Sometimes It’s Okay to Abandon Your Kids

Beth Jennings
Written by Beth Jennings

Most people don’t like being told what to do, and if you start preaching to them about right and wrong, they will tell you to get off your soapbox, call you sanctimonious, or yell at you to STFU. Yet these same people have created their own moral codes, where they get to decide what’s acceptable behavior and what’s not and will be the first to judge you when you cross the(ir) line.

One arbitrary rule that people enforce is that it’s not okay to leave your kids. Something about nature and maternal instinct and how dare you abandon your child. But let’s get real. These holier-than-thou types don’t live in your house. They don’t know what you have to deal with on a daily basis. And this ignorance means they have absolutely zero right to lecture you on what motherhood means.

While I’m not advocating that you run away and leave your children unattended at home or in hot cars or on the side of the road (that’s cruel and abusive), here are 5 instances when it’s actually okay to leave your kids at the local fire station or church—and never go back and get them.

  1. We Have Irreconcilable Differences.

You can do everything you know to do—follow all the guidelines in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, read every mommy blog on the planet, drag your kid to therapy for years—and he might STILL turn out to be someone completely different from you. It’s like he’s this whole other person—his own opinions, his own goals . . . . If you’ve ever said, “He just doesn’t get me,” or, “We like different things,” then you might be headed toward irreconcilable differences. This is the place where you just can’t make it work. Try as you might, you will never understand his love of video games or how to clone elite barbarians in time to take the crown tower.

  1. We’ve Grown Apart.

You remember the days when he cried the moment you left the room—he couldn’t stand to be apart from you. While he screamed your name (like Stanley yelling STELLLLLA! in Streetcar) you used to shrug to everyone around you and secretly relish how much this boy loved you. But now you find yourself telling your friends, “I don’t even know who he is anymore.” He wants you to drop him off a block away from school or the mall, far enough that his friends don’t see you. You ask if he’s embarrassed by you, and he mumbles something you don’t understand. He doesn’t ask you to do things like he used to and simply doesn’t make time for you. You’re no longer his priority, and he only texts when he needs something. You try to talk to him about all the things that matter to you, but it’s like he’s not even listening anymore.

  1. I’ve Found Someone Better.

We hate to admit this because we remember when we thought our boy hung the moon. The whole neighborhood could call and complain about his behavior, but in our eyes, he could do no wrong. Now we confide to our BFF, whispering in excited breaths, “I’ve found someone. He never forgets Mother’s Day. He makes me feel special. He gets me.” This new man has manners, he’s got style, he’s unlike anyone you’ve ever met. This new man doesn’t have acne, he does his own laundry, he doesn’t pee on the toilet seat, doesn’t sleep til noon and stink up his entire room with B.O. This one’s a keeper.

  1. I’m Just Not Mom Material.

It’s your life, honey, and only you have to live it. So live your truth. No one can judge you for coming out and admitting that you weren’t made to be a mom. People should respect you for owning it and being your authentic self. Sure, it would’ve been nice to know this before you had kids, but it’s never too late to live your best life. Just ask Glennon—after marriage and a passel of kids, she finally realized she’s a lesbian. If you’ve finally realized that you’re not mom material, more power to you. After all, Elizabeth Gilbert knows that women don’t need children to be happy.

  1. He Doesn’t Treat Me Well.

You’re a grown woman and you deserve better. More than that—you’re a human being and you should be happy. Life is too short to be miserable all the time. He’s rude! He pouts, complains, talks back, argues, stomps away, mutters about you under his breath—this boy is not treating you the way you ought to be treated, and you are well within your rights to walk away. He will learn to be a better man—or he won’t, but that’s not your problem. You’ve put up with him for years, basically sacrificed everything for him, and this is how he repays you? No. If he doesn’t respect you, find someone who will.

Some people might think I’m a monster for suggesting that there are times when it’s okay to abandon your kids. But those people haven’t walked in my shoes. If I’m miserable, why shouldn’t I be able to do what’s best for me? Things change, folks. It’s impossible to tell what we will feel and what we will want 10 or 20 years from now. Just like it was impossible to know what we’d feel right now back when we were having babies. Walking out is a big decision, but there are always reasons, and if people don’t understand your reasons, that’s okay. They don’t have to live your life. You do.

About the author

Beth Jennings

Beth Jennings

Beth Jennings writes because it’s cheaper than therapy and a lot more fun. She ticks a lot of boxes on the survey—wife, mother, human, allergic to latex—and she has a knack for ticking people off. Sometimes, the truth hurts. Unfortunately, Beth knows this better than anybody.

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