Along my journey gathering community around long distance parenting, I’ve read and seen a lot of things regarding divorce, child custody, non-custodial parents, deadbeat parents and parental alienation syndrome. One thing that sticks out to me is how gender biased the stories typically are.
Rather than being centered around parents in general, it’s about fathers or mothers or men or women. Take for example this post by Richard Gardener. He all but blames the advent of parental alienation syndrome upon mothers even going so far as to say :
We see here how those who deny the existence of PAS are adding formidably to the grief of women. Women’s past denial and discrediting of PAS has now come back to haunt them. Women are now being injured by their own weapons, or, as the old saying goes, they are being hoist by their own pitards.
That is one of the most ridiculous, one sided, prejudiced things I’ve ever read. Granted, mothers were often awarded physical custody based primarily upon the fact that they were women not so long ago – but had the tables been turned, I have no doubt that men would have perpetrated parental alienation syndrome before women. Parental Alienation Syndrome is not a product of mothers or women or men or fathers, it’s a product of spiteful, irresponsible parents with a grudge who feel they should have some sort of power over their children’s relationship with their other parent.
And further, although admittedly the child custody arena has traditionally been swayed in the mother’s favor (which is not ok or right by any means), it is not grounds to moan and groan about how being a non-custodial father is SO much harder than being a non-custodial mother. There is stigma associated with either side of the ‘moms are the natural parent’ prejudice. Non custodial dads are automatically perceived as deadbeats. Non-custodial moms are automatically seen as some abhorrent freak of society.
I have often heard the argument that being a long distance father is more difficult than being a long distance mother, or v/v. However, I adamantly disagree. The level of difficulty is in the eye of the beholder. Our struggles may be DIFFERENT but they are not more or less difficult just because one of us is male and the other female.
There is a wonderful set of emails on this site in which non-custodial mothers pour their hearts out about what the experience is like. The entire page and the idea of gender perspective though is neatly summed up in one quote :
Our pain is complementary, but different, as is our love for our children as fathers and mothers.
We each have out battles. Our common ground is that we are fighting for the same thing – to have a relationship with our kids. if there weren’t so much of the gender bias among those who are fighting for those rights and relationships, we’d make a much stronger argument on the side of the children.
Not every woman is your ex and not every man is your ex so lets stop painting their collective faces over our anger and frustration at him or her and let’s start building some bridges.