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Commentary: On Mother's Day, celebrate shared parenting

Commentary: On Mother's Day, celebrate shared parenting

May 10th, 2018 by Linda Reutzel in Opinion

Sometimes us shared parenting advocates get the bad rap of being anti-mother. That is so far from the truth.

I'm actually a mother and grandmother, my 94-year-old mother is still living, and I have a daughter who I want to be happy and healthy. Motherhood is a blessing to me, and I will readily admit that the challenges of work and nurturing children at home are hard to handle all the time. Of course, that's the beauty of shared parenting, sharing those responsibilities.

I have met so many women in the Missouri movement toward shared parenting after divorce who are mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers and aunts. This movement couldn't have had the success its had without women stepping up to the plate. This played a big part in passing into law a bill supportive of shared parenting in 2016, and this year, a proposal seeking to strengthen that law (HB 1667) passed the House and will be heard on the Senate floor any day now. The bill is sponsored by Kathryn Swan of Cape Girardeau.

We all agree that the adversarial system of lopsided child custody orders is broken. It's the system that needs fixing. Family courts should be family friendly, because divorce is not the end of the family, it's just a rearranging of the family. We also all agree that children need and want great relationships with both parents and both extended families. Shared parenting is great for children, great for parents and great for society.

I actually know a little something about strong mothers. I was raised by one. My father died when I was 8 years old. I and my 5 brothers, the youngest being 1 year old, were raised in a single parent household with help from God and family, and that is both sides of the family. So I understand fatherlessness from personal experience. I understand the longing for father time that children have because I lived with that same longing. Also growing up with 5 brothers, although very challenging, gave me a unique experience and a soft spot for any injustice that men in general, but fathers in particular, have to face.

But I understand how important mothers are also. My mom worked full time and got every one of us to our activities on time. She had food on the table, and every Saturday was house cleaning duties for all. She kept our family together, and I honor her for that. This was true single parenthood. I can remember many times when I was angry with my mother, I would say I wish my dad was here. She would always say she did too. She would always tell us how fine a man my dad was. So on Mother's Day, I want to thank my mom for giving me only good thoughts when it comes to my dad. I also want to encourage other mothers and fathers to do the same. Because even though no parent is perfect, they are perfect for their children. My growing up thinking my father was the best kind of man gave me comfort and helped me immensely with my own well being. Children need to believe in the goodness of their parents.

So Happy Mother's Day ladies! Sit back, enjoy your children and thank God for all the people who also love your children. Children cannot have too much love. Shared parenting advocates want children to have great relationships with both parents. We want children to be connected to their aunts, uncles, and cousins on both sides. These connections are called social capital and they make children content, capable and successful. We just want children to continue feeling the love of all their family.

Linda Reutzel is chairwoman of National Parents Organization of Missouri.