what of the fathers who want to parent but are denied. does the child suffer from the absence of this bond and hopefully positive experience. who does have the right to deny the child of his father especially when the father wants this role
Now I only allow anonymous comments so that my less technically literate friends might be encouraged to comment here occasionally, although I do ask for them to leave a name so that I know who it’s from. This one had no name so I have no idea if it's from a friend, a regular reader or just someone passing through who will never be back.
However, given a particular set of circumstances we are in, it got me thinking.
You see, normally I would think about how devastated I would feel if I was denied access to my children, and how this gives me a great deal of sympathy for organisations such as Fathers 4 Justice, but recent developments in our family have forced me to reflect on this from another angle.
My stepdaughter and her two children have been staying with us for the past week, since she became a victim of domestic violence. In other words, her partner beat her up and she has some shocking bruises all over her body. It transpires that this is not the first time, although it is certainly the worst to date, and it is clear that he has also been mentally, emotionally and verbally abusing her for a long time.
When she was 16, my stepdaughter had a stroke, leaving her with little use of her right arm and she still has limited use of her right leg. So when he shoves her over, it’s a harder struggle to get back up again. This alcohol and drug-abusing Wee-Glasgow-Hardman clearly needs to show what a man he is by doing her down.
I don’t intend to write about the processes of going to the police, of the vileness of domestic abuse, or of trying to find ways to re-empower a woman who has experienced much to make her feel disempowered. This posting is about whether I think a child needs to have their biological father in their life.
The rights of the father need to be offset and counterbalanced with the responsibilities of the father. As well as being a provider, a parent is a teacher and role model. How we learn what it is to be a part of the human race comes not only from what we are told, but what we see and what we experience.
When my wife and I discussed the idea of changing our lives, of me selling the business and the both of us pursuing careers and a lifestyle that we really wanted, despite all the financial and emotional risks, one of the arguments in favour was the example it set to the children. We could have carried on with a financially more secure life, but what lesson would that have taught them? That you give up your dreams for the sake of security? No. Ultimately, what we wanted to do was show them, in a way that words alone would never be able to demonstrate, that life is what you make it.
With this philosophy at our core, we can’t help but feel that our grandchildren will learn from the example of their mother, that you don’t have to put up with abuse, that you can take control of your life, and that no one has the right to inflict that abuse on anyone.
Children do need a positive male role model in their lives and ideally that role model should be their father (and preferably there should be more than one, in the shape of relatives, teachers, community leaders etc). But if the father is an abuser, then I would say that the children are better off without him on the scene. For if he is about, then what kind of example is being set? What cycles of abuse are going to be continued for another generation?
Bringing up children is a stressful activity, and under stress, unless we work hard to change it, we are most likely to react in the way that we learned as children - at the time when the pathways were burned into our brains – the way our parents reacted. And so our children learn from how we react.
Yes, ideally, the father should be about for his children, but only if the example he sets is a positive one. Otherwise, the lesser of evils is that he stays away.