Six of One & Half a Dozen of The Other

My title no doubt goes nowhere close to describing the genetic mix of its parents that any child carries. I can’t pretend to understand the science but I do get that it’s not an exact recipe applied in every case. What I do know is that we all have traits, both physical and in personality terms, of both our parents. They can be tiny and show themselves randomly out of the blue. Although his Dad died years ago, so it can’t be said that it’s habit picked up though regular contact, my son sometimes takes me aback by using the absolutely exact intonation his father would have done. Even if I look the twin of one parent, I may completely resemble the other in terms of personality.

I understand that one of the hard things about separating when you have children together is just how much those children may resemble and call to mind a person whom you would willingly consign to the deepest dustbin of memory. The reality is though that our children are a combination of genes from way back when we, hopefully, really liked the other person. There’s no escaping the fact that your former husband may look at you over the breakfast table every morning in the shape of your son or that your former wife may be there in gestures or a tone of voice.

Many people manage a more or less civilised relationship with their co-parent. Some even scale the heights of friendship. But what about the ones where there is real dislike, sometimes even hatred, where, however much the adults choose to kid themselves, their children are all too well aware that there’s a war raging, or at best that a cold wasteland of hostility lies between the two places they call home?

Children know they are a blend of their parents. That is who they are. They can do nothing to change who they are even if they want to. So every time they hear a conversation with your best friend slagging off their Dad or see the texts where their father calls their Mum a bitch, for them that’s a little piece of them that’s being attacked. Parents at war with each other should bear in mind that, too often, that means they implicitly declare war on a piece of the child who means the world to them.

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