Home > divorce, family law general, paternity/child custody, personal > Child Custody, Good Parenting & “Winning”… Myth Busting in DivorceLand

Child Custody, Good Parenting & “Winning”… Myth Busting in DivorceLand

There are some pervasive myths in DivorceLand about child custody.  Somehow, if a parent gets custody of the child/ren, they have Won, and that must say something (bad) about the other parent.  There are some cultural implications and assumptions that are made based upon which parent gets custody of kids, particularly in my part of the world.  So, for your reading pleasure, the Myths, and the Busts:

1)            MYTH:  STAY-AT-HOME MOMS ARE ALWAYS THE BETTER PARENT AND SHOULD ALWAYS GET CUSTODY OF KIDS.

BUSTED.  This one is so much BS that I almost don’t know where to even start on pointing out the BS.

Peggy Bundy from Word

Mother of the Year, right here, Folks… Because “it’s all about the kids.”  Uh-huh.

The courts like to keep kids as stable as possible, and so the presumption is that keeping them with the primary caregiver, which is quite often in our society a stay at home mom, is going to be in the kids’ best interests.  Unfortunately, not all stay at home moms are good parents.  Some are only staying at home because they refuse to work, or spend a lot of money on non-essentials (i.e., alcohol and cigarettes, nails and hair…), causing the dad to have to work extra, or two jobs, or horrible hours, just to keep the family financially afloat.  A mom who is staying home for THESE reasons, who doesn’t parent or housekeep, but has a tendency to sit around, smoking cigs in the garage, watching soaps, and eating bonbons, is NOT the better parent.  She may still get physical custody due to dad’s (by now) insane work schedule, but that doesn’t make her the better parent, or a competent parent, or Mother of the Year.  That makes her a custodial parent by virtue of default—she’s the only one home to take care of the kids, what little taking care that she does.Lazy Mom

2)            MYTH:  MOMS WHO DON’T GET CUSTODY OF THEIR KIDS MUST EITHER BE ALCOHOLICS OR DRUG ADDICTS, OR HAVE JUST RUN AWAY BECAUSE BEING A PARENT IS TOO HARD.

BUSTED.  This one I find particularly offensive.  There are many cases, particularly those involving abuse, where a stay at home mother who is a perfectly fit and capable, who takes great care of her kids, has ALWAYS taken care of the kids on her own, is bullied into giving up custody by an abusive father so that he can continue to control mom through the kids.  Not all people getting divorced can afford lawyers (big surprise there…), and without having an advocate standing in the corner with the abused parent, it’s really easy for that parent to get steamrolled by the abuser in the legal proceedings.  When one is emotionally destroyed and deeply depressed, sticking up for herself is pretty damn hard.  I know of an instance where dad traveled a lot, mom had been home with the kids all their lives, but dad threatened to make the divorce a living hell if he didn’t get the kids.  Mom was terrified of hurting the kids any more than they already would be, couldn’t afford to even consult with a lawyer, and so gave in—which makes her a parent concerned for the emotional well-being of her kids, whether it was the best choice for everyone or not.  A person working from a place of fear and depression does not necessarily make the Perfect Choice, but that doesn’t mean she’s a bad parent.

3)            MYTH:  MOMS WHO ARE IN THE NONCUSTODIAL PARENT ROLE “ABANDONED” THEIR KIDS.

Wyoming winter

This is what it looks like when you drive across I-80 thru Wyoming twice a month for 3 years to go watch your kid do his 30 second part in his church program.  Clearly abandoned the child….Not.

BUSTED.  This is another one that just puts me right through the roof.  Generally speaking, if dad is in the noncustodial parent role, and he sees his kids on all his parent time visits (and goes to some ballgames), and he pays his child support, etc., on time, he’s a Great Dad.  Put mom in that same position, and she abandoned her kids….?  How exactly does THAT compute??  This is more cultural bullshit.  And it needs to be stamped out.  NOT having custody of kids does not mean mom has “no responsibilities.”  Quite the contrary.  Have you ever tried to be present as a mother when you can’t live WITH your kids?  Or how about when you were out of state for work, when you were working full time so you could support yourself (no alimony) and pay child support (he got custody, remember)?  Think about that one.  It’s a helluva lot easier to be there for your kids when you live with them.  And that person who says life is easy for you when you’re getting jerked around by an ex who doesn’t communicate, and you’re traveling distances to be at ball games and church programs for your kids, can suck it.  And I mean that in the kindest, most professional way possible.

4)            MYTH:  DADS WHO AREN’T AT ALL OF THEIR KIDS’ EVENTS, OR COULDN’T BE PRESENT BECAUSE THEY WERE WORKING, ARE BAD PARENTS WHO JUST DON’T CARE ABOUT ANYTHING BUT MONEY AND THEMSELVES.Wants More Money 2 Jobs

BUSTED.  Like most of these, this just doesn’t even make sense.  It quite often happens in the lives of the struggling middle-class (a whole lot of us), that after a divorce there just isn’t enough to go around.  Dads are in the unenviable position of trying to financially support their children (and sometimes an ex—alimony) and still be physically present all the time for their kids.  And how, exactly, is he to do both of those things?  The money has to come from somewhere, and if mom isn’t working (it’s not her job to go outside the home to work!!), dad is left with the entire financial burden.  Good luck getting the courts to care, by the way.  Dad is in a Damned if you Do, Damned if you Don’t situation.  He better be working his ass off to pay for everything, but Why Isn’t He At Little Joey’s Basketball Game???  Completely unfair.  Totally ludicrous, bullshit Myth.  (Which I think was fabricated by defensive and bitter exes.)

Bottom line on my little rant here:  No one knows what is going on in a couple’s marriage and divorce except the people involved.  Don’t believe every rotten thing you hear about someone else’s ex, especially if that information is pretty much one of these myths noted above.  Don’t judge people you don’t know based on something nasty someone who hates them told you about them.  It’s ridiculous, juvenile and snotty.

So knock it off.

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