Should Mom's With Multiple DUIs Lose Custody?
There has been plenty of coverage about the dangers of drinking and driving throughout the years, and even more in light of the Diane Schuler tragedy in which eight people were killed.
We’ve heard the stories about martini lunch dates, you know, where the nice little social drinking housewives get together and have a couple of cocktails with their girlfriends during lunch while their kids are in school, and then proceed to enter the pick-up lane, retrieve their kids from school, and get into an accident on the way home to prepare dinner.
A couple nights ago on HLN I heard yet another story about a Florida Mother who was found passed out in her minivan with four empty bottles of Shiraz on the passenger side floorboard, leaving her two toddlers, a 3-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter, to wander away from the vehicle barefoot.
This comes AFTER I caught an interview last week on Dr. Phil, in which Joni, a 43-year-old Mother of two, admitted she has had multiple (4!) DUI convictions (and one pending, which is why, apparently, she reached out to Dr. Phil) and continues to drink and drive, occasionally with her children in the car, defending her insidious behavior with, “it’s okay, because I drive slowly!”
Are you freaking kidding me?
I sat in disbelief as I listened to this woman justify, minimize, and trivialize her drinking. She’s bored. She’s in an unhappy marriage, she says, which is why she drinks. She spends her days cleaning, cooking, and drinking beer. Her husband and kids try to spend as much time as possible away from her, he explained, because her drinking puts her in a different place – she has a habit of making drunken scenes – and, so, he refuses to take her to family functions. Not only is he worried she will get into an accident with the kids; he fears her drinking has, and continues to, affect them.
She made excuses, of course, and talked in circles, and she was extremely defensive. She sat there, unmoved, listening to her kids respond to Dr. Phil, confirming that she is drunk five days a week and her attitude distorts to unreckognizable proportions because she becomes confrontational about random things and takes it out on them. An obviously painful discussion, her kids tearfully admitted to carrying a lot of guilt about her drinking and they blame themselves for her problems and unhappiness. They are ashamed.
I remember those feelings growing up. The daily uncertainty and chaos was overwhelming, and I rarely felt comfortable enough to invite friends from school over.
My Mother was, and is, an alcoholic; although not once has she ever admitted her drinking was a problem. She’s mellowed out over the past ten years, but continues to drink. Every. Single. Day.
I remember receiving my driver’s license just as my mother lost hers for the second or third time. At 16-years-old, I’d get home from school, and she’d insist I drive her to the bar. For happy hour. God forbid she missed happy hour. However, happy hour did not make my Mother happy. She was a mean drunk back then.
After dropping her off at the local watering hole, I had to return home and complete my homework, as well as ensure my younger brother and sister completed theirs; cook dinner, clean up the mess, and wait for my mother to call me for a ride home, which was normally not until after I was in bed, at 2:00 a.m., when the bar was closing.
One particular morning after I had retrieved her staggering drunk ass from the bar and was proceeding to drive us home, she accused me of hot-rodding, and when I tried to explain that I was only driving the speed limit, she backhanded me in the mouth WHILE I WAS DRIVING.
The physical sting lasted only moments, but the emotional sting, I am here to tell you, lasts a lifetime.
I'm curious - do you believe that mother's who have multiple DUIs should retain custody of their kids? Should they lose custody because of their addiction?