Because I’ve spent many years covering entertainment media, I read a lot of celebrity gossip.
Let me rephrase: I read comments on celebrity gossip.
I prefer the comments because I think it’s funny that people waste their days calling celebs names. I comment, but even my constructive comments get maligned with replies with poor grammar & calling celebs whores. Such fun. I love the Internet. I once talked about how parents wonder where their children learn bullying from. They learn it from you BULLYING STRANGERS ON THE INTERNET.
But the Kelly Rutherford/Daniel Giersch custody case has been interesting, as it covers a world of issues, from parental alienation, international coparenting & what is truly in the best interest of the children (you can read the decision here). As someone who is now attempting to cross country coparent, I was very interested in seeing how this plays out.
The decision references that while both are good parents, Ms. Rutherford’s attempts to marginalize her ex husband’s role as dad prompted the judge to choose to give him primary custody of the couple’s two children, as the minimum time he proposed for mom to see the kids was more than the maximum time he would have seen the kids with her plan. As Ms. Rutherford demands her American children be returned to America (the kids hold dual citizenship with the EU), one of the comments I see most is;
“Children belong with their mother, only their mother. What a horrible dad for taking those kids from their mother.”
One of my favourite blogs is Daddy Doin’ Work. Doyin Richards is committed to promoting the role of dad & encourages women to also allow dad to embrace their parental role. Kids need two parents that are active & emotionally present. You only need to step up when one parent doesn’t step in. And we need to stop with the antiquated idea that dads don’t matter.
One of my best friends is a single dad with full custody of his son. I won’t violate his privacy with details, but he stepped up in a situation where a lot of men wouldn’t & he rose to the occasion & is raising a fine young gentleman. Another one of my friends from public school is fighting tooth & nail every day to be a hands on and present father for his children. Yes, there are deadbeat dads & yes, they suck. But if you are a mom lucky enough to have a partner or former partner who wants to be an active father, don’t be like Ms. Rutherford. Don’t shut dad out.
Dads are damned if they do & damned if they don’t. Look at Stephen Curry, who brought his daughter Riley to all of his playoff games, & press conferences, etc. Women pissed all over him for not “leaving his brat at home with mom” instead if commending him for wanting to share his big moments with his family. But if he left his wife & owed back child support, we’d string him up for being a deadbeat.
I know some of you are thinking “But MHC, you just moved across the country. Didn’t you shut dad out?” I once let myself think that way, but then I realized the difference. Mr. Giersch wants to parent. My former partner blows off Skype dates, and spent less than 10 days with them during his month with them, often leaving them with their grandmother for days. I would call & ask how Daddy was & if they were having fun with him & they answered “he’s at home”. He doesn’t call often. I can give all the access in the world & even offered to help him if he wanted to move closer to give him more access if need be, but he didn’t exercise his access when they were nearby. However, I will always try to encourage him to be a father, to the point where I practically force him, telling him he can’t send our teen daughter home after a few days because she’s annoying him, or demanding he call. If he wanted to parent, he’s got the opportunity. Maybe this idea that dads don’t matter bugs me because while I would kill for my kids to have a dad that’s invested in his children, other dads are being denied the opportunity to coparent.
The other question I read from the “moms are the only option” supporters are “what would you do if you were Kelly?” If I were Ms. Rutherford, or the NCP, I would do the only option; I would move to where they are. Part of being a parent means making the tough choices. This was not an easy choice, but making more money & having full time hours while being able to supplement my income doing what I love made so much more sense than working two jobs & never seeing my kids to put a roof over our head. Sometimes you’ve gotta look at the big picture & do what’s right, not what’s best for you. If I was the NCP, I would have packed my bags the minute the CP said this was the plan. I would have been in the same city with them, so I could attend parent teacher meetings, doctor’s appointments, and birthday parties.
We could all take a lesson in “what’s best for kids” from another celebrity; Britney Spears. 2007 & 2008 weren’t kind to Ms. Spears. But she got it together. We should all commend her for pulling her life together & conquering her mental illness & personal struggles to be the successful woman she’s become. But when she had it together, her sons Sean & Jayden were happily well adjusted in their father Kevin Federline’s Tarzana home. So, she didn’t try to get custody. She put her sons’ needs over her own. And Federline & Spears coparent well. She’s been spotted playing with Federline’s daughters with new wife Victoria Prince while cheering on her sons at soccer. They throw joint birthday parties. Her sons spend all their school vacation time with their mom, and Sean & Jayden win.
Dads matter. If dad doesn’t want to be there, stop forcing him to try to be there, a lesson I’m learning. Trying to make a man parent only hurts the kids. But shutting out a man who wants to parent (or ridiculing a man for wanting to be a parent) hurts them too. So, even if he wasn’t an active dad, but wants to turn that around, let him try to be a dad. If he’s been a good dad all along, let him be a good dad. But what’s best for the kids isn’t just mom. It could be living with mom, or living with dad, or living with grandma. What’s best for kids is the life that is actually best for the kids.