Who wins when custody courts decide that a previously loving, fun, awesome parent will now get 4 days out of every month (!) to spend with a child they used to tuck in every night, read stories to, do homework with, engage with in discussions of politics, car mechanics, physics and the abstract notion of why farts smell and tears are salty? Why does the World go through such extreme measures to keep decent, loving parents out of their children’s lives?
There are plenty of shitty people out there, moms and dads who don’t deserve the kids they have been blessed with. There are abusers, deviants, junkies, pathological liars, psychopathic tyrants and just plain rubbish human beings on both sides of the parental lines. But those aren’t the ones bemoaning access to their spawn.
Usually it’s the good ones who want more than a one nighter, who beg to take their children camping mid season, a big family party, a magical trip overseas who meet with answers like, “not your weekend”, ” you gave up that right when we divorced” and “sorry I have plans”.
Being a parent comes with consequences it appears. And as a divorced parent, you have to be content with your heart living in someone else’s body, in someone else’s house and on someone else’s terms. Seeing your children becomes a privilege, a gift, a deal you brokered effectively instead of the right that it should be.
I take my hat off to parents that have seen through the bullshit for the sake of their children and can work together to make sure good things happen. The kind of parent who ask their child where they want to be, who actually listen without making it all about themselves and don’t see the outcome as a direct appraisal on their own parenting skills.
Face it, there are days when your child wants a kiss and a cuddle and a mug of cocoa with a chance to revel in his emotions and feel his feels without disapproval. Other days, your child might want a pat on the back and a gruff “We’ll do better next time, champ. Who wants ice cream?” dismissal so he doesn’t have to wallow in his self pity. Usually, he will seek out the correct parent and get from them what he needs for his own personal growth. But he can’t do that if he’s been cut off from one or the other. He can’t be watered in the healthiest way and so he comes up short, emotionally speaking.
Vilifying one parent over the other leads to a tangled mess of confused emotions where a child is expected to choose between parents and try not to hurt anyone’s feelings. No wonder more of them seem to choose the mother. She’s the emotional one who cries when she’s sad and no kid wants to see that or be the reason for causing that. On the other hand, dad is brave and tough and he’ll be fine so kids often courageously sacrifice their own happiness out of guilt. Well no, he won’t be fine cos dads cry too. Dads miss their children’s sweet smell and soft embraces too. And kids miss their dads!!
Unless a parent is abusive, there is no reason to keep a parent from a child. No one parent has more rights over a child because two are required equally for conception to occur. The burden and benefit of having children is not by court order. Taking everything to the Law and encouraging the state to come into your home and decide how you and your ex will raise your child is not the best of ideas. Policemen, court cases, paperwork does not signify love to me.
Instead, teach your children that adults make mistakes, sometimes good people make bad choices and often people grow apart through no fault of anyone. This is a life lesson they will be able to use in their own homes some day. Similarly, if you come at the issue of child custody with love for the child being paramount instead of hurt feelings and hatred of each other, better decisions will be made for everyone concerned.
Encouraging them to love the other parent when your love died out years ago, that’s good parenting. Encouraging them to trust the other parent when your trust waned, that’s good parenting. Encouraging them to respect the other parent, even when you cannot, that’s good parenting. Because, quite honestly, there is probably nobody on the planet who wants as much for your child as his other parent, whether you personally believe that or not.