Sunday morning, about 18 years ago, my father yelled for his children to gather at the foot of his bed. My teenage sisters rushed up the stairs, my brother and I darted across the hall.
The patriarch of our family needed to speak with us, so there was no hesitation to hear his words. Dad demonstrated how to make a bed while still lying in it; a pivotal moment in my life. He pulled the sheet up to his chin, smoothed it out with his arm, then came the heat blanket, followed by his comforter.
Proof my father is a great man.
He's a green beret, graduated from Ranger school, and retired from the Utah National Guard as a respected officer. He was and is everything a father should be. Earlier this week, my father graciously lost a game of Monopoly to my 4-year-old.
Dad isn't afraid to be silly, despite being an army man. I can honestly say his presence in my life has made me a better person, no question.
Brian is an equally great dad. He's the best partner I could have paid for via the Internet. Thank you mailorderhusbands.net.
Not everyone could afford to pay for a perfect partner, or maybe they did, and something went awry. Recently, I listened to friend vent her frustrations about her ex-husband. He's clearly an alcoholic, letting his vice and pain get the best of him. The children's time spent with him is currently doing more harm than good, in my biased opinion.
We can all agree divorce isn't the ideal situation, but if two people like Al and Tipper Gore can fall out of love after that magical kiss (still haunts me as I was 16 watching "old" people tongue) what do you expect of the rest of us?
In our best efforts we do all we can to protect our little ones then human nature kicks in with the betrayal, jealousy, pain and anger. When parents can't separate their bitter emotions from their children's daily life, it's the kids that end up smack in the middle with battle scars being etched into their character.
That's where she is right now, watching her young kids get batted around by their angry father. She's in a pinch, well aware this is the father of her children; a father who is not well, barley able to take care of himself.
Does she fight for sole custody or respect his position in her children's lives?
She asked me an interesting question, "If a father or mother is no good, would the kids be better off not having them in their life?"
Kids are resilient, surviving the very worst of parents. I mean, look at Lindsay Loh..., bad example. But, if you had the choice to remove that harmful parent from a kid's life, would you?
A noted divorce researcher from Utah State University commented in a study, "When a parent inappropriately confides in his/her child about relationship problems, it can strip the child of innocence and feelings of security."
They go on to say a parent who struggles with marital conflict tends to be harsher and have more conflict with his/her kids.
On the flip side -- the same findings say children coming from a conflicting marriage return to a fairly normal life after about three years basically because they expect the business to hit the fan.
Terminating a parent's rights is tricky business. It seems like something courts do not take lightly, demanding hard proof that a parent is not fit for custody. In that case, is the difficulty best for the child or simply to protect the parent?
I don't envy the person who must wade through emotional baggage of divorce in order to place kids, although I question: Does the drama then lead them to ignore the waging war to the detriment of the children.
We all like to think we won't end up split, we like to think we'd be the bigger adult wishing joy on our estranged spouse, and we each certainly believe to hold life-altering advice to those in the thick of it. The reality is, anything can happen, and you're most likely full of hot air. I know I am, as I have no words to offer her.
I do have some advice that could change her life by making it easier. If you kick your legs out then in like a frog repeatedly, you can de-wrinkle the sheets while you're in the bed. This gives you a good extra five minutes in bed. Dad would be proud.
Meg Sanders fell down the rabbit hole of motherhood four years ago quitting her job as a news producer. Now she spends her days grasping onto her sanity, striving to be a good person, and fighting the urge to eat her young. She can be contacted at email@example.com