A friend of mine who lives very far from me called me in tears and said that she and her husband had had a fight.
He accused her of being a bad mum. It seems that she was favoring one child over the other. There were no pictures of the second child anywhere to be seen for a long time and she only put up photos of the child after he had pointed out this fact.
I told her that this did not make her bad mum just a bad time-manager. To this, she cried even more and said that ever since she had quit being a full time mum and started working part time, there was no help forthcoming from her husband. “Now that I have a share in bringing home part of the bacon, I had assumed that he would pitch in with the housework,” she wailed. I was caught. It was not like I could comfort her. She was literally oceans away. We rarely talk nowadays because of the time difference and when we do, it’s always over the cacophony of children demanding one thing or the other. Suffice to say, we don’t pay a lot of attention to what the other is going through.
So a little thoughtlessly I told her to leave her husband. I’m not very fond of the guy anyway.
But she tells me that she thinks that is too drastic a step.
Telling her that she is bad mum and telling her that in front of her kids, I believe, amounts to abuse.
I think so. Men have left women for far less. If they are not getting enough support, enough smiles, enough encouragement about what wonderful work they do, men over the ages have left their families for new ones or none at all.
Having said that, I appreciate my friend’s decision to stay with her husband. I believe that she is essentially a positive person who is a self-starter. She will, when the time is right, sit her husband down and explain some hard facts. I believe that she will find a solution to his lack of help with the housework.
But I’m sure that she will never say: You are a bad father. She won’t because she knows that saying that says more about her and her children than it does about him. It will scar the children more than it could ever scar him.
Which is why accusing someone of being a bad mum is more about the accuser than it is about the mother or her children.