"Today is the birthday of my oldest son, James who lives in France with his wife and their two children. His mother and I were separated and divorced early on in his childhood and although his relationship with me was as close as that of any father and child could possibly be prior to the separation, the circumstances leading up to the separation and the subsequent acrimonious ...time that followed between me and his mum exacted a heavy price upon the close relationship that had previously existed between us.
There is undoubtedly an emotional distance that prevails between child and access parent, and all of the care, love, forethought and attention the access dad has at his disposal to give, cannot prevent the child feeling 'deserted', (and it is usually the dad who finds himself in the access position). Whatever the access parent does invariably proves insufficient to bridge the emotional void that emerges between him and his child, who now only sees for a few hours a week. Furthermore, when that short access period is still a few hours 'too long' every week as far as the mother is concerned, the child/children are placed in an invidious position.
This seems to be the inevitable price of too many parental separations when the children are young at the point of marital breakup. As adults, the separated parents often behave very childishly in their response to common-sense situations which are as clear as a snuff-pinched nose to those not involved. The children though, who have not yet developed the where-with-all to healthily express and process their emotions or exercise any control over an unhappy situation they did not create, do not want and are not responsible for, have no other sensible option than to follow their innate survival instincts and move emotionally ever closer to the parent who is now primarily responsible for their care and everyday control. Unfortunately, for a young child to be able to live with their decision to move emotionally closer to the warring parent they live with, involves them needing to emotionally distance themselves from the warring parent they don't.
I can almost hear the armchair psychologists and perfect-parent-brigade instantly disapprove of my views not being representative of theirs, while they reassure themselves that they would do things far more responsibly, and only in the paramount interest of the child, if God forbid it ever happened to them. While I believe that they believe what they say, I don't for one second believe that they'd manage to do it without the creation of an emotional distancing between child and access parent taking place!
Despite having being a Probation Officer at the time of my marital separation, and a person who prepared many Custody and Access Reports for the Matrimonial Courts when parents separate, my knowledge in this field was not enough to spare me any heartache I ever subsequently as an access parent.
I love you James and I'm very proud of your achievements in life thus far. I am particularly proud of how good a dad you are to your two children. I am sorry that your mother (who is a good person), and I couldn't both be there for you and your brother until your adulthood arrived and you were better able to cope with parental separation. You have never left my daily thoughts since I became your access dad when you were only six. Have a happy birthday son and kiss my two grand children for me. Love you. Dad x " William Forde: April 20th, 2013.