Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Is his behavior understandable?

A beautiful and terrible article in the Telegraph (UK. Update: vast amounts of supportive feedback here):
"I see my daughter regularly, but unofficially. I would stand outside the nursery school playground. Gradually, after many appearances, we made eye contact. After two years of this we would wave to each other. I do the same at her new primary school. Am I right to do this? I am aware of the risks and penalties, but I intend no harm and if I saw fright I would desist. My daughter has absolutely no idea who I am, just a silly man."

A silly man? An obsessed man? A desperate man? Part of me is horrified by the risk this man takes and by the confusion he could be creating in his daughter. Another part of me sees this reckless behaviour through the severe eyes of judge, school and mother.

And another part of me finds this picture unbearably sad: the longing, silent father on one side of the fence, the innocent, fatherless child on the other. Is he wrong? Probably. Is his behaviour understandable? According to the letters I get, yes.

"A silly man?" Silly? To love one's child and want to be part of her life is "silly"?

"An obsessed man?" Would we use the word obsessed to describe a mother in that position?

Creating confusion in his daughter? It is not him that is doing that, it is the mother, the judge, the school, by barring his access, by showing the child that her father is redundant, a problem, an embarrassment. It is the system that is confused, and passing that confusion on to the child. Do not condemn the father for trying to love his child, condemn the system for allowing it.

"Is he wrong?" Absolutely and unequivocally no! What he is doing may be illegal, but we are in a sorry state if we take legality as the moral standard.

"Is his behaviour understandable?" Try it. Try having your children extracted from your life by an uncaring system, by a vicious, vindictive ex spouse, then ask that question.

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