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This morning I read an article about three women who had, for various reasons, moved out of the family home and left their children with their other parent. In all three cases the other parent was a man - the children's father.


As many of us do I felt compelled to check the comments section to see how other people across the world felt about this subject, and it was full of people exclaiming that these were horrible women, how could they abandon their children?! One woman was even told she should have been sterilised.


It made me think of a few things:

  1. Why was this comment section full of women aiming hatred towards other women? Surely if anyone could understand the complexities behind their situations, it would be another woman.

  2. Why is it almost normal for a man to leave behind his children and the mother to be left raising them, but it's not acceptable for the woman to leave and the father to raise them?

  3. Everyone seemed to be missing the most important point - what was best for the children?

As a person I strive to be fair in all circumstances, and I always take time to view the perspective of the other people involved. I'm not really sure why, but I suppose it saves me being ignorant in a discussion and potentially helps reach a resolution a lot easier if I can see the wider picture. When it comes to children I am quite well known for being hugely passionate about advocating for their wellbeing and lamenting at the idea that any child has to suffer at the hands of adults who can't put them first. So personally I can't identify with the thought of leaving my own child behind.

But wrapped up in this debate there only seemed to be one perspective, and that was the perspective of the public: outrage.

Why does it seem so unnatural to us that a mother would leave her child?

Are we conditioned by a sexist society?

Are we able to offer compassion to the woman who had to make that decision?

Are we certain that the child isn't better off?


There is so much wrapped up in this issue of parenting and abandonment. Because a parent can be physically present and still have children with abandonment issues if they didn't choose them over other things, and if the child didn't feel safe or loved.

And so, unsurprisingly for me I suppose, this topic centred on advocating for the child, allowing compassion for the mother, and questioning society.


The child


The mother


Society


What about those children who had to raise their parents and never actually got a childhood? What about the story of a parent who lost their partner and was lost to grief, either turning to alcohol or simply switching off. Leaving a child to raise themselves, to be on high-alert constantly risk-assessing because the adult wasn't capable of doing so. The child never being able to grieve their parent because they had to become one. As I paint this picture I want you to think - in your mind is the parent left behind in a catatonic state, is it a man or a woman? Do we automatically assume that men are less able to cope, or that a mother is biologically attuned to prioritise her children and therefore get on with it?


What about the children who suffered sustained trauma, blow after blow of loss, tragedy and abuse...who grew up not because they matured or flourished, but because time passed and they remained in a state of shock. Those children would have an adult age but a suspended brain and emotional immaturity. What then, when they have their own children? They aren't suddenly able to parent the child if they are still shut down from their prolonged trauma. When their child cries, demanding food or attention it will be perceived as another stressor. Neither their mind or their body can interpret that correctly...how are they supposed to be a good parent?


Have you ever met a parent who so obviously cared about meeting their own needs above their child's, and really was not interested in their own child? Would you want that parent to give up their child, or to stay because they are biologically related or because it would make you feel more comfortable?


Many of the issues we have in society, affecting all of us, come from how children were treated in the home and then in the world.

If trauma wasn't dealt with in therapy then it's still being carried around in the body, which leads to both mental and physical health issues. The body presents physical symptoms as a way to expel the trauma. Mental health isn't treated the same as physical health and yet mental health can be behind a large variety of physical ailments such as fibromyalgia, IBS, psoriasis... Why are anxiety and depression thought of as mental illnesses when they have physical symptoms?


The reality is that each of us hold great power. In our thoughts, in our words and in our actions. With every choice we make we either positively influence the world or we negatively influence the world. Every time we moan about something we spread negativity. Every time we extend compassion and grace to someone else we spread positivity. Every time we think a loving thought towards ourselves we strengthen our self-love and self-esteem. Every time we say a critical word to ourselves we diminish our light.

Every time we litter we make the world a worse place.

Every time we help our community we make the world a better place.


My lasting thought is around capacity. If you are capable of taking the time to think of someone else's experience and perspective then do so, because that action takes from the side of the small-minded and feeds in to being open-minded. If you have the capacity to help someone do so. If you have concerns about a child do something about it, and if you see a family struggling try to help them.

And if you, like the rest of the world are figuring out how to look after yourself, prioritise yourself and learning that being self-full is not selfish, then take a second to think of those mothers out there who came to the decision that they didn't have the capacity to be the kind of parent their child needed and made the unbearable decision to let them go.


Expanding your perspective is how to expand the world.


Peace and love,

Hester





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