The way of the world is changing. We are seeing trends that were not as common or in the public eye twenty or thirty years ago. It is common acceptance in our society that when there is a matrimonial breakup, the children will typically live with their mother. In this most common scenario, the father as the non-custodial parent will have visitation rights every other weekend unless other arrangements are made. However, I am hearing more and more about men in the Latino communities that are taking the role of the custodial parent especially if the child decides that he/she prefers to live with him. I know of one case first hand that I would like to share with you. Let me assure you that the scenario that I am presenting is not one in which either parent can be deemed as dysfunctional. Both parents deserve their individual and collective accolades in the upbringing of their children. This article is not going to discuss the reasons that the marriage failed as it is irrelevant to the piece.
During the duration of the marriage, the father was content with his job which provided him with enough money to cover basic expenses in the household. By all intense and purposes, the mother was the bread winner. The father maintained the same manual labor job for a number of years never moving up promotion wise. His salary increased minimally throughout the years at best.
The mother coming from nothing, had ambition and a desire to develop into a professional woman. The mother made sacrifices to further her education, which eventually resulted in her acquiring an MBA. For a woman, especially a Latina, this is a milestone to be celebrated. Since she pursued her education at night while working full-time during the day, the father was able to spend quality time with the children. The father was ultimately the one that was able to stay with the children during the day especially immediately after school. However, once the marriage failed, the children decided to stay with the father and the mother is the one who has visitation rights seeing her children every other week. The mother also pays child support since the father’s income is not enough to maintain the level of lifestyle that the children enjoyed when they were together.
When you hear such a story, at first glance you think of the mother as being a bad one or dysfunctional. You may also think that she failed as a mother. The other thought that comes to mind is that she chose her career over her children. However, aren’t such comments sexist and discriminatory against such a woman when men have been the non-custodial parent for years? Men are never seen as dysfunctional or as bad fathers (unless they really are) simply because they are the non-custodial parent. After all the only difference is … the sex of the parent.
There are more and more fathers taking a role as custodial parents… check out this quick video on a documentary identifying the issues we face.
by Nueve Rodriguez