I remember reading a certain paper during my MSc.
A toddler was playing with his father. It was “rough” play, you know the type of being lifted and taken over the shoulder, down again and over the other shoulder and back down again and a round and around.
The toddler was squealing with laughter. He was obviously having a great time with his dad.
Of course this couldn’t last for too long and when he wanted his dad to stop, instead of just saying stop, he looked at his dad and asked, “Daddy, can you be a mummy now?”
Even at this age, this child could see that mummy’s play was different from daddy’s. He loved both types and needed each because without him knowing it, each parent contributed something to his development and wellbeing that the other didn’t.
Do children need both parents?
This is a question that I have been asked before and in various contexts.
When you are going through divorce the whole divorce process can make you say and do things that can be unfavourable to your child welfare. There are lots of stories where children are caught in the middle of slagging matches and are told all sorts of things about the other parent.
If your child is in the situation there are two things to keep in mind.
Firstly that little child, is growing and what he cannot see and comprehend today he will understand tomorrow and it will never be pretty if his memory is littered with things mummy said about daddy or vice versa. What he cannot understand right now will dawn on him tomorrow and it is you that he will come after – whether you were right or wrong about your partner.
Secondly, your little child needs a relationship with both her parents. That relationship is between the two of them and need not be interfered with or disrupted by you unless of course if there are real questions about your child’s safety in which case there are proper channels to follow.
There has been lots of research done over the years on the relationship between mother and child and fortunately, there is now more and more research being done on why children need their fathers in their lives. You can find quite a bit of information on the Families need Fathers website.
It is well known that the relationship that often suffers the most during divorce is that of the father and child. I’m not saying that it cannot go the other way but it is more often than not the father child relationship that gets disrupted for various reasons.
Whatever you do from here on, keep in mind your child’s wish to have both parents in his/her life. It’s not just for the fun side of it but more importantly for their wellbeing and general development.