Friday, June 14, 2013

Breaking Story on ABC World News: Double Standards in Parenting

I wish I had caught the name of the reporter on this story, but I always clue out. I hadn't known the woman covering this story was going to be so unprofessional and judgmental (though I should have guessed from the "leader" or whatever the technical term is for the preview of a story they give you before the commercial break). Edited: It was Elizabeth Vargas who reported on this story. Tweet her (@EVargasABC) to let you know what you thought of her feature on June 14's episode of ABC World News.

A couple divorces. Partner A decides to move away and leave the kids with Partner B. The kids, for all intents and purposes, seem okay with it. Partner A builds a new life but keeps in regular touch with the children.

What would you say if A was a man? What if A was a woman?

It's the twenty-first century. It shouldn't matter. Yet it does. At least, it matters to judge-y busybodies like Vargas, who decided to ask a woman point blank, on national television: "Do you love your kids? ....More than yourself?"

This idea that mothers are anything less than perfect if they don't sacrifice themselves on the altar of motherhood is ridiculous. It's the result of a bullshit evopsych notion that women are always and inherently more nurturing (or whatever) than men. It's okay for men to leave the marriage and build a career far away — we don't expect it, no, but when it happens everyone sighs and accepts it. But for a woman to do that? She must be some kind of monster!

Lawyer Mom chose to have a career after my little brother and I were born. No, she didn't divorce my dad or move across the country, but she found daytime care for us (a family my brother and I still love like our own) and went back to work at AT&T as soon as she could. This was back in the 80s, a dark time of neon windbreakers, Reagenomics, and teased hair.

And gremlins taking over your kitchen.

It was an at least unusual move then, and just as unusual as this Skyping and texting mom is now. I bet there were plenty of people who would have been happy to shout down my mom for her choices. There might well have been; I've never asked.

 If I were to ever find an interview with my mom on national fucking television about her parenting style and career choices, the interviewer dripping with disdain and asking pointed questions like, "Do you love your kids? ...More than yourself?" I would be seething with rage. Seething. Who are you, busybody, to treat my mom like that? Do you know her? Do you know her family?

Lawyer Mom — and the long-distance divorcĂ©e mom in the story — made decisions they felt were right for their career, their family and most importantly, themselves. Lawyer Mom remained active and present in my life, just as the woman in the story is doing — just in a different way. They both love their kids. Love.

The woman featured in this story deserves an apology, and Vargas apparently needs a briefing on professionalism and sexism. For shame.

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