July 29, 2017
NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION SUPPORTS PEW RESEARCH CENTER’S FOCUS ON AMERICAN FATHERS
Pew Facts Highlight Need for Family Court Reforms
BOSTON - National Parents Organization points to a recent survey of the Pew Research Center, “6 Facts About American Fathers,” as further confirmation that when it comes to parenting, Americans are decades ahead of the family courts. While ordinary American parents overwhelmingly shared the parenting of their children, the family courts still enforce the worn-out stereotypes of the child-raising mother and the breadwinning father.
Previously, 86% of voters in Massachusetts voted for the proposition that after divorce, shared parenting should be the norm if both parents are fit and there has been no domestic violence. Similar results were obtained in a survey of Maryland voters by a professional polling firm. The Pew results confirm that mothers and fathers both recognize that children do best when both parents are involved in their care.
Despite the convergence of gender roles in parenting, the family courts continue to award sole custody of children to mothers more than 80 percent of the time, and shared physical custody only about eight percent of the time. This is despite the overwhelming research evidence presented at the recent Third International Conference on Shared Parenting that children do better on just about every measure when they have shared parenting after separation or divorce.
The Pew article featured the following information:
· Pew Research conducted a survey in 2016 in which 71 percent of all respondents (74 percent of women) said it was important for a newborn to bond with each parent. (This would require some form of shared parenting for infants, still a controversial point in some quarters.)
· A 2015 Pew survey found that 57 percent of fathers surveyed say parenting is “extremely important to their identity,” compared to 58 percent of mothers. However, dads said parenting was rewarding all the time (54 percent) and enjoyable all the time (46 percent) compared to moms (52 percent and 41 percent, respectively).
· Pew Research also showed fathers are much more involved with their children compared to 50 years ago, but 48 percent feel they aren’t doing enough, compared to 25 percent of mothers who said the same.
“These statistics from Pew make it clear – dads, whether married or separated, want to be dads, alongside moms. And we know this is better for children too. Knowing this, it’s even more tragic that our nation’s family courts continue to operate with a default setting that gives mom the parent role and dad the visitor role,” said Ned Holstein, MD, Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization.
While shared parenting remains rare, in this year alone, 25 states have considered legislation seeking to turn shared parenting from the exception to the norm – states passing laws supportive of the reform in the past year include Missouri and Kentucky.
“Lawmakers and judges in every state must act on research and immediately support shared parenting,” Holstein said. “It’s beyond time we allow our nation’s fathers to be fathers, and our children to have what they most long for -- the love and guidance of both parents.”
RECENT RESEARCH: SHARED PARENTING VERSUS SINGLE PARENTING
Shared Parenting Data
· The Journal of the American Psychological Association published a paper titled “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report” in 2014, and the conclusions were endorsed by 110 eminent authorities around the world. Authored by Dr. Richard Warshak at the University of Texas, the paper concluded, “... shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.”
· In 2016, Dr. Warshak wrote, “Two years after its publication, the conclusions and recommendations of the Warshak consensus report remain supported by science.” He also wrote, “The paper has been translated into at least eighteen languages and has informed legislative deliberations throughout the U.S. and parliamentary deliberations in several countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, Finland, Romania, Croatia, and Sweden. Two years after its publication, the consensus report continues to be one of the most downloaded papers from the journal’s website.” He added, “The list of endorsers and their stature and accomplishments reflect the field’s general acceptance of the consensus report’s findings as rooted in settled science from more than four decades of research directly relevant to this topic, including seminal studies by many of the endorsers.”
· The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health published a 150,000-person study titled “Fifty moves a year: Is there an association between joint physical custody and psychosomatic problems in children?” in May 2015 that concluded shared parenting after divorce or separation is in the best interest of children’s health because the arrangement lowers their stress levels.
· The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) published the recommendations of 32 family law experts in 2014, and the group concluded, “Children’s best interests are furthered by parenting plans that provide for continuing and shared parenting relationships that are safe, secure, and developmentally responsive and that also avoid a template calling for a specific division of time imposed on all families.”
· In December, 2016, The American Psychological Association published research by William V. Fabricius of Arizona State University in the journal Psychology, Public Policy and Law entitled, “Should Infants and Toddlers Have Frequent Overnight Parenting Time With Fathers? The Policy Debate and New Data.” Prof Fabricius’ findings provide “… strong support for policies to encourage frequent overnight parenting time [up to and including 50/50 overnights –Ed] for infants and toddlers [even younger than one year –Ed], because the benefits [for children-Ed] associated with overnights also held for parents who initially agreed about overnights as well as for those who disagreed and had the overnight parenting plan imposed over 1 parent’s objections.” Fabricius will share details on his findings during the International Conference on Shared Parenting 2017, a May 29-30, 2017 event in Boston, Massachusetts hosted by National Parents Organization and the International Council on Shared Parenting.
Single Parenting Data
According to federal statistics from sources including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Census Bureau, children raised by single parents account for:
· 63% of teen suicides;
· 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions;
· 71% of high school drop-outs;
· 75% of children in chemical abuse centers;
· 85% of those in prison;
· 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders; and
· 90% of homeless and runaway children.
ABOUT NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
National Parents Organization, a charitable and educational 501 (c)(3) organization, seeks better lives for children through family law reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers after divorce or separation. The organization is focused on promoting shared parenting and preserving a child’s strong bond with both parents, which is critically important to their emotional, mental, and physical health. In 2014, National Parents Organization released the Shared Parenting Report Card, the first study to rank the states on child custody laws. Visit the National Parents Organization website at www.nationalparentsorganization.org