Caught in the middle

I have seen it too many times for my taste. It saddens me to the core to think that a woman–a mother–could use her own child as an instrument to harm the child’s father.

The story typically goes like this: The father hurts the mother deeply – or in some cases, the mother and the father hurt each other deeply—so deeply that reconciliation of the relationship is not possible and they choose to go separate ways. The children are caught in the middle. They will usually live with their mother after their parents sever ties to each other, but there are times when they go with the father, too. Since the children are one of the only ties still remaining to the person who hurt them, the parents too often use them to strike back at each other.

There are many ways a child can be misused in this scenario. Sometimes it is by sending hateful and spiteful messages to each other through the child. Or it could be by making the other parent out to be the devil incarnate to the child. The worst one is by withholding the child completely from the other parent. Since there is (most times) a deep connection between parent and child, nothing in the world could hurt more than having that child disappear from a parent’s life completely because the other parent refuses to allow visitation.

Stella says...In the middle of this whole mess of a shattered relationship, in the midst of the hurt feelings and the revenge tactics, does anyone stop to think about what the poor child is going through or how much it hurts her/him to repeat the cutting message sent through them? Does it matter that the child may want to still see and love the other parent?

I have seen both mothers and fathers misuse their children as instruments of revenge, but I am going to be brutally honest and say that when a woman does this, it blows my mind every time. How can a mother who felt that baby grow in her womb use that same baby for evil intentions? How can a mother who stroked her baby’s head as it suckled at her breast for months then fill that same head with spiteful words to carry to the child’s father? How can a woman who nurtured a child for years then turn and withhold that child from the only other person in the world who has an unspeakable love for that child?

Men and women are very different. In this world, men can be violent and rationalise their violence. They have no problem with waging war and sending young men and women to die in those wars. Women, as bearers of life, see violence and wars as the atrocities they are as women are the ones who gave birth to those young men and women being sent to war.

It is because of differences like this that I believe the answer to the problems that plague this world lie in gender-balanced leadership in all areas of life – political, social, religious, etc. Without this balance of gender, the world spirals out of control. It is imperative that women take their rightful place in society before it is too late.

In any case, because men are capable of committing some absolutely vile acts, I have little problem thinking they could also misuse their own child for evil intentions and even rationalise it. However, I simply cannot reconcile the notion that a mother could misuse her own child as an instrument of revenge.

As mothers, we teach our children to love. We teach them to be courteous to others and to help others. Mothers want their children to grow up to be productive members of society and we hope that one day they will find a person they love and have a family of their own. Most of all, mothers want their children to be happy.

When a mother uses her child as an instrument of revenge, she negates all of the love and nurturing she has invested in her child. She contradicts all of the important life lessons she has so carefully taught every single day of the child’s life. In fact, she becomes the embodiment of everything she has taught her child not to be.

The worst part of it all is that she is now teaching the child to be the very thing she would never want the child to be. And to what end? To strike back at someone who has hurt her? She would forfeit her own child’s goodness and happiness for revenge? This is why I simply cannot fathom such pettiness from a mother.

Moreover, what about the child’s feelings for the father? What about the natural love the child has for that father—the love she taught the child was pure and good? Is that child now supposed to just turn that love off and play the role of an agent revenge? Such an act would be torture for the poor child. And imagine the long-term ramifications of forcing a child to become a bearer of revenge instead of a bearer of pure love.

When relationships turn sour, it hurts so much. When humans are hurt—whether physically or emotionally—we tend to strike out at the source of the hurt to make it end. It is a wise woman who learns to deal with the hurt in a better way. I am not suggesting that she internalises the pain; that is not the answer either.

However, there are better ways of dealing with the pain than to use your child as a destructive instrument of revenge. There are productive methods of healing that can be employed. Use the hurt to better yourself. Learn from the mistakes of the broken relationship to know what to do differently in the future.

When it feels like your life has crumbled, pick up the pieces and determine to create a better future for yourself and your children. But Sisters, please do not use your child as an instrument of revenge.

Email: stellasays@gmail.com

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