I’ve been meaning to write regarding the woman who is bitter about her son’s renewed relationship with his father, her ex-husband (Chronicles, November 18). While she makes it sound as though he had no interest in his children in all the years she raised them alone, I can tell you of instances where mothers turn their children against their father. One should listen to both sides before passing judgment.
In one case I know up close, the father was granted visiting rights. His children were to be with their father for every other Shabbos. After going to great lengths to prepare for their visit, they wouldn’t show. One young child once revealed to his father that their mother dissuaded them from going and would lavish them with praise when they declined to go.
Eventually the father gave up trying. He remarried and moved on with his life. The children grew up, got married (the father was not invited nor welcome to attend their weddings), and it was years later when a relative managed to reacquaint the estranged adult children with their father.
Though they now visit on occasion, the years that have passed and the father’s deep-seated pain have taken their toll. He confided that he will never feel the same towards them, for nothing can make up for all the lost years and milestones he missed out on. As they say, too little too late.
The reason I write this letter is to straighten out some erroneous thinking and faulty impression of so-called uncaring fathers who are unfairly getting a bad rap. Things are not always the way they seem to the casual onlooker.
Fathers have feelings too
The scenario you describe is truly heartbreaking. Using one’s children to get back at a spouse will only end up hurting the children most. And the tactic often backfires, when the grown child ends up resenting the parent who provoked the discord that led to senseless hostilities.
That is not to say that this was the case with the woman who wrote about her pain and resentment over having raised her children on her own. But of course you’re right: there are always two sides to a story.
Thank you for giving us a glimpse of a father’s pain and struggle in his desire to maintain ties with his children. As I had written in my reply in the column you refer to, we must look past our hurt and focus on what is best for our children.