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Children as pawns

At one point in all our lives we all imagine ourselves as parents. We do not only imagine that but we actually even play mommies and daddies, perhaps a natures way of preparing us for that role later on in life. I dont know how todays children do it but for most folks, myself included, there were days when we played moms and dads from sunrise until sunset!

We all dreamt of becoming parents, we looked forward to that day! Coming from a family where there were more females than males, I too wanted children, four maximum just like my own parents. Today, most ‘dreamers’ including ours truly are now parents and that’s fantastic. The only problem is that for most, things didn’t exactly go according to the script. What we overlooked was all the work that goes with parenthood. Truth be told, and I am not trying to scare anyone here, until your children are all grown up with meaningful  lives of their own, parenting is like a life sentence at Guatemala Bay.

While your envision a perfect life, with a caring supportive partner and well behaved children, often things don’t go according to plan. Studies show that almost 50% of parents end up splitting and going their separate ways and for most, this marks the end of your parenting dream. Other parents continue co-parenting their children with very little interruption to the children’s lives, for the rest, world war 3 erupts as all courtesy and even common sense is thrown out of the window!

Children are often the unfortunate pawns of battles between exes. Sometimes motivated by desires to hurt the other parent or out of a sefish desire to be the sole or primary influence on the child’s life, these battles can be both emotionally challenging for both children and parents alike. I had first-hand experience of this some months back, when my child was travelling on a school trip to South Africa. Personally I don’t have child dramas with anyone; I believe that parents should remain civil if not for their sakes, at least for their children. I go all the way to create that environment, swallowing all my pride if it comes to that. So for some unlucky parents, there is this new immigration law that compels both parents to provide written consent before their children can cross borders. This is a nightmare for estranged parents and their children.

So while at the South African High Commissioner’s office where I was submitting my child’s consent, there were about three other parents there and unfortunately, their ex partners were

either refusing to consent or their present whereabouts were unknown. My heart bled for their children, because without the consent, they were not going anywhere.

Like someone said a few months ago, the danger with this new requirement, which we are told, is meant to curb child trafficking is that all of a sudden it is making some parents feel very important. It is a fact that some parents are dead-beat parents; they can go for months or even years, not knowing where their children are, what they eat or even where they sleep. Never mind whether they are even walking bare. They go about their daily lives trying to pretend they don’t have children at all and most times, their former partners would have simply forgotten about them, given up on them or even presumed them dead.

Life was normal or maybe just getting back to normal for some parents until this law came into being. What happens now is that these runaway ex partners get hunted down, they can be men or women and once they are located and asked (or begged) to write that consent they will then start theatrics and unnecessary drama. Being asked for the consent all of a sudden inflates their egos, even gives them this false sense of power over both the child and the other parent.

At the South African High Commissioner’s office that day I saw pain on the faces of parents and their children. The parents feeling helpless, and for one child, she just could not stop her tears. Sometimes you ask God to intervene when things are like this, beyond your control because surely hurting a child is the second worst sin in the sacred book. The other day I came across a post on facebook, a young lady had posted asking for advice because she was experiencing the same thing. The main issue, the one most people were interested on, was how to beat the system, how to travel with the child even if it meant breaking the law. One of the saddest things in the world, is to see a child grow up hating one of their parents. Take heed.

Tumy on Monday



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