Monday, 10 March 2008
Thursday, 6 March 2008
The Independent reports on a father who has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his 4 year old son. He also attempted to murder his 14 year old daughter, seemingly in an act of revenge against his wife who he had discovered was having an affair. Most parents don't take things to such extremes, thankfully, but I do often come across a certain reaction from parents to what is happening in court proceedings that I find very difficult to deal with or to know what to say. It takes many forms but it roughly amounts to - if I can't have exactly what I want (for example, the child living with me) then I won't have anything to do with the child at all. There are variations on the theme such as if I can't have contact as often as I want, I won't have it all. I never know whether to take this seriously. From anecdotal evidence, it does not seem that it is often acted upon. Perhaps it is just a way of trying to show how extremely distressed or affected a parent is by the way the case is going? I have to wonder though what it says about the motivation of the parent who is going through a case if that is what is in their heads. If you find yourself thinking this, do consider whether you are involved in a court case for the right reasons. In other words, do you really want to spend time with your child or is it all about the battle with the other side? I would also encourage you to put yourself in the child's shoes. It may be that the other side are putting unjustified or ridiculous barriers in the way to your having normal contact or a normal relationship with your child. But in years to come it will be the parent who puts up unnecessary barriers who will be resented by the child. If you give up because of some short-term inconvenience or restriction on your ability to have contact on your terms, not only will you lose out, but that child in later life will resent you as well and they will simply not understand why you gave up on them. It will simply seem to them that you did not care about them enough and their self esteem will suffer. So if all you can get, before the court can give you a proper hearing, is contact at a contact centre or small amounts of contact, take it. You will almost always get more eventually. Judges find it very hard to understand a parent who has not taken up the offer of contact, even if it was an ungenerous offer and choose to have no contact at all until they can get it on their terms. And frankly, so do I. If you have been in this position where you have been tempted to cut off all contact or to refuse to have supervised contact, I would love to hear what it was that pushed you to that point.