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Jon and Kate: The Single Mother Double Bind 

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How can single mothers prove to the courts that they are the better parents when they are being forced to work to provide for their kids?

kate gosselin

Dr. Wendy Walsh: Single mother Kate Gosselin is sweating it out working on "Dancing with the Stars" -- and her husband, Jon, has filed for full custody of the kids, saying that she is working too much and isnot available for her children. Never mind that he has been gone for weeks at a time himself, not seeing his kids while he shacks up with a morphing string of girlfriends.

This tragic story reminds me of attorney Marcia Clark's similar crisis while she was working on the prosecution side during the O.J. Simpson trial. Even though she had custody of her two boys, her husband used the demands of the trial as an opportunity to try to attain custody himself. So, what's a single mother to do? Stay home and lose her kids because they are starving to death? This is a double bind where a mother is damned if she does and damned if she doesn't.

The saddest part of this bind is that it is also a double standard. Tell me the last time you heard anyone admonish a divorced dad for working too hard!

The real culprit is that the change in family law has all but eliminated alimony for ex-wives. And child-support payments to her are based on a ratio of child custody. So all single mothers are expected to at least support themselves, and they rarely get a full 100 percent of child support if the kids bunk at Dad's some of the time. Funny thing is, even though kids of divorce may sleep at their dad's every other weekend, Mom must still pay the rent for the entire month.

While I am a professional who specializes in attachment issues and my heart breaks for Kate's kids (who may be suffering attachment injuries while she spends weeks in Los Angeles training for and competing on "Dancing with the Stars"), I believe that she is fortunate to have this choice available to her. Only the entertainment industry pays the kind of money that could keep a single mother of eight out of poverty. I mean, really, would people rather see her working for $12 an hour somewhere?

In fact, she recently told "Access Hollywood," "Maybe because I'm in front of the camera so much and people see where I am -- I'm in L.A., I'm in New York, I'm here or there -- the bottom line is I'm just doing what every other mom is doing. They just don't have cameras following them, so people can't keep tabs on how many hours a day they spend with their kids ... I have to do it. I have eight kids. It's not a joke, it's the truth. I have to provide for them."

You go, girl! Dance your butt off for those babies. And then head on home to bond and repair.

5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Louise McCloud April 14, 2010, 3:25 AM

This just goes to prove, the double standard still exists. What’s to have to prove?? Don’t men work anymore?? We live in the 21st Century yet in someways we haven’t gotten past the 18th century, especially in a situation like this.

Their are more single parent households now than ever before, a large part due to the “tabo” finally being lifted on divorce and divorce is on the rise, 52% of all marriages end in divorce.

Also, even in families where their are two parents, in most cases due to our economy, both parents have to work to support the family. So this whole issue of a “Working Mother having to prove she’s a fit parent” is s-o-o absolute, its so stupid.

In the case of Kate and Jon, let’s be honest Jon is a jerk, the brains and the talent in that household has and always will be KATE, I think what’s happening in this case, is Jon finally got it, and realizes that fact, so what does he want to happen, let him stay home and live off Kate, it’s so obvious why they divorced, Kate is very much an intelligent, loving, nurturing mother, it’s obvious she loves her kids, her working is to support her children, and it’s not like she’s leaving them alone or anything, clearly she’s a hands on mom, but like any single parent household she has to work.

I admire her so much, she is truly an amazing woman and great mom.

We need to get over this myth about a womans place being in the home, too many woman can’t afford to stay home even when their is another parent.

Chris Sz April 14, 2010, 7:14 PM

I can’t even begin to tell you how one-sided and full of faulty reasoning your arguments are. For years, custody was given to mothers almost by default. The pendulum swings the other way giving the father a fair shot at getting custody of his children and you seem upset about this.
You argue for equality and parity and then bemoan the loss of alimony for ex-wives. If a woman is working, tell me why she deserves alimony. Kate is making quite a bit of money from her various sources, including another TV show, and Jon has been frozen from having any kind of show (not that he would be able to get one) due to the contract he signed with TLC. Tell me how it is right for Kate to be entitled to alimony.
And you complain that a single mom doesn’t get full child support if she doesn’t have to house and feed the children all 30 days of the month. Yes, that’s correct. Child support is for paying the fair amount for housing and feeding (and other things) for the child. So if, for a 30 day cycle, you only care for the child for 24 days, then you only get partial support. I’m not sure where I see how that is unfair.
Finally, the statement that a single mom still has to pay for housing for the full month is again, flawed. The single father has to pay for housing for the entire month also, housing that must accommodate the entire family even though the children will only be there for a small number of days each month. Both sides pay. Where is the injustice there?
I personally don’t like Jon’s actions, but I’m not letting that taint my impartiality to the facts.

Angela April 14, 2010, 7:42 PM

Honestly I think the real double standard is that women should get priority when it comes to awarding custody. I’ll admit that Jon hasn’t appeared to be a model father and I hope the courts see through that, but thankfully there’s plenty of responsible dads out there too. Shouldn’t they get equal consideration in a custody dispute? And isn’t there probably a little truth in the idea that the parent who’s always working may not be as available for their kids? And if losing primary custody is being punished then almost every single father I know HAS been penalized for working as I know very few who are the main custodial parent. Is there really ANY good system to divy up children as marital assets?

Chrissy April 19, 2010, 5:41 PM

Kate is NOT like other “single” mothers.
Firsy off she is not “single”. She is divocre. That’s an important difference.
Secondly, how many divocred motehrs get $20,000 (some report $21,000) a month in child support? And how the hell can’t she support her kids on $20,000 a month?
The house she lives in, agian reported in the news, was paid for by TLC - so either her or Jon are paying a mortgage. And she still can’t raise 8 kids on $20,000 a month?
And give a break on the $12 an jour job. She’s a nurse. Nurses on PA can earn between $30 to $50 a hour plus benefits.
Right now either her kids don;t have health insurance or she and/or Jon are paying out of pocket for it. Health insurance out of pockets for 9 people is very expensives.
So by working as a nurse (which only requires 2 or 3 12 shifts per week)she earns a steady salary PLUS cuts her healthy insurnace preminums significantly. Huge savings.
Further she would save a boat load of money on nannies because she would only need them for the 2 or 3 days she works instead of the 7 days she’s paying them now.
But I guess Kate would miss the fame and the hair stylist and make up artist and the wardrobe benefits of being on camera …

Cynthia April 22, 2010, 7:41 AM

I think she loves the lime light. I question a woman who does not get along with her own brother and Mom and Dad. She is truly self centered. Do not let her kid you she loves to be away from kids, remember her going to a spa.

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