Climbing the mountain: 6. Coordinating our efforts

MountainCloudContinuing the series … after the IntroductionBefore courtIn courtEnduring cases, and Raising Awareness, here’s a short but important climb No 6 (of 9) on our huge mountain of high conflict family separation of all kinds.

There are climbers who tackle extreme rock faces on their own. But that doesn’t seem a good idea for this challenging, multi-disciplinary field. Coordinated teamwork would be good.

This whole “Climbing” series arose because there seem to be many hundreds of people – professionals and those affected – all working hard but rather in isolation. We all publish a website or something, and we may have a few local supporters. But most huge projects to “change the world” require that dedicated teaming up and coordination.

In the UK, the (failed) Early Intervention plan a decade ago must not be our last coordinated effort to tackle this mountain. However steep the mountain, we just have to “try try and try again”.  So how do we go about this:

Coordinating Our Efforts:

The gender-based ideological battle mirrors the high conflict separation. It is debilitating for all sides, and it is not productive in practice. The two gendered sides of family conflict debate plainly want the same things: women, men and children being safe from risk and abuse, free to recover from a difficult process and get on with their lives and their continuing relationships with, and care for, their children. The children too benefit from knowing their separated parents are safe and thriving (again).

So the first step has to be a conceptual and organisational teaming up across this apparently never-ending gender war. It’s rather like what has had to happen in Northern Ireland as part of their peace process – there, both the (religion-based) sides have been slowly finding ways to put the past behind them and work towards a better future. As that builds, then it is easier for everyone to, metaphorically, come out of their houses and feel safe in the streets rather than lock themselves fearfully inside. When we get freed up from old battles, then we can team up and get coordinated for the shared greater good of all those in high conflict separating families.

  • Aim: We all must keep thinking and teaming up – repeatedly if necessary – until effective solutions are found. Children particularly are being harmed for life while adults, academics and agencies fail to do this.
  • Aim: More thinking and application is needed about how to get organised, raise awareness, develop and influence policy, design better services for families, and so on.
  • This involves considering what kinds of organisational approach we use: whether to be engagingly moderate or challengingly strident; to set up formal organisation or use informal networking; to use private channels or launch into public media and government lobbying.
  • Usually it is not one or the other of these, but both and all approaches working in tandem.
  • Aim: Meanwhile, we can continue to look for and link with the many remarkable individuals whose often isolated innovative dedicated work remains far too unremarked and certainly not joined up enough with other people’s efforts.
  • The internet provides a great start for linking up, but the work of linking up takes a lot more than just being on the internet. The internet is a known breeding-ground for flaming arguments that polarise to greater extremes.
  • We need some careful constructive direct face-to-face talking across the gender war-zones, as well as between those who are working “on the same side” but in isolation. That’s not to avoid the differences that lead us to battle; we want to find ways to listen and talk about them, so that we can build a constructive peaceful way forward. (See Wikipedia’s way of doing this below).
  • Aim: Continue to improve, network and share quality thinking and ways forward. That is what the alienation experience blog is for in one part of the field. And here is one concise and comprehensive overview open to anyone’s improvement, a detailed picture of the more slippery half of the mountai  to go with these mountain-climbing routes.

Examples of coordinating

Small teams can produce amazing results. Look at the recent multi-author textbooks. Look at Karen Woodall’s leading a network of work on all fronts, through her blog and The Family Separation Clinic. These examples remind us that one person, or a small group can be effective, but not able to coordinate with everyone else.

Realism is important in order to remain sane and effective in this challenging business. Teaming up means being focused and choosing carefully what you can achieve, which peaks you are going to climb, while leaving others aside to others. Ideally we all find ourselves doing the things we’re good at, pleased and supportive of others who are good at other things.

PASG

A good example of coordinated teaming up is in the Parental Alienation Study Group. This is a fairly informal international network of leading thinkers, authors and activists. We are connected by email, a website and an e-Newsletter. Go to the website to find out more and ask to join in if you think you can work as part of that.

A couple of examples of PASG’s coordinating work:

  • One is in how PASG helps across international boundaries to help pick up on prejudiced opinions and incorrect facts published in professional journals … the place where you’d least expect to find prejudice and invalid information.
  • And the other example is in improving the relevant pages of the globally popular authority: Wikipedia. Right now, a sub-group of PASG is working on how best to engage in the discussion groups inside Wikipedia responsible for improving and referencing what goes into its pages. Watch for the improvement happening here and here.

It has been interesting to learn how a Wiki page-discussion-group (behind the scenes) structures, controls and facilitates reference-based argument in a calm way, with Wiki’s editors skill at  forging a fair outcome to a disputed topic like PA/S. It would be great to use that kind of method to help us resolve the gender debate differences and stop wasting energy in what is, after all, the search for an outcome we all share.

Summary

That’s some ideas and examples about Coordinating our efforts. Do you know of more? Please let us know.

As ever, you can read the the whole Climbing the mountain thing if you want to.  And the whole project is to share and recruit other people’s comments and improvements. In other words, this is another kind of coordinating exercise. Seeing if we can find a better coordinated way forward. Please use the Comments box below.

Nick Child, Edinburgh

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About Nick Child

Retired child and family shrink now family therapist living, working and playing in Edinburgh.

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