Protecting Your Child at All Costs
A Mother's Personal Journey to Finally Deciding to File for Custody
One of the hardest things a parent will ever have to experience is protecting their child from the other parent. It's heart wrenching because most parents want nothing more than to foster a good, healthy, and even beautiful relationship between their child and the other parent. At least that's always what I wanted. My daughter's father and I separated years ago. I was so set on my daughter having a good relationship with her father that I turned a blind eye to red flags that I shouldn't have. The very last thing I ever wanted was to fight in a courtroom over my own flesh and blood. It seems so heartless and inhumane. So the little things I noticed as unhealthy I tried to excuse with his inexperience as a parent or doing his best based on the fact that he had no structure as a child. My single mom friends always stressed to me how lucky I was that her father even wanted to be in her life, so at times I felt ungrateful for wanting to take away any of the time he wanted to spend with her. But when his behavior turned into borderline psychological abuse I had to step in. He's discipline tactics became erratic and unacceptable. They were humiliating and heartbreaking for our daughter. Not to mention the unhealthy and unlawful lifestyle he was living, so in turn he was subjecting our child to. I finally did what I thought I'd never do. I filed for sole custody. I felt as though I had let my daughter down. Like I was taking away her normalcy. That's when I became the bad guy. That's when the negative talk about Mommy started. I wouldn't defend myself to the things she would come home saying because that would mean telling her the truth of why I did what I did. That would mean crushing the heroic view my little girl had about her dad. That would make my daughter think both of her parents hated each other and placing her smack dab in the middle of our drama. Not gonna happen! So I took the brunt of her anger and confusion and that was okay with me.
I over stressed and second-guess every move I was making during that time. I cried and cursed and screamed when I needed to (always away from my daughter of course). I got her into therapy, which is something I was very wary of. I had been in therapy as a child and I believe it can make or break the child's point of view in a lot of areas. I recommend doing your homework, asking around, and if possible getting recommendations for a good therapist. You definitely want someone who has experience treating other children with the issues your child is going through. Thankfully the guy I found was amazing and helped her immensely through this rough time.
There were days I question myself for filing. Did I stir the pot causing her more issues than were even there initially? There were days where it felt like this nightmare would never end. There were days my family was accused of horrendous things out of spite and retaliation. And there were days I thought she'd hate me forever.
I legally represented myself so thankfully I wasn't paying legal fees but I missed work for court dates for times I had to leave and clean up ugly messes that he made with her school or daycare or doctor. It was a hellish two years but my point in saying all of this is that in spite of all the unnecessary drama, heartbreak, and confusion that was caused during this time, I wouldn't go back and change it even if I could. Because two years later my little girl is happy, safe, and healthy. Do I wish it didn't have to get so ugly... absolutely. But I truly did try my hardest to avoid that. I could no longer go on wondering what games were going to be played this visit. Would he refused to bring her home again? Would he put her in a car that he was unsafe driving? I could no longer take a gamble on her safety and well-being every time she left to go see him. I had to take action. If you are ever in a similar situation contemplating what I contemplated for years before doing something about it, listen to your heart. You know what is right for your child. You know what your child deserves. Don't let anybody or anything sway your instincts when it comes to your baby.