Interviewed today on BBC Radio Four, the lawyer representing a woman whose house has been adapted to protect her from a violent former partner spoke of “her,” the woman’s fears rather than those of her children who have to share their mother’s wretched existence. They, the women and her children, are facing an appalling situation.
Like the father, the mother could walk away from trouble and pressure and threats and responsibilities. The children cannot; they are unwilling conscripts, victims of adult shortcomings. Why do we always concern ourselves first about the adults who brought them into the world, and created their vulnerability and dependence?
Earlier this year a report in The Times about reforms to family law, intended to reduce the time that children in broken families spend in limbo while adult quarrels are resolved, comprised fourteen paragraphs. Not until the thirteenth paragraph were children even mentioned.
We concern ourselves with the self-indulgence that seems to drive divorce rather than requiring parents to continue to support one another and their children. Perhaps, like the two mothers who each claimed a child as hers, parents who want to part company should face a Solomon armed with a sword. Perhaps then they would focus on their dependents rather than themselves.