The Motherhood Debate
Wow, thanks to all of you who watched the show we did on the realities of motherhood. I have to say, I was so pleased at the huge feedback we got on our Dr. Phil Web site message boards, my Twitter page, as well as on my Facebook page about Maria, one of our guests on the show who gave up physical custody of her three daughters when she and her husband divorced.
Some of you were simply flabbergasted at what Maria did: “What a horrible message that gives to the children,” wrote a viewer named Annette. “I can’t IMAGINE not reading bedtime stories, kissing, hugging, and saying I love u to the moon and back, every single night,” added Alisa. “Nothing replaces a mother’s daily nurturing.”
But others of you were equally dismayed that Maria was getting slammed. “The point was that a mother and father divorced, and they made a decision that worked for their family, that the father had primary custody,” commented fritz1. “The reaction was solely based on a notion that only a mother can parent. Fathers make good parents too and many kids may be better off with their dads, but are awarded to their mothers simply based on this notion.”
Here’s my question for you: Do you think we have a double standard when it comes to who should have custody of children after a divorce and how people in our society judge it? Are we too critical of a woman who gives up custody, yet never raise an eyebrow at a man who does the very same thing? Let’s just get real honest here. If a man had given up custody of his kids so that he could go off and write a book, would we even have done a show?
Are kids necessarily better off being with their moms?
Let me tell you where I come down, and this is just my opinion. If you are a mother or father of a child, then I think you have an implicit contract with that child, and I don’t care whether you are divorced or not. You involuntarily brought that child into this world, which means you are obligated to nurture and raise that child until that child is up on his or her own two feet.
As someone who regularly deals with the aftermath of broken homes, I know the importance of both parents staying as plugged in as they possibly can with their children. If one of you unplugs, the child pays the price — and there’s just no getting around that fact. I don’t give a pass to either mothers or fathers if they become inactive or toxic in the lives of their children.
If you are a parent who gets divorced in Denver, and you think you want to live in Miami, then you might want to think again. I’m not trying to be unreasonable. If this is a matter of survival — in other words, if the only job you can get is in Miami — then I’d rather you be working and providing for your children than living homeless in Denver.
Let me hear from you about what you think. I know all too well that divorce is a serious fact of life in our country, and this is a debate we have got to have.