Yesterday a colleague of mine told me how she still remembers vividly the day her father walked out for another woman when she was 12. She described the scene in vivid detail and was reduced to a crying shivering wreck. She is now 42 and to see how it still affects her was so upsetting. As usual I was hopeless at what to say or do but so many people say children are resilient and get over things like this and I am beginning to doubt that very much.
She is not the first person who has told me they have never got over a parent leaving and I find this so sad, 30 years later and that poor young woman must have felt like she was back in the time it happened.
Children are resilient but the situation has to be handled in the right way. "Walking out" suggests he upped and left without explanation which leads to the children thinking that they were at fault.
Children are adversely effected when the parents stay together for their benefit e.g. once they finish their GCSEs. At this point is is patently obvious to all concerned that the misery is prolonged as a direct result of the children (merely through their continued existence). Good luck to the child psychologist who has to deal with that one..
She new exactly the reason he was going he told her he was leaving for OW. Until her mother found out about the affair the marriage as far as her mum was concerned was happy. There was no staying together for the sake of the children.
I am with Charles. Fathers and mothers staying for the sake of the kids is wrong. So is abandonment. Done right it can work to the good. But the parents need to work together for the sake of the kids after divorce. But often people put ahead their issues that they have with each other and use kids as battering rams. This of course damages them. Forever. Marshy.
It sounds as though your colleague might benefit from counselling and perhaps trying to trace her father. Sometimes its possible to obtain a more realistic view from hearing the other side of the story when contact with an absent parent can be established. I remember one case when someone found out their mother had been so distressed by the husband''s affair that she wouldn''t "allow" any relationship between him and the child. The father had sent cards and presents every birthday and Christmas for years but they hadn''t been passed on.
Abandonment and estrangement from a parent are very sad and have long term repercussions. Children who are insecure about their natural parent and heritage tend to have low self esteem leading to emotional and behavioural problems in adulthood.
Evidence shows recriminations aren''t helpful. When children have one parent who can put the needs of the children first, reassure them the breakdown of the relationship wasn''t their fault and support the child''s relationship with the absent/estranged parent (even if that parent''s behaviour leaves much to be desired by most people''s standards) the problems can be prevented or overcome. Children then go on to have much the same long term outcomes as children whose parents stayed together.
My little girl is 16 now she was 6 when daddy walked out. I thought that she would be terribly affected. However we had lived like two little mice scurrying around trying to avoid the big cat for years.
My daughter has grown into a beautiful wise well rounded sane individual . I firmly believe that if we had stayed together as a family she would have become a nervous wreck. Everything I said or did was met with spiteful sarcasm at best. I have never disrespected her father to her she has formed the view for herself that his behaviour is totally unacceptable. It''s 10 years on now my daughter and ow simply laugh at him . He cannot bully any longer as ow is a much more powerful woman than I.,
For my wee sprog I know that there are things that she has missed that would have occurred as part of a normal family. However the truth is that we never were one.
The opportunities still present themselves for him to do some of the things that kids n dads do. He chooses not to take them. I feel for my beautiful daughter for it creates a sadness that exists without words. The saddest thing for me is that she is wise beyond her years and has lost part of her innocent childhood emotionally she has grown into an adult well before she should have. She will say I don''t like him but I love him. If I had a choice of friends and he was available I would not choose him. Why ? Because he continues to criticise her . I think the sadness will become his as she grows and feels love for her own children. I think all children should receive counselling following a marriage breakdown. The adults lose all sense of being adults in many instances . In so many situations they become the little angry hurt child. It is very hard for some to put their children first. If all were offered counselling I believe that we would see a remarkable turnaround in the number of divorces and permanently traumatised adults in society. Percieved rejection and self blame inpregnate so many little minds when their parents split up .A sense of loss too often carves deep into the mind and heart and is then left in situe damaging the psyche and emotional health of the child following through to adult life. Very sad . It only takes a few kind words right at the beginning ie you''re ok . You know it''s not your fault. This is not about you.