Time to Put Kids First
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Editor: Ben Williams
My ex-husband and I began our divorce 6 years ago. The first year was absolutely miserable dealing with the courts nonstop, the conflict, and the decline in our children's academics and behavior. The drama, nonsense, legal fees, court appearances, time off work, stress, anxiety, and tension was awful to say the least. But, above all else, our children began to suffer in school, were acting out, and were clearly affected by being put in the middle of OUR issues.
When I went into my first consultation with my lawyer, I was
made to feel victorious before even stepping foot in the courtroom. After
telling him my ex-husbands income, me only working a part time job, talking
about how I do a lot more of taking care of our children I was told the case
would be a “slam dunk” (her words).
Our first court appearance, and I got exactly what I asked for, with the standard visitation schedule for my ex-husband and the kids and I had primary custody with sole decision making. For some reason, my lawyer didn’t seem satisfied and continued giving advice of other things we could and should do such as hire a GAL, mental health evaluations, up child support payments, the whole 9 yards. Whatever she said, I was ready for.
One day, things began to change, and my whole perspective shifted. My brother and his wife filed for divorce and I began to see what was happening to him and his two beautiful children. I began to see the impact on our children’s relationships who had previously seen each other 2-3 times a week, but could not see each other at all now because my brother and my ex husband had opposite every-other-weekend schedules. It broke my heart as my kids said how they missed their cousins and wanted to see them. It was then I began to notice the other affects such as their academics and behavior.
A week before a court hearing, I called my lawyer and fired
her. I then called my ex-husband and told him I wanted to work things out
between us. I told him I fired my lawyer and that we should meet up and discuss
things so we could speak to it at our next court hearing. We met and we agreed
to do roughly a 60/40 schedule because of his work schedule. The following
week we told the judge that we would figure out the paperwork and would be entering
From then on we have slowly built our relationship and friendship and have worked together for our children. Today, we do many activities together such as celebrating holidays. It has been incredible beneficial to our children who now are able to see their cousins again, have a strong relationship with their father, and are both in high school and excelling in both school and sports!
I cannot imagine where our lives would be if we continued with the conflict and having lawyers and the courts involved. To this day I still watch as my brother struggles to see his children while his ex withholds them whenever she wants and controls his life. It is sad that it took my brother’s and nieces situation to realize what I was doing to my kids and ex-husband. But, my children are thriving and I do not feel they would be doing as well if I had not stopped the court hearings.
I share this to hopefully inspire others to know that, you
can make a better life for your children, your ex, and even yourself. Don’t let outside influences make
you believe you are doing what is best for your children by limiting their time
with their father. Children truly need both parents, my children are a testament
to that fact.
I hope parents can begin putting children first before their own personal feelings and not be sucked into the selfishness and greed that comes with taking issues of divorce to court.
The Girls Scouts is an excellent organization that began over 100 years ago. It has grown to over 2.7 million people consisting of 1.9 million girls and 800,000 adults. The Girl Scouts focus on teaching youth girls important life skills such as goal setting, decision-making, money management, people skills, and business ethics. "Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place" ( girlscouts.org ) and we here at TPKF believe they do just that!
teaching from the Girl Scouts is about giving back to the community,
where scouts are given the opportunity to donate a portion of their
cookie sales to an organization of their choice. One girl in particular
has given TPKF reason to believe that the Girl Scouts are fulfilling
their mission of building brave girls! This courageous and confident
little girl decided to support TPKF with her cookie sales for the second year in a row and donated
her portion to Time to Put Kids First.
It warms our heart to know that this little girl is supportive of our work and has a generous heart to donate to the cause and our work. She writes: "My troop just finished our annual cookie sale. I choose to support TPKF because I like how you make sure lot's of familys equal time with both parents." We are very thankful and humbled that she continues to support our work and it affirms that shared parenting is not only what children need but it IS what children WANT!
From the whole TPKF Team, thank you to this little girl for your continued hard work in the girl scouts and for donating your earned portion to our organization! You are awesome!
(Not the actual author, in order to protect her identity)
Author: A grieving mother
Editor: Ben Willaims
Date: 4/19/2016 (Re-post)
I saw you guys in the Huffington Post, and I wanted to share my story so you can share this with every single parent you possibly can. I’m no role model, but my message is important. There isn’t much that angers me anymore, except when two parents can’t set their differences aside and do what is best for THEIR child. I’ll be blunt. I was an "alienator". I played the whole ‘false allegations’, and ‘he did this’, ‘he did that’ game, which was encouraged by my lawyer.
I DID think that she was more “mine” than she was “his” because I loved her so very much. I wanted to mold her into what I wanted her to be. I didn’t think there was anyone who could care for her or love her like I could. I can’t tell you why I thought that or what could have changed my mind back then. But, because of MY selfish actions, I lost custody of my precious baby girl when she was 6. This is why your story in the news really hit home with me. It brought me to tears for everyone involved. I was so caught up in bitterness and being right, that I stopped seeing my little girl. I hated my ex so much, and I hated that he “won” even more. I cried every single day. And, I had to play the victim. Pity from others was the only thing bringing me comfort at that time. It’s behavior that, now, is hard for me to even comprehend. I don’t think I’m a bad person? At least, I certainly never intended to be.
It had been almost 5 months since I had seen my little girl when she and her Dad were hit by a semi truck. She was 7. I died that day too. Even then, I tried to blame him for it. Initially at least. I needed someone to blame. Now, I struggle daily to not blame myself. Obviously, I’m not saying that my little girl and her Dad would still be here today if I had done things differently, …but when they were hit, they were on their way to see her Counselor… no doubt, it was counseling needed because of MY actions. So, that is tough for me to swallow.
PARENTS, life is so short! And it can be taken in an instant! Life is never easy, and relationships are never easy. But, you need to figure it out! You DO NOT love your child more, and you aren’t the better parent. You are not helping your child by keeping them from half of their family, I don’t care what your lame, self-centered excuse is. We all have our good qualities, and we all have our problems. Perfectly imperfect. And, when YOU choose to fight and withhold your child, this is bringing out the worst in YOU anyway, so then your child has no positive role model in their life at all.
Learning about what my ex went through during the alienation and learning what a great father he was, was devastating to me. Simply because I couldn’t get past “my issues” and figure out how to communicate, I had to learn after his death what a great man he was and how much pain I caused him and our daughter. Don’t wait until you’re in my shoes and all you’re left with is thinking “I wish I could have the chance to do things differently.” There’s only one reasonable excuse for you to say “I can’t make things better TODAY” … and that is when death takes that opportunity from us. Everyone else, you have absolutely NO excuse.
Author: Ben Williams
Is Parental Alienation real? We know that lawyers, judges, court affiliated psychologists, and parents who commit psychological abuse toward children all typically say that Parental Alienation (PA) is not real, it's a hoax, or it's what “child abusers” say to try and win custody. The problem with that is... well... everything.
Everyone knows that during a break-up, it is quite common for people to begin badmouthing, name-calling, and telling their friends all of the ins-and-outs of their broken relationship. This is as typical for adults as it is with teenagers. And to deny the fact that parents brainwash their children and attempt to destroy parent-child relationships is not only naïve, it is dangerous.
We live in a self-serving world where telling lies, twisting the truth, and talking bad about others to make ourselves look good has sadly become too common. Child abuse, mental illness, drug addiction, murder, and suicide are all on the rise, yet children being subjected to Parental Alienation is unbelievable? We live in a society where families are broken, relationships are disposable and our country is more divided than ever, yet you question if a parent could convince their child to end a relationship with their other parent?
The risk of ignoring the reality of PA will enable the destruction of our children, perpetuate the cycle of separation and divorce, and we will continue to see an increase in child abuse, mental health issues, crime rates, and societal issues in general.
A few days ago, we received this comment in response to sharing the infographic pictured above:
Editor: Ben Williams
As a parent of two children whom I have not seen in over fifteen years, the story from the other day really resonated with me. After a bitter divorce, which was not single handedly perpetrated by myself nor my children’s mother, but instead was initiated through a game brought upon us by our lawyers; I lost all contact with our children. Our children were put on public display in a courtroom full of people, our problems, our faults, and our once intimate past was aired for the world to see. Etched in stone, kept hidden only by a mere trip to the courthouse to be unlocked by anyone in the world who wanted access. Violating our privacy and exposing our children to the potential of one day reading the horrors, lies, and fallacies these documents are riddled with.
I felt hopeless, I felt, incapable of continuing on, but most importantly, I felt my children were suffering irreparable harm from it all. Some people call me weak, some people call me a loser, and yes, society calls me a “deadbeat.” Unfortunately, I was faced with a tough reality. My children were being pitted against me, they were wrapped up in the middle of it all, being old enough to ask questions and comprehend what was going on. They were not being protected, shielded, or told age appropriate information.
I was faced with two options: continue fighting and have our
children grow up in high conflict, tension, constant fighting, court battles,
and other uncertainties; or to give up, and walk away, hoping one day they
would come and find me. Of the two, I ended up choosing the latter. Some people
may not understand, many will call me names and cast judgement for my decision;
but ultimately, I think I still made the right choice. My children could begin
living a life of peace, drama and conflict free; not feeling as though they
must choose sides or “pick a team” between mom and dad. I felt I had no other
This was by far the hardest decision I have ever had to make in my life, a decision I have to live with. One that I will never know the alternative outcome had I decided option A. But, one I am now left waiting, waiting on my children to come around, to lend me an ear, to forgive me for what I did and hopefully understand my reasoning behind it all. I have written letters over the years after they became adults; and have been waiting on a response, with no luck. I continue to wait, holding onto hope, and praying that one day I will receive a letter, a call, or a knock on my door. Until then I do my best to hold myself together, to make it another day, one more day without my prides and joys; my reasons for living. The story from the other day has given me hope, a new sense of courage to take on the next day, month, and year; waiting on my children. I hold onto the hope that I too, will be reunited.
Editor: Ben Williams
It all started 7 year ago while I was on a week-long business
trip in Atlanta. Not long after landing, my wife texted me to tell me she
wanted a divorce. We had been having our struggles, but, I didn’t know it was
to this magnitude. She told me her lawyer was going to send over the papers and
that I needed to sign them in order to make this easy on the children. When I
received the documents, I read through them and quickly the realization came
over me that my life was falling apart. As I’m sure most are familiar with, the
car, the house, our savings, our assets, and most importantly our kids were all
demanded to be hers. Everything we worked so hard for over the last 15 years
was gone in an instant.
After reading the documents, I texted her and said there is no way I can sign the papers. The message that came next has haunted me for the last 7 years, I dream about it almost every night, and I constantly relive the moment of anxiety I felt after receiving that message: “You will regret this.” My heart sank to my stomach, my throat dried up, and fear consumed me. I had no idea of the horrors to come.
For the next 4 days I messaged her and called her in-between meetings with no response. These 4 days were torturous and felt never ending, but, they were just the beginning. I came home to an empty house and I quickly found my children’s dressers to be empty and their favorite toys to be gone. I was left in a silent house that was once filled with noise and laughter.
I reached back out to her attorney, I contacted the police on multiple occasions, pursued the courts, but there seemed to be no hope in sight. The police told me it was a civil matter and without their whereabouts I could not properly serve court papers. Regardless, these efforts seemed futile, because, I knew, without a doubt she moved to China where her family lived. China is a non-Hague Abduction Convention country meaning it does not comply in the extradition of international parental kidnapping cases.
It has now been 7 years since I have seen my children, heard their voices, or held them in my arms. With each passing day it gets harder to continue, to live my life, and to breathe. I’ve taken many trips to China, hired private investigators, but to no avail. I dream of how my children are doing and hold onto a glimpse of hope that one day I will be reunited with them, but more often than not, I am filled with the negative thoughts and doubts that it will never happen.
More than likely my children are being brainwashed. Riddled with false fear through fictitious stories and events that never occurred, stories to make me a monster, and which will ultimately make them hate and reject me.
My children are alive, living their lives on the other side of the world completely disconnected and disassociated from me, their father. No amount of family support, counselling, medication, or otherwise can take away this pain and suffering. There is no end in sight, there is no closure. The day I receive closure will be the day the good Lord takes me to heaven, where I can look down upon my children, watch over them, and protect them. But, until then, I live in the dark unknown trying to hang on to a glimmer of hope.
Editor: Ben Williams
I work at a large company in a big city, I have many friendships I've made over the years in which we get together frequently, and my family is rather large, being 1 of 7 kids in which we all now have children of our own. I work 5 days a week, get together with friends on the weekend and my family has a monthly get-together every month; yet, for some reason even though I am surround by people constantly, I still manage to feel alone and isolated. I feel alone and isolated because no one seems to relate or even understand my hardships. The hardships and struggles of living my life as a childless parent.
My children's mother was granted to move with them out of state a few years ago and I receive 2 weeks of time with them every summer break. My oldest child has now informed me she does not want to come this summer to see me. This left me devastated and heart-broken. From her message, she has clearly been manipulated to believe negative things about me and it is very sad what has been done to sever our once close bond and relationship.
I have had long, in-depth conversations regarding my struggles and depression with my friends and family and the reactions and responses I've received are disheartening to say the least. Reactions tend to come across as disingenuous, where a lack of compassion, care, or concern plasters their face expressions and tone of voice. When these conversations arise it is like I'm a complete stranger and there is a barrier between our lives and problems.
I wish people understood our situations. If someone has cancer, a broken leg, or lost their job people sympathize and care. They seem to be genuine and want to help you in these situations. Yet, when it comes to divorce and child custody, it's like there is some major social disconnect. Those who are unaffected think you did something to deserve it, they hardly sympathize that you're being kept from your child and your life is in complete control of your ex and a single judge who knows nothing about you, your ex, or your children. I feel like there is this bubble around the issue where those who are unaffected are on the outside and safe while your issues cannot penetrate outside of this figurative bubble and you're alone in there in complete isolation. I just want people to understand, to help change it before it happens to them and their kids.
I don't want to feel alone anymore; I want my friends and loved ones to truly understand and care and even more than that, I want them to help fix these issues so we can put an end to the destruction of our families; so children stop adopting the same mistakes as their parents and perpetuating these issues that are deeply effecting our society.
Editor: Amy Richards
If you’ve been on the receiving end of false allegations in a child custody dispute, you know the road ahead is tough. I’d like to share my story. It’s not easy re-living and sharing, but I know there are thousands of others who have dealt with the same and similar situations. You’re not alone, the pain is real, the loneliness is daunting, but we all must endure it, for our children.
The roughest, most uncertain season of my life appeared to have all but stabilized. The concept of being a single dad was new to me. Hours with my children were hard to come by since I just started working days at the hospital. Previously, I worked nights, and when I did have them on my days off, I felt like a zombie. I sacrificed the money to better my chances of having time with my kids on normal hours.
Post-divorce I had to live with my mom in a small 2-bedroom apartment. She was a busy woman but worked from home a lot. She’s a mandated reporter because she’s a licensed drug and alcohol counselor. I was adjusting to the new hefty child support payment and getting used to being separated. The time with my kids was always my first priority, and having those hours together really made my work week seem less painful.
I received a late night text on a Sunday evening from my ex letting me know the girls were extremely sick and vomiting and further stating they needed to stay home with her on Monday. Passively, I agreed they could stay home, but inside I was sad to not see them as I wanted to take care of them myself.
The next morning as I was getting ready to go on a run, there was a knock on the door. Looking at the clock, I was thoroughly confused who would be coming to see me at 8am on a Monday morning. I looked through the peephole in the door to see who it was. I saw two well-dressed men with brief cases, further confused, I opened the door to ask what they needed. The man on the left said: “Sir, can we have a word with you?” I welcomed them into the apartment completely baffled as to who they were and what they wanted with me. We sat down at the table, and the nightmare began to unfold.
I listened as the detectives began to state the claims made against me, claims of abusing my kids. I was filled with every emotion imaginable as the accusations kept flowing from their mouths, some of the most heinous and unthinkable allegations. As they continued, I began feeling nauseous. My ex accused me of all of these hideous, disgusting things, all – of course - without proof. As they were speaking to me, it was almost like they already knew these accusations were false. At one point, one detective even mentioned the lack of history on my record, as I have none.
An hour went by as we talked, and I answered their every question. At the end of it, they said they’d be in touch and they walked out. I stood there embarrassed, disgusted, enraged, and alone. My arms were numb, my heart stopped beating, and my eyes went blurry. I fell to my knees and sunk my head into my hands and so began the long, painful journey that my children and I have endured the last 3.5 years.
My ex had three different examinations performed on each of our children, and all three discredited the allegations. She went to the first doctor, told her story, the doctor examined our then 3 and 5 year old children and found nothing; two more times she had our daughters violated in order to try and give weight to her story, but each rape kit discredited her falsified story. Three times she put our children through this traumatizing torture of having our children violated when she knew her allegations were fabricated. It breaks my heart and makes me sick to my stomach knowing this has happened to my precious daughters.
I can’t imagine what goes through the mind of a parent who subjects their children to such an invasive and scary situation. Sadly, in a way, I consider myself lucky that charges were never officially filed against me. But, even worse, nothing was done for the actual abuse that was done to my daughters. She used the system, its flaws, and loopholes to “win” the custody battle. To her, the kids are hers, not ours, and she does not care what lengths she has to go or the damage she causes to our children in order to cut me out. Our children have no doubt been abused, not by me, but by the allegations and actions of my accuser.
To know my children and I are not alone fills me with despair, while also giving me an unexpected comfort. My drive to be strong is for my children and for all of us.
Editor: Ben Williams
As the father of two beautiful daughters I never in my wildest dreams imagined or even thought possible that I would become obsolete in my children's lives. I had known people going through divorce and dealing with child custody; both friends and family. But, I had never pried or asked many questions. I didn't know the details of their situations and didn't want to get in the middle of their business. Quite honestly, I assumed their hardships must have been created due to their own actions, that they must have "done something wrong." Now, I am completely ashamed and embarrassed that I ever thought that. That I was so ignorant. That I didn't ask questions. After being through the family court system myself, seeing the horror behind those closed doors, I now understand their pain.
My daughter's mother and I were both working parents who invested a lot of time with our daughters; both taking on the roles and responsibilities fairly. When our daughters were 10 and 7; we started the divorce as we were no longer "in love." What began off as an amicable divorce and reasonable orders that included agreed upon joint custody, became a nightmare. After a year, I began dating again and found myself in pretty serious relationship. The day my children's mother found out, is the day everything began to change.
Not too long after, she took our daughters and moved. Giving me no notice, no idea where they were going, or any information at all. I showed up to pick them up as normal one Thursday night and they never showed. I called and I texted with no answer or reply. After hours, I called called hospitals, called the police, called everyone I could think of. I received no answers and no help.
After a few months and the help of a private investigator I tracked them down, filed in court, and tried to re-establish parenting time with my daughters. I never expected what was to come. The allegations of abuse, some of the most horrific allegations I have ever heard. With no proof or evidence, a 2 year restraining order was put in place which included my two beautiful daughters. I cannot begin to describe the heartache and pain this brought upon me. What had began as a glimpse of hope after finding them quickly became a deeper pit than the one I was in before. With each passing day, it seemed to get worse and worse and there seemed to be no end in sight.
I am now nearing the 2 years of the restraining order, hoping to get it lifted, hoping to regain contact with my daughters. But, I am so afraid, afraid of whats been said to them, afraid of what they think and believe. Two years is a long time, a lot of time to create a lot of damage in a child's mind. I just want to hold my daughter's again and tell them how much I love them; but, I'm afraid I may not get that opportunity again. There is no worse feeling than that, there is no greater pain.
Looking back, I feel terrible for my ignorance toward those who were in shoes like mine, those who I gave a mere pat on the back to as they suffered in silence. I can't begin to describe the regret I feel because after going through it myself, I see myself in those who are judgmental and believe I must have done something wrong or "deserve" what has happened. That alone is torture, but combined with the emotional despair of being without my children has put me in a tough spot.
I am trying to be optimistic for the future, for reuniting with my children, and for their acceptance of me; but after going through what I have, it is an on-going challenge, a daily battle, an inner battle, fought between me and myself where my mind is combating itself going through every possible scenario and placing fear, doubt, and worry in my mind. It is a dark place, a place where no parent should ever have to be.