RSS Feed

Who’s a better parent, a liar or an abuser?

Here’s how Christmas looked at my house (well, let’s just ignore all the dust bunnies for now) —  even though The Kid was supposed to be with me Christmas Eve, he slept at his dad’s because that’s when Rob’s family has their big holiday to-do and that’s noted in our custody arrangement. The Kid came back to me Christmas Day, because that’s when my family does our thing (and we can ignore the rather meager gifts under the tree, too).

As much as Rob and I may not be able to live together and even though it hasn’t always been easy, we’re pretty good co-parents — and Trent has been the one to benefit. He’s with me half the time, and his dad the other half.

So I’m wondering how the Tiger Woods divorce is going to play out — Elin Nordegren wants full custody of their kids, Sam, 2, and Charlie, 10 months old. Now, I think parents should have joint custody as much as possible unless one parent is truly unfit; kids need their moms and their dads, and they need them in equal amounts.

But, what’s “unfit”?

                      © EchoArt/Fotolia.com

© EchoArt/Fotolia.com

Tiger dipped his dick into a dozen-plus skanky pussies, sent dirty text messages to his mistresses, paid them shush money and lied to his wife; Elin allegedly went after Tiger with a golf club, resulting in the cuts and bruises on his face.

Who is a more fit parent?

Hmmm.

Given a liar and a person who gets so upset over someone’s lies that she turns violent, I’m pretty sure I’d take the liar.

Perhaps it’s understandable that Elin would want to hurt Tiger; he sure as hell hurt her. Not (as far as we know) physically (although he absolutely put her at risk of STDs and HIV), but emotionally. I know exactly what it’s like to discover that your hubby has been cheating on you; I can’t imagine dealing with the parade of mistress confessions Elin has had to deal with after that first discovery. I might lose my mind, too!

But turn violent? We don’t tolerate men abusing women; do we tolerate women abusing men?

Well, maybe it was a one-time thing. It’s nice to think that, but who knows? And I sure wouldn’t want to be the judge putting kids solely into the hands of a parent who has a violent streak (and plans to move with her kids halfway around the world, away from their dad). And you can’t be swayed by who we’re talking about here — a billionaire sports hero; imagine we’re talking about any other suburban family.

Because here’s a no-brainer: Parenting is stressful, and all of us at times lose it. Enter the mommy screamathon, which Dad’s House, “Dad” aka David Mott, discusses on an “ABC News Now” segment on “flip-out moms“:

“When Parents Flip Out – you know that moment when your kids drive you to the absolute brink, and you go ballistic shouting at them to correct whatever is wrong? Clean up your mess! Put your shoes away! Get your homework done! Quit fighting! etc.

Not every parent flips out like that. I happen to be one who stays cool, calm, and collected.”

What if a flip-out mom decides to use her fist — or a golf club — instead of her voice?

The worst part of discovering adultery isn’t really the sex, it’s the lying. Well, here’s what happens when your kids grow into teenagers — they start lying. All teenagers lie to various degrees, and if you think yours isn’t, you’re lying to yourself. Parents can’t flip out — and turn violent — when the lying starts.

Yeah, yeah, I know —  I’m as tired of Tiger’s saga as much as anyone else, and I honestly couldn’t care less about celebrity divorces or celebrities in general. But shouldn’t we explore what we consider “fit” parenting and how we decide who gets sole custody?

  • When should a parent get full custody?
  • What is a “fit” parent?
  • Should a parent lose part or full custody over infidelity?
  • Do we tolerate abuse from women differently than from men?
  • And, would Elin’s shade of blond look good on me?


Bring on the comments

  1. I don’t think a person who reacts to extreme emotional betrayal in an extreme way should be labled as having a “violent streak”. Nor do I believe it has anything to do with what kind of parent Elin is. Until you have been in someone else’s shoes you have no idea what you would be capable of.

    When I found my husband and best friend having an affair I hit her. In the moment it was like someone else was doing it and I have never hit someone before or after that day. I am not a violent person but I reacted to an extreme situation and the immense betrayal of the two people closest to me. Not many people will ever know what that feels like.

    What my then husband did, I think, should reflect more on HIS parenting than my reaction should on mine since he was the one who acted recklessly and selfishly, and like Tiger, with NO regard for the consequences to his family.

    Hitting the woman who plotted and used me to engratiate herslef with and seduce my husband to advance her social status has nothing to do with the kind of mother I am. I also believe my reaction is actually a NORMAL response to their morally bankrupt behavior that has become so acceptable by society today.

  2. Honey
    Twitter: honeyandlance
    says:

    I still fantasize about hitting the girl I found Jake with in July, and they didn’t even kiss. I also don’t think it’s necessarily reflective of a person as a whole – I don’t go around hitting people, either (much to my regret, I didn’t even hit that girl).

  3. dadshouse
    Twitter: dadshouseblog
    says:

    Interesting post. I agree Tiger’s transgressions were pretty crappy, and lying about it didn’t help. But if Elin did attack him, that’s very bad. I don’t condone lying or cheating, but violence is far worse. There is no excuse for one spouse to hit or physically attack the other.

  4. Steve says:

    Lets create a hypothetical situation that is the inverse of the current one.

    Tiger Woods, after discovering that Elin Nordegren was having an affair, attacked her with a golf club — a solid metal stick.

    Woods would likely be sitting in jail, while Oprah, Rosie O’Donnell, various other talk show hosts, journalists, feminists and scores of women would be condemning him as a total monster.

    He would have no chance of getting custody of his children after a divorce let alone be looking forward to a financial windfall from that divorce.

    Men tend not to stand up for their side of things with women and men tend to tell women anything that will get them positive attention from women.

    Mix in a blizzard of talk shows, books and blogs that cater to as well as patronize women.

    The result is that many women are blind to their own sexism, double standards, or arrogance about a number of issues.

    One of the things I like about Kat’s writing is that she does consider the other side of the story and without being prompted to by circumstance.

    Many women would not even have the concept of their being another side in their mental universe. Others would play a card or build a rationalization to continue advantages.

  5. Kat Wilder says:

    New blog posting, Who's a better parent, a liar or an abuser? – http://tinyurl.com/yhg8qfn

  6. Dan says:

    “Men tend not to stand up for their side of things with women and men tend to tell women anything that will get them positive attention from women.

    Mix in a blizzard of talk shows, books and blogs that cater to as well as patronize women.

    The result is that many women are blind to their own sexism, double standards, or arrogance about a number of issues.

    One of the things I like about Kat’s writing is that she does consider the other side of the story and without being prompted to by circumstance.”

    This.

    Your Favourite Misanthrope approves this message!

  7. Steve says:

    @Dan

    I can’t tell from your comment whether you are being sarcastic towards me or if you are indulging in a friendly joke at Kat’s expense.

    FWIW, I’m not a misanthrope, a misogynist or even anti-feminist. Assuming that such accusations are not on the table, at least from you, let me just state that I have seen such accusations leveled at men bringing up these points before.

    It is an old trick of rhetoric that goes so far back it even has a classic Greek term attached to it.

    It is similar to labeling a woman a lesbian or as a man hater should she take an unpopular opinion about cultural eccentricities in regards to men and women.

    FWIW, I find it just as distasteful used either way.

    Getting back to the subject I think Wood’s children are condemned to growing up as over-privileged children with weak and dysfunction parenting. In other words, they will have plenty of company.

    If you take the sex of the parents out of the picture I think most courts would choose not to give custody to a parent who is capable of attacking a person with a club when they are feeling emotional stress.

    I think that is a smart philosophy. An adult, with therapy, can always recover from lies told to them as children. However, they will never grow up to be adults should a parent get cranky and fustigate them as well.

  8. 70s Old Mill School says:

    I would take the violent person over the liar as a parent. Violence often comes from external forces but a liar is from within. One time violence vs always lying?

    Wow. I read this post after a day where my 14 year old boy tells me: ” I love my mom but I do not like her”. He does not trust or respect her. He then progressed to tell me how everyone is messed up in some way, including himself. Fourteen years old!

    I agree with you that unless there is a needle sticking out of an arm or their is physical abuse, both parents should be part of the child’s life.

    What is a “fit” parent?

    I hope someone gets the “what is a fit parent?” right and shares. We all have our issues, strengths and weaknesses. If the child trusts and respects you then you are fit. The kid has to view you as a legitimate parent. They must see you as someone who is looking out for them.

    Should a parent lose part or full custody over infidelity?

    No! I think the unfaithful parent should have more parenting duties and responsibilities. What a conflict between faithful to the spouse and faithful to the family as a parent. Tough question. Depends on how bad the family and the marital relationship.

    Do we tolerate abuse from women differently than from men?

    I think abuse from men is physical and short lived but abuse from an abusive woman towards a man is psychological, chronic, and often changes the man permanently. I have seen this happen. Physical abuse is easy and does not require imagination or premeditation. Men are simple.

    And, would Elin’s shade of blond look good on me?

    If you have a beautiful face, keep the dark hair. Why have something bright and shiny next to beauty? Blond hair is a distraction. Look em in the eye.

  9. Steve says:

    I would take the violent person over the liar as a parent

    I never grew up with a liar as a parent, but you certainly never grew up being the victim of a violent parent if you can make a comment like that. No offense intended.

  10. Kat Wilder says:

    Mindy — Sure, we have no way of knowing how violent/nonviolent someone is by the one episode — we see, that is. And, I have been in Elin’s shoes (although I don’t Rob racked up as many babes, but who knows?) Why did you hit your friend and not your ex; did you see her as the bigger betrayer?

    Honey — and fantasy is where that should stay. Most of us fantasize about some pretty horrible things, but as long as we don’t act on it, I think that’s OK.

    Dad — Lying sucks, affairs are painful, violence sucks and is painful.

    Steve — you are right; turn the table and there’s little chance Tiger would have custody of his kids. Maybe he’d have supervised visits; will Elin?

    Old Mill School — I think it’s fantastic that your teen shared that with you. Of course, teens often don’t like their parents because parents have rules. And, yes, everyone is messed up to a certain extent; knowing the ways in which we are messed up is the first step to keeping it in check. I hope one day your son does like his mom; she’s have to earn it, though.

  11. Dan says:

    Steve:

    I was agreeing with you, actually–and yes, in a way that had a little bit of fun with it.

    I have seen the same accusations…I think it’s the complete lack of accountability the current zeitgeist enforces for women in the dating/relationship game, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant entirely…

    I am definitely not anti-feminist. I just happen to think that true equality works two ways, and also requires equal responsibility.

  12. Steve says:

    @Dan

    I agree with you completely.

    This phrase is great, it wraps up some observations I have been trying to articulate for a while:

    complete lack of accountability the current zeitgeist enforces for women in the dating/relationship game

    You are right, it is an entire other conversation 🙂

    Thankfully there are a lot of good women out there.

    Have a good weekend.