Is your golden uterus making you a bad ex-wife and single mom?

co parenting rules golden uterus

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

It states:

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.

[29 easy rules for healthy co-parenting with an ex]

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).

[Why shared parenting is so great for kids — and moms!]

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.

[Lies that keep single moms broke, overwhelmed and alone]

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.

About Emma Johnson founder  Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist and author. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Emma's Top Single Mom Resources.


  1. Sarah Glanville on February 2, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart. My stepson’s mom is this person. It’s frustrating for the adults, but we have a little perspective. For a child it’s deeply traumatic to feel as if his loyalties are torn. We say only positive things about his mother in his presence, and make sure to share his enthusiasm when he’s sharing a bright moment (even, or maybe especially, if it’s something we don’t do here, like McDonalds) . Meanwhile, he echoes back all the sloppy comments she makes to him & her pumping him for loyalty questions. Her frequent locus of control is homework. We don’t quite have him 1/2 time (but will be 50/50 starting next month) but we do 1/2 the homework with him. Still, she tells him she does more. On the rare occasion we are shy of 1/2, she calls my husband to scream at him. This has created extra strain on us and the kid over homework, which is already a challenging arena. For her, it seems it’s just the most tangible way of policing our home. Also, god forbid that after caring for my stepson for over 4 of his 8 years, my signature should be on any of the homework… “School is mom territory” is a direct quote…

  2. Catherine on April 4, 2017 at 5:51 am

    After reading the article about GU in it’s entirety, I finally have clarity as to what my husband’s ex-wife “suffers” from. It saddens me to watch my stepson struggle at 7 years old to the degree that he does and while he has an amazing support system within our home and hearts, he battles the exposure to his mother’s constant need to first. She recently learned we are expecting our first child together and has decided to file motions in court to move 1,000 miles away because she lost her job and must protect him from me. Mind you, I have a 5 year old daughter from a previous relationship that is developmentally, emotionally and socially leaps and bounds ahead of my stepson. I was single mother raising her and have always co-parented with her father very well, because of this she is a well-rounded young lady who knows without a doubt she is loved by us. Our love for our girl will always outweigh our differences. This child I carry is my 3rd, I lost my firstborn 10 years ago. This fact is one she has tried to use against me, in her mind if you’ve lost a child you did something wrong. I couldn’t imagine being the kind of “woman” hubby’s ex-wife is or imposing the damage being reaked upon our sweet boy. We pray everyday for God to show us his plan, we pray for our boy’s peace, we pray for her soul. The only people who truly lose to this are the children and I sincerely want better for all of them.

  3. Maiko on March 22, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    FINALLY!! Someone talks about this! Thank you for stepping outside the box and speaking your truth… more of us need to have the courage to do the same:)) And I absolutely AGREE! I am with a man who has children and we have lived in complete toxicity coming from the biological mother because she suffers from this mentality (among other things). 3 years later, we finally have a grasp on keeping her negative energy out of our lives (thanks to boundaries and help from experts like Dr. T) — and… I have found my new business & purpose: empowering women through their journeys of loving a man with kids. Thx for speaking out from another perspective!

  4. Mommy22 on April 17, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    I am a single mom, first wife/ex wife. Sure my ex remarried 7 months after the divorce. Sure it rocked my children’s works for another couple of months. But maybe I’m weird but I knew I couldn’t let them have their sad feelings permeate the relationship w their father and stepmom. Step up. Acknowledge that your children can feel that way but tell them it’s all for good. My children have always been told that the ex and I are happier not married so that makes us happier parents.

    • Emma on April 18, 2016 at 2:01 pm

      Love this. THANK YOU.

  5. rajean on February 27, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Folks there’s a huge difference from being a caring mother and thinking that you are omniscient and have more rights to the child just because you had him inside your uterus.

    • Emma on February 27, 2016 at 5:41 pm


  6. Rob Stone on February 3, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Really? I myself and a good friend both had time off as stop at home dads. Our wife/girlfriend were both pregnant at the same time. Both babies were born within a week of each other.

    I had the 3 years you talk about from 1month after my wife went back to work and friend after his girlfriend went back after maternity he is still a stop at home dad 4years later.

    I always say its one of women’s best kept secrets that stop at home parents is all told far easier than its made out minus one or two stresses eg illness or a fall! If more dads stopped at home I think more women would Cr foul because deep down other than the above and I suppose some sleepless nights its easy

  7. STBSinglemom on December 11, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    What you call having golden uterus syndrome I call being a woman who attends to the needs of her children.

    “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…”

    See this is the problem. Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, are little. Newborns worlds do revolve around their mothers. Older babies and toddlers still need almost continuous access to their mother. Kids turn 3? However those first few years, and especially the first few months, the child’s world really does revolve around mom.

    • Emma on December 16, 2015 at 11:04 am

      Yep, that is exactly what I said.

      • Mel on October 2, 2018 at 8:03 pm

        Yes this article has good points but when the new girlfriend bashes you to your child and your child comes home telling you that so and so is better then you because they do this and that and that other women has never had children and is over stepping her bonds then there is a problem and if the ex won’t do something then I the child’s mother will. And in all fairness what I have told my child to do was not listen to the other women if she does those things. Not my problem if all the women the ex chose treated her that way. The new wife is amazing and even though I don’t care for her I like that my daughter likes her and is bonding with her. So maybe the article should have touched a little on what if the ex’s new women doesn’t treat the child right or bashes the mother to them.

    • rajean on February 27, 2016 at 1:16 pm

      I think you aren’t getting the point of the article.

    • Thereyouare on April 27, 2016 at 10:17 pm

      And here we have a golden uterus outing herself…

    • Randy single dad on May 2, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      Nonsense (in response to first comment). Both parents are critical and in my case equally involved. To say that either parent is more important is complete BS. Both are equal players. If one parent chooses to step up and do more, kudos. That is a personal choice.

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