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  • Writer's picturePAPA

The best Christmas present is a parent's presence.

Christmas is a time for family and it's important not to deprive a child the love and care of their parents.

This year after announcing the PAPA van I decided to take on the Santa's Roadshow to help raise money for a local care home but also to reach as many local parents as possible to let them know that there's people out there fighting their and their children's corner.

It was a great experience to see all the smiling happy faces from the children because what Christmas and Father Christmas (or Santa) brings is the unwavering feeling of hope and excitement.

This feeling unfortunately is going to be lost on a lot of parents over the holiday period, loving parents who (usually) through no fault of their own have been alienated from the children they love so dearly.

This is why the PAPA Equal Parenting campaign has been and is ongoing in order to continue to promote the importance of both parents in a child's life and to continue to change attitudes and force legislative change so that both parents have equal opportunity to be a part of their children's lives. The presumptive stance has to be 50/50 and we are glad Santa agrees (above)!

Often in instances where one parent does not have equal say or opportunity we call the alienated parent the "target parent" but in reality they're not the only person who is targeted by this vicious form of abuse. The child is also the target.

A lot of times it's hard to see or notice if a child is alienated and/or affected by alienation as it can manifest in a lot of different ways but one thing is for certain; it nearly always has a detrimental impact on the child at some point or another.

Please see our article on the long-term impact on alienated children for more information, here.

Every child has a right to a loving relationship with both parents and unless there are serious safeguarding issues it's extremely cruel to deprive a child of this. It's important we always consider what is best for the child in question and it's almost never best for a child to be alienated from a parent.

If you're an alienator and you're reading this article then please consider the damage you are doing to your child, even if you refuse to care about their other parent, you should not want to be abusing your child by causing severe damage to their mental wellbeing.

There is no substitute for the love and support of a loving parent so it's absolutely true that the best Christmas present a child can have is the presence of their parents as well as their wider family.

I know all too well that Christmas can be a lonely time of year for alienated parents and that's why I always try and do as much as possible to make sure all PAPA members can get love and support in some form or another.

Unfortunately we see an increase in parents struggling with their mental health around the holiday period, due to the isolation of being without their loved ones at Christmas.

Mental health disorders are highest among adults who are separated and divorced, with 23% of men in this group reporting a mental illness. Separated men are more likely to commit suicide than married men. Results of grief analyses, as measured by the Separated Fathers Grief Scale, indicated that a grieving father's access to his children and his perception of his financial insecurity correlated with alcohol abuse, conflict with his ex-partner and stressors in his life. (QUT, School of Public Health, 2007).

It's very clear that this is a huge problem amongst men and fathers that needs addressing.

What's perhaps more worrying is there's now a growing number of alienated mothers also experiencing the above, which only further underlines how widespread this abuse is.

When you factor in both alienated fathers and mothers along with the targeted children and of course their wider family (ie. grandparents) you have millions and millions of victims worldwide.

This is partly why this year I've taken it a step further with the Santa's Roadshow, in order to reach as many parents as possible and to let you all know that you're not alone.

At PAPA we have a huge community fighting the same cause and here for one another.

This December I've listened to a lot of member feedback and I've made some improvements to the website forum to make it easier to post and find articles so that you can all reach each other easier.

The website forum will always be completely free and is growing every day, one day I will be publishing an app to further improve usability. Please join the website forum here.

I've also made improvements to the Facebook support group by adding chat rooms so that it is easier to find support within the PAPA community. There are thousands of members within the different chat rooms as well as part of the main Facebook support group. Please join our Facebook support group here.

If you're reading this and having a hard time this Christmas then please don't hesitate to join the above PAPA communities and someone will be available to help and support you.

Wishing you all the very best this festive period and I will certainly continue to keep working on making things better for us all.

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