When I was two years old, my Dad left. They say you don’t make memories before you reach the age of three, some researchers are now even saying seven, but I remember that day. I remember him putting his clothes into black bin liners and driving away.
Over the next few years, I saw him every third weekend. I would rarely spend more than a couple of hours with him between pick up on Friday and drop off on Sunday. He would be watching TV or playing on the computer. If I mentioned my Mum he got angry. My Mum now tells me that she had to almost force him to start seeing me after he left.
Our relationship deteriorated over the years, and when I was fourteen it exploded. He hurt me, he shouted, he left again.
Three years passed and I decided to make contact. We built some form over relationship over the next six years, and in the run up to my wedding I apologised. I apologised for being fourteen years old and making a grown man so angry he hurt me. I never received an apology.
I found out he had hurt others too, physically and mentally. One moment he was the nicest, most charming, funniest man you could meet; the next, he was the coldest and to be feared.
I last saw him in the middle of my wedding day. I felt he behaved badly and told him. He shouted, he threatened to ruin the day, he left, again.
Did my Mum make the right decision to encourage contact? For me, yes. She never wanted to be the reason I didn’t see him. She wanted us to have a relationship and make my own mind up when I was old enough.
I, however, have made a different decision – I decided to break the cycle. It doesn’t mean my Mum was wrong – she made the right decision in those circumstances. My decision is separate.
My Dad has no idea he’s a Grandad and I don’t ever intend on telling him. When people find out many understand, or at least respect, my decision. Some, however, have told me I must make amends, he has a right to know, he’s my Dad and I’ll regret it one day. These people don’t know the full story, they don’t even ask. They don’t know that for over a year I agonised over this decision – the hardest decision I’ve ever made. They don’t know how I wish things were different, but the safety and happiness of my son have to be my priority. They don’t know that I don’t feel I could trust him with my boy.
It’s so easy to judge people and say you wouldn’t have done things the way they did, but you can never know the reasons behind those decisions. What is right for one person at one time isn’t necessarily right for someone else. I don’t agree with everything other people do, but I do try not to judge, especially when it comes to parenting. It’s the hardest, most important job in the world, but that doesn’t mean there is only one right way to do it. As long as a child is safe, fed, happy and loved, no matter how that is achieved, there is no judgement from me.
Parenting is hard. Be kind to each other. Support each other. Leave your judgement at the door.
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