I had a conversation with a single mum whose daughter is 15 years old.
She has separated from her husband just after giving birth to their daughter, has never remarried and has raised their child on her own. When I asked how her daughter coped without the father, she answered that as her daughter didn’t remember her dad ever living with them, she didn’t know how it would be like living with both parents together.
“So my daughter was fine.”
I couldn’t help but cringe on that ‘fine’ comment.
When a child grows up without a parent, no matter how ‘fine’ they seem like on the outside, that child has suffered immense loss and pain, which can never be fully repaired. No amount of therapy, toys, activities, friends, holidays, grandparents, uncles, aunties, etc. can ever replace a father to a child.
How do I know that?
It’s not just from the books and my work with the clients. I have lived with that same pain and loss most of my life.
A woman kept saying:
“But really, she is fine. I mean, she never complained or cried to me about it. I never saw her upset over it.
I do remember her friend came to play at our house once and kept asking her questions:
“How come your dad isn’t on any of your family photos?”
“Where is your dad?”
“Why do you have only photos of your mum and you?”
And I thought to myself: “ What a mean child. Why does she keep asking her these questions? Her parents should have taught her not to do that!”
I asked my daughter afterwards: “How come your friend asked about your dad, didn’t you tell her your dad is gone?”
“No. I didn’t tell her.”
“Well.. It never came up…”
And so this 45 years old woman, mother of that teenage girl, bought into:“It never came up…”
But – Of Course – it came up……..!
For the last 15 years all that young girl kept hearing from her friends was about – The Father.
I’ll never forget how much I hated my childhood precisely because of that topic.
I couldn’t wait to grow up.
Every single sentence of my kindergarten, school, high school and university friends ( and then even later on, friends from work), would start with:
“My mom and dad…”
“What about your parents?”
“ How is your mom and dad?”
“ What do they do?”
For kids, the most important thing in school is to fit in and have friends.
So they can feel ‘normal’.
If most children around them have parents who are alive and live together, children without (a ) parent(s) never feel they can fit in. Unless they lie, pretend, hide the truth, avoid painful questions, change the subject…
In my case, I have learned very early human beings love to talk about themselves, so I used to bombard my friends with questions, just to take attention off me.
I have also mastered changing subjects quickly. Using humour also helped.
So most of my school friends never knew my real life situation.
I made sure I fit in.
It was ‘easy’.
I just needed to keep a secret, for some years, for some decades…
And so I did.
Until many, many years later, I became aware how much shame, guilt, anger, anxiety, sadness and grief there is in all those ‘things we don’t talk about’.
At the end of our conversation, the same mother tried using that old famous:
“ Well, I don’t see the point in dwelling. I am more of let’s get on with it attitude.”
“Her father has left many years ago and life needs to go on, so it’s better for her not to talk and think about him too.”
I feel it’s time to unlearn that ancient: “Time heals all wounds.”
Because it doesn’t.
Although time, together with awareness, and tons of conscious work and daily practice can help to feel better.
Getting busy is only a coping mechanism we get addicted to.
No talking about our problems, and not focusing on them doesn’t take our problems away. It only makes them grow bigger and more painful inside, in a form of cancer, a chronic illness and so on…
Painful situations need to be talked about.
Our children need to feel safe to express how they feel.
They need and deserve more than just food and shelter.
Our children need to feel emotionally connected with us.
Let us practice holding space for our children.
Let us really listen.
Let us See our children.
Let us ask how they feel and give them space and time to answer.
Let’s not push our children to be strong, brave and positive.
Let us allow and encourage our children to be vulnerable.
As always, it starts with ourselves.
Let us stop with ‘being busy’.
Let us sit with ourselves, feel and allow all that we feel.
Let us take our strong, brave, positive masks off.
Let us share our vulnerabilities with our children.
Let us practice this daily. Just as we brush our teeth, go to work. Just as we eat, work out, watch TV or scroll over social media.
Let us open our heart.
Let us Feel and Connect with our children and with the world.
As no matter about our social status, how rich, beautiful, smart, fit, cool, interesting and fun we are, let us not forget our human fact:
Deep emotional connection is the heart of our life and soul of our relationships.
Love and peace to everyone ❤️🙏❤️
Conquer your mountain!