Recently the Today Show did a story on mothers who give up custody of their children after divorce (see link above). A complicated issue. The mothers featured in the story had wanted different lives than they had with their husbands and felt that their husbands could be better parents to their children than they could. They felt significant hostility and judgment from their communities after choosing to give custody to their fathers. Years after making their decisions theys till stand by the choice they made. The mothers assert that they have great relationshps with their kids, and feel they did the right thing.
My thoughts: This story seems to focus on the fact that these parents are mothers. How can mothers give away the right to raise their children? Can’t we ask the same question of fathers? Why is it so controversal for a mother to do this when fathers have been doing it for years? I know that it is generally understood that moms have a special bond with their children, but don’t dads as well? I see no reason why it should be a bigger deal for a mother to say “you take the kids, I’m moving across the country” than the fathers.
Rather, I see the issue as a parenting issue, not a gender one. Whether you are a mother or a father, what kind of parent do you want to be and how involved in your children’s lives do you want to be? We all know that divorce is difficult on children, and we can’t make sweeping assumptions about people who move away from their children and choose not to be a part of their lives except on holidays. However, I do see that as the bigger issue here. When a parent makes the decision to move away from his or her children and take a minimal part in their upbringing, it’s not the parent’s gender that matters so much as the reasoning behind the decision they’re making.