No one likes a hypocrite. There is little that is more annoying than the old “do as I say, not as I do.” It doesn’t really matter whether the actor is our parent, a spouse or a government, claiming the moral high ground while acting contrary is always annoying. It is an injustice and I don’t like injustice. It’s one of the reasons why I’m a lawyer. I’m constantly drawn to the underdog in any fight. Oftentimes that is the father.
Intentionally hurtful behaviors get my hackles up and make me want to fight. There are few things that make me angrier than when one parent uses the child as leverage in a dispute. Oftentimes it is the mother who takes the child and scurries away from the relationship and secrets the child, all the while claiming she is the better parent.
That’s a hypocritical lie. The better parent would not prevent or interfere with the relationship of the child and their father. It’s a lie selfish mothers rely upon because society condones their behavior and accepts their lame excuse that they “did it for my baby.” That is the phrase that mothers use to salve their innate moral sense that they have done something wrong. They know it is wrong because if the tables were turned they would be crying, just like the fathers, about the agony of not seeing their child for days on end. They would speak of the emotional distress they feel at not knowing where their child is, or how they are doing. They know it is a morally repugnant behavior, which is why they need the cosigning of their lies by other mothers so they can feel a part of a sisterhood that protects their children at all costs, even if it means harming their children.
For when children are kept away from their fathers for no good reason, it is child abuse. It harms the child. Intentionally interfering in a good relationship with a parent is child abuse, and there are many, many mothers out there who engage in it.
Society accepts this, and in fact endorses it. I was having dinner with a local civil rights activist and we got into a discussion about this topic. When I pointed out to her the prevalence of the bald-faced lies that mothers tell to prevent fathers from having visitation with their children, she looked me straight in the eye, and this highly accomplished, equality activist, told me with all sincerity, “of course she’s going to lie, she’s doing it to protect her children.”
I was stunned.
Here was a woman who fights for equal rights for all, co-signing the perjury of a mother, to “protect the child” from their father. I tried to show her the irony of her stated position, as an activist who believes that all people should be treated equally and fairly, judged on their character and their ability, standing up for the position that children need to be protected from their fathers based on a lie.
She failed to see the point of the argument, that if you have to lie to keep a good father away from a child, your honest argument must be weak or non-existent.
Now the converse is certainly true. If a father is trying to destroy the relationship with the mother, he’s got a poor case also. If he has to lie, he’s not the better parent. But the fact is that society is so steeped in the idea that men are not good parents, that it is easier for a woman to lie about a man and be believed and/or supported in her lies.
I come from the illogical and chaotic life of an alcoholic home. My mom was physically abused by my father, and my father was verbally abused by her. But when they split up, she did not keep me from him. Even when he didn’t pay his child support, she still sent me to him. Which is probably where I developed my sense of right and wrong.
Child abduction is wrong, lying to get court approved abduction is worse.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.