I see that Oliver Martinez has told the world he is now engaged to Halle Berry; whilst I wish them good luck, I am more than a little perturbed at Berry’s increasingly bitter, vindictive, and (thankfully) unsuccessful attempts to cut Gabriel Aubrey out of their daughter’s life.
I understand it must be difficult when a relationship ends; even more so when the partners share a child and bonds are made with new partners. But to deliberately and cold blooded set out to cut the natural father of your child out of their life is breathtakingly selfish (though that's just my opinion obviously).
It must be sorely tempting, especially when in the honeymoon period of a new relationship, to want to play ‘happy families’ with your new partner; to cut the other parent out of your child's life to facilitate that fantasy. But that temptation is only going to damage the one person that should be the most important – your child.
Too many parents also want to hit back at their ex, even if they were the one doing the dumping (as in Berry’s case), and so use their children as the ‘weapon’ of choice.
Berry isn’t the only one guilty of this; and it’s not just women. I am constantly shocked by the stories I’m told via friends or that I read online, where they’re not bothered that the children are the ‘piggy in the middle’ as parents war with each other to the bitter end of the divorce/parting......and beyond.
Why is this? Why do some couples part amicably, or as amicably as they can given the circumstances, and yet others – one or both partners – fight bitterly every day and use their offspring as their particular weapon to try and club each other (or just one the parent who left) into submission?
Berry’s sad antics are really mild compared to some too; many’s the time I’ve read about a father who's taken the children abroad to a country that favours the father getting sole custody or, worst of all, killing them.
I’ve read of cases where women have lied about their ex sexually abusing their own children or of spousal rape/domestic abuse just to try and ensure their ex partner is refused visitation rights. Indeed there was a case in the US where the mother tried to murder her husband with poisonous plant seeds and, when that didn’t work, burnt the house down with the two children from her marriage to him still inside – but who rescued her child from a previous relationship.
That kind of hatred for a person is truly frightening; yet it goes on. Perhaps not in these extremes; but certainly with the child feeling as if they're in a permanent no man's land between two warring nations.
Of course if a child’s welfare/emotional wellbeing is threatened by the behaviour of a parent (of either gender), then it’s right that that parent is questioned and kept at a distance.
But, sadly, most of the time it’s just one partner trying to score points on the other. No one stops to consider the emotional toll this takes on the child/children; I have seen too many times angry children trying to understand why one parent keeps them from the other – wanting to ‘punish him/her’ doesn’t appear to be accepted as justifiable by the kids when they've grown up and demanded an explanation.
Kids need both parents in their lives, even if they’re no longer living together. It might be awkward; it might upset you if you’re keen to play ‘happy families’ with your new partner (like Berry and Martinez); it might make you cry when they’re not with you.
But, and this is a huge but, the kids have a right to see both parents they love. The parents might not love each other any more; in fact they might now have a deep and abiding hatred of each other that will last the rest of their lives, but the kids don’t. They have a right to want to visit with the parent who no longer lives with them; and, unless there’s a really good reason why not, then they should be allowed to – no matter what problems it causes the parents themselves in making this happen.
At the end of the day the kids are the most important part of any family; they remain so if that family breaks up – it’s not their fault it failed, so they should never be used as the weapon to beat the errant partner with as ‘punishment’ for their misdeed(s).
Kids don’t usually understand the machinations of a relationship breakdown; all they know is that mummy or daddy has left and invariably blame themselves; that’s bad enough for any child - but to be denied access to the absent parent by the one they live with for a variety of reasons, revenge usually being the overriding one, that is even worse. It must surely reinforce the idea that "mummy/daddy doesn't want me because I've been so naughty they left."
Of course the parent meting out this ‘punishment’ often receives a form of karmic ‘payback’ when the child grows up and seeks out the absent parent themselves; then the truth usually emerges and the parent who instigated the separation finds themselves on the receiving end of the child’s anger, frustration, hurt and a deep sense of betrayal.
Of course any remorse, by then, is just too little too late. It’s better to see the bigger picture at the beginning of the separation, than at the end. A child’s happiness is so much more important than ours as parents. So long as we remember that we con’t go wrong, even if a relationship breaks down – sadly, it seems far too many of us are instead forgetting it.
This is Simi, thanks for reading.........