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The sadness of not being allowed to be the dad you want to be

On Saturday I witnessed one of the most depressing things I have ever seen. I was en route back from London on the train when a dad and his daughter were sitting there in the next set of seats. I wasn’t eavesdropping (don’t google ‘eve stropping’ to check for the spelling of said word – it is a porn star) but I did overhear a tiny bit of their conversation. Is was the dad asking his daughter for her mobile number and the daughter saying that she’d have to ask her mum. She rang her mum and asked and got the ok to do so but also asked if she (the mum) wanted to talk to daddy or wanted her (the daughter) to hang-up and she was asked to hang up.

I know I did this subconsciously but I looked over at this dad and saw his sagged shoulders and the despair he was going through. I have no idea why the relationship he was in didn’t work out. I have no idea as to the state of the relationship but I saw in his face how desperately he wanted to be a significant part of his daughters life and from the signs it looked like he was granted minimal access.

This isn’t a rare occurrence and I have known many parents facing this issue. Parenting is tough but when you so want to be part of your offspring’s life and you aren’t allowed to be the pain must be quite cutting. We hear so much of deadbeat dads who don’t care for their children but that number is dwarfed by those who sit alone at night waiting a fortnight until they can see their child once more.

As a football fan I know many other football fans. In this time I have come to know many fathers who only see their sons (and daughters on occasion) once a fortnight and this leads to them taking them to football. It is a bonding experience. The amount of times I have heard them speak to their former partners to tell them that they wanted to take their kid out after a game to get food or go to the beach only to be told that they had to bring the nipper home at the predetermined time is genuinely heartbreaking.

Personally I’m not a father so I can’t speak from personal experience. My parents split up towards the end of my teenage years so it was a completely different experience for me. However I lived with my mum until I was 18 and moved in with my dad and I know for that year and a half or so we lived apart he missed me a lot. Yes I still saw him but not every day and I know that hurt him. That was when I was all but grown up and by 19 I’d be off to university. How he’d have coped had my parents split ten years or so earlier I don’t know. He would have missed out on so much, not only me but with my brother and sister as well. Whenever I see a dad on a day out with his son or daughter on an access visit my mind always harps back to how my dad would’ve coped and subsequently how would I cope in those circumstances.

Being a single parent with custody of a child is not easy work of that I have no doubt but being a parent without custody who yearns to play a bigger part in their own child’s life must be just as hard mentally. I just think sometimes we overlook these people and laugh at the whole ‘Fathers for Justice’ crusade but they have a story to tell and have a fight to see their own children. Those who at least get access often have very limited contact and very strict rules to follow. That is no way to bring up a child and no way to play any significant role in their upbringing.

I have no idea what to do about it but I just think it is one of the saddest things I see – a parent who wants to be a great parent not being allowed to be because of the courts or their former partners. Every case is different I know but it just saddens me. It saddens me a lot.

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One Comment

  1. efgd efgd

    How sad indeed Neil.

    Acrimony is a sad state of affairs and sometimes it lasts far too long in the minds of those ‘Suffering’ from it. As you say we do not know the reasons for divorce or separation but, yes, as you say, this observation of father and daughter is so sad.

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