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PAPA meeting, Thursday, September 15, 2005, 7:30 p.m.

Location: 40 Speen St., Suite 205, (Lupus Foundation of New England)  Framingham, MA 01701

Facilitator: Jeffrey Parks, LMFT.  508 877 3660 x 5, email:  jefparks@aol.com

PARENTS AGAINST PARENTAL ALIENATION is a monthly support group for Boston Area parents meeting in Framingham. The Group seeks to increase the understanding, promote shared parenting, and expand personal, community and cultural strategies in responding to parenting problems arising from divorce. The focus is on how to protect ourselves, our children and the community from the toxic emotional and relationship fallout that often occurs in a separation/divorce.  Members of the group may connect with one another through an e-mail special interest group at yahoo.com.

HOW: Mothers and fathers share their frustrations and rewards as they claim the love for their children, often in the face of rejection and hate. We hear how others with similar struggles have responded to cut-offs in a relationship. The benefit of learning from others (especially the other gender) becomes evident as all are in different stages of separation/divorce and eventually recovery.

WHOM: Fathers and mothers seeking to prevent alienation, parents seeking to respond in the most positive manner to a high-conflict separation/divorce or aftermath, and adult children who have experienced alienation and want to learn from their experience and help others.

At the August 18 meeting, the group of 14 participants all actively joined in sharing their fears, frustrations, hopes but most of all their love for their children.  Group members smiled in passing photos of children around. Parents new to the group were greeted warmly. The Facilitator reminded the Group of the ground rules, purpose of our meetings and common bonds. All shared their positive experience of Group.

Important points made at August 18 Meeting: 

1. Prevention of alienation  By angry ex-spouse -- standing up to  "bad-mouthing," changes in schedule, barrier placement in positive, healthy, strategic ways. Understanding how development, especially in teens, exacerbates alienation.

2. Healing from loss - Practicing gratitude. Validation from knowing "we're not alone."  Trauma recovery in debriefing others.  Claiming the power to change ourselves. All agreed that we need to not be "victims."

3. Reunification strategies - Strategies shared  by parents who have recently had visits curtailed to parents who have children who have been estranged for years. Not giving up.

4.  "Detoxing from hate"- Strategies discussed to not letting others push our emotional buttons, awareness of impact  "hate" has in body mind, and spirit - and health choices. Group distinguished toxic guilt/shame from healthy shame.

5.  Managing the legal/systems responses -Successful strategies in using Guardian ad Litems and Parenting Coordinators including positive reviews of lawyers.

6. Moving on to a healthier relationship and family - "Safe" dating discussed as well as how to facilitate the biological children's integration into the stepfamily. Partners welcomed to Meeting, as they share their frustration in responding to "irrational behavior."

7. Using family therapy  - Intervention strategies to "mend the wounds and heal the rift."

8.  Educating others - Fathers and mothers united in standing up to stereotypes that others have in labeling noncustodial/estranged parents.

9. PAPA Group - Reaching others and using the Yahoo Group. Can we be both a support group and a "work group?" How to connect with other Groups?

Thanks also to the Lupus foundation of New England for providing a great conference room.
Please call for info: Jeff Parks, LMFT.   cell --  508 561 -- 8186

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