Letter to the editor: please critique

Started by bluegrass, Jun 24, 2005, 07:22 AM

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bluegrass

Here's the original article:

Joint custody
Give kids of divorce what's best
By KENNETH BRASWELL
and ROXANNE WRIGHT

Caption: DOUG GRISWOLD/KNIGHT RIDDER
For as long as there have been separations and divorces, there have been issues of child custody. When the family unit is intact, the issue of who spends what amount of time with the children is usually one of mutual agreement or circumstance. It is only when there is a parting of the ways that this becomes an issue of (often heated) debate. With the divorce rate continuing to skyrocket, the issue of how much time each parent is legally entitled to spend with his or her child is one that is more and more common.
For some parents, the anger that accompanies their separation causes them to exercise the last semblance of control they feel that they have in their relationship. Children are used as pawns by one or both of the parents to attempt to address their feelings of hurt or loss of control. Some other parents honestly seek to establish a custody relationship that they feel will be in the best interest of the children, and reject the notion that a joint custody could be that relationship.
The issue of "shared" or "equal" parenting is hotly debated - so much so that we will refer to it as not as equal or shared, but as "optimal" parenting. We will call it "optimal" because all the research that has been done has indicated that the optimal situation regarding parenting for children is when, if there is no abuse involved, both parents maintain an appropriate, gender-based presence in the lives of their children. Optimal parenting would have both parents sharing custody on an equitable basis.
The question that we ponder though is whether this optimal parenting situation is one that can be effectively achieved through legislative intervention. One parallel can be drawn between what is being attempted with this issue and what was attempted by affirmative action legislation. As people of African heritage, it's easier for us to explain from this familiar perspective.
The goal of affirmative action legislation was to remedy the wrongs of prejudice and discrimination by taking affirmative steps, as opposed to leaving the situation to be resolved in its own time and by its own means.
Legislative intervention as far as requiring the hiring of certain "protected class" individuals was the admission that institutions and businesses knew the right thing to do, but for a number of reasons refused to do it anyway.
It was the recognition that decades of negative socialization regarding the abilities and capabilities of certain groups of people had resulted in a situation where these groups were grossly underrepresented in the work force and educational institutions. As a consequence of this underrepresentation, individuals who were members of these groups were being subject to adverse impacts in a major way. This situation, the legislation recognized, had to be addressed.
Similarly, there is a particular way in which we have been socialized about the role of a father. Men traditionally and historically have been thought of as the breadwinners in the family. The man's role was to provide for the family financially, while the mother was the caregiver.
In the event that the family unit was disrupted, his role was still seen as such, even as the picture of the American family, with two breadwinners, was redrawn. The same socialization that often gave men the advantage in the workplace disadvantaged them in the courtroom - at least as far as child custody was concerned.
Why? As in the case of affirmative action, which by most accounts was a dismal failure, unless you can change a person's thinking, you cannot effectively change his actions. Or, as we believe, you can't change the mind unless you can change the heart.
Of course, there are those who would say that affirmative action resulted in an increase of women, blacks and other people of color within the workplace and in educational institutions. There are others who would say that affirmative action resulted in a minimal increase in those numbers and still did not change the environment once those groups got into the workplace. In fact, it was that environment that caused individuals not to stay for long.
Although you may have changed some of the more blatant expressions of prejudice and discrimination, the behavior of the majority group in those workplaces and educational institutions still created a hostile work environment. Further, there were always those organizations that could offer myriad reasons why the affirmative action goals could not be met.
The thinking that has evolved from the failure of affirmative action now has organizations and educational institutions considering, pursuing and managing diversity. What has been most effective for these organizations is having them recognize the business case for diversity and offering training that allows employees to examine any thinking that they might be holding onto that would prevent them from welcoming and appreciating diversity.
This diversity could be found in their co-workers or their customers. The business case for diversity clearly shows that it is in the best interest of the organization, if it is to survive, to use as many human resources as it can to serve its diverse customers.
It is precisely this that needs to happen around the issue of optimal parenting. The case for it has been made in innumerable research projects and papers. There just is no denying the fact that both parents play an invaluable role in the lives of their children - beyond that of simply supplying material needs.
From a "business" perspective, the continued back and forth jostling that attends custody battles clogs the family court system calendar in a way that is truly unnecessary and unproductive.
What needs to happen now is that the family court system has to receive training that allows it to examine the thinking that results in some of its decisions. Decisions that would have the father's role be simply that of a casual visitor and financial provider reflect rigid and outdated thinking about the role of the father in the lives of their children.
Further, this training needs to allow judges, other members of the legal profession and parents the opportunity to hear from the children about the ways that legal custody decisions have an impact on their lives.
Equally as important, the parents need to be given the opportunity to examine their actions relative to child custody situations and to begin to heal the hurts that cause them to behave in ways that are counterproductive to the best interests and development of the child.
It is only then that this issue of optimal parenting stands the best chance of being successful.
Kenneth Braswell is the founder and executive director of Fathers Inc. in Latham (http://www.fathersinc.org). The organization encourages the positive involvement of fathers in their children's lives. Roxanne Wright is an adviser to group and also is a consultant, trainer and facilitator.
"To such females, womanhood is more sacrosanct by a thousand times than the Virgin Mary to popes--and motherhood, that degree raised to astronomic power. They have eaten the legend about themselves and believe it; they live it; they require fealty of us all." -- Philip Wylie, Generation of Vipers

bluegrass

Here's a response from Marcia Pappas of NOW/NY:


In some instances, joint custody can be harmful



First published: Thursday, June 23, 2005
Regarding the June 12 Perspective article, "Joint Custody: Give kids of divorce what's best":
The National Organization for Women/New York State opposes a legal presumption of joint custody or "shared parenting." California, one of the first states to adopt a presumption of joint custody, reversed this presumption in 1989 after seeing its harmful effects on children.
Fathers' rights groups continue to promote the myth that courts are biased in favor of women because more women have custody after divorce. Between 90 percent and 95 percent of divorce cases are settled out of court, so the custody arrangements are negotiated and settled between the parents. The cases that go to court are the small percentage where the parties cannot agree, and these are the very parties who are not appropriate for mandated joint custody.
Mandated joint custody ignores the issues of domestic abuse, including child abuse. Mothers are too often held more accountable for child abuse perpetrated by the fathers, than are the fathers themselves. Mothers who accuse fathers of child abuse are often accused of parental alienation syndrome, that is, being the less friendly parent. That discourages women from protecting their children, because raising the issue of child abuse can lead, unbelievably, to an award of custody to the abusive father.
NOW/NYS is in favor of a primary caregiver presumption. This means that the parent who assumed primary responsibility for the children during the marriage, either father or mother, should continue to be the custodial parent. Establishment of a presumption of joint custody is harmful to children. Rather, we urge passage of primary caretaker legislation to provide stability and continuity of care for children of divorce.
MARCIA PAPPAS
President
National Organization for
Women/New York State
Albany
"To such females, womanhood is more sacrosanct by a thousand times than the Virgin Mary to popes--and motherhood, that degree raised to astronomic power. They have eaten the legend about themselves and believe it; they live it; they require fealty of us all." -- Philip Wylie, Generation of Vipers

bluegrass

My response to her for critique:

I read with great interest both the article by xxxx in the June 12 Perspectives section and the letter to the editor submitted by Marcia Pappas on June 23 regarding the issue of presumptive joint custody upon divorce.

First, I'd like to correct an error Ms. Pappas made concerning the presumption of joint custody in the state of California.  According to the California Family Code, section 3080:

"There is a presumption, affecting the burden of proof, that
joint custody is in the best interest of a minor child, subject to
Section 3011, where the parents have agreed to joint custody or so
agree in open court at a hearing for the purpose of determining the
custody of the minor child."

So while California custody legislation may have been adjusted in 1989, its family court system does in fact view joint custody as in the best interest of most children of divorce.  It's also important to note that though Ms. Pappas characterizes proposed legislation as "mandated" joint custody it is actually "presumptive" joint custody which is something wholly different.  Presumptive joint custody simply states that joint custody is considered in the best interests of children and if a judge does not rule in favor of such an arrangement, a statement explaining why must be offered.  This condition is set in order to allow the judge latitude for action in cases where joint custody is truly unwarranted -- such as instances of domestic violence or prohibitive acrimony.

Next, while Ms. Pappas is correct in citing the fact that most custody determinations are settled out of court, there is an elephant in the living room that she ignores:  most family law attorneys will advise their male clients that pursuit of primary custody is futile and costly, barring extreme circumstances.  

Which brings us to another important point:    these days, scenarios in which one parent is a primary caretaker and the other is a primary breadwinner are becoming less common than those in which both parents share in those roles.  Given this fact, the notion of determining exactly who is primary caretaker in even a majority of custody cases is unfair to the children who have grown accustomed to close relationships with both parents.

During the last election cycle in the state of Massachusetts, a non-binding referendum was placed on the ballot addressing this very issue.  When asked whether they support presumptive joint custody upon divorce, 85% of Massachusetts voters favored the idea.  Indeed, it is a rare occurrence that American voters agree to such an extent on anything.

The most basic problem with child custody law in New York State, is that the most common outcome is for the court to determine a winner and a loser when it comes to family dissolution.  As any loving parent reading this can attest to, when it comes to having an involved relationship with one's children, most will do whatever it takes to not be the loser -- whence the source of much of the acrimony of divorce.  However, if the state acts to protect the relationships of the children and parents (a basic civil right of the children I'd argue) much of the ugliness to which the children are exposed could be mitigated.

In closing, I'd like to add that while Ms. Pappas' letter directly addresses the June 12 article on joint custody, nowhere in that article do the authors make a case for legislating custody decisions -- quite the contrary.  Perhaps Ms. Pappas should read the article again.
"To such females, womanhood is more sacrosanct by a thousand times than the Virgin Mary to popes--and motherhood, that degree raised to astronomic power. They have eaten the legend about themselves and believe it; they live it; they require fealty of us all." -- Philip Wylie, Generation of Vipers

dr e

Excellent Bluegrass.  

the fembot says:

Quote
Mothers who accuse fathers of child abuse are often accused of parental alienation syndrome, that is, being the less friendly parent.


This is ridiculous.  Being the less friendly parent?  She has completely misinformed the reader about the nature of PAS.  She might also be reminded that it is mothers who are guilty of the majority of child abuse.

Quote
That discourages women from protecting their children, because raising the issue of child abuse can lead, unbelievably, to an award of custody to the abusive father.


Discourages women from protecting their children?  Where did that come from??  This is victim card stuff.  Utter nonsense.
Contact dr e  Lifeboats for the ladies and children, icy waters for the men.  Women have rights and men have responsibilties.

bluegrass

Thank you Herr Doctor.

I thought it would be good to lead off by pointing out her biggest lie regarding California law.  I felt by doing that it set the tone for discrediting everything else she said.

In doing that I didn't necessarily have to bring up the cognitively dicey path of citing female perpetrated child abuse, etc.

I'm also ecstatic that she offered me up the opposrtunity to once again mention the Mass. referendum -- that 85% number really helps to illustrate what a fringe group NOW/NY truly is!

Also, just wanted to mention that the original article was written by Kenneth Braswell of Fathers inc here in Albany.  I'm a member of his organization and he seems like a sincere person out to do good work.
"To such females, womanhood is more sacrosanct by a thousand times than the Virgin Mary to popes--and motherhood, that degree raised to astronomic power. They have eaten the legend about themselves and believe it; they live it; they require fealty of us all." -- Philip Wylie, Generation of Vipers

Galt

Good points, Bluegrass.

The NOW woman is very smooth.  She starts out using the word "presumption" and then morphs over to "mandated" - not the same at all.

woof

I like what you wrote blue, but I think that you are being too nice. I would attack the DV issue more, and lay down the facts about fatherless children.

Here's my 2 cents.


Quote
Mandated joint custody ignores the issues of domestic abuse, including child abuse. Mothers are too often held more accountable for child abuse perpetrated by the fathers, than are the fathers themselves.


Domestic abuse, and child abuse are crimes unto themselves, why do the need special protections in custody cases? And yes there exceptions for DV written into presumed joint custody laws.


Quote
NOW/NYS is in favor of a primary caregiver presumption. This means that the parent who assumed primary responsibility for the children during the marriage, either father or mother, should continue to be the custodial parent. Establishment of a presumption of joint custody is harmful to children. Rather, we urge passage of primary caretaker legislation to provide stability and continuity of care for children of divorce.


The statistics that this isn't true are overwhelming.

Effects of Fatherlessness (US Data)

1) BEHAVIORAL DISORDERS/ RUNAWAYS/ HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS/CHEMICAL ABUSERS/ SUICIDES

 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Source: Center for Disease Control)
 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)
 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (Source: National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools.)
 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes (Source: Rainbows for all God's Children.)
 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)

2) JUVENILE DELINQUENCY/ CRIME/ GANGS

 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes (Source: Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26, 1978)
 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988)
 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home (Source: Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. of Corrections 1992)
 California has the nation's highest juvenile incarceration rate and the nation's highest juvenile unemployment rate. Vincent Schiraldi, Executive Director, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, "What Hallinan's Victory Means," San Francisco Chronicle (12/28/95).

These statistics translate to mean that children from a fatherless home are:

 5 times more likely to commit suicide.
 32 times more likely to run away.
 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders.
 14 times more likely to commit rape
 9 times more likely to drop out of high school.
 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances.
 9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution.
 20 times more likely to end up in prison.

 Juveniles have become the driving force behind the nation's alarming increases in violent crime, with juvenile arrests for murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault growing sharply in the past decade as pistols and drugs became more available, and expected to continue at the same alarming rate during the next decade. "Justice Dept. Issues Scary Report on Juvenile Crime," San Francisco Chronicle (9/8/95). "Crime Wave Forecast With Teenager Boom," San Francisco Chronicle (2/15/95).
 Criminal behavior experts and social scientists are finding intriguing evidence that the epidemic of youth violence and gangs is related to the breakdown of the two-parent family. "New Evidence That Quayle Was Right: Young Offenders Tell What Went Wrong at Home," San Francisco Chronicle (12/9/94).

3) TEENAGE PREGNANCY

 "Daughters of single parents are 53% more likely to marry as teenagers, 164% more likely to have a premarital birth, and 92% more likely to dissolve their own marriages. All these intergenerational consequences of single motherhood increase the likelihood of chronic welfare dependency." Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Atlantic Monthly (April 1993).
 Daughters of single parents are 2.1 times more likely to have children during their teenage years than are daughters from intact families. The Good Family Man, David Blankenhorn.
 71% of teenage pregnancies are to children of single parents. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.

4) CHILD ABUSE

 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that there were more than 1,000,000 documented child abuse cases in 1990. In 1983, it found that 60% of perpetrators were women with sole custody. Shared parenting can significantly reduce the stress associated with sole custody, and reduce the isolation of children in abusive situations by allowing both parents' to monitor the children's health and welfare and to protect them.

5) POVERTY

 "The National Fatherhood Institute reports that 18 million children live in single-parent homes. Nearly 75% of American children living in single-parent families will experience poverty before they turn 11. Only 20% in two-parent families will experience poverty." Melinda Sacks, "Fatherhood in the 90's: Kids of absent fathers more "at risk"," San Jose Mercury News (10/29/95).
 "The feminization of poverty is linked to the feminization of custody, as well as linked to lower earnings for women. Greater opportunity for education and jobs through shared parenting can help break the cycle."  David Levy, Ed., The Best Parent is Both Parents (1993).

6) KIDNAPPING

 Family abductions were 163,200 compared to non-family abductions of 200-300. The parental abductions were attributed to the parents' disenchantment with the legal system. David Levy, Ed., The Best Parent is Both Parents (1993), citing a report from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice (May 1990).
Even a whole village can't replace dad, children need both parents.

bluegrass

I understand your points woof, but when it comes to things like this, one has to be careful to walk a certain line.

you and I both know the stats and what's at issue, but unfortunately the average person doesn't.  In terms of cognitive dissonance I've made the choice to give the readers a little less to digest.  Also, it's a letter to the editor that's probably already too long.  I'll wait for a DV article and then address it directly.

For the most part I look at it like a civil court case.  She ruins her own credibility by clearly intentionally mis-characterizing California law, so that makes everything else she says suspect in the mind of the reader.
"To such females, womanhood is more sacrosanct by a thousand times than the Virgin Mary to popes--and motherhood, that degree raised to astronomic power. They have eaten the legend about themselves and believe it; they live it; they require fealty of us all." -- Philip Wylie, Generation of Vipers

Galt

Quote from: "bluegrass"
She ruins her own credibility by clearly intentionally mis-characterizing California law, so that makes everything else she says suspect in the mind of the reader.


I think that most people wouldn't recognize this.   "Presumption" is a very specific word in a legal sense (i.e. "rebuttable presumption"), but most people don't know or care about that.

Maybe she doesn't even understand it herself.

bluegrass

Quote from: "Galt"
Quote from: "bluegrass"
She ruins her own credibility by clearly intentionally mis-characterizing California law, so that makes everything else she says suspect in the mind of the reader.


I think that most people wouldn't recognize this.   "Presumption" is a very specific word in a legal sense (i.e. "rebuttable presumption"), but most people don't know or care about that.

Maybe she doesn't even understand it herself.


Yeah it's pretty much Pavlovian like Dan Lynch used to point out (where'd he go anyway?).

If you read the original article and then her letter, you'll see that the article isn't even about legislation.  It's about training people involved in the decisions as to how best to handle them.

But to her the bell rang and she started salivating.

Pappas is also behind the battered women's custody conference that took place here a while back.  If you recall from back then, Genia Shockome was their poster child and we have a thread on here about her case.

Of course my prediction came true:  as soon as that woman was of no more rhetorical use to them, they dropped her like a hot potato.
"To such females, womanhood is more sacrosanct by a thousand times than the Virgin Mary to popes--and motherhood, that degree raised to astronomic power. They have eaten the legend about themselves and believe it; they live it; they require fealty of us all." -- Philip Wylie, Generation of Vipers

woof

Quote from: "bluegrass"
I understand your points woof, but when it comes to things like this, one has to be careful to walk a certain line.

you and I both know the stats and what's at issue, but unfortunately the average person doesn't.  In terms of cognitive dissonance I've made the choice to give the readers a little less to digest.  Also, it's a letter to the editor that's probably already too long.  I'll wait for a DV article and then address it directly.

For the most part I look at it like a civil court case.  She ruins her own credibility by clearly intentionally mis-characterizing California law, so that makes everything else she says suspect in the mind of the reader.


When feminist write stuff like this, I get brain-lock :shock: because there are so many things wrong with it I don't even know where to begin.

Quote
The cases that go to court are the small percentage where the parties cannot agree, and these are the very parties who are not appropriate for mandated joint custody.
Mandated joint custody ignores the issues of domestic abuse, including child abuse. Mothers are too often held more accountable for child abuse perpetrated by the fathers, than are the fathers themselves.


I have a strong urge to run to the statistics because this cuts through all of the mental gymnastics that you have to do with this type distortion, and suggestive speaking.

I've been kicked off of two feminist blogs for "misrepresentation" of the facts...LOL.

Although I understand what you are saying about overloading the average person, I don't really agree with the less is better approach, because of the "fear" factor that is employed by them when they use "abuse" this, and "abuse" that.

I like your response, I would have stressed different areas then you have is all I am saying.

What the hell is cognitive dissonance?
Even a whole village can't replace dad, children need both parents.

Men's Rights Activist

Quote
"I like what you wrote blue, but I think that you are being too nice. I would attack the DV issue more, and lay down the facts about fatherless children. "


I fully agree.  Due to the rampant corruption of the domestic violence industry, anywhere from 35% to 50% of women who are listed as victims are actually  :twisted: female batterers :twisted:.  The kids wind up living with these monsters, and being exposed to their psycho behavior and physical violence.  

Use those facts in a Duluth wheel model, instead of the standard, evil, lying man-hating propaganda and you will see a big formula for delinquent behavior.  Many kids are coming out of that battering environment well trained, well conditioned to be the criminal, and/or dysfunctional class of the future.  

When you shelter a battering female, vitctims are cheated.
When you shelter a battering female, you harm us all.  
When you shelter a battering female, you are a batterer.
Battering females deserve prisons, not shelters.
Prison and the grave are not men's shelters.
Life, Liberty, & Pursuit of Happiness are fundamental rights for all (including males), & not contingent on gender feminist approval or denial. Consider my "Independence" from all tyrannical gender feminist ideology "Declared" - Here & Now!

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