Don’t get pushed aside, papa

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Displacement occurs in many areas of life: a ship’s hull that displaces water, a company that drives a competitor out of the market or a footballer who pushes his opponent off the ball. They all have the following principle in common: where there is one body, there cannot be another.

The means used for displacement are often illicit and unfair. In a competition that is conducted with fair means and in accordance with the rules, there is no competitor who got pushed aside, only winners and losers. Some people prefer to talk about the first and the second winner.

Anyone who got pushed aside is no longer in the game and no longer has any influence on the event or its outcome. So someone who got pushed aside can neither be a loser nor a winner. To get pushed aside means: “I'm completely out. Definitely!".

While a loser remains in the game and maybe even gets a fair revenge at some point, the one who got pushed aside has no chance of revenge or a return match. That is why it is so important to stay in the game under all circumstances. Defeat can be coped with, even if it can be tough at times. But getting pushed aside is the ultimate end.

We now know how it works in shipping, business or sports. But how does a dad get pushed out of his family? By what means is he pushed aside? Or is it the case that he is practically pushing himself aside, i.e. withdrawing?

At this point I am making a thesis that may perhaps be seen as somewhat provocative. You may think right away that I'm completely wrong. If so, feel free to contact me to describe your perspective on things. I am curious and look forward to your feedback.

My thesis is: a dad who got pushed aside withdrew in reality!

Provocative, as I said, and certainly not applicable to every individual case. But I still stick to this statement and would like to try to explain below why I see it that way.

I take the view that neither the mother of the child nor the youth welfare office or the family court can push a dad aside (from his family). These people and institutions can bring severe defeat to a dad and put many obstacles in his way, but they cannot push him aside.

Perhaps at this point I should briefly explain what I mean by “pushing aside” in this context. You may have your own ideas about it, which can influence the understanding of this article.

As already described above, for me it means to be finally and completely out. First of all, out of the family network, out of the family apartment and out of everyday family life. This usually happens through the separation and divorce.

Such a dad has suffered defeats, but he still has regular contact with his child, cares and is connected in love. He is still in the game, so still far from getting pushed aside.

It becomes more problematic when this dad can hardly see his child or no longer at all because of measures taken by the mother (for example by moving far away), wrong decisions by the youth welfare office or the judgment of a judge. If he is demoted to the person liable for alimony, but apart from that no longer has any rights. Was this papa pushed aside now?

Perhaps you are now saying: "Yes, definitely!". If so, I ask you what about your love for your child? What about this deep and heartfelt connection that you have with your child? What about knowing that the child is part of you? Is that all gone just because a judge decided that you are no longer allowed to see your child?

It gets really difficult when your child no longer wants to know anything about you by influencing by the mother or other caregivers. If it is even afraid of you or hates you because it is told stories about you that are not true, but still have an impact on the child.

But even then, when everything that formed the connection to your child is broken, your love can still be there. This love is one-sided and is no longer reciprocated, but it is up to you whether you keep this small flame alive or let it go out. Or maybe one day you will extinct it yourself. But nobody can take it away from you, no person and no institution.

Fortunately, my children and I have never had any experience with defamation, youth welfare or family courts. I am very grateful for that. No official decision and no judicial decision has been made about my family. What happened in my family happened without outside intervention.

Maybe now you may think that I won't be able to have a say then. You are right when it comes to defamation, youth welfare and family courts. But when it comes to seeing your child only once or twice a year, then I can very well have a say. I know what it is like when contacts become so rare that in the meantime you almost forget who you are – that is, a father.

I've suffered a lot of defeats and have been the loser in many a fight. But still, as a dad, I got never pushed aside. I always loved my children and was always there for them, as best as it was possible under the given circumstances.

I admit that it is extremely difficult to stay in the game when you have little contact with your child. When one pays alimony regularly, but apart from this duty no longer has any rights. When these rights may still exist on paper but are trampled or ignored in practice.

I also admit that the pain is unbearable at times, that anger, sadness and hopelessness become overwhelming. The many lost years that cannot be replaced by anything. All the fatherly love that went unused because nobody wanted it. The many missed opportunities and missed moments.

At some point enough is enough, the numerous defeats are unbearable, you can no longer stand it. There is no longer any hope or perspective. So why endure all this any longer? This may be the point where a father makes the decision to withdraw. To protect himself and put an end to suffering. He turns away and disappears for good from his child's life.

Absolutely understandable, but as I said, then you are completely out of it. No more chance of revenge or a return match. No chance of getting closer to your child again at some point and filling the connection with new life. And what this may mean for your child, I would rather not go into detail at this point.

The headline of this article is: “Don't get pushed aside, papa”, but actually it should read: “Don't withdraw, papa!”.

It can be damn difficult or even impossible to stay connected to your child. The mother's behavior, administrative or judicial decisions can become insurmountable hurdles. Pretty much everything that defines a relationship with a child can be taken from a father. But nobody can take the love and heart connection away from you, because these feelings have their source in you.

With the power of this love you can keep doors open, even those that are slammed by others. You can be there even when you are alone. You can make and maintain an offer even if this offer is not accepted. You can be a dad to the child which has its place in your heart.

I can't guarantee anything to you, but I'm sure it won't be over until it's over!

850 kilometers are no big deal if you go on vacation, but they surely are if you miss your children. Stories from a German father. (www.papa-bleiben.de)