Posts Tagged ‘Feminism’

De Facto Parents

In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, Feminism, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Homosexual Agenda, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Marriage, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parentectomy, Parents rights on September 12, 2009 at 12:00 pm

De Facto Parents

Now children can have multiple legal parents without biology, adoption, or marriage.

By William C. Duncan
In Revolution, Herbert Jacob described how one of the most significant changes to family law in the 20th century, no-fault divorce, began in California and spread through the states with very little public debate or controversy. This remarkable transformation was presented, and largely accepted, as routine policymaking in the domain of legal experts.

Similarly, a revolution in the legal understanding of parenthood seems to have quietly begun with little or no public debate or discussion. This dramatically transformative development is the statutory recognition of “de facto” parenthood — the notion that an unrelated individual (usually the unmarried partner of a biological parent, but potentially any adult) can be designated as the legal “parent” of a child by virtue of an agreement with a biological or adoptive parent, or even just a relationship with the child. In some cases, three or more people may be designated “parents” of the same child. While a handful of state courts have endorsed the idea in the context of disputes between same-sex couples jointly raising children, not until very recently has a legislature endorsed it.

This year, the District of Columbia Council passed a law allowing biological parents’ registered domestic partners to be presumed parents, and to be listed as such on the children’s birth certificates. The law also allows a person to be legally designated a parent if he consents in writing to the artificial insemination of his partner, or if he “hold[s] out” the child as his own—that is, presents the child as his to others. (D.C. already had a law allowing people to sue for child custody if they could show they had acted as “de facto” parents (D.C. Code 16-831.01).)

Then, last month, the Delaware legislature went even farther when it enacted legislation giving state courts the ability to designate a non-parent as a “de facto” parent (with all the legal ramifications of parenthood) as long as the biological parent of a child “fosters” a “parent-like relationship” between the non-parent and the child, and as long as the “de facto” parent has acted like a parent and bonded with the child in a way that is “parental in nature.”

The Delaware law completely untethers legal parentage from biology, marriage, adoption, and even the relationship between the adults who are the child’s legal “parents.” It also abandons the binary nature of legal parenthood by allowing three or more adults to be designated “parents” of a child at the same time.

Like the no-fault revolution, de facto parenthood has its boosters, and they seem to be increasingly influential. Prof. Nancy Polikoff, who advocates the erasure of legal distinctions between households based on marriage and those based on other arrangements, has written extensively and approvingly of these developments and suggests that they ought to be more widely adopted. The prestigious American Law Institute has also endorsed the “de facto” parent idea in the context of the law regarding family breakups.

These changes, however, are radical. The default rules for establishing legal parenthood — which were nearly universally recognized until now — recognize individuals as parents based on (1) biological parenthood, (2) marriage to a parent, or (3) adoption. These clear laws advance the interests of children to know and be raised by their biological parents whenever possible. The one significant exception, adoption, largely imitates the biological mother-father model, thus allowing a child who cannot be raised by his own parents to at least be raised by a mother and father. By limiting the number of people who can claim parental authority, the default rules promote stability and consistency for children.

Existing law also ensures that when natural parents transfer their legal rights, there are “bright lines” governing the process. Thus, parental rights are only terminated when there is clear evidence of unfitness, or when a parent voluntarily relinquishes them through a formal procedure like adoption (including adoption by stepparents).

These rules also enhance children’s best interests because a biological tie between parents and children “increase[s] the likelihood that the parents would identify with the child and be willing to sacrifice for that child, and it would reduce the likelihood that either parent would abuse the child,” as Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur wrote in Growing Up with a Single Parent. It is clear that living with a cohabiting couple increases risks of abuse and maltreatment for children, and that unrelated males living with children are more likely to abuse those children.

It is also not hard to imagine the chaos likely to result when the relationship between three or more “de facto” parents breaks up and courts are called upon to dole out parental rights and responsibilities to each person. Children have a hard enough time navigating between two worlds after divorce. Imagine the difficulty of being shuttled between the homes of a mother, her former partner, a sperm donor, his partner, etc.

Perhaps most fundamentally, these trends treat children as acquisitions, ignoring their needs for relationships with their parents and for substitute arrangements when those relationships are disrupted. The idea of de facto parenthood legally facilitates the creation of motherless or fatherless homes, based not on children’s needs but on adult desires. In adopting these laws, states are saying that parentage can be created by a bargain between two or more adults.

Needless to say, these developments and their philosophical underpinnings should be met with stiff opposition. That is likely only if people are aware such developments are taking place. That has not been the case to this point. As the promoters of “de facto” parenthood begin to take their arguments to other legislatures, there must be a more robust debate and response. Our children deserve at least that much.

— William C. Duncan is director of the Marriage Law Foundation.

De Facto Parents by William C. Duncan on National Review Online.


In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Feminism, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation on June 30, 2009 at 7:05 pm


Louise B. Silverstein 1

1 Yeshiva University

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Louise B. Silverstein, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, 1300 Morris Park Avenue, Bronx, NY 10461.

Copyright 1996 Human Sciences Press


Feminist theory has not yet addressed the ways in which the ideology of fatherhood has contributed to interlocking inequalities for women in both the workplace and family life. This paper is an effort to inject a feminist voice into the redefinition of fathering, which I see as essential both to the achievement of equality for women and to the reconstruction of the masculine gender role. I begin by describing how our unconscious gender ideology pressures all families to become traditional patriarchal families. I address feminist concerns about the dangers of over-valuing fathers’contributions to child development. I review the research evidence on whether fathers have the same potential for nurturing as mothers, and examine gay fathering in particular. Finally, I suggest that redefining fathering to emphasize nurturing as well as providing will place attachment and connection at the center of gender socialization for men. Masculinity would then become much less oppressive for men as well as for women.

First draft received: June 6, 1995 Final draft received: August 22, 1995

via Wiley InterScience :: JOURNALS :: Psychology of Women Quarterly.

The Best Parent

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parentectomy, state crimes on June 26, 2009 at 3:09 pm

by Suzanne Fields on Creators.com – A Syndicate Of Talent

Divorce is good mostly for the lawyers. They make a lot of money from divorces, working out alimony, child support and custody while the meter keeps ticking. These issues are never easy to resolve, but the “best” divorces are those where the parents can keep the best interest of the child always in sharp focus.

That’s always more difficult when rancor trumps reason and the concerns of the children give way to spite and ego, and a spouse’s anger with the other surpasses sensitivity and common sense. This is the stuff of countless books and movies. The literature begins with Medea, who murdered her children to punish her husband. Less spiteful parents impose softer gradations of suffering on children when a marriage fails. It doesn’t have to be so. Customs, like time, can change.

“Blended” family holidays are increasing, where remarried husbands and wives with a mixture of children celebrate together. Divorced parents share summer houses (hopefully at separate times) so that their children can enjoy an extended stay in the same house where they’ve developed friendships and familiarity.

But lurid headlines about “deadbeat dads” still identify delinquent parents who refuse to pay child support, even when affluence puts no strain on pocketbooks. Circumstances always alter cases, but David Levy, director of the Children’s Rights Council, blames a social system that emphasizes the importance of financial support without focusing nearly the attention that emotional support should get. When child support laws began to tighten in the 1980s, fathers were often kept out of the child’s life. Fathers weren’t needed, but their dollars were.

“The country saw wage withholding, liens against property, interception of federal and state tax returns, publication of ‘most wanted’ lists of child-support delinquents, and arrests in the middle of the night, where dads were handcuffed in their pajamas and hauled off to court,” Mr. Levy says. Sometimes this was warranted; many angry men were in fact withholding support because their wives were withholding access to their children.

“Men were offended by the idea that a woman could initiate divorce, obtain custody and support, and reduce the father to the role of Disneyland Daddy in his own child’s life,” he says.

Fathers saw themselves unfairly treated, and some of them organized the Children’s Rights Council to lobby Congress for joint custody laws and for what’s called “shared parenting” — one parent may be held responsible for financial support but both parents are held responsible for emotional support. Children’s rights, as fathers argued before congressional committees, meant fathers’ rights, too.

Joint custody, like sole custody, can work well or not at all. What matters is the mental health of the parents and the quality of child-parent relationships. Needs can often change with a child’s age.

While one size does not fit all, it’s difficult to object to an increased emphasis on shared parenting for divorced parents. This doesn’t necessarily mean equal time, but an amicable commitment of time and cooperation. Governments spend $4 billion a year to collect financial support but only $109 million annually on parenting education, counseling, mediation and other things.

The emotional benefits stemming from a parent’s psychological participation in a child’s life are harder to measure than the benefits paid for by hard cash. Mr. Levy objects to such a facile interpretation. “The lack of two parents in a child’s life is the most significant fact producing more crime, drugs, lack of school performance, and teenage pregnancy in young people,” he says. Such data has been used in campaigns to foster fatherhood in single parent families, but he doesn’t think enough has been said on behalf of those fathers of divorce who remain vulnerable to vindictive wives. Preliminary data even suggests that certain states with high joint custody rates have lower divorce rates, suggesting that if you can’t get your “ex” out of your life maybe you might as well consider reconciliation. This might be the greatest benefit of all for the kids.

The Children’s Rights Council has become more mainstream — perhaps even mellower — than when it was founded 20 years ago, reflecting the mellowing of feminists who sought “liberation” from the home, directing venom at men and delivering it through the children. Divorce has declined or flattened since as post-feminism attitudes have revived the importance of family life for both men and women. It’s difficult to find someone to disagree with the council’s mantra: “The Best Parent is Both Parents.” How to accomplish that is another matter. We’ll be working on that for as long as children are the rewards of marriage.

Suzanne Fields is a columnist with The Washington Times. Write to her at: sfields1000@aol.com. To find out more about Suzanne Fields and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at http://www.creators.com.


via The Best Parent by Suzanne Fields on Creators.com – A Syndicate Of Talent.

Save the Males – Book Review

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, cps fraud, custody, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Marriage, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parentectomy, Parents rights on June 26, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Dedicated to preservation of Western civilization and the nuclear family through restoration of traditional manly virtues, “Save The Males” presents the other side of the gender issues coin through the prism of a moral male viewpoint. Thoroughly researched and buttressed with facts, this book explores the root causes of our decaying civilization. The thesis that restoration of equal rights and dignity for the male sex is the best hope for salvation of civilization is demonstrated via use of ‘metric’ benchmarks.

A growing number of men today are deprived of the very motivation that promotes civilized behavior by politically correct feminist dogma, which dominates society and the legal establishment.

Families and children are collateral victims of damage to men.

Strike a blow for men’s/fathers’ rights, and yours – Buy in paperback or download!

Soft cover print version available at Amazon.com (Click here) or Lulu.com (Click on book cover) Lulu will be faster.

eBook available at Lulu.com (Click on book cover).

266 pages, Copyright 2008 ISBN 978-1-4116-9633-4

via Men’s Defense Association – HOME.

Fathers and “paternalists” « The Y Files

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, children's behaviour, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Domestic Violence, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, kidnapped children, motherlessness, mothers rights, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on June 23, 2009 at 9:21 pm


About a month ago, I had an op-ed in The Boston Globe about the rise of single motherhood and what it means for fathers — ironically, at a time when equal parenting as an ideal has been making a lot of inroads.  A couple of days later, there followed this commentary from Shannon LC Cate on the Strollerderby parenting blog.  I meant to reply to it sooner, but first I was busy with other things and then I decided to put it off until Father’s Day.  So, here is it.

Ms. Cate’s post is titled “Unwed Motherhood on the Rise; Paternalists on the Warpath.”  Evidently, to point out that in general, children are better off having a father (and that, among other things, the glorification of the mother-child family unit takes us back to the not-very-feminist notion of child-rearing as women’s work) is to be a “paternalist on the warpath.”

Ms. Cate also points out, in an unmistakably snarky tone, that I’m an unmarried non-mother, which presumably means that I have no real standing to comment on the subject.  I wonder if she would have said the same thing had I written in defense of single mothers, or in defense of married women’s right to a career of their own.

Says Ms. Cate:

I do find her questions about where the unmarried (at least to these mothers) fathers of unmarried women’s children are, both in reality and in the discourse about the issue, to be refreshing.  I think it is indeed decidedly unfeminist to go on and on about women and children these days with nary a reference to the men who, let’s face it, make single motherhood possible in the first place.

Well, as much as I appreciate the compliment, I have to wonder what planet she inhabits.  Evidently, one where there are no campaigns to stigmatize deadbeat deads or billboards promoting “responsible fatherhood” — one of the few issues on which Barack Obama and George W. Bush are in complete agreement.

More from Ms. Cate:

The research shows that children with two parents fare better than those with one, not that children with parents who are married to each other fare best.  Marriage per se does not provide a child with a functional parent and lack of a marriage certificate does not deprive a child of one.  Rather, even in this recent research, it was found that a sizeable percentage of “unmarried” mothers are not, in fact single mothers, but mothers who co-parent with their children’s fathers either in the same home without benefit of marriage or in separate homes.

True.  However, there are also a lot of data showing that unmarried couples are considerably more likely to break up.  I have not seen data that separates out unmarried couples with children.  If this trend holds for them, then unmarried co-parenting is not a fully co-equal substitute for marriage.

As for mothers who choose to to go it alone via unknown or at least uninvolved “fathers” whether sperm donors, ex-boyfriends or one-night stands, those children need not be deprived of the benefits of a multiple-parent home just because their mothers are not married.  There are many ways to raise children these days including living in various forms of community or cooperation with others, including extended family arrangements.

Here, Ms. Cate makes the assumption that close friends and family members can replace a father.  Sometimes, perhaps.  In general, I don’t think this is true, and the studies do show that, all else being equal, father absence still has a negative effect.  Among other things, Ms. Cate’s commentary displays a pervasive characteristic of a lot of “progressive” social thinking: what Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge (both of whom are sane feminists) call “biodenial” in their trenchant critique of women’s studies, Professing Feminism.  In other words, the cavalier dismissal of biology as irrelevant.  Of course biology isn’t everything.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t have millons of loving and devoted adoptive parents.  Still, it is useless and — well — silly to deny that biology forms a strong bond between parent and child.  Adopted children, no matter how well-loved by their adoptive parents, very often have a powerful yearning for their biological parents.  A British newspaper recently published the amazing, poignant story of a woman who recently reconnected with the son she had at the age of 14 after being raped by a stranger, and who was given away for adoption.  Incidentally, his first question (particularly heartbreaking under the circumstances) was, “Who’s my father?”  Where we come from, in the purely biological sense, is a part of us.  It has something to do with who we are, not only in terms of inherited traits but also of personal identity.  That’s a pretty incontrovertible fact.

I also have to wonder what percentage of these births to “unwed” mothers might have been to lesbian couples, whom most states do not allow to appear together on a child’s original birth certificate.  (Birth certificates were used as the basis for the study.)  Again, these are not really single mothers.  (And am I the only one whose irony censor is bleeping away about the fact the on the one hand, we are told to encourage marriage among “unwed” mothers and on the other we are told that lesbians with a mad, raging desire to marry and support one another’s children can’t be allowed to do so?)

Lesbian couples are a very small part of the overall picture.  In 2000, there were 7. 5 million unmarried mothers with children under 18.  There were also an estimated 250,000 same-sex couples raising children, 60% of them (or 150,000) female couples.  That’s 2% of the total.  Actually, one excellent argument I have seen for same-sex marriage (from Jonathan Rauch, I believe) is that there are a lot of same-sex couples raising children together, and allowing (and encouraging) them to marry will send the message that marriage is the most appropriate environment for raising a child.

That said, and to open up a bit of a hornets’ nest: I do think that, at the same time, same-sex marriage makes it harder to answer the question, “Why wait to get married before having children?”  If all you need is a partner in child-rearing and the biological connection doesn’t matter, it is not immediately evident to me that a romantic partner is the best choice for that role.  The primary reason marriage and parenthood are linked for heterosexuals is that male/female relationships tend to produce kids.  But that’s another issue for another day.

Ms. Cate wraps up her post with:

Rather than pulling out the rather musty notion that paternalism, and/or downright patriarchy is what these women and their children need, why not directly open our society’s resources to benefit these families?  How?  Universal healthcare access, generous family leave benefits to workers, better quality free schooling, and family law that recognizes families as they are rather than wishing for what they never were.  Because regardless of how much society encourages marriage among parents, women will continue to get pregnant and bear children outside of marriage, just as they have from time immemorial.  All the encouragement in the world will not make it go away.

A mother and her child is not a defective family unit.  It’s just a family unit.  Period.  Recognizing that is the first step in making the road smoother for such families and most importantly, the many, many children growing up within them.

So there you have it: the idea that fatherhood is as important as motherhood is now not only “musty,” but denigrated with the pejorative term “paternalism.”

Let’s leave aside for the moment Ms. Cate’s idea that single mothers deserve to raise their children at the expense of other people (including, presumably, married couples, some of whom would probably be less able to afford the number of children they want with higher taxes — or, for that matter, other single mothes who made the effort to get good jobs).  Or the inescapable conclusion that, in her view, female independence from men demands the growth of universal dependence on government.

The fact remains that Ms. Cate’s vision, which completely normalizes single motherhood, also institionalizes a huge gender inequality.  The mother-and-child family unit becomes as normal as married-couple parenting.  The father-and-child family unit presumably remains a marginal phenomenon.   (While more divorced dads are now getting custody of children — generally over the opposition of feminists — for single fathers to receive custody is extremely rare.  Even steps to make it easier for single dads to contest an adoption and claim their own children encounter widespread resistance; the common assumption is that a father who does such a thing is a creep trying to control the mom.)

What does this mean for our society’s attitudes toward women and men, and male and female roles?  How does this affect the roles of mothers and fathers in two-parent relationships?  How does it affect children?  All these are important questions that need to be addressed, not brushed aside with glib comments about “paternalism and/or patriarchy.”

I am not saying that there are simple answers, or that it is always better to raise a child with a father than without.  I know wonderful single mothers.  I also know women who married “Mr. Not-Quite-Right” because they wanted a child and felt that the child needed a father; some of these marriages turned out quite well, others were a disaster for all involved.  There is no one-size-fits-all solution.  But there is a problem, and recognizing this is the first step in finding ways to reconcile and balance the competing values at stake.

And on that note — a musty and paternalist (but not patriarchal, please!) Father’s Day, everyone.