My daughter will be having her birthday soon…birthdays are hard because I don’t know if I will see her, and I mourn all of the things I have missed in the last year of her life. Another year I have been forcefully kept from my children.
My daughter deserves better than this.
My daughter deserves to have a whole day dedicated to her. I would tell JJ stories of the events surrounding my pregnancy and her birth. That when I was pregnant her brother DJ would play with her, still in my womb. I vividly remember when DJ brought out his plastic farm animals — cows, horses, sheep and pigs, balancing each one on my belly. DJ would giggle as he watched my huge belly roll and bounce from his unborn sister, who kicked the plastic animals off my belly one by one. DJ’s small voice chirped, “Say moo!” Or, “The pig says oink! oink!”
My daughter deserves to spend her birthday with her mother, it is my job to guide and nurture JJ as she grows into a young lady. A mother has a purpose no other can fulfill. For a female child, a mother imparts wisdom and role modeling that is vital to her development, and sense of self.
For example, a profound bonding occurs between mother and daughter during “dress up”. On her birthday, JJ would dress up in a pretty dress; and I would straighten her hair into long waves. JJ’s closet is lined with dresses that she has not had a chance to wear. There is the maxi dress with rainbow colored zebra print, and trimmed with cotton lace from Justice (her favorite store). A frilly red party dress trimmed with ruby sequins. The purple velvet dress from Grandpa, with diamonds sprinkled across the front, and a petite bow that ties at the waist. She has dress up jewelry, and no matter what, will try on my high heels. While JJ was getting dressed up, we would chat about anything and everything — family memories, her day in school, her dreams. My toddler, RJ, would barge in the room, wanting to be part of the fun. Choo! Choo! He’d run his train between our legs, climbing up a high heel shoe on his way to the doll castle.
I couldn’t help but to admire how much JJ has grown, and to mourn all that I have missed.
A song has come to mind lately, as I am dealing with my daughter’s birthday and our estrangement due to parental alienation, “For the Love of a Daughter” by Demi Lovato. In this song, Demi pours her heart out, expressing the pain of her parent’s divorce, “Four years old with my back to the door, All I could hear was the family war..” “For the Love of a Daughter” is based on Demi’s experiences with alcoholism and abuse from her father, and also her parent’s divorce. The types of traumas and conflicts are what I seek to protect my children from, that this is a song they won’t have to carry in their own lives.
In the video For the Love of a Daughter, a little girl reveals her pain of being abused, manipulated, lied to and then abandoned by her father, “How could you push me out of your world, Lied to your flesh and your blood, Put your hands on the ones that you swore you loved? Don’t you remember I’m your baby girl?” The song is a plea from the little girl to her father, to remember his love for her. A plea to really change the behaviors that are hurting her so he can be the father she needs. For the Love of a Daughter also exposes the abuse the little girl is experiencing, she needs to tell what happened to her.
Demi wrote this song about her father, whom she became estranged from after her parent’s divorce. Demi hints that her father may have struggled with mental illness and alcoholism, and says “he wasn’t able to function very well in society“. At one point Demi had to keep a distance from her father because the nature of the relationship was hurting her,”You try to have faith in somebody, even when you’re the last person that believes in him. But when somebody lets you down after you’ve been the only one there for them, and so many times, you don’t know what else to do. I had to cut off all connection, it was hurting me too much.” Demi has made peace with her father, who has since passed away. She established a scholarship in his name to help people struggling with mental illness to receive needed treatment.
For the Love of a Daughter is a question any parent going through separation or divorce should ask themselves – are my choices, actions and attitudes being done for the love of my child, or for another reason? Watching For the Love of a Daughter will show an example of tremendous pain and lifelong scars inflicted on a child when a parent puts their own selfish desires above the child’s well-being.
But there is also hope! You have tremendous potential to sing a song into your child’s life through your presence and example. If you are a parent struggling with abusive behaviors, family dysfunction or have engaged in alienating behaviors, for the love of your child, seek out needed help, support or treatment. Use the example provided in For the Love of a Daughter to heal, and become a nurturing, healthy part of your child’s life.
The sad reality is that abusive, alienating parents rarely – if ever – admit wrongdoing or change. The children are robbed of their innocence, and their childhood – and left to pick up the pieces of a broken life.
— “Emily Court”, 2015