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Working Moms Losing Custody?

Photograph by Rex / Rex USA

I don’t know “The View” co-host Sherri Shepherd personally, but I feel her pain. In addition to her nasty divorce with soon to be ex- Lamar Sally, Shepherd’s previous ex- Jeffrey Tarpley is chiming in and petitioning for full custody of the couple’s 9-year-old son, (also named) Jeffrey. Tarpley cites Shepherd’s work schedule as justification for him needing full custody. In court documents he claims, “Her career is seven days per week non-stop, leaving the primary responsibility of their son to unskilled nannies."

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I’m so incredibly offended by Tarpley’s claim that Shepherd’s long hours are justification for her losing custody of her child, and all moms should be as well. It seems so archaic to penalize a working mom and hold her success against her.

I can’t remember a time when I’ve heard of a man who works long hours being called into question as a parent. When was the last time the male doctor, who was on call for three days straight, called a bad dad? Chances are he was revered and his work ethic was praised. Certainly, he wasn’t penalized.

Women are not doing something wrong by working.

What about the stock broker who gets to work before the sun rises and returns home after his kids are asleep? He’s never asked to give up custody. Instead, he’s rewarded for being a good provider and doing what he needs to do to support his family. So why the double standard when it comes to working moms?

Every family makes choices about who works and who doesn’t. In some families, both parents work. In some families, one is at home with the kids. When a woman works, she’ll be asked questions like, “Who’s with the kids now?” while a working dad would never be asked the same.

A working mom might be asked if dad is “babysitting” when, of course, he’s actually just parenting his own children. A woman is referred to as a “working mom,” her hours always discussed behind her back regardless if she is the primary breadwinner in her family. Meanwhile a man is rewarded for working hard, his long hours seen as some sort of heroic measure. It’s assumed a father works. A working mother is said to have made a “choice” to work when maybe she had none.

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Just like men are not the babysitters of their own children, women are not doing something wrong by working. Custody isn’t decided based on who’s at home the most. In that case, unemployment would be the best justification for custody. A successful woman may work long hours. This doesn’t make her a bad parent or a good one. The same cannot be said for the man who holds that success against her.

Image via RexUSA

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