The Great Aussie May Slag Off

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You know, I must say that I don’t see this kind of thing go on around Father’s Day, well at least not between fathers. Maybe though they just know their thoughts and choose to keep their thoughts to themselves? I’m not sure.

But, oh my golly goodness, it crosses my path online and often in person every single year since the dissolution of my first marriage. Yes, it is the great slag off of parents, specifically mother’s and alternate female caregivers, across the nation in the lead up to Mother’s Day each year. Honestly, it makes me angry beyond measure and, on occasion, near brings me to tears. This year, with our recent change in circumstances though I have decided that I can’t keep quiet about it any longer. It’s time good people made a stand because children deserve better.

Mother’s Day Slag Off 2019

This year it all kicked off for me with a social media group post asking if a Step Mother had any right to recognition by the child if they only cared for them one day a fortnight. The online post reeked of insecurity and jealousy that they might be asked to share the day with another person in their child’s world. I have to say, barring a small handful, most people were very clear of the ideas that any person who steps into a parenting role, irrespective of capacity, deserves some kind of recognition and that it isn’t about ‘rights’ but rather what is going to be in the best interests of the child in recognising the people who contribute to their lives.

One contributor highlighted how it was okay to share the day with grandmothers and aunts who were mothers in the community but somehow when it became a biological parent’s new partner the selfish few were ‘nah-ah, no way am I sharing this day’. Posts like this really show the true colours of parents – those who are acting out of self-interest, versus those who are acting out of the best interests of their children.

The one response that really grabbed my attention was when the original post was flipped and they asked the question, ‘Does a Mum who only has their child one day a fortnight deserve to have rights on Mother’s Day?’

Food for thought when you looked at it that way, right?

Honouring those who matter

The essence of this particular response really hit home for us, way before this round of online jostling came to pass. You see a few months ago we took in a child under kinship care. He’s part of our extended family and circumstances were that this young nine year old could no longer live with his biological mother. This is not unique, across Australia there are hundreds of thousands of children who cannot live with their biological parents for a myriad of reasons that surmise to a lack of parenting capacity.

So, what about those mothers who only have their child one day a fortnight? What about those who do not see their children at all? When you ask these questions, you have to start with ‘what is is in the best interests of the child. If you do this, then the answers in all instances, should ring true to about the same answer.

In all instances, a child should have the opportunity to honour mothers, step-mothers, aunts, grandmothers and other female carers on Mother’s Day in a way that reflects their role in their lives – past, present and future. What that expression looks like can be lead by the child or guided if they are too young to make clear choices for themselves.

I have seen this dilemma from the other side this year as kinship carers across the country deal with ‘access times’ with biological Mum’s and arranging gifts. It is a mess as you hear the issues of parents who don’t follow the rules laid out under Child Protection Orders or, perhaps worse, those that don’t even bother to have contact with their children and whose whereabouts may not even be known in order to forward gifts. It is a truly sad state of affairs.

Honouring the parenting past

It is so very important, that irrespective of the present circumstance, that children be given the right to honour those of the parenting past. Parents and caregivers who are no longer involved in their lives who should have the chance to be honoured as they are part of their history. This is especially so for biological parents as they not only form part of their life but also are their link to their family’s cultural heritage. When I think of this, I get a sense of torment which would only be a taste of what an ‘assimilated’ stolen generation would have experienced on occasions such as these. It leaves me praying that they have the chance to find their own ways to honour those connections they were robbed of.

Honouring the parenting future

Honouring those who are the part of their parenting present and future is also important. Acknowledging the roles of newer people in their lives allows them to express their thanks for the time invested so far but to also to express their hope for the relationship as it progresses into the future also.

Divide and conquer no more

At a time in the world where women are perpetually having to fight to hold their place in society in a way that allows them to be both successful and, on the other end of the continuum, to simply feel safe and to not be at risk of harm and of death why on God’s green Earth would we want to allow ourselves to be subjected to a sense of division between us. As per the quote from the goddess rebellion:

Every woman is your sister, treat her accordingly.

Featured image source: ‘svklimkin’ – under Creative Commons license.

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