Broken Family in a Child’s View

Is separation really the best way for couples who are undergoing an unhappy marriage? Couples undergoing separation, when asked who they think will most likely to be affected, mostly answered “children”. They all knew that children were the ones affected but they still went on with their decisions. Some of them knew how it feels like to be in that situation but others don’t know how it feels like to be in it. Read on and you’ll find out one probable possibility your child may experience when a family breaks-up. Here is my story.

My Strong Father
When I was a child, I used to brag to my playmates how strong my father is. I brag that he carries me sometimes on his shoulder while we’re strolling around. I felt more proud of myself knowing I am the only child (among my playmates) who was really close to our fathers. I felt secured whenever I was with him. I look up and adore him for being able to work hard and being able to play with me whenever he goes back home.

Mom was a dedicated wife and she really takes good care of Dad. I could picture mom like a typical Japanese wife – not by her looks but how she takes care of Dad. Japanese wives were known for preparing their husband’s work suits, toothbrush, shoes and everything for work and does cooking, cleaning and same goes to their children while Filipino wives usually takes care of almost everything too except Filipino men are more independent when it comes to their suits so they don’t worry about it anymore. There was never a day that meals were served late. A great tandem I believe to make-up a good and happy family.

Fast Forward
But some things were meant to end sometimes. I felt confused how it all started and was afraid when I finally became aware of it. My Mom and Dad decided one day to end their relationship but that was after a few waves of quarrels. My sister Vangie was still four years old that time while I was eight. She had no idea of what was happening around her. One thing I remembered was I never heard a word came out of her mouth whenever she hears Mom and Dad quarrel – she just looks at them and then she looks back at me but not a tear shed in her eyes. I wanted to explain what is happening but how can I explain something I myself can’t understand? Like a typical Kuya, when the tension between the two becomes hot I’d take her to a place where she couldn’t see nor hear them. Nobody prepared me for that moment and nobody even taught me how I can cope up with it – I guess they thought I can handle it or they never cared at all. I never even bothered to ask what went wrong -maybe I was too afraid to get caught up in their fight and be punished for no reason.

After they have decided to separate, Dad was the first one to explain things to me. Mom was a bit too occupied of her anger and always remained silent that time. I remember playing with my toys and trying to comprehend how those remote controlled cars work and there I was listening to my Dad while he calmly explains the situation I may not probably understand.

At first, Dad visited us every week but without a father to stand by our side, we struggled. My mom worked hard but the money she earns was not enough for us to pay for a decent house. Although we got support from Dad for our school finances and allowances, he also has to take care for his own finances since he’s living all alone so the money isn’t really enough for us. We rented a room and while mom was out working, someone was taking care of me and my sister. I remember being battered by the husband of the lady who takes care of us. At first he was nice to us but his true colors were revealed through time. Whenever I did something wrong he punishes me and he means business when it comes to punishing me. I don’t know what that person was thinking while he was punishing but there was this one particular time; I could still remember his words – “Iyak! Sabi ng iyak eh!” (Cry! I said cry!) ‘coz after accepting slashes of his belt on my slim body, I remained silent and I never cried. I knew my sister was also watching and I want her to know that she should not be afraid of that person. I tried to be tough in front of that person but inside me I was crying and was shouting “Daddy!” and “Kung nandito lang si Daddy papatayin ka nun!” (“If my Dad was here he’ll kill you!”) I was all black and blue that day except for my face so I wore long-sleeves when Dad visited us again for him not to notice it. When Dad asked what’s wrong with me, I told him I am not feeling well and I feel chills in my body –I really was feverish that time probably because of too much pain in my body. I was afraid he’ll really kill that guy if ever I told him about the bruises, I know he would. It was irritating just to wear the long-sleeves while feeling my bruises trying to stick on the clothing –and the friction makes it worst. It wasn’t the first but it wasn’t the last either. A lot of things happened and I couldn’t count how many times I have endured all his punishment. I’m just glad we found a new place to stay after a year or two.

My Sister’s Cruel Awakening
When I turned ten (or eleven I think) and when I learned to travel alone, my mom asked me to go to my Dad with my sister to claim our financial support every time my Dad receives his salary. Whenever we visited him, he was very happy and full of joy. That was the first time I really heard words from my sister about our situation - “Kawawa naman si Daddy mag-isa lang” (I pity Dad, he is all alone.”). I told her I feel the same way. I guess her awareness of the reality that my Mom and Dad were separated finally caught up on her or probably it was the first time she felt saying it to me. I pitied my sister for witnessing such things at a young age. It was always the child who gets punished whenever a family is broken into pieces. I remember joking with myself that even Superman can’t save us that time.

The Crumbling Wall
Not known to us, Dad gradually lost his way like a man on a desert who lost his compass. When he knew we were aware, he just kept telling us that he’s just taking a few doze of illegal drugs (shabu and marijuana) just to ease the pain of us being away.

Despite my reminder about Dad’s drug issues, he succumbed to temptation and used illegal drugs. I watched as the person we adore drown himself to things that slowly destroy him. The once strong man we looked-up was collapsing right before our eyes and we can’t do a thing. When words don’t make sense to him, I sent him letters just to remind him that what he was doing was wrong; I even came to the point of getting angry at him. He also got mad when he received that letter but could not face me with anger when I visited him because he knew I was right.

After Shock
Back then, there were few a broken families and most children faced criticism from other people who don’t belong to a broken family. Now that the ratio of broken families gets higher, the thought was widely accepted. I don’t know if it is a good or bad thing but I know that whenever people knew that I was from a broken family, they begin to think that we won’t have a bright future.

Learning the Hard Way
And that is how my story goes. After all the things that happened to us one thing was certain, it left a big scar in me. The fear of belonging once again to a broken family was always with me. It’s like a bad joke that is stuck on you forever. Even if you manage to accept it in your heart, the pain will never go away. I know in my heart now that God allowed things to happen in order for me to understand the pain of being in a broken family. And that is to learn from past mistakes – my parent’s mistake.

In truth, I never really understood what happened that time or why it happened except for the fact that my parents were both fed up with each other. At some point, I did blame them for what happened. I know they could have fixed it or could have avoided it if they really tried but it had to happen. It had to happen because God knows I’ll learn from it and I’ll be able to withstand it -of course with His aid. I just thank God that before things came crumbling; Dad showed me the way to God.

Not all children have the same reaction towards family break-ups; most of them became rebellious, drug dependents, rapist, robbers, murderers, etc... This is because most of them feel that their parents don’t have the right to teach them how to fix their lives. How would you feel if your child told you to fix your life first before attempting to fix theirs? Like I said in one of my article before, the children are not the peculiar ones –it is us parents. With the continued growth of broken families, we need more responsible parents to avoid these.

On the Job Training
The first time I brought my son to my arms I told myself, I will not let him be on the same situation as I’ve been. I want him to know that he could always rely on me, depend on me and I’ll always remain strong for him. I want him to adore me as I have adored my father. With God’s help and guidance and the wisdom I’ve learned from my past, we will overcome all the obstacles together.

Broken families do happen; think of your children’s future before making a decision to separate. Talk to each other, admit mistakes, forgive and continue to learn from each mistake.

In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Eph 4:26 (NIV)

► About the Author:
Noel Ablon is an OFW based on Jeddah Saudi Arabia. Know more about his experiences on being an expat through his blog, Baul ni Noel.
► Read Noel's previous articles here.

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