The Amber Portwood we're seeing these days is nothing like the girl we remember from Teen Mom. She's out of prison, off the drugs, and actually owning up to all that she did to screw up her own life. But no matter how far she's come, it doesn't seem to be enough for ex-boyfriend Gary Shirley. He knows Amber wants to share custody of daughter Leah ... and he's not having it!
The single dad has come out to say he wants to protect his 5-year-old, and to do that, he's going to keep the little girl's mom at bay. Poor guy is between a rock and a hard place here, isn't he?
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According to an OK! interview with Gary, the Teen Mom star is worried his ex will fall back into the lifestyle that landed her in prison in the first place:
Well, everyone knows that she went to jail for drugs and stuff. I’m not saying that she’ll ever get back into that, but I hear stories of how easy it is [to relapse] because that pressure is always there.
I don’t want to screw myself over [by agreeing to joint custody] and then have to fight for Leah. So I think it’s going to stay the way it is, just to protect Leah.
Gary is certainly wise to be wary of Amber's grasp on sobriety. As many as 60 percent of drug addicts will relapse, no matter how much they want to stay clean. Amber has said many times since her release that Leah is her driving force to stay clean, but it may not be enough.
That said, there's being cautious and then there's being punitive. Amber has already been punished by the courts for her mistakes. She spent time in prison, and while there, she really put in the hard work she needed to put in to become a better mom. She got clean, and she took parenting and anger management classes both.
She is trying to be a good parent, which is more than a lot of people can say.
So why shouldn't she get some custody? I'm not talking full custody here -- Gary is clearly a good dad and has been the ONLY parent providing for Leah for quite some time. I'm not even suggesting Amber get more time with Leah than Gary.
But even he has said it's been good for Leah to have overnights with her mom. So why not give Amber an every other weekend schedule or one night a week? Make it conditional upon her maintaining her sobriety?
If you're co-parenting with someone who is on the wagon, you should be cautious, but you can't hold it over their head forever. You can't just hold custody like a carrot in front of them and say you'll get it when you prove you can stay clean. The fact is, an addict may relapse immediately, in 10 years, 20 years, or not at all.
Amber has already lost enough time with Leah, and more importantly, Leah has lost that time with her mom. How much longer are they really supposed to go so this mom can prove she won't screw up?
Do you think addicts should regain custody of their kids? What kind of conditions should be put on it?
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