Being a teacher is probably, hands down, one of the most rewarding careers on the planet. Being in a position to touch the lives of so many children, nurturing them, seeing them grow, and having a hand in their joys and triumphs are what true teachers crave and covet about their jobs. Those things help us get out of bed every morning, knowing that our day will be filled with new discovery, exploration, and excitement. Most teachers accept each and every student as their own children. Take me, for example, whenever I talk about the kids in my class I call them "MY kids".
And, they are mine. From the hours of 7:30AM - 3:30PM, I am the person entrusted to care for 20+ children and make sure all of their needs are being met. But, even long before the day starts and well past the end, they are in my minds and in my heart. They also don't get forgotten about after the year ends, but become a part of my family for the rest of their lives. I will always refer to each child that was ever and will ever be my student as "mine".
Being a teacher also has its share of heartbreak. Teachers see and hear things that can crumble them to the very core..abuse, neglect, dangerous living situations, poverty. I know I have shed many tears for children that I want, so desperately, to protect and help and know that all I can do is make sure that every second that child is with me, he/she knows I love them and I will do everything in my power to protect and care for them.
But, it's what we do. A teacher isn't a profession for the fainthearted. It is a calling, a purpose. We are not providers of knowledge, but warriors, fighters, and slayers of pain. We are the infusions of comfort, safety, and love. When the need arises, we will gladly stand in and take the form of a parent and provide a few hours of joy and happiness.
Which is why it's probably no surprise that the position I hold more powerful than a teacher is a parent.
Parents really do have the most important job in the world. Unfortunately, though, there are parents that don't understand the importance of their position. They cast aside their children as if they are nothing more than possessions that were acquired, and are treated as such.
And NOTHING boils my blood more than a parent that uses a child for their own whims and power.
I am a firm believer that a child doesn't have to be raised in a household where both mom and dad live in order for that child to thrive and succeed. There are MANY children that live perfectly happy lives being shared between parents. And, their lives are often bestowed with step-parents that are able to offer even more love.
There are some parents who believe it is a requirement that they stay together "for the sake of the kids" and then spend 90% of their time fighting and growing resentment for each other, because there is no love shared between the two...they just think it's best for the kids.
But the sad part is, kids who grow up in that environment never truly get to learn what love is all about. They witness their parents fighting, arguing, constantly unhappy...and they start to believe that's what makes a relationship. And statistics show that kids raised in households such as these will have a much higher chance of being in an abusive relationship once they set out to find a mate.
That, in itself, is abuse. Emotional and mental abuse. You may love your child with all your heart, give them all the support and love they expect from a parent, yet when you spend the rest of the time fighting with the other parent... you are abusing your child.
And you know what's even worse than that? Using your own child as a pawn to gain power over the other parent.
That is the lowest of the low. Something that makes the bile in my stomach wrench up in to my throat.
When I am confronted with children who are abused, my heart breaks for them. I want to protect them and do whatever I can to help. But, when I am confronted with a parent who uses their own child as a pawn in a vicious game of "Give me what I want", my claws come out...and I see red.
There are so many children out there that don't have their mother or their father in their lives. Children that have been abandoned by one of the parents. That's when it's the remaining parents duty to step up and become both parents for those children. I know, I've done it myself. But, I have never and would NEVER use my children as a pawn in order to cause pain or have power over the absent parent. There are so many mothers and fathers out there that want a strong, loving relationship with their child... yet they get met with the other parent preventing it.
There are mothers and fathers out there that decided to end their relationships. Understand that the situation they were in was toxic for the kids. That's a sign of a good parent...one that puts the child's needs first. The intent is to separate, but continue to work together to ensure that their child continues getting the love and support provided by both parents. Just not under the same roof. But, then the parent that left is faced with the other parent using the child as a pawn, turning the child against the other parent, and using their child as leverage against the other parent.
Why? Why do that to your child?
I just don't get it.
It infuriates me.
I have seen grown men crippled at the knees, wanting nothing more than to see their child... and a mother that is mad because the father left and refuses to let him see his kid. No good ever comes out of it. There are two roads that end up being paved...
One, the father gives in and returns home...to the toxic situation...because he feels he has no other choice if he wants a relationship with his child.
Two, the father stays strong in his decision to leave and is left with a child that is allowed no contact with him, fed lies and hate, and then grows up and realizes that he/she had been misled all along and then turns against the mother for destroying the chance for a relationship with the father.
(I'm using the mother/father scenario here just because it's the one I encounter the most. It doesn't mean that it never happens in reverse.. but you get the idea.)
Either way, the person who suffers the most? The child.
Any good parent would NEVER put their own needs before their child. Any good parent would accept when a relationship must end (however hard that may be), and be thankful that the other parent still wants a loving relationship with the child. Any good parent would swallow their pride, face their anger and bitterness and realize that ill feelings need to be pushed aside in order to keep their child happy and work together as a team to make sure that happens.
Very seldom are parents going to be best of friends if they have to separate, but they need to be the adults and at least be amicable. There's a child watching on and learning how life plays out...and needs the best guidance they can get.
I know this is super long.. but I needed to get it off my chest. I have been talking to a friend who is going through this very thing, and my heart breaks for him. Even more so, my heart breaks for his child. A wonderful father that wants nothing more than to continue being a wonderful father... and an ex that squeezes all hope of that out of him.
I just don't get it.
All I can say is that parents should be very careful playing with their child's emotions, and using them in a game of power. Because one day, the parent you are keeping your child from will figure out a way to get their child back in their lives. They will meet someone or recruit help from people who are willing to help. They will extinguish your power.
There's nothing more dangerous than a loving parent who has their baby ripped away from them.
Children are not pawns. They are gifts... gifts that should be treasured. And any parent who doesn't understand that, doesn't deserve to be a parent.