Recently, I heard that one of my friends gave up their parenting rights. It shocked me.
I have a number of friends who are alienated from their children by their ex; and although I do feel that some parents are not meant to be the mentor in a child’s life, I feel we create a serious problem when we block relationships between a parent and their children.
I myself come from a family where I was adopted by my mother’s new husband. When it comes to fathers, I cannot say enough about how blessed I was by the man who filled my birth father’s shoes.
I have a relationship with my birth father, one we have worked on and developed over the past 10 years. I did not know him at all until I was 21. I love him deeply. I know he made mistakes, but the fact that he is the man who God chose to be one half of my genetics means that God placed him in my life for a good reason.
What upsets me is that often when a couple divorces or splits up, the children are put in a position where they must pick sides. For young kids, the choice is sometimes made for them.
One parent who may have primary custody can isolate the other parent and make it so difficult to be a part of that child’s life that the parent may just give up. They can feel replaced by a new father or mother figure in the child’s life.
I cannot tell you how many times I hear about this happening. I have so many close friends that felt so pushed away; it hurt so deeply that they just made the choice to give up.
If the parent decides that a child is unsafe with their ex and has substantial reasons for this, it is not something I would question. If the person is not perhaps the prime example of parenting, but they try and love their child, it is not right to just make this person a part of your child’s past.
You, in reality, are hurting your child more than anyone. I can personally attest to the fact that the questions and insecurities that plague a child when a parent becomes distant or non-existent in their life are very troubling.
They may feel guilty about even loving their parent who is no longer around because it would displease the parent they are with. They can feel as if they are betraying their father or mother by accepting a new parental figure in their life.
So, what is the best way to avoid this?
I would say allow all of these relationships, healthy ones, to continue and grow. Be careful not to allow your own feelings to invade a child-parent relationship. We all need our mom and our dad.
Do not fight with your ex in front of your child. For all reasons that involve your child’s sanity, do not bad mouth the other parent in front of them, no matter how tempting it may be.
Parenting is not a popularity contest. You should never put a child in a position where they feel abandoned or forgotten just because you want to forget a bad marriage.
If you are on the side where you feel as if you have been pushed away as a parent, talk with your ex and seek counsel with them about it. Your child is a great gift from God. Show them you love them by wanting to be in their lives.
Do you know anyone in this situation? What advice would you give?