Wilma Jones lives in Arlington, VA with her teenage son. Her oldest son is a college student not too far away. She is divorced after 19+ years of marriage. Wilma is a speaker and author of “Living Happier After: 20 Women Talk About Life After Divorce.” She blogs at Living Happier After.com She’s on Facebook. Follow her on

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Better, Not Bitter:
Why Are We So Hard on Non-Custodial Moms?

Last Saturday night ABC News televised a story on 20/20 about Non-Custodial Mothers that has really hit a nerve for a lot of people. The story is about women who made a decision to voluntarily give physical custody of their children to the children’s fathers when their relationships ended. See the link below to check out the story.

ABC News 20/20 – Mom’s Moving Out

There is definitely a double standard in society about moms who decide not to be the primary parent. This is true whether the couple remain together or not. But when the relationship ends and a mom makes the decision to let the dad be the primary parent, people get judgmental and totally offended. I checked out Twitter and well, just see for yourself.

 

Geez. I don’t have time to judge anyone for their choices. And that’s because I don’t want them to judge mine. Sometimes I slip, but I’ve found that being critical of others doesn’t help make me happier. So why do it? I didn’t make the same decision, but that doesn’t make their decision wrong.

Personally, I don’t have an issue when moms decide to be the non-custodial parent. Many of the women I have spoken with told me it made sense for their children’s dad to be the primary parent, depending upon the circumstances – but especially when it came to raising their sons.

Read more: Better, Not Bitter: My Dreams vs. My Kid’s Dreams

I will say that when Talyaa Liera says she is “Mothering my children from almost 3,000 miles away,” it did make me cringe a little. More power to her if she has the knack to nurture from so far away, but for me, I need physical contact with my children in order to mother them appropriately. I think a touch says something no words can convey. Now, I am not throwing ‘shade’ on Ms. Liera. It had to be a tough decision to parent in person only once a year. It’s got to be pretty challenging for everyone involved.

It certainly touched their daughter in a certain way.

As for Rhana Reika, who sees her children daily after school but they go home to stay with their dad overnight, sure I get that. I mean, I hate homework, too. And many of the other chores of daily life required when raising a family. I can relate and I’m sure I’m not alone.

I’ve been a mom for almost 22 years. I think every mom I know has thought about the idea of leaving her family behind and just doing her, if only for a fleeting moment or two. When things are hard and life seems ugly it’s easy to think about how much better things might be if you only had to think about you. I will admit, sometime I look forward to a short business trip during which no one will call me, “Mom.”

Read more: Single Mom Slice of Life: What Act Are You On?

I completely understand and support mothers (and fathers) who decide for whatever reason that they need to be the non-custodial parent. When a relationship ends and there are children this is a decision that has to be made. Yes, there are those optimal situations where mothers and fathers are able to stay in close proximity and have a 50/50 custodial relationship with their kids. But most certainly, that’s the exception and not the rule. One person usually carries the bulk of parental responsibility following the end of the relationship. It is what it is.

I think what is most important is that you stay in the child’s life however you can make it happen. If Skype is the best you can do, then OK, do that. Just be there for them and be consistent. If we’re going to be upset about something, what about the parents who straight up desert their children? Or stay with them but physically or mentally abuse them? Talyaa and Rhana made the best decision they could for themselves and their families.

Rather than judge I’ve found some positives about this story. These women birthed their children. They love their children. They are a part of their lives. The children live with a loving parent and are well cared for. And the children know both their parents love them. No one’s life is perfect. Let’s shine a little light instead of throwing shade.

What do you think? Are they selfish or simply people who made choices different from yours?

Wilma Jones