Last night, I was on the phone with my dad, and somewhere after 20 minutes, the conversation went off the rails in a really unusually disturbing way.
I'm paraphrasing a bit, but here's the essence of the conversation. We were talking about family and communication and then took a detour into talking about custody fights. As I am apt to do, I forgot for a moment, that, for all intents and purposes, my father had almost no relationship with his father after his parents divorced when he was a kid. So I took the position that it's the dad's obligation to fight to be involved in the kid's life.
Then Dad says "I don't know why people get into such messy, horrible custody battles. If it were me, I would just cut my losses and walk away."
Being one of the kids in question, I was a little shocked by this. "Dad, you mean to tell me that, if after you had me, you and mom divorced, and she withheld custody from you, you wouldn't have fought to see me?"
"Your mother would never have been so unreasonable. That's one of the reasons I married her."
"That's not my point. You wouldn't have felt it necessary to have a relationship with your own kid?"
"Not if the mom was using the kid as a weapon -- It's not worth the fight. And I turned out fine without much of a father."
"Yeah, but don't you think that anyone crazy enough to try to exclude the father from their kid's life as punishment might not be the most stable parent."
"Maybe, I guess. But it's messy. Not worth it."
"So you wouldn't have fought for me? Man, you suck. Glad to know where I stand."
"That's not fair."