What does he expect? Absentee father attempts to coerce his daughters.

What does he expect?

Absentee father attempts to coerce his daughters

A father abandons his wife and two young daughters. One of the daughters is subsequently treated roughly by his new wife. Five years later the father asks the courts to insist that the girls, now aged fourteen and sixteen, renew their contact with him.

Expecting teenagers such as these girls to simply do as they are told is both stupid and naïve. As they grow up young people have to be helped and encouraged to make independent judgements and prepare to take independent action. If we want adolescents to follow us we have to rely on trust and affection, built up throughout their lives. When we try to force them we risk turning them away from sense, reason and safety.

It is clear that the parents of these girls have failed to nurture sufficient trust and affection to be able to persuade their daughters to act in accordance with their wishes: to attempt to force them would at best be fruitless and at worst drive them further away from their parents.

We cannot be surprised if children in these circumstances see themselves as abandoned by their father, mistreated by his new wife, and act accordingly. We cannot expect them to appreciate and understand the fluidity of relationships in the adult world or surrender easily the security of relationships with those upon whom they were most dependent. If we parents wish to retain the trust and affection of our children we need to consider them before our own wants and desires; the father in this case failed to do that some years ago.

Why are angry and difficult children so often regarded simply as troublesome collateral damage in struggles between mothers and fathers, rather than as innocent victims of parental neglect?

It seems pointless now for a court to seek to force the girls into compliance with their father’s wishes. He would like to re-establish a primary relationship with his daughters, but this was a relationship that he broke years ago. Would things have been any worse had a court required him and his wife to fight harder to save their marriage and their their daughters’ home?

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