The difference between fathers’ and mothers’ depictions in the news media is on graphic display here (Huffington Post, 10/5/11).
About the only thing I can make out of this article is that HuffPo wants to rub it in. The piece reads like a “what I did on my summer vacation” essay by a 10-year-old. And it has nothing to do with anything beyond the writer’s own experiences, so I wonder how it got accepted at all. (As one commenter asks, “so what?”) My conclusion is that there’s always room for a piece about the bravery and empowerment of mothers and the perfidy of fathers.
The writer, Marissa Cortes, tells us about her four-month sojourn in South America. She tells us about how nice the people in Buenos Aires are even though she speaks not a word of Spanish. Then she moves on to the glaciers of Patagonia and penguins, before whisking her readers to Brazil which “also covered many stunning, secluded beaches, vibrant cross-cultural cities, and musical delights that seduced our ears.”
Through all that, “I soon understood that this foreign journey had lessons to teach that hit close to home, no matter how far from home I actually was.”
What those valuable lessons were, she doesn’t let on, which I suspect is just as well given the depth with which she treated her other topics.
But her piece isn’t just a travelogue; it’s also a justification. You see, she made the trip with her daughter Lulu who was 10 months old when Cortes started out. And she did so just after her boyfriend, Lulu’s father, had engaged her in a battle for custody of the girl.
Now, Cortes describes the man in the most unflattering terms possible. According to her, he’s a philanderer and callously uninterested in her during her pregnancy. I have no reason to doubt Cortes on this; after all, she was there and I wasn’t. But her indignation at Lulu’s father’s actually wanting to see his daughter is a sure sign that something’s not right with her description of the custody battle.
Three months later we were enmeshed in a custody battle where he fought to have our baby girl with him as much as possible, but (but?) had his female lawyer argue (and win) that he was obligated to pay next to nothing in child support, as my income was higher than his.
It’s interesting that she never says what the outcome of the custody matter was. All we know is that he doesn’t have to pay much in child support. But if he “won” on that issue, I can’t imagine him being denied custody altogether. Cortes’s sense of unsatisfied entitlement (He fought to have the child as much as possible! He wanted child support to be based on income which it is in every state!) is palpable.
So what we have is a custody battle that in one way at least didn’t go as Cortes wished, so she takes the infant off to South America. Cortes clearly has no clue that there was anything amiss with what she did. That’s true despite the fact that several commenters point it out. They also point out the obvious – that if a father had done the same, he’d be pilloried as a child abuser. So Cortes chimes in with her own comment that shows she still doesn’t get it.
Of course fathers matter, especially if they want to be a part of their children’s lives, and not fight to have them more than 50% of the time because it lessens their obligation in financial child support.
No Marissa, fathers matter even if they do that. Mothers do that every day of the week, many times a day, but you don’t turn your nose up at them. Here’s a simple message: it’s not OK to deprive a child of one of its parents – mother or father – because you’re in a bad frame of mind and need to feel “empowered.” Marissa, what you did was harmful to your child, plain and simple. Into the bargain, my guess is that it violated the father’s rights under the court’s order.
It continues to amaze that many mothers and their enablers don’t get the basic concept that children do better with two parents than with one, that children have rights to full, meaningful relationships with their fathers and that mothers shouldn’t exercise control over either the child’s or the father’s contact with the other. It’s just not acceptable.
Yes, Cortes’s paramour behaved like a cad; that made her angry at him as I’m sure it would anyone. But her feelings are for her to sort out on her own separately from the child. We see this every day – parents who believe that slights done by the other parent warrant interfering in the other’s relationship with the child. They don’t.
Too bad Cortes doesn’t get the message. Too bad Huffington Post doesn’t either.