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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. Woman says:

    As a survivor of domestic violence and a husband who has lied his way into getting custody, I can not say enough of how I feel the media is unfairly treating women. Most men, and I stress most, want children for only two reasons, they produce money and a means to continue and even increase, control. Money in child support and the assets of the marriage. “in the United States, the share of elderly women living in poverty is highest among divorced or separated women (37 percent),(1)” “On average, male incomes rise by 25 per cent, whereas women’s fall by a fifth, even when children are not involved.” (2)

    Once they gain custody, children are neglected and used to further the abuse of the mother. Children are influenced to think their mothers did not want them, were drug or alcohol abusers, were whores, insane, or had sexually molested them as babies. (More men make false allegations of sexual abuse than women. “Of female-initiated allegations, just 1.3% were deemed intentionally false by civil courts, compared with 21% when the man in the failed relationship brought similar allegations.” (3)

    As I am sure you are aware, even the federal government and the American Bar Association agree that 70% of abusers get custody. Custody insures that the control of the abuser continues and he can inflict, not only mental abuse, but economic abuse. If you study the lists of dead beat parents that are published by some states, few are women. I know many women who live in their cars so that they can continue to pay for their children. I do not see many men doing this.

    People view your shows with the idea that you are an expert on every facet of life. It would serve your audience better to present a representative group of the estimated 4,116,000 domestic violence victims per year (based on divorce statistics for 2000 and a lower 28% domestic violence rate reported to the UN) who have lost their children for one reason, they are victims of violence, and courts (including lawyers) and law enforcement that believes and protects abusers.

    I, for one, find it incredible that you, given your unique position, could find only one mother who willing gave up her children. This is not the trend you suggest it might be. And I, as part of a much larger group, suggest that you present both sides of custody, not just the father’s side. Your audience is women, why not tell them what is going to happen to them if they suffer abuse and seek a divorce?

    (1)Divorced, Widowed American Women More Vulnerable to Poverty
    By: wowOwow http://www.divinecaroline.com/22275/51805-divorced–widowed-american-vulnerable-poverty.
    (2) Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1127333/For-richer-poorer-Why-divorce-makes-men-wealthier–women-left-worse-off.html#ixzz0S7ukwcKG
    (3) Bala, N. & Schuman, J. (2000). Allegations of sexual abuse when parents have separated. Canadian Family Law Quarterly, 17, 191-241.)

  2. Nicole Solanki says:

    First of all too many parents take the easy way out and divorce not thinking of the children. I admire the parents who give there all to try to keep there family together. MY grandmother told me once that her and my grandfather wanted a divorce but they could not afford it. So they continued to stay together. My grandmother told me she was happy they never did get the divorce because they ended up with a long happy marriage! There was things that she desired out of her husband she never got but she learned to love him the way he was.
    I think marriage for so many has become not as special as God created it to be.
    I have a very hard marriage right now and have not seen my husband for over 4 years! I have had pple tell me they would of moved on and leftthe marriage. This is not an option for me, marriage to my husband and I is a deep spiritual connection where two people become one.

    When devorce is the only option the childrens interest should be the first priority but this does not happen often. Parents use there children as weapons to hurt the other parent. The courts commonly side with the mother for no real reason other than so many seem to feel mothers should have the children. Fathers are just as important in a childs life as the mother!!
    It takes alot of communication and dedication on the parents part to get along and raise there children in separte homes. My sister was effected deeply by her parents divorce. One huge reason was her structured home was turned upside down and her father would not work with our mother on correcting her because he held to much bitterness towards his ex.
    My brother was kept from his children by his ex and the two reasons were 1)She had more money to hire a good lawyer so (money) and 2) the courts give the mother custody and give the father little visitation.
    In order for father to get fare custody and visitation fo the children he must have the money to hire a good lawyer. Which this should have no effect in family court!

  3. Jessica says:

    I think many of the court systems are changing across the country. My sister was in the military. She had a graveyard shift and her husband stayed home and took care of the kids. My sister had the paycheck and benefits, and the cost of daycare was prohibitive for him finding a job. While she was deployed, he filed for divorce. The courts gave him full custody of the kids because she was not around to visit the kids while they were separated. (This was because she was DEPLOYED overseas). Apparently it is not uncommon for the courts to take kids away from the military parent because of the uncertainty of a military job.

    I have read many other cases now when the dad is staying home and working and ends up with custody because the mom is working full time supporting the family. The mom loses her kids, must pay alimony, and is forced to leave the family home — a complete role reversal from a decade or two ago and the traditional thinking of divorce.

    The courts are changing, and I think both men and women need to be aware of that. There’s a lot of stress in marriage right now. Dr. Phil had an interesting show about men staying home with the kids after losing their jobs (although you did upset me with the comment how men aren’t cut out to clean and you don’t like it… do you think *I* like it? I HATE cleaning!) and the women working full time to support the family. I kept thinking all these women better be aware this puts them in a vulnerable position for losing custody while they are working full time and he is not. It’s definitely something to be aware of in the back of your head.

  4. Jane Moulds says:

    I get what Maria was saying, but I do not understand it at all. It is a mother’s instinct to take care of and protect her children. We all have our moments, but not to give up our children. They did not ask to be born and you better do the best you can for them!

  5. Tiffanie says:

    I personally don’t think it’s fair that she is catching so much flack for being the “man” in the divorce.

    First I want to say that as a fellow mother who has lost a child I feel for her. Even though my little bean only lived two weeks I can still imagine her pain going through her daughter’s death. Isn’t that enough? I mean why does anyone need to give this woman MORE grief. After a loosing a child you change, your life, your priorities, everything about you changes. There is no going back. And when I heard her story I think pulling away some worked for her. Her original choices of wanting to tour the world and write a book, was simply her pulling away a little from her living children. And really for her it was probably the best thing. Unless you’ve been there you have no idea how taxing the grief and pain can be. You have no concept of what just waking up every morning feels like. And it doesn’t matter days or years after it happens, it can still plague you. And it’s not that you haven’t dealt with your grief, its that you will ALWAYS HAVE to deal with the grief, there is no break. Her choice makes sense to me. She wanted to write a book about Hannah, and her short life. It was her way of working through things. She immersed herself in Hannah and for her that was probably a way to deal with the reality. She didn’t leave her other children, she simply gave them a better life, by allowing them to stay with the parent who didn’t need to break away. Men go through the loss of a child VERY differently. They view it differently and they deal with it differently. Some could even say it’s easier for them. Although I know my husband hurt a great deal and still misses our daughter, I don’t think the connection to her was as strong as it was and is for me. So her husband could provide better for their living children, and allowing herself time away gave her the strength to be there for them when she was with them.

    Grant it, I’m kind of “guessing” as to what she was feeling, but I know that it would be how I would feel since I’ve been there, holding a child while they take their last breath is something you live with forever. I feel everyone was quick to jump at the How could you leave as a mother…and not even remotely give her the benefit of the doubt after going through a loss as great. The world is truly divided, between those who have experienced and it and those who haven’t. I wish no one had to, but it’s not like loosing a parent, or a pet (yes I’ve heard it related to loosing pets before!). It’s different in so many ways that no one can even begin to understand it until they’ve lived it. And I can’t even fathom how much worse it was to loose a child so much older than my baby girl. But then I envy her for being allowed the chance to watch her grow, give her baths, and get to dress her. Things I never got to do…

  6. Vera Parker says:

    I have an ex sister-in-law who when her children were very young walked out the door to marry a man 20 years her senior and has since remarried another man 20 years her senior. She is selfish and thinks of no one but herself and what she can obtain. Tell me how this woman can have a positive effect on two young girls and a son. Their father has raised them himself, both financially and emotionally. The children in question are grown, the youngest is 18 and in university, they are stable because of their father. I believe any father can indeed raise these children and provide what a absentee mother chooses not to. On a personal note I am a mother of three and wouldn’t trade the last twenty three raising them for anything in this world.

  7. Linda RH says:

    I believe that children need all the love and attention that they can get. I’ve heard the logic that says they need their mothers more in infancy-toddler-beginning school ages, and their father increasingly as they get older.
    In the past, the part about needing the mother more was true because fathers couldn’t nurse an infant. Nowadays though, fathers can feed the child with a bottle, and as they get older the mother can be an example of working outsided the home for income just as much as the father. Times have changed.
    I think we as a society need to change our perception of children and treasure them. We need to see their birth and rearing as a noble vocation, just as important as a career, with the definite goal of a complete and well adjusted human being. When we value someone highly we plan for them, and plan how to care for them, and choose carefully those who will help us raise the child. When we begin to treasure life, and our ability to create it, we will also treasure our partner, who we will recognise as someone we need to enter into this lifelong pact of raising a child. There have been people all through the ages that have already known this, and treasure their spouses and children, but it seems the family unit is being devalued as time goes on. Unions are created with the least amount of preparation ending in divorce and disillusionment. Children are brought forth to fill the agendas of the parents instead of planned for and brought forth to expand the love begun between the parents. Life is cheap.
    It’s a chicken/egg dilemma, children raised by loving parents generally make good spouses and parents themselves. Children raised in challenging circumstances may be challenged as spouses and parents. The difference between humans and chickens though, is that humans have the ability to decide to change their minds about what they’ve come to believe, we can change our attitudes, learn better ways of behavior, and change our positions.
    Religion was traditionally one important way we were initiated into the reverance of life, but these days there is a concerted effort to banish Christianity and all religious buildings and monuments in the USA. I’m not saying religion, any religion, is the only way to learn how to be a reverential human that treasures life, but I think we do away with it at our peril.
    Personally, I think a mass turning back to our churches would result in an improvement in society.

  8. Sandra says:

    To Paradoxis
    You are the birth mother, and no one can take that away from you. Without the birthmother there would be no adoptive mother. With so many millions aborting thier children I commend women that have the courage to adopt thier children to loving parents that so desperately want children.
    That brings me to another part of the discussion that no one is having, Abortion is far worse and selfish than what this women did on Dr.Phil. Women for convenience are…and I’ll say it like it is KILLING thier children. Something that goes so contrary to human nature. Sad we live in a world where abortion is accepted as a Right, so sad. Don’t want to start a debate on abortion, just want to say how sad that no one in a position of aurthority or celebrity power can address these issues cause of being afraid of losing popularity.

  9. Angela Laubshire says:

    I believe there is a reason that God’s perfect design included a mother and a father. Children need both in their lives in order to grow into a well rounded adult. I am the mother of 4 children and can not imagine walking away from them to pursue any selfish endeavor. At the age of three, my parents divorced. My father walked away, giving up custody of us. He even signed over all parental rights. We never heard from him again. Even though my mom remarried and I grew up with a wonderful father, I have always lived with the thought that I was not good enough for my father and that there were other things that were more important to him. I also have trust issues because of this. So, before you decide to pursue your own life and the things that you want to do, think first about the innocent child that you brought into this world.

  10. Anne says:

    I think both sides suffer from the results of a traumatic divorce and custody battle. Putting all that aside I think the true victims here are the children. I am a 35 year old single mom who has four kids and two of them live with their father. He is in the Air Force. I suffer from bipolar and that is the reason the judge believed our children were better off with their father. I feel sad that our society does not understand mental illness and that they judge us too quickly and harshly when it comes to our kids. If someone had cancer would they lose their kids? I did not choose this illness as someone chooses drug or alcohol abuse and yet we lose our kids irregardless of that fact. I was born with this illness and I will suffer from it for my entire life. Does that make me an unfit or bad mother? I am raising two boys on my own and doing the best I can day by day. I realize some people will like you and others won’t but I will continue doing the best I can. I think we as a society would benefit to understand more about mental illness and see that people can and do live fullfilling happy lives even with the mental illness. Our kids stepmom dislikes me and I am sure it is mainly from the things my exhusband has told her but she is the one raising our kids as he is detailed to other areas of the world.

  11. Janet Davies says:

    Hi Anne,

    Your ex used you being bipolar as a means to take your children from you? Thats awful and a disgrace! Unless you posed any harm to your children the judge should not allow your mental health records into court. There are millions of Americans with mental health issues out there and they do not have their parenting rights interfered with unless they pose a danger to their children! I am sorry for what your ex and the courts did to you. I hope you at least are having meaningful visitation with your children. God bless you and your children honey!

  12. Carla says:

    This is a very interesting topic and stirs up so many emotions for people. I do feel like we have double standards in our society about this issue. I will admit I have not had a chance to view the entire show yet. However, I did read both of Maria’s books. First, I want to say that her book Hannah’s Gift was a wonderful book reflecting on what it is like to be the parent of a child with cancer. She also brought out for the world to read the grief of losing a child and wrote about some very tough moments in her life. I too have experienced the loss of our son from a brain tumor. Her book helped me to see that I was not alone in my feelings and the traumatic experience we had just been through.

    I think that we need to change the way we look at the fatherhood role. Why can’t they be primary caregivers also? Isn’t it doing a huge injustice to men in our society as we are all promoting equality to say that they simply can not do that and tell women that they are abandoning their children. Men do usually earn more than women today still although this is always changing. How many women stay in bad marriages just because they know they could not provide for their children. Isn’t it time to change some of the traditional role modeling to fit with what is really going on with today’s world.

    If divorce unfortunately happens because of infidelity or poor communication, traumatic experiences then couldn’t we learn how to have healthy divorces where everyone is given the chance to have a fufilling life and not be selfish with the children creating a win win situation. I really think the world would be a different and better place if we allowed men to also fufilling the nurturing role of raising children.

  13. RE:
    Dr. Phil says:
    September 24, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    I agree with what U said in UR blog and UR comment U made above to we commenters, yesterday.


  14. chandra manbodh says:

    motherhood isnt easy nobody ever said it was as a mother of 3 boys all 3 of them have problems of there own my 8 yr old has adhd my 6 yr old was born with a heart condition and learning problems and my 2 yr old has pdd-nos (which is autism mild case) but a mother will deal with it but if a mother can not support her kids on the way they should then should not be a problem as long the children is with a parent who is loving and caring but maybe it is selfishness and you r a parent until u die and you are to give thing up i could not think of giving up my children to there father if we were not together he is a good dad but i need to kiss them read to them tuck them in everyday i do not know what this women is thinking of i think she is selfish and she is making up and excuse and want publicity she just didnt want to be a mother anymore

  15. Sarah says:

    I had the episode on tape and just watched it. My feeling is that the death of her child was so traumatic she is distancing herself from her other children without even knowing it; self preservation. That doesn’t make it right, but I don’t think a loving, caring mother suddenly changes (which she certainly seemed to be a very loving person, given the care she gave to that little girl).

  16. wifeofmoney says:

    I personally admire Maria for her very difficult desicion. It cannot have been easy for her to admit that her husband could do a better job of caring for the children than she could. I always say, “No dad is better than a bad dad.” and I believe the same can be said of a mother. Having come from an abusive home myself, I know what I am talking about. I don’t think Maria made the choice to leave her children, she simply made the choice to leave her marriage and realized the children were better off without her than with her. We, as a nation, should stop this double standard.

  17. Amanda Miller says:

    As a mother who voluntarily gave up custody seven years ago, I must put in my two cents here. I made this choice because my children were bouncing between two homes weekly and were ages 3 and 5 at the time. That, combined with my own naiivity and young age (24), led me to make the worst decisions of my life. I did the best I could at the time, with the knowledge and abilities I had available.

    My ex husband promised me that he would never keep the kids from me and that we could change custody back to the way it was (we had week on, week off initially) when I got back on my feet financially. I trusted him, which was mistake #1. He has spent 7 years trying to cut me completely from the picture.

    I ran out of money to pay my attorney and she shoved papers in my face without explaining the ramifications that my signature could bring. There is no temporary change of custody in Alaska. It does NOT exist. The reality of this hit me square in the face when I filed six months later (after getting on my feet financially and better prepared to care for my babies after my divorce) to change custody back to joint, and was denied. My ex had found a new girlfriend who he instantly thrust into the role of “replacement mom”, and with the best attorney in town, decided it was his new life’s mission to teach me a lesson and to win some sort of war he thought we were having. The pawns? My children.

    Seven years later, I have moved away to another state (for reasons I care not to explain, but not at all what I wanted to do). I have tried and failed at least three times to get primary school year custody of my children, but the court says I have not proven “significant change of circumstances.”

    My ex is unfit to care for my children, does not feed them or care for them properly, is a hoarder, and has left the job to his mother and new wife. My children beg to be with me and I want nothing more than to kiss my children every single night, make them lunches, listen to their stories, feel their hugs. I cry and ache and feel deep depression most nights and days. I struggle to find reason to go on at times, but then I remember…I am a mom and my babies need me.

    I will never give up fighting, and I have entered college for my Paralegal degree to help other moms like me. I am a good and fit mom. I love my children more than anything on this earth. The judgment facing moms like me is horrible, but I get through it. I know that the alienation my ex has tried to put upon me is now backfiring, and they see and hear everything. My innocent little children that my ex husband tries desperately to rob of their mother. No child should be robbed of their mother, and no mother who loves their children as much as I do should be faced with daily pain and sadness that only a mom in my position could begin to comprehend.

    You can read this and judge me, you won’t be the first. Or you can recognize that the laws are not necessarily acting for what is in the best interest of the children. If the courts honestly believed that, wouldn’t they acknowledge that situations and circumstances warrant change? My kids are 12 and 10 now…and have wanted to live with me for the majority of the time. My ex won’t even listen to them. It is up to me to keep up the fight, and to prove the courts wrong.

  18. Lisa says:

    No, Dr. Phil, you would not be doing a show if it was a man who had given up custody of his kids. Because quite frankly, you would probably have too much trouble trying to narrow the guests down to one.

    Woman are held to higher standards and expectations as “Mothers” but paid less in the workforce. Is this because we think women should naturally know how to nurture and love and raise their babies? Are you a sexist, Dr. Phil? I don’t think you are but this kind of thinking is what keeps equality at arms length for us all.

    You say parent’s have an obligation to nurture that child until it’s on it’s feet, well thank God the law says 18. My son is almost 18 will be in late October. He has been incorrigible for quite some time, his last stunt being to light up a cigarette in my car on the freeway, I don’t smoke, because he was angry and I was taking him back to where he is staying when he refused to hold up to his end of an agreement. I’ve had him in everything from the Prison Orientation Program, Grief Counseling, Anger Management, individual counseling, family counseling, NA meetings and campouts, church, provided him with role models etc., etc., etc. I even bent over backwards to make sure he at least graduated highschool. I have a hole in my door and a video of him and his buddies driving in my car when he was not supposed to be and these are mild compared to some of his other threats and ways he’s spoken to me. He by his own choses has decided not to accept the consequences of his actions, so I put him out, knowing he had two acceptable options of where to go. He is now living with his best friends family and apparently seeking work and enrolled in college. I have paid support and will do so again for October but that’s it. He has Federal money available to him if he attends school and a fee waiver for tuition and is capable of getting a job.

    Now my situation may be different but the bottom line is, my son and I both are doing much better with him where he is at and hopefully we will be able to restore the relationship at some point. If his father were alive he’d have been living with him years ago and I’d have been pursuing the dreams I put on hold to raise my kids. Which I am now doing!

    I will however agree with you that both parents are obligated to participate in their child’s life and in spite of the abuse I suffered at their father’s hands, both their father and I participated in their lives until he died, to the point that one of us was coaching baseball with one child on one field and the other was right across at the other field umpiring. I was the coach by the way! You love your child you do what’s best for them and a bitter and resentful parent is not the best thing.

    I grew up with a mother who lost a child and was treated like the biggest mistake my family ever made to the point I questioned and sometimes still do whether or not they love me. Maybe if she’d have let me go to good family, I’d have known she loved me.

    Besides what about parent’s who give their children up for adoption, are they bad parents too or not allowed to move to “Miami”. Why is it that the woman is the only one who gets to decide whether or not a man will have a child? I honestly think with the resources and knowledge available, unplanned pregnancy should be a thing of the past.

    But to condemn a mother for giving up custody, I don’t think so, especially when society seems to accept men doing it and seems to have this response everytime a man does anything as “Oh he’s just a man” or “He’s a man, what do you expect”.

    How about we raise the bar for all parents!

  19. Joyce says:

    I have had full custody of my daughter since my husband walked out on us when she was 18 months old. She is now 18 years old. Her father never even wanted custody of her so that was never the problem. He moved to PA, we live in MD. He had visitation every other weekend. He married right away and started another family. Sometimes he wouldn’t see my daughter for a month at a time. Now that my daughter is older she spends more time at his house and less time with me. I know that because she is a teen this would eventually happen. My problem is she is so disrespectful to me and runs to her father when she doesn’t like what I have to say. I have always been there for her and we were always close. Sometimes I wish that he would have had custody and now I would be the “good” parent that she thinks he is. This is so frustrating and heartbreaking for me. I guess every situation of custody is different and this should be considered when judging someone.

  20. nikole anderson says:

    I am a mother of 3 beautiful girls. I missed the show but have been reading the comments from the audience. I am married and have been with my husband for the past 18 years and have had some issues in my marriage just as everyone has. My girls are involved in sports as well as after school activities. At one point in my marriage, I was to the point of walking out. At that point in time my girls were very young and with the type of job that I had, I knew that there would be no way that I could fully care the proper way for my girls and I was planning on leaving them with my husband and just moving out. Yeah it would of hurt like hell, because I always read and tuck my girls in at night and in the morning I wake them up with baby kisses. something we have done since day one. It wouldve been the right thing to do becuase my husband has the steady job with benefits and would be able to take care of them with out a struggle. I also know 3 dads that have full custody of thier children for one reason or another and they are very awesome dads. I also know of several moms that have divorced thier husbands and have full custody of thier children and struggle on a daily basis. Yes I do think that it is a double standard when it comes to divorces and raising children and who should get full custody of the child and which parent should have the visitation. In this day and age shouldn’t all of that be thrown out the window and the child(ren) should live with the parent who feels they would be able to take care of them the best possible way?? I think all factors should come into play and that the well being of the child(ren) should be put first. Not man or woman and who society thinks they should be with. We need to wake up here people and quit living in the ‘old times’. I think that the child(ren) should be with whomever can take on responsibility and raise the child. I agree with Lisa above that says we should raise the bar for parenting!!! This is 2009 after all

  21. Moderators

    Saw someone with a picture and had thought we might could add one yet cannot figure out how to. Thank you. SEA

  22. Elizabeth White says:

    Yes and sometimes the children should be taken from the mothers. There are mothers on drugs and alcohol and should not have cusody of children. My mother’s mother died and her father raised 3 girls in the early 1900’s and he did a very good job. Most women will jump in and help a single father and just let a single mother hang there –needing help with carpools etc.

  23. carol says:

    as long as my name is not used

    where is it written that the female MUST be the human person who does the caring respoinsible role?

    too many females are left in that role who dont care, who are incapeable of
    being caregiver to a child for 18+ years, adoptions for unwed mothers alternative, do you put that person down too?

    i never wanted a child, after the way i was raised, to do to another and i made major efforts to never have a child. does that put me in the “catagory”

    i think your one sided attitude is wrong. i can love a child and care for them, but i can barely take care of myself. so why as a female MUST I have a sexual encounter that has a child with male help, be stuck with the result?

  24. Paradoxis says:

    Another aspect that really bothers me a LOT, is that when it comes to a woman “getting herself pregnant”, people kind of forget the fact that they didn’t do it alone. It seems that because it’s the woman who ends up pregnant, all choices and responsibilities seem to be hers alone. Everybody focuses on the woman and what she’s “done” and the right or wrong of it, and judges her on what she’s going to do from here on in, but why don’t they do the same to the father? The impregnator? How is HIS part in her pregnancy less voluntary? How come everything falls onto the mother? She’s the one burdened with the responsibilities and choices for the child, as if the father was and is just a bystander.

    I’ve seen plenty of shows where Dr Phil sits down with a mother or pregnant girl/woman and drills them about how they must have wanted or planned to get pregnant because they didn’t use protection. I mean, therefor you must have planned this, right? The most recent example of this is the show about Brittney, the 15 year old pregnant girl. We never saw Dr Phil sit down with the father and say the same thing to HIM.

    I’ve never once seen Dr Phil sit down with the father in the situation and say to him, “hey, why did you impregnate her? You must have wanted to have a child. Where’s your role and responsibility in this?”

    This is a double standard towards pregnancy iteself that nobody even seems to recognise exists.

  25. Paradoxis says:

    What I’m trying to say, is that we seem to focus on the young girls who become pregnant, and assume that if they are the ones to keep the child, then they are the ones who must have wanted motherhood to begin with. Because the fathers can walk away and not have to even think about the concept of BEING a father until the child is born, they’re never confronted about the fact that if the girl is pregnant, and they impregnated her, then clearly the boy must have wanted to become a father and therefore planned it, right? I mean, they didn’t wear protection so *obviously* they wanted to become a parent.

    That’s the twisted thinking that I want people to recognise.

    Fathers can walk away from the moment of conception. Mothers can’t. They have to make decisions from the word go. Does that make them any more responsible for the existance of a child? If they are, then that means that our attitudes towards women is just as sexist as they ever were.

  26. PJ says:

    As a older mom and I beleive a mother should raise their children BUT there is some not fit to raise them.I know a mother and father who dont raise the children.Grandparents do.The mother acts like she is single and her parents have to take care of one of the children all the time and 2 in summer.The dad has one during school and their the child comes to mom on weekends and summer . Two diff dads .It is a shame.There are some dads who are better than the moms.I am from the old school.It is not right.

  27. Lisa says:

    My husband will probably divorce me at some point (”God” told him to divorce me a year ago) and have discussed the fallout of divorce with a number of friends, including who gets the kids. One comment from a friend I found very interesting. She said that if she had known then what she knows now, she would not have fought for custody of her daughter but would have let her husband have the full custody that he was fighting for. Why?
    Her daughter is now 18 and everything in her life that goes wrong is her mother’s fault, while her father is the hero. My friend has paid for everything for her daugher (her father just never seemed to have the money to pay for maintenance), dealt with all the discipline issues and the hard yakka of daily life. What did her ex do? No discipline, no trekking his daughter around to appointments and after-school commitments, no financial responsibility. He got to have his daughter for all the fun things, and because he wasn’t paying maintenance could afford to take her out to great places when he had her – which was only once every few weekends.
    So, my friend put in all the effort, and her ex gets all the rewards.
    So, if and when “God” reminds my husband to divorce me, I would seriously consider giving him full custody of the children. He has been an absent father throughout their lives, has criticised my parenting (and every other aspect of me) throughout our whole marriage, and gone behind my back to tear me down to the children, so it would probably be wise for me to just let him have them. With me out of the picture there would be less need for him to tear me down to the kids, and the kids could see a few realities about who their father is – rather than me always running interference for him only to be stabbed in the back.
    He could have the stress, and I could – for a very nice change – have just the fun parts of parenting.

  28. Janet Davies says:

    elizabeth white

    Dr Phil’s dad drank. Do you think Dr Phil should have been taken away from his family? My mother had cancer and I at 14 had to become the mother of the house taking care of her and my 4 brothers. Should I have been whisked away into fostercare?

  29. Scott says:

    My wife and I (Married July 1989) have been living apart for about 2 years… no separation or divorce actions have been started because of the expense and health insurance issues.

    We have 3 children together… well our oldest son is her son from a previous marriage, but I treat him as my son and love all our kids equally.

    Our marriage wasn’t perfect, but I think because of some major life-changing events that occurred is what finally broke it… we’re talking her father committing suicide, my 4-year cancer battle in and out of hospitals, an adoption for a 4-year girl from Russia after living with us for an entire summer falls through, my wife getting pushed out of my family owned business are just a few major things in 5-6 year time frame. That left us struggling with bills and her having to find a full-time job which she did and a job she loved was what she found. I was happy for her and proud of her accomplishments, but it did mean new friends and unfortunately for me… one of the new friends was a guy that she wanted to pursue a deeper relationship with. A guy that was quite older, but that is irrelevant in this story.

    At the time of Separation… our oldest son was 23 and living on his own, our daughter was a senior in high school and our younger son was in 8th grade. We agreed that the kids could decide for themselves to live with me or my wife and both our daughter and younger son decided to stay with me and continue to keep going to the same school with all their friends. Half way through our daughters senior year though… she decided to go live with her mom an change schools and everything… I was shocked, but helped her make the transition as smooth as possible. She still came home on weekends and continued her friendships she made from k-12th in her free time. Unfortunately she missed out on many senior activities and didn’t even go to graduation at either school… but did gratuate with very high grades as was accepted at many colleges. Our younger son has high anxiety and would probably rather live with his mom… they had a very strong relationship and did everything together, but switching schools and making new friends was not something he wanted to do, so he stayed with me.

    Although my wife says that the kids will adjust and everything will be fine… I think this was really tough on them. That’s what intrigued me to watch this particular show… because I can NOT figure out or understand how a MOM could walk out the door and go days, even weeks without seeing their kids. I personally miss them derly whenever they go see their mom and that’s not usually more than one or two days. Their mom by the way… lives 2 hours away, so it’s not like we can just hop in the car and visit whenever we want… we usually meet somewhere in the middle, but it’s still a 2-hour drive for each of us round trip.

    This has definately been life-changing for me… my goal is to be the best dad I can, create a happy house, and put the rest in god’s hands. I do pray that something good will come out of this. I am sad, lonely, upset and would be forever greatful for a second chance. I do know our marriage was in a funk, but I never thought in a million years we would ever split up… we are still friends and we talk or text message each other daily and exchange smiles and hugs when we do see each other. I am NOT one bit interested in starting another relationship right now… my focus is my son right now. I strive to be the best dad I can and make sure that he gets to see his mom often. Our Daughter is off to college and seems to be getting her life back on track. Just the other day, I saw her Facebook profile and it read: I am finally really starting to like my life! Very Touching and gratifying to hear.

    I TIVO all Dr Phil shows and haven’t missed hardly one in the last year or so, but this show is the first one I ever wrote in about… becuse I honestly do NOT know how a MOM could walk out on their kids… yea, they might have a relationship on the phone and text message daily, but it’s NOT the same as going to bed and waking up with them everyday.

    I’d like to get more active on message boards… I’m sure I have a lot to offer after some of the things I’ve gone through (cancer, suicide, family business, divorce, single dad, etc) and I certainly appreciate what the moms and dads out there go through being a stay at home mom or dad… I never thought cleaning the house, doing laundry, cooking dinners, going to school events, grocery shopping, pet care, mowing the lawn, taking care of the bills and what ever else I missed was such a thank-less job.

    I hope I can inspire at least one person to never take for granted what you have today… be the best person you can and give, give, give… i truly believe, “The more YOU give, the More YOU Get”… “LOVE YOURSELF AND OTHERS WILL LOVE YOU”

    Appreciate your feedback and comments… where’s the best place to be an active contributor on Dr Phil’s site?

  30. Janet Davies says:


    God didn’t tell your husband anything of the kind! LOL! He needs to read this scripture!

    Malachi 2:16
    16 “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself [a] with violence as well as with his garment,” says the LORD Almighty.
    So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.

  31. Sheri says:

    The one thing that was said on the show that everyone (including Dr. Phil) seems to be glossing over is that Maria said that at the time she agreed to sign over custody her understanding was that she would be able to see her children during the week whenever she wanted to. She said subsequently, she was NOT allowed to see her children at any other time than her court-granted visitations every other weekend.

    So, if she was there for her children every single time she had a legal right to visitation, I see no problem that she moved to New York for her job for a two-year period out of eleven years of the custody arrangement.

    In the state of Nevada, the courts will not accept a petition for divorce, or even for legal separation, that does not have
    a specific visitation schedule with times and days and holidays divided up between the two parents. As a parent, you literally feel like you are splitting the baby. So, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a loving parent to acquiesce in the legal battle for the good of the child.

    I think that parents (especially mothers) who are not being faced with trying to decide which parent gets the children for Christmas and who gets them for Thanksgiving have a hard time wrapping their head around agreeing to miss even one moment with their child, simply because they aren’t required by a court order to do so. It’s complicated, and when you add in the loss of a child, I don’t think Maria was unreasonable in her choices.

  32. Stef says:

    I think that Maria was just being selfish and doing what she wanted to do. That doesn’t make it the wrong thing though. At least she had the guts to do it, most mothers wouldn’t. I can think of 3 mothers that I know that have done everything they could do to take the fathers out of their kids lives. None of these fathers are bad at all. The mothers are/were doing it because if their own selfish needs. At least Maria was being selfish in the best way possible. There was no fighting, lying or name calling that would have terribly scarred those kids. And at least she was there every other weekend, even when she was so far away for 2 years. It seems like such a crime against nature for a mother to be able to do something like that, but in an odd way I do think it was probably the best thing she could have done for her kids. To me it’s much like adoption. I was adopted by my dad. I know for a fact that I was given up for very selfish reasons, he didn’t want to be burdened with a baby. Just because he was being selfish doesn’t make it wrong. We should give her her due props for doing the right thing, even though it was selfish.

  33. Janeal says:

    Well…interesting comments for sure. Many, many life scenarios. I am a single mom since my child was six months (now 16 yrs old). The father never visited, nor tried in anyway to contact her except twice in her first two years, by phone. Too many people, both moms and dads, spend too much time thinking about themselves, what they want, what they are sacrificing, how they have been hard done by……….who cares. In general your problems are always secondary to raising a child into a relatively stable, happy and contributing adult. I wasn’t able to see the show referred to here but, I know that I would never give up custody unless there was a chance of harm for some reason. But, I have spent 16 years, every minute of every day, actively parenting my child. I have not made ANY decision without consideration to the impact on my child. I have received no support from the father whatsoever, however, I always made sure all her paternal family knew where she was and continued to take her for visits to the ones who showed interest. I also called on my family for help when I needed it. At one point we had to leave the family business, move to a brand new community with no family and start over again. I even returned to school. But….she has always known that I am there for her and she can trust that I will do right by her. If my child and I got in a tiff (only when she was 15 did this happen) she tattled on me to my mother, so she ALWAYS knows many people love and support her through thick and thin. My child is an honour student, volunteers in the community, attends church (somewhat reluctantly these days), swims competitively, does dance extra-curricular and for credit, helps with student council and is a member of the National Honor Society, and has a really nice boyfriend at present, and seems to manage this relationship with great maturity. I know that I am incredibly lucky but I also know that you get what you give. I gave everything I had and my child gives everything she has from morning ’til night. Think what could be accomplished if each parent gave everything they had to every child, what would the world look like then? Kids are better off with adults that actually love and care for them, gender is not the issue. However, people are reluctant to consider being “generous” or helpful to a single parent family with a woman in charge. But…if a man is a single parent, the red carpet is laid out, he is admired for his sacrifice, people invite him over for meals etc. Society has decided that children are at risk in single parent families, even though there were thousands of them during the wars and the kids grew up okay. The problem is not the single parent necessarily, the problem is poverty, discrimination, lack of education, lack of access to necessary resources and lack of community support.
    And finally, yes, society is overly critical of women. Not that men don’t have there concerns as well. In general women are just “expected” to do their motherly thing and if the kids don’t turn out it is her fault, regardless of the walls or discrimination or poverty she faced while doing it.

  34. Lauren says:

    I think this mom, in this particular case, made the right decision for her family. It’s a case by case basis. As a mom, I want the court default to go to the mother. But is she a bad mother for letting her kids go to their father? Well that’s like saying all the fathers who let their Xwives have custody are bad fathers. What she did was take a path of least resistance. She didn’t have the funds or the time to put into full time parenting. Had she picked up a low paying job and devoted herself to her children, her ex would have been paying child support up the ying yang, which would make him resentful. is that good for the kids??
    Sometimes when a woman fights for custody she drains herself financially, and puts her kids in the middle of a battle, and then has a terrible relationship with a man she has to co-parent with. How’s that going to work?
    The running joke in my house is I always tell my spouse, if we get divorced YOU are taking the kids. He says ‘NO WAY’. Hence the reason we are happily married for ten years.

  35. Sara says:

    I wish people would get as outraged about fathers giving up custody as they did about the mother on the show giving up custody. It’s like our society has given up on fathers. “They leave so many times, why should we bother getting angry?” And yes, there is a double standard. It’s true that nobody can replace a mother’s care and love, but nobody can replace a father’s care and love either (not even the mother). The double standard of mothers being the most “important” parent applies to married parents as well. How many times is the father left out of childcare duties because the mother thinks her way is the best way? The children would benefit from BOTH parents’ involvement (unless the parent is in jail, on drugs, abusive, etc.).

  36. Aimee says:

    Lets look at this debate from my angle.

    When does a grandparent get the right to say the kids will live with her because both parents have been neglectful, and emotionally unavailable.

    My two grandsons were left with me over six years ago, so their mother could escape a violent relationship and start a new life for them. It was with the understanding it should be a year, or pretty close.

    The boys went down to California two separate occasions, however, it didn’t work out for whatever reason. So, they lived with me almost their whole lives. When my daughter called and said this year she wanted them for sure I felt like my heart would be ripped from my chest. In fact, all of us felt that way. We couldn’t talk about it because the feeling of loss would become too painfiul.

    They had a life here, they were in the marshal arts, they developed good friendships, had excellent grades, and the youngest was nominated for the talented and gifted program. They had been through so much, but still ahd so many fears. I Loved Them with my whole being…

    But, I had to let my daughter try to be their mom cause I know they needed her despite the past. I could not replace a child’s love for his moms even if I was nana, and had been there for them.

    Should I have fought harder to keep them? Bottom line is I couldn’t afford to hire an attorney.

    Bottom line…just because you carried them for nine months, or contributed the sperm, doesn’t give you the right to take over and control a child because of pride, ego, or past resentments.

    If you truly love them, let them go….

    Had to vent….ty

  37. Nadine says:

    May I put in my 2 cents here? I was a child of divorce, and to make a long story short, my mother decided she didn’t want to be a mom anymore and left us. I was about 2 at the time, my sister was 4. She visited a few times, then cut off contact completely. I found out a few years later that she went on to start another family. My first thought was, if she wanted children, why didn’t she come back for me? This has affected me my whole life, with depression, nightmares, insomnia…. it made me wonder, did I mean that little to my own mother that she didn’t want me anymore? If SHE doesn’t even want me, then who would? Where did I belong? Imagine growing up, wondering what worth I had if my own mother didn’t care about me, wondering if she even thought about me, even once. I am now a wife and mother, and although parenting has presented challenges I don’t think anything or anyone could have truly prepared me for, I cannot even fathom the thought of leaving my children. Ever. Under any circumstances. When we bring a child into this world, we are obligated to see it through, no matter how hard it is, no matter what your life circumstances are. You don’t get to just crap out.

  38. Terrell Benoit says:

    I am a 32 year old father of an 11 month old baby boy and I can’t even imagine my life without him. I think the woman that gave up custody of her children is in many ways selfish. What she probably doesn’t realize now is that children are only children once and if you miss those precious moments in their lives they are gone forever. Children are truly a gift from god and we are so blessed that we get the opportunity to mold and shape them into great human beings. In my 32 years on this earth there’s one thing of great value that I’ve learned and it’s that nothing in life worthwhile doing is easy. When you can look back on your life after you’ve struggled through tough times you realize that getting through the tough times made you a stronger and better person. Most people don’t look past the short term future and into the long term future, I think you have to enjoy your children as much as you can while you have them because one day they will grow up and you’ll grow old and that precious time in over.

  39. shirley ann says:

    Watch out guys, “times they are achanging”.It’s your turn now. The husband can leave, no problem. But, as a father, he has to stay and do what single mothers have had to do since Adam conned Eve. By the same token, wives can leave but mothers cannot. The children need both. Let Dad stay in the house and Mom live on her own, but see ,love, and support her children. Visiting privileges would have to change too, to enable the mother to show her love and support for her precious children.You see, love has nothing to do with this issue. Men are just laying that on us as always. Well, we have decided to give you a break. You don’t have to move out now husband. You stay, I’ll go. See you on the week-end. Kids, I’ll talk to you tonight as usual, and see you tomorrow.

  40. princess says:

    does having a ‘c’ section make you any less maternal.Asking because people say there is a special bond when you give birth naturally.

  41. shirley ann says:

    reply to princess: you are NOT any less maternal. It is when you hold your baby in your arms that seals the bond, not how it got there.

  42. Erika says:

    I have 2 kids. (boys), & I gave custody to my ex, ONLY because I recognized I could not adequately provide the bare neccessities of life for my kids, not even during my 50% of the time I had my son, we had 50/50 joint cust. My now husband & I were losing our home, credit cards not getting paid, I had to quit my job because it affected my pregnancy, long story … & a REALLY BIG MESS … but …I had to do something. I had to ensure food, shelter, clothing, medical, & transportation. for both my kids. My husband joined the Air Force & I gave custody of my older son to his dad. & husband, myself & our son went into Military active duty life. Our first station was “Okinawa, Japan” … . you want to talk about HARD! !! (shaking head), you have NO IDEA!!! I think a parent should ONLY consider giving up custody if they feel they cannot be the parent their child deserves weather it be morally or monitarily or both. but thats IT! ! giving your child up is HARD, & has consequences you have to be willing & ready to face. unfortunately for me. It resulted in my ex’s wife trying to alienate me & my son. to the point that my son was being told I was not his mother & questioned whose belly he came out of. Communication failed miserably on both sides. its has been 5yrs of this nightmare, & the “step monster” has left my ex. now leaving me & him.. .. FINALLY the chance to be “co-parents” … . .we are currently unwravelling the last 5yrs we cannot get back, & its going to be a long road getting there, so much abuse. mental & verbal. Our son is 9 going on 10. I feel for him the most. right now … I could take him to court & have a good case but is it worth it?? I really do value having a amaicble co-parent relationship with the man. but at the same time … the tables have turned. he is where I was 5yrs ago, my son deserves better. & its time .. he NEEDS his mom. I feel its my turn now. I wouldn’t even ask for primary cust. I would ask for 50/50. The change in circumstance is pretty severe & I don’t have much of a backbone. My son does not have a bed at his dad’s because this stepmother took everything in the house .. well almost. he crashes at his sisters, & the kids sleep with him in the same bed. He is now dating a 21yr old he is 29 going on 30 in Nov. this new girl has no kids & young. ex husband has 3 kids by 3 differ women. I am his first ex wife, then he got a girl he dated pregnant after we seperated, then he re-married & has a kid with his wife. & this poor 21yr old I fear has no clue what she is getting into. I have been Happily re-married for 6yrs (7 in Dec). we’ve been together for 8yrs. have come a LONG LONG WAY financially speaking. anyway I am barely scraping the tip of the ice-berg here. I believe this woman’s reasons for giving up her kids was not good enough. she could write, travel & still juggle kids… it can be done. I ONLY support giving up your kid if it is a detriment to their over all well being, for me, it was that. we are now in GA, 5hrs away from my son. Have been here for 1yr & 2mo. We are trying to get stationed closer but it is not a guarantee nor should anyone be living in that mentality. It would be nice for my ex to recognize his son for the time being is better off with me, but he is SOOO stubborn, & I am SOO afraid of his reaction, anytime I have tried testing those waters it has not gone well. due to the past 5yrs of abuse, he has made it impossible to dialogue with him about it. right now … My fear gets the best of me. I DON’T want to go to court. I can’t afford it. at least not until Jan or Feb. when Tax return season comes around. I am basically waiting & seeing if he will pull his head out of his butt, in the mean time I feel bad, I feel like a bad mother, because then I am enabling my son to live in circumstances that are not fair to him. I know my ex is doing his best, but his best is not enough, not when our son deserves better. I don’t know ….. anyway . …….this show really stood out to me. but my circumstances are SOOOO different. On the flipside, if her ex husband is okay with the arrangements & she does get to visit her kids & her & her ex get along .. .. then … I at least do give them props. because I didn’t & don’t even really have that. I only wish I did. Have an ex that was that understading, but he wasn’t. I was TORTURED by his wife & he was no better himself. he has yet to really come to full circle on that, its a working progress. I just don’t want the man to HATE me or think I am vindictive …..its not about that .. its about our son having what he deserves. & I am NOT a bad mother, nor his he a bad father. okay well . .. ….I am done for now there’s my 2 cents. -Erika

  43. Lauren says:

    It seems American society thinks so little of fathers. We find their parenting to be inferior to a mothers. No wonder they give up and put forth little effort in co-parenting. We need to hold these fathers to same standard that we hold a mother to. They are capable. And with support they can parent effectively.

  44. Jen says:

    I have been divorced once… with no children from that marriage. However I do have one child from prior to that marriage. Her father does not know her. She also has a half sister. The mother to my daughters half sister is my best friend. And since My Best Firend and I are once again Best Friends for the girls. The girls are 9 yrs old now. Not to complicate things any more but, I have a great reletionship I have had for 6 yrs and no we do not plan to get married at this point. Why you ask mostly because my signifigant other. Has had a bad expierience with his parents and watched them married until he was 18-19 yrs old then get divorced and it was a horrible divorce. He refuses to have this in his life. He is great with my daughter and my daughter calls him dad as we have lived together since she was 3 yrs old. No I could not imagine ever leaving my daughter with her real father as first she does not even know him. Last time she saw him she was 22 months old. But She is my lil girl, yet I do understand keeping a child in a routine. If you plan to visit, and see them. Unlike my daughters real father. I do believe that you can live happy with out being married as well, and yes you can make a commitment to one another, and to god. With out having to write it down on paper. Marriage is about how you feel and sharing , and being commited to those you love. Creating a family together. Why must you go through the cerimony of it all just to get a divorce and wonder what will happen to your children later. Be Adult ! Care for your children even if your not in the home this is the part of the story I liked the mother may have moved out of the home. But she did do what she was required to do as an abset parent, she did see/visit her children and provide support for them. Even if she could not be there all the time. She is not horrible her and her ex just had to find a way to maintain a lifestyle for there children that best fit them. What is so wrong with that ?

  45. Maureen says:

    I have experienced a regret and ache known only to parents who are forced to leave behind a child for the sake of sanity and the preservation of normalcy in the home. It is a grief that bares not only guilt and shame, but also determination and hope. Our abusive and controlling legal system is set up for profit. If you can’t provide the money, you will lose. You are female. You married with hope and support. You left hopeless, naked, and vulnerable. You supported your partner until your self became lost in the scramble to please, and do, and belong. You sacrificed your education, or your extended family, or your friends. You gave up your dreams and relished motherhood with a passion. You became soccer mom, 4-H leader, sunday school teacher, lunch monitor and doing everything you could to show the world you were normal. Then one day, something happened. Something was said, or something was done that made you realize it was all a lie. And you were done. You gave up and had an affair. And then it was all over. The rural american family became a military regime. You were ostracized by your family, your friends, and your community. Your children were sent to a psychologist who spoke to them each 10 minnutes and made the decision you were an unfit mother. You were cornered in a dark room with five men planning your destruction – “give him custody of the kids, you have no money, you have no job – the psychologist will vouch that you should never see your children again if you take this to court.” Alone you make that decision. You don’t go home for three days. You sleep in your car. You mourn. You’re desperate not to have to go home and tell your own mother you lost your children. You go pay your attorney and thank him for all he did to help you. His last words to you are, “Go and sin no more.” You grieve. Then, you pick yourself up and start walking and mending fence. It’s a long road. The first time you hug your daughter is at her high school graduation – seven years later. The relationship is strained. Her own survival meant loyalty to one. He remains the king and you the servant wanting and searching for each crumb from the table your child will give. And it’s nothing. Your son – adores you and mends your broken heart. What resiliency, determination and hope he maintains. The relationship is good. You do’t cry as often. You realize she is an adult now. You know you have touched more lives and supported more individuals through this experience. You have more to bring to the table. And you do. And you do stand up and stand out and make a difference. Because it was just one mistake that cost you. One poor decision – one bad choice. And the moneymen ran with it. Welcome to Life 101!

  46. Debbie says:

    It bothers me to no end what this woman did. I’m not saying that dad is an inept parent but now these kids have to live with knowing that their mother chose their dead sibling over them. They now know that mom chose to leave them in order to work on writing a book about their sister rather then choosing to live, love, shelter, and enjoy them. As a parent it drives me nuts!!! We’re talking about double standards and we shouldn’t blame her, but if a father walks away from his family we call him a deadbeat, how is this different.

  47. Mom of 5 says:

    I missed this show, but have been reading many of these posts and can’t believe some of the similarities of my own life.

    I was married at 18 and had 3 children. By the time I was 23 our marriage ended in divorce (another statistic). He has limited contact with his children, but they have adjusted fairly well and the 4 of us have are pretty close.

    I remarried at 26 to a man 10 years older who had no children. In the beginning I thought I had hit the lottery. He treated my children pretty well. Over the next few years we had 2 children of our own. This is when the dividing lines started. He decided there were basically “my” children and “his” children. For some reason he couldn’t understand that they were ALL “my” children and i love them all the same.

    5 years ago he became addicted to prescription drugs. I have tried a formal intervention, emotional support, begging, pleading, and threats of leaving. He became very controlling financially and emotionally with not only me, but also my oldest 3 children. About 3 years ago, i had enough and threatened to leave. He decided that he would plant prescription drugs in my car and make an annonymous tip to the police that I was attempting to see drugs to children. I was pulled over and by the grace of God the officer saw right thru the false accusations and let me go. He finally admitted that it was him that had made these accusations and it was because he was afraid I was going to take his kids from him. Around this time, I wrote to Dr. Phil. We were actually contacted by the show and invited to come on…my husband refused! He did however, agree to go to counseling.

    For the 3rd time counseling failed. For the last 2 years, I have been living day to day and immersing myself in my kids. His drug addiction has only gotten worse. This last July (09) I finally left. My oldest children are now relaxed and happy to spend time at home. My youngest 2 that I share with my ex are struggling.

    As recently as 1 week after I moved out there was a sibling argument with 1 of our shared children and 1 of my children from a previous marriage. My youngest went home and told his father and he has now convinced him he is scared of her and he filed charges against my older child as well as a restraining order between the children. He is completely destroying my family. He is now making false allegation against one of my older children in an effort to gain custody.

    When I pick up my youngest children from his home they have rarely showered. He leaves them home alone frequently…they are 9 and 11. I am so worried for their safety as he is frequently under the influence of prescription drugs and drives with my children in the car. I am trying to everything I can to keep them safe, but without definitive proof, it appears I am only retaliating.

    We have just started the children into counseling but I am scared to death in dealing with someone who is so psychotic. I am also desperately afraid that he will get custody based on his false allegation of my oldest daughter….and oh yeah…since I asked for primary custody of the kids in my divorce filing based on his drug problems, his response was that he should have primary custody because I have an “alcohol addicition”???? Again, more false allegations. I don’t know how to handle not having my kids. I have been the primary caregiving all during our marriage and can’t think of not having them involved in my daily life. I am praying that God will reveal the truth, however His timing is not always mine :)

    Thanks for letting me vent and if anyone has a comment I would love to hear it.

  48. AmyLou00 says:

    There is most definitley a double standard when it comes to custody issues. Be it true or not, our society assumes that women have a manternal instinct that elevates above their spouse when caring for children. With that thought, unless there is definite evidence that a mother is not qualifed to take care of the child, custody will go to her and no one bats an eyelash.

    What bothers me about this story is that time and time again, the woman said she was still invovled in her children’s lives. She did not pick up, move to the other side of the world and forget she ever had children. That is abondonment. This woman stayed invovled WHILE pursuing her life’s goals.

    I would have been interested to hear from the father in this situation. Are people assuming that since he’s not the mother he was any less loving or nurturing to his children? This arrangement was agreed to by both parents, so what’s his take on the reaction people have had?

  49. Helen Dick says:

    While watching Maria H., I sensed that she was holding back. Now having read BOTH of her books, I realize I was recognizing the signs of a woman who had been married to a “control freak.” E.g., his shirts had to be ironed the day they were washed and he was to have “sex on demand.” After the divorce she was not not permitted to enter the house and any mail from her was to a P.O. box. Near the end of her 2nd book, she disclosed that he hadn’t spoken to her (even by phone) for 4 years. One of her daughters said her father wouldn’t let her know where her next baseball game would be because he didn’t want her mother there. She, wanting her mother there, phoned a teammate to ask. Maria should be commended for having refused to criticize her childrens’ father on TV.

  50. Linda Rose says:

    I think there is a double standard when it comes to who is best to be a primary care giver. My mother left right after I was born. She also had a three year old and six year old. She wanted to pursue a singing career.

    In her case she called social service to have us taken from our father.Thankfully my Dad had sisters and a mother who intervened to help. Otherwise my sisters and I would have ended up in foster care. My dad was wonderful and did all he could for us. I never knew my mother so don’t hate her but had the situation been reversed I am sure social service wouldn’t have tried to take us from her being the mother.

    Many Dad’s have rose to the occasion when left with children to raise alone.They should be applauded. Moms who leave would have been poor parents most likely anyway as they would have resented their children.

    There is also a difference between what my mother did walking out of our lives and what the divorced mother did. In all divorces involving children someone has to be the primary care giver. It should be who ever is best suited to do so. No one questions when fathers move out, pay support and have visitation with their children.
    In a perfect world parents would stay together in a committed marriage and raise childen together. But our world is far from perfect. I can’t help but wonder how many women wished they could have been the visiting parent?

    Personally I could never have left my children but then everyone is different. We shouldn’t be judging those women who do leave but still try to be part of their children’s live any more than we should condemn fathers who move out and pay child support.Their children will have a hard enough time with out others passing judgment on their divorced parents.

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