Today’s daily writing challenge from The Daily Post is to write about something unfair and how it should be rectified.
There are many things that are unfair in life but often if you look closely, there is a silver lining, a lesson to be learned, or a positive outcome. Sometimes, even in hindsight, you would rather not have the positive outcome but instead just remove the injustice. Strength, for example, is a positive outcome from adversity. But, how strong do we really want or need to be? I do not know that I want to be any stronger, because that strength just helps to cope with the next negative life event.
Being the product of a divorce and a father who checked out shortly after a brief period of joint custody, I learned many lessons throughout my life. I learned that my mother is fierce, powerful and an endless supply of love. I learned how to be part of a family team with my sister helping my mom manage our home. I learned that women can do anything and never to question our abilities. I learned that a life with only my mother was sad at times, missing a father figure, but was much better than having an alcoholic, manipulative father. And I learned to love those that love me and not constantly beat my head against a wall trying to make someone who should.
My niece and nephew are in the early stages of custody with their father. He is present, physically. He is shamefully absent in all of the ways he should not. He chooses his personal needs over his children’s needs and he fights silly fights with their mother for his own measly rewards. These kids have a loving, self-reliant, smart and strong mother. She has had her fill of “strong” and wants to be weak for a while. Yet, the father keeps packing the weight on her shoulders to make her stronger even so.
The children do not enjoy their father. They want to enjoy him and they want to see him but he is creating a divide so large that it makes it hard to do so. My niece has tried to be strong but at her young age, she can only take so much weight before she crumbles. And that is what she is doing; she is crumbling under his miserable, shameful weight. She no longer wants to spend weekends with him because he ignores her half the time or drags her to some adult activity for her to watch on the sidelines. He will not read stories to his young son even as the boy cries for them, only because he does not want to. He spends large amounts of money on things for himself but then argues paying for medical needs for his children.
What is not fair is that the law requires these children to spend time with their father even though they cry and beg not to. He is not physically abusing them, so there is no just cause to relinquish his rights. What about the needs of the child? My niece can’t state her case because she is too young and any action on the part of the mother would be wasted energy because it would be perceived as her wish and not her children’s wants. A mother is helpless in this situation because her innate need is to rescue her children from unhappiness and misery but she is bound by law to send them into the lion’s den each week and feel gut-wrenching pain as her daughter calls her crying and begging to come home.
It is not fair that children’s voices cannot be heard over the loud, bullying adult voice of the law. It may be true that children are manipulative and will toy with parent’s emotions to get some need met. However, it is important to listen to them even in the midst of manipulation and dig deep for what they are seeking. Help them discover and express their troubles as best they can.
If I could rectify this situation, it would be simple. A child does not want to go to her father’s home? Then, she does not go. Children no longer want to spend the night at their father’s home as part of their custody? Then amend the agreement to what they want. It is not about what the parent needs in these situations, in my opinion. Yes, they may be heartbroken not to have every waking moment with their children but children’s needs trump parent’s needs. This is something most parents understand the minute their child enters the world; those who do not, miss a great deal of joy and beauty in the selfless act of raising children.
Innocence often suffers injustice. In my imagined world of rectified unfairness, I would tip the scales so that the innocent and unheard have a voice as loud as those who are shaping their futures.