As some of you may already know, I was raised from my teen years by my father. My mother left the picture and it was just my sibling and I under our father’s care. It was a tumultuous time full of confusion, sadness and shock. My father for one, had not wanted or even expected the separation, especially since it was not really common in our cultural background (aside from Australian).
One thing I did not expect though, is how difficult it would be not only for my father to be a single parent- it was about being a single father is the hardest part. He encountered plenty of biases and generally the system worked against him in terms of support, acceptance and understanding.
It is a common fact that more often than not, during separation or divorce, women hold the power and the bias of the courts, they almost always get majority, if not full, custody of the children. My father is a rare case, since well, my mother was not eligible for custody and due to extenuating circumstances, my father was the completely appropriate parent. This doesn’t stop people he meets from asking him, once learning he is divorced, when he sees his children.
“Everyday. They’re with me.” He says with his usual smile.
There’s always the blink and the surprised reaction that follows. Sometimes people just wonder…how that’s even possible. Full custody for the father.
It was not a pleasant reason as to how he managed to get full custody though I’m glad it was granted, I would have hated being forced to live with my mother. My sibling would say the same.
There’s also the times when my father travels with my sibling and if I’m not around, when he crosses borders, he’s always questioned whether he has travel papers and written permission from my mother, which is a ludicrous bias that implies a father just travelling with their child is a dangerous and risky thing. I’ve never heard of this happening to a single mother. There’s that suspicion and distrust of fathers that make them a victim of the system, especially the court system.
My mother fought for custody and due to her own actions, lost her chances. Otherwise, we would have been forced to be with her- if it weren’t for the extremely extenuating circumstances, my father would have had no chance against her and her maternal bias in court.
In this day and age, fathers are treated as second-rate parents who don’t know how to take care of children, can’t keep them safe or seen as unworthy of trust compared to mothers. In the olden days, this made more sense since gender roles were very strict and women did have more time with their children to nurture and raise them while men mostly worked. Fair enough, they can become good parents though not as exposed and experienced as the mother.
Though now? Modern mothers are just like fathers. Aside from giving birth, a lot of them take their leave then jump right back to (full-time) work and leave the kids to daycare or the grandparents. They go back to work and leave most of the raising to someone else, just like the ‘olden day’ fathers – so in essence they are the same now.
So why the bias towards mothers? I just don’t see any justification behind the stereotype anymore. Mothers now don’t spend more time raising their children compared to fathers or necessarily have more experience. If women want equality in lifestyle, such as working and going back to a career instead of focusing more on motherhood, then they should be treated equally in court to fathers.
There needs to be more types of marriage laws. Newer, situational laws for modern ‘equal-lifestyle’ marriages. Why should a woman get more money from her husband in divorce when she chose to work and earn just like he did? Sure she may have custody, though unless there is an extenuating circumstance, why should she have sole (or majority) custody? All the more custody should be equalised.
My father always comments on how he feels for other fathers out there. Great, decent fathers who did not have the chance he had and are still forced to support their children yet never get to see and experience life with them, like they deserve. It’s one of the leading causes of depression and factors in to the horrible mental health of many divorcing/divorced men in their 30s to 40s, with the number of suicides rising. I can’t even imagine their pain, to once have a family, something to live for and protect, only for it all to be taken away while they live alone in an empty life, with more bills to pay as their only companion. All while battling a rigged legal system that just wants to defeat and take advantage of them.
Good fathers do not deserve this.
Bring fathers back into family.