Impact of divorce on children: the empty photo album
This story was written by Pearle Harbour.
Picture this: One day your child says to you, "Where is our Family Album? I have to do a family tree for a school project." Or, your child simply asks to see pictures of their relatives. You take out your Family Album, and your child begins to turn each page. A look of confusion covers their face and their eyes look sad. "Where is my daddy? (or mommy?) I see Grandpa and Grandma Smith, but where are Grandpa and Grandma Jones? Where is the rest of my family? Do I look like my daddy? (or mommy)?" What do you say to a child who waits for an honest answer from a parent they trust and love?
As we debate what is happening to our children and how to fix it, as we discuss what to do about fathers' rights and children's rights, do we discuss memories lost forever in a maze of court battles and rewritten history? Do we see the loss of those who will have no photographs to pass down to the next generation? Photos never taken at birthday parties and graduations, weddings, births and family reunions. Family members eliminated from their children's lives by a custodial parent and an uncaring legal system.
When I open my Family Album, I revisit my past. I see where I came from, and whom I look like. I look at my father and remember a strong, hard-working, loving man. A father who taught me values, morals, and to fight for what I believed in. I can¹t imagine not having pictures of my father in my Family Album. Some day I will lose my best friend, my father. To never see his face again, even if only in a picture, would be tragic.
In my Family Album, I see the mother who gave birth to me and made sacrifices for me. I see a strong person who I'm sure I caused pain from time to time as I grew into an adult. Never once did my mother abandon me when I made mistakes in life. Every day in this harsh world of ours, I thank my mother for teaching me how to be a lady, a woman, and an independent person.
We cannot bring back the past, nor re-create special and important events in our childrens' lives. Once a graduation has taken place and a father (or mother) wasn¹t there to have their picture taken with the graduate, we cannot recapture or conjure up those lost moments. How sad to have no photographs of the 'other' parent or 'other' relatives when there was a special occasion in their lives.
When I open my Family Album, I see very special grandparents I dearly miss today. They were there when I needed support, a shoulder to cry on, another perspective on life. My grandparents passed on to me in story and pictures my family history and family legacy. They enabled me to keep my family history alive in my heart, in my memory, and in pictures.
Who could forget my great-grandfather and our trips to the old soda shop in town. While I sipped on my soda, I watched other grandfathers playing checkers and talking about the good ole days. My great-grandfather told me all about my great-grandmother, whom I never met. When he talked of her and touched her photograph, his face would light up and his eyes would tear as he spoke her name, even 20 years after her death.
Our family, both sides, shape who we are and fill our lives with valuable memories. We steal from these children irretrievable moments they could have enjoyed in their lives. Sadness fills my heart for those children who will never know their 'other' grandparents and 'other' relatives because death took them away before they could know the truth. Before a child could decide what their best interests were for themselves.
My Family Album has lots of good memories, which bring tears to my eyes. They are my times and my memories, forever frozen in photographs. If my memories become faded or foggy with time and age, I open up my Family Album and smile again while I remember. I can be sad at the loss of family members because they meant so much to me. I can touch their photos and thank God they were in my life because they are a part of who I am today.
Do you want to have to explain why there are no pictures of the 'other' parent, the 'other' relatives? Do you have the right to steal your child¹s heritage and Family Album from them? What of all those special moments? All I see and read in our media now is the pain custodial parents (predominantly mothers) feel on those rare occasions when they lose custody of their children. Perhaps if more mothers felt the pain an empty photo album causes their children, they would understand what they are doing to their own children. How many empty photo albums will there be in the 21st Century?