The Teen Doctor

Answers to your questions about adolescents

I'm Leaving My Family

How to handle the reaction of others when you're leaving your kids Read More

Double Standard

My soon-to-be former husband could have written this letter. He feels exactly the same way this mother does. Having kids was HIS idea but now he's not so cut out for it--rather live alone. Our daughters are 12 and 14. Interesting thing is he won't get any backlash and doesn't think he is leaving our kids because he also wants weekend visitation plus one additional night. Hmmm.....

Yep. Unfortunately that

Yep. Unfortunately that double standard is alive and well. Yikes!

Baloney

I have a co-worker who is leaving his two daughters and he is taking lots of flak. I am not sure what double standard you are talking about.

Steve, You don't think that

Steve,
You don't think that women get more flak?

Are you freaking kiding?

There is absolutely no chance that a male who wrote to you saying, "I'm leaving my family because I hate being a father, and I don't understand why so many people are criticizing me for it" would get the kind of encouragement and moral support you're offering to this woman who's abandoning her daughters.

The most ridiculous advice you give, of course, is for this woman NOT to tell her daughters how much she hates motherhood, on the grounds that this may be "hurtful."

Gee, ya THINK???

But the truth is, there's no point in her keeping her mouth shut, because NOBODY is that good an actress, and I'd wager her daughters already KNOW she hates them.

You Are Correct

We are in agreement. Those kids didn't ask her to be their mom but the mom did ask for them to be her kids. Sad!

Bah, I don't think because

Bah, I don't think because she dislikes being a mother that she hates her children. There are a lot of times that I dislike being a mother and feel as if I'm not suited for the role of motherhood, but I love my boys very much. I disliked being a wife to my ex husband as well, yet I still loved him. We don't always choose our ability to like the roles we are given, just as we don't always choose those that we do or do not love. Please don't equate her dislike of her role with her love of her children.

She doesn't hate her children.

It doesn't matter

I agree you can not chose how you feel. However, you are making the same mistake by saying don't equate hating motherhood with hating your children. If the person "feels" it is the same then for that person it is the same. He is not choosing how he feels he just feels it. Love is a feeling.

Also, you seem to be equating the wife-husband relationship with mother-child relationship. A child is a minor and can not take care for themselves. Somebody has to take care of them. The only reason she can leave is she has a husband who can fill the void to some degree but not completely. She "chose" this role, it was not given to her.

What if two parents decided they did not want to be parents anymore and place their kids in foster care. Would you say these people love their kids. What about the mother who adopted the Russian child and put the child on a plane back to Russia.

Are you freaking kiding?

There is absolutely no chance that a male who wrote to you saying, "I'm leaving my family because I hate being a father, and I don't understand why so many people are criticizing me for it" would get the kind of encouragement and moral support you're offering to this woman who's abandoning her daughters.

The most ridiculous advice you give, of course, is for this woman NOT to tell her daughters how much she hates motherhood, on the grounds that this may be "hurtful."

Gee, ya THINK???

But the truth is, there's no point in her keeping her mouth shut, because NOBODY is that good an actress, and I'd wager her daughters already KNOW she hates them.

The writer did not say she

The writer did not say she hated her children. She hates motherhood. Those are different.
The other truth is a man who says he hates fatherhood does not face almost universal horror and condemnation because fathers, unlike mothers, are given more room to be human. The idea of Motherhood is burdened with all sorts of unreasonable and unattainable superhuman sacrificial expectations.

I have to say that I agree

I have to say that I agree with you.

Explain

Explain the difference to a child that you hate being a parent vs you hate them.

Concerning the idea of motherhoods burden who forcing these unreasonable and unattainable superhuman sacrificial expectations. 52% of the population are women. Show some evidence like a survey to prove your point. Also, she stated she was the one who wanted children.

Anyone who has been an active parent knows it is tough. I have a special needs child and it is even tougher. Way tougher.

Who gets more flak

The orginal statement from the original post was that a man could leave his family without "any flak" just because he didn't want a family anymore. That is simply not true. Now asking me if men would get more flak than a women is a completely different question. My guess would be the man might receive less flak, however, that would be mere speculation on my part and difficult to really say. I looked for data to show one way or another but could not find it. I have a co-worker leaving his wife and two kids and he has lost a lot friends because of it so my experience would tell me that men leaving their family does receive flak.

My experience is that when people leave their spouse they usually don't say "I leaving because I don't want to have a family" they usually try to find a way to place the blame on the person they are leaving.

Good point.

Good point.

Good point.

Good point.

I think it is quite brave

I think it is quite brave when a woman realizes her (ex) spouse is the better choice for primary custody and also lets it happen. I think the letter writer is brave and.commendable for doing what is best for the children in her situation and by not bowing to the pressure, criticism etc she will face. I am a lawyer who has helped people through divorce who I wish had this much insight and courage.

Thank you so much for your

Thank you so much for your positive perspective!

Don't waste time worry what other people think

I'd like to welcome this mom to here new life. She can be free to meet new people, pursue new hobbies and read a book in the quiet comfort of her peaceful new home.

This mother's kids will be parented by a responsible loving father, and she can still be involved in her children's life, just on a more limited basis. I know many women that choose not to live with their kids and their kids are still parented in a loving nurturing environment.

As soon as this lady moves into her new home, she can create a social circle that doesn't submit to the common disdain for parents who choose a different path.

I'm sure that she will be

I'm sure that she will be grateful for your support!

Interesting

Now he is going from a 50-50 deal to a 80-20 deal. What if he doesn't like it once he has full custody raising kids on his own? He doesn't have the same option. He is stuck with his choice. Can he send them back to you, an orphange or plane back to Russia.

According to Pew Research the most unhappy group of people are single parents with minor children when taking into account marital status and children. Even though you may become happier it may be at the expense of your former spouse.

http://pewresearch.org/files/old-assets/social/pdf/AreWeHappyYet.pdf

I had a friend whose mom left for the same reason. His dad raised him and his brother. Then when he was an adult after being a part time mom she tried to become part of his life again. He told here "Now you want to be my mom".

I am amazed at the comments. It's "brave". "Don't worry what other people think."

The person who is brave is the spouse left with raising the children sacrificing their self interest for the sake of the children not the parent who is basically doing what is in their own self interest.

The percentage of children being raised by grand parents is increasing every year. I guess that is where kids go when neither parent wants to raise their kids. I know some of these grand parents. Most don't want this but are sacrificing for the sake of the kids. I know people who have foster kids in which neither parent wants to raise them. These people don't care about what people think.

Things are rarely 50-50.

Things are rarely 50-50. Often 80-20 with the woman taking the 80 for the most part. If this were a man doing it, this discussion would not even be held. Men leave their families all the time and people do not blink. But when a woman is honest and tries to do the right thing for the children - people freak out on her.

The facts are not on your side

Unfortunately studies don't really agree with your statement. And the gap widens as countries get poorer. While in the United States, which has a per capita GNP of roughly $33,000, there is no difference between the amount of male and female work,

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_dismal_science/2007/04/couch_...

Also, I could not find any survey data indicating that it is OK for a man to leave his wife because he doesn't want to be a father vs women being a mother. Gallup shows that at least 70% of the people think it is socially acceptable to divorce while 20% think it is unacceptable.

The effect of parents that don't want to be parents

I was raised by a mother who didn't want to be a mother. Daily my mother told everybody in the family how she much rather wanted to be an unmarried doctor, but she "sacrificed" to get married and have children. She called everyone in the family horrible names, and controlled our every movement. The woman was angry, bitter and the last career choice she should have ever made was "mother".

Being raised by a parent who doesn't want to be a parent is devastating and harmful. The writer is doing the right thing.

I am so sorry that you had

I am so sorry that you had that experience but thank you for sharing it.

Agree

You bring a good perspective to the situation. I think it also brings up an interesting problem of the rise of single mothers. More mothers are choosing to be single mothers with no option of leaving once they figure out they don't like being a mother. What would you advise a single mother who no longer wants to be a mother to do?

I actually know kids in foster care who neither parent wants to raise them. Even though they have relatives who could take care of them none of them want them either.

Wow. You bring up a very

Wow. You bring up a very relevant and timely question. My thought is that I'd have to assess each situation like this individually.What are your thoughts, Steve?

I agree

Here is the first thing I noticed about the person. She wanted a husband and now she doesn't. She wanted children and now she doesn't. She now wants to leave her family. What will she want in a few more years? I would have to look into more of her life to see if this is a pattern of some sort.

I would not advise her on anything other than to say you have the right to act in your own self interest, however, the people who are criticizing you also have the right to act in their own self interest and may actually pull away from you emotionally. This includes your friends and family. Are you going to be happy if this occurs? I believe her unhappiness really doesn't have anything to do with her kids or her family.

Just based on what this person has said so far I would fear this new found freedom is not going to be as great as she thinks.

I think the advise on keeping in touch with her children is 100% correct. She would regret this most of all down the road.

Just based on what I have read this sounds like a person who is not going to be happy either way so maybe it is best for her to leave. If noting else leaving will reveal to her that having a family is not the problem.

Making wild assumptions

Steve M infers a whole lot by reading one little letter. I hope he's not a psychiatrist.

Funny

I am the person who states based on what I have read and there may need to be further investigation.

Would you want a psychiatrist or psychologist who makes a diagnosis based on one letter or one that says this letter is not enough information?

a concern

"Would my girls be better off if they didn't see me except for the holidays?"

This is the statement that concerns me. Until this point in the woman's letter, it sounded as though she was making a thought-out decision. But the words above sound like the words of a very depressed person.

They seem close to, "My family would be better off if I didn't exist."

Couples get divorced; children live with just their father or just their mother. I'm not criticizing the woman for wanting to get divorced or for thinking her children would be better off in their father's custody. I'm just concerned that she is expressing a deeper level of distress than simply not enjoying being a parent.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may quote other posts using [quote] tags.

More information about formatting options

Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of adolescents and their well-intentioned but exhausted parents.

more...

Subscribe to The Teen Doctor

Current Issue

Love & Lust

Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?