our-blog-icon-top
NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

Reidar Hjermann, Norway's ombudsman for children, is now pushing one of vindictive divorced or separated mothers' greatest hits--that shared parenting is bad for kids because it's "inconvenient." According to this recent Norwegian newspaper article: "'Children need individually tailored solutions,' ombudsman Reidar Hjermann told newspaper Aftenposten on Wednesday. He thinks that splitting their time between their parents' new homes should be the exception, not the rule. "When parents split up, Hjermann acknowledges that they have to split up everything from their shared home to the cars, TV and stereo. Their children, however, shouldn't be part of the math. "'You can't just share children in accordance with what's right for the parents,' he said. Spending one week living with their mother and one week with their father is too stressful for many, he claims." I agree that such arrangements are inconvenient for children, but losing your father or turning dad into a few days a month "visitor" is not just inconvenient--it's very harmful. Hjermann puts it in gender neutral terms but fortunately Labour Party politician Karita Bekkemellem (pictured), Norway's former government minister in charge of family issues, explained what the Hjermann plan really means: "'It's most unfortunate that in 2008, the children's ombudsman doesn't equate the positions of mother and father,' she told Aftenposten. She claims that too many fathers feel short-changed, when their wives are all too often granted custody of the children. "Without shared living arrangements, 'only one of the parents gets to have close contact with the children in everyday life,' Bekkemellem said. 'All our experience shows that it will continue to be the fathers who are discriminated against.'" The "inconvenient" and "individually tailored solutions" arguments are frequently put forward by American feminists, including the National Organization for Women, in opposition to shared parenting. Hjermann even trots out one of the feminists' favorite straw men--that some divorced parents want their children to attend two different schools, in order to live part-time with the mother and part-time with the father. I agree that such a suggestion is ludicrous, but I very much doubt that people suggest it. To learn more about the arguments in favor of shared parenting, including what adult children of divorce have to say on the matter, see my co-authored column HB 5267 Will Help Michigan"s Children of Divorce (Lansing State Journal, 5/28/06). One quick excerpt: "When Arizona State University psychology professor William Fabricius conducted a study of college students who had experienced their parents" divorces while they were children, he found that over two-thirds believed that 'living equal amounts of time with each parent is the best arrangement for children.' His findings were published in Family Relations in 2003." Norway's ombudsman for children doesn't think children should have to commute between their divorced parents' homes. His opinion puts him at odds with some top politicians. Afenposten, 1/2/08 "Children need individually tailored solutions," ombudsman Reidar Hjermann told newspaper Aftenposten on Wednesday. He thinks that splitting their time between their parents' new homes should be the exception, not the rule. When parents split up, Hjermann acknowledges that they have to split up everything from their shared home to the cars, TV and stereo. Their children, however, shouldn't be part of the math. "You can't just share children in accordance with what's right for the parents," he said. Spending one week living with their mother and one week with their father is too stressful for many, he claims. Hjermann told Aftenposten that he's had to deal with some parents who even want their children to attend two different schools, in order to live part-time with the mother and part-time with the father. He advises strongly against that. He concedes that some children manage to move back and forth between their parents, but he thinks that only works well when the parents live close to one another and cooperate well. Hjermann's recommendation against commuting children "disappoints" top Labour Party politician Karita Bekkemellem, who until recently was the government minister in charge of family issues. "It's most unfortunate that in 2008, the children's ombudsman doesn't equate the positions of mother and father," she told Aftenposten. She claims that too many fathers feel short-changed, when their wives are all too often granted custody of the children. Without shared living arrangements, "only one of the parents gets to have close contact with the children in everyday life," Bekkemellem said. "All our experience shows that it will continue to be the fathers who are discriminated against."

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn