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Child-inclusive mediation/ parental alienation

Is child inclusive mediation an appropriate path where a young child seems to be being alienated?

Hi Moderators - I have posted this is the 'Mediation' section, but wasn't sure if I should have posted it here instead in the 'Parental Alienation' forum, as that is the subtext to this whole situation. I understand though if this is not allowed and you need to delete it. For this forum post though, I would like to add the question - is it 'safe' to mention that you think a child is being alienated to a Child Consultant - or is this a mistake in the current climate? Should my husband tread carefully around this issue, or just come straight out and say he thinks the child is being manipulated, controlled etc. Also, does anyone have any insight on whether initiating this could make the alienation worse, as it will give that parent the motivation to train the child to tell the psychologist what that parent wants the child to say. We are engaging the Child Consultant through a private mediation service, but this Child Consultant also works in the very FRC where my husband had a negative experience. Thank you

Original post was:

Hi there, my husband has recently initiated Child-inclusive mediation, and we are wondering if anyone has any positive/negative experiences of this?

A short history to put it in context - 4 years ago my husband initiated legal proceedings against his ex over access to his daughter (then 3, now 7), resulting in her spending 4 nights a fortnight with us by Consent Orders.  His ex complied, although reluctantly, but things have never been really happy due to what goes on behind the scenes. Child loves her father, but there is a history of her expressing negative adult concepts about him, and seeming conflicted about spending time with us. This is too complex to go into here in great detail, but her behaviour over the years reflects what appears to be a lot of subtle/ not so subtle reward/ encouragement on the mother's part for the child to have a negative experience with us/ report she has a negative experience even when she doesn't/ make up stories about us that please the mother, etc etc. This situation has always gotten worse when something occurs the mother does not like (e.g. we got married, had a baby), and settle down when the mother was happy (e.g. when she had a boyfriend for around 18 months). The child has also struggled to accept her little sister (now 2) in way which seems more extreme than just jealousy, which we expected, and which we do a lot to try to counteract (e.g. dad spending time alone with older daughter, a lot of reassurance, ensuring the child has her own bedroom and privacy away from the toddler, etc etc.) The child has previously reported that her mum sad the baby was 'not her real sister', which we think has a lot to do with this issue.

Recently the situation has deteriorated, since the mother's relationship ended, and since we raised some issues about the child with the mother that she did not like. She began implying that for a long time the child has been saying negative things about us, and which she wanted to raise in mediation. After asking several times what the child was saying (so we could clarify/ help the child) the mother has reported by email that the child says she 'no longer wants to come here' says she 'doesn't like her dad' says 'Dad doesn't care about my education' and other things which reveal that the child is telling quite elaborate lies about her time with us, such as that she doesn't have her own space, that her dad yells and yells at her,   that we fight and swear all the time (all totally untrue). The list went on and on, with the mother clearly indicating that she accepted the child's versions of events totally. At the same time, the mother did not suggest the child stop coming here - she is now used to getting the time away from her daughter,  so we don't know if she still wants to stop the child from spending time with us. It seems she may prefer for the child to send time with us, as long as the child clearly 'doesn't want to'  - in order to appease the mothers's bitterness and fear that the child would love her dad (this is obviously just our interpretation and I hope she is not that screwed up but history tends to suggest she is).

The child seems unhappy and this seems to be getting worse;  anger issues, what seems to be anxiety, issues at school. The rejecting behaviour seems to now be also getting worse (e.g. refusing things we try to give her that she likes, being very withdrawn when she is with us, telling her dad 'I don't want to elaborate' if he asks about anything).

We were already trying to get the child some counselling/ psychological help, for the issue with her sister as well as some issues to do with restricting food, saying she wanted to lose weight (she is only 7!) - but the mother refused and wanted mediation with myself as well as my husband. My husband had a very negative experience of mediation in the FRC in order to get the 601 certificate, and was quite traumatised by the idea of going through all that again, due to not being very good with words (his ex is), so we decided to initiate and pay for private mediation. They suggested to him at his intake that it sounds like the child is being alienated against him by the mother, and suggested that she wouldn't do very well in court - but also suggested Child Inclusive Mediation , where each of them talk separately to a Child Consultant, then the child does (if the mother agrees, hhmmm) and then we all meet with the mediator to hear the CC's thoughts and work out what we can change to help the child.

My husband is very down about the fact that we went through so much to try to achieve a relationship between him and his daughter, and years later it seems not to be working out as we'd hoped as the child seems so unhappy (tho' they do have a relationship). We are now wondering if the only way she could be happy, would be to either  increase time with us (which we think may be traumatic to the child who is so aligned to her mum), or decrease time with us. We only live in this state because of the child, so don't have as much support as we need to deal with this ongoing depressing situation, and wonder if after 6 years we should just go home (this is something we have never even considered seriously until now as we realise things are so much worse than we'd thought).

In mediation, we are mostly seeking advice from the CC about whether the current care arrangements are helping or harming the child and how we can help - we don't really have an agenda, as we don't know what to do. I am worried that without a clear agenda (solution?) it will just be us spending thousands on nothing but talk, as the mother is quite good apparently at seeming like a more sane person than she really is. The mother will not say what she wants to get out of mediation other than 'discussing the issues'.

Does anyone have any insight on how to make this process work, or on what possible subsequent pathways we could go down to help this child?

My husband has his meeting with the Child Consultant on the weekend and is nervous about how to reduce this whole sad situation into an hour long session.

Any insights would be much appreciated. Thank you for reading.
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