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.
In the U.S., some 41% of children are born to single mothers. Our custody laws assume all children to have been born to a married couple. That means stark inequalities between unmarried mothers and fathers. In every state, mothers have parental rights solely by virtue of their biological connection to their children. Fathers have a biological connection too, but must spend significant sums of money and jump through various legal hoops in order to establish their rights.
Combine all that with the fact that, although we have, for the first time in human history, the ability to know to a certainty the father of every child, no state performs genetic testing on every child when it’s born. Some 30 different tests are performed on newborns, but not the one that would benefit dads.
Sometimes courts get it right – even Nebraska courts.
In the case of Alberts vs. Alberts, both the trial and the appellate court made the right decisions. Thomas and Joan Alberts were married in 1997, had two children, separated in 2011 and Joan filed for divorce in 2013. There were multiple issues at trial about marital property and of course about child custody. Predictably, the trial court’s temporary orders gave Joan primary custody and allowed Thomas only every-other-weekend visitation.
When you’re the First Minister of Scotland, as Nicola Sturgeon is, apparently you think you can peddle patent nonsense to the people you supposedly represent and they’ll buy it, no questions asked (Express, 2/17/19). That’s what Sturgeon did not long ago, but it turned out that the Great Unwashed were more skeptical than she’d planned on.
Sturgeon pronounced herself the country’s “first mammy,” and told the children in foster care that “I love you all.” Well, isn’t that special. I’m sure her words warmed her heart, but others remained icy. Why?
Signs and wonders. Carlos and Jemima Guimaraes have filed suit against Dr. Chris Brann. Really, they have. I’m not making this up(Houston Chronicle, 2/14/19).
A wealthy Brazilian couple, sentenced to federal prison for helping kidnap their grandson, sued their ex-son-in-law this week, alleging that he defrauded the court in the trial that led to their convictions.Carlos and Jemima are, as I’ve written numerous times, the parents of Marcelle Guimaraes, who, over four years ago, kidnapped her son Nicolas from his home in Houston to her native Brazil. That was done with the active participation of Carlos and Jemima. They were apprehended in Florida and brought to trial in Houston on criminal charges related to their role in the kidnapping. They were convicted and given the lightest of taps on the wrist by the federal judge presiding in their case.
When I was a young man, the “Counterculture” informed me and all of my cohorts, both male and female, that marriage was “just a piece of paper” and that no such piece of paper could improve one’s relationship with the opposite sex. Marriage was an absurd irrelevancy, the product of an uncomprehending and pitifully unhip Past. Like so much about the Counterculture, that proved to be false. The notion was more about sending a message to straight society than getting facts right.
For whatever reason, that message has persisted in this culture. Marriage rates are either declining or people are getting married later, so data on marriage among those under the age of, say, 35, are far below what they used to be. In any case, young adults are postponing marriage till much later than previously and to some extent, aren’t marrying at all.
The response in Quillette by 12 practicing and academic psychologists to the APA’s Guidelines for Psychological Practice for Boys and Men breaks down into four primary areas of criticism. Briefly, the Guidelines are (a) not based in science, (b) based in ideology, (c) not therapeutic and (d) a violation of professional ethics and best practices.
So Stetson University psychology professor, Chris Ferguson was actually able to review the proposed Guidelines prior to their final draft. He pointed out that they lacked a basis in biology, but, for the most part, his objections went unheeded.
I return now to the APA’s Guidelines for Psychological Practice for Men and Boys. I’ve already done a couple of pieces on them and much, much has been written elsewhere, almost none of it complimentary. But Quillette’s effort to address the Guidelines can’t go unmentioned (Quillette, 2/4/19). It’s perhaps the last word on what should be the end of the Guidelines.
Why discuss the Guidelines on a blog that deals with family court reform? Because the same biases already evident in family courts are reiterated in the Guidelines. They both promote and exacerbate all the anti-male tendencies that are so common in judges’ rulings on child custody and parenting time. Worse, as a product of the APA, they may well be used by mental health professionals who advise judges on those issues. If masculinity is accepted by them and by judges as “toxic,” what hope can there be for fathers seeking meaningful time with their children?
Now it’s Montana’s turn in the spotlight (Daily Inter Lake, 2/10/19). Like many other states, Montana’s child protective agency – the Division of Child and Family Services - is a study in dysfunction. The usual factors make all but impossible the agency’s ability to do what it’s tasked with doing – protecting children from harm. Indeed, all too often, it’s the agency that does the harm.
That’s because caseworkers report a management culture that errs on the side of taking children from parents.
The movement for shared parenting in New Zealand is in its infancy. Spearheading that movement is attorney Loren Portnow who recently penned an op-ed for the New Zealand Herald, the country’s largest newspaper, promoting a rebuttable presumption of equal parenting. Unfortunately, the op-ed is inaccessible behind a paywall.
Back in 2014, family law in New Zealand underwent a limited reform. Now the Ministry of Justice is reviewing those reforms and its report on them is due in May. Portnow rightly points out that the review provides the government an opportunity to remake Kiwi law to provide for a rebuttable presumption of equal parenting. Part of his argument involves the fact that the wave for shared parenting is rolling in the U.S. and cites, among other things, Kentucky’s recent success.
I write a fair amount about judicial bias against fathers and in favor of mothers. But judges aren’t the only ones suffering from that particular illness, this guy is too (Globe and Mail, 2/4/19).
David Eddie is an advice columnist for a major Canadian newspaper. That allows him to spread his peculiar brand of misandry far and wide, a task he doesn’t shirk.
I swear, it’s hard to read this stuff (Canton Daily Ledger, 2/4/19). That’s a fact even though I’ve been reading scurrilous, uninformed opposition to shared parenting for over a decade now. By now though, I think the information on shared parenting should be sufficiently well-known that commentators should at least be conversant with the basics. I understand that family lawyers will, for the most part, oppose shared parenting regardless of facts or a decent regard for children. They do it to protect their income streams. It’s a moral abomination, but I expect it.
But Deb Robinson doesn’t seem to be a lawyer. She’s just someone who influences public opinion via the column she writes for the Ledger. As such, you might think she’d make the effort to educate herself at least a little on the topics she chooses to write about. Indeed, she may do that with other topics, but when it comes to shared parenting, she shoots from the hip.
The estimable Prof. Linda Nielsen has done a lot of work on father-daughter relationships. She’s currently working on a second book on that hugely important subject. Until its publication, this article by Brigham Young University Professor Timothy Rarick will have to do (IF Studies, 1/16/19).
Rarick and his wife came across a man in London’s Hyde Park holding a sign that read “He clearly has bought into a belief that is quite common in our society today: Fathers are not very valuable and even useful to their children—especially to their daughters.”
Did you know that there’s a sub-specialty of Pediatrics called “Child Abuse Pediatrics?” I didn’t until I read this article (WXYZ, 1/29/19). Did you know that a physician can become board-certified in that specialty through the American Board of Pediatrics?
Did you also know that many people reject the very concept of that specialty because they doubt that any doctor can accurately intuit the cause of a particular injury? They can diagnose the results of physical traumas to the body, like broken bones, ruptured spleens and many others. But what caused those injuries, in the absence of reliable descriptions of what happened, edges into the realm of guesswork.
The APA is at it again, this time with a YouTube video denigrating men. It comes to us courtesy of Division 51 of the APA whose thoughts on masculinity found such favor in the recent and much criticized Guidelines for Psychological Work with Men and Boys. (NB: I am reliably informed that Division 51 and Area 51 are two different things.)
I have a friend who’s a psychologist and was, for a time, on an email listserv for Division 51. He tells me the place was a hotbed of radical feminist ideas about men and masculinity, a fact borne out by the Guidelines. Indeed, so anti-male were the members of that listserv that at least one man was removed from it due to his unseemly interest in men as victims of domestic violence. Such notions aren’t welcome in Division 51.
What’s been for many years a quiet change in family laws may be about to become one in the U.K. as well (The Star, 1/30/19). It seems one Member of Parliament, Louise Haigh of Sheffield, intends to put forward a bill terminating the parental rights of men who rape women who then become pregnant. Similar bills have been considered – and several have passed – by state legislatures here in the U.S.
But, as Haigh and her supporters will likely discover, what seems to be an open-and-shut case for reform is a bit more complicated than they might think.
Here’s a soft piece on child protective services (The Atlantic, 1/27/19). Writer Diane Redleaf knows enough about her topic to get her facts correct, but apparently not enough to pinpoint many of the problems CPS agencies create in the lives of parents and children.
Her basic point is that, once CPS decides a parent may have abused a child, that parent is in for a long, uncomfortable ride through the CPS system, pretty much irrespective of whether he/she abused the child or not. With the police, we call that “You can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride.” The same is true of CPS. Caseworkers can put the fear of God into any parent, even those who know they’ve done nothing wrong.
Here’s a must-see video about the resistance to equal parenting in Texas. It’s by Wayne Dolcefino, who’s never been my favorite television journalist. Dolcefino has a track record that leans heavily on shouting and much less on principled examination of issues. Years ago, he was a product of the television news industry in which scandal and crisis are the quick route to a successful career. And, if the news happens to be short of either, well, what’s an ambitious reporter to do but create some?
But in the video, Dolcefino is his more mature, considered self. He’s still raking muck, but this time he gets his facts straight.
In Great Britain, a court has ordered a woman to pay a man £250,000 for paternity fraud (The Sun, 1/6/19). That’s great news, right? After all, paternity fraud is illegal precisely nowhere. In about five states in the U.S. there can be very limited financial consequences for lying about paternity, but a court’s awarding a defrauded man damages is all but unheard of. But alas, the reality of the British case is far less encouraging than we might have wished.
It seems Richard and Kate Mason were married for over 20 years and had three sons including younger twins. They divorced in 2006 and, pursuant to the financial settlement, the co-founder of the internet comparison site, MoneySupermarket.com, forked over a hefty £4 milllion. The two went their separate ways.
This continues yesterday’s post on Dr. Anna Manchin’s vital and highly informative article (Aeon, 1/17/19). Put simply, it should be required reading for anyone with an interest in fathers, children, mothers, families, etc.
To recap briefly, Manchin argues that fatherhood, the investment by males in their offspring, was critical, perhaps all-important, to our species’ evolutionary success? That’s because our big-brain strategy for survival and our upright posture mean our children are born extremely immature. They also come, with fairly rare exceptions, one at a time. It also means they take an inordinate amount of time to reach sexual maturity. So how’s a species like that to survive when infants and females were under constant threat of illness, accident or death? Females had to wean their children far earlier than do our closest primate relatives, meaning that they renewed ovulation sooner and could produce additional offspring.
This is a necessary article (Aeon, 1/17/19). That is, if you want to understand fathers, their relationships to mothers and their kids, you need to read and digest it thoroughly. The writer, Anna Machin, reprises some of what I’ve said before in this blog, but adds much, much more. Her astonishing thesis is that it is fathers and the role they play in children’s lives that separate us from other primates. That of course is a powerful statement, given the amazing and unpredictable evolutionary success of Homo sapiens. Is it really just about dads?
Well, no. Countless other factors enter in, but consider Machin’s words:
Andrew Yarrow’s piece in the Washington Post about which I wrote last time has much to recommend it. As I said last time, Yarrow grasps not only many of men’s problems, but excoriates as “morally wrong” the Left’s refusal to acknowledge, much less address, those problems. His is a powerful article that all people who believe themselves to be liberal should take to heart.
But, like most discourse on men within the liberal realm, Yarrow’s article suffers from a misunderstanding of current society and why those problems have arisen. In those rare writings by liberals that take men’s problems seriously, it’s a standard trope that a changing economy and workforce have left men behind and they don’t know how to catch up. When once a young man could graduate from high school and get a job that supported a family of four or five, now it take far more. And the industrial economy is far less the pillar of the GDP than it used to be. In short, men need more education in more highly technical fields than ever before. A high school diploma just won’t cut it any more.
From the paper that brought us “Why Can’t We Hate Men?” comes this (Washington Post, 1/18/19). It’s written by former New York Times journalist Andrew Yarrow and verges on the excellent. It’s not excellent for reasons I’ll go into later, but it gets close. Yarrow gets close to “getting it.”
Unsurprisingly, Yarrow calls himself a liberal, but he means that in the classic sense.
Now it’s Dr. Leonard Sax’s turn to savage the new APA Guidelines for Practice with Men and Boys (IFStudies, 1/15/19). Sax, like Michael Gurian about whose response to the APA I wrote this past Wednesday is that rara avis who takes the needs of men and boys seriously. Not only that, he takes the science of his profession – psychologist – seriously too. So it’s no surprise that he scorns the new guidelines.
His piece is aimed mostly at the science on men and boys and the lack of it supporting the guidelines. But Sax also points out some of the more obvious deficiencies of the APA’s screed. For example,
This is the story of the night my divorce tried to kill me. After 18 years and 3 children I found myself on the other side of a divorce. My wife was pursuing other interests and I got served with papers and a date for a temporary hearing. I was a full time dad, student, and caregiver to my family’s special needs. I was hands on.
I was asked to leave the house and I refused. That’s when my fight began. I stayed home with my children through the temporary hearing as I withstood false accusations, slander, and prolific mistreatment.