Another great post from Patrick at Australian Shared Parenting Law Debate.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
True reason for problems of "fatherless" children
The fathers' organizations have been claiming that child having an ongoing relationship with the father is at all times good for the child. They site statistics such as that children growing up with fathers in the house are much less likely to become criminal or addicted than the children raised without the fathers. In all cases, the claims are wrong, and the correlations drawn miss the causal third factor that is common to both divorce situations and situations of children's deviance. That third factor is violence and abuse by the father.
Nobody divorces just for the heck of it. The "high-conflict" situations are for the most part situations of real violence, perpetrated by the husband against the wife and the children. The violence that the children have seen and been subject to in situations of divorce is far more common than they are in general population. Which means that the violent, criminal and dysfunctional behavior that is ascribed to children being raised without fathers are in fact causally linked to the violent, criminal and dysfunctional behavior by their fathers when the father was present in the house. A woman staying in such a situation with their children is not going to have children becoming good citizens. She will have children doing as the father has done.
In those situations, it is staying in the situation, rather than leaving the situation, that inflicts the greatest damage upon the children. The violence and the abusive, destructive attitudes build from year to year and destroy the child. Whereas getting the child away from such attitudes and behavior may be the only realistic way to save the child, and as such the only responsible solution.
The family court fails to account for this; indeed we see quite the opposite. A racket disorder known as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is being used to take children away from the mother and give fully over to the father when either the mother or the child bring up abuse. Not only are the children denied a way from a soul-destroying situation, but they are bound there still further and denied contact with anyone who can help them. The courts become accomplices in the process that destroys children.
To those who claim that a child must have both parents to become a functional citizen, it can be brought to bear that the most successful individual in the world - the President of the United States of America - was raised by a single mother; as were people as famous and functional as Jodie Foster, Tom Cruise and Al Haig. On the historical level, the supposedly dysfunctional baby boom generation was raised with both parents in the house, whereas the supposedly upstanding Generation X was raised by the baby boom generation, in which divorce and single parenting was common. The statistics of fathers' movement ascribe causal factors to correlation due to a third factor - the violence and abusive conduct by the father. This true causal factor underlies both the woman wanting a divorce - and the violent, criminal and dysfunctional behavior in the child.
In homes that are broken by domestic violence, sexual abuse of children, and hatred of children by either parent, to leave with one's children is in many cases the only responsible solution. The courts need to understand that, and they need to assist people in doing the same. Shared parenting works when this isn't the case; but it doesn't work when the abuse is ongoing. Women and children should be able to leave violence and keep away from violence. And in this they deserve protection, not persecution, of the law and the community.
Posted by Patrick at 5:35 AM