Monday, August 25, 2003

Why do the CHILDREN have to suffer?

I've been keeping all my emotions bottled up. Nobody seems to listen. In our society, people talk about why a marriage falls apart, who was responsible, who cheated first, how the properties were split, etc. But has anybody bothered to ask how the children are taking it?

Maybe, sometimes. I don't really know. What I know is how much I suffered as a child.

When I was in grade school, I would be awakened by the screaming of my parents. Before I knew it, they were living in separate bedrooms. Dad would angrily destroy Mom's orchids, and my Mom would throw the arinola at him.

Sometimes I would cut classes to go to the church to pray and to ask God why this had to happen. He became my friend in those lonely times.

I can still remember the time my Dad took away all his stuff. My little brother went with him, locking the car door while Mom pounded on it screaming hysterically. He was left in my Lola's care. When we were growing up, my other siblings and I spent weekdays with Mom and weekends with Dad. I was so ashamed then because I did not know anybody else who came from a broken family.

After I finished elementary, Dad convinced me to study in Manila where my younger brother was already studying then. I told Mom I would return for my summer vacations to our province but never did.

I had a hard time adjusting in the city with no Mom to guide me. I tried to find love among different people, particularly boys. Dad was always working late and my grandma was distant and aloof. I would cry late at night with no one to comfort me. Fortunately, my faith carried me through the difficult high school and college days.

My brother and I met Mom again this year. It was a tense and emotional reunion. I felt that a part of me had been recovered. I missed having Mom, but Dad can't accept it. He acts this way despite the fact that he already has his own family and rarely spends time with us. One time he even warned us against her.

I want to tell him he is being selfish. I know we are getting financial support from him but he doesn't have the right to tell us to stay away from Mom. After all these years, he still blames her for being a jealous, nagging bitch. But still that doesn't change the fact that she is our mother.

I wish parents would stop to think how their fights affect the children. Honestly, I don't know the extent of the damage they have done to my sister and brothers. I know we can't choose our parents, but it's sad to see the so-called guardians given to us by God giving us the worst example of love and forgiveness. Can't they see how much we are hurting? Sometimes, I think they just don't care so long as they can keep on competing who is the better parent. Geez. As if it matters to us!

I would like to tell them: Come on, stop bribing us with money and material things. Money can't buy the intact and happy family we long for.

I envy my half-sisters. Even if they don't carry our surname, they can enjoy the warmth of the love of my Dad and stepmom. Unlike them, we can spend our nights with only our Mom or our Dad beside us, not both.

To parents, I say: I know it's hard to live with somebody you can't get along with. But you make any rash decision, speak to your children and find out how they feel and tell them you care in spite of your marital problems. If you agree to part, please, be civil to each other. Spare the children the venom reserved for your spouse. Remember, hating the other also means hating a part of your child. You don't want your child to spend the rest of his life with a broken image of himself.


M.C., 24, is studying for her master's in business administration. "Why do the children have to suffer?", Phil. Daily Inquirer, Dec. 12, 1998.

My 2 cents' worth: Sometimes, I cannot feel but hatred for parents who make their children suffer from such "childish" squabbles. I apologize for the term but that's the way I perceive it. Parents should try to settle their irreconcilable differences with civility. After all, they got married because, once, they shared something special.

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