Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Children See. Children Do.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

My children are both the reason I stayed in my marriage and the reason I left, and in both cases it was for the reasons we see in this video.

I desperately wanted my boys to have a good male role model and I wanted that to be their Daddy. I don’t think anyone has more influence on a boy’s development than his Dad.  And often he was a great Dad and that gave me hope to cling to that these qualities would become consistent. He used to take my eldest son for Dad’s days out to look at cars, and my son tells me he has some happy memories of these days. He would snuggle on the sofa with the little ones and play ‘tickle spider.’  He’d take all the boys to our gym, it was an enormous exciting playground for the little ones who would sit on the equipment wanting to be like Daddy. Thing is, whilst he was good at ‘hanging’ with my boys, when he felt like it, I don’t think I can pinpoint even one good behaviour or characteristic he role modelled to them.   

And as my sons started to copy my husband’s aggression and disrespect I felt more and more worried that I hadn’t given them a good Dad to learn from.  My husband and I listened to a sermon where the preacher told us that boys learn how to treat their mothers and ultimately their wives from watching how their fathers treat them and that played on my mind as I saw my eldest son increasingly growing disrespectful towards me.

Ultimately I left because I saw my husband terrorise my smallest child screaming and shouting whilst my tiny boy curled in a ball shaking.  My ultimate decision to leave was not as much about changing my boys’ role model as it was about keeping them safe.  I felt terrible that in making this decision they were to end up children of a single mum because statistics told me that children deprived of a father didn’t do as well as children with a good dad.

The most useful conversation I had, and one that has encouraged me daily since, was with my very wise big sister. I sobbed on her that “it takes two people to raise a child” and she replied “no it takes a village, don’t make it a one person job.” Ever since I have not only allowed but encouraged all those in my life, male and female, who can influence my children for the better to be a part of their lives.

And I’ve felt encouraged that rather than deprive my children of a Dad I have removed a negative and abusive influence from their lives. There is a mis-conception in the UK, in family courts, in churches, in schools, that a father can be abusive to his children’s mother and still be a good Dad. This is not true. I have seen the effects of living with abuse on my children and I am seeing recovery and healing since I removed them from that situation. My children are flourishing in a way I never imagined when we lived with my husband and every day I am proud of each and every one of them.

And my children are not without a Dad, better than a Dad who sporadically lavishes them with praise then almost instantaneously tells them they’re ungrateful little shits, they have a heavenly father. The bible tells us that God is “a father to the fatherless and a protector of widows” (Psalm 68:5) and as my youngest children no longer eat their dinner so they can be big like Daddy but instead so they can “be big like Jesus” I see his hand upon their lives, loving them, protecting them, guiding them and influencing them to see and do in imitation of Him, what better role model could I want for my boys.

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