Several protective mothers have asked for my help this week. Due to my poor health and limited resources, I am not able to assist individuals. However, I have a radical idea that has been percolating for a couple of years that I think it is time to share.
The protective mother movement has been focused on the corruption and injustice within the court system. I don’t think this strategy will yield a timely solution for most protective mothers.
After I retired from the practice of law, I started to notice that justice is more often found in the court of public opinion than in any court of law. It tends to be more swift, certain, and just.
Although “the best interest of the child” is the standard in custody cases, it often gets lost in the war between parents. The win-lose atmosphere of a courtroom, by definition, is not a good place to resolve issues that require ongoing, cooperative relationships for successful implementation. The negative impact of the battle on children too often gets forgotten.
The custody judge I clerked for in Cook County (Chicago), Illinois during law school frequently admonished divorcing parents to stop ripping their kids in half. I always felt sorry for the parents who were subjected to his tirades, but they did send a clear message to everyone in the courtroom: We’re all here for the children. Most of the parents went out into the hall and worked it out.
Sadly, this judge is one of the few who could discern when an abusive father was manipulating the court system as an instrument of abuse. And, this is the heart of the problem for most protective mothers. Bad judgment, cluelessness, and callous indifference, unfortunately, aren’t subject for appeal. Ironic, eh?
I’m an old woman now. I have observed that most women are well-aware when their sons are total shits. They will never admit their failure to transform a boy into a gentleman to their daughters-in-law, but a lot of them secretly hope they’ll get a do-over with their grandchildren. If given the opportunity, most of them will likely repeat their past mistakes. However, I think their secret desire presents a window of opportunity for patient and disciplined protective mothers.
Please note that I said “patient and disciplined.” I’m not suggesting this is going to be easy, but the current strategy isn’t working. I think it is time to invest energy and time seeking an alternative solution. Obviously, my idea may not work for everyone.
Women have traditionally formed circles of protection around each other and their children.
We can have a mother-in-law from hell, but we still share a love for our children. In a courtroom, she will stridently defend a son she knows is a total shit. In essence, her mothering skills are on trial, and she doesn’t want to world to know she failed miserably.
So, how do you transform this enemy into an ally? Around the kitchen table where family differences have been resolved for centuries. In this forum, the ability to craft a win-win solution is valued. We may express our love differently, but women often unite and form a bond over the mutual goal of nurturing and protecting children.
Even in the most dysfunctional family, there is often one mother who knows how to deliver healthy, unconditional love and nurturing.
My suggestion is that you recruit this healthy mother to help you love and protect your own children to the best of your ability. Suspend your anger at your ex-hole and your fear of him. Focus solely on the best interest of your children. Ask this woman for wisdom and guidance on how you can provide the best environment for your children.
In time, this woman will likely emerge as the “judge” in your case. When she sees from your actions that you are sincere and when she is able to admit to herself and other family members that maybe the father isn’t such a nice guy or great parent, you’ll have a “decision” that the whole family will support and enforce.
The key to victory will be your ability to suspend your well-justified angst with your ex-hole and focus all your energy and time on your love for your children. He will try like hell to bait you back into battle in order to remain the focus of your attention. You absolutely, positively must discipline yourself to ignore this bait. If you do, he will eventually turn his wrath on another family member. Then, the entire family will see what you’ve been enduring behind closed doors. They’ll finally be able to see issues from your perspective.
This suggestion springs from four universal well-tested truths: 1) nobody wins a win-lose game, 2) control your destiny or someone else will, 3) love always wins out over hate, and 4) choose a forum where you can win.
As you ponder how this strategy might unfold in your own life and family, I encourage you to keep these universal truths front and center in your mind. You are emerging from an experience that was intended to scramble your brain and shatter your self-confidence. You need a solid foundation where you can rebuild your life and establish your own rules of engagement.
I have made this radical suggestion with the full knowledge that some families are far too dysfunctional for this solution to be effective. However, when the judicial system isn’t working for you, it is worth a try. It won’t cost you a dime.
Should y’all proceed with your efforts to reform the court system? Hell, yes! But, keep in mind that your kids will likely make you a grandmother before this happens. Reform from below tends to be a long, slow process.