It may well be just a case of careless wording. I hope it is. But Dear Abby’s June 12 column implies that if a mother isn’t taking care of her children properly, putting them in foster care is a more viable option than placement with their father. From Mom’s careless spending may cost children their home:
My sister has five children, all younger than 18. She has full custody and receives child support every month from her ex-husband. The problem is, she has been spending that money on her boyfriends instead of her children. Because of it, they have been homeless twice, and it may happen again. The only person in that household with a steady job is the oldest, but he can’t support all of them by himself. How can I make my sister see how irresponsible and immature she is? – Alarmed Auntie in D.C. Dear Alarmed Auntie: Your sister’s behavior is not only irresponsible, but also detrimental to the welfare of her children. If it’s possible, contact their father and let him know what has been going on. Also contact Child Protective Services because although foster care is not ideal, it would be better than what’s going on.
So we have an identifiable father (who also pays child support every month), yet while Abby does recommend “contacting” him “if possible,” she seems to hold out foster care placement as an apparently better (or equally viable) option. I don’t think this is what Abby really believes, but it is important for her to clarify that she believes fathers come before foster care. Write to her asking her to do so by clicking here. This problem is very real. Research shows that when children of broken families are abused by their mothers, the child welfare system often places them into the foster care system instead of with their dads. To learn more, see my co-authored column Choosing Foster Parents over Fathers (San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/11/07).