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December 5, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Well, that didn’t take long. It was just last week that I reported on a hate-filled and fact-free screed penned by one Suzanne Harrington in the Irish Examiner excoriating the group Fathers 4 Justice. F4J’s crime? It’s running an ad on the side of city buses in Dublin saying “A Father is for Life, Not Just for Conception.” It features a pair of masculine arms cradling a sleeping baby.

Now, there are those who, far from finding the ad offensive, are actually touched by it. What’s not to like about a message showing the beauty of the father-child bond? Well, according to Harrington, a lot. That’s mostly because of her virulent antipathy for fathers whom she described thus:

Let me tell you who these women are: These are the women whose children have been left waiting at the window for dad to turn up, then let down over and over again; the women whose ex-partners have used access to their children to try to retain coercive control over them; the fathers who are prone to violence, or ill with active addiction. The fathers who are subject to barring orders and restraints.

The ones who are unfit parents.

If your bitter hatred of fathers leads you to describe them that way, I suppose it’s no wonder you also hate the idea of them having anything to do with their children. But of course the vast majority of fathers don’t fit Harrington’s description and a fair number of mothers do. Recent research in the U.K. for examples finds that it’s actually the distaff half of the relationship that’s the more likely be manipulative and controlling.

But, as I pointed out, Harrington knows nothing of the facts about fathers and children. Her claim that “The idea that there are legions of women out there who won’t let their exes see their kids is risible,” is, well, risible. I know this because I’ve read Roisin O’Shea’s work on Irish family courts. Too bad Harrington hasn’t. She’s just one of those anti-dad zealots who long ago adopted a narrative on the subject and repeats it ad nauseam irrespective of pertinent facts.

And, as I said, it didn’t take long for Nadine O’Connor of Fathers 4 Justice to set Irish Examiner readers straight (Irish Examiner, 12/2/16).

I am a woman and I am the International Campaign Co-Ordinator for a father’s rights organisation called Fathers4Justice (F4J).

Our campaign team are mostly women and a third of our registered supporters are women.

The women at F4J - and I would suggest the vast majority of women in general - have got involved in this campaign because we support equality for all, not just the few.

F4J are simply attempting to be a voice for the 100,000 Irish children living without a dad, the 77.9% of separated fathers who live without their children and the many courageous men who are fighting through secret courts every week just for the right to see their children.

Harrington of course won’t care about the reality that countless women and mothers support equality for fathers and mothers in family courts, but I suspect other Examiner readers will take note. Funny, I guess all those women, not only in Ireland, but throughout the English-speaking world, don’t share Harrington’s take on dads as worthless and coercive louts.

Ms Harrington, however, offers no humanity, compassion or concern for these men and children. We would just ask why?

Well, Ms. O’Connor, you can ask, but you won’t get an answer from the likes of Harrington. As I said, she’s peddling a narrative about fathers, not because it has much to do with reality, but because it serves a purpose. That purpose is generally to maintain maternal power over children and therefore over fathers. The result of that power is the very bountiful flow of money from fathers to mothers. In the United States, well over $50 billion per year gets paid as a matter of public record. No one knows how much is paid off the books. And almost all of it – about 95% according to the U.S. Census Bureau - is paid by fathers to mothers. Alimony, 97% of which is paid by men to women, adds another unknown amount to the total.

And of course, whenever a state legislature tries to change the law on child support, child custody or alimony, women’s groups scream bloody murder. I fully understand that O’Connor’s question was rhetorical, but I answered it anyway.

Emerging from Ms Harrington’s narrative is a suggestion that dads fighting to see their children are doing this to ‘try to retain coercive control’ over mothers.

In the years that I was running the campaign in the UK, I never once came across the type of father described in Ms Harringtons’ article.

Now I work on an international level it’s even clearer that her stereotype is manufactured by some for cheap political propaganda.

One could argue that recalcitrant mothers who deny children access to their dads are actually the people who are controlling.

Equally controlling and coercive are people like Ms Harrington and others who are trying to shut down this debate.

Indeed. Researcher Elizabeth Bates of the University of Cumbria “found that women showed controlling behaviour along with serious levels of threats, intimidation and physical violence when in a relationship more often than men.” (Telegraph, 6/26/14). Again, Harrington doesn’t care, but those more interested in the truth do.

So let us be clear. Fathers4Justice represents the forgotten men and women of Ireland.

We represent over 80,000 families in both the UK and Ireland.

Our campaign objectives are clear: an equal voice and equal rights for men and fathers and a presumption of 50/50 shared parenting between mums and dads.

That’s clear enough. Bigots like Harrington won’t understand, but it’s a good message. Good enough to appear on the side of a bus and good enough in fact to become the law of the land.

 

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National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization

National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.

#feminism, #bigotry, #Fathers4Justice, #sharedparenting

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