every father I know
Fairly or unfairly, and I can’t say I care, I just went ahead and blocked the lady after she replied. There are certain red flags signaling people as not worth arguing with, and the use of “wow-just-wow” is one of them. This sort of appeal to incredulity is always at the tip of a far larger iceberg of various passive aggressions and a whole code of self-exonerating rationales; I have become so very familiar with its indicators in dealing with single moms that it isn’t hard to tell early on how the exchange is certain to go.
What also is very familiar, is mothers who have parallel realities about what has happened with the fathers of their children.
For the purposes of ridding herself of him, he is whatever he needs to be, “controlling” or “abusive” or “emotionally unavailable”, or whatever. She uses these for official consumption as the framework of her storytelling of a relationship with a man which simply has become incompatible with her lifestyle preferences, but needs to be portrayed as some sort of vaguely potential threat to the children. The social-work profession and the courts it owns and operates can take any stated annoyance on a mother’s part over a father’s behavior, and tie it in with theoretical projections of “personality disorders” and “potential for abuse” while citing various studies and quoting various “experts” from the witness stand in order to extrapolate a man who may have his own idea of how to be a father which she doesn’t care to work with, into a hulking, vicious monster whose very purpose for breathing is so he can pin down helpless victims to abuse, preferably her children.
In the face of this portrayal of himself, which a man must become accustomed to as what he will be facing in his efforts to parent from then on, he must try and set aside such horrific bigotry which does not even resemble the man he knows himself to be, and still retain some sort of self-respect and an air of authority and confidence, because even to the limited extent the court will allow him to try, he still has children to look after, not as one of two parents working together, but as one who has been labeled a threat and a nuisance by the other (the one they live with full time.)
He begins to see what this impossible set of contradictions is doing to his children: trying to coexist with two sides of protracted adult conflicts is not a thing that comes naturally to children, the younger the less so.
Children want to live as if things around them were normal and stable and safe, but when an estranged father is presented to them as someone they need to be concerned about, and they are expected to report back to their mothers on every detail of their time with him, their role becomes one of being used as spies by their mother, to inform and affirm for herself on whatever harms she has decided to imagine he must certainly be doing them.
Whether a child is able or inclined to think it through in rational terms, few children will long tolerate being used as bait, being sent into alleged danger in order to gather information about threats they must face without their mothers, before being subjected to interrogations afterward on what they may have found out so she can use it against him.
The campaign to rid oneself of the father of one’s children, only begins with securing a preferred courthouse outcome; for the remainder of her life she then must rationalize those decisions and actions and the chains of events she has set in motion; and I have seen so very many mothers who make this their life’s work, and who use their children from then on, even after they have grown up, by any means necessary to uphold their own tormented vision of themselves as parents.
This attendant awkwardness and distancing that comes to be the norm between the father and his child or children, absolutely cancels out any opportunity he may have thought he had, to parent them in his own way without the mother’s continually over-ruling him. She is even more empowered to outrank and discredit him as a parent, even without her being in direct proximity, because now she has enlisted her children as her agents in doing so, and has further backing from the legal system should she decide to continue making allegations against him.
And so, inevitably, the children enjoy and look forward to their time with Daddy less and less, for the impossible position it puts them in. They lose the ability to obey and subject themselves to the guidance of a man they are being told is mentally unstable or a threat, and the relationship between father and child deteriorates steadily. Sooner or later, either the children or their father sees what is plain: that this cannot continue as it does no one any good and may even be on its way to being harmful in countless ways.
When it is the father who decides in frustrated compassion and tormented resignation that he must simply stop subjecting his beloved children to this impossible melodrama, this of course auto-deploys the new narrative which the mother has been waiting eagerly to set in motion all along: “your father never cared enough about you to be involved…..”
And then she goes on and tells herself, the children and anyone else in earshot this version of the story for the rest of their lives. Having engineered a complex of conditions such that his attempts to remain a parent after her rejecting of him as such becomes absolutely impossible, because she wanted to be rid of him in the first place, she now is free and unopposed to portray the man she drove off, as a man who never cared to begin with.
I have witnessed and been in the middle of this emotional shell game so much throughout my life, that when I hear a mother telling the Father Who Didn’t Care story, usually about both her own father and her children’s (this tends to repeat itself over multiple generations as a way of life within families), I already know just how likely it is that she is simply lying, firstly to herself. When I hear children telling their version of this tale, it usually doesn’t take two minutes of observing their mother’s demeanor and conduct to recognize that she had set up the abandonment narrative herself as her own preferred outcome.
And such women are the ones who use phrases like “wow-just-wow” when challenged on their arrogance in doing things like sending out anti-father propaganda to mark Fathers’ Day, which usually contains these parallel narratives of “I did everything I could to keep him around, just like my mom did with my dad but my dad never cared…..”, versus the unarticulated self-worship so common to single moms of “look at me and what a heroine I am for (sniff-sob) ‘being there for my kids’ after That Bad Man ran off and left us…..”
I despise this phrase “being there for….”, when someone is using it to describe themselves, because it generally means that what really is going on is someone has engineered a circumstance exactly the way they wanted it, and uses their power over others, such as the power a single mother has to own and operate her children in utter unaccountability, to portray themselves as rescuers and selfless heroines.
There have been few people I ever knew who were more self-obsessed and less able to accept influence from others toward a more adult approach to life, than single mothers sporting abandonment narratives spanning more than one generation. Such women diligently make themselves impossible to coexist with, so that they can congratulate themselves for carrying on after the abandonments they set in motion intentionally to begin with.
And usually, their children go right on and fall into the same patterns in their adult lives. And it just continues on, generation after generation.