When a relationship breaks down and there are children involved, a common theme we hear is of children being used to get back at the other parent.
The vast majority of the recipients of this hostility are biological fathers, and the evidence supports this, therefore, this article will focus on them, but the following could conceivably apply to either parent depending on the unique situation.
It’s a harsh reality that when a relationship ends, all the underlying anger and resentment can begin to surface, and all the dynamics and complex relationship issues are played out in full. The many possible scenarios are seemingly endless.
In certain circumstances the mother may resort to measures to prevent contact between the children and their father. Such as not making the child available if he should attempt to make contact, or speaking in a derogatory manner about him to their children, in an attempt to sway opinion against him.
To withhold in this way, the child’s needs and well-being are being grossly overlooked. This could be viewed as a form of punishment, and a passive-aggressive act intended to cause emotional pain. Behaviour that could have far-reaching consequences years down the line.
The Institute for the Study of Civil Society published a report in 2002, in which they highlighted how children who live without the biological father have more trouble in school, have more difficulty getting along with others, may run away from home, have a higher risk of health problems, and are at a greater risk of suffering physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
In 2013, The Centre for Social Justice also reported that huge numbers of children in the UK, by their estimation around 1 million, were growing up without a meaningful relationship with their fathers. The potential impact on their lives possibly continuing into adulthood, with them less likely to attain qualifications, having lower incomes, offending behaviour, and long-term emotional and psychological problems.
Despite the irresponsibility of some fathers, there are many good fathers out there who make their children their priority, and do not shirk their responsibilities. Fathers that will go to great lengths to ensure their children are looked after and provided for, and would like to maintain contact as far as possible.
There may be valid reasons for preventing contact. Such as if the father is proving unreliable, is intoxicated during contact, or is a risk to the child in any way, therefore contact may understandably be deemed no longer beneficial for the child, at least for the time being. In such circumstances that right would need to be earned.
However, if all reasonable requirements are met, and hostility is the only barrier, then a parent who loves and cares for their children will learn to compartmentalise their feelings and realise that by allowing contact with the other parent is no reflection on their feelings towards them, and are acting purely in the child’s best interests. This at the end of the day, is surely all every good parent would want.