christmas day when I cried on my big brother's shoulder over what his friends were doing to me all the time - just before he walked out of the house to go and see them, taking with him the tin of Quality Street that had been bought as a Christmas treat.

When Rhys was born I decided to try and give the whole Christmas thing another try. I wanted him to enjoy all the childhood magic I had been denied. I was never really comfortable but went along with what my ex mother in law dictated for everyone. Christmas 1997, shortly before his second birthday, Rhys ended up standing at the stairgate begging to go to bed as he couldn't cope with all of the presents he had been given. Mother in law tended to go over the top as her first grandchild had been killed by it's mother (she jumped from the 11th floor and took baby with her), and second had disappeared with it's mother many years earlier. Both of these were the children of my ex husband's brother. As difficult as I found it, I always did what I could to make sure Rhys had happy Christmases. I bought him whatever he wanted whether I could afford it or not - same applied to his birthdays.

Since Rhys hasn't been with me, I haven't had to pretend. I really don't like this time of year and the more people try to convince me, the more I know I'm right to not take part in the annual celebration of commercialism and exploitation. I've lost track of how many people have, upon discovering my feelings about Christmas, gone on to tell me how they don't enjoy it either but feel they have no option as "society" expects them to conform to it's ideals. Celebrate you must, it is expected of you! Don't have a mind of your own, don't consider your own feelings or ideals - just go with what is expected and you'll be fine! Go on, spend what you know really should pay for life essentials on over-priced and unneccessary commercial goods that people could quite easily buy themselves! No need to think about the consequences of having no money for food/bills for the rest of the month, food isn't important anyway. Why not add to your misery and spread it over the entire year by maxing out those credit cards that you only just managed to clear from last Christmas? A whole year of suffering just to conform with society for one day.

Of course my dislike of the very nature of Christmas is now added to by the knowledge that somewhere on the south coast my son is enjoying himself without me. I don't know if he really is enjoying himself or not, but I have to make myself believe he is.


This is an email I sent today, September 20th 2008, in response to contact from these people (link removed).

"I’ve done some serious thinking before writing this email – the information I received through the post has twice been put into the recycling and both times removed again… do I really want to be writing this? I don’t know, but it’s on my mind and knowing myself like I do, if I don’t deal with things while they are on my mind, they tend to niggle at me and leave me with regrets so what the hell.

I’m not going to throw around accusations about sensitivity (lack of), but will instead explain how things seem to me and let you think it over and draw your own conclusions – maybe even influence your future actions.

My initial reaction on receiving the Medavia information… horror, shock – here are these people, people I don’t know and have never even heard of, asking me if I want to make money out of losing my only child… profit from losing my precious son. Why/how would anyone want to do that? Selling stories? Making profit out of a child who has already had his life turned upside down and been badly damaged by his selfish father – just the thought revolts me and I can’t comprehend how any mother could feel anything but disgust at the suggestion.

My son is twelve now, I last saw him in June 2005. In Oct 2005 I had a brief chat on MSN which was followed by his MSN identity being changed to prevent further contact. His father and I separated, the relationship was long dead and we both had other people. I gave my son the choice of who he wanted to live with because I wanted to make things as easy for him as possible, I didn’t want him to be dragged through the courts and torn apart. He chose to stay with his father so I moved out, not for one minute thinking his father would go on to do what he did… his father wasn’t working, I was – I made a point of seeing my son every Sunday as it was the only day I wasn’t working. The main reason I worked so many hours was because I’d been aiming towards financial stability for us both (self & son) as I knew the marriage was dead and wanted to be able to support us… turns out my desire to support my son was my downfall as his father used their time alone to start the poisoning process. I was on minimum wage so despite working six days a week had very little money, unlike the ex who was not working but claiming benefits as a single parent while living with a wealthy partner who often boasted about how much money they had, they were buying my son whatever he wanted… I simply wasn’t in a position to do that.

Looking back, all the signs were there… my son would tell me what his dad was saying, “dad says it’s all your fault because you… “ etc., etc. I could’ve replied and pointed out some of the things had dad had done to contribute towards the break up, but what would it have achieved? It would have torn my boy apart and the one thing I have always refused to do was use him as a pawn! So, I just answered with, “oh, is that what he says” which looking back must have seemed like I was agreeing with him when what I was actually doing was putting my son first and not trying to manipulate him. He’s a child not a weapon.

One day my son informed me that they were going to be moving out of the area, that his dad wasn’t going to tell me the new address but not to worry because he’d text it to me when they got there. The mobile phone I had given him strangely vanished after that.

The Sunday routine lasted for a few weeks, but my son was getting more and more disruptive saying he didn’t want to be doing whatever it was we were doing – he once sat under a table refusing to come out as he didn’t want to be there. It was after that visit that he said, “if you’re not going to take me where I want to go and buy me what I want then I would rather stay at home with dad”. That was the last time I saw him. I sent him a HUGE remote control Subaru car for Christmas that year… I know it was received as it was sent recorded delivery and his father signed to accept it. No doubt they claimed it was from them.

Sure enough they moved and didn’t tell me where to, but I found out as it was on the divorce papers. Earlier this year I placed a big birthday notice in their local paper, one of my friends made sure a copy was posted to their address to try and ensure my son saw it – he won’t (or can’t?) talk to me but I at least want him to know that I’ve not forgotten him. Now they’ve moved again and I don’t know where to… and you want to know if I want to profit from this?!?!"

Assorted entries from my Latest News pages, going backwards though time...

Written on January 2 2008

While those around me are shouting about their new year resolutions, I proclaim that I'm not making any, that the only new year resolution I stuck to was the one I made to never make another... but reflecting on my thoughts of recent days, this isn't actually true.

Finally, over two years after this house becoming mine and Dave's, Rhys's bedroom is being decorated... didn't want to do it sooner, couldn't make myself let go enough - you see there were a few words written on the wall where Rhys's cabin bed used to be. They read, "I love mum" ...

... about six weeks ago I was in that room when I looked up, looking for that comforting scribble - it was gone, faded away with time; no doubt the same as my son's memories of me have faded and will continue to do so. I'm not doing the decorating, can't push myself that far, but it needed doing so Dave's working on it. Will need to replace the door as it is covered in stickers, as well as the wooden door sign stating "RHYS" that many years ago I glued on with super glue with the stupid assumption that it would never need to come off.

On the back of the door is the 2004 kitten calendar that I gave Rhys for Christmas 2003 - it's still on June 2004; that was the month my son told me he didn't want to see me anymore. He lived here for a further four months but never touched the calendar again.

So... the resolution that I'm making in my head, not out loud cos then it'll be real, is to stop gripping on to what I've lost and move forward.

Judging by the tears rolling down my face as I type, this is going to be yet another failed resolution.

Three days until he's twelve, almost 132 weeks since I saw him.

August 13th again

So... Nikki has declared herself to be something she isn't and never will be, my son's mother. Try as I might, I can't get angry at her... may sound weird, but I know my ex and the way he works/thinks and I would put money (if I had any) on Nikki being as much a victim of his controlling ways as I once was. Bottom line is that Rhys is better off with Nikki being around than he would be if he was just with his dad. Doesn't help me much, but I believe Nikki genuinely cares about Rhys and doesn't see him as a pawn or weapon as his father does.

Time to renew my membership to MATCH, I've had a renewal notice.

June 2nd

I just told Media Player to play the entire contents of one of my music folders - 63 files in it, none of which I've listened to yet, they're playing shuffled. It started off with Clannad, I will find you

Hope is your survival
A captive path I lead
No matter where you go
I will find you
If it takes a long long time
No matter where you go
I will find you
If it takes a thousand years

But what if I don't...

They have no idea what they're doing - not only to me, but to Rhys.

May 22nd 2007

Yesterday was a difficult day.

A lady came into my store with her son, and asked if he could use the toilet while they waited for their order. I showed him where it was, and said for him to go straight back out the same way when he was finished. This boy was about nine or ten I'd guess.

While their order was cooking, they waited patiently at the front - sat on the window sill like most people do. I was in the office and just happened to glance at the CCTV images - the mum and son were playing around, taking pictures of each other with their phones... he kept running outside to get a picture from the other way, both laughing and having fun. I stood silently fighting back tears.

I handed out their order and she joked, "I'm going to trade this horror in one day" and laughed. I wanted to tell her no... treasure him and every moment you have with him, but holding back the tears took every ounce of strength so I just smiled and opened the door for them.

It doesn't get easier. The pain doesn't lessen.

Just sometimes I can block it out for a while before it comes back and flattens me all over again.

January 5th 2007

How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye
How do you walk with your head held high
Can you even look me in the eye
And tell me why

October 31st 2005 - 04:50am

Time to open up.

I haven't seen or spoken to my son since June. The last thing I was told about him was that he'd be away for four weeks, wouldn't be back until after they'd moved out of the area. Not until several weeks later did I find out that he had been back in the UK before they moved, just no one had told me. I'd been deliberately misled into believing that he was away for longer than he really was just so I didn't try to see him. No doubt they told him I didn't want to see him. No doubt they are still telling him this.

It's not true!!

His dad, my estranged husband, and his current partner basically lied to me to keep me away from my son, and then moved out of the area without leaving a forwarding address.

So what do I do...

I'm dreaming about him every night, I wake up crying, I cry at work - Dave says I've been crying in my sleep too. I'm only sitting here now because I can't sleep for the tears. It feels like a part of me has been ripped out and taken away - that is what has happened!!

So what do I do...

25 days ago I talked to my son on MSN for about 30 minutes - the ONLY contact since June. He had to go eat his dinner so couldn't stay longer. Nothing since. No doubt he's been told not to talk to me again.

What can I do...

March 4th 2005

OK, time to update...

I've moved out of "the marital home" at last. I know most people never really believed I'd do it (the most frequent line is, "I knew you were unhappy, but never thought you'd actually end it"), but the decision was made in August last year - the marriage was dead for both of us. This is proved by the ease with which we have both moved on - I know I'm very happy with my new man, there's no amount of money that could even get close to buying what we have...

Thinking back over the years makes me wonder if my marriage ever was really right... he was the first guy I met who seemed to genuinely care and didn't abuse me - I think this was, in part, why we ended up together. I can also now see that all those years ago, I needed rescuing, needed taking care of, needed protecting. Or at least, I thought I did. I now know that what I really needed was to stop letting everyone else control things and get a life of my own instead of relying on those around me to provide my safety and security in life - I needed to (cliche alert!) find myself, and my inner strength. I needed to develop faith in myself and my ability to take care of me, instead of putting my faith in others.

Tell you what though, moving house is really stressful! But... as soon as I was out of there, I felt the difference. I'm sleeping better (when I get the chance anyway!), have got my diet back on track, and will be restarting my training within the next few days. I knew I was unhappy, but didn't realise just how unhappy I was, and how much the situation was getting to me, until I actually got out - wish I'd done it years ago to be honest, but fear (of the unknown) held me back. When the house (which is in joint names) is sold, the mortgage will be paid off, as will the massive debts (£28,000ish) that are secured on it, and whatever is left will be divided between the two of us - fresh start for both of us.

My son, Rhys, has chosen to stay with his dad - he's nine years old, old enough to know where he wants to live. It hurts, but it had to be his choice - and Rhys knows he can change his mind if he wants to. He's is the only truly innocent party in this, so his needs must be put first. He knows that if he needs me, I'll be there as quick as I can get there.

People are commenting on how much happier I am, someone also said that they've never seen Zeus so happy.

So... that's me and where I am right now, nothing more to add really, so I'll go now.

Jan 5th 2005

Well, I did it - I made it through Christmas and New Year once again. Christmas was dead, just a normal day for me (the way I like it), but New Year was excellent. The bad associations tied to New Year celebrations seem to be decaying, at last.

Today my son is nine years old. If I'm honest, it's getting to me a bit... I look at him, see how young he is, and am fully aware of everything that had already happened to me by the time I was his age. How can anyone do that to a child... ? I will never understand...

26th December 2004

Venting... !!!

I've a very upset nearly nine year old here... his dad promised to do something with him today, but is now not gonna do it. WTF say he's gonna do it if he had no intention of going through with it?! Not like this is a rare thing, it seems to happen all too often - my son is still waiting to be taken to the woods and taught how to climb trees; that promise was made about three months ago!!!

Sorted, the promise is being fullfilled.

12th June 2004

The new leg workout I did yesterday was a killer!

Recently I've taken to doing a local training circuit on weekends, combined with walking Zeus, but today, I think I'll go easy on myself and just do the upper body exercises on it!

Two days ago, my son was threatened with a knife by another child - simply because my boy would not let the other kid have a go on his bike (he has been told not to let others use it). No one would come to the door when we went to see the parents about it, so the police were called....

Here's what happened...

After the threat was made, the knife used was thrown into someone's garden (oh yeah, he knew darn well he'd been out of order and was trying to get rid of the evidence against him - total admission of guilt!). Now, the garden it was thrown into just happened to belong to one of one of my son's friends, who found it and gave it to his mother - nice to know there are some good kids here. Anyway, on hearing what had happened with my son, the mum made it known she had the knife and was more than happy to keep it for police.

So, after my son told the officer what happened, he went to recover the knife and talk to the kid who'd made the threat. Turns out the little brat is only eight, so he can't be held legally accountable, even if I had wanted to go that route. But, the officer & I had already decided to go with a DNP (Detected Not Proceeded), rather than put my eight year old son through the legal system. What's more important here, is that the kid gets the help he needs...and oh boy does he need help! When the officer went to see him, he was swearing, shouting & throwing things at him - nothing anyone said calmed him down, until the officer said, "Right fine, I'll take him now and put him in care" - of course, in typical bully fashion, this was when the brat put on his victim persona and started to cry *sigh* - this of course held no water with the officer as he's used to dealing with that type of thing.

The brat eventually got one hell of a telling off from the officer, and both his parents - but, doubt it will do any good because (as said by the officer) he is so out of control that he won't listen to anyone, and is heading for very big trouble. Although legally nothing can be done, I got the impression that other actions are going to be taken to try and get this kid in line before he gets any worse - I hope they are anyway, cos I don't want the little ******* anywhere near my son!

21st March 2004

Mothers Day

I don't usually feel any different on Mother's Day, it's just another day after all - but this year it's getting to me. Maybe it's because I've been out and about more, seeing the shop shelves stacked with various goodies to present to "The Best Mother in the World" who is "more like a best friend than a mother".

Quite often people say things like "but she's your mum, don't you miss her?" and, "you should respect your mother" - of course they generally look uncomfortable and admit they may have been a bit hasty when I mention my reasons. No, I don't miss my mother - I never have done and never will do. I don't miss the constant put downs and insults; I don't miss the way she just sat down and expected to be waited on hand and foot; I don't miss the guilt trips she constantly put me on; I don't miss the emotional blackmail she used on me; I don't miss her selfishness or spitefulness; I don't miss her deliberately nasty comments; I don't miss the abuse she turned a blind eye to, or even encouraged! As for respecting her - I respect her just as much as she respected me when she sat in the same room drinking tea while her friend sexually abused me, just as much as she respected me when she said the abuse was my own fault for having too much sex appeal. My first experience of illegal drugs was with my mother - I was eleven years old. My first experience of underage drinking was with my mother - I was twelve. My first experience of watching porn was with my mother - I was seven! Did she really think these things were good for me?!

But, on a nicer note - I did get a really cute card from my son. Time to make sure history doesn't repeat itself - my son will not grow up to feel the pain, hate and despair that thinking of my mother fills me with; that I will make sure of. She claimed to have done her best, well if that's the case, then her best was simply not good enough - my best will be better, because I will put real effort into it, unlike her.

Taken from http://www.matchmothers.org

On Tuesday 10 September 2002, Marion Jayawardene and Penny Cross represented MATCH at a working dinner organised by the Kensington Institute and Equal Parenting Council. The keynote speaker was Dr Richard Gardner M.D, Clinical Professor of Child Psychiatry, Columbia University, USA.

Mothers are increasingly at the receiving end of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), according to Dr. Richard Gardner, the world expert on PAS who first recognised the syndrome in the early 1980s.

In his recent speech in London, Dr Gardner noted that prior to the Women’s Liberation Movement and equality legalisation, “custody” disputes were less common due to the “tender years‘ presumption” which deemed that mothers were automatically the best carer for the child by virtue of gender. Today, when gender is not a consideration, fathers have a more realistic chance of obtaining residence and consequently more reason to alienate a child against their mother.

PAS is, Dr Gardner says, a very specific type of alienation perpetrated for a very specific purpose – that of gaining advantage in a Court of Law, by convincing or trying to convince a Judge that a child by his or her own words does not “wish” to see the other parent.

Dr Gardner went on to speak of his frustration in trying to persuade judges in the US and other jurisdictions of the need to be robust in their rulings against alienating parents. Judges were not prepared to threaten alienating parents with imprisonment, a course of action that would, he said, provide children with an “excuse” to see their other parent. In the last resort, the only remedy is transfer of residence from the alienating parent. Although this might at first glance seem dramatic, Dr. Gardner argued that whatever the short-term upheaval that a change of home, school and friends, etc. might bring, it was as nothing to the devastating effects of losing a parent. Whilst for the alienated parent, shut off from his or her child’s life, the effects of PAS are worse than losing a child through death.

Dr Gardner’s pioneering work to uncover and name the cluster of symptoms displayed by children who have been alienated against one of their parents by the other parent during the course of a divorce or relationship breakdown has been widely published. It has also been widely criticised. It is still not officially recognised in the US, even less so in the UK.

Dr Gardner’s speech was followed by contributions from a number of eminent international experts in the field of psychology and Judge John Lenderman, a senior family judge in Florida, who spoke of the need for “therapeutic justice”.

It was stimulating and heartening for the MATCH representatives to hear so much good sense spoken by so many committed experts. The only sad part about the evening was that there were no representatives from the British judiciary there to hear it.

A few days later Penny Cross appeared on BBC Radio Scotland with Dr. Gardner to discuss the issues surrounding PAS and the stigmas attached to mothers who leave the family home without taking the children.

Dr. Gardner was extremely pleased to learn about the existence and aims of MATCH, and was most anxious to learn how many of our Members were affected by PAS, as well as what effect it had had on our lives. He would like to learn more about us and made plans to keep in close touch, both personally and through his website.

We would like to establish a MATCH PAS interest group to send information on PAS to those who would like to receive it, as well as most particularly, to those MATCH Members who may feel they and their children are PAS victims.


To: The PAS Network
From: Richard Gardner

The California National Organization for Women, the California division of NOW, in its 2002 Family Court Report includes a section specifically devoted to criticism and even denial of the existence of PAS. In the section entitled "Legislative Solutions" the report recommends:

"10. The use of false syndromes (such as PAS) should be made illegal under the Family Code."

California NOW is recommending here that legislatures pass laws that make it a crime to use the term PAS. It follows then, that such legislation would have to include the specific punishments to be meted out to those who break this law, e.g., fines or even imprisonment. In the next section, "Judicial Solutions," the report recommends:

"2. Along with damages suit, sue for declaratory relief, making Parental Alienation Syndrome, mandatory joint custody, mandatory psychological evaluations and mandatory mediation unconstitutional."

These entities share in common procedures by which men are given the opportunity to share parenting time with their former spouses. California NOW would outlaw these procedures. By making them unconstitutional, those who make the PAS diagnosis or mandate the aforementioned procedures would be breaking the law and subject to punishment, e.g., fines or incarceration. They could also be sued for damages and declaratory relief.

There is no question that throughout history women have been victimized terribly by men. There is no question, also, that the Women's Liberation Movement has been a very constructive force, rectifying many of these evils. Unfortunately, there are women within the movement who are overzealous and therefore do the movement more harm than good. California NOW is an example of such a group. By taking extreme positions such as these, the group is giving the movement a bad reputation.

Many mothers, who have been alienated from their children because of their husbands' PAS indoctrinations of their children, have complained to me bitterly that women's rights groups such as NOW have spurned them, claiming that there is no such thing as PAS. We see then how the denial of PAS by these extremists results in a betrayal of the very women they are purporting to represent, support, and protect. I have elaborated on this point in my article, " Denial of the Parental Alienation Syndrome Also Harms Women".

Women who are PAS victims have not been vociferous enough in bringing attention to their plight. They have not banded together and publicized enough the fact that PAS is not a gender issue and that women are now as likely to be the PAS alienated parent as men. Especially important is their bringing to the attention of the courts that denial of PAS harms women. I believe that an important factor (if not the most important factor) operative in the denial of PAS by many judges is their fear that they will alienate women by recognizing the disorder. Women judges fear that such recognition will be viewed as a betrayal of their gender. And male judges fear that its recognition will result in their being labeled "sexist." Judges have to come to appreciate that such denial is causing great grief to thousands and even tens of thousands of women who are furious at them for such denial. I cannot emphasize this point strongly e! nough. Such banding together will provide women with their best hope for court rulings that recognize their plight as PAS victims. And such enhanced recognition by the judiciary will benefit men as well because they too have suffered grievously because of courts' denial of the existence of the PAS.


Grief - by Dr. Barbara Steinberg

Q: A parent who has been alienated from his or her child's life experiences extreme loss. Often we are asked by a targeted parent, "How do I deal with his on-going pain?"

A: First, know that you are not alone. There are others, both mothers and fathers, who have similar experiences, and who are in deep agony over the loss of contact and meaningful relationship with their children.

Second, know that you are not crazy. In our culture we are not encouraged to experience our grief. We are taught to be strong, to rise above it, to tough it out, to get over it and get on with life. Sometimes that is wise counsel if we linger in our pain, and our outrage becomes the complete focus of our life affecting our work, our social life and our spirit. However, the loss of a child whether by death or by exclusion from that child's life is beyond the realm of most parents' ability to cope.

In the beginning of an alienation process, we believe, as parents, this is not really happening. We deny that the other parent of our child is capable of these vengeful acts, and we choose not to believe our child, whom we love deeply, would ever treat us in such a hurtful ways. Denial is the strongest emotional defense mechanism we have at our disposal, and it is the one on which we rely the most. For most parents, because they truly want contact and relationship with their child, their denial does not hold up under time or with the reality of the disconnection they experience.

Third, many parents feel confusion, which suggests they are not able to identify and process the bunch of emotions; they are experiencing in their gut. Usually, these can be separated into feelings of deep sadness, intense anger, extreme outrage, and desperate blame. To keep from being overwhelmed by this internal "bucket of worms," many parents detach from the situation that they believe is an act of self-preservation. Some bargain with them using the following logic, "My child will get what's happened when he/she turns eighteen so I'll just wait." Both strategies are akin to whistling in the dark.

Fourth, targeted parents want to know how to deal with these strong emotions in healthy ways because if allowed to remain unreleased, they often gain a life of their own and emerge at inappropriate and inopportune times toward others who do not understand or deserve the depth and intensity of the feeling. Sometimes, these emotions are held internally. In an attempt to self-medicate the resulting pain, the targeted parent turns to addictive behaviors or substances. Eventually, if strong emotions are held internally for a long period of time, they can convert into physical problems, which plague the individual for the remainder of his/her life.

So the dilemma remains, what do I do with my pain? Keeping a journal or diary is helpful, but strong emotions require active self-interventions. Many parents report feeling relief from their deep sadness by allowing themselves to cry and scream. If you believe this might assist you in your process, to avoid embarrassment, it is wise to isolate yourself perhaps in a quiet, natural place so you can grieve in an unrestrained and unobserved way. It is also helpful to take a sequence of your child's pictures so you can activate your feelings of loss.

Intense anger is a physical activator so you will need to participate in a focused activity such as bowling, driving golf balls at a range or hitting balls in a batting cage. A less expensive approach is throwing ice cubes at a sturdy wall, an activity, that parents report, gives a sense of relief and release from ever tightening bands of anger.

Outrage describes a parent who feels misunderstood so there needs to be some attention paid to "telling your story." The problem is finding a receptive listener who has the patience and energy to hear the saga of hurt, frustration and humiliation more than once. Targeted parents can tell their story into a small tape recorder; they can write their story by hand into a journal, a loose-leaf notebook or a diary. They can use a word processor and store it on computer disc, or if they are creatively inclined, they can write poems to their children. Some parents have already published their story in books and poetry.

Of importance here is the intention to alleviate the outrage of misunderstanding that, as a parent, you are unimportant, even nonessential in your child's life. Also, it is important that you be heard, and that you remind yourself that you are still a parent by keeping your child's pictures around you. Another approach is to involve yourself in the parenting role with other children as a Godparent, as an involved uncle or aunt, as a Big Brother or Big Sister. Validating yourself as a parent can go a long way to heal feelings of outrage.

Finally, desperate blame is probably the most difficult bereavement issue to process. Some blame is justifiable: the other parent, the other parent's family, the legal and social services system, your child, yourself. However, the only one under your jurisdiction of control is yourself so this is the part that you work with in three separate ways. First, it is critical, regardless of the attitude and reception from the other parent, from the other parent's family and from your child that you stay in positive contact with them. Civility and cordiality in face-to-face contact is essential regardless of what is said in your presence or behind your back. In addition, sending your child cards, letters and little packages on unimportant days is appropriate. Also, communicating with your child by telephone, by e-mail and by facsimile can be effective. If you have completely lost contact with your child, then set your priority to find him/her and restore contact at least by distance. If this is impossible, then collect items and memorabilia in a special box or trunk reserved for your child and the possibility of future contact.

Second, become active as a citizen for positive change, and learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the system you blame for preventing you from having parenting opportunities with your child. This action may not change the disposition of your situation, but you may make the system a better place for other targeted parents and their children.

Third, for your sake and for the sake of your relationship with your child, it is imperative that you forgive the other parent. Notice there was no mention of forgetting what has happened, or how you have been treated, but again, for restoring your emotional balance and your ability to cope with life challenges in healthy ways, you will need to forgive the alienator. For some, this is a spiritual journey, and for others the path is a secular one. What is important is that you go about this process in a unique way that you believe will work for you so the specter of losing your child is diminished, and your health and well being are in restoration.