The Anatomy of An Absent Parent.
As a product of divorced parents where my mom didn’t exactly go about telling us in the best way, I know how delicately this sort of situation has to be handled. My mom chose to leave my dad, so we weren’t abandoned, but my ex-husband chose to leave my daughter before she was even born. That is a devastating loss, but I’m so beyond grateful that is how it happened. I’ll explain further in a little bit. For now, let’s talk about how I plan to explain this to my daughter.
I know that more likely than not, it’s not going to start as this long conversation, but rather, a question that will only require a simple answer at the start. In fact, the conversation that will span several years has already begun. My girl has already begun calling my boyfriend of a year, “Mommy” because at 21 months, she simply doesn’t know there is another word for a person that resembles that position. We just gently, but firmly correct her that he is not Mommy, and move on. She has also begun calling me “Daddy”(I think she hears it at school), but I again correct her that I am not Daddy. That is the only answer her sweet, innocent heart needs in this moment.
One day when she begins to ask who and where her father is, I’m simply going to explain to her that he made some choices, and that all of our actions have consequences, and sometimes our consequences don’t just affect us, but they affect other people, and I’ll leave it at that.
When she’s older, and begins to ask what his actions were(and when she is at an age where she is mature enough and old enough to understand), I will tell her what happened: that something was hurting inside of him. That he was trying to fill a void that only God can fill. That because the enemy is only out to steal, kill, and destroy, that’s just what he did, and my ex fell for that trap as we all do on occasion, and in doing that, he tried to find the God-shaped hole inside of him in another woman and her children. That she has a little sister whose name translates to “pure and devoted to God” and that we will continually pray that she will be a shining light for the Kingdom.
But that we still love him through it. We know that deep down, he was a hurting human, and a hurt human hurts humans. That his abandoning her, was never abandoning her or I, but abandoning himself and abandoning God, and that is a thing to be mourned.
You see, friends, this isn’t just protecting my little girl’s innocent heart, but protecting my heart as well. It would be so easy for me to become bitter even after over two years, but I have to make an active and continuous choice not to give in to that. Bitterness is like mold, slowly spreading and devouring everything in it’s path, until all is dead. My daughter will watch(consciously and subconsciously) for queues on my feelings and my thoughts on her father, so choosing now to remain loving is imperative for her. If I speak ill of her father, all it will do is resent me later in life.
My heart was once broken for my girl knowing that as my soul begins the long process of unpacking what all has happened, that this isn’t something I can protect her from, but now, it is far from that. It is grateful. I know that my little warrior is meant for great things if the enemy has already tried to destroy her, and that she will choose love and grace above all else. I work very hard not to bad mouth him, and will never ever say anything negative about him to my daughter. It is vital as a single/divorced parent to avoid bashing the other parent, regardless of the circumstances as you don’t want bitterness taking root in your child’s heart. If you feel the need to bash the other parent, I encourage you to seek counseling for yourself or join a DivorceCare or Celebrate Recovery group in your local church if you cannot afford counseling to seek healing in your own heart.
So, just as I will tell Adelaide one day: The choices we make now don’t just affect us now, and they don’t just affect us, and us alone. You are allowed to feel however you feel, but feel with wisdom, compassion, and most importantly, feel with grace. A gracious heart will never steer you wrong, my love. Feel knowing that the person that has wronged you is acting out of a place of hurt.
I pray that you always allow your heart to be softened towards the lost and broken. Don’t ever forget that you are a warrior prince or princess, and a child of the King. You are royalty, and no one wants to be ruled by a dictator. Rule with kindness, love, integrity, and peace, and above all else, do not be moved by this ever-changing world.