Article by Wendy McCance
Like many people, I am divorced with kids. The kids don’t have the best relationship with their father or his wife and her kids. Even so, they see their father half of each week because we share joint custody.
I have seen my oldest daughter go through every emotion possible in regards to her relationship with her father. She has been seeing a counselor to help sort out the issues she faces as the child of divorced parents. I have gotten many calls and texts from her when she stays at her father’s house. She would reach out when she was miserable, confused, lonely, angry or just feeling overwhelmed.
The first day back home each week, I would see her go through a decompression period. Feelings that had been held in would come out. Sadness and frustration would show up. My daughter was emotionally exhausted each week and in need of some gentle support, care and love. Needless to say, the cycle was heartbreaking to watch. All I could do was be there for my daughter when she needed me. My hands were tied. There was nothing I could do to get her out of a situation that was becoming increasingly stressful for her.
Then, one day, everything changed in the most surprising way. My daughter, who was starting her last year of high school was at her father’s home for the weekend. There was a fight with her father’s wife and something snapped inside my daughter’s head. She was done. She called her father and said that she was moving out. He was at work when the fight occurred. The rest of the day was filled with tearful calls and a determination to leave a bad environment.
Unbelievably, she was able to pack up her things ( 2 small bags) and her father drove her over to my house. My daughter was home and my heart was bursting with a mix of joy to have her home and heartbreak for the reason why. My daughter walked in the front door at 9:oo pm with tears in her eyes. Her father told her that she was no longer welcome at his home and took her key. He said some other hurtful things that parents should never say to their children.
Through those tears and hurt for what she felt she had to do, there was also a glimmer of pride. My daughter valued herself enough that she was able to stick up for herself. Through hurtful sentiment by her father she still had the courage to leave an increasingly toxic situation.
When she walked through that front door, I just hugged her and didn’t want to let her go. I love my daughter so much and was so proud of the heart wrenching she had made. I never knew she was contemplating leaving and was thrown when I later found out how long it had been on her mind. I am grateful to some extent that I didn’t know. This was a decision she needed to make without other peoples voices in her head. Knowing what I did, I’m not sure I could have stayed silent letting her come to the decision on her own.
A few days after my daughter was settled in, my husband sat down and had a talk with her. It was the sweetest conversation and brought tears to my eyes. He told my daughter that he was proud of her for standing up for herself. He told her how much he loved her. Then, with tears in his eyes and his voice cracking, he told her that he had always wanted to have the kids home full-time and not half the time like was scheduled due to the joint custody arrangement. He said that now he felt more complete. He had the family life he always dreamed of having with the kids. He finished up by telling my daughter he understands she has a dad and would never dream of trying to replace him. Even so, he loves her like his own child and will always be there for her.
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