I have been reading about children brought up in the care system and the way in which their whole lives were damaged by the way that the ‘system’ allowed them to be routinely abused. Those children are now adults and they are seeking to be compensated for the way in which the care system failed them. And why wouldn’t they seek that compensation, their lives have been blighted by the anxiety, pain and suffering that comes from being vulnerable in a system in which the adults responsible for the care being given were dehumanized themselves.
It got me thinking about the UK’s approach to dealing with children who are unable to cope with parental separation and the way in which the lack of knowledge about the needs of those children create a system in which their needs are often overlooked, misunderstood and processed along a conveyor belt of tick boxes towards the eradication of one parent in their lives.
And it got me thinking about the way in which the focus in the UK and quite probably in other countries too, upon the ‘voice of the child‘ as the answer to all problems in the family system, condemns children to be the arbiters of their own descent into depression, anxiety and inability to form healthy relationships in their own adult future.
And how the lack of care and responsibility, the lack of knowledge and wisdom and the absolute lack of attention to the needs of children, in favour of the dependency upon their wishes and feelings, will inevitably lead to several generations of those children seeking the same compensation for the life challenges they face, as those who were brought up in care.
The ‘system’ as it currently delivers, is no way to deal with family separation, especially when the knowledge which is widely available and the skill which is desperately needed are both within reach of the people who are responsible for its delivery.
In the future, this is what is going to happen as the children of the generations affected by divorce and family separation, grow up to realise how they were left to flounder in the pit of their desperate attempts to cope with parental reactions.
These children will say –
This Is How It Looks To Me
I was walking alone across a bridge which felt as if it would give way at any time.
At either end of this bridge stood one of my parents, one scowling and angry, upset and disturbed, the other smiling and welcoming. Depending upon which way I was walking, each parent changed their mood like the wind. I was alone. I was terrified. I had no way of knowing whether the bridge would give way and if it did, who would save me and how.
My world which was safe became riven with fear and with dread and at times all I could do was hang on and draw inwards. I survived.
In surviving I shut off my feelings, became clingy to one and rejected the other. I didn’t know why I simply survived. I was terrified, lost and only just coping. No-one came.
In the end I was asked if wanted to keep making this journey. Did I want to keep crossing that bridge? Hell no, I’d do anything, everything, even the unthinkable to avoid putting one foot back on that road.
Would you want to walk such a tightrope at seven years old?
Would you want to carry that burden?
A child is a child not an adult and has no capacity for making decisions beyond whether they want ice-cream or jelly or both.
Yet you asked me and asked me and carried on asking me. What answer to give beyond ‘please leave me alone, I don’t want to go back on that bridge all alone‘.
It is not even as if you offered to walk with me, help me, protect me. You simply just asked me, took my answer and never came back.
My ‘decision’ to cut out my father, my mother and half of my self and my soul, was made in the shadow of terror a child should not have to face. A terror so great that my mind was impacted and my developing self cut away and split off and denied.
And you knew?
You knew that this terror was faced by a whole host of children but did nothing?
Whilst I and the others were left to making ‘choices’ that led to a lifelong discomfort, you knew that the answers were already there to the problems we faced?
This is how it looks to me today.
The anxiety, terror and shame that I feel, about the decision I made to kill off a parent and dispose of their body whilst they were still living, is a legacy left which I have to bear.
A legacy left by unthinking, uncaring, unaccountable adults who depended on voices of children too young to be asked what they want, what they feel, what they need.
This journey I made through my life has been blighted by lack of attention to the manner in which, the world that I lived in was fractured and broken and burned.
I said ‘I don’t want to‘ and you took it as read, shrugged your shoulders and went on your way.
You left me to deal with a parent not coping and another completely disbarred from my life. And told me and then they that this was my choice and it should be upheld.
What child would kill off a parent they love without cause?
You listened too long to the people who told you that fathers don’t care and mothers whose children say ‘no I don’t want to’ are blameworthy.
I am blasted by sorrow and hollowed by pain by the ‘choice’ that I made.
A choice only I have to live with, a legacy left by intolerable lack of attention.
How it looks to me today is exactly the same as those children who were brought up in care.
Who deserved more than they got and whose voices are finally, now being heard.
As will mine.
One day soon.