Friday, August 17, 2012

You Don't Leave Your Kids - Even If You Are Male

Today, I read an advice column that I usually enjoy, finding the advice writer to generally include a lot of depth and wisdom in his responses to letter-writers.  But not today.  Today, I was appalled by asked-for advice and that given.

A father had written in, saying that he was feeling guilty that he was planning to move away from the area where his sixteen-year-old daughter lived with her mother and stepfather.  He wanted to marry his true love in another part of the country where he would also have better job opportunities.  He was concerned that she might feel abandoned, the way he had felt as a child in similar circumstances.  Would she be okay?  It was pretty obvious that the guy was leaving regardless and just wanted someone to assuage his guilt.

Which the columnist proceeded to do.  He assured the man that he should go for his dreams and stay in close touch and the girl would understand and be okay.


Someone posted a comment on the column to the effect that moving far away from your kid really wasn't okay, and had serious emotional consequences and then many, many, many other commenters slammed that commenter with how it was just perfectly fine and geez, the kid was already sixteen and why should he give up his future for to stay with her when she would be moving out in a couple of years anyway.


I could not help thinking about what the columnist and the commenters would have had to say if the letter-writer had been the child's mother.  Would they have thought it was okay if a woman had considered moving away from the part of the country where her sixteen-year-old lived in order to marry her boyfriend and pursue her career?

Of course not.

Such a woman would be slammed from one side of the interwebs to well she should be.  But so should be fathers who leave their children.  It is not acceptable for any parent of a minor child to move away from them - even if that parent is male.   Mothers are not more responsible for being there - it's a team effort.  I am generally 100% against bashing other parents - parenting is an impossible job and almost everyone who sticks it out is doing the best they know how to do and does not deserve criticism from anyone else - but you have to be there to count.

Try to get the whole you-have-to-stay-and-take-care-of-them-until-they-are-fully-grown thing through your head before you have kids, please.  Geez.


Lee Roberts said...

What the columnist might have picked up is that a parent who would do this may, on balance, be a better influence from afar.

I agree that children would rather have their parents miserable in the next room than happy miles away. What children do not know is that a resentful, angry, disappointed parent can take his or her unhappiness out on children in psychologically damaging ways. Some of us parents are simply not equipped to do otherwise. Accepting this could be seen as healthy for the man in question. For these families, a distant parent might be just the right thing.

Lone Star Ma said...

I think that's a cop-out. Certainly it is what some people do, but an adult can choose what they do - they don't have to take their disappointment out on their children. When you are a parent, it is your job to put your children first until they are grown. This may take different forms at different times and for different situations, but it should not involve leaving them behind. It is necessary for their development that they be the ones to leave you behind eventually. They rarely can do that well or in its proper time if you leave them first.