License to Parent

If you’re like me, watching the public custody battle between actor Charlie Sheen and his former wife, socialite Brooke Mueller, is gut-wrenching.

If you’re not familiar with the story, Sheen and Mueller are parents to four-year-old twins Bob and Max. Mueller and Sheen divorced in 2011 and their relationship has been contentious ever since. Forget Sheen’s wacky meltdown that included Twitter rants and a house full of “Goddesses.” The real problem seems to be Ms. Mueller’s 20 visits to rehab, twice while she was pregnant with Bob and Max.


With their Mom somewhat unavailable, the boys have been shuttled from one relative to the next, finally landing with their half-sisters’ Mom actress Denise Richards. By all accounts the boys flourished under Richards’ care.

Things changes a week or two ago when Richards regretfully asked the courts to place the boys elsewhere. It seems with Mueller now out of rehab, Richards felt her hands were tied. She couldn’t care for the boys or her family properly, with no legal rights as their guardian. The boys will now go live with Mueller’s brother.

Confused yet? Yeah. Me, too.

Which is undoubtedly how those little boys feel, too.

It seems to me that there should be certain requirements of a parent. It’s a job. And you have to do your job well. Life isn’t Monopoly. There’s no “get out of jail free” card that allows you screw up your kids over and over again.

Reading the coverage of this story, I can’t imagine there isn’t anyone who doesn’t have the same reaction that I’ve had: Denise Richard should have custody of these kids with all the legal implications to make decisions on their behalf.

Instead, these little guys are being set up to have a very difficult life. Sure their father is wealthy enough to throw money at any problem that comes their way, but you can’t pay to make kids feel loved or properly cared for. Shuttling these kids around with the goal of sending them back to their Mother doesn’t seem like the answer. If past performance predicts future behavior, Miss Mueller is probably not going to change anytime soon. Wouldn’t it be better to have her kids in a stable, loving home just in case Mueller doesn’t stay clean?

I’m sure Mueller’s battle to stay clean and sober will be long and difficult. But why make her kids struggle along with her?   It’s great to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but let’s give it these kids first. That seems a little less confusing.