Do you suffer from golden-uterus syndrome?
Not sure? Maybe?
Sometimes referred to as ‘maternal gatekeeping,' this is the act of a mother dictating a father's access and engagement with the children, a right presumed based on a woman's gender.
This post by clinical psychologist Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, who specializes in working with men in relationships with or are trying to exit relationships with abusive women, and author of Say Goodbye to Crazy: How to Get Rid of His Crazy Ex and Restore Sanity to Your Life Kindle Edition]
Does your Wife or Ex-Wife Have a Golden Uterus Complex? 15 Characteristics of the Golden Uterus
Are you frustrated with your wife or ex-wife’s attitude of “I AM THE MOTHER; YOU ARE IRRELEVANT” when it comes to raising your shared children? Does she have an over-inflated sense of self because she’s a mother? Does she believe the mere act of giving birth entitles her to special privileges and gives her absolute, unilateral power over you and the children? If so, your wife/ex-wife/mother of your children may be a golden uterus (GU) and suffer from golden uterus complex (GUC).
There's plenty of ex-wife hating out there, and I don't suggest indulging in that kind of toxic media. Instead, this is about healthy co-parenting for the sake of kids, each parent's well-being, and gender equality.
Co-parenting after divorce — even with a toxic ex
I see this golden uterus complex all around, have heard complaints from both men I know, as well as followers who suffer painfully at the hands of their boyfriends' and new husbands' ex-wives.
It is understandable if you have GUC. After all, there is a newish trend in our culture that over-celebrates motherhood and women's work overall — elevating it to deity status and explaining why, for example, 40 percent of Americans believe it hurts children when mothers work outside the home (according to Pew), fuels working mom guilt, urges mothers to prioritize their children above husbands and serious boyfriends (proven to end marriages), and leads to spoiled, over-parented children who grow up to incompetent adults (my observation/judgement).
This is backlash for centuries of oppression, in which women's work was not seen as work at all, but simply a uncompensated duty of the lesser sex, cleaning and cooking and child-rearing that did not warrant compensation or equality in civic or business matters.
But, like most social revolutions, feminism in some ways has gone too far —all the way to proverbially gilding your lady parts.
Co-parenting rules and boundaries
In divorced and single mother families, GUC symptoms include:
- Assumption that you are the superior parent, and make all the decisions about the kids' well-being, discipline and care of the kids.
- Dictate how time is spent when the kids are with the other parent. In reality: That is their time, and you get no or little say about what happens at his house. Unless he has proven incompetent by a court, he is an equal parent, and you must respect that.
- Call your kids all the time when they are with their dad.
- Alienate the new girlfriend or wife. Blended families are nearly always challenging, especially at the beginning. But if you're so threatened by the new woman in your ex's life that you discourage your children from bonding with her or respecting her, then everyone misses out. Your kids miss out on a relationship with the new woman. Your ex and his new ladyfriend miss out on creating a new routine and relationship with the kids — and move on with their lives. You also miss out on moving on. This is how the rest of your life is going to be, and you must accept that you cannot control your kids 24/7. This would be true if you were in a “perfect,” traditional nuclear family, too. Because you would still have a co-parent with whom you'd have to negotiate, and a whole, uncontrollable world to which your child belongs.
- Failure to accept that you are not the center of your kid's life. Yes, for the first few years your kid needs you a whole, whole lot. Then they grow up, go to school, have friends and Girl Scout leaders and tennis coaches and tuba instructors who have huge influences on them. Which is so, so awesome. Especially for single moms who often feel your hands full, and could use some support in encouraging and disciplining the kids.
Which underscores the big point: Humble yourself, strip your womb of its exalted status, and by default you free an entire family — village even! — to welcome love and support for its every member. Because you can only control what you can control — and the sooner you accept that you can't micro-control your kids' existence, the sooner you embrace the new life that you are now living, and the sooner you focus on controlling your own happiness and reaction to things that irk or enrage you, the happier everyone will be.
Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, noted blogger, and bestselling author. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.