SmackDown: Jon or Kate for Parent of the Year?

Filed under: Divorce & Custody, Celeb Parents, Twins, Triplets, Multiples, Opinions, New In Pop Culture

jon and kate gosselin

The Gosselin's split has been bitter and public. Whose side are you on? Credit: COP / BuzzFoto / FilmMagic

Reality Check: Kate Gosselin is a Good Mom


by Susan Avery

Kate Gosselin is not crazy for keeping her marriage band on her left ring finger. She is not an emotional basket case for tearing up publicly a few times lately. And she's certainly not a lunatic to check on who's baby-sitting her young children.

Kate is a mother going through a divorce.

With that misery – be it public or private – comes waves of feelings that need time to process. You don't have to be a trained therapist to understand the upheaval involved in a breakup, especially one that involves children. The initial shock of it all feels like you're swimming underwater. You can see, but things seem fuzzy. You can think, but your certainty can't be trusted. You can stand, but you're always wobbly. And you definitely can't breathe.

What you have are your instincts.

That's what Kate went on last month when she came by the house during Jon's time with the kids. The two – of TLC's Jon & Kate Plus Eight – have a custodial agreement worked out, called a bird's nest in matrimonial-court parlance, where the children remain in the family home and the parents take turns living there.

Back in August, Kate found out that someone she didn't know was baby-sitting her children and she went to the home to eyeball the woman. According to reports, Jon wouldn't let her in the house and the police were called. None of this happened in front of the kids and no arrests were made.

Last week on ABC's "The View," Kate was a guest host and she was called on the carpet by Whoopi Goldberg to defend what she did. Her response was honest, responsible and classy. She said she was uncomfortable not knowing who was minding the kids. She also said she was wrong to do it. Never once did she bash Jon.

Granted, in a legal sense, Kate was wrong. But in a maternal sense, she was as right as rain. If a parent has the feeling that something is not kosher, it's that parent's obligation to check it out. No one, including Jon, has accused Kate of going to the house and acting like a raving madwoman. She didn't pull a wacky move like banging down the door with an ax, or bringing camera crews with her, or make a production of it by involving the police. She went there to find out who's in control of her kids.

Control is the keyword here. As the stay-at-home parent who was always in control of her kids, Kate is now going through a very normal withdrawal phase. Her precious brood is now under someone else's care part of the time. We don't know how she found out that a stranger was watching her kids and what lead up to her knocking on the door. I'm going to venture a guess: I'm thinking that she called Jon and he wasn't particularly forthcoming with the information. Or, he offered up the name of the baby sitter and it raised her antennae. Any good mother would be concerned.

Since the court papers are sealed, no one is privy to the custody agreement. But I can almost guarantee this much: There's a provision in there that says something about joint decision-making over the kids lives. If Kate was not part of the decision on choosing that baby sitter, she had every right to check it out. Period.

When news of their divorce hit back in June, Jon said, "This will be a difficult transition for all of us ... We are no different than other couples and parents who are facing a crossroads in their marriage."

Exactly my point. This goes on every day with parents in passage out of their marriages. Let's stop beating up on Kate. She may be a reality-TV mom, but she's also a human being.

Sorry, Kate, This is About The Law, Not Your 'Instincts'


by Tom Henderson

The hardest things to do in a divorce where children are involved is to cut through emotion and deal with reality.

This is especially true when the children are the two people getting divorced.

Listening to reality-show parents Jon and Kate Gosselin snipe at each other, you just want to pull the car over and tell them to forget it. No one gets ice cream today.

These people need to seriously grow up before they can be truly functional parents to their eight children. Kate appeared on ABC's "The View" last week to, among other things, explain why she violated her agreement with Jon by showing up at the house on the day he had custody of the kids. She wanted to know who the new baby sitter was. This made Kate's spider sense tingle. She drove over to the house, she said, and sobbed at the gate. She says she knows she was wrong. She says she learned her lesson.

Not really.

She still maintains a mother must listen to her instincts, that both parents should be equally involved in the hiring of baby sitters. This isn't about her relationship with Jon. Oh, by the way, did she mention he is a no-good %#@?

The facts are, like it or not, you give up a certain amount of control over your children in a divorce. You have to trust that the other parent will make good decisions. As long as the person is not physically or psychologically abusive, butt out.

That applies to hiring baby sitters. Kate never met this woman. She had no reason to feel uneasy other than her "motherly instincts."

Sorry. Not good enough.

If she had serious misgivings, she could have -- should have -- called in outside authorities to investigate.

The fact that she ended up sobbing at the gate proves she was operating on emotion rather than reason. Loving instincts are important. They separate Mary Poppins from Cruella De Vil. However, you don't throw reason out with the bath water.

At some point, you have trust your ex is not going to eat your young. Don't second guess the parent on the front lines. The first commandment of being a noncustodial parent is, "Thou shalt not futz around with the agreement."

You turn over control when you turn over custody. So does your ex. Custody is a matter of law, not instinct.

It's reality. Deal with it.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.