You Made Him Leave, Mom
Joshua came to me with tears streaming down his face.
“Mom, where’s my dad?” he asked as he tried to choke back the tears.
I looked at this innocent 2 ½ year old boy and wondered what prompted him to ask that question out of the blue.
I’d never mentioned his father.
He wouldn’t have understood that his dad was a monster who abused and belittled me.
I never spoke about his dad because I never wanted my innocent children to see their dad in that light.
But, my youngest child was now standing in front of me and asking me an important question.
He needed an answer. It was time for me to tell him the truth.
I sat him down and explained the reality of my relationship with his dad as best as I could. It was a lot for a 2 ½ year old to take in. But, I don’t believe in lying to kids.
He sat in silence for a while then he burst out and said, “You made him leave! He was a good dad!”
Those words cut me like a knife. He was 8 months old when his dad and I split and he hadn’t seen him since.
Where was this coming from?
I distracted him with something and called my mom.
Mom told me to put myself aside and give Joshua what he needed.
So, that’s what I did. I asked my attorney to work with my ex-husband’s attorneys and figure out a way for visitation to happen.
It tore me up inside but I did it.
The Truth Shall Set You Free
Visitation didn’t become an issue until three years after my marriage had ended. My ex had no interest in seeing his children until it became convenient for him.
So, we began battling visitation rights in the courts. The court granted him visitation because he has that right as their father.
That court ruling gave him validation and I guess that’s what he wanted. He still didn’t spend time with the kids. Instead, he left them with either his mother or friend. He neglected them. If he was ever around them, he was always drunk.
It’s ironic that my ex maliciously called the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) with an “anonymous” tip during that time. He claimed that I wasn’t taking care of the children and that led ACS to launch an investigation.
But, the investigation didn’t provide the outcome he hoped. It unearthed the fact that he was neglecting the children during his visitations. ACS decided that all subsequent visits should be monitored and I wasn’t at fault.
Joshua, Jhaiel and Jaidan would now get more time with their dad. That’s what Joshua was yearning for and I wanted him to establish a positive bond with his dad.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Those “supervised visits” were nonsense because my ex was allowed to choose who would supervise them. He chose his aunt and she never performed her duty.
That gave him leeway to do whatever he wanted. My daughter, Jhaiel, came back from one of those visits with burns. My older son, Jaidan, came back from one of those visits with bruises all over him.
But, what happened to Joshua was abominable. I vividly remember that day. The kids were with their dad and I was at home watching TV. Their dad called and I could sense something was wrong the moment I heard him speak.
“Hi Christopher. Is everything okay?”
“I have something to tell you,” he said in an even-toned voice.
“Something’s wrong. What is it?”
“Joshua fell and hit his head. We’re at the hospital and he got staples.”
I launched into full-fledged panic mode. “I’m coming to the hospital right now,” I replied.
“No need. The doctor’s almost finished and he’s been discharged.”
Joshua was hurt so badly that he had to get five staples in his head, due to a fall, yet, my ex didn’t think he should have called me the moment he got to the hospital. I was livid. (I share more of this story in my book Flying Solo – A Mother’s Love.
All I could do was wait for them to get home. Joshua came back home with five staples in his head and an unwillingness to visit his dad again. He now understood why I had to leave that relationship.
Put Yourself Aside And Be Honest
This experience taught me many lessons. We go through hell and back as single parents. But, you have to be honest with your child and pray for the best no matter what. You can try to protect your child as much as possible, but that protection only goes so far.
Difficult situations like these will force you to do some soul-searching. You’ve been through a lot; there’s no denying that. But, you have to put yourself aside and realize that you have to make the best decision for your child.
I had no choice but to send my children to their neglectful father because that was the court’s ruling. Any attempt to go against that ruling would have created further problems. I had to accept that reality and keep what Joshua said to me at the forefront of my mind…“You made him leave, mom!”
These are tough decisions to make. There’ll be times when you have to make these decisions quickly, probably within a few days. Take time off work if you have to so that you can prepare your mind to make a rational decision.
Never Attack The Other Parent
Children process things differently. In my 2 ½ year old son’s mind, his dad was missing and he didn’t understand why. His friends and cousins had their dads. Why was his dad nowhere to be found?
Joshua blamed me because I was the only parent around. He needed someone to direct his hurt and anger towards. That person was me until it was proven otherwise.
I could’ve cast blame on my ex when Joshua came to me that day with his question. There are so many negative things that I could’ve said in that moment and when Joshua came home with those staples in his head.
“See, that’s why I didn’t want you to go to your dad!”
“Your dad isn’t good for you.”
The list goes on.
But, I didn’t approach it that way because that approach wouldn’t benefit me or Joshua. This is what I said when Joshua came home with those five staples – “I’m sorry dad did that. Are you okay? How can I help you feel better?”
My approach was similar with Jaidan and Jhaiel. Attacking my ex would prove futile and only tarnish my relationship with my kids. It was important for them to trust me and see me as a positive, stable and comforting person in their lives.
How you approach these difficult situations can make or break your relationship with your kids. Instead of attacking the other parent, show your kids that you’re there for them.
Break down the barriers they’ve built to hide their hurt, frustration and anger. They need to trust that you hear them and that you’re always there for them. All you’ve got is each other.
Your child is affected by your break-up with your ex. Any hurtful things your child may say or do as he or she processes the situation isn’t meant to tear you down. Remove yourself from the equation and focus on what’s driving those words and actions. Focus on figuring out what your child needs.
Sometimes, this may require counselling whether for yourself, you and your child, or your child only. Other times it’s just a matter of letting things unfold. Regardless, never attack the other parent and stop lying to your kids.
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