“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” ~ William Congreve
A number of posts have recently gone viral from father’s saying they have been unjustifiably cut out of their children’s lives after a breakup—especially if they have entered into a new relationship (#fatherrights).
This is a delicate topic and none of us are really in a position to comment because the fact is no one knows the full story besides the two parents and, even then, the truth is always nestled somewhere in the middle.
Maybe there is a history of violence, abuse, addiction, maybe he doesn’t pay child support or show a willingness to compromise; but if none of these are a factor, there is never a good enough reason to keep someone away from their child.
This topic is particularly close to my heart because not only have I heard and witnessed these stories—I have also been that child.
So, I would like to write an open letter to anyone who finds themselves in this situation.
To anyone at the bitter end of a relationship with children involved:
We all know the heart-wrenching pain that appears when a relationship ends. Stumbling around in the dark, trying to pick up the broken pieces, feeling as if we will never be whole again.
It hurts like a motherf*cker and it never gets any easier.
Every break up I have been through sent me into wild downward spirals; engulfed in my own world of hurt and confusion, there was nothing anybody could do or say to break me free until I was good and ready.
Now, I can’t even begin to imagine the scope of mixed-up, messy emotions when there are children involved.
I am sure all you want to do is hurt, cry, lash out, go on a drinking binge (all things I have done); but unlike me, you don’t have the luxury of being selfish—you have an innocent child looking up to you to show them love, care and affection.
On top of this, you can’t even cut your ex completely out of your life so you can move on like other people do. You have to deal with your emotions and talk to them at some stage because naturally they want to see their child (not that empathy is going to come easily right now).
Looking after your child and dealing with your ex, all while trying to get a hold on your own raw, jagged emotions—this is a tall order to expect of anybody. So, to anyone going through this, believe me when I say that you have my full respect and I wish you nothing but strength and courage on your journey towards healing.
This process takes time and is bound to be difficult and messy at the beginning; but regardless of personal feelings toward each other, somehow an agreement needs to be reached as soon as possible, because no child should ever be kept from a loving, able parent.
As hard as it may be for the two parents to deal with their emotions and start piecing their lives back together, it is just as hard for the children, who are always caught in the firing line.
Believe me when I say it will cause far more damage than you realize. For while I feel for the suffering parents, my heart also aches for the children, because I have been that child.
My mother left when I was young and for whatever reason, there were long periods of time in between seeing her or even talking to her. As a young child, this lead me to believe that she didn’t love me—because if she loved me, then why did she leave?
The idea that my mother didn’t love me grew into a deep-seated subconscious belief that I was unworthy of love. This idea manifested itself and wreaked havoc in a number of guises and “baggage” throughout my teens and 20s.
I didn’t believe that I was worthy of love, so I didn’t love myself either. I disrespected myself through alcohol abuse and sex. It took me a long time to break free because I didn’t understand where these mixed feelings of love were coming from—abandonment issues are like still waters: they run far deeper than we imagine.
On the other hand, growing up with my father gave me the best role model for what a “good man” truly is. Through all of my trials and tribulations, I now find myself married to an honest, loving, humble, hard-working man and I have no doubt as to why.
Love is a complex and multi-layered subject. There is nothing to say that what happened to me is what happens to everyone in a similar situation and there are a lot of things that can happen in our lives to screw us up along the way.
But there is more than enough research to show that our early interactions in life, particularly in regards to love, become the foundation of the subconscious beliefs we carry, unexamined, into adulthood.
Put simply, the relationship with our parents, the love we do and don’t receive, has a huge impact on the person we become.
Love is surely the greatest thing we can hope to instill in our children.
To anyone at the bitter end of a relationship, you have my full and complete permission to be pissed off, angry, hurt, get drunk, scream and shout, do whatever it is you need to do, feel whatever it is you need to feel—but please don’t keep a child away from a loving parent.
Where possible, children always need the love of both parents, because this becomes the foundation of our understanding of love that we take out into the world.
I am not saying that single parents cannot raise a child, of course they can. I know many amazing parents doing it solo and completely rocking parenthood. All I am saying is that if there is a second, able, loving parent in the picture, they should never be cut out.
This is also no argument for anyone to stay in an unhappy/unhealthy relationship either. As children can see and feel the love from both sides, they will eventually understand a breakup.
This letter is for those that are purposefully keeping a parent away (without due cause) from their child. So finally, to these parents, know this:
Using children like weapons to hurt the other person, will work. The other parent will feel the extraordinary pain and loss of being separated from their child. However, given time, this pain will eventually heal (as hopefully an agreement is reached).
Though sadly, like an innocent by-stander in an incomprehensible war, it is always the children who get caught in the crossfire and walk away with the deepest scars.
So please choose love. Love your child hard enough to find a way through your differences, so they never miss out on the love that is so rightly theirs.
*With love for my brother Tane and Niece Alyssa
Author: Tash Pericic
Editor: Travis May