To be a ‘Parent’, what does it mean?
I asked my 13-year old daughter what she thought it meant to be a ‘Parent’. This was her answer: “Caring for a child. Mistakes are forgiven. When they fight, they don’t involve the children. They provide for us. They sacrifice a lot. They work hard. They love us. They comfort us and make us laugh. They take us on exciting trips. Teach us what’s wrong and right. Give us hugs and kisses. Tell us stories. Let us play. Make everything right.”
The Oxford dictionary defines a ‘Parent’ as many things, including:
as a Verb: “all children are special to those who parent them”
“Heck, some parents even took in their child’s partner with open arms and parented both children”
“Such parenting behaviour has lasting effects; parents who parent poorly tend to have been parented poorly themselves, and without intervention, the cycle of substance use and poor parenting perpetuates itself”
“Very often the father has left, and if he parents the boy at all, it’s likely to be poor parenting.”
as a Noun: “An organisation or company which owns or controls a number of subsidiaries”
None of the above ‘selected’ definitions are aligned with the comments from my daughter (except maybe, the definition that ‘all children are special to those who parent them’).
As a family lawyer, I don’t believe that anyone really doubts a parent’s love for their child or children. But sometimes I might question their motives for their projecting ‘their’ attitudes and emotions onto their child.
Today was Monday and the start of a new week. At the start of the day I said to my daughter, “have a good day” and at the end of the day I said to her, “how was your first day?”
At the start of the day she was with her father. At the end of the day she was with me.
For my child, and for many others, coming from a separated family is ‘ok’. As good as it can be. For many, many others, being a child from separated parents is less than ok, in fact quite awful. Stuck in the middle of their parent’s conflict and issues they have with each other! The moral support on their first day of school may not be given and the changeover at the end of the school day fills the child with anxiety and unnecessary stress.
Why, I don’t exactly know!
I’m a lawyer, not a counsellor or psychologist. The only experienced and qualified answer I can give is as a parent, who happens to be a lawyer and separated, and this is my answer:
“When I separated, my child came first. Not property and not me. There was no way my family, my life and my child were going to be involved in a Court dispute. My child was going to go between her parents with as much ease as possible. She will have the love of both parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, and eventually another family. The ‘re-partnered blended family’. My child will have as many people as she possibly can that will love her and make her happy.”
Why is it difficult for other parents and children?
Is it because one parent believes they are alike to an ‘organisation or company which owns or controls a number subsidiaries’ (the children) and when a child is happy or content with the other parent it is seen, somehow, as an indication of an alliance with that other parent?
Is it envy, jealousy, anger, sadness, rejection, envy, jealousy, anger, sadness or rejection?
Whatever the reason, is it right to project your feelings onto the child?
Written by Rebecca Parry, Principal Solicitor, Nationally Accredited Mediator, Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner
p: 3181 5704