The Twilight Zone of the “protective parent” or “legal kidnapping”

In Family Rights on August 5, 2010 at 11:00 pm

October 25, 2008 · Filed under Family Abductions, Opinion

I could just as easily substitute “mother” for parent above and make the same point. The truth is that “protective parent” essentially equals “mother.”

Custody decisions are not always easily done, and the system has gone from the tender years doctrine, which placed children with their mothers almost all the time, to a system for the “best interests of the child.” This is of course not easily defined. I would argue that in many situations some sort of shared parenting agreement is best. Sole custody should be reserved for a situation where one parent is clearly unfit. I accept there are errors in the system, but there always will be and it is impossible to be right one hundred percent of the time.

There are those that disagree with me, of course.

When I went for more research on Jesse Griffin-Sebublia’s case, I found this blog. It is in many ways the textbook model for the site devoted to the “protective mother.” Although they claim to be superior to the many “father’s rights” sites out there, they use the same slant to reverse the rhetoric. Mothers are better parents… just because. Or possibly because they can breastfeed. Maybe some combination of things.  Just trust us.

“Smith also said domestic abusers who fight for custody in U.S. courts win full custody, joint custody or unsupervised access 70% of the time, regardless of the evidence of the mother.”

This is a quote from this site, and a good evidence of statistic mining. By combining full, joint, and even unsupervised visitation, you will get the vast majority of all divorce cases. Joint custody is divided into legal and physical custody and joint legal is very common, even without the presence of joint physical. Supervised visitation is a rare thing in any divorce case. The fact that the remaining thirty percent, if this is to be believed, either get no access or supervised access is a large amount. And of course one does not know whether this counts actual substantiated cases or merely any case where some allegation is made. But if one just looks at it and doesn’t think about the wording, it does look shocking. This is of course the point.

Thomas Szaz, a controversial writer who believes there is no such thing as mental illness, is cited on this site as essential reading. Yet when it is convenient for their case they cite the American Psychological Association. The reader here will notice an agenda. Of course all people have an agenda, but when one is willing to ignore contradictory information to get the agenda across, it’s time to stop and think.

All allegations of abuse are assumed to be true as well, taking away the “innocent until proven guilty” idea that is the basis of our court system. And the examples they always use come from mothers. I suppose Juan Lozano is not interesting enough, being a man. (And before you ask, no, I don’t think Bianca’s mother was abusive towards her.)

I would argue that the whole site easily goes too far, but one example really sticks out in my mind. In an article the blogmaster has posted about single fathers, a man who has custody of his six year old daughter mentions some of the troubles he encounters in this role. For example, he has to take her into the men’s bathroom when out with her, and gets some flak for this. The blog comments:

All the BS in this country’s family court system needs to be stopped. Does this excerpt sound like the best interest of this little girl is being kept at the top of everyone’s agenda…to see men using urinals at the age of six?

For starters, it is assumed right away that the best interest of his daughter is not being kept because she has to see men using urinals. I would laugh here if I didn’t know the person was being serious. And why is it assumed that she would be better off with her mother? She could have a history of drug abuse, untreated mental illness, or she just didn’t want custody. She could even have a child abuse history. After all, women can and do abuse children, and yet they are labeled when abducting “protective” by many. Because of their gender. A parent should be judged on more than merely possessing two X chromosomes.

Do you see why I chose the title of “twilight zone” yet? These are the types of people who supported April Griffin but went silent when Jesse was found badly neglected at the very least. I will add I do not know if this particular blog owner supported her or not, but some of the more generalized content on her site is identical to sites that supported her, and they typically have the same agenda.

I will say that not all people who speak out against the above are people I support. The Children of the Underground Watch site is somewhat helpful, but I will not link to it on For the Lost because it contains certain statements about the Unitarian church I find offensive. Likewise, although I believe Richard Gardner’s book for children about divorce is useful, and that he was right in that a child can become irrationally alienated from a parent, I agree with almost nothing else he says. (If you want to read good writing about alienation, Richard Warshak’s writing is gender-balanced, clear, and to the point.)

It is of course also easy to paint detractors as being pro-abuse. I suspect merely by posting this I will receive such allegations, and I will have to live with that.

  1. Fabulous blog indeed!

    It’s too bad the police are not more involved when this process first develops, then the courts could have a better judgement of what is really happening. Especially for Fathers. I certainly agree with you that it is assumed the child instantly should be with the mother, which is not fair to the father.

    In situations you mentioned of untreated mental illness and active drug addiction in the mother, I can’t imagine why any court would not give full custody to the Father without visitation rights. Especially if the father is much more financially superior.

    I guess the only people that really know the truth are those parents, the rest of opinions are left up to speculation, judgements, personal agendas, not thinking of the reasoning behind something when there maybe a situation outsiders have not thought of and do not, nor will ever know.

    This reminds me of a writer I know, it’s odd but she as a mother had all those things you mentioned, on speculation of course.

    Your first link is not working. Thank you again for bringing this to the forefront, especially for the fathers.

    Still think the police should be contacted



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