Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

Is it harder to forgive a mother who leaves her children than it is to forgive a father who leaves his children?

Asked by Dutchess_III (37588points) April 20th, 2011

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15 Answers

creative1's avatar

Nope to me they are equally bad

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t know about forgive, but it is harder for me to comprehend I think.

wundayatta's avatar

I have never been in the position to have to forgive either. Perhaps someday my children will have to deal with me that way, but I doubt their mother would ever need such forgiveness.

Perhaps it is more expected for a father to do things that dissolve the marriage, and so people can forgive them more easily because it is seen to be part of a man’s nature much more than it is part of a woman’s nature. A woman who leaves her children is much more horrendous in popular culture, I think. Thus she is a much worse person than a man who leaves. Thus it is harder to forgive her.

I could be wrong. Just speculation on my part.

SpatzieLover's avatar

For me, either is the same.

Personally, I just wish the ones “leaving” would make it know to the kids and the family…then leave the kids in a good home. That would be a lot easier to forgive.

BarnacleBill's avatar

The only one that’s entitled to forgive or not are the children who are left. Not all parents are missed when they go, however, what is damaging is the unresolved “why didn’t you love me enough to be a better parent?” I used to envy kids whose fathers were dead; at least they know they didn’t choose to leave them. The leaving made it harder for my mother, and eventually for me because of her. My father’s leaving left me with no safe place.

YARNLADY's avatar

No, I have experienced both, plus a mother who should have left her children, and I forgive them equally.

seazen_'s avatar

GQ – a little too close to home for me – I’ll sit this one out.

Earthgirl's avatar

As concerns personal forgiveness:
Psychologists will tell you that children would rather anything than to think their parents do not love them, or are in the wrong. They make excuses for their parents terrible behavior, lack of love and failure to protect. Unfortunately, this excusing leaves them quite often blaming themselves because the need to believe in their parents love is so strong that they figure (subconsciously perhaps) that the fault lies within them. For some reason, they think, I must just not be lovable enough. If I was, they would love me, not leave me.

When the parent leaves it is the clearest sign that the child is not loved enough. Abandonment leaves such scars. Adopted children even in loving homes often suffer this feeling of abandonment. (The book “The Primal Wound” details this experience)

A child who has been abandoned has their own issues of forgiveness that I would think apply equally to fathers and mothers. The reason for the parent leaving would have some bearing on how hard it would be to forgive. I would think. Maybe not.

In the case of a mother giving up her child for adoption it is probably the mother’s rejection which hurts more thatn the father’s. The reason I would say this is that, knowing you had been carried in her womb for 9 months, then “given up” is harder to understand emotionally than that a man, who may have accidentally fathered you would walk away from it.

As concerns societal forgiveness:
As a society I think we put a much stronger moral judgement on a mother who leaves than a father. We expect women to sacrifice everything for their children, and most women are willing to. Historically women have been the primary caregivers, men the providers. Women are more condemned for their lack of love and nurturing and men for their lack of financial support.
not sure how clear that all was

Jeruba's avatar

Who’s doing the forgiving? The child? I don’t think it’s up to me (or any other disinterested party) to forgive someone’s transgressions against someone else.

augustlan's avatar

Are we talking about regular old divorce, where the ‘absent’ parent is still involved in the children’s lives, or is this about actual abandonment? If it’s the first situation, I am one of those mothers and have some first hand experience.

My ex and I divorced in a largely amicable way and both of us thought it would be better for our children to live with him, for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, we wanted the divorce to have as minimal a negative impact on them as possible. We lived in a large house, in a great neighborhood. The only house/neighborhood/schools they’d ever known. There was no way I could maintain that house on my own, either physically or financially. If they were going to live there, it had to be with their father. In addition to that, when it comes to day-to-day parenting tasks, he’s just better at it than I am. I’m good at the emotional, developmental, long-term stuff, but I suck at running a household. With three kids, that’s pretty important. We made this decision in the best interests of our children.

I do not feel that I left my children, in any way. While he has primary physical custody (we share joint legal custody), I am very much a part of their lives. For years after our divorce, I still saw my kids every single day. I drove about two hours round trip in order to pick them up every day after school, take them to their father’s house, and stay with them until he got home from work. Doing the usual things… getting them a snack, overseeing homework, talking and hanging out. I basically became a stay-at-home mother who didn’t actually live in the same house as her children.

Now that they’re older (13, 15, & 16), I still see them at least one day every week at their dad’s house, and they stay with me every other weekend, most school breaks and for several weeks in the summer. Since I have a flexible schedule, I’m usually the one to take them to the doctor’s and the orthodontist’s and run errands with them. I talk to them on the phone all the time. We’re still very much a family.

I say all of that ^^ because: That’s what it takes to change people’s minds about what kind of a mother “leaves” her children.

TL;DR: In short, absolutely yes. People still tend to think that if a mother doesn’t have her children living with her she’s either A) an unfit parent and has lost her custodial rights or B) a selfish bitch.

JLeslie's avatar

I was not thinking regular old divorce. I had a friend who was engaged to a man whose mother basically abondoned her husband and three children. She kind of dissappeared and the last time he had seen or talked to her was when he was elementary age. That’s what I was thinking.

augustlan's avatar

@JLeslie Yeah, I think that’s pretty despicable, whatever parent does it.

creative1's avatar

How I take this question and I think of this as perception is that they just up and walk away from the responsibilty of raising their children altogether. There are parents who just abandon their child for one reason or another. Sometimes the mother doesn’t even know who the father is or even if the father does know chooses not to ever see the child he created with this woman. Its really sad the world I have seen being a foster parent.

However if the case is that they are in capible of raising their child and they decide to put that said child up for adoption and decide that it would be in the best intrerest that someone else raise the child then I have to say that I have the most respect for the people who can decide that. Because in that case they are not just leaving their child, they are being responsible parents by knowing that they don’t have what it takes to raise a child and was able to find parent/s that were able to raise the child in a way they were not.

I think it all depends on your definintion of walking away.

In a divorce situation where both have custody I would not call that walking away by any means, its figuring out the best living place and the other parent usually has visitation in that case. You can’t cut a child in half and each take a peice when you get a divorce, you need to sit down and come what what is best for the kid/s involved. Never the same as walking away, at least to me!

WasCy's avatar

It’s not my place to forgive others for what they do to others, I think. And since I’ve never been in a position of having either of my parents abandon me, I have no frame of reference.

Could I forgive a parent for leaving me? I guess it would depend on the circumstances. That might take years for me (as a child) to even learn, much less understand. And sometimes that understanding doesn’t come until one is faced with similar circumstances.

I’ve read a fair amount, mostly in novels, I admit, but ones that seem at least realistic and based on what real people have done or would do, and also some nonfiction, including first person memoirs and biographies, that I know it’s possible to forgive either or both parent. But I think a real forgiveness has to come from a point of understanding, or it’s just “dismissal”. That point of understanding can take decades to reach.

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