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September 20th, 2009 by Dr. Phil

The Motherhood Debate

mom1Wow, 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?

mom3Let 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.

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108 Responses to “The Motherhood Debate”

  1. Lori says:

    I guess I am just at a loss of why she felt it was for the best to give up custody. Why not split it half and half?? The whole time I was watching she kept saying I was there for them and stuff. The why give them up all together? I am not going to slam this women, I just do not understand the logic behind her choice, and I will not since I have not lost a child.

  2. Caryn says:

    I am separated from my husband for almost two years. I have my children with me. If I had to give up custody of them in order to get out of the marriage, I would still be with him today, no matter how bad the marriage was. I’ve seen a lot of families, have many friends, seen my daughters friends with their parents, and I have noticed that as a general rule, no matter how good a dad is, and there are great ones, they are not as nuturing as the mom. Dads don’t always look at safety issues (like letting a young girl travel alone), and for the most part are not great when it comes to what the child is feeling.
    I know people will agree, but this is how I feel and what I’ve seen. As everything else, there are some cases where the general rule is not the case.

  3. Shelley says:

    I don’t believe anyone will disagree that both parents need to nurture the child they bring into the world. My question is does that nurturing always require that a parent be there physically? I don’t believe so. It’s ideal, but not totally necessary. There are so many ways to keep in contact these days – web cams, texting, Twitter, Facebook, phone calls…those all make it possible to stay in touch and be there without physically being there.

    Now, I’m not saying a parent should wander off and just keep in touch via Twitter. I am not saying that AT ALL. However, I do believe it’s possible to nurture a child in more than one way.

    If a mother wanted to leave children in the custody of their father so she could have more time to write a book or go back to school, I see nothing wrong with that so long as the mother is a part of the children’s lives and as I said above, it is possible to be a part of their lives without being physically there. Men do this all the time – they leave the children in the hands of the mother while they go off and work, go to bars, have free time to do whatever they wish, and they have visitation with the children. No one bats an eye about that. Yet, when a mother does the exact same thing, she’s evil?

    I have a REAL problem with this double standard and I think we need to examine why we have it. Why do we want men to do their part in raising the children, and yet we act as if leaving children with their father is abandoning them?

  4. Christina says:

    I strongly agree with you on this Dr. Phil. We have been living a a chauvinistic society that strongly frowns upon women who leave their children and say nothing to men who do the same thing. I think it’s all just a matter of point of view here.Let’s take the case of the late great Michael Jackson who reared solely his own kids. Even though he was always busy he mad sure that he was a good father to them to the point that their children didnt even need to look for their own biological mom because they have been so nurtured physically, emotionally, spiritually by everyone around them. In this case why dont we just simply be happy and praise the one who’s with the kids and not concentrate on lambasting the one who left them behind. Afterall, the most important thing is that someone is left to be with them.

  5. Erin Nelson says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,

    I do think that Maria was getting slammed too much, however I do agree that to move as far away as she did for 2 years wasn’t in the best interest for the children. On the other hand I do applaud her for keeping up with her visitation when she was living so far away, because we all know that most of the non custodial parents do that, I know being that I have my daughters biological father to go by and we only live 2.5 hours away not clear across the US.

    I do think that if it was a man then there would have never been a show about it because it is just assumed that mothers are the best choice for primary custody. We do live with double standards when it comes to custody and parenting and I think it’s horrible because there are fathers out there that are better suited to have primary custody.

    This is just my opinion but it’s how I feel.

    Yours truly,
    Erin Nelson

  6. Joyce Long says:

    Children do suffer when coming from a broken home and one parent unplugs. Equally so a child suffers much more living in a broken abusive home. If the parents have children and they stay together and both ignore the children and abuse them it is equally damaging. I know, I have been there. I often wondered why if my parents didnt love us and was going to abuse us then why didnt they just give us away? I prayed for that to happen so often during my abusive childhood. But they didnt. Due to the abuse I am a mess. I am very introverted, I dont trust people especially men, and I have a very hard time just talking to people and sharing what I feel especially in life. On the computer I can open up some because I am not face to face with anyone and it is not likely I will ever meet anyone from the internet. I was abused by my parents and my siblings. So now I am scared of my own shadow, I hate confrontation and will do anything to keep peace even be a doormat (which I am). I dont know how to stand up for myself.
    Now I have 3 grandsons and their dads (3 boys, 2 fathers) are deadbeat lowlifes. The 2 older ones dad abandoned them when one was about 8 months old and the other one was around 3. He was gone for several yrs. Hasnt ever paid a dime in child support (he is over 30,000 behind). He came back and stayed for a few months (didnt have much to do with the younger one whome he swears is not his) then abandoned them again. Needless to say this has deeply affected the 8 yr old. The other one who is almost 3 now hasnt seen his dad since he abandoned him at 7 months old. He left as soon as he was ordered to pay child support. Hasnt paid a dime.. I dont know how this will affect the 2 younger ones as they get older but it has deeply affected the older one. He does have some anger problems.
    So parents have no right to have children, then abuse them or leave them and I dont care if it is a man or a woman. I beleive that a man can raise a child just as good as a woman if he is stable and wants to.
    Divorced or not no one has the right to abandon a child or unplug from that child. A parent should make every effort possible to make sure their child is well loved and well taken care of.
    And if you want to pursue dreams then make a way to pursue them while still taking care of your responsibilities or put those dreams on hold until that child is grown.

  7. christi says:

    Hi. My name is christi.
    I would like to say I can’t belive she would do that. I mean i’ve been involved with DCS. And I just singed my rights over to the foster parents. But for the last year i havn’t had a job or stable housing and My son is very happy where he is. I would give anything to be with my son right now. I love him so much and I wish i would of done everything i could to be with him. But i was unable to do that. This women had the change to be with her kids and she just willinly gave up her rights. I don’t understand. And i think some people take there kids for granted. I let my son Live with his dad, so i could get my life together, and MY ex, didn’t not take care of my son, the reason why he got put in foster care. So it sadens me that parents who just don’t get that our children are the most important things in this wold. Everything we do we should be doing for them. If I was given a second change to make things right for my son. I would in a heatbeat.

  8. Patricia Bertelli says:

    I was very young when I got married,(that makes no difference),my ex-husband left when my son was 6 months old.He never bothered to see him and he lived close enough to do so.He hated paying child support so I had to go through probation.He was livid.My son did nothing to deserve this.All his life he had to think what did he do wrong to his father.I raised him myself,no regrets,and thank God he now is going to be 30 years old and has a terrific job and completely self sufficient, and married.It still must bother him that his father didn’t care about birthdays,communion,h.s.grad and then college graduation.It killed me to let him know about his life and invite him to functions.His responses were cruel.He wanted no part of him.He too is a piece of garbage and that’s a compliment.My son was an innocent child and I hope when he has kids he doesn’t repeat what his father did.His father doesn’t deserve to be a father.A parent who can just get up and leave their kid,mom or dad,for themselves is disgusting and should thank their lucky stars I don’t get to hand out the punishments.

  9. Toukie says:

    Hello, Dr. Phil

    I’m a 35 year old ovarian cancer survivor. I had to have an hysterectomy I was 31 years old. 2005 was the darkest, most difficult time in my life. And I can’t undestand people that CAN have children, only to abandon them, mistreat them, or hurt them. It breaks my heart when fathers and mothers don’t want (not a matter of can’t, but simply don’t WANT ) to take care and / or provide for their children. It is not a right, it is a priviledge to be a parent. And while I agree that there is a double standard where men are concern (and I do not agree that a father can’t do an amazing job, just as a mother would, or that a child will have more difficulty living with the fact that the mother left them), it doesn’t make it right, either way.

    When someone decides to have children, they can’t just wake up one morning and realize that this isn’t what they wanted, after all. That they want to live their dreams, and live their lives to the fullest. WHY can’t your children BE your dreams? Why can’t you live it WITH them. If the parent is unable to care for the child (Drugs, alcohol, really bad emotional problems), when it is in the best interest OF THE CHILD to be removed from the home, then I agree. But when the parent is being selfish, when the parent puts his or her own needs first, then this is where I disagree.

    I don’t know if I am making any sense, but this is how I feel. No reason other than the ones listed above should be used to just throw your relationship with your children away. They are the most precious thing you have. You should love them, cherish them, ALWAYS put them first. And whatever it is that you need to do, ask yourself this question:

    Why can’t I do it with them?
    Toukie

  10. N. says:

    Dr. Phil,

    I watched the show today with the Jaycee kidnapping. I think you did a better job of explaining why you do these shows, but they still really bother me. I watch pretty much every single one of your shows and also have read your books and they have made a huge difference in my life. I watched one of your shows about 2 1/2 years ago on a grandfather who molested his granddaughter. My only daughter was about 3 months old at this point and it just stuck in my head so deeply. I worried that my own father, my in-laws or even my own husband could do this to my daughter and I would never know. Seriously, I eventually went to therapy for post traumatic stress due to my daughter and I being picked up in a tornado in a truck (if anything would have went differently we would have lost our lives). Eventually I discussed this particular show with my counselor and how I could never get it out of my head and it really did interfere with raising my daughter, my marriage and my relationship with my in-laws. I realize I do have anxiety and these shows really do a number on me. I have purposefully turned shows like this off for the past 2 1/2 years, but I watched the one today. Between this show and Oprah’s show with Mackenzie Phillips (I did not watch this, just heard about it on the radio and news) the anxiety is starting to come back. If you could address what exactly we are suppose to really take from these shows and how not to become completely paranoid of everyone, I would really appreciate it. The only person I have left my daughter with is my own parents and I just don’t know how you are supposed to trust anyone with your child when you hear shows like this.

  11. Nicole says:

    As an adult child of divorce(srry I did not. My parents divorced after 15 years, I was 7 and the oldest of the girls. My mom ran away w/ a band so my dad raised us three kids. Although life wasn’t easy for us, and my dad had severe bouts of depression, I am thankful HE raised us and not my mom fore she is an alcoholic. I have had my share of hardships, but I am thankful I was raised by my dad and later stepmom cuz I believe I could well have been an alcoholic/drug addict. If my hubby and I were to seperate, I wouldn’t have anything against his sole custody but would like joint. Just my views. Nicole

  12. Jaimie Hill says:

    well, i believe there is a double standard in almost everything…im a single mom of a georgous 3 yr old who means the world to me and i could not imagine my life without her…but who i am to say or who is anyone to base an opinion only on what they are told…no one knows any ones situation…i think that if divorced parents have enough communication to make a decision dealing with custody and are able to come to an agreement that they believe is the best decision for their family then all the power to them….i agree all parents sign a “contract” to there kids…but we do what we gotta do as parents…lovers…mothers…sisters…and most of all do what we gotta do for our own sanity…i love my kid and im sure her father loves her too…and as much as i wish he would take on more responsibilities for our daughter…hes doing what he has to do no matter how much i believe hes selfish or just full of it…i have to accept my responsibilities and let the rest unfold on its own….i never talk down to her about her father cause i know as she gets older she will see the truth for herself…and as sad and hard as thats going to be…ill be right by her when it does…because i love her and it is my job by the contract….but i think that mother had to be real strong to give up her rights…i imagine it was probably the hardest thing she ever had to do whether she realizes this now or later….

  13. Catherine says:

    I’m a mother of 2. 2 live with me and 1 doesn’t. My child that’s 10yr old lives with his Dad in KS,(I’m in AZ). I was in the middle of a divorce with my other 2 dad when I asked the other father to help with my oldest child. He lived in town at the time so I still saw my son on a regular basis. After time he couldn’t find work and asked if he could take my son to KS with him and his parents. i said yes. The town is small and great home town spirit unlike the big city. I did it because I thought it was best for my son. I had little money and only one bedroom at my mom’s to live in at the time. I still think that it’s the best place for him. as a single mom I can’t give him all the sports nad such his dad and grandparents can. I talk to him on a dailey basis and see him about every 3 months. it’s hard don’t get me wrong but it’s not about my feelings, it’s about who can give him the best life and chance at becoming a great adult.

  14. Suzanne says:

    Dr. Phil, I have learned one thing from you: don’t get divorced.

    Divorce messes up the kids. I knew that before, but I saw it concretely on your show.

    Why should the problem between me and my spouse be the reason that I screw up my life (then I go and mess up with another relationship with someone else).

    I say: don’t screw up everyone else, *fix the marriage you got*.

    We can make a lot of exceptions. Problem is: we give ourselves WAY too much leeway. We let go the ideal because it’s too easy to do that. We accept “second best”. Living separate is “second best”. Part time dads is “second best”. Absent parents do not parent. They may care, but they’re not there. We have to aspire to and program our lives to conform to the ideal.

    The truth is: if you want to be loved unconditionally, you have to love unconditionally. If you want your husband to love you *in spite of your faults*, you have to love in spite of *his* faults. Love doesn’t mean always feeling romantic or good about the person– b/c sometimes you don’t. But it means looking out for his interests. And that means treating your husband with honour and consideration, and not always being snippy about every little slight.

    Dr. Phil, I love how you taught me that changing my behaviour can change my husband. I think that doing that goes a long way. When my husband sees I care for his interests, and that I try to see things from his point of view, he tries harder to see things from my point of view.

    Dr. Phil, I address the issue of divorce, because this is what we should be saying. Don’t get divorced. Fix your marriage. Avoid the drama.

  15. Suzanne says:

    “I screw up my life”

    That should be “my kids’ lives”.

  16. Michelle says:

    Dr. Phil,

    I can not imagine giving up custody of a child at any point in their lives. I have two boys of our own, (my husband and I) granted they are only three and two, but I can not imagine life without either one of them. I can only imagine what the kids go are telling themselves. I come from a divoriced family, and my dad had pretty much nothing to do with me from the age of three, he had found someone else, when my mom just had me. To this day I am the one with all the guilt around that relationship, well, if I was never born would my older brother still have a mother and father who were together. I have two boys of my own, and I think it is detremental for them to have both their parents in their lives. We are still trying to figure out for them how we can keep them connected with their daddy for a year when he goes over to Afghanistan next fall of course by then they will be four and three, but we do NOT want them to ever feel like they are in a single parent home, even though technically for a year of deployment they will be??? I am heartbroken over this womans decision and just feel bad for what impact it will have on her children. I remember a child of a divorice family some of the things that you tell yourself to make it seem okay that a parent is absent. I think two parents each have different characteristics to bring to this child to helpthem develop as a solid functioning adult. I just do NOT understand as a parent how can you just walk away.

  17. Tami says:

    I totally agree with you Dr. Phil on how children SHOULD be raised, but unfortunately, more often than not, that is NOT the case. I also believe that there is a double standard when it comes to who has custody. The maternal instinct I believe is stronger than the paternal instinct, so it may seem more “natural” for the mother to maintain custody, but not all women have that strong of a maternal instinct and sometimes they don’t realize that until after the fact. At that point, you have to hope that the father has the stronger nurturing instinct and will be able to adequately care for the children. Since this doesn’t happen as often it can be looked down upon. Fathers give up custody much more often therefore, this doesn’t seem as “bad”. Either way, the children lose in the case of a broken home or when women choose to have kids without the benefit of a full time father.

  18. Jennifer says:

    Dr. Phil – I myself came from a broken home. I made a promise to myself that if I ever had kids they would have a mother & father that cared about them, loved them, took care of them & everything that goes w/ that. I even did things the old fashion way. Got married first, we bought our first home & then had our kids. I’m proud of that. My kids have always come first. Yeah my kids drive me crazy from time to time, but the bottom line is at the end of the day I wouldn’t trade that for anything in this world. I couldn’t even imagine giving up either one of my kids.

    Jennifer

  19. I have a hard time understanding any mother that chooses to give their kids up. I guess under certain circumstances I can see it necessary. But personally, and this is probably selfish….but my kids go where I go. If GOD FORBID I end up on the streets, they will be cared for by me…somehow someway…..It’s a natural mother instinct that takes over in me when I am faced with challenging situations. I’d rather my kids be by my side and see a struggle….and LEARN to deal with struggles in life as best as they can as oppossed to them not being around…I just couldn’t fathom that…but then again they are my life :)

  20. Nancy says:

    I really like how you put it Dr. Phil “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.” I completely agree. Unfortunately so many do not honor this obligation. It’s the most rewarding “obligation” I’ve ever known. I’ve been raising my son by myself since he was 6 weeks old (he’s turning 18 in a few weeks). I watched through the years as he wanted some kind of connection with his father but it was never there – his father was completely absent. My rule was always that no one said anything negative about his father to him as he was growing up. I would always tell him that he was all the best things that are in me and his father combined into one special young man. I thought that maybe one day down the road he might have an opportunity to have a relationship with his father and I didn’t want anything negative I imparted to interfere with this. I thought that one day he would have his own opinion to make on the subject. Well his father tried to make contact with him last year and my son was excited to grow a realtionship with him. Unfortunately his father stopped communicating with him after about three months. It really effected my son. He said that before he could make the excuse for his father that he wasn’t a part of his life because his father didn’t know his son, didn’t know what he was missing – that it wasn’t because of him (my son). Now he says it hurts more because he doesn’t understand what it is about him that his father doesn’t want. The other day my son had me watch an old episode of The Fresh Prince of Bell Aire – the episode where Will’s father comes back into his life then leaves all of a sudden again. My son said when he watched the final scene of the show he fianlly felt like someone understood what he was going through. That Will Smith portrayed it perfectly. I don’t think anyone could watch that episode without shedding a tear or being effected.

    I know that there are equally just as many mothers who do these sorts of things to their children with the father being the one raising and caring and nurturing the children. I believe that a parent coming in and out of a child’s life is harder on them. That the child takes on the responsibility for the failed relationship. They need to be connected to both parents. I take responsibility for having a son with someone I should have known wouldn’t be around for the long haul. I understand that this effected him and for that I am sorry. I’ve done my best to be there for my son and make sure he has the opportunities to excel. He is a fine upstanding young man – I am so proud of the person his is and I know one day he’ll be an excellent DAD.

    I hope people continue to watch your program and maybe some will learn what parenthood is really all about before they bring any children into this world. Thank you for giving so many the tools to make the changes in their lives needed to go forward and live whole productive lives. They will one day be able to be the example of it being possible to others who are floundering lost reaching for the life preserver.

  21. PJ CURRY says:

    Hi Dr. Phil

    I can’t imagine giving up my child for any reason in the world. She and I have been through a lot of bad times during my marriage of 20 years to her father. He was a Nacisistic Physcopath. There was so much mental abuse in our home she and I were like his Robots, just doing whatever it took to keep him happy.

    We were just a mother and daughter fighting to keep our sanity. He was so selfish and controlling it was unreal. It was me and my daughter alone against him and the world. We stuck together no matter what. I took a lot of abuse when she wasn’t around to keep her from knowing how bad it was. I just smiled and went through each day trying to make her life better and keep her from the line of fire when he decided to be abusive, even tho i thought she never knew, she did know. He died when she was 16 years old from a massive coronary. Wonder why?

    It was sad that neither of us mourned his death. I didn’t want him to die, I just wanted him to go away and he wouldn’t. I guess God knew I couldn’t take much more and he moved him from out lives.

    Not once did I think of leaving or giving up my child to a better life. He had me convinced that I was stupid, ugly and dumb and no one would want me. I had no family to help me, so we stayed and endured.

    My daughter is now 38 and I am so proud of the daughter and Woman that she has become. We have always been Mother and Daughter and Best friends. She is my bff today and always.

    I remarried soon after his death and “no I didn’t know this man before my husbands death” I met him when I hired him as a carpenter to remodel my house and get rid of all the memories of my 1st husband. Of course we fell in love and were married. He had a 16 year old daughter and a 14 year old son. I told him that if would leave his children for me, he would not be good to my child and I wouldn’t have any part of it. His ex-wife was more than glad to give him her children! I never understood that. They call me Mom and her by her first name. She has since passed away and My daughter and I gained a Husband, Dad and a whole new family. We are truly blessed. We went from 2 people to 9 in a short time. The kids grew up and gave us 4 beautiful grandchildren!!

    To make my point; We survived the hard times and God Blessed us with a wonderful man who loves us both Unconditionally and I love him and His children.
    God has truly Blessed our families. The “Brady Bunch” we Ain’t, but we love each other so much.
    LIFE IS GOOD

  22. PJ CURRY says:

    By the way, Dr. Phil

    I just want to say that Robin is so Cool. I loved her response to what she would do if someone tried to discipline her child. She is what I call a “REAL MOTHER”.
    A Real Mother will fight the devil for her child. Robin Rocks.

    I also love the books that your Son wrote. I bought two of them for my Grandsons and once they decided to actually read them, they have proved to be benefical to both the boys. One was how to Stop bullying and the other was Dealing with Teen problems. Sorry, right now I can’t remember the exact title names, but they were great books.

    thanks
    pj

  23. Paradoxis says:

    Reading the thoughts and feelings and attitudes reflected here hurts me more than I have the ability to express.

  24. leslie says:

    As society we are to hard on each other both parents can be good parents even after splitting up it should be required for the child to stay with the parent who can care and provide for the child.I went threw a very messy spilt up and lost my 3 kids it took a few years to get them back and the proper authorites did not even care where the children went .I loved my kids with all my heart but found I was judge very harsh by almost everyone but them .They were given to their dad with no work history no morals and basically not mush tlc on his part ,For him it was all about getten even and greed .He would even tell them I hate them since they were born he was so deceitful and had to many high free friends to help his lying case here I was a hardworker and loved my kids more than anyone would give me credit for,I was punished by the system for working ,caring and not being able to find a lawyer I could afford I went from haven a house and 2 jobs to living in my car and haven to steal food to eat just to pay support to this really poor excuse I had given my kids of a father. Now after a very long struggle and alot of hurt and despair I was determined 1 day I would get them back ,one day they would be with the parent who took care provided and loved them since the day they were born .I was judged by people that bought his lies people would not even listen to the children only him.And my kids payed the price for all this ,So motherhood is instilled in us since birth there are some great dads out there I am sure but I feel the kids need to be heard first and not 2 parents bashing each other .The children need to be listened to as well .I love motherhood and it is the best thing that ever happened to me even though their father tried to ruin and end my life I fought back because I loved my kids with all my heart and soul.

  25. what about parents who lose their kids to foster care that should not be taken away? my kids were taken because i did not want them to hang out with a teenage girl who was sleeping with men, drinking, smoking and running away from home all the time. plus threatening both my girls and myself. she was also told not too ever come back to school cause she was being mean to the kids at school. so state took my kids away and put them in an abusive home. plus foster mom slammed my oldest against the wall cause she called her a ‘b’ word. which she is. see my oldest at the time had verbal tourette’s syndrome. what about those parents.

  26. Sandra says:

    The difference which I am surprised was not discussed was that she gave up custody voluntarily, VOLONTARILY. Fathers don’t usually give up thier kids, they know that the courts always decide in favor of the moms, I don’t believe most fathers would if they had the CHOICE would give thier kids voluntarily. They are not usually afforded that luxury. I think this mom was selfish in her desicion. I went through a divorce, after years of trying to make it work as I believe divorce is the last option, my ex used my son as a tool to get to me, did not really want him just wanted to hurt me. I fought for custody in court and my son knew that I would never give up till my last breath to know that I wanted him with me, whatever the outcome he knew we both were fighting for him, and that it wasn’t a VOLUNTARY surrendering, children want to know they are wanted, from both father and mother. I don’t understand why these girls had to know that they were Vonluntarily given custody to thier father, they will never forget that. Children need to know that thier parents will want no matter what the situation, no matter what the sacrifice.

  27. Joyce Long says:

    There are plenty of mothers who also give up their child due to totally unselfish reasons. It is due to the great love for the child that these birth mothers make the hardest decision of their lives. I praise and applaud them for that. I have my 13 yr old daughter not due to her birth mothers love for her but due to drugs and things. However many, many women have no choice, the cannot support the child or give the child the love and attention and caring a child needs so they put their own feelings aside and do what is best for the child. I do not agree with having a child, keeping that child (or children) for yrs then decide you have a dream and would rather pursue it than continue to be a parent. If you are going to do that then do what many amazing birth mothers do and give up the child while they are babies so they dont bond with you and then you walk out on them.
    Birth mothers who give up their child for totally unselfish reasons are amazing women. I love my mom and dad but I wish they had made the decision to give me away when I was born.

  28. Leah Witt says:

    I had four children in 4 1/2 years–needless to say, there were days I wished I could just leave and go do something else! So I can understand a mom who fanticizes about running away for a bit. But as I don’t get Maria. As I listened to her story, something didn’t ring true to me. She said she and her husband did what they thought was best for the children (their perogative), but when she felt the need to defend her decision by saying that she was being judged unfairly for doing what father’s have done for years, I felt she was being a little disingenuous about why she made decision she did–because it WAS ALL ABOUT HER…what she wanted to do, the new life she wanted to pursue. I appreciated you asking the question about looking at her leaving from her kids’ perspective…unfortunately, she never really answered (or at least, not to my satisfaction).

    I would ask any mother who wanted to make the same move–how will you explain to your child that your dreams you needed to pursue were more important than tucking her in at night or helping him with his scouting project or spending silly girl time watching Dancing With the Stars together while eating popcorn on the couch?
    (I’d ask fathers the same question, sans the silly girl time…)

    We only have so many years to help our children grow up into healthy, well-adjusted, caring, productive adults…and to waste that time chasing our own rainbows seems to me like a collosal waste of precious time that can never be regained.

  29. Terry Acs says:

    I am a wife and mother of 3 teenage girls, 4 years ago, I was injured at work with major blows to the head. With this injury it has messed up my life horribly aside from the pains, my emotional state is totally out of whack! I would never have ever thought of giving up my kids before this happened, since, I think about it every day. I have been coping with these feelings for the whole length of time since the injury. I am giving up my freedom from my emotional state for the better of my kids, so even though I can understand her leaving her family behind, I think it is a huge cop out. Personally, I think she got married and had children and then decided it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and that is the real reason she left. She did make a selfish decision to leave and she didn’t have the right to do that, girls especially need a mother’s daily support. She made a conscious decision to have children, along with that should have been the conscious decision to stay with those children until they were out on their own, living their own life. I know, there are things that come up with all 3 of my girls on a daily basis that I am so glad that I have been able to help them through.
    I would love to escape from this life that has been thrown at me also, it is because of these 3 girls that I am still here, once they are out of the house, I have no idea what will happen with my husband and I, right now, we are very close friends and I’m not sure that will ever change even with the therapy I have had, it never changed the emotional aspect of my injury.
    I hope those children don’t grow up with the thoughts that one day, when they get married that if it is not all it is cracked up to be, they just pack up and leave without earning their way out of the marriage as they did earning their way into it.

  30. Anna Matsunaga says:

    Seeing a good part of the show and reading these comments makes me need to comment too.

    I agree that being a mom is hard. At the same time it is more rewarding than anything I have ever done and I would do it again any time. Everyone of my 4 children are a blessing ( an unlike the lady on the show with 4 kids the only surprise baby was our first one after 11 years of marriage, and he was the best surprise we ever could have had)

    I cannot understand ANY parent who gives up their children willingly unless there is really not ANY way to support them. I would do everything I could in any case to keep my kids, or likley die trying to.

    I do agree that raising them is difficult. I have 4 and I work a bit more than full time and my husband has a job that has him away alot. One of my children is home schooled and another goes to a special school because of some learning difficulties and I must drive him almost 1.5-2 hours out of my day to get him there in addition to working full time and schooling his sister. Did I mention that I am still nursing his 3 year old sister and his brother is 9 weeks old. Did I mention that right now I don’t have any regular child care?

    I am still working full time every day and I take them with me or work from home. People say all the time I don’t know how you do it. To this I say it is much much easier than leaving them all day every day in day care. When I had just 2 I had a year that forced me to work about 70 hours while a friend cared for them in our home. That year hurt our family so much and I almost had a nervous breakdown. That was the worst year of my whole life. It almost killed me to leave them all day even though I got to see them everyday.

    I feel so sad for children and the parents of broken homes. There are reasons why it takes two parents to make a child and that is because it is best to have 2 parents. I cannot imagine the heart break that custody battles must cause and maybe to avoid that heart break is why the author on your show decided not to persue custody. I also cannot imagine taking custody away from either of the child’s parents ( joint or shared or something would be better) unless the parent in question was truely a danger to the child. Every child needs both parents.

    With that said, I do know that the world comes apart for my children much more when I am gone than when their dad is gone. Of course little children who nurse can’t do that with dad and I believe that relationship should not be compromised. I in fact do not leave my children even for 15 minutes to run to the store untll they are around a year and a half or more old. I also think the kids are more dependent on me than my husband because I have always taken care of the day to day with them. If he had done more of it they would need him more there as he is just as capible, I just simply have more stamina than him and the more flexible of the 2 jobs to make it so I can. This makes him no less of a parent than I am and all children including ours do need both parents.

    No parent male or femail should give up on being a part of their children’s lives.

    As far as adoption goes. of course this is a better option than killing an unborn child, but since so many young mothers give up their child they desparately want because of money wouldn’t it make more sense to create programs where moms could have the means to earn money with out leaving their children? Instead of adopting I had always thought that if I could not have children it would be good to bring a young teen mom into our home and adopt the both of them. The other option I had considered with adoption was adopting from Chilna where baby girls are thrown out and we would be saving her life.

    I don’t like that the moms that were featured were mostly ones who loved their kids, but really did not like their lives. Knowing all I know now I would have each of my children still and I feel so very very blessed to have them. Is it an easy life for us? NO is it rewarding and worth while YES!

    I would like to see an inspirational feature of mothers who have kids and love their lives despite the fact that they have much on their plates. I would like to hear from them about how they do this and what they love most about their lives. I would like to hear more about how each manages to have a life.

  31. Sandra says:

    A NEWBORN baby nestles in his mother’s arms as she nurses him. The scene is one of tenderness and love. “When I first held my baby in my arms,” says a mother named Pam, “I felt an overwhelming sense of love and responsibility for this new life.”
    It seems an obvious fact, but research has confirmed that a mother’s love profoundly influences her baby’s development. A document published by the World Health Organization Programme on Mental Health states: “Studies have shown that infants who are abandoned and separated from their mothers become unhappy and depressed, sometimes to the point of panic.” This same document cites a study indicating that children who receive love and attention from an early age are likely to have a substantially higher IQ than children who are neglected.
    Regarding the importance of a mother’s love, Alan Schore, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine in the United States, says: “The child’s first relationship, the one with the mother, acts as a template, as it permanently molds the individual’s capacities to enter into all later emotional relationships.”
    Sadly, depression, illness, or other pressures may cause a mother to neglect her child or even to “forget her suckling.” (Isaiah 49:15) But such is the exception, not the rule. In fact, mothers seem to be programmed to love their children. Researchers have discovered that during birth, mothers have elevated levels of a hormone called oxytocin, which stimulates contractions and later plays a role in lactation. This same hormone, produced by both men and women, is also believed to play a role in the urge to act in a loving, altruistic manner.
    …….I’m wondering if this women on Dr. Phil, if was divorcing when her children were babies, would she still choose to do so?

  32. Tammie says:

    Dr. Phil, Something I would like to add to this is how I commend the father for taking the repsonsibility of raising his kids. How many times do U hear a father who just walks away after a divorce. Plus I think it takes a hell of a mother to admit she can not take care of her children either finacially or otherwise and to make sure they are in a home with a parent that loves them. Sometimes what makes a better parent is admitting that they can not do it. I know some people can not understand this, although I would rather see a child in a home where there is stablility, food and guidence and if this means it is the father than so be it. Applauding fathers out there that stand up and take their children.

  33. Lisa says:

    My husband & I have been together for 11 years, and we have a large blended family.

    As a mother of 4, and a full-time Stepmom of 3, I cannot ever imagine any reason good enough to ever sign over custody of any of my children. Not one. Nothing is more important to me than being a mother. Writing a book, having a career, going to college, my freedom, partying, etc…nothing takes precendence over my responsibility to raise the children I brought into the world.

    I had full physical custody of my 3 children with my ex (they’re all adults now). There is no way I would have ever agreed to being a non-custodial parent. I would have spent my last dollar fighting for custody of my children.

    My second husband’s ex willingly agreed to being the non-custodial parent, because she told me her three babies interfered in her “freedom and fun.” She had multiples with my husband. She went through fertility treatments to get pregnant, and ended up willingly signing them over to us.

    I have been raising my stepkids full-time, since they were 23 months old (I’ve been in their lives since they were 1 year olds), as well as raising my three children with my ex. My new husband and I decided to have a child together as well. 7 kids total.

    It was really rough on us, especially in the beginning, because my stepkids were 23 months old triplets, and my kids were 15, 14, and 8. Within a year of blending our family together we were blessed with a beautiful little girl of our own. I was raising 4 babies under the age of 3, full-time, by myself. My husband had a two hour commute every day, so I did most of the parenting of the 7 children.

    I had 4 babies in diapers, and I breastfeed our daughter for the first year. It was really challenging, and difficult for me, but I stuck it out, and I did the best I could.

    I cannot understand how a mother could walk away from her children, nor can I understand how a mother could agree to be a part-time mother.

    I believe father’s are very important in children’s lives.

    With that being said, it is the *mother* that carries the baby around inside of them for 9 months. We feel the baby kick from inside of our bodies, we feel the baby hiccup, we attend monthly prenatal appointments, we take prenatal vitamins every day to nourish the baby growing inside of us, we have 9 months to adjust to the idea of being a parent, and we carry that reminder around with us 24/7 for 9 months. There is that connection and bond with our baby before we even see our little one’s face for the first time.

    It is a blessing to be a parent. Not everyone is blessed enough to be a parent.

    So, I cannot ever understand how a mother could have a baby, and willingly agree to be a non-custodial mother. I would never agree to miss out on seeing my child walk for the first time, or miss hearing my child say “Mama” for the first time, or any of the other wonderful things a mother witnesses while raising their child.

    I know mother’s that had to work to help support their families, and they had no choice but to miss out on some of their child’s *firsts*, but a mother that willingly agrees to missing out on the special milestones in their child’s lives, or agrees to being a non-custodial parent doesn’t make any sense to me.

    When they say how hard it is for them to be a non-custodial parent, their comments puzzle me. It’s even harder to do the daily work, and raise them for 18 years. The hard part is getting up at night, changing all of the diapers, soothing a crying baby or little one, dealing with the daily tantrums, struggling through the terrible twos and/or the terrible threes, potty training, cleaning up the daily messes, making the children breakfast, lunch and dinner, giving the kids daily snacks, bandaging up the endless boo-boos, giving the children daily baths, brushing the children’s teeth twice a day, being responsible for the children every minute of the day, keeping the kids safe, listening to the ongoing noise, teaching the children good manners, instilling values, teaching them to be responsible human beings, day in and day out, etc….that’s the hard part.

    Being a mother is a verb, not just a noun.

    If you’re a drug addict, you get help immediately, and you clean up your life. If you are an alcoholic, you attend AA, and you work the 12 steps. If you have emotional problems, you get evaluated, and you seek treatment.

    As a mother I just don’t *get it.*

    Warmly,
    Lisa

  34. Sherrie says:

    Dr. Phil,
    I was divorced from my exhusband over 2 years ago. I was remarried last November. I have 2 children. When I was going through a divorce I had to move with my kids from our small town in Southern Utah to Salt Lake City to reside with my parents and so I could find a job to support us. My kids absolutely loved the town we lived in and were not all that happy but they were troopers and adapted. A year later, my son decided he wanted to go and live with his dad. I thought he was going for his summer visit but he never came home. Instead I got told that he wanted to stay with his dad and because he was 12 years old, in the eyes of the court system he is old enough to make that decision and there was nothing I cuold do to stop it. At that point my daughter stayed with me and my son was with his dad. That was tricky! Another year past, I got remarried. My daughter was getting ready to go into high school and she too decided she wanted to go back to the small town and live with her dad and attend school there. Again, she was 15 and was old enough to make that decision and the judge allowed it. It has been very devastating to me. But that is where they say they are happiest. There are no jobs down there for me or my new husband and so we stay in Salt Lake 3-1/2 hrs away. I see the kids as often as I can. Their schedules don’t always allow for regular visits every other weekend. A month ago, my new husband’s employer told us we had to transfer to another state or not have a job. So we have had to move even further away to Montana. What I am trying to say is that I was forced to give up custody. It didn’t matter to the judge that I didn’t think it was in their best interest to live with their dad. But because it was their choice and what they wanted and it was a place they felt the most happiest, and because they were old enough in the courts eyes to make that decision. It has nearly destroyed me to be so far away from my kids. I was a full time mother to them for 15 years and now I am in pre-emtpy nest phase and not too happy about it.
    People shouldn’t place judgement on someone without knowing the full situation. I am sure there are people out there on the outside looking in that think I must have been a terrible mom and that I didn’t fight for my kids. And they probably judge me harshly because of that. They don’t know the whole story and how much I ache to not have my kids with me every day. So don’t judge people unless you are walking in their shoes.

  35. AMANDA says:

    ITS IS VERY HARD FOR ME TO EVEN BEGIN TO THINK ABOUT THE FACT I AM NOT ABLE TO BE A MOTHER AND TO KNOW THAT A MOTHER THATS SMART ENOUGH TO WRITE HER A BOOK TO HONOR A CHILD THATS SHE LOST BUT WOULD TURN RIGHT AROUND AND LEAVE OVER 2000 MILES FROM THE CHILDREN SHE CARRIED FOR NINE MONTHS ALSO AND LEAVE THEM I KNOW THAT THEY SAID DONT YOU JUDGE MY MOM BUT ITS HARD NOT TO FOR PEOPLE THAT WOULD DEARLY LOVE TO SHARE EVERY MOMENT OF THE DAY WITH THEM . MY MOTHER IS MY BEST FRIEND AND AS I LOOK BACK OVER LIFE AT THE AGE OF 28 I THINK OF HAVING .
    TO CALL 2000 MILES TO REACH HER AND MY HEART BREAKS. DR.PHIL I HAVE ONE QUESTION AND THAT IS WHAT IS THE FATHER IN SITUATION LIKE I REMEMBER HIM BEING TALKED ABOUT VERY MUCH AND I KNOW YOU DO YOUR RESEARCH ON THE CASES YOU HANDLE. THANKS FOR THE GREAT DIFFERENCE YOU MADE ON TODAYS SHOW ABOUT THE JAYCEE STORY AND THE OTHER FAMILY THAT WAS ON THE SHOW.

  36. Paradoxis says:

    So women who don’t raise their children aren’t considered to be mothers?

  37. Emma Stephen says:

    There is a saying about walking a mile in another persons shoes – no-one has the right to judge another person for a decision they make. It may go against the grain, but if a family decide that the father should be the custodial parent, and that decision was made with love, then who is anyone to say it’s right or wrong.
    When I divorced, my children stayed with their father, for many reasons. There were plenty of people who told me I had abandoned my children – I had not left them on the side of the road, like the picture in this article gives the impression of, (which by the way, I find offensive) – they were with their father, a loving and capable parent. My ex-husband and I always maintain that the decision was right for all of us at the time – after a couple of years, my daughters came to live with me again.
    They aren’t emotionally damaged by the experience – they are now in their late teens and if you were to ask them – which I have, they think they had the best of both worlds, and grew up knowing that they had 2 loving parents.
    Maybe those who are so fixed in their opinions should wonder why….and have respect for those who have chosen a different path.

  38. Dr. Phil says:

    Thks so much for all your comments seeing both sides of the issue. We have an intelligent conversation going here.On the other side of the issue for you devoted mothers, you have undoubtedly seen shows we have done about birth mothers that unselfishly recognize that they are ill equipped to raise a child for any number of reasons such as age, health, finances and courageously put their feelings aside and place the child for adoption. I have seen this many times and have at times recommended it. The point is that the child’s best interest has to come before a parent’s interest to give a child a real chance at life. This is an act of compassion and not selfishness in my view.

  39. Silvia says:

    Dear Dr. Phill,

    I can tell you as the point of view from a child left with her mom that sometimes is better to be left with dad or even with the grandparents. On my case I had a mom that never wanted to be pregnant, therefore when I born she did not love me. Actually she hated me for ruining her life (she was 20 years old and with a promising ballet career ahead). My father was also not the best guy in town. He just continue with his single life even though he already had a family. My parents separated when I was 5 years old and I was left with the mom that did not want me. She used to hit me day and night for any stupid reason: her boss pressure her, the neighbour’s dog was barking, etc. She had mood swings which I could not understand. In one minute she was happy and in another she was mad and hitting me. She used to be depressed most of the time. They are counted times I saw her happy. Mostly she was with a very serious almost mad face. Never had friends. I was a quite child trying all the times to please her. The more I did, the more she asked for. My only dream as a child was to leave home and live my own life the way I wanted. My mother and father got divorced when I was 9 years old and they decided to say good bye in a good way. From that good bye came my brother. The difference with him is that she did want him so all the love she didn’t give to me she gave to my brother. That was really hurting to see. When I was 17 years old I was quite tired from the hitting so one day I grab her hands. Didn’t say a word, just look at her eyes while she was trying to get loose. She got really scared because she realized she couldn’t hit me anymore, that I was not a weak child anymore. We were living in Guatemala by then and because she got really scared, she left to USA with my brother, leaving me behind in Guatemala. The excuse was that I had to finish the last year of school. But in reality she got so scared about me grabbing her hands and confronting her in a way.

    That was 17 years ago and despite all the effort I made to see her, she doesn’t want to see me. She is still scared that I will confront her without her knowing that what I always wanted was a mom. During this 17 years I went to the psycologist and after a lot of sessions I found out that my mother is bipolar. So, Dr. Phill, I wonder: Is it good to stay with the mother in that condition? I still suffer in a way that I develope a chronic sickness from the stress she gives me. I cannot write or talk with her on the telephone because is always stress.

    If I cannot even have a normal conversation with her, I wonder…would I be better raised by my irresponsible father? or better by my grandparents? For people is easy to judge but believe me: Some mother never want to be mothers and never will.

  40. Amanda K says:

    To answer you question…if a man did what Maria did by living so far away and still visiting and maintaining a relationship while writing and coping, you would do a show only if his book were successful and he would receive praise for actually making all of those long distance visitations. And for having a hospitable friendship with his EX. JMO
    Oh and just from my own experience: My friend, Michael has sole custody of his two children and his ex is a stripper living in another state. I am a single mother to two children around the same age. I have noticed in our group of mutual acquaintances that he is often praised and recognized for taking care of his children and receives a lot of help from female friends while us single moms who are a dime a dozen are just expected to do it. And I do presently and joyfully.

  41. Kim Henwood says:

    Ok,

    So I was OK with what Maria did….she was still a big part in her children’s lives. Why is that only the father should be able to start or continue with a career. Just yesterday I had to give up a huge opportunity to start a new and very promising career because I didn’t have anyone to look after my little guy. My husband who drives truck for a living was not able to take my son along with him. My mother in law was already obligated to go out somewhere. So since he is my responsibility, I called and cancelled on one of the biggest opportunities of MY LIFE. Yes I feel really selfish, but why am I always the one giving up on my dreams, realities and MY chances of fullfillment in MY life? Why am I the one going home from work when he is sick? Why am I the only one taking him to doctor appointments? Why is it always me losing a job due to the fact that I am always missing time because of OUR child? Doctor Phil, if a women in a marriage is looking to complete herself….then as along as she is also completing her obligation as a mother as well…then I am all for it.

    I am still bitter today for missing out. But I am looking forward at all my opportunities with my son today as well.

    Have a wonderful day, enjoy life, smile, love, laugh and hug the ones you love.

    Kim Henwood
    Nova Scotia

  42. Chantale Carrière says:

    A lot of people are finding what this woman was just unreal. But why don’t we have that reaction when men do it? My husband has two daughters other than the two we have together, and he didn’t have a choice but to give up physical custody to the mothers, because due to circumstances of the time, he could not do the shared custody. Woman have so much more rights when it comes to custody of kids, that when they reverse the rolls, people lose their minds over it. Why is it that the kids would have been better off with her? The father can be just as present and do the same good job that a mother could. It’s not the end of the world what she did, it’s just roll reversal and every one has their shorts in a bunch over it.

  43. Andria says:

    Dr. Phil,

    I am a mother of 1 child who I gave birth to at a young age with very little education at that time. My family and I had many discussions about whether or not it would have been better for me to temporarily give up custody of my son to go back to school. My family would have been supportive of either outcome.
    I am now married and my son is 9 and I have 2 step children that we are in the middle of trying to get full custody of because it’s in the best interest of the children. This means that it is believed by many people that his children ARE actually better off living with their FATHER!
    People are forgetting the fact that Maria almost bankrupt herself by flying home to see her kids every weekend. Every weekend is MORE than fathers see their kids when the roles are reversed. I think the backlash here is rediculous. She was not an absent mother. The shoe was simply on the other foot.
    The daughters are obviously doing well and the mother got her book out of it which is going to better everyone in that situation. Sometimes you have to better your own life to make your kids lives better. I know this from personal experience. I had a child at 16, owned a house by 21 and owned an incredibly successful business by 22. I always made it clear to my son that the only way we could have a great future was if I did what I needed to do.
    I think Maria did what worked for that particular family.

    Andria

  44. Hannah Miller says:

    I have been married to my husband for almost 8 years, I was 18 when we married, I had a son of my own who wasnt even a year old yet, his father was absent from his life, still is to this day and he is almost 9. My husband had full custody of his 3 kids from his previous marriage. We live in Ohio, their mother took off and left, we had no idea where she was at for months. She wouldnt call, wouldnt write, made no attempt to contact her own children. This made me very angry, because we were left to deal wih all the emotions of the kids..all the un-answered questions… “where’s my mom”..”why doesnt my mom call us”, “why doesnt our mom write us”, “its my birthday, why isnt my mom here”…. these were just some of the issues we had to deal with.

    So my view on Maria’s decision is this, she did not abandon her children, she simply did not live with them. There’s a difference. I personally could never NOT live with my kids… (I have 2, soon to be 3 children of my own, plus the 3 step kids). But this is my choice, my opinion. There is no way possible we should judge Maria, this woman lost a child to cancer… I am so very grateful she made the choice to write her book. I have been friends with Maria on myspace for a while…. My daughter drowned when she was 2 years old in our swimming pool… I was the only one at home, I found her, she was in full cardiac arrest. Worste day of my entire life. They lost her 4 different times, but she came back to us. The doctors thought she would have brain damage, and problems thorughout her life. I thank God everyday that she came through it, Lainey is now 5 years old, has no problems at all. While she was in the ICU, I read Hannah’s Gift, Maria’s book helped me through a very hard time in my life. There were so many similarities between her daughter Hannah and my Lainey.My heart goes out to Maria because I brought my daughter home…. and she is live and thriving..Maria’s daughter is not. I have to wonder how I would have reacted had Lainey not made it… what would I have done? I felt a lot of guilt. Even though it was a horrible accident, I blamed myself for it. If you have never lost a child or even came close to losing one, you have no idea the emotional problems or stress you inccur during this time.

    So my conclusion is that it doesnt matter if the mother or the father raises the child, all that matters is that the child is loved, cared for, safe, and that both parents play a role in the child’s life. If Maria was a man…there wouldnt have been a Dr. Phil show about it. Everyone knows that.

    -Hannah

  45. batel says:

    to aer r phill I’m all for everyone to do what’s best for children and if this situation is best for them then for me that’s fine

  46. Tracy Hinds says:

    Personally, I would definitly expect my children to be with me. That being said, if it would be better for my children to be with their dad, than that would be what I would want for them. For me and my husband, the children come first, so what ever is best for them, no matter how hard it would be for me, that is what we would strive for. We are happily married for 15 years so it is easy for me to say this and hopefully I won’t have to make a decision like others have had to make.

  47. Larissa says:

    I don’t understand Maria’s decision to withdraw so much physically from her children’s lives, and I don’t agree with it. There is so much to be said for being present daily or close enough to be only moments away.

    That said, we (American culture and the court system) definitely have a double standard when it comes to fathers versus mothers in divorce cases. I’ve seen instances in my own extended family and in the lives of my neighbors where the father would have been the best provider financially, emotionally, and spiritually. But in each of those cases the courts gave custody to the mothers, leaving the rest of us to wonder why. I agree that the court system is better about this kind of thing than it was 20 years ago, but there is still a very long way to go.

    Culturally we’re on the move too, albeit slowly. There are more and more stay-at-home dads who are accepted as quality caregivers because they’re seen picking up their children from school, helping with homework, and taking their kids to soccer practice. Granted these men are usually married so there are no custody issues to deal with, but it’s the beginning of a shift in the minds of others who a generation ago would have thought these families substandard.

  48. Ludiexis aquino says:

    Dr.phil I don’t even know where to begin or what exactly I should say I’m 24 years old and a single mom 2 wonderful girls and can’t seem to understand what would make anyone come to a decision like this.I moved in with my mom after separating from my kids father because he was abusive towards me both physically and mentally I can’t work because I can’t afford day care and yet abandoning my kids because of life’s circumstances has never remotely crossed my mind nor will it ever,because it is my duty to nurture and care for my kids just because of the simple fact that it was I who brought then into this world..Take responsibility for your children under any circumstance please America.

  49. Meg says:

    My brother had a very bad marriage. He and his two kids were actually in danger (she threatened to kill them, among other things). But he knew if he tried to divorce her that she would get the kids because the state they lived in favored mother’s to have the children. So he instead took the kids and left. He was in trouble for kidnapping them. A father who was trying to protect his kids from being killed by their own mother was thought to be an awful kidnapper. Yet, if it would have been a woman who did the very same thing people would have helped her out and applauded her. It just isn’t right. Just because it is the woman who carries the baby for 9 months doesn’t automatically make her the more needed parent in the child’s life.

  50. Wendy says:

    I personally would never have given up custody of my children the way she did, but certain women just mother different. I guess some women don’t find it necessary to see their children everyday. When I divorced I let my older daughter live with her dad because her and her brother could not get along. The difference is that I saw my daughter every day because she lived close. She was only with her Dad for a few years and then moved back in with me. To this day, we are very close. I am very bonded with all of my children and can’t imagine being apart from them. Two of them are grown but we remain close. I would have a hard time if they moved away.
    My son has a totally different situation in that the mother of his daughter decides to parent when it’s convenient for her. My son still lives at home and the baby has always been with us. Her mother would take her occasionally, but now she has left the state. She recently decided to cause problems by taking the baby and not returning her and we were told by law enforcement and a lawyer that my son has no rights because they were never married. The times when the police were called by the mother, they always took her side, even though the baby has always been at our house and my son has provided 100% of her financial support due to the fact that her mother can’t hold a job. It seems that they just think the worst of my son even though he’s trying to do the right thing. Thankfully, the mother recently left the state and we have the baby (well, she’s 2 1/2) but she continues to harass my son on the phone trying to tell him how to raise their daughter. We have never kept the baby from her and encourage her to spend time with her, but it seems that she just wants to use the baby as a pawn. It is so sad. I try to give her the nurturing that she should be getting from her mother, but I know it’s not the same.

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