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I’m a once-single mum of two boys (4 and 8) who was ‘attempting the ordinary’ after conceiving my second son by donor. I'm now married and pregnant and its complicated - again. These are my anonymous ramblings about life, love, parenting and the rest – emptying my head of the weird, the wonderful and the mundane. Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Personal and political colliding again...

So how long did that little dream of a genuine change in the ex's attitude last? Approximately 48 hours before the text indicating he hadn't really listened at all. Shame, I had really got my hopes up, as much as I tried not to. Oh well, another dream bites the dust - and another blog arrives that will be a bit ranty and political. I will get back to the funny stuff eventually I promise... just need to get this out of my system...

 It's not that there's not a change in the ex's attitude at all, it's just, the best analogy I can think of is this: before it was like telling someone you're starving and them acting polite but incredulous about it while you slowly fade away, and now, the response is more like: 'Oh that's really bad, how terrible for you, I'll do anything I can to help.... except give you food, or the means to get any'. I'm not actually sure which is worse.
It seems there are just some lines in the sand that he has drawn - like DS1 not being allowed to have his phone at night (in case he phones me, which would apparently be terrible), or that there has to be two night stays every fortnight come hell or high water. So even if these things are killing DS1, even if relaxing on them would make DS1 feel heard by his dad and so improve their relationship, even if world peace would break out if he agreed to be flexible, these are things he's just not going to shift on. It feels like someone somewhere has drilled these and other things into him like mantras, so that he thinks nothing is worse for a child than these things not being adhered to, regardless of the child's needs, feelings, circumstances. Must find that person and shake their hand.... or something substantially more violent.

It's strange for me how, at the moment, the personal and the political are so intermingled. The governments proposed changes to the law after deciding to ignore the recommendations of the Family Justice Review have scared the crap out of me in this context. Basically, the emotional strain all of this puts on DS1 - and me - would just be laughed at in court - so dealing with the ex the way I do is my only option now, and will be even more so with a change in the law.


It is really scary to think that unless the ex was beating DS1 up regularly, and I had video evidence to prove it, the courts would simply do not accept that there was any problem at all - as if all a child needed to thrive was to not be obviously abused. The thought of the government handing even more power to the dreaded CAFCASS (whose officers are responsible for making these recommendations to the court) is terrifying - and have a read of this if you're in any doubt as to the damage they're doing.
Here's just one set of fun statistics for you (checkout the lovely Maypole Women for sources):  In 60% of cases where there are safety concerns, CAFCASS still recommends, and courts grant, unsupervised contact to the parent with whom there are the concerns. Compare that with the research that shows only 2% of women make false claims of abuse, and you're potentially left with a frightening 58% (assuming they get the 2% right) of children being legally obliged to continue being abused. Even worse, if the non-abusing parent tries to stop this, they can, legally, be sent to prison. It's such a wonderful society we live in isn't it?

The new law will basically put an official stamp on this, signing a warrant for the continued abuse, and worse, of thousands of children. Many thousands more, like DS1, will suffer emotionally and psychologically from being passed from pillar to post in a situation they have no control over - all under the auspices of a child's 'right' to have a 'meaningful relationship' with both parents.

Is it me, or does anyone else understand a 'right' to be something that you have the freedom to choose whether you exercise or not? These children don't have any choice over whether they exercise this so called 'right' or not. The fact a child doesn't want to go to see the parent the court has ordered them to, isn't an excuse that any court finds acceptable, if the contact they've ordered doesn't happen. And certainly there's no provision in the new law for spending any time or money chasing down disappeared parents who don't want to know, so their children can choose to exercise their 'right'.

This law doesn't give children a right, it enforces on them a responsibility - telling them that they have to spend the time they have been court ordered to, with any parent that wants them to, regardless of what the child wants or needs, or the disruption it causes to their lives. I think it's wrong. I know that there are so many more things that impact on a child's welfare than just whether they have contact or not with a non-resident parent. To act as if all those things don't exist, or that they are all secondary to that contact, is to ignore the reality of a child's life, and potentially cause untold damage in both the short and long term.

So here's where the political really affects the personal for me: While I live in a society that won't protect my children in the event of relationship breakdown, then I choose, that if I have any more children, they will be by donor conception, by myself - because that's the only way I can be sure they won't be put through the misery that DS1 has suffered. Relationships aren't guaranteed, people aren't guaranteed. I was with the ex for five years, we planned our baby, we'd bought a house together - and when I was five months pregnant he turned round to me and said these words "I don't love you anymore and I don't see a future in this relationship". While people like that exist - the ones that seem like the good ones, the ones you can't spot - and the law is what it is, then my stance, while it might seem extreme, has a certain logic to it.

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