Two recent conversations have prompted me to post on this thread.
One was from a father, forced out of his home, and being fed scraps of time with his children. He was completely broken and unable to understand why he was being punished like this, when he hadn’t done anything that could be seen as wrong. Through the tears, he explained to me what it was like for him, to be apart from his children every day. Not seeing their smiles, not being able to breathe in their scent when giving them a cuddle, to share laughter, dry their tears, and just simply enjoying their presence. He now most likely faces a court battle just to see his own children, and any parenting time awarded to him will always be, as he said “never enough”. His story is all too common, sadly.
The other was with a mother, a proud woman left completely bereft at her husband’s affair and subsequent departure from the family home. Her raw pain was all too evident. She felt the need to punish him, to make him feel that same raw pain she was experiencing, and her only way of inflicting that pain upon him was by stopping him from seeing the children. We talked for a long time (by the bread isle in Tesco’s) and I simply said to her – never hate him more than you love your children. She broke down, as she realised that this was exactly what she was doing – her love for her children was secondary to her Absolute hate of him. We talked some more, and she said that she knew she had been in the wrong, but was unable to see through that red mist and her utter despair. When we went our separate ways, she thanked me, and said she would put right the enormous wrong she had done.
We all suffer when going through a family break-up, but it’s the children who are always caught in the middle, being pulled in both Directions, their loyalties divided and their own interests left behind in the wake of the divorce when their parents put themselves first and the children second – and this does happen without it being realised. The lady in Tesco’s demonstrated this.
I too, am a child of divorce, and am only too aware of the damage that is done to children when parents are determined to ruin the other. My mother kindly blamed me for the divorce (I had just turned 13), and I carried this guilt with me for many years. Of course I wasn’t to blame, but I had no reason to believe that my own mother would lie to me. It wasn’t until I was in my 20s and a parent myself, that I finally spoke to my Dad about this (he gained custody of my sister and I), and he set me straight. To blame a child as being the reason for a divorce is simply cruel.
Our actions as parents reflect on our children, and can be life-forming for them. It’s not easy to always act with due reasonableness, to be the better adult, to take a step back from a volatile situation, to not allow our own thoughts to affect our judgements, but sometimes, a step back is needed, and the children to be bought to the forefront of any actions we are about to take, and to think “is this really in their interests?”
We don’t have rights as parents – we have responsibilities, a duty of care, we should put the children first – always – and remember that we are blessed to have such precious gifts in our lives. We chose to have children, to nurture them, love them, protect them, respect them, educate them, allow them to walk their own path in life when they are older, and to appreciate them for the wonderful individuals they are, and that they are your heart and soul.
Show your children you love them, that they are the most important people in your life, that you would do whatever it takes to keep them safe, and that above all, you put their interests first.
Your last paragraph is spot on Ruby, unfortunately all parents don't feel the same. My stbx's first words to my daughter aged 15 when he left for OW were " I am thinking of my own happiness and no one else's" and has continued to do so in the last two and a half years.
I can honestly say i would put no one including myself's happiness in fornt of my childrens. They are a bleewssing and should be treated as such. My two were old enough to see what was happening and my stbx has done himself no favours by disregarding their feelings.