I’m annoyed that in this day and age, there are still children out there who have to watch helplessly as their relationship with their father is disrupted, interfered with or even permanently severed just because someone is angry, resentful and vengeful.
Yes, I know there are situations and circumstances where it’s better for a child not to be with his/her father just as there are situations and circumstances where a mother shouldn’t be in the children’s lives.
These are not the cases I am talking about here.
The ones I’m talking about are those where choices are made by some parents to dismiss or interrupt the father-child relationship, with no real or valid reason except because the divorce has been acrimonious and emotions are running very high.
Divorce is not a licence to destroy a relationship. Your ex-partner didn’t turn into a monster of a father within 24 hours.
That your ex-partner, the mother of your children, is giving you hell each time you go round to see or pick up the children is not a good enough reason to stop seeing them just to keep the peace. Whose peace are you keeping? And while you’re keeping it, what happens to your children now and in the future? It doesn’t have to be this way, there are ways and means around this.
That you live in a far away country doesn’t mean that you don’t keep up good, in fact very good, communication with your children. Not with the likes of Skype and WhatsApp – all free – to help you along the way. Of course it’s not the best way but if it’s the only way then why not use it as much as possible?
Denying your child their father or removing yourself from their lives is like slowly, gradually wiping away their opportunities to better chances in life.
Did you know that in a longitudinal study, Flouri and Buchanan (2002-2004), it was found that:-
• A father’s involvement with his child before the age of seven was linked to a good parent-child relationship in both adolescence and into adulthood.
• Children who had a good relationship with their father were less likely to get into trouble with the police.
• Children whose fathers were involved in their upbringing had a better chance of attaining higher educational qualifications than those who didn’t.
Another two-year study by J. Dunn et al., concluded that:”More frequent and more regular contact (which included communication by telephone) was associated with closer, more intense relationships with non-resident fathers (relationships that were both more positive and more conflicted), and fewer adjustment problems in the children.”
Wallerstein et al. (2002) found that those children whose fathers were involved tended to make faster progress in their cognitive and social development as they went about exploring the world together.
Five year old children, followed over a 25 year period, who were closely involved with their fathers were found to be more “empathic as adults and were happier as husbands and as parents than those who had not experienced close relationships with their own fathers a quarter of a century earlier “- M. E. Lamb (ed.) (1997) and in K. Pruett(2000)
Daughters who, over several years, managed to have a good and loving relationship with their husbands, came from homes where they had a “healthy, loving relationship with their fathers as children” – J. S Wallerstein and S. Blakeslee (1995)
So as you go about your divorce and separation, as you go about creating your co-parenting plan, don’t do what has been done so many times before and still continues: don’t overlook or underestimate those afternoons spent in the park with daddy and those days spent just talking, playing and walking because it is these moments that will have a positive influence on your child in so many ways today and in his or her future life.
Soila Sindiyo, Child Development Psychologist, Accredited Parenting Practitioner, Trauma Consultant and a contributor to the #AlbertSquareMediation blog