Thank you. Thank you for the long nights, the early mornings, and the sacrifices of personal wants and desires you make for the children you love. Thank you for trudging the hard road of making decisions that are not in your best interests, but in the best interests of your child.
Thank you for showing your daughters what a woman is truly capable of. That a mother can love with an open hand and allow a child to fall down, make a mistake, scrape a knee, bruise a rib and get back out there. That being a good mother is not about protecting them from all risk, but teaching that risk is a part of life and how to recover from trips and overcome obstacles.
Thank you for teaching your sons that being a boy is an awesome responsibility. That to be a man is to have the joy and vigor of boyhood, but controlled, directed and focused for good. To allow him to explore, and play, and come home, sometimes broken and bruised, and to teach him that there is a lesson in all experiences from which he can learn.
Today the world is changing faster than ever. But children are still children. All I have to do is walk my dog by the playground at Virginia Avenue Park, or down by the green space at the end of Bay Street and I’ll see children playing as they have for millennia.
I see fewer and fewer children, because they are trapped inside due to technology and my opinion is that it is a bad thing. The happiest children I’ve noticed seem to be the ones who are outside playing with swings and bats and balls. Kids have a lot of energy, they need to burn it off, and it has been that way forever. Our modern day construct of keeping kids inside, I believe, is very unhealthy. Kids need to actively play outdoors.
It happens across the globe, no matter where you are, children play in similar ways. I’ve seen it in China, I’ve seen it in Mexico. There are skate parks in Ajijic, Mexico and the boys ride their bikes and sail their skateboards over the mounds and up the walls just like the boys at 14th and Olympic.
I see girls do the same things in Mexico that I see on the Third Street Promenade, they hold hands and giggle their way past the cute boys. The lifelong dating game of cat and mouse, “Come closer, no, go away,” is a global game with local rules.
For 15 years I’ve been in divorce courts. I’ve represented moms and dads, some good, some bad. I have my opinions about what makes a good parent and what makes a bad parent. The one thing that I’ve noticed is that the good parents come together around the children. Oh they’re done with each other all right, but when it comes to the children the good parents don’t fight very much.
A good mother recognizes that her child needs their father. That without their father the child will have a lifelong hole in their heart. That hole will be filled with all kinds of things: food, drugs, sex, gambling, a string of bad relationships but nothing will fill it.
I’ve never had a mother come into my office demanding that we make a father take his 50 percent custody time with his children. I’ve had a few though who were completely willing to agree to a 50 percent custody share right away, and they were standouts in the Mom Olympics.
Every parent says they are a good parent, most are, a few are bad. What makes a bad mother? One who turns the children against their father, one who fuels her hurt and anger over a failed relationship by destroying the parent-child relationship for the father.
I see many of the bad ones, but I know that I have a reverse selected view of parents. The good parents rarely need divorce lawyers for very long. They don’t spend much time in court because they resolve their issues themselves, or with the help of the court ordered mediation every family must go through if they are in family court.
I was blessed with a mother who showed me that a divorced mother could have very good reasons to be angry with her ex-husband, and still not undermine his relationship with his child. I learned early on that couples divorce, but families don’t end.
My late mother was good mother. I know many good mothers today. And to them I say: Thank you, Mom.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on fathers’ 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.