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Posts Tagged ‘Kids Without Dads’

Dad tales of desperate and defeated, or deadbeat

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Support, child trafficking, Children and Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence, due process rights, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, judicial corruption, Liberty, Marriage, Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on November 23, 2009 at 3:45 am

Dad tales of desperate and defeated, or deadbeat

LESLIE CANNOLD

November 22, 2009 – 8:42AM

In recent weeks, I seem to have become a bloke magnet. Two weeks ago at the State Library cafe and one night last week at my usual watering hole, I’ve had men in my ear. Sweet men, sad men, vulnerable men – some recently divorced, others single for years – crooning variations on the same tragic tale. A tale about children they love but no longer see.

Once, I would have called them deadbeat dads. My own parents split when I was young but my father maintained scrupulous contact with my brother and me, and was dismissive of men who didn’t. And I knew the facts: that about 30 per cent of Aussie kids rarely or ever see the father who doesn’t live with them; and that before 1989, when the law gave men a choice about chipping in financially to support their children, only about one-third did.

But as I listened to the stories of these grieving men, the moral issue was no longer clear. There is no shortage of grievances, legitimate and otherwise, when a couple splits. But when fathers want to share care of their children but are granted access only on weekends – leaving the Child Support Agency as the only institution affirming the role of men in their children’s lives post-divorce – something seems amiss.

‘‘I was more than a wallet to those children,’’ the man in the cafe told me. ‘‘I parented them.’’ Later, a diary he had kept of his daughter’s first words and subsequent language development would arrive in the mail: proof of his commitment and grief.

The bloke at the bar, let’s call him Barry, was less certain of what he had to offer to his daughter who is three, no four, no three. He hadn’t seen her in years. ‘‘I don’t even have a place to live at the moment,’’ he confessed. ‘‘Had all my ID stolen a few months ago and been couch-surfing for the past three weeks.’’ I heard the rest of his sentence as if he’d spoken it aloud. ‘‘I wouldn’t be good for her, anyway.’’
‘‘She told me to bugger off,’’ he continued, speaking of his former partner, a girl he’d got pregnant, then agreed to support. He sipped his beer primly before cracking a wooden smile. ‘‘So I did.’’

But here’s the real question. Does the fact that many men feel sad when made to feel surplus to requirements in their own children’s life – disenfranchised by the legal system or their former spouse – mean they’ve been wronged?  Not necessarily. The terrible truth is that when relationships break down, what is in the best interests of children may not be what’s best for men.

Research by Australian researcher  Jennifer McIntosh finds that shared care is not the best arrangement for very young children and only works well for older kids where parents are emotionally mature and get along well. Men incapable of resolving the substance abuse, anger management or emotional issues that can contribute to relationship breakdown in the first place may not be the best influence on children, including their own.

And according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, there is ‘‘compelling evidence’’ that it is parental conflict and the negative economic consequences of divorce, not fatherlessness per se, that is costly for children of divorce. Deadbeat dads, or desperate, defeated and driven-away ones? You decide.

Do you have a moral issue you need resolve? Send it to Leslie@Cannold.com. All correspondence will be kept strictly confidential.

Dad tales of desperate and defeated, or deadbeat.

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Kids Understand Impact of Father Absence

In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, children's behaviour, 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, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Single Parenting on October 22, 2009 at 7:12 pm

Kids Understand Impact of Father Absence

childA teacher named Patrick Welsh, frustrated by his all-black class’s performance on a test, asked, “Why don’t you guys study like the kids from Africa?” (Source)

Bold, yes? That’s what frustration can do to you. One student said, “It’s because they have fathers who kick their butts and make them study.” Another said, “You ask the class, just ask how many of us have our fathers living with us.”

According to Welsh, no one raised his/her hand.

Speculating about why racial preferences exist isn’t brain surgery. Whether arguing for compensatory justice or skin deep-only diversity, the truth is that in 2009, racial preferences exist because generally, blacks score lower on standardized tests than everyone else.

Embarrassed and probably feeling a little guilty, people use all kind of justifications for lowering standards to accommodate blacks. Before we can begin to tackle the issue, however, we must understand that family structure impacts performance.

“My students knew intuitively that the reason they were lagging academically had nothing to do with race, which is the too-handy explanation for the achievement gap in Alexandria,” Welsh writes in the Washington Post. “And it wasn’t because the school system had failed them. They knew that excuses about a lack of resources and access just didn’t wash at the new, state-of-the-art, $100 million T.C. Williams, where every student is given a laptop and where there is open enrollment in Advanced Placement and honors courses. Rather, it was because their parents just weren’t there for them — at least not in the same way that parents of kids who were doing well tended to be.”

The kids admit what academics try to avoid. Children with no father in the home perceive the lack of discipline and respectful fear an authoritative male instills. I agree with Welsh to a certain extent. He believes focusing on race is too simple, and that family support and involvement are important. And focusing on race can stigmatize black students, but it can’t be ignored. Three quarters of black babies in the U.S. are born into fatherless homes. Black students disproportionately are without residential fathers. For better or for worse, race must be part of the discussion.

It’s not the children’s fault. The blame rests solely on the parents. It will take a sub-cultural shift away from a 75 percent out-of-wedlock pregnancy rate toward stable, two-parent (preferably married) homes to improve the condition of these chidlren. As the article notes, school superintendents “have little control” over these issues.

What can the government do about fatherlessness? Practically speaking, nothing. Individuals must turn the tide.

Addendum: The Center for Equal Opportunity’s Roger Clegg blogs:

“Of course, [Patrick Welsh is] not alone, and there are more and more nonconservatives who are coming around to this view. Problem is, the problem isn’t getting any better. And it is still the case that this problem is unique among social pathologies, in that — unlike crime, drug abuse, dropping out of school, etc. — there remain a nontrivial number of folks who don’t see the problem as a problem at all.”

John Rosenberg of Discriminations echoes my view about the role race plays in this scenario, again, for better or for worse:

“The color of a father’s skin does not cause his absence from his family, nor does the color of a mother’s skin determine how strict she is about homework. Still, Welsh goes overboard in attempting to dissociate race altogether from the dysfunctional educational behavior he observes, if for no other reason than that there the percentage of black children in single-parent families is three times higher than whites. It is true that damaged families, not race, stack the deck against black kids raised in single families, but it is not true that their difficulty ‘has nothing to do with race.’”

Kids Understand Impact of Father Absence.