October 11, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

As with so many articles that seek to find every situation in society to be unfair to women, this one is all-too short on details (ABC, 10/8/17). It’s so short in fact that we can’t tell who did what or what the results were. All we know in the end is that we’re supposed to feel sorry for Kate and Kristal.

That’s because they upped and left their kids in favor of job opportunities and someone has criticized them for doing so. Or maybe they didn’t. It’s hard to tell.

It was a Sunday morning when Kate cooked blueberry pancakes for her three children and told them she was leaving.

She told them they would be staying in the family home with their father and she would move several hours away to Sydney…

Kate said she decided to leave because she believed it was best decision for everyone, especially her two sons and her daughter.

"I am very very proud of my decision, because I believe it's the best possible outcome given the scenario we were faced with."

And what was that “scenario” facing the family? Amazingly, the article doesn’t exactly say. One would think that Kate’s reason/excuse for leaving her kids with their dad has a lot to do with whether we approve or disapprove of her decision. After all, it’s the lynchpin of the article’s thesis. If we find her reason compelling, we won’t judge her. If we don’t, we will, and rightly so.

Now, it seems that the family had fallen on hard times economically, so it’s possible that Kate’s job in Sydney was the best way to support them. Of course, if that’s Kate’s argument for leaving, the article should have made that clear. But the truth is that a family of five can survive well enough if both parents work, even at less than ideal jobs. Needless to say, the article makes no mention of the specifics of Kate’s ex-husband’s earnings, her earnings or what it cost them to live. And that leads me to believe that those specifics never mandated Kate’s decision to leave.

Prior to divorce, Kate had been a stay-at-home mother.

When asked what she loved most about being a mother, she is quick to answer.

"I love it all. I love the whole kit and caboodle. I love the struggles. I love the love. I love the scent of my children. I love watching them grow. I love everything about them."

But then the man who’d made that all possible lost his job and, “She had to go back to work, and the marriage broke down.” Yes, that happens a lot. Indeed, some data indicate that losing his job is the single greatest predictor of divorce for a man.

That brings us to the real point of the article.

After Kate made her decision she soon found out how harshly women are judged when they choose not to be the regular carer of their children.

"The reactions were vicious, venomous... and an absolute assassination of my character," she said.

And who judged her harshly? Assassinated her character? On that topic, the article is mute. But we do get one telling remark.

"I've been told I'm ruining my children's lives. Women have said: 'I'm not like you, I couldn't do that, my children come first no matter what'. That I have chosen my partner over my children," she said.

Ah, comes the dawn! First, it’s women who are judging her, but more important is their reason why. Kate didn’t need to move to Sydney to earn enough money to support the family, she did it to be with her new partner. Indeed, she essentially admits the fact.

"I did what I believed was best for my children, and it was also about having needs of my own. I don't need to martyr myself to define my motherhood and my person.

So Kate, in what way was it “best” for your children for you to leave them and move 4 ½ hours away? Kate doesn’t tell us, but what she does say strongly suggests that she considers it “best” because she wouldn’t have been happy without the new Mr. (Ms?) Right and, well, if Mom’s not happy, how can the kids be?

Over the years, she's been told she's selfish.

She’s been told that because that’s exactly what she is. Invariably, this type of article ignores what’s supposed to be most important to parents – the kids. This one’s no exception. How is it “best” for the kids that the mother who was with them 24 hours a day during their early lives all of a sudden leaves them for a new “partner?” Kate never says and the article doesn’t let on. That of course is because it wasn’t best for the children. We hear not a single word from Kate’s kids or her ex about how her move affected them. I think I know why.

Meanwhile, according to her, fathers are on easy street.

Both women agree that society is quick to criticise women who don't meet our expectations of motherhood, who seemingly break the motherhood contract.

Yet when a father sees his children once a month or every second weekend, he won't face anywhere near the same degree of criticism.

Where to begin? Society should criticize women who “break the motherhood contract.” It should also criticize fathers for not stepping up to the plate as parents. That’s because kids need their parents and it’s not in anyone’s interest, particularly the children’s, for either Mom or Dad to simply punt that all-important obligation.

But the idea that fathers don’t come in for criticism for not being good dads is absurd. Read any newspaper any day and you’ll see the words “deadbeat dad.” They’ll be applied alike to men who truly do walk away from their kids with no good reason and men who desperately want to be an every-day, hands-on father. They’re applied to fathers who lose their job and can’t make their payments to their ex. They’re applied to men who fathered a child without knowing about it because Mom decided not to tell them. The term is so common that many people who comment on articles about fathers simply assume that dads don’t care about their kids and every fatherless child is a child with a, you guessed it, “deadbeat dad.”

And what about that dad who “sees his children once a month or every second weekend?” Guess what. Unlike Kate’s leaving her kids, that wasn’t Dad’s decision, but some judge’s who was doing the bidding of his ex. See the difference, Kate? Yours was voluntary, his is not.

But of course none of these basic facts matter to Kate or Kristal or the author of the piece. The sole purpose of the article is to drum up yet more sympathy for whatever choices women make, irrespective of how destructive and selfish. In other words, it’s nothing new.

 

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