Three different incidents over the last few months have drawn my attention to a disturbing trend. The first was something that happened at a restaurant near the beach.
The third episode happened while facilitating a supervised visit for a family that is going through a difficult divorce. There’s a reason that this visit had to be supervised: the father has a long track-record of threatening and unstable behaviour. The eldest son, aged 11, and the baby are impervious to their father’s manipulations, but the six year old daughter struggles with the thought of him being sad. And, naturally, he is the saddest man on earth whenever she is in the room. It was going to be a tough afternoon, but we had to remain friendly and firm throughout. I left the visiting area to go to the bathroom, and when I came back the father had left with the little girl! When I asked the mother why she’d allowed this to happen, her reply was: “Oh, but she was so sad, and she didn’t want Daddy to be sad.”