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Do you know where your child is?



Yesterday I went home for lunch and Dr Phil was on TV as usual (SABC 2) spouting forth his pearls of wisdom. He doesn’t usually give bad advice but I think he chooses his victims for theatrical appeal.

Yesterday he was discussing an interesting problem. He was talking about children who got lost. Stolen, kidnapped, abducted, disappeared. And I watched for a moment because of my own experience on Sunday.

Now, let me explain: I’m not a “scared” daddy. Ask my GF – she is the scared one. I let my children (and I’ve raised more than 2, trust me I have the T-Shirt) develop their ability to make up their own minds from when they are small. I let them choose awful dishes in restaurants so they know how to read menu’s. I let them run around in the rain to they can experience the joys of nature. I let them fall from their bicycles and scrape their knees because then they learn to avoid slippery spots.

Like on Sunday afternoon. The little one took the dog for a walk up and down the street and down by the river and she was still full of energy, so she asked me if she could ride her bike in the street. I wan’t going to ride with her (I was tired because we just finished a big family lunch) but I agreed that she could go up the street as long as I could watch her. She is very good with that, always looking back to make sure she can still see me. But suddenly – for only a fraction of a second – three was a bush between us. She came out the other side in less than a second and she was never really out of sight anyway and always 100% safe. But I panicked in my heart. What if? What if!

You see, if for some obscure reason she didn’t appear again, what would I do? Where do I start? Who do I phone? Do I run into the house first to call the GF to help – but then I lose precious seconds during which I could have observed. Do I run towards the bush, but then I could have taken the car and have more mobility. All of these thoughts and more flashed into my mind. Totally unrealistic, totally improbable, but they nevertheless did like nightmares and bad dreams. Luckily they only lasted for a moment because the thought of not getting cuddles and kisses from her will destroy me.

So back to Dr Phil. He asks: “Do you know where your child is, right now?” And you know, the fact is, I don’t know.

Yes, I’m a divorced daddy. And half the time I don’t know where my child is. She could be abducted, gone missing, with friends, anything – and half the time I don’t know. Now that scares me!!

Divorce is not easy. Communication between the Parents broke down when they were still together, and it is not magically going to improve now that they are separated. But it is important for the Parents to stand together and form a protective shield around their children. What if a child gets lost? Will the Mother decide that she knows best and start a search for the missing child with her new lover, not informing the Father because it is not stated explicitly in the Settlement? Or if the child is with the Father, can he begin a search for a missing child without informing the Mother?

Legally, the case is crystal clear: If you don’t break the Law or breach the Terms of the Agreement, you can do what you like to punish the other Parent. Huisgenoot and You and the other popular magazines have many stories to tell. Websites like Fathers-For-Justice also tells many a sad story.

But what about the child? How does the child feel? Kidnapped or lost in a strange place with strangers, cold, hungry, scared, just wanting to go home? How can this be fair towards a child who loves both Parents and just want to go home? According to Dr Phil a child should not get lost if Parents do their duty and build a protective shield around their child. All the time. Divorced or not. Make sure you communicate properly and timeously about their movements. Share the joy that God gave you even if you choose not to live together.

I’ve lost a child to death once before and it is not an experience I wish to repeat. I appeal to all divorced Parents to set aside their personal feelings of guilt and ask themselves: “Do you know where your child is, right now?”

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