Would you abduct your own children if you were legally advised to do so?
Several clients (alienated or excluded parents) have brought to my attention legal advice they have received to “take their children back” when an alienating parent has contravened orders and taken the children into their care despite orders that the children were spending time with the other parent.
In instances where an alienated parent has taken their children into their care, in advance of court hearings and family assessment, the motivation were concerns about the psychological and emotional abuse their children were subjected to as a result of parental alienation. In such situations the children were denigrating them, calling them by their first name (a very dangerous sign of alienation), demonstrating extremes of disrespect, unreasonable rejection beyond a maladaptation to their circumstances and reporting on them back to the aligned parent (spying-another significant sign of alienation).
Tactically, the creation of a legal standoff can work insofar as it can re establish the original status quo where the children spend shared time with each parent. The alternative is that increasingly hostile children would have been excluded from a relationship with an alienated parent and family consultants would have been presented with a fait acompli
In a legal system that is obedient to the ‘status quo’ this can be a bold and successful tactic. However, I suggest that alienated parents should be confident that their children will stay with them and ultimately support their action.
It also sends a very clear message to alienating parents that action will be taken to protect the children if their needs are disregarded.
However, it is also a dangerous tactic. It sets up alienated or excluded parents to treat the children as chattels and in the eyes of the children, makes them complicit in their distress. It risks pushing their alienation further in the direction of the alienating parent. Alienated parents who ‘abduct’ their alienated children may have some explaining to do in a context where their actions will not be seen as any different from those of the alienating parent.
Furthermore, what will children tell the family consultant? That they were “kidnapped”? Adolescents and teenagers are particularly prone to these kinds of allegations that regrettably are likely to go uncontested. It will take a very skilled family consultant familiar with parental alienation to assess whether these actions were valid and whether there was indeed a threat of psychological and emotional abuse.
These are the dilemmas that parental alienation consultants and family consultants face. We never want to give alienating parents and in particular alienating children any ammunition to use against the alienated or excluded parent. At the same time we must balance this against the technical realities of family law, especially the power of the ;status quo’ and that parental alienation may not be given the credence and importance that it needs.
Should alienated or excluded parents consider taking their children back? Maybe, especially if you believe you have reasonable grounds for emotional and psychological child abuse that might otherwise trigger a child protection action. If you do not, then it may be your word against the other parent’s and, even worse, against your children!
Take care, remember your children have to want to be with you and then they have to stay with you voluntarily. You are not a kidnapper; you are a parent with their best interests at heart.