Every child needs their father, no matter his occupation or salary

Denying children access to their father has serious emotional and physical consequences. Just because he is unemployed or earns 'little' money does not disqualify him from playing a role. /123RF
Denying children access to their father has serious emotional and physical consequences. Just because he is unemployed or earns 'little' money does not disqualify him from playing a role. /123RF

The old saying: "When two elephants fight it is the grass that suffers most" was brought into sharp focus this week when I received a frantic call from a lady who will remain anonymous.

This is what she said: "He brought winter clothes for his children and I told him I don't need anything from you, I am self-sufficient, my kids will grow up without your stinking cent."

She continued with her volcanic rant: "I don't need you in front of my kids, I have a better, well-paying job compared to the peanuts you earn, so please bugger off.

"I consider you just a useless sperm donor, you are a good-for-nothing man, extremely irresponsible. I don't miss you and neither do my kids because I have found them a loving, caring, considerate stepdad.

"So please, stop this nonsense of trying to call them and disturbing our peace. You are a bitter loser."

The tirade went on: "Who the hell do you think you are, I know that you are a sophisticated, educated fool, who I will make sure that my kids never get to know or never get to come near or any of your family members because all of you are a lost cause."

I asked: "Don't you think you are being selfish, egocentric and narcissistic in how you are handling this? Don't you think it's not about you, but the bigger picture which is your kids, who had nothing to do with your falling in and out of love?"

I went on to further ask her: "Don't you think you are contributing to the high rate of children who grow up without their fathers who are alive and not in jail, who are ready to be part of their children's lives, even with the meagre and peanut income you alluded to earlier?"

Sadly, this was her response: "The father to my children is in fact a bad role model and allowing him access to my children will damage them, instead of helping them in any way."

She went on: "I am prepared to do everything in my power, even when they ask me about him I vouch to declare him dead, even though I know he is alive."

She could not see the long-term damage she is doing, not only to the physical needs of her children, but their emotional and psychological needs as well.

This lady is convinced that what she is doing is in the best interests of her children.

That is where I vehemently disagree with her and other women who may be thinking in the same manner.

Children are not raised by money only, though we all agree that money is an essential component of raising children.

Children need the love of both parents and extended family.

It is therefore important that when couples fight, they remember that children should not be made a scapegoat.What disturbs me about the lady friend's response was her belief that the stepfather and her salary are enough, without thinking ahead about the questions she will one day have to answer from the very same children.

They will ask her: "Where is our father? Why did you allow your fights to define our future? Why were you selfish and why did you not think deeply about the impact your actions will have on us?"

I wonder what her answers will be. Will she lie to them? Or will she be brave enough by looking them straight in the eye and telling them: "I sacrificed your relationship with your dad because it was me who mattered in all of this."

The truth has a way of coming out even when we try to suppress it. I am deeply disappointed that more often than not, it is women who use their children as a bargaining chip.

I still don't understand why, when a man is not in any gainful employment, he is automatically denied access to his children.

Let me nail my colours to the mast and say this is abuse, we must call it what it is, without any equivocation.

Children need both of their parents, whether the father is in gainful employment or not, and that should not deny any man access to his children, because doing so is tantamount to emotional abuse.

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