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June 5, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Continuing from yesterday’s piece on this horror show courtesy of one Hilary Towers (IF Studies, 6/2/17).

As I mentioned yesterday, Towers may have read the article by Richard Warshak to which she referred in her own piece. If she did, she certainly didn’t learn anything about what shared parenting is or that it’s kids’ best parenting time alternative when their parents split up. She also didn’t click on any of Warshak’s several links that would have helped her understand those two things that are, after all, rather important if one is to write about shared parenting. Nor did she read any other scientific literature on shared parenting that, as none other than Sanford Braver said at the just concluded International Conference on Shared Parenting, should be the default position of courts deciding custody and parenting time issues.

But an entire lack of pertinent information about her chosen subject deterred Towers not in the least.

[T]he dynamics of parenting change drastically once divorce occurs and parents live apart, and our guiding principles in family law should reflect those changes.

Indeed the dynamics of parenting change drastically post-divorce. Does Towers have a clue about one of the major reasons for that? When Dad goes from seeing little Andy or Jenny every day to seeing them four days per month, how can his parenting dynamics but change? And of course that is precisely the reason why children suffer so much when their parents split up – they substantially lose one parent. Needless to say, Towers knows nothing of the huge body of work conducted by Dr. Malin Bergstrom and her colleagues in Sweden that, across many indicia of children’s welfare, find shared parenting to be a close second to intact families in its ability to promote what’s best for kids. Sole parenting places a distant third.

And family law not only reflects those changes in parenting, it causes them. It causes them by encouraging judges to pick a “winner” parent and a “loser” parent, while those who lose the most are the children. Given that it has such a profound impact on children and parents, family law must exert all its influence to insure that children’s transition from intact family to non-intact family is as smooth as possible. Shared parenting does that, but of course Towers wouldn’t know that because she avoids reading the science on it.

Divorce reform should be focused on parental behavior, not on gender, or allotment of time with children, or any other variable.

Citation? Of course she provides none. Of course some parental behavior is sufficiently bad that it should in fact be considered when crafting parenting time orders. But beyond behaviors like child abuse or parental unfitness, both parents should be given as much time as possible to be with their kids. Again, the science on this is quite clear and comprehensive. As the scientists at the ICSP last week made clear, while mere quantity of time doesn’t guarantee child well-being, without significant time with Dad, kids can’t have the type of quality time with him that’s correlated with the many benefits of a full father/child relationship.

Weirdly, Towers manages to not notice that, as things now stand, it is precisely gender that determines custody and parenting time in the overwhelming majority of cases. In the great majority of cases, mothers get primary or sole custody and fathers get leftover time. So indeed, sex is the greatest predictor of who will get custody of the children.

So, if she’s really opposed to sex determining custody, Towers would support shared parenting time, because the whole point of shared parenting is to ignore sex and give equal time to both Mom and Dad. How can a person who wrote what she did oppose shared parenting? It’s one thing to not pay attention to what others write, but I think Towers should, as a courtesy to readers, pay attention to what she writes.

Towers’ main issue is marital infidelity. For her, apparently anyone who has sex outside of marriage is forever unfit to care for his/her children. Or something. She’s understandably unclear. But, as with virtually all her other pronouncements, she cites no science or indeed anything else to back up her assumption. For her, spouses who commit adultery inhabit nothing but a “netherworld of hedonism and adolescent pursuits.”

That of course is utterly untrue. Some perfectly sound individuals commit adultery, much as we might wish they wouldn’t. But, again amazingly, Towers seems not to grasp that that happens regardless of what our laws and practices on child custody and parenting time are. Given that, the only remaining question is how to make the most of that bad situation. Towers never offers her solution. All she does is oppose shared parenting that, ironically, is the best solution we have.

The final hilarity of her piece comes with this impassioned question:

So, how do we have an honest discussion about where children should spend the most time after divorce without accounting for the impact of infidelity (and all its negative behavioral correlates)—and the marital abandonment and subsequent cohabitation or remarriage that so often accompanies serial infidelity—on their moral and physical well-being, in childhood and beyond?

That Towers pretends to seek “an honest discussion,” having so assiduously avoided the most basic information not only about shared parenting, but the judicial system itself, might be a laugh line in a sitcom, but it’s not a serious suggestion coming from her. I’ll try to make it simple. Some parents cheat on their spouses. That’s not good behavior, but it happens. If that leads one or the other spouse to divorce, the goal should be to protect the children of that marriage as much as possible. That’s done by keeping both parents active and involved in the kids’ lives. And that in turn is accomplished by shared parenting.

Towers doesn’t like marital infidelity. Fine. Her zeal to punish the erring parent would end up punishing the children far more.

I’ve criticized the Institute for Family Studies’ Brad Wilcox before and with very good cause. Towers’ awful piece is more proof of the shoddy writing done with the imprimatur of the IFS. Her piece is unworthy of publication on any site that makes a pretense of respectability.

 

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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:

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