kids

I was nine years old when we walked out on my dad, and I am so grateful we did.

We walked out on my dad when I was just nine years old. I clearly remember getting up one morning and finding my mum and my grandmother frantically packing blankets and clothes into black garbage bags. I asked what was going on and was told; “We’re leaving your father.”

I remember that scene so vividly because, after that moment, my life was never the same again. By the time my father had arrived home from work, we had left.

This may sound harsh but it was the best decision ever. Seeing my mum happy was far more important and healthy for my sister and myself than to see my family staying in a toxic situation.

My father was a womanising, abusive alcoholic, but even that wasn’t enough for my mum to leave him. The final straw came for her when she got sick and was in and out of hospital. My sister and I were left in the “care” of my father. Each time we visited her in hospital we’d tell her about how we’d have to make ourselves jam sandwiches for dinner because Dad was passed out drunk on the couch most afternoons.

Lessons from our mums. Article continues after this video.

As an adult, I look back on this time and think of how brave Mum was leaving our house with only our clothes and bringing my sister and I up as a single, working mum.

How many times have you heard, “we’re staying together for the kids?” Well what if that isn’t what’s best for the kids?

I know not all fathers are alcoholics or abusive or cheaters, but if you’re truly miserable in your marriage, what is your unhappiness saying to your kids? That it’s okay to be in an unhealthy or unhappy relationship? That this is how all relationships work?

I believe that having no male role model was far better for me than having a bad one.

As for my female role model, I’ve learnt that women are strong, don’t need to put up with men’s shit and that if you’re abusive to your wife and neglect your kids, they have every right to leave you. Kids deserve to see both their parents happy.

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I was recently chatting to a friend whose parents are still married but haven’t slept in the same bed for more than 30 years, nor do they spend much time together. When I asked why she said; “Because they hate each other, my parents have hated each other for years, but they stayed together for our sake. Now that we have all left home they’re too old to leave each other.”

Phil and his mum in 1989 when Phil was 16. Image: Provided

What a sad way to spend 30 years of your life.

In Neil Strauss's book The Truth - An uncomfortable book about relationships he explores the fact that we all get our relationship cues from our parents. "Our first experience with love is with our parents. That sets the template for how we see love and what we want out of love."

International life coach Grace Gedeon says  parents who discover during their marriage or partnership that they are not fulfilled in the relationship after making every effort to improve the situation, have no choice but to move on.

If parents discover during their marriage or partnership that they are not fulfilled in the relationship and with each other and they have made a genuine effort to reconcile their differences or re-establish a connection and this hasn't worked, then it is important they admit that it is time to let go .

Sometimes people are not meant to be together for life and they force themselves to stay together for the security or the children. These couples are living in some form of self-denial. They are not allowing themselves to find true happiness and fulfilment, therefore they are role modelling to their children that self-sacrifice is more important than self-actualisation. Alternatively they may deny their needs and martyr themselves - also very unhealthy patterning for children to observe and learn. This all leads to an emotionally unhealthy cycle.

For better, and all too often for the worse, childhood experiences provide the models for our adult relationships. If a daughter sees her dad abusing her mum verbally or physically, she grows up believing this is an acceptable way for men to treat women.

If a young boy sees his mum being abused, unhappy and too scared to leave, he grows up thinking that women are weak and submissive and won’t ever leave.

Your relationship is going to be replicated in your children's future relationships. My mum's example will always be replicated in mine.

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