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August 13, 2015 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Castigations of the “fathers’ rights movement” don’t come much more ill-informed or illogical than this one (About.com). Cathy Meyer bill herself as something called a “divorce support expert,” which I suppose can mean anything. But if her article is any indication, she has little knowledge of divorce or child custody and none at all of the movement for shared parenting she pretends to address.

Now, anyone who’s followed the Thirty Years War to stop courts from removing fathers from their children’s lives knows how many fine, hard-working men and women there are in the movement. So it only redounds to Meyer’s disgrace that the only “person” she could find to represent her specious claims is actually just a two-sentence comment to an article in the Huffington Post by some unknown person. Was the person a man or woman? We don’t know. Was he/she telling the truth or making something up? We don’t know. Was the person an adult or a child? We don’t know.

And after all, how much can a person say in two sentences, one of which was six words long?

But none of that matters to Meyer. Whoever the commenter is, he/she is a stand-in for the entire movement for shared parenting that she elects to refer to as “fathers’ rights.” Utterly inaccurate and illogical as that may be, it does serve and important purpose for Meyer. It allows her to completely ignore all the many, many powerful arguments the shared parenting movement produces every day. And of course it also allows her to not mention the fact that there are no good arguments against shared parenting.

In the time-honored manner of ...s everywhere, Meyer has nothing to support her opposition to shared parenting, so she sets up a straw man. That the said straw man is so utterly lacking in heft as to barely qualify as such is just one more indication of how weak Meyer’s claims are. Dare I say she’s grasping at straws?

Back in 2013, the Huffington Post ran a particularly scurrilous article right before Father’s Day. It was nothing but a long litany of sins committed by the author’s ex-husband. Of course we never hear from him, but even if the article were scrupulously accurate, so what? Immediately before Father’s Day, HuffPo found one person to write one bitterness-laced article about one man.

That of course comes in the context that fathers’ advocates know all too well — denigrating fathers on the “special day.” Honestly, can’t the haters leave off for a single day? Can’t they manage to confine their vitriol to the other 364? Can’t awful publications like the Huffington Post give dads a single break?

I suppose not. But more to the point, Meyer has no idea of the long history of dad-hating that Father’s Day has become. Naturally, that bit of ignorance on her part means she has no idea of the type of anger the HuffPo piece engendered in men. To her, it all occurs in a vacuum; she doesn’t know the context, so she assumes there’s not one.

So here’s the comment that sent her off barking about a movement of which she appears entirely ignorant:

Divorce court is a woman's court. Your man bailed out is probably just like me, it is far better for the children for the father to disappear than to be used as a punching bag by the mother, courts, society, and in the end, the children.”

Whatever anyone may think of that statement, we might at least pause to consider what the person is saying. Does Meyer have any idea of what the person means by “a woman’s court” or “punching bag?” Is she aware that some half-dozen surveys of family judges and lawyers conducted in 11 different states demonstrate wide-spread anti-father bias that’s frankly admitted to? Is she sensitive to the fact that fathers are routinely treated, not as parents who are vital to their children’s well-being, but as mere sources of cash? Does she know that a single allegation, however false, of domestic violence can see a man ushered out of his children’s lives for months or years with no opportunity for him to tell his side of the story? Does she know that his “right” to see his children is almost entirely subject to his ex’s whim? Visitation orders are rarely enforced and, when they are, only after many expensive efforts on dad’s part? Does she know that the federal government spends $5 billion a year on child support enforcement but only $10 million on visitation enforcement?

No, Meyer knows none of that or any of the other blatantly anti-father/anti-child habits of family courts. She only wants to focus on the commenter’s supposed “bailing out” of his ex’s and children’s lives. Me? I don’t approve of that either. I think that non-custodial parents of either sex should do everything they can to keep meaningful contact with their kids. The children need them whether the ex does or not.

But unlike Meyer, I understand that fathers are just people and that sometimes the horrors they face can just be too much for them. They’re not robots who can just soldier on regardless of everything. If she thought of fathers as human beings, she’d know that the suicide rate for men with children following divorce is something like eight times what it is for other men. And if she knew that, she might pause to reflect that, if a father can be driven by a divorce court to take his own life, then for another dad, simply cutting the ties altogether is the only way to stay sane and alive.

But that would require a trait Meyer clearly doesn’t have — empathy. At least when it comes to fathers, she’s more comfortable thinking of them as automatons whom nothing affects. It’s so much easier that way. When you’re bent on judging fathers to be deficient, it certainly helps to ignore their humanity.

But it’s not just individual fathers Meyer’s intent on trashing, it’s the “fathers’ rights movement,” too. Amazingly, based on a single comment to a single highly offensive article, Meyer, who’s never been part of any movement to improve children’s relationships with their dads post-divorce, decides to instruct those of us who have on just what we’re doing wrong. Really. It’s like someone who’s never worked on a car, who doesn’t know a carburetor from a U-joint explaining to a veteran mechanic how to get the thing running again.

Their seedy underbelly is too vocal and in being so they reflect poorly on the Father’s Rights movement and men who don’t abandon children for any reason. There is a small fringe of this movement that has declared war on women and children and that fringe keeps those who are truly concerned about their rights as fathers from being taken seriously.

Hmm. Apart from the fact that Meyer offers no evidence whatsoever for her assertion, does she notice that actually she’s the one doing that? Yes, she’s the one who took a single comment from a single article and wants her readers to believe that the person represents the “seedy underbelly” of the movement that has “declared war on women and children.” And of course she’s the one who is doing her best to keep “those who are truly concerned about their rights as fathers from being taken seriously.” Given that she’s doing her best to denigrate the “fathers’ rights movement,” we in the shared parenting movement will be forgiven if we don’t take her seriously.

From her perch high atop a mountain of rubbish, Meyer goes on to instruct those who seek greater equality in family courts.

If men want shared or 50/50 custody of their children they are more likely to change custody laws if they are working in union with women and mothers, not blaming them but working with them.

We are. If Meyer knew the first thing about the shared parenting movement, she’d know that it consists in no small part of the many strong, courageous women who’ve fought the good fight for years, even decades. Has Meyer ever heard of Leading Women for Shared Parenting? Has she ever heard of Molly Olsen? Paulette MacDonald? Rita Fuerst Adams? Diana Thompson? Or any of the literally countless women in the trenches of the shared parenting movement?

No. She knows of no such thing. She’s got her gripe and she’s stickin’ to it.

So irrational is Meyer that she asks (nay, demands) that we do the impossible.

That reform (of family courts) isn’t going to take place if fringe elements of angry men are allowed to continue to spew venom and anger from their keyboards.

And just how are we in the shared parenting movement supposed to prevent anonymous people from commenting to articles on HuffPo in ways that get Meyer’s knickers in a knot? Or anywhere else, for that matter. As Meyer well knows, we can do no such thing. Her theory that the only reason fathers aren’t respected more by family courts has something to do with such commenters is beyond absurd, but worse, it’s an excuse. It’s an excuse by a woman who pretends to care about shared parenting for doing nothing to promote it. She’d rather castigate unknown others than do what so many have done for so long — attempt to make needed change.

What could make the point more clearly than her penultimate sentence?

Let’s face it, as parents we can’t get what we all want for our children, what is in their best interest until we all come together and stop blaming each other.

Right. The person who’s never lifted a finger for shared parenting and who’s just spent several hundred words blaming the movement for same, finally instructs us not to blame.

It doesn’t get much more dishonest, hypocritical and ill-informed than that. Congratulations, Ms. Meyer, I think we have a record.

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