One year ago today, I deleted a blog called Athena and started The Smirking Cat. One of the last posts on Athena was titled “Best Interests”, and it kicked off a childish drama of bitter comments, insults, and accusations (and a possible world record for the most repetitive use of the word “bimbo”). I started a new blog because of the trolling that ensued. In re-reading this post, however, I realize I still stand by each and every word, so for my one-year Smirking Cat anniversary, here is a repost of those words:
I’m 100% feminist, which anyone who knows me doesn’t need to be reminded of, and it brings me to some interesting thoughts and concerns as I watch the custody battles of several male friends play out. “Battle” is the operative word, because the “best interests of the children” myth was squashed like a bug from the beginning. The kids are left broken and bleeding somewhere on the far edges of the background, a distant and dim afterthought coated with dust from neglect.
Here’s my take. I absolutely believe fathers should take a fair share of child care and responsibility in raising the children, changing diapers, keeping the house clean, etc. Where I diverge violently from other opinions is that this equal share of responsibility should remain intact no matter the relationship between the mother and father. The children’s relationships with their father are separate and apart from the relationship between the mother and the father. If Mom or Dad wants to sever the marriage or relationship between the parents, that is fine; however, neither Mom nor Dad owns the children’s relationship with the other parent, and interfering with that relationship is the epitome of poor parenting, selfishness, and immaturity.
A father should not become nothing more than a child support check just because the relationship between the parents fell apart, exploded, dissolved, whatever. This is where I get disgusted and horrified at the behavior and decisions of some other women. The attitude they strike seems to be “Damn the kids! Damn what they want or need! What matters most here is having my ego vilified, my need for spite fulfilled, and to score points against my ex no matter the cost, even if it’s the kids’ feelings or well-being I’m shitting all over!”
Ladies, grow up and be women. If you can’t do that, you should never have had children in the first place. Setting aside your ego and vindictiveness to support your own children shouldn’t be a colossal, impossible effort. I don’t grasp what is so hard to understand about the kids wanting to be with their father, simply because he’s their father. It’s as simple as that. I don’t care if he cheated, left socks on the floor, or just doesn’t light your fire anymore. It’s irrelevant. All the kids know is they want to see their father. They don’t care either why you don’t like their father anymore. And all they will remember in the not-too-distant future is how you were the one who kept them from seeing him.
The self-satisfied smirk that crosses a woman’s face when she knows she has hurt her ex by keeping the kids away from him, should melt right off when she sees her kids’ faces, or hears them cry, or listens to them ask for their dad. If it doesn’t….well, that speaks volumes about her character, morality, decency, and true feelings for her own children, doesn’t it?
There are a lot of jerks who don’t deserve time with their kids because they don’t care. I’ve known plenty of them too, guys who get baby-sitters on the weekends they have their kids so they can go out drinking and partying. Those guys are in a sub-class by themselves. I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about men who have stepped up and been real fathers, changed diapers, cooked, cleaned, played, helped with homework and baths. Women can’t expect equal division of housework and child care, then use parenting time as a weapon after the relationship with the father has ended. One can’t go without the other. A parent during the marriage is still a parent after it. And on the flip side, men can’t expect to be more than a child support check if they were nothing but a paycheck while they lived with the mother and kids.
The men I personally know who are going through this nonsense right now put their hearts into being a father, and it’s shameful to watch the mothers behave like hateful, selfish rodents, refusing to let them see the kids, to be a part of their lives, to share in what they helped create. I truly don’t believe I’ve ever seen anything so repugnant or vile. It’s not about her, not even about the father; it’s supposed to be about the kids.
I got curious and researched father’s rights advocates vs. feminists. Interesting how they behave like opponents instead of partners. Don’t they ultimately want the same thing: equal parenting?
Study after study confirms that children are better off with an active father in their lives. So does common sense. A mother who will shove that aside in order to placate her own ego does not deserve to be called a mother at all.