I grew up without a dad. He was a part of my life when I was under the age of 10, but not a consistent part. Sometimes he was present, but most of the time he wasn’t. I’m not sure why my mom put up with his foolishness, but I suspect she did it for us. She didn’t want us growing up without a father.
There wasn’t any indication that she was head over heels in love with him. He wasn’t some great guy that provided for her or treated her like the queen she was. But because her dad wasn’t a part of her life, I think she put up with mine, holding on to some hope that he would do the right thing.
And listen, I am all about hope. I think we should be hopeful. But I also think holding on to hope when someone has disappointed you time and time again is a set up for heartache. People don’t do the right thing because you hope they will; people do the right thing because they are ready to.
My mother sees my relationship with my husband, and she shares with me how grateful she is that I found a good guy. Her sentiment makes me smile because I am grateful, too. My husband treats me well, and he is also a great dad to our kids. I never question whether or not they feel loved by their dad because it is so evident that they do.
And although I have countless reasons to stay with my husband aside from the kids, I know that many women don’t. I have had several conversations with women who aren’t happy (and sometimes are in emotional and physical danger) but decide to stay because of the kids.
I listen because I want to understand their perspectives. And while I understand all the reasons for wanting to stay because I think my mom had the same reasons years ago, I also believe that staying can lead to a lot of pain, and it’s often not what’s best for the kids.
Here are three considerations if your kids are the only reason you want to stay with your man.
Your kids understand more than you think
Despite your best efforts to hide what’s going on, your kids are pretty intuitive. They understand when you are in pain, and they can feel the energy of a tense home.
We all want to protect our kids from pain and heartache. It’s what we do as parents. But in our attempts to protect them, we can sometimes make bad decisions. Never underestimate how much your kids understand about what is going on in your home. You may decide to stay for their sake, but they may very well recognize that you deserve better and are hoping you realize it, too.
Your happiness has an impact on how you parent
When you decide to just settle and make the most of things because you think it’s best for your kids, just remember how much your level of happiness impacts your ability to parent them.
When a parent is sad, overwhelmed, depressed or experiencing any other negative emotion, it changes how that parent interacts with his or her children. You have to be able to recognize how important it is to have your mental and emotional needs met, so you can give your children what they need and deserve.
What you do today won’t change your past
So many women stay because they are stuck in the past. They can remember what role their own father played in their lives, and they are willing to do anything to spare their children from the same fate.
The problem with this is that you end up making a major life decision based on fear instead of facts. It’s very understandable to want better for your kids than what you had. I know it’s what I want for mine. But when your desire to give them better compromises your ability to make healthy decisions, you have to do your best to move away from the past and make the best choice based on what is going on in your life today.
No woman should settle for an unhealthy relationship—and sometimes even a dangerous relationship—because she doesn’t want her kids to be without a dad.
BMWK family, when do you think it’s okay for a woman to walk away from her man even if they have kids together?