I only write blog posts when I hear something or see something that irks me -- something that strikes a nerve, and makes me feel as if I have to say something. Well, that happened again this past week -- twice!
In each of these instances, the husband (or soon to be ex-husband) and father of the children is being dragged through extreme unpleasantness, all because the wife (or soon to be ex-wife) and mother of the children wants him out of the picture.
Let's first establish that the men I am writing about in this blog post are good people and good parents -- as much as any one of us is doing our best to be a good parent. These men aren't physically or emotionally abusive. They aren't alcoholics or drug users. They aren't felons. They aren't pedophiles. They are simple husbands who are part of a failed marriage and fathers trying to do their best.
These men are fathers who want to continue to play an important role in the lives of their children. They are trying to figure out the whole co-parenting thing.
They are trying their best to remain involved in their children's lives, but they are being dragged through the mud by their wives. They are being accused of doing horrible things. Their extended families are being accused of doing horrible things. They are spending thousands of dollars defending themselves in court, thousands of dollars for "the process" to play out, thousands of dollars for experts to interview them to determine if they are truly good dads or if the moms' accusations stand solid.
If the father of your children is a danger to them, then by all means become mama bear and protect those cubs at all cost. But, when you are simply angry at your ex-husband and decide that your life would be easier without him in it -- and without him in the lives of your children -- then creating lies to stop him from seeing his kids becomes unacceptable.
If both parents are capable of being good parents, then children need both of their parents in their lives. Sons need their fathers. Daughters need their daddies. Just because you, the mom, are angry at your husband, doesn't give you the right to impact the relationship of your children to their father. Don't tell them lies about him. Don't bad-mouth him. Don't prevent them from seeing him. Don't make it impossible for him to be able to talk with them on the phone. Don't sabotage the time they do have together.
If that emotional and moral reason doesn't resonate with you, try this one. All of the men I spoke to shared with me that they lost the bulk of their savings paying to defend themselves. This is not only hurting them, but also their children, and their wives. Nobody in this equation benefits when the money is squandered. One dad told me he had no choice but to spend his kids college fund to defend himself and pay his legal fees. What happens is that the quality of life for both parents begins to suffer, which clearly impacts the children. Where they can afford to live has changed. The activities that they can afford to participate in have changed. College savings are spent.
For those of you who might be squirming a little bit right now, perhaps recognizing a bit of your behavior, I ask you to stop and think for a moment about who it is you are hurting with your behavior. Are you simply trying to hurt your ex and get back at him for the anger that you hold in your heart? Do you think you might be hurting your children too? Can you let go of some of your own selfish anger to ensure that your kids don't suffer and lose a relationship with their dad? Most moms want to be really great moms. I know we all have that mama bear mentality and want to protect our children from harm, but sometimes it can be taken too far. We may say we are "protecting" them, when really we are "harming" them.
It goes without saying that these same messages apply when it's the husbands and fathers who are dragging the wives and mothers through the mud and doing the same thing. My perspective on this post is based on having spoken with a few men in this situation recently. When both mom and dad are "good" parents, then kids need access to both parents! To try and negate this from happening is selfish and harmful.
What do you think?