I am the single father of an 8 year-old girl, Kizarvexilla. By mutual decision, her mother and I, upon going our separate paths (quite amicably, I should add) arranged that I should have full custody. While we’ve remained close friends, Michelle and I have each relocated, and live 900 miles apart.
When we made the decision to take this course, it seemed the most natural thing in the world. I’m far more maternal than Michelle is, and relatively unscarred by adolescent trauma. She, on the other hand, suffers from clinical depression, had a nasty case of postpartum, and due to a dearth of positive role models, has little idea as to how to function as a mother. She has many other redeeming qualities, however, and we will always love one another, come what may.
Those who know me and who know Kizarvexilla are generally of the opinion that I’m a good daddy. While she certainly has her hangups, she’s quick-witted, ferociously intelligent, talented, and has a moral compass far beyond her years. What’s more, I have a great source of support in my immediate family. My parents are only a couple of miles up the road and are devoted, doting grandparents. I might be just scraping by financially, but Kizarvexilla has never lacked for physical necessities, nor for love or attention.
It seems however, that to a significant percentage of the population, this arrangement is fundamentally wrong. In dealing with people I’ve met over the years, I’ve picked up on an unconscious message that a child deprived of a mother’s presence is somehow far more vulnerable to psychological damage than one denied access to his or her father. It’s not that anyone accuses me of being abusive or inattentive. But there’s been many a person who, without knowing any of the particulars, has expressed some degree of outrage that Michelle should have “abandoned” her child. Apparently the concept that some mothers, no matter how well-intentioned or otherwise worthy as human beings, might not form that instant all-encompassing Hollywood-ending adoration for their offspring is just too horrible to accept.
So what say ye Dopers? In your collective experience, how common are single (full custody) fathers? Is the collective outrage I’ve been picking up on simply a product of antediluvian gender role perceptions?