Most of us have, at some point, heard the sentence “she won’t let me see my children”, coupled with responses along the lines of “she’s bitter”, “she’s using the kids to get at me”, “every child needs their dad”…. you get the idea.
But, is it really that one sided & ultimately that simple an answer?
I have an open view on this. In my opinion, there are many grey areas surrounding this controversial subject. I myself, grew up not knowing my biological father due to the decision my mum made for me at just 3 months old. Did I grow up feeling angry at her? NO!
Did I blame her in any way? NO!
So why not?
If a child NEEDS their dad, why is it that some children who grow up without one don’t feel they missed out in any way?
Personally, I put this down to two things…..
1. The mothers attitude
2. The individual reasons behind such a decision.
So I look at my own experience here to shed some light on the huge difference between a loving father being kept unnecessarily from his child and the pity party fathers who see themselves as a victim of revenge rather than one of their own selfish choices.
My own father wasn’t cut out to be a dad, he had a lifestyle that consisted of alcohol & drug abuse paired with the desire to break the law wherever he saw opportunity.
He was, what we commonly call, a lovable rogue. Although, not everybody loved him. He hurt many people over the years with his behaviour & lack of apologetic nature. An old school mans man who enjoyed being naughty, quite often ripping his own mother off for quick (often illegal) funds.
This in turn meant he spent, approximately, 25 years of his life repeatedly visiting numerous below average hotels courtesy of Her Majesty. But he didn’t care, he was toughened to that way of life & for many years I think he enjoyed it.
So, was he a bad man?
Did he deserve to have a relationship with his children? I think he probably did, yes. That answer may surprise you!! After all, he would never have physically hurt me, my mum knew that. He would never have dismissed me or denied me, my mum knew that also…. So why would she keep me from him for 16 years??? Well, you may think everyone deserves a relationship with their child but does your child deserve to bare the burden & upset of their life choices??
Being a mum myself, I now understand that it was probably because she had a vision for my future. The same as I have for my children.
I was just 3 months old yet my mum saw my entire childhood before it happened, she saw prison visits, a drunken father returning home with drunken louts from the pub, she saw drugs in the house that I was to grow up in and she saw selfishness. She knew I would be let down time & time again, & truth be known, she probably saw that I would follow in his footsteps, maybe even aspire to be what he was.
She didn’t want that for me, she wanted me to be everything that he wasn’t & have everything that he couldn’t give me.
Looking back, I know she was right. I had many of my dads personality traits growing up, even though he had no influence over my upbringing. I would almost certainly have been a daddy’s girl!! You can’t escape DNA!!
BUT….. My mums honesty, work ethic, kind nature, selflessness & strength in times of hardship was also instilled in me from a young age. The influence of my mum, grandparents & wider family ultimately won over that of a selfish alcoholic, only interested in looking after number one.
I don’t think my mum has ever loved anyone as much as she loved my dad, she just loved her child more.
Making the decision to walk away from the love of her life must have been a tough one, in fact I know it was because I too have since had to make that decision as a mother. I can’t even describe the heartache or torn feeling between what is best for the man you love & what is best for your child. Its even harder when you are at a point of weakness, years of having your confidence slowly destroyed and yet you’re having to make brave decisions that you know will bring a battle that you haven’t got the strength to fight, but who else will? So you find it…. somehow.
There are so many questions you ask yourself over & over… “How many chances do I give him?”, “Is it right to give up on him?”, “Am I making the right decision for my child?”, “What if I’m wrong?”.
You will torment yourself repeatedly for months even years before you eventually find the courage to do what you believe is best for your child…. not for you or your child’s father.
Once that has been made you are usually met with a barrage of abuse, you will be called all the names under the sun, you are evil, you are vile, you are not fit to be a mother. So again, you torment yourself. Every night you lay awake wondering if you are, in fact, all of those things. But you stay strong because it’s not about how you feel.
As mothers we all want our children to have a balanced, rounded, structured and happy childhood. Do we get it right every time? Of course not, none of us know if the decisions we are making for our children are the right ones. We certainly won’t know the answers to that until they are adults themselves.
Quite often, in situations like this, those fathers are given choices & numerous chances to change the environment they thrive in. Choices to give up drugs, alcohol, bad influences on both theirs & their children’s lives. Chances to change for the better, to become a better person for the sake of their children or to accept that going to the park for an hour is not being a parent. It takes so much sacrifice, often putting your happiness second to that of the child & being responsible for the attitudes & behaviours you are instilling into them.
Every parent makes mistakes, I’m no exception. My children have witnessed my mistakes on many occasions often at the expense of my own selfish choices.
But I see them. I accept the responsibility for my choices & I try not to repeat them. I try to be a better person every single day, I try to show the qualities that I want them to have as adults & I try to make decisions I believe to be in their best interests.
Not all mothers purposely keep their children from their fathers. If anything, we sometimes try for too long in the hope we can work something out . But at what cost?
How many times should I allow my child to wait at the window looking for daddy’s car only for it never to arrive?
How many times should I let them be driven around in a car worrying that the driver has been using drugs or alcohol only hours before? At what age do I allow that child to make their own decision about whether or not they want to see them at all?
What if they are put at risk of harm by the selfish actions of that parent? Even if unintentionally.
When is it ok to say NO MORE without fear of harassment, verbal abuse, false accusations & slanderous gossip?
To me, if you have rarely put your child’s needs first why should that child now consider yours?
It’s not to be cruel, its simply the point at which we ask .. “HOW LONG BEFORE ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”
It’s sometimes more damaging to keep dragging a child through the “Daddy is finally behaving like an adult & wants to see you this week” routine than it is to say “Enough is Enough” and give that child some consistency until he or she is old enough to make their own choices. It’s not how we want it to be. It’s how it has to be because of their choices. I can’t speak for all but I personally don’t know many mothers who would purposely torment their children for revenge. Most of these cases are simply parents not agreeing on what is best. Before you know it they have both forgotten what good qualities each holds as a parent because they are blinded by the battle or their distorted idea of what the battle is even about.
I know there are many fathers out there not able to see their children, and for those who genuinely are on the receiving end of a bitter revenge attempt, I support you!
To the mothers who purposely use their children as weapons against a loving & caring father desperate to see his babies… I say shame on you…. You are the reason my struggle is harder!!
These situations shouldn’t be about who’s wrong or right or who “wins”.
I eventually met my own dad when I was 16 years old, I spent the next 18 years, until he died, angry with him. Angry that he never chose to be a father for so many years. Drugs, alcohol and prison visits always took first place. I desperately want more for my children. I live in the hope that my children won’t feel that way although I fear it’s too late.
So I get so sick of hearing tale upon tale from these particular group of men. You know, the drunken blokes in pubs, crying into their 15th pint of stella whilst wiping white dust from their nostrils, shouting the “Fathers for Justice” nonsense to anyone that will listen.
It’s these men that make a mockery of the genuine fight some fathers face..THEY ARE NOT A FATHER NEEDING JUSTICE….. They are a father needing pity, a father needing therapy or maybe even a father needing a good old fashion slap to bring him back into the world of reality, but definitely not a father needing justice!
Was I ever angry at my mum?…….. No.
Did I need a dad?….. Maybe.
Whether it was the right or wrong decision, I thank her for being brave enough to make it & for putting my needs before her own. My life may have been very different if she hadn’t.
I eventually forgave my dad for letting me down & I have always understood my mums reasons for keeping his influence away from me, years later so did my dad….. And THAT is really the best outcome I can now hope for with my own children. Only time will tell.