I spent many sleepless nights crying and praying about how I was going to approach single parenthood. I was angry and bitter for being abandoned to a post he promised he would fill even though we were no longer together. I wanted to believe that he loved this little girl though all of his actions screamed to the contrary. There was a significant part of me that wanted him to suffer the way I was suffering. But in all of that I could not allow myself to spoon-feed my daughter my toxic thoughts and feelings about her father. The reality of it was this: no matter how much I wanted to hurt him, the victim would always be her.
I know there are circumstances in which bitterness, resentment, and loathing flourish. I know that revenge is an almost overwhelming temptation at times. I know that some men are just downright detrimental to a child’s mental and emotional well-being. Yet this cannot be an excuse for intentionally causing a child to hate their father. Nor can it be an excuse for withholding a child from their father.
Of course there is one huge exception to withholding a child: their own protection. Sometimes a momma must step in and prevent harm. However, you must carefully assess whether the threat is real or just an all too threatening fear from your own imagination. I have engaged in this battle numerous times and it doesn’t get easier.
There were many times when my daughter was spending time with her father (and ended up spending unplanned time with her paternal grandparents) in which everything in me was screaming to not let her go. She had come home too many times telling me how her father spent much more time with his new girlfriend than with her or she didn’t know how to even speak to him. There were plenty of times when she would ask me why he didn’t call. I even had to answer the ugliest of questions from a child: does my father really love me?
Through all of this I had to stand by my decision to allow her to decide for herself if her father was a man of integrity. I have never candy-coated situations for her and told her that he was “just so busy” or “of course he loves you more than anything in the world.” I also didn’t take advantage of those times when her pained and angry tears made her vulnerable to toxic molding. It would have been easy to rail against him, but it would’ve ended up destroying her.
Instead, I have consciously become a safe place to go when he hurts her, breaks her heart, or she just doesn’t understand him. It has been difficult to say the least. I have encouraged her to pray for him and to pray that God will help her overcome any bitterness that might be forming. I have promised her that I will never force her to spend time with him or talk to him and that I will also never stand in the way of her relationship with him.
I have wanted to stand in her way. I have wanted to warn her of his selfishness and inability to love well. But my job is to mold her into a strong, loving and forgiving woman. It is my responsibility to help her work through her pain, respectfully stand up for herself, and allow her to form her own opinions without biased influence.
Turning his child against him would’ve been the easiest way to get even. Refusing to allow him to see her would’ve been the simplest answer but how would she ever know his true character? Instead, I allowed this to be an opportunity to point her to her heavenly Father who will never fail her, break her heart, or abandon her. This path allowed doors to open to discuss how her natural adoption reflected the embracing love of the eternal Father. You have this opportunity as well.
I know it is challenging to remain neutral when you are hurting, and even more so when your child is hurting. You must remember that you are their mother and their advocate. You cannot allow yourself to use your kids as a weapon in a war that nobody will win. I am praying for you.
Abide in His Grace,