Olivia Wilde's Right, Men Don't Get Dragged For 'Abandoning' Their Kids

"I’ve never seen anyone say that about a guy."
Dia Dipasupil via Getty Images

Olivia Wilde is often photographed without her kids. And for some reason, there are people who think she’s “abandoned” her duties as a mum because of it.

After months of people questioning her maternal instincts, the Don’t Worry Darling director set the record straight in an interview for Elle magazine’s November issue.

“I share custody of my kids with my ex. If I’m photographed not with my kids, people assume I have abandoned them, like my kids are just somewhere in a hot car without me. The suggestion is that I have abandoned my role as a mother,” she said.

“You know why you don’t see me with my kids? Because I don’t let them get photographed. Do you know the lengths that I go to to protect my kids from being seen by you?”

Sadly, you do not have to scroll for long on social media to find people questioning Wilde’s parenting skills. You’ll find plenty of bystanders telling her “your children need you,” – as if she’s not sufficiently looking after six-year-old Daisy, and Otis, eight.

The criticisms only ramped up last week, when papers speculated that she was planning to move to London full-time to live with beau Harry Styles.

Neil Mockford via Getty Images

Reading some of the discourse, you’d think Wilde was the first person ever to juggle parenting with a high-powered job and a budding romance (spoiler: she is not).

As the director herself pointed out, there’s a huge double standard at play, because men in the public eye are rarely even asked about their kids, let alone judged for the way they choose to raise them.

“When people see me not with my kids, it’s always ‘How dare she,’” Wilde told Variety back in August. “I’ve never seen anyone say that about a guy. And if he is with his kid, he’s a fucking hero.”

The subtext behind a lot of this criticism is the idea that women should give their whole identities over to motherhood. Of course, being a mum is life-changing, but are dads expected to drop everything else in the same way?

Hollywood has a habit of forgetting that women can wear multiple hats simultaneously – and do it well.

Back in 2016, actor Anna Faris said she’s always asked about the child she shares with ex Chris Pratt, when he is not.

“A common question on the red carpet would be, ‘How do you juggle it all being a mum?’ And it’s a very fair question, but not particularly fair that Chris would never get asked that kind of question,” Faris told HuffPost. “We’ve been conditioned to the idea that it wouldn’t occur to people to think that he would have to juggle it all,” she said.

In 2019, John Legend said his wife Chrissy Teigen often faces harsher parenting criticism than he does. Teigen experienced a social media pile on when the pair where photographed out a date night as new parents.

“People were shaming Chrissy for leaving the house, and didn’t say anything bad to me,” Legend said.

“Look, we’re both parents and we’re both going out. If you think that’s not appropriate – and first of all, you shouldn’t think that’s not appropriate – if you’re going to blame somebody, blame both of us, not just the mother.”

No, most of us won’t face a public backlash for our parenting choices in the same way as celebs. But when the overwhelming majority of single parents IRL are women, we really need to question the skewed narrative about absent mothers vs absent fathers.

Olivia Wilde says she has not “abandoned” her kids. And if you don’t believe her, start asking yourself why.