Dads give up custody every day and nobody raises an eyebrow. Moms are increasingly giving up custody for the benefit of their children and yet the noncustodial mom remains the bad mother, the uncaring mother, the selfish woman putting herself above her offspring.
Why do we have this double standard? I suppose because it breaks our idea of the perfect upbringing and the myth that a child is always better off with his/her mom. It’s not always so but people are too afraid to face it. Noncustodial moms often avoid even bringing up their children in conversations so they don’t have to go into long explanations, defending their choices and reassuring people that yes, the child is fine.
Being a noncustodial parent myself, I often get the same questions if I do bring up my child:
Is he okay? (Assuming he must be miserable and I am the cause of it)
Don’t you miss him? (Duh! This is one of the more stupid questions, of course I miss him like any mom would)
Aren’t you worried your ex will not let you see him? (Assuming my ex realises that I am a bad mother and a horrible human being)
And there are many more questions with the underlying assumption that a mother who leaves – even if she claims to be putting her child’s needs first – must be a bad mother.
I don’t like the word “leave” either. I always say I never left my child, I left my husband. I am still my son’s mother, we still see each other, we still talk a lot, we have a very close and loving relationship and I make a big deal out of staying in touch. He feels loved, I am sure of it. And his dad provides the environment he needs to prosper and feel secure. Also his dad and I have a good relationship and are able to talk about things. A lesson we have had to learn.
I am the mother of a happy, outgoing kid. I am a noncustodial mother. Whatever issues come up between my son and I when he grows older, we will deal with together. I just wish it was easier to carry this role in today’s society. Sure, we’re a minority and we’re most often frowned upon but as custody is more and more frequently given to fathers, people will have to face the fact that children can prosper and do well with any parent, mom or dad, if they are treated lovingly and don’t feel abandoned. It’s the parent’s job to make sure the children feel loved and valued.
And if you have a child in this particular situation, maybe try to turn things upside down in your head. It’s true, it is a difficult thing to go through as it is when a father loses custody – but if your child is happy and outgoing, leave your worries behind for the moment and you might just be getting a kid with a very open mind and the knowledge that there are many different kinds of families, that people can part and still remain friends and isn’t that the kind of people we want more of? The openminded ones?