This may not be the most liked blog that I ever write. In fact, it could be the most controversial.
Let me begin by saying that I have been on all sides of the matter (child, wife, ex-wife) which is why I feel qualified to address this combination of topics.
I just saw a video posted to Facebook of a young girl rapping about her deadbeat dad. The tag line referenced something about the father abandoning the family.
What bothers me most about this is the fact that the young girl’s views were obviously at least in part directly correlated to things she has been told or heard others saying.
Most people do not enter into marriage with the intent of it someday ending in divorce. Unfortunately, divorce is a part of life. When it does happen, it typically involves some sort of break down.
Keep in mind these are my opinions and I am not trying to say that they apply to every situation.
It seems to me that quite often, the parent that has custody of the child on a day-to-day basis has the greatest access to influence the child. If that parent has a negative view of the other and does not accept at least part of the responsibility for the state of the broken marriage, what kind of mindset is more than likely being passed on to the child?
I feel that a marriage is between two people, period. It is our job to nurture that first and foremost. A family is created because of those two people. One can leave a marriage and not leave the family! At least they can if the custodial parent does not create obstacles.
Just because we may feel that our former spouse is a low-life and feel a deep hurt, we should not project that to the child. Our grown-up issues should not be the child’s issues.
Let’s just assume that someone had to leave a relationship for his or her own health and well-being. Staying would mean certain death either physically or emotionally. I have been on both sides of this. I am not advocating divorce here. Not at all. What I am saying is that it does happen and there are always reasons. Quite often the reasons that the public and the family hear are biased based on who happens to be sharing. What if one person chooses to share their version and the other takes the high road not defending themselves, not backbiting the other and simply chooses to move on? It does not make the version that you hear true. It just means that you have not heard all of the facts and really why should you? Who are we to judge others anyway? We should love. After all a family just fell apart and everyone in the situation is experiencing hurt. Every member of the family should be loved and cared for. We have to stop picking sides. My mother taught me that there are most often three sides to every story. In this case, his, hers and the truth.
When I watched this video, I saw parental alienation at its very best or very worst. Two people can stop loving one another and both still love the children.
In my personal experience, I dealt with a situation where my son believed that child support was his fun money to take to the mall. I became the bad guy when I had to use it to help cover expenses. What about the child support recipient that never acknowledges the contributions and sacrifice that the other parent is making? No, it will never be enough. Raising a child is about shared responsibility. We cannot make divorce, child custody and support payments about manipulation or control.
Yes, I am frustrated. I have witnessed/experienced the sacrifice of someone who loves his or her child so much but had no choice other than to leave. I have witnessed/experienced the heartbreak of not being able to parent on a daily basis as so desired. I have witnessed/experienced the anger of the child who was made to feel abandoned unjustly. I have witnessed/experienced one person’s values being elevated over the others.I have witnessed/ experienced judgement. I have shared/experienced the sacrifice. Yet, rather than lowering oneself to the daggers of divorce thrown just patches up the holes and goes on all the while hoping and praying that someday the child will make up their own mind about what the truth really is.
As someone who has experienced this, I submit that we must not ask nor expect the child to align with us and our feelings and emotions about the other parent. This truly only hurts the child – keeping that child in a constant state of turmoil.
A mature parent encourages the child to love and respect the other, encourages shared time, does not blame the other parent but rather says WE failed at marriage not THEY failed…
For all the times that I was wrong in my words, attitudes and actions, I offer up a heart-felt apology. I know there have been times that I have been wrong, very wrong. If you are in the midst of this, I encourage you to evaluate your actions and make changes where necessary. Your children will become better people for it.
Seeing children on Facebook making derogatory statements about the other parent is not cool in my opinion – not at all.
In all things, we must model Godly principles and values to our children. We must teach them love, respect, and forgiveness just to name a few. If we don’t we are teaching them judgement, contempt, hate and blame and I believe the world has enough of that.
Until Next Time,
I feel it important to note that I believe in family values, traditional marriage and keeping God at the center of marriage and family. I have experienced failure in these areas and am quite humbled that God has forgiven me anyway. I have been the child withheld from a parent as well as poisoned against a parent. I have been the wife left behind. I have been bitter and done and said all of the wrong things. I am by all counts, guilty yet forgiven. I am also a step-parent. I have seen and experienced it all. This blog is based on my personal experience and feelings. I hope that it will bring a fresh perspective (Redwood Perspective – one who has been through the fire) to someone struggling with this issue in his or her own life.