Children (English)
Articles :

- Parental conflict: 'It was like a war situation' Branwen Jeffreys - 27 Dec. 2018
- An Open Letter To My Daughter's Stepmom - Nov. 2014
- When fathers lose touch with their children after a separation - May 2013
- "END OUR SILENCE" Children want to see their fathers
- Even Toddlers Need Fathers - Video about 'Bonding - Attachment - Fathers' Rights'
- The unfair perils on divorced fathers: for the sake of the children Barbara Kay 17th of July 2008
- Separation and Divorce - Helping parents to help children
- Can't Find a Husband?
- The 20 Requests from Children to their Separated or Divorced Parents - Karin Jäckel
- The Divorced Dad’s Handbook - Steve Davies - 12 January 2007
- Is he "the loser", or is he Dad?

- Fathers and Babies - about Attachment
- Undoing the damage of male-bashing, one daughter at a time
- Careful What You Say: Post-Divorce Badmouthing Can Scuttle Custody Rights -
The Connecticut Law Tribune, 08-26-2004, Thomas B. Scheffey

- Yes, Fathers are Essential - Carey Roberts

Recital For My Son
- Fatherlessness a huge social problem
- Report of Dr. Wade Horn's speech April 14th 2004

- How To Go To Visitation Without Throwing up
- Remarkable book by young Joshua Evans

- Children That Belong to Other Men
- Poem by Don Mathis

- Call to FATHERS by Stephen Baskerville
- There is no help or hope for men after divorce
- Only the children are really punished
- Something rotten about the state of family law
- LIVES - Detour (James Brown)

- Should boys have male role models ? Australian Fatherhood Foundation says : YES
- Happy Birthday To My Darling Son Soon To Be A Father - by Erin Pizzey
- The International Declaration of Langeac on Equal Parenthood
- Helping Your Children through the Divorcing Process: Do's and Don'ts
- Guidelines for Assessing Parental Preference in Child-custody Disputes by Prof. Dr. Richard Gardner
- How Do Fathers Fit In ? - Fathers and Teenagers
- The judicial manslaughter of Mark Edward Dexel
- Kids with 1 parent at risk of mental illnesses
- New legal book for fathers
- Experiments in Living: The Fatherless Family
- Father's Day is approaching
- Poem from an abducted Child
- A Child to its Father
G O U D I = Divorced Parents Service by Information
Mothers and Fathers love their Children - Both they do

Parental conflict: 'It was like a war situation'

Branwen Jeffreys - 27 Dec. 2018

When parents separate, access to children can be one of the hardest issues to agree.

Sometimes a child will refuse to see one parent - and social workers have to work out what is happening.

The BBC reported on new guidelines in England, which include - for the first time - the possibility of a pattern of behaviour called "parental alienation".

It involves one parent deliberately turning a child against the other.

Our report stirred up memories for some adults of being caught up in high-conflict separations, who wanted to tell us their story anonymously.

Continue reading


An Open Letter To My Daughter's Stepmom - Nov. 2014

To My Daughter’s Stepmom

I never wanted you here. You simply were never part of the plan. Growing up and dreaming of my family I never included you.   I didn’t want help from another woman to raise my child.  The plan was for my family to include me, daddy and our children, not you.  I doubt you ever wanted me in your life. I doubt you planned to mother a child that you didn’t give birth to. I can bet that your plan for your family included you, daddy and your children together, not me or my daughter. I can almost bet that when you dreamed of becoming a mother it would be the day you gave birth and not the day you married your husband.  I’m pretty sure you never planned on me being here.

But God has plans that far exceed our own and when my little family dissolved to form two families I knew you would be coming.

In my mind you would be a terrible beast and my daughter would not want you to mother her at all, ever! I was hoping that you would be semi unattractive and prayed my daughter wouldn’t look up to you. Her daddy would know that he was settling for second best.  Evil swirled in me because I never wanted to face the fact that another woman would mother my child in my absence.

Then you arrived.

When I first met you I’ll admit you weren’t what I had in mind and a twinge of jealousy shot through my body. You were supposed to be hideous, remember? But you weren’t, you were stunningly beautiful. You were supposed to be a mean old hag, remember? But you weren’t, you were a young, sweet woman.

My plans were foiled.

Continue reading


When fathers lose touch with their children after a separation - may 2013

Arnaud Régnier-Loilier

Many fathers rarely see their children after a separation, and some lose touch altogether. How many children are concerned? Analysing data from the French version of the Generations and Gender Survey (Étude des relations familiales et intergénérationnelles, ERFI), Arnaud Régnier-Loilier studies the frequency of this loss of contact between fathers and their children, and the circumstances in which it occurs.


According to the 2005 ERFI survey, almost one in ten under-age children whose parents are separated never see their father. The younger the child at the time of parental separation, the less frequently he or she subsequently sees his father. The proportion of children who never see their father is high when the divorce was not by mutual consent but initiated by either the mother or the father only. It is also higher when the father has a low level of education, has an unstable job or is unemployed, or has a low income. Loss of contact between father and child is less frequent in cases of alternating residence.

Read the whole article


"END OUR SILENCE" Children want to see their fathers

"END OUR SILENCE" Five children from Children4Justice explain in their own words how they lost their fathers (and in some cases sisters), in the family courts and why they want the law to change to give children a right to see their fathers. Created and Produced by Matt O'Connor & Nadine O'Connor. Directed by Jess Shaughnessy. Portrait Photography by Jennie Nystedt. All rights Agitator Limited 2012

Video YouTube 5'57" END OUR SILENCE (uploaded 5th of February 2012)


Even Toddlers Need Fathers

Bonding – The Attachment Theory – Fathers’ Rights

Video on YouTube 5' 55" - January 28, 2007

Excellent video - Little children need their mothers and theirs fathers - they need them both.


The unfair perils on divorced fathers: for the sake of the children Barbara Kay 17th of July 2008 - National Post July 17 2008 (Canada)

Barbara Kay

In the 1979 movie Kramer vs. Kramer, a New York mother bored with child care bolts to Los Angeles “to find herself,” leaving her husband suddenly in sole charge of their little son.

The heart of the movie is the riveting evolution of a patriarchy-era father — career-obsessed, domestically disengaged — into a New Man: putting career ambitions second to his child’s needs, parenting clumsily and frantically at first, but eventually with tender efficiency.

Not without realistic missteps and emotional pain along the way, they form a loving bond. The child is happy. Nevertheless, when the mother swoops back into town 18 months later and sues for custody, a patriarchy-era court ignores the dad’s obviously superior moral claim — and the child’s wishes — awarding the mom custody on the basis of her gender.

Thirty years later, New Men are the norm in bourgeois society. But the instinct to privilege the mother-child nexus, ironically a dominant feature of both the sentimentalist patriarchy and today’s feminist-dominated family law, continues to rule in family court.



Separation and Divorce - Helping parents to help children

Resolution Publication

Dear All,

I am grateful to Stephen from JUMP for passing on information from a highly recommended
solicitor in Finchley, North London, Peter Martin, who specialises in collaborative family law (, for alerting me to this important Resolution publication being made available to family lawyers to pass on to parents.

This extremely helpful guide aimed at parents coping with separation and divorce was written by Christina McGhee who is an internationally acclaimed divorce coach and parent educator
based in the US who was intrinsically involved in the 2006 UK TV Channel 4 series called "How to Divorce Without Screwing up Your Kids".

On first review this is an excellent, well balanced, extremely well written and realistic booklet for parents which highlights the harsh realities of dealing with separation and divorce and how best to help their children through it.

Link to the Resolution web pages are shown below:

Being a parent coping with the aftermath of extreme alienation of my own children I am encouraged that a section (Chapter 5) addressing the realities of Parental Alienation (Syndrome) (PAS) and Hostile Agressive Parenting (HAP) have been included.

I would certainly recommend reading and disseminating this Booklet and congratulate Resolution on a very positive and forward thinking publication which I believe will be valued particularly by non-resident parents who are struggling maintaining a positive, loving and nurturing relationship with their children following their relationship breakdown.

Lisa Cohen (on behalf of JUMP - Jewish Unity for Multiple Parenting)
(+44 (0)20 8386 6282 (JUMP)     


Can't Find a Husband?

February 26, 2007
Vox Populi, Family, Child Support & Custody, Feminism, Mating, Marriage & Divorce, Hot Talk

By Teri Stoddard

Teri Stoddard lives in beautiful California, in the hip San Francisco Bay Area. A single mom of four and now a grandma to one she advocates for families. She founded the Respite Center for Parent and Child, an organization created by and for single parents.
Finding herself in the equal parenting movement after becoming a grandmother a few years ago, Stoddard began blogging as the Feminist4Fathers and the Queen of Equality.
The Queen educates parents on the benefits of shared parenting. Visit the Shared Parenting Works website below.

February 26, 2007 at 06:24:47 Can’t Find a Husband?

by Teri Stoddard

I have bad news for the ladies out there looking for a husband. Today’s men are afraid of marriage and having kids. This is most likely because their male friends and relatives have told them what usually happens in the event of a divorce with children. In fact, some men are calling for a marriage strike.

I’m a liberal female father’s advocate, activist, writer and blogger. I’ve been studying the effect our current family law has on families, and why the laws are written the way they are. Unfortunately I have more bad news.We women have allowed radical feminists to take over the feminist movement, the one that used to stand for equality, and they’ve been negatively influencing family law. Now it’s all about domination; in the case of divorce it’s having complete control over the kids, house, money and dad’s visitation time.

Many fathers want equal physical custody of their children after a relationship break-up. If women deserve equality, men do too, right? Then why are feminists, who claim to be about equality, opposing us whenever we introduce equal-parenting laws? I’ve even seen them lying during their testimony to a legislative committee. They’re also changing domestic violence laws to make them even more anti-male, though the facts show males and females batter each other equally and mothers abuse children more than fathers.

Our country is in a fatherless crisis, yet men who are natural hands-on daddies are scoffed at. These men who embrace fatherhood are shown their time and influence isn’t important. Our government does this by enforcing child support orders while not enforcing visitation orders. Whether the father had due process in court or not, whether blatant errors were made, when the DNA test shows he’s not the father, and even when there is no child, our government punishes fathers, including throwing them in jail, for getting behind in child support.

The number one fear of children whose parents are divorcing is losing one parent. Yet millions of fathers, and some mothers are prevented from having natural, fully functioning, dedicated and loving relationships with their children after divorce. Unmarried fathers face the same problem. There are many men across the country, single and divorced, who want equal physical custody of their children, who want to help with home work, meet with teachers, take the kids to the dentist, all the normal things parents do.

Mothers and fathers tell me they don’t believe 4 days and 4 evenings a month is adequate time to develop the kind of relationship necessary for the healthy development of their children. In many cases the sole custodial parent even interferes with that limited time, and in some cases cuts the noncustodial parent completely off from their child even if they’ve done nothing wrong.

A vindictive parent can essentially steal the child by moving the child far away, encouraging negative feelings and thoughts the child has about the noncustodial parent, or filing a false domestic violence report. The way the laws are written today, a divorcing woman can report that her husband was throwing things, say she’s in fear, and with just her word she can get a temporary restraining order and emergency child custody order. One study showed half the temporary restraining orders granted were for cases where no physical harm was even claimed. Another showed the abuse claimed could not be verified fifty-nine percent of the time.

The father in a case like this doesn’t get a chance to face a judge or jury; he’s automatically considered guilty of abuse or potential abuse. This happens without proof of any wrongdoing, and can happen without his knowledge. Once she has the emergency custody order, he has very little, or in most cases no chance of getting equal custody. Every day innocent fathers visit their children in jail-like supervised visitation centers and take anger management classes, sometimes for years. Worse yet, some of these men not only are innocent of domestic violence, they’re the victims. Some children of these innocent men never see Daddy again.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has encouraged programs that promote the idea that batterers are male, victims are female, and every child should be in the sole physical custody of it’s mother. In other words, our government supports programs that vilify men. The Violence Against Women Act needs to be reformed or eliminated, and I-VAWA, the international version, needs to be rejected.

If we want men to embrace the idea of family life, we need to ensure they have equality in family law. Equal parenting laws, favored by 85% of people polled, need to be passed nationwide and a Federal Family Rights Act needs to be established immediately to protect families dealing with Child Protective Services and parents in divorce and child custody cases. The time has come to restore human and civil rights to all fit parents.

Now, back to looking for your husband. I’ve been working with fathers in the equal parenting movement for a few years now. These guys are some of the smartest and kindest friends I’ve had, and some of the most loving and dedicated daddies I’ve ever met. They’ve experienced pain and injustice at the hands of women. When they meet women who respect them, who understand that most men make great parents, they return a special kind of respect and appreciation. Come join us; you can make new friends, and have the satisfaction of helping a very honorable cause. And who knows, maybe you’ll be at a rally one day and meet your future husband.





written by Dr. Karin Jäckel
dedicated to Dieter Mark

All rights reserved to the autor

When the family breaks up, children mostly react by a sad silence. That is why I noted the most important items which children in their difficult situation want to let consider their parents.

(See also: Karin Jäckel, Mein Kind gehört auch zu mir; Handbuch für Väter nach der Trennung, 1999 ff.)

1. Never forget: I am the child of you both. I now have one parent I mostly live with, and who devotes most time to me. But I need the other one exactly the same.

2. Do not ask me who I love most. I love you both equally. Do not try to make the other appear bad in my eyes. That sorely hurts me.

3. Help me stay close to the parent whose home I am not at. Ring him up for me, or note down his address on the envelop for me so I may write him. Help me make or buy a nice Christmas or birthday present for him. Make sure there are photos of me for my other parent as well.

4. Talk with each other like real people. Talk properly. And do not use me as a go-between - particularly not for messages which make the other one sad or furious.

5. Do not be sad, if I am going to be with my other parent. Do not suppose that I will feel bad in the following days. My dearest wish may be to be with you both together. But I cannot tear myself into two pieces - just because our family split up.

6. Do not plan something for me in the time I spend with them. A part of my time belongs to my mother and me, a part to my father and me. Keep to this.

7. Do not be disappointed or feel bad if I am with my other parent and do not contact you. I now have two homes. I must distinguish between them - otherwise I cannot make proper sense of my own life.

8. Do not deliver me like a package to the front door of my other parent. Ask them inside for a short moment to talk about how you can make my life easier. If I am brought or fetched there are short moments when I am with both of you. Do not ruin these moments because you feel annoyed or quarrelsome with each other.

9. Collect me from the nursery or from a friend's house, if you cannot bear the sight of each other.

10. Do not argue in front of me. If you do so, at least be polite with one another, as you are to other human beings and as you expect me myself to be.

11. Do not tell me about things I cannot yet understand. Speak about it with other adults, but not with me.

12. Let me bring my friends along to both my homes. I want them to know and to like both of you.

13. Be fair over money. I would not like it if one of you had loads of money while the other only a little. It is good for me to feel that I am equally comfortable with both of you.

14. Try not to compete over who can spoil me most. Just as I can only eat so much chocolate, I can only love both of you just as much.

15. Say to me openly if you have problems with money. For me time is much more important than money anyway. I get more pleasure out of playing a simple game with you than out of getting a new toy.

16. Do not always seek to distract me with things to do. Not everything has to be super or new, in what we do. The thing I really like is when we are simply happy, we play together and we are relaxed with each other.

17. Leave as much as possible in my life as it was before your separation. Starting with my room and going on to the small things I share with you personally, my mother and my father.

18. Be good to my other grandparents - even if they were on the side of their own child. You would do the same with your child, if I were in a bad way! I do not want to lose my grandparents either.

19. Be fair to the new partner, who each of you is with or will find. I have to fit in with them. I can do that better if you do not show mutual jealousy. It would be best for me, anyway, if you both find someone soon who you can love. Then you would not feel so badly about each other.

20. Be optimistic. Your marriage did not go well, but let the new times be better. Listen well to what I ask. Perhaps you will talk with one another about it. But do not argue. Do not use my wishes in mutual recriminations over how bad you are to me. If you do so, you have not understood how things are with me and what makes me feel better.

Dr. Karin Jäckel

Copyright by
Original reference:

Translated from German by Julian Fitzgerald


The Divorced Dad’s Handbook - Steve Davies - 12 January 2007

If the law is gender neutral why do just 7% of fathers get custody of their children following a divorce? Many fathers believe the law is prejudiced against them, and Bob Geldof even went as far as calling it “state sanctioned kidnapping”. The situation is compounded by the lack of practical advice and guidance for dads to support them in their ‘new environment’. Most turn first to a lawyer, which often comes at a high price and with low reward.

Steve Davies is a divorced father who was forced to face these challenges back in 2000. He was so frustrated by the lack of support that he decided to write The Divorced Dad’s Handbook (published on 8th January 2007 by HowToBooks). The book introduces some stark and shocking facts about fathers’ relationships with their children post divorce, for example, 40% of all fathers lose contact with their children within two years.

Commenting on the reasons for writing The Divorced Dad’s Handbook, Steve said: “The only books I could find were written by psychologists or were US based. This was of little practical use to me or the thousands of UK fathers each year who are forced to survive in their new environment.

“Like many fathers I initially turned to a lawyer, but in my experience (and many other fathers too) this was a complete waste of time and money. The statistics clearly back this up. A much better and cheaper option is a ‘Mackenzie friend’, who can provide more practical guidance and support.

“After my divorce I decided to write a book based solely on my experiences, but it soon became clear that other fathers were equally as frustrated. I therefore decided to widen the scope and subsequently interviewed over 50 dads plus spoke with organisations such as ‘Families Need Fathers’ and the high profile ‘Fathers for Justice’. The result is The Divorced Dad’s Handbook, which I hope will be of equal value to mothers and relatives to help them understand the position from a father’s perspective.”

The Divorced Dad’s Handbook is available now in bookshops across the country
or direct from How To Books on 01476 541080
or priced at £9.99. ISBN: 978-184528-147-2.


Is he "the loser", or is he Dad?

Posted by Teri Stoddard on October 15, 2005 10:26 PM (See all posts by Teri Stoddard)
Filed under: Politics, Culture/Tech: Family, Culture/Tech: Society, Politics: Law, Politics: U.S., Politics: World - Scroll down to read comments on this story and/or add one of your own.

Reshaping Fatherhood :
The Social Construction of Shared Parenting (Understanding Families series)

Anna Dienhart
Book from SAGE Publications
Release date: 27 May, 1998


I was at a 4-year-old's birthday party when I overheard a young mother. "We call him 'the loser', she said, "but not around Bobby". I cringed. I knew that Bobby was probably aware that the significant adults in his life disrespected this man, and that the man was probably his father. When I hear things like that I worry about children growing up today. One million children in America are involved in a new divorce annually, as of 1997, according to, and The Children's Fund reports that one in three American children is born to unmarried parents (2004 Key Facts About American Children).

E. Mavis Hetherington and John Kelly, authors of For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered, found that "twenty years after the divorce less than one-third of boys and one-quarter of girls reporting having close relationships with their nonresident fathers." And the National Fatherhood Initiative reports "About 40 percent of children in father-absent homes have not seen their father at all during the past year." What kind of role models are we offering our children? With divorced and unmarried fathers currently having the undeserved reputation of "deadbeats", how can little boys grow up proud to be male?

At one time that young mother could have been me. I have made many disparaging comments about my ex-husbands, and I felt completely justified in doing so. All three of the men had let me down in one way or another, and it made sense to place blame when I spoke about my divorces. They weren't my fault; after all, they were always my ex-husbands' fault. That's what I liked to say at least. That's what I needed to believe.

I have experienced a phenomenon within my own family that I have now learned is common, tragic, and very often avoidable. I'm talking about the phenomenon of the fatherless child. Three of my children are in that 40 percent, the kids who never see their dads. They had fathers who it seemed, simply walked out of their lives. The thing to note is that of the four men, it was the three who I divorced, the three who had to deal with the family court system and the state child support enforcement who went missing, not the man who fathered a child with me when we were both unmarried, who wrote a parenting plan with me without involving the court system. I've successfully co-parented with that man for 18 years.

So what happened to the men I married and divorced? Why were they the ones who walked? It wasn't like they were never in their children's lives. These were the men who attended childbirth classes with me, who walked the floor, changed diapers, and played with our babies. We were thrilled to have children together and co-parented successfully while we were married. What exactly had happened during the divorce? Everything changed. The relationships between my children and their fathers disintegrated.

At the time, all I knew was that I had divorced men who had deserved it, as far as I was concerned, and they were proving exactly how bad they were by abandoning their children. My only choice, as I saw it then, was to be the best single mom I could be; to fill in the gaps, to play both parental roles, to make sure as best I could that my kids felt loved and wanted. I chose a career that allowed me to work from home. I supported my family and provided my children the benefits of a stay-at-home mother.

But while I was enjoying close relationships with my children I also knew they were missing something. I resented my ex-husbands for rejecting them, and for any disadvantages they experienced by not having two parents in their lives. Those kids deserved another cheerleader on their team. So if the name of one of my ex-husbands came up in conversation I did not hesitate to use a term like "the loser."

I have since learned what it is like for a father to go through the family court system and how it can negatively impact the relationship with his child. I've also learned that any parent is vulnerable to injustice and any parent could lose contact with their child after going through the current family court system. What I learned is shocking.

A newly separated or unmarried father might think that he is doing everything by the book; he might visit or care for his child regularly, or as often as the mother will allow, he might think he should wait until the court hearing to start paying child support since no amount has been set, especially if the mother of his child has applied for welfare, because paying her directly isn't allowed. He might go into court expecting to come out with a fair joint physical custody order, especially if he has been providing much of his child's daily care. He might expect that any child support order that may be made against him would start that day. Many good, fit, responsible, loving, dedicated fathers, and some mothers, are completely overwhelmed by what happens next.

As Jeffery Shipman, 44, a New York father to 21-month-old Deonna, told me, "It is, simply put, like being raped. You're raped financially, emotionally, and in terms of your health deteriorating - physically as well. You walk out of the courtroom perplexed and bewildered; shaking your head in disbelief while thinking "This can't be happening!" But it is. It is real life. It is cruel. I recall walking out of family court one year ago a broken, broken man."

The myth of deadbeat dads

I came across a 2003 study from the Urban Institute on uncollected child support in California. In Examining Child Support Arrears in California – the Collectibility Study, I learned that common practices, like not making sure the father was served a summons for his court date, setting default orders if he didn't show up, charging interest, and backdating child support orders were contributing to the fatherless child epidemic. I learned that these, combined with the practice of judges "assuming" income was leaving some low-income fathers with child support orders "4 times higher than it should be," and in some cases, "twice as high as the debtor's net monthly income." According to the Urban Institute analysis, "Three-quarters of California's arrears result from policies and practices that set and keep child support orders at levels that exceed noncustodial parents' ability to pay child support."

Many fathers walk out of the courtroom in shock, owing thousands of dollars in arrears due to backdating and interest, putting them immediately at risk of imprisonment and losing their professional and drivers licenses. Some of these fathers become so overwhelmed they go into hiding, losing all contact with their children. The UI study goes on, "Many child support professionals have come to believe that charging interest, particularly at high rates, is counterproductive and does not serve either the child or the government. Charging interest can make the payment of child support arrears seem overwhelming" to some low-income, non-custodial parents in California "and, possibly, drive them to the underground economy and away from their children."

The myth of abusive fathers

Another thing happens to fathers, and to some mothers, which I would have never expected to find in America, a country I thought stood for justice. With absolutely no notice, no due process of law, judges can, and do, use ex parte orders to remove custody of their children from parents. In From Madness to Mutiny: Why Mothers Are Running from the Family Courts-and What Can Be Done about It, sociologist Amy Neustein and family court expert Michael Lesher conclude that "No state should permit a change of custody from one parent or guardian to the other on the basis of an ex parte hearing - that is a hearing of which one parent of guardian does not receive notice. At the present time there are states, including California, that permit such changes without notification to the other parent."

Bryan Godfrey, a 32-year-old California father to a 5-year-old daughter and 12-year-old stepson had the crushing experience of dealing with two ex parte orders. The first one, which came shortly after his wife filed for divorce, granted his wife sole custody and exclusive use of their home, and the second one, five months later, terminated all of his parental rights until further notice. He said, "I was accused of sexual abuse that was determined to be unfounded by the Police, but the judge still terminated my visitation via an ex parte until further evaluation of a psychologist. It has been 17 months since I have seen my daughter."

I've had many fathers say they were falsely accused of domestic violence or child abuse during their custody cases. Bryan passed a lie detector test, yet he still can't see his daughter. When I asked him how he feels about this he said, "I am completely outraged and frustrated that my parental rights have been terminated without so much as single hearing. I was never charged with anything. I was found guilty without a trial."

The opponents to joint physical custody like to point to studies that show an epidemic of false accusations of sexual abuse during custody cases does not exist. I've never claimed it does. But the truth of the matter is you don't need an epidemic to see that is does happen, and that it needs to be stopped. Since I purchased the book From Madness to Mutiny Amy Neustein's adult daughter, Sherry Orbach wrote an article for The Jewish Press. On May 27, 2005 she wrote, "For eighteen years (I am now 24); I was silent as my mother spun lie upon lie about my father and me. The truth, however, is that my father never sexually abused me, and that reporters and alleged victims' advocates who supported my mother chose to retell her lies without adequately checking the facts."

Bryan continued, "My daughter is suffering and I am powerless to help her. If I do anything aggressive I will be perceived as a domestic violence committing man and confirm her false allegations. If I sit back and wait for the wheels of 'justice' I'm perceived not to care about my daughter. It makes me feel extremely sad, depressed and angry at all the professionals that claim to be 'looking out for the best interest of the child' when clearly they could care less."

Fathers often tell me once they are caught up in the web of family court, false accusations, supervised visitations and alienation, they can't get out, no matter how innocent they are, how much proof they have, nor how great a parent they are. Because of the "best interest of the child" standard, judges can do pretty much anything they want, including keeping good, fit, loving parents from their children. Jeffrey echoed a sentiment I hear often in the Fathers Movement, "My patriotism, faith in the justice system, respect for attorneys, judges and the like - all gone. My belief in the basic fundamentals of my country based on our Constitution which was fought for - evaporated."

Bias in the courts

From everything I've seen over the last three years, I believe a father starts out with an overwhelming disadvantage in family court, just because he's male. Unmarried fathers, fathers to one-third of all the babies born in our country, are almost always denied physical custody of their children. Bill Sharp, 51, a never-married Illinois father to 14-year-old Tasha and 15-year-old Willy lost his joint physical custody after his former partner refused to cooperate with the courts. Bill told me, "I used to wake up in the morning, look at myself in the bathroom mirror and say, 'What prodigious thing will he do today, this Bill Sharp?' It was a quote from some artist; I had read it in 1986, liked it and started using it as my own morning motivation from that point on. That changed on July 1, 2002. That's the morning I looked into the bathroom mirror and said, 'They took my kids,' and then broke down."

Dr. Richard C. Weiss, 57, lives in Alabama with his wife and their 4-year-old son. He spent almost $100,000, and fought for over 10 years to try to have joint physical custody of his daughters from a previous marriage and to keep them from being moved away. He is now the noncustodial parent to two teenage daughters in Arkansas, whom he hasn't heard from in 11 months. He said, "This is a nightmare ever present - a silence like death but worse. Many of us really loving, caring and responsible fathers have literally been thrown out of the lives of our own children by the family courts and vindictive ex spouses. That, despite gross civil rights injustices, we remain a persecuted class and worse, children are treated like chattel by dysfunctional custodial mothers and the courts with little regard to their needs for having both parents or the dire consequences of removing them from one fit parent, (most divorced parents are fit)."

The reality of estrangement

Right before I overheard that comment about the 'loser' in the family, I had been chatting with the birthday child's grandmother. She was talking about her family and one story grabbed my attention. A male relative had gone through a painful divorce. Not only had his ex-wife gotten sole custody of their daughter, she moved her far away, and then proceeded to turn the child against him. "Parental alienation syndrome." I said, "That's what some people call it." As she described the heartbreak this man was experiencing all I could do was nod my head in understanding and think about the dozens of men I have met over the last 3 years who share his pain.

Some experts say that Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) isn't real. After encouraging the many fathers I know who have fought for years to try to keep their children from being estranged, and after trying to console the many who have lost the fight, no one can convince me that the estrangement of noncustodial parents and children doesn't exist, no matter what you call it. This heartache doesn't just happen to fathers, it happens to noncustodial mothers too. Rebecca Mackey, a remarried 27-year-old noncustodial mother to one said it happened to her. She said, "Even when one parent loses custody, they are still punished by the brainwashing and psychological games that go on in the custodial household. They ultimately lose their child… body and mind."

Fathers as caregivers

Opponents of joint physical custody say that men don't do the child rearing before the separation, so they shouldn't have equal custody afterwards. But according to The Motherhood Study (Institute for American Values, 2005,

[M]any married mothers strongly stated they would not wish for more involvement on the part of their children's father because he already is as involved in their care as anyone can be. In one mother's words, her husband "does all the things I do with them." Another mother described her husband as "very involved, although he does very different things than I do." "We both love the kids and we both work to teach them what they need to know." These and other mothers expressed a deep appreciation for what their spouses bring to their lives and to the lives of their children, and several mothers noted how much more involved these fathers are in the children's daily lives than the generations of fathers before them.

Bill says, "There have been four instances where I have put my career on hold to spend time with my kids. I had hoped to be able to do that when they reached high school, do consulting or teaching so that I could take a summer off with the kids and travel, (Europe, Central America, Asia). That can't happen now because I have to keep earning money at my current rate to be able to pay the child support that has been assessed. The system values me more for the money I earn than for what I teach my kids when I'm with them."

One thing the opponents of joint custody say is that mothers have a special skill; a special ability to love and care for children, that they're much more attached to children then fathers. Well, according The Motherhood Study, most mothers do think that, "Mothers see their contribution to the care of their children not only as extremely important, but also so unique that no one else can replace it. Nearly 93% of our respondents agreed with that statement, with nearly 83% saying they 'strongly' agree." I wonder if they're aware that 87 per cent of fathers surveyed in 1994 said they agreed or strongly agreed that 'watching children grow up is life's greatest joy,' according to Fatherhood: Research, interventions and policies by Peters, Peterson.

They must not have met fathers like Jeffrey, who described his time with Deonna to me like this, "Even though my little darling is getting quite heavy now, I still carry her 1.2 miles around the neighborhood each time I'm parenting her. This 'bonding time' is so special to me and I refuse to use a stroller as I wish to hold her up close to my face so we can walk along and 'converse' and 'look at all the pretties', (trees, flowers, other walkers, airplanes, etc.) I think she likes it because daddy can still hold her up high for extended periods of time - something she doesn't get too much these days at 21.5 months of age." Then he added, "I recall walking this very same trek around where I live every night when I was prevented from being with my baby, balling my head off and praying for divine intervention."

And if they doubt that fathers can love children as much as mothers do, they have obviously never met Bill Numerick, a 26-year-old father who is in love with a son he's never even met. His ex-girlfriend married another man before she gave birth to their son just over two years ago, and due to the current laws in Michigan her husband was automatically named as the father. Bill has been fighting to be a father to his son ever since. Bill is rightfully proud to be part of shaping a new bill, (Senate bill 0436), that will prevent this from happening to any other father in Michigan. He told me, "One thing I dread to imagine is Caleb thinking that I don't love him and that I just walked away without a second thought. To me that is one of the most freighting things I can imagine. As close as I am to my father I couldn't fathom the emptiness I would feel had we been kept apart while I was growing up." You can get updates on Bill and Caleb on Bill's web site

Shared parenting as a solution

In 1987 Dr. Joan Kelly wrote, "The primary negative aspect of divorce reported by children in numerous studies was loss of contact with a parent." In Surviving the Breakup, Kelly and Judith Wallerstein wrote, "The emotional stability of children of divorced parents is directly related to the quality of their continuing relationships with both of their parents. We have repeatedly described the dissatisfaction of so many youngsters who felt they were not seeing their fathers often enough, If custody and visiting issues are to be within the realm of the 'best interest of the child', then such widespread discontent must be taken very seriously."

California resident Kelly Bray, 48, is dad to two little boys. He and his wife have been separated for five years and are finalizing their divorce with the help of a paralegal. He told me, "My wife and I have been doing shared parenting from day one… We never prevent the other from participating in anything to do with the kids. The kids have a stable environment; they know where they will be every day. They have the love of two parents, and intimate time with both. It is more like 70/70 than 50/50 to the kids, and that is what counts. Do you have to like your ex-spouse? No, we cannot stand each other, but the kids never know… The trick is to love your kids, more than you hate your spouse. That can't be that hard, just look at them… just look at them... They are waiting."

The general public overwhelmingly supports shared parenting. As reported on Fathers & Families, (, in November 2004, 37 districts in Massachusetts had a non-binding ballot question asking if voters supported it. With 600,000 votes cast, 86 percent said, "Yes." In Michigan recently the Detroit News carried out an on-line survey asking the following question, "For divorcing parents, should Michigan courts make equally shared custodial responsibility of children the standard?" Again, eighty-six percent voted "Yes.

Fighting for Family Rights

On April 9, 2005, Hillary Clinton said, "I have been working for children and families for more then 30 years. …We can do better and we will do better. And while we do so we will get back to the idea of promoting personal responsibility where it counts, especially towards our children. Of course, the most precious responsibility is for one's own children, but I think we also have a responsibility for all of our children."

I believe she's aware of the epidemic of fatherless children. I wonder if she's aware that a kind and dedicated father, John Murtari, 48, has sent her numerous letters asking her to endorse Congressional hearings and eventually the creation of a Family Rights Act, "to recognize and protect the right of our children to have two parents equally involved in their lives and the right of parents to raise and nurture their own children requiring parents be found guilty in a criminal court, with jury protection, of being a demonstrated serious threat to their children – before government can interfere in family life."

I wonder if she knows that John, who owns A Kids Right, (, has been arrested numerous times, and that he has spent time in jail for his non-violent peaceful protesting below her Syracuse office since April 9, 2001 just to have a meeting with her. If Mrs. Clinton means what she says, she will meet John and invite him up to her office, not have him prosecuted. There are people all over the nation with solutions to this epidemic, and all she needs to do is listen to them.

One of those people is Jamil Jabr. Jamil has been involved in organizing Fathers-4-Justice in the United States. He has been supporting the gender-neutral civil rights movement in America that is fighting for equality in child custody by building the group as a recognized non-profit, charitable organization. When I asked him to explain the fathers movement he said, "In essence, this is a fight for equal rights for parents, because when that happens it is irrefutable that having fair access to both parents is what's best for children. This is THE civil rights movement of our time."

Jamil, who lives in Minnesota, has been divorced for 2 years and has one child added, "We need to disempower the corrupt, incompetent system that has created a winner takes all high stakes game, which turns children into pawns and meal tickets. In the process, it takes money from families that they will never see again as it is turned over to the components of the divorce industry, like lawyers."

I was surprised to find myself discussing fathers' issues at a child's birthday party. This was the last place I expected the subject to come up. "Oh Teri, I want to talk to you about two of my friends", another guest said. "Two of my friends can't see their children", she said, "The moms have moved their kids away and my friends are really upset about it". She proceeded to tell me about her two male friends, one with a 4-year-old and the other with a 7-year-old.

In both cases the parents had never married, the fathers had been actively, and the children were moved away against their wishes. Her mother had moved the 7-year-old almost 500 miles away 4 years earlier. The father's contact was limited to, "Every time he sees me and I let him use my cell phone. Every weekend." The mother of the 4-year-old moved him away when he was 18-months-old and changed all of her contact information. The father doesn't know where they are. "He's devastated," she said.

Glenn Sacks, a nationally-syndicated radio talk show host, ("His Side with Glenn Sacks"), and newspaper columnist told me, "Perhaps never before in our history has there been such a widespread injustice and so little attention paid to it." Glenn, who is 41-years-old, a father of two, happily married, (never divorced), and who lives in Los Angeles, added, "People trivialize what has happened to fathers - after all, they're men, and men have all the power. But if you don't have the right and the power to raise your own children, what do you have?"

For more information visit these web sites:

A Kids Right,

Children's Rights Council,


Fathers & Families,


Noncustodial Moms,

Shared Parenting Works,


Divorce Magazine,

2004 Key Facts About American Children by The Children's Fund,

For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered, by Hetherington, Mavis, and Kelly

National Fatherhood Initiative,

2003 Urban Institutes Examining Child Support Arrears in CA–Collectibility Study, reports/2003/2003-05collectbility.pdf

From Madness to Mutiny, Why Mothers Are Running from the Family Courts-and What Can Be Done about It, by Amy Neustein and Michael Lesher

The Jewish Press,

The Motherhood Study,

Fatherhood: Research, interventions and policies by Peters, Peterson, Steinmetz, & Day.

The Love of My Life,

Wallerstein & Kelly, 1980

Fathers & Families,

Hillary Clinton,

A Kids Right,


His Side with Glenn Sacks,


Fathers and Babies

An extract from the organisation Civitas

P a r t 1

About attachment and infant's development

Babies need predictability and security, which they get when their mother and father respond consistently, promptly, and appropriately to their cries, smiles and other signals. As a baby develops a
relationship with his or her mother and father, he comes to prefer them to other adults, in a process known as attachment. Psychologists agree that babies with secure attachments to their parents have
better chances to develop into happy, successful, and well-adjusted children and adults.5

Mothers tend to be relied upon more than fathers for the comfort and security components of attachment, primarily because they are usually the infant's main caregiver.6 Babies also form attachments to their
fathers, who tend to be just as responsive to their babies' bids for attention as mothers.7 When fathers spend more time with their babies, they get to know exactly what each of their baby's signals
mean. This familiarity allows fathers to respond sensitively, meaning that they know when their baby is hungry rather than when he just wants a change of scenery.8

The effects of attachment on children are broad and long-lasting. For example, one study found that primary school children scored higher on tests of empathy-the ability to see a situation from another
person's viewpoint-if they had secure attachments to their fathers during infancy. These children were able to recognize how other children felt and took steps to make them feel better.9

Both mothers and fathers encourage their babies to investigate the world, manipulate objects, and explore physical relationships.10 However, mothers and fathers have different styles of relating. Mothers tend to speak soothingly and softly in repetitive rhythms to their infants and snugly hold them. Fathers tend to provide more verbal and physical stimulation, by patting their babies gently and communicating to them with sharp bursts of sound. As babies grow older, many come to prefer playing with their fathers who provide unpredictable, stimulating, and exciting interaction.11 This stimulation is important because it fosters healthy development of the baby's brain and can have lasting effects on children's social,
emotional, and intellectual development. Infants with involved fathers tend to score higher on tests of thinking skills and brain development. 12

Both the mother and the father are important to an infant's development in special ways. For example, in one study, baby boys whose fathers engaged in physically playful, affectionate and stimulating play during infancy were more popular later as school children. Mothers influenced their sons' popularity through a
different route, by providing verbal stimulation.13


3 Parke, R.D., Fatherhood, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996, p 63. The evidence indicates that fathers are more boisterous than mothers in their play with daughters as well as sons.

4 Pruett, K., The Nurturing Father, New York: Warner Books, 1987.

5 Bowlby, J., Attachment and Loss: Vol 1. Attachment, New York: Basic Books, 1969; Ainsworth, M., Blehar, M., Waters, E. & Wall, S., Patterns of Attachment, Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1978; De Wolff, M. &
van IJzendoorn, M., 'Sensitivity and attachment: A meta-analysis on parental antecedents of infant attachment', Child Development, 68, 1997, pp. 571- 591; Pederson, D. & Moran, G., 'Expressions of the
attachment relationship outside of the strange situation', Child Development, 67, 1996, pp. 915-927.

6 Cox, M.J., Owen, M.T., Henderson, V.K. & Margand, N.A., 'Prediction of infant-father and infant-mother attachment', Developmental Psychology, 28, pp. 474-483. 7 Lamb, M., Frodi, A., Hwang, C. &
Steinberg, J., 'Mother- and father-infant interactions involving play and holding in traditional and non-traditional Swedish families', Developmental Psychology, 18, 1982, pp. 215-221; De Wolff van
IJzendoorn, 'Sensitivity and attachment', Child Development, 1997. 8 Lamb, M.E., 'The development of
father-infant relationships', in Lamb (ed.), The Role of the Father in Child Development, 3 rd edition, 1997, pp. 104-120.

9 Biller., H.B., Fathers and Families: Paternal Factors in Child Development, Westport: Auburn, 1993; Biller, H.B. & Trotter, R.J., The Father Factor, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994.

10 Teti, D.M., Bond, L.A. & Gibbs, E.D., 'Mothers, fathers, and siblings: A comparison of play styles and their influence upon infant cognitive level', International Journal of Behavioral Development, 11, 1988, pp. 415-432; Power, T. G., 'Mother- and father-infant play: A developmental analysis', Child Development, 56, 1985, pp. 1514-1524; Yogman, M., 'Games fathers and mothers play with their infants', Infant Mental Health Journal, 2, 1981, pp. 241-248.

11 Clarke-Stewart, K.A., 'And Daddy makes three: The father's impact on mother and young child', Child Development, 49, 1978, pp. 466-478; Crawley, S.B. & Sherrod, R.B., 'Parent-infant play during the first
year of life', Infant Behavior and Development, 7, 1984, pp. 65-75; Lamb, M.E., 'Father-infant and mother-infant interaction in the first year of life', Child Development, 48, 1977, pp. 167-181; Clarke-Stewart, K.A., 'The father's contribution to children's cognitive and social development in early childhood', in Pedersen,
F.A. (ed.), The Father-Infant Relationship: Observational Studies in a Family Setting, New York: Preaeger, 1980, pp. 111-146.

12 Radin, N., 'Primary caregiving fathers in intact families', in Gottfried, A.E. & Gottfried, A.W. (eds.), Redefining Families, New York: Plenum Press, 1994, pp. 11-54.; Radin, N., 'The influence of fathers upon sons and daughters and implications for school social work', Social Work in Education, 8, 1986, pp. 77-91; Nugent, J.K., 'Cultural and psychological influences on the father's role in infant development', Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53, 1991, pp. 475-585.

13 MacDonald, K. & Parke, R.D., 'Bridging the gap: Parent-child play interaction and peer interactive competence', Child Development, 55, 1984, pp. 1265-1277.

P a r t 2

Fathers and Small Children

When babies become toddlers, parents must go beyond nurturing them and begin to address two additional needs: supporting their toddler's exploration and setting appropriate limits for the child. Through
playing with their toddlers, fathers take a special role in achieving these two goals. Children learn from them how to solve problems and how to get along with others.14

Fathers spend a larger proportion of their time playing with their young children than mothers do, and they tend to be more boisterous and active in their play. 15 Most children enjoy this kind of play. Even if their fathers spend less time with them than their mothers, fathers become salient, or meaningful and special, to their children through play.16

When fathers play with their toddlers, they are not just entertaining them. They are providing a safe, yet challenging arena for toddlers to learn how to interact with the world and with others. Through
rough-and-tumble play, fathers create obstacles for their children and demand respect for limits and boundaries. At the same time, they challenge their children and encourage them to explore their own
strength, their ability to do new things, and their impact on the world around them. Toddlers who must work out for themselves how to achieve goals-such as retrieving a ball that is just out of reach in
their father's hand or wrestling their father to the ground-are practicing important problem-solving skills. In fact, when fathers are good at playing with their young children, these children score higher on tests of thinking and problem-solving skills. 17

Playing with fathers also helps children develop emotional knowledge, so that they can identify their own emotions, acknowledge the emotional experiences of others, and describe the causes of emotions.
Toddlers must also learn emotional regulation, the ability to express emotions responsibly and control their behaviour. To understand how much emotional regulation develops during early childhood, one can
picture a toddler in the midst of an angry temper tantrum, holding his breath until he gets his way. Contrast this with a four-year-old who feels frustrated that the rain has ruined his plans to play
football, yet moves beyond those feelings and engages in a board game with his sister instead. When children understand their emotions and know how to control them, it makes them more popular with other

The father's influence on emotional development is not limited to play, but also comes through direct teaching and daily interaction. Studies have shown that, when fathers are affectionate and helpful,
their children are more likely to get on well with their brothers and sisters.19 When children have fathers who are emotionally involved-that is, they acknowledge their children's emotions and help them deal with bad emotions-they score higher on tests of 'emotional intelligence'. Moreover, they tend to have better relationships with other children and behave less aggressively. Fathers' involvement in their young children's care can even last well into adulthood.20 Mothers seem to have much less impact in this area of emotional regulation and peer relationships than fathers. It really is fathers who can have a major influence on helping their children build strong social relationships during childhood and later in life.


14 Parke, R.D. & Buriel, R., 'Socialization in the family: Ethnic and ecological perspectives', in Damon, W. & Eisenberg, N. (eds.), Handbook of Child Psychology: Vol 3. Social, Emotional, and Personality Development, 5 th ed., New York: Wiley, 1998, pp. 463-552.

15 MacDonald & Parke, 'Bridging the gap', Child Development, 1984; Collins, W.A. & Russell, G., 'Mother-child and father-child relationships in middle childhood and adolescence: A developmental analysis', Developmental Review, 11, 1991, pp. 99-136; Bronstein, P., 'Difference in mothers' and fathers' behaviors toward children: A cross-cultural comparison', Developmental Psychology, 20, 1984, pp. 995-1003.

16 Lamb, M.E., Frodi, A.M., Hwang, C.P. & Frodi, M., 'Varying degrees of paternal involvement in infant care: Attitudinal and behavioural correlates', in Lamb, M.E. (ed.), Nontraditional Families: Parenting
and Child Development, Hillsdale: Erlbaum, pp. 117-137.

17 Radin, 'Primary caregiving fathers in intact families', 1994; Radin, 'The influence of fathers', Social Work in Education, 1986; Nugent, 'Cultural and psychological influences', Journal of Marriage and the Family, 1991.

18 Cassidy, J., Parke, R.D., Butkovsky, L. & Braungart, J., 'Family-peer connections: The roles of emotional expressiveness within the family and children's understanding of emotions', Child Development, 63, 1992, pp. 603-618; Parke, R.D., MacDonald, K.D., Beitel, A. & Bhavnagri, N., 'The role of the family in the
development of peer relationships', in Peters, R.D. & McMahon, R.J. (eds.), Marriages and Families: Behavioral Treatments and Processes, New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1988.

19 Volling, B. & Belsky, J., 'The contribution of mother-child and father-child relationships to the quality of sibling interaction: A longitudinal study', Child Development, 63, 1992, pp. 1209-1222.

20 Gottman, J.M., Katz, L.F. & Hooven, C., Meta-Emotion: How Families Communicate Emotionally, Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 1996; Parke, R.D. & Brott, A.A., Throwaway Dads: The Myths and Barriers That Keep Men from Being the Fathers They Want to Be, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999, pp 6-7; Koestner, R.S., Franz, C.E. & Weinberger, J., 'The family origins of empathic concern: A 26-year longitudinal study', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 1990, pp. 586-595.

Many thanks go to Kingsley Miller, author of 'even Toddlers Need Fathers' (£4
inc.p&p) for sending around this valuable information on this important issue
Contact him at;-


Undoing the damage of male-bashing, one daughter at a time

Kathleen Parker (archive)

March 2, 2005

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - While most American women obsess about the laments of frazzled mothers, a handful of their daughters at Wake Forest University are turning their attention to the study of that mysterious and often-demonized species - fathers

Yep, you read it right. Fathers. Dear ol' Dad. Remember him?

Each week, these young women (and one young man, who signed up because he hopes to be a good father someday) arrange their desks in a circle with Dr. Linda Nielsen, psychologist, professor and author, to learn about fathers and fatherhood in the only such college course in the country.

The class is not a therapy session or support group, but a tough college course like any other, involving research, reading, field projects, papers, tests and grades. It's just harder than most because the course also involves introspection, self-analysis and the search for insight into one of life's most important relationships.

I attended a class recently, both as an observer and quasi-lecturer, at Nielsen's invitation. Nielsen's and my discovery of one another was like that scene in "The Count of Monte Cristo" where Edmond Dantes suddenly hears the tapping of another inmate through the dungeon floor and realizes, joyously, that he's not alone. Together they labored to tunnel their way out of captivity and darkness into freedom and light.

Similarly, these young people dig deeply to liberate themselves from the dark male stereotypes that pervade our culture, enlightening themselves in order to embrace their fathers. The title of Nielsen's book and the course textbook is "Embracing Your Father: How to Build the Relationship You've Always Wanted With Your Dad" (McGraw-Hill, 2004).

Despite the popularity of Nielsen's class, now in its 15th year, and rave reviews from alumni, Nielsen has received scant attention from our nation's literary and cultural gatekeepers. She understands the problem. It is, after all, her job to understand the psychology of groupthink and the unconscious motivations of human beings.

Thus, the joke around Nielsen's kitchen table is that her book might have been a best seller if she'd titled it, "Ten Reasons to Hate Your Father . While Losing 20 Pounds and Having Great Sex!"

Nielsen prefers to deal in reality, however, and is fearlessly steadfast in her conviction that most young women have been brainwashed by the culture into believing that men are inferior to women and that everything lacking in the father-daughter relationship is Dad's fault. An avowed feminist, Nielsen tries to show her students that sometimes girls and women are not victims, but are arrangers of their own unhappiness and misfortune.

At the same time, Nielsen is careful not to demonize mothers, which she says would be counterproductive and unfair. Daughters need to respect the mother as well as the father part of themselves, which evolves from a deeper understanding of both parents.

Her approach is short on warm and fuzzy. She's a teacher, not a baby sitter, and instructs the old-fashioned way, using hard facts, statistics and research that bear out what women who've had good relationships with their fathers have always known - that most fathers are lovely creatures who teach their daughters, among other things, self-respect.

How peculiar that so many girls today learn a different story, often from mothers who, sometimes hurt or embittered by divorce, communicate negative messages to their daughters. Movies, books, television and other media are equally culpable.

By contrast, Nielsen's book is full of documented facts that invariably take students by surprise. By learning, for example, that 2 million single dads are raising 3 million kids on their own, or that 80 percent of married fathers in this country earn most of the money for their families, students begin to see their fathers as hard-working, responsible men rather than as objectified wallets who routinely disappoint families by working too much.

They also learn that they share the responsibility for having a better relationship with Dad, and that fathers sometimes need permission to be more involved with their daughters. Such lessons offer dividends beyond grades, as expressed by grateful students who write to thank Nielsen for helping them discover their fathers as fellow travelers in life's journey rather than as obstacles to gratification.

All students learn that most invaluable of lessons, that Dad is also "just" a human being, perhaps flawed and even struggling, and that he, too, could use a little understanding. Just like his little girl.

Source : Help Stop Pas Message Board


Careful What You Say: Post-Divorce Badmouthing Can Scuttle Custody Rights

The Connecticut Law Tribune, 08-26-2004, Thomas B. Scheffey

A cardinal rule in divorce, experts in family dynamics say, is that parents never denigrate one another to their children. Yet, as any divorce lawyer knows, pitting child against parent is a tactic all too common between warring spouses who, in their vehemence, lose sight of their children's emotional welfare.

Courts, however, are increasingly mindful of the psychological harm it can inflict -- and, in some cases, have taken extreme measures against parents who actively foster their children's hatred for their divorcing spouse.

For West Hartford, Conn., Realtor Abbe Yeston, her vocal and repeated disdain for ex-husband Neil Yeston, a prominent Hartford, Conn., doctor, has at least temporarily cost her custody of their two sons.

The mother's "incessant and completely unjustified vilification" of the father placed their younger son "in a condition of intense psychological turmoil," so much so that Judge F. Herbert Gruendel said he had no choice but to vacate her joint custody order and award Neil Yeston sole custody of both children.


Gruendel, chief administrative judge of the state's family courts, and Judge Linda Pearce Prestley warned Abbe Yeston -- in restraining orders over the past year, some typed in all capital letters for emphasis -- that she faced losing custody unless she curbed her endless and destructive criticism of her ex-husband.

In a powerfully worded June 24 ruling, Gruendel said Abbe Yeston defiantly violated those orders within days -- sometimes within hours -- and frightened her younger son into thinking that the father was working to leave her penniless and "alienate or separate the children from her."

"Nothing could be further from the truth," Gruendel wrote, noting the mother's generous settlement terms and the father's "fervent desire" that his sons maintain a meaningful and complete relationship with their mother.

In ordering the sons' cold-turkey break from Abbe Yeston, conditioned on her progress from counseling with an expert trained in parental alienation issues, Gruendel got an angry reaction from the older child. In all capitals, the judge emphasized that the purpose of his orders was neither to punish the boys, who have done nothing wrong, nor to punish the mother, who has. "The purpose is to require Mrs. Yeston to recognize the terrible effects her conduct has had on both of her sons and to involve her in a therapeutic setting which will help her to control her overt behavior," Gruendel wrote.


The case highlights a problem -- parental alienation -- that family court judges appear to be finding stronger and more detailed measures to combat.

According to veteran Hartford family lawyer Gerald Roisman, who represents Neil Yeston, the change has been coming for 20 years, as courts moved away from almost automatically granting custody to the mother and visitation to the father toward more equal, "gender-neutral" co-parenting orders.

Roisman, who has been practicing for more than 40 years, recalls handling custody cases in which the court's remedies completely ignored the issue of a parent turning a child against the other parent with alienating disparagement. He praised Greundel's strenuous effort to address the problem, which included a $2,500 sanction of legal fees imposed for Abbe Yeston's contempt of his orders.

The mother, now apparently representing herself after having four lawyers in this case, did not respond to an e-mail request for comment.

Family lawyer Richard G. Kent, of New Canaan, Conn.'s Marvin, Ferro, Barndollar & Kent, said interest in finding new legal tools to combat such behavior has steadily increased in recent years, with some states recognizing a tort action for parental alienation.

The term "parental alienation syndrome" was coined in the 1980s by a New Jersey psychiatrist, the late Richard A. Gardner, who testified as an expert witness in both tort cases and custody matters nationwide, said Kent. Although Gardner's writings have been castigated as lacking peer review and not meeting standards of scientific reliability, Kent said, "for a lot of people, he's the guru."

(Note from Anju - PAL is becoming more accepted by the courts. While it is usually better to refer to cases from your home state, it is always helpful to know of other state's cases where PAL has been recognized).

Connecticut judges have not needed new tort law or a scientifically approved "syndrome" to recognize the damage that can be done in such cases.

In 1997, New Haven Superior Court Judge Lynda B. Munro, in Bowles v. Bowles, considered the issue of parental alienation syndrome. Theoreticians, she wrote, contend that a child "does not become so completely alienated from a parent unless the other parent has intentionally or unintentionally derogated the non-custodial parent to cause the alienation." Munro decided to make her decisions based on her own findings, "without regard to that theory."

In Bowles, Debby, the ex-wife of suspended lawyer William Bowles, lost sole custody of her younger son, due to her stormy relationship with an abusive boyfriend and for making negative remarks about her ex-husband. Munro did not find it in the older child's best interest to live with his mother. "His parenting needs are not well met by Ms. Bowles," she wrote. But because the 16-year-old had "achieved such a high level of alienation from his father," it would be unrealistic to expect a reconciliation, Munro noted.


In 1999, New Haven Superior Court Judge Sidney Axelrod also changed custody from mother to father. Like Gruendel, Axelrod warned it was coming.

Initially, after a rancorous 12-day dissolution and custody trial, in which both Regina and Kenneth Lane represented themselves pro se, Axelrod reluctantly granted custody to the mother.

A subsequent custody trial lasted 24 days with 2,740 pages of exhibits. The first issue Axelrod addressed in a long opinion was the alienation of the children's affections for the father by the mother. She encouraged them to call him "Mr. Ken," not "dad." When asked about this by the children's guardian ad litem, Regina Lane replied, "What should they call him, Mr. Jerkball?"

The visitation exchanges at the McDonalds restaurant in Milford were troubling. The judge found the children were encouraged to run away from their father, or throw stones, spit on or hit him, which they did.

Axelrod, the police and the Department of Children and Families found no basis for the mother's charges of physical or sexual abuse by the father, nor that photos of the children taking a bath were pornographic. Axelrod catalogued 30 instances in which the mother interfered with visitation. He found no basis at all for the mother telling the children that the father's sister, their aunt, poisoned the children's' food. The judge also refused to allow into evidence videos the mother took at the McDonald's restaurant, and formally found the aunt had never called Mrs. Lane "a f -- -- ing bitch, drunk, stupid and ignorant."

Regina Lane's questioning of witnesses throughout the trial, Axelrod wrote, could "best be described as a false attempt at wholesale character assassination." Conversely, he found the father was "dedicated to the children and in control of himself."

Kenneth Lane was awarded custody of all three children, with the mother given unsupervised weekend visitation. She was ordered not to videotape the visitation exchanges.


Yes, Fathers are Essential

June 16, 2004

by Carey Roberts

In the past several decades, the United States has achieved the dubious distinction of becoming the world leader in fatherless families. Currently, 34% of American children live without their biological father. When did this trend start, and what does it bode for our kids?

The rise of father-absence can be traced 50 years back. In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then working in the Johnson administration, looked into the problems of under-class America. The Moynihan Report issued this solemn warning:

"From the wild Irish slums of the 19th century eastern seaboard, to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any rational expectations about the future -- that community asks for and gets chaos."

The heralded Report offered Americans a unique opportunity to alter the trajectory of history, to thwart the impending plunge into the abyss.

But rather than heed the prescient warning, warm-hearted liberals denounced Moynihan’s conclusion as “blaming the victim.” And feminists reviled the report as promoting the “hetero-patriarchal” agenda.

But it wasn’t enough to just ignore Moynihan’s analysis.

Architects of the Great Society program went ahead and implemented eligibility requirements that cut off welfare benefits if the father resided with the mother – the so-called “man-in-the-house” rule. Now, low-income fathers found themselves pitted against government largesse to compete for the loyalty of poor mothers. A tragic mismatch, indeed.

As a result, the number of children who lived in fatherless homes mushroomed from 5.1 million in 1960 to 16.5 million in 1995. These policies were so devastating in their impact that involved, caring fathers all but disappeared from low-income, Black neighborhoods.

So while liberals comforted themselves with the knowledge that they had avoided “blaming the victim,” millions of little boys and girls had to console themselves with the elusive hope that someday, society would stop shoving daddy out the back door.

Once poor fathers had been run out of their homes, the fem-liberals broadened their focus. They launched an attack on the whole notion of fatherhood itself.

Five years ago this month the American Psychological Association used the occasion of Father’s Day to publish an article with the awful title, “Deconstructing the Essential Father”. The partisan article triggered a firestorm of protest, including a rebuke from 18 members of Congress.

Despite what the American Psychological Association might say, most persons agree that dads are worth keeping around.

First, a father’s breadwinning instinct keeps the family out of the clutches of poverty. Indeed, while father-present households saw an increase in income from 1960 to 1990, father-absent families saw a financial decline.

But fathers are more than income producers. Fathers undergird the very order and structure of the family.

Scores of research studies have documented the positive effects of involved fathers. Here’s just a sampling of the benefits:

- The National Center for Educational Statistics reported that when fathers are involved in their children’s education, the kids were more likely to get As, enjoy school, and participate in extracurricular activities.

- Kyle Pruett concluded that kids with engaged fathers demonstrate “a greater ability to take initiative and evidence self-control.”

- When these boys grew up, they were more likely to be good dads themselves.

But when fathers are disenfranchised by misguided government programs, here’s the result:

- Their children have a higher rate of asthma, headaches, anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems.

- Teenagers are at greater risk of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use, and suicide.

- Adolescent girls are 3 times more likely to engage in sexual relations by the time they turn 15, and 5 times more likely to become a teen mother.

Amazing, isn’t it?

Thank you, dad, for being there. You were more than essential. You were a beacon of truthfulness, common sense, kindness, and silent courage.

Carey Roberts- in MND – MensNewsDaily.Com

Carey Roberts is a researcher and consultant who tracks gender bias in the mainstream media.



For My Son

You ask me

for the third time today

if little boys

are my favorite. And I tell you

for the third time today

that little brown boys, with dimples

and new teeth

and purple Now-n-Later tongues,

loud giggles

usually running, hardly walking feet

are my favorite.



You’re pushing the basket, looking up at me

as we walk through the produce

aisle at the grocery store.

I’m thinking I need celery for a new

recipe, which you probably won’t like.


Then I wonder,

when rushed hugs,





become more important,

and college

maybe marriage

and maybe children

(in that order, son)

are imminent in your life,

if you’ll remember this.


I bend down when I notice your shoe is untied.

You automatically put your foot forward.

As I pull the laces,

you put your hand on my shoulder and

kiss my forehead.


I smile when I stand to look

at the not-so-fresh celery through the

sudden emotion that comes

with tying a little boy’s shoe

and I’ll remember for both of us

and write this in my heart

as a poem for you.

- by Sheri Anderson



Fatherlessness a huge social problem - Report of Dr. Wade Horn's speech April 14th 2004

Finding innovate ways to reach fathers is a challlenge for modern society reports Alan Barron, convenor, The Memucan Institute of Men's Studies, Geelong. Vic. Australia

Phone 03 5243 0205 mobile 0425 785 619

The problem of fatherless families is not just a US phenomenon, but a world wide trend according to visiting US expert, Dr Wade Horn.

Dr Horn was addressing a large meeting in North Melbourne last night. He is an adviser to President Bush in the US, and is the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families in the Department of Health and Human Services who have an annual budget of $46 billion.*

Dr Horn said 20 per cent of households are now fatherless. In the US, in 1960 there were 10 million fatherless homes. By 2003, this figure had climbed to 25 million. This has lead to the situation where one in three families is fatherless. Children often view the separate living arrangements of their fathers as a deliberate decision by them to live elsewhere he said.

The lack of male influence in these families is a cause for concern Dr Horn said. And it's not just in single parent parents, but also even in intact families, parents are spending less time with their children; parents today spend 40% less time with their children than they did a decade ago.

There has been a change in altitude to fathering he said. Fathers have become viewed as optional to parenting, kind of like a sunroof on a car. They are nice to have around sometimes, but they aren't really necessary.

This is a myth according to Dr Horn. Boys from a female headed household had a 60 per cent greater chance of committing rape and a 75 per cent greater chance of committing murder. Most of the inmates in prison come from single parent families. Children from such homes tended to under-perform in education, and many of them lived in poverty, and were themselves likely to end up in poverty.

Children need both their mother and their father if they were to grow up a balanced healthy adult. While children from a single parent family can grow up healthy and balanced, the probability of this happening in a typical two parent family was much higher.

Dr Horn then told the attentive audience he wished to share something radical with them. "Men and women are different!" You could have heard a pin drop! Dr Horn said while he was training to be a psychologist, it was the fashion in the 1960s and 70s, to try and re-program boys, as it was thought socialisation made the differences between the sexes (not biology). But this is not so. Men and women are different and they parent differently he said.

When a mother plays with her child she is cautious and holds her child securely. Dads on the other hand are more adventuress. Research shows that when a baby sees his or her father approach, their neck muscles tighten and the eyes dilate - it's as if the baby is saying `Here we go again!' Dads tend to be more physical with their boys, and girls as well.

There was a `natural complementary' between mothers and fathers, Dr Horn said. Mothers are for cautious, while fathers are more adventuress which leads to children developing a cautious adventurism. He said fathers playing with their boys taught them how to control their aggression and boys also took note of how their fathers related to their mother. If boys see their fathers showing respect and love to their mothers, then they will in turn treat women in a similar manner.

Dr Horn said with many boys today is that they lack an appropriate initiation into manhood and positive male role models. It was important for boys to learn appropriate masculine models of behaviour as boys who lack a positive role model often over-compensated by promiscuous (trying to prove their manliness), and by becoming aggressive and resorting to bullying. He said a father's involvement in his daughter's upbringing was also beneficial as this gave her a greater self-esteem and confidence, and girls who had active father involvement also did better academically.

Many men are not adequately prepared for marriage and fathering Dr Horn believes. Fatherhood is vitally important - like the 4th wheel on a car he said. A car can travel on 3 wheels, but so much smoother and better with 4! Fatherhood, he said should be encouraged as a worthy ideal throughout society. New ways must be found to reach men with this message. He cited two recent developments in the US. A former salesman had started a `boot camp' for men to help them come to terms with fathering. Another initiative involved forming a basketball league made up of fathers only. This helped men to open up and to relate their experiences to other men.

Central to the notion of the importance of fathering, Dr Horn said marriage and fathering go together. Once marriage and having a family was an automatic sequence for nearly everyone. But this was not so today. For many people forming some sort of relationship and having children did not necessarily happen in that order. He said the importance of marriage was not understood by many. Research showed there is a real difference between co-habitation and marriage. Marriages were more permanent and durable, the best environment in which to raise children. 'If society is genuinely interested in renewing fathering, then it must renew its interest in marriage' he said.

While there needs more to be done to prepare couples for marriage, Dr horn said much more could be done to save troubled marriages. He was of the opinion that it was possible to repair many marriages. `Often what was lacking was support and the encouragement to work through the issues involved' he said.

Dr Horn concluded by drawing out an incident from the film, The Princess Bride. One of the main characters, Inigo Montoya, was seeking revenge on a six-fingered man who had killed his father. Finally, when he had tracked down his father's killer, the cornered man pleaded for his life. He said he would give a vast sum of money in exchange for his life. Montoya shock his head. How about fame? Not interested was his reply. The man said he would give anything Montoya wanted, so long as he spared his life. Montoya replied; "I just want my father back."

And so it is boys. The influence of fathers forms an indelible impression on their children. If we are to build a world comprising balanced, well adjusted men, then they are going to need involved and caring fathers living with them.


* The Administration for Children and Families is responsible for programs that promote the social and economic well-being of American children, youth and families including the national welfare-to-work program, foster care, child support enforcement, runaway and homeless youth, low income energy assistance, and community services just to name some of the department's wide umbrella responsibilities.


How To Go To Visitation Without Throwing-Up

(By a real kid and his step-mom)

Divorce and child custody impact the lives of children in many ways. Of all the challenges the child custody experience impose on children, parenting time or visitation has the longest ongoing impact. Parents working things out in the best interest of their children work very hard to make the children comfortable with the parenting time schedule. When the parents are unable to work things out the courts order parenting time in the child custody orders. This extraordinary young man has found a fine way to work out his feelings and help other children.

My name is Joshua and I have written a book called "How To Go To Visitation Without Throwing-Up."
I know about this because I have been going to visitation since I was born in October 1991. I have got there by car, van, 18 wheeler truck, train, taxicab and airplane. When I was a baby I didn’t care.

When I got bigger I would cry not to go. My dad would hold me and I would shake and cry. I wasn’t afraid of my mom I just did not want to go away. I wanted everyone I loved to stay around me. I traveled to visitation and home 4 to 6 times a year for the big holidays, spring break and summer.

Later I would get mad because my friends where I lived most of the time would get to do lots of stuff while I was gone. My dad said it was not only a order of the court but it was the right thing to do. It cost my mom and my dad a lot of money and trouble to send me back and forth. I would get upset and worried about going and sometimes I made a big deal out of it. I would say I never wanted to go ever again. Sometimes I would even throw-up.

My mom had to work a lot. I spent most of my time with a baby-sitter and sometimes with my grown-up half-sister and her children. I love my mom and would have a great time with her. I wouldn’t be nervous or worried when I was with her.

Then last summer my mom said she probably would not have the money to have me for the summer. I got really upset. I was surprised because I thought I didn’t want to go. But when I thought I couldn’t go my feelings were hurt. Finally I did get to go for 9 days instead of 42 and I was happy. Now it looks like I won’t get to see her much and I am sad about that. I would like to go and see her when I want to see her. Not when the judge or the money says I can.

Visitation has been a big thing in my life and I hope I can help you with yours. Joshua Shane Evans

The Midwest Book Review Internet Bookwatch Volume 12, Number 1 November 2002

How To Go To Visitation Without Throwing Up is a book for young children about coping with regular visitation to separate parents, especially long-distance visitation. Written in very simple language arising from the point of view of a young boy who had a hard time adjusting to the stress of traveling back and forth to visit his mother, How To Go To Visitation Without Throwing up offers more than just a mere advisory text - it has point-by-point observations, travel safety tips, and numerous fun activities to pass the travel time. How To Go To Visitation Without Throwing Up is highly recommended reading and a great resource for any parent having to take a child on a long distance trip to visit friends and relations.


Children That Belong to Other Men

There's too many men
raising up children
that belong to other men.

Adoption is one thing,
a court ruling is another.
It takes a child away
from his birth father.

Sometimes the daddy
of the mommy
will have the little baby
more often than the daddy.

Wednesdays and weekends
are not enough to see him,
not enough to know him,
not enough to show him
the meaning of his kin.

Or the child's step-father
will have the step-daughter
more often than he ought to.

While the natural-born Dad
grows bitter and mad
that the little girl he had
is living with that man.

And then, there's the 'other.'
You know, Mom's new lover.
How I envy his time
with that child of mine.

I want all you guys
to tell your wives
and the women in your lives
what may be a surprise:

There's too many men
raising up children
that belong to other men.

Give the kids a break.
Don't hesitate.
Give some time to Daddy
before it's too late.

A child without a father
is like an otter without water.

To reach their full potential
and self-actualize,
Kids need their Daddy
and not some nearby guys.

The growth that comes
between a father and a son
is a two-way street;
It makes a life complete.

No one can love a daughter
like a birth father.
It can do no harm
to promote that bond.

There's too many men
raising up children
that belong to other men.

As a general rule
kids are at school
more often than
they're in Dad's hands.

Television by the hour
have the children in its power.
Or a drug is the drug of choice
rather than a father's voice.

The streets will soon become
full of teen-aged boys with guns.
And teen-aged girls with babies
will wonder who are their kid's daddies.

It takes more than
courage to raise good men.

How's a girl supposed to know
if a boy is good enough
to be a father to her child
unless she had one while
she was growing up.

A good dad has values
that a boy can choose.
A bad role model
is difficult to follow.
A boy may holler,
"I don't want to be like you!"

Either way,
they can have their say.
But what kind of influence
lies in father-absence?

When father-figures and nearby guys
are all they've known all their lives,
Is the consistency constantly there?
Do the kids know who really cares?

A Daddy does!
Not a seed supplier.
A Daddy does!
Not a pay provider.

There's too many men
raising up children
that belong to other men.

A boy may see his teacher,
a scout leader, or a preacher,
more often than he can see
his father's family.

This is not right!
This is unjust!
Maybe okay for some
but not the rest of us.

I want all boyfriends
to tell all girlfriends,
and all second husbands
to tell all women:

There's too many men
raising up children
that belong to other men.

Some women cause such alienation
that America is becoming a father-less nation.

These women will deny
that there are fathers that cry
for their children and they, for him.

These women may wish
they need a man like a fish
needs a bicycle.

They don't realize
the men they criticize
to their children, are essential.

They see nothing bad
for a child without a dad.
If Mom's boyfriend at the time
is child-friendly, well, that's fine.

But they have yet to discover
what the future will uncover:

There's too many men
raising up children
that belong to other men.

This poem is © 2002, written from the heart by Don Mathis.

Don Mathis

(Thanks to Don Mathis for his personal approval of publishing his remarkable poem here on the Goudi-site)



Call to FATHERS from Stephen Baskerville,

President, American Coalition for Fathers and Children

January 7, 2004


by Stephen Baskerville, Ph.D.


It is a tremendous honor to be asked to serve as President of the American Coalition of Fathers and Children. We stand at a critical point. Families today are under attack as never before. But this attack does not come primarily from pornography, television, rock music, drugs, or even homosexuality. The attack comes from government, and it targets the family's weakest and most vulnerable point: the father. The wholesale separation of children from their fathers, the mass incarceration of fathers without due process of law, the seizure of children from both mothers and fathers, the abuse of children by the very officials who claim to be protecting them -- this is hidden behind a media blackout, hidden behind the silence of the politicians, but it is the terrifying reality for millions of Americans.
The crisis is especially acute now. Sharp increases in already-crushing "child support" burdens, new penalties ostensibly to combat "domestic violence" -- these will produce more broken homes and fatherless children, more parents in jail, and further erosion of constitutional rights.
But it is also a hopeful time. As Americans wake up to the crimes being committed against families by their own government, they shake their heads in disbelief but cannot deny the reality they witness in their own lives. The media and politicians too can no longer look the other way, as fathers speak out and organize to protect their families.
Family and marriage issues are on the front pages around the world, and ACFC intends to make fathers and parents generally a leading voice in that conversation.
In the coming months and years, I look forward to working with ACFC Founder and Board Chairman David Roberts, Executive Director Mike McCormick, Communications Director John Maguire, Treasurer Ileana Basil, Membership Director Susan Antomarchi, and other prominent activists and all of you to stop the systematic destruction of families. ACFC is a rapidly growing organization, with new members and new affiliates added daily. In partnership with groups formed by many of you, ACFC will publicize and challenge the government's offensive.
Parents are now resisting the government's intrusions with new determination. I hear parents asking how they can become active, pledging to sacrifice whatever is required, vowing never to relent, dedicating the remainder of their lives to rescue their children from the clutches of this cruel machine. And yes, I hear some parents (increasing numbers, it seems) threatening to use measures which we dare not condone. But I also hear them vowing sacrifices which we can only admire.
Even now, we witness courageous deeds and heroic sacrifices. In Britain, fathers have placed their demands on the front pages of the most prestigious news organizations in the world. In Australia, Prime Minister John Howard has put divorce and custody issues before the national legislature. In Canada, debates on custody law are also national news.

What Lies Ahead?

As fathers and parents, we are uniquely situated to lead families out of this bondage, as others have done before. But we must have no illusions. Before we reach the promised land of freedom, we must fight our way through a wilderness of despair.
We will be called vicious names: "deadbeat," "batterer," "pedophile," and more. We must withstand scorn from the media and politicians that offers us no platform to defend ourselves. We must be prepared to endure fabricated accusations of the most hideous crimes against our own children, with few constitutional protections for our rights. We must face summary incarceration from government bullies motivated by a toxic mix of self-righteousness and self-dealing. Indeed, some of us will find ourselves called upon to make (as some have already) the supreme sacrifice that fathers have never hesitated to make for the children.
We must dispense with the illusion that others will win this struggle for us. We must discard the vain hope that if only we inform them of the terrible injustices perpetrated against parents and children, then journalists, politicians, family advocates, or civil libertarians will wake up, and do their jobs, and end this injustice.
The bitter truth is that no one can "save the children" but their parents. We alone are responsible for our children, and we alone must protect them. No one will cry for us if we succumb. No one will respect us if we complain. No one will listen to our excuses if we fail. No one -- including our children themselves. The entire burden rests upon us and no one else. But when we succeed -- and we will succeed -- we will create a legacy of moral authority and family strength that will be passed to our children, and to theirs, and beyond.
Even the most vicious among our opponents have paid us this high tribute: They have made us responsible. "Father absence," we are told (and told correctly), accounts for virtually all today's social problems. And so we are blamed for being "absent" -- even when we have no right to be present. We are held responsible when a marriage ends, even when we did not end it. We alone are made responsible for providing for our children, even when they are forcibly removed from our care. We alone are held responsible for violence in the family, even when we have not committed it (and even when it is committed against us). We are held responsible for the abuse of our children, even when they are abused by others. We are held responsible for the wayward behavior of our children, even when we are not permitted to offer them guidance and correction. Even when it is beyond our control, we alone are responsible.
We must not shirk this responsibility, for it is the essence of fatherhood. We must embrace it, for it is the salvation of our children and the restoration of our families. It is time we took the fair-weather friends of fatherhood at their word by standing up and taking action. The time for talk is past. It is now time to act.

Who We Are

So let us take this opportunity to state clearly before the world who we are and what we stand for.
There are those who claim to advocate for an abstraction called "fatherhood." Others describe themselves as defenders of "the" family. Many are well-intentioned. But they tend to be political professionals, and they often claim to speak for "the children," not their own.
Some of these professionals chide us because (they say) we are looking out for our own interests, our own families. They seem to claim moral superiority because they concern themselves with other people's children.
It is true that we have a personal interest in preserving families. Because we (and we alone) are defending our families. For us, the family is not an abstraction or an object for our good deeds. We do not pretend to be motivated by concern for someone else's children. We concern ourselves only with our own. We are not crusaders or zealots. And we are not professionals. We are proud to be amateurs (literally, those "who love"). We are parents, and our aims are limited. But that is not our weakness; that is our strength.
It is our strength because we have the authority not of paid officials but of parents and citizens. Politicians always promise to return power to "the people." But we are the people. We have endured much from the politicians, but when they take our children, we draw a line.
The good intentions of fatherhood promoters, family defenders, and children's advocates cannot meet the test. They will not fight for our children. They will not sacrifice for our children. They will not risk their careers or livelihoods or lives for our children. They will not die for our children.
There is no such abstraction as "the" family. There are only families -- our families. We alone can and will defend them. If others wish to help -- journalists, politicians, defenders of the Constitution, critics of the judiciary, civil libertarians -- we welcome them, and they will have our gratitude. But we must make it clear to friend and foe alike that this is foremost our struggle. We -- and we alone -- can save families, because they are our families.
Likewise, we do not trumpet an abstraction called "fatherhood." We are concerned with our fatherhood, the fatherhood of each individual father. And we will establish it not with words that cost nothing but with deeds that may cost us dearly indeed.
If those who pose as the champions of fatherhood dislike our deeds, then it is time they examined what they mean by "fatherhood." For if it means anything less than defending one's children against those who would interfere with them or take them away, then theirs is a definition of fatherhood we find wanting. They are entitled to their opinion, of course, but we are entitled to our children. And our children are entitled to us.
Opinions are important (to a point), and "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind" is obligatory in a democracy. But few who have both would regard their opinions as being of equal importance as their children. While we respect the opinions of others about the best interest of children in the abstract, we expect others to respect our decisions about the best interest of our own children. And we expect them to understand something more: that no parent is answerable to government officials for how they raise their children or for exercising their right and duty to protect them. The best interest of children is a continued meaningful relationship with both parents. And the best way to achieve that is limit the discretion of judges with a rebuttable presumption of 50-50 shared parenting

Where We Stand Now

It is impossible to overestimate the burden that weighs upon our shoulders. We face a government that threatens our children, our lives, our Constitution, and quite possibly the very basis of civilization itself. Before our very eyes we see history's greatest experiment in human freedom being debased into a ruthless, depraved, diabolical tyranny.
It has fallen to us "to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime." But this tyranny does not come from abroad; it has arisen in our very midst. It is a tyranny of cowards, that hides in secret courtrooms and protected offices, that fears the citizens it ostensibly serves, while cynically using and abusing innocent children to increase the power of grown-ups.
Against this foe, we have no illusions that our struggle will be easy, that laws will be passed tomorrow to free our children. Even were this to happen, it would be to little avail. New laws are only as effective as the citizens who demand them. The means of freeing our children are already in our own hands. Our children will be free when their fathers stand up and speak out like men. Families will be safe and strong when parents everywhere know they must join us and build upon our work or face destruction, as we do now.
Defeat is not an option, because we fight for our very survival and for the survival of our children, and of their children. We will comport ourselves with dignified outrage. We will never cross the line into violence. But neither will we relent, withdraw, or surrender. And if we are struck down, others will rise up in our place.

How Far Do We Go?

How we speak out is a decision that each of us must make alone. We in the national offices of ACFC understand our task of providing leadership. But some initiative must come from you. Throughout the US and the world, parents are finding bold and creative ways of calling attention to this tyranny. Their courage is producing results.
ACFC is a broad political church. Each of us has our own views about the most fundamental questions before us: the goals we seek, the priorities we deem most urgent, the methods of achieving those aims. Inevitably, differences and disagreements must arise. As always, there will be the cautious and the impatient, the timid and the eager, the moderates and the militants. In our case, however, these difference represent more: Often, they reflect what the government has done (and can still do) to us in particular and to our children.
To the usual need for unity and forbearance of differences, therefore, we have a special need for charity toward one another. No man who sees his children has a right to brand as extreme one who does not. Likewise, no man has a right to label as timid one who, by acting rashly, could lose access to his children as a result. Were the circumstances reversed, the self-styled man of reason may be the one to find himself (as journalists say) "foaming at the mouth," and the coward may prove a hero.
However each decides to serve, each has a role, and all are needed. ACFC is here to offer support. The only line we draw is that ACFC does not condone violence in any form as a political method.

What You Can Do

The power of the divorce regime is formidable, but the power in our own hands is much greater. They are trading in lies, and as Dr. King said, "No lie can live forever."
Beyond the power of the truth, we have 15-20 million non-custodial parents, plus tens of millions more who love and support them. United in one voice and with our friends abroad, we have the power to check the global destruction of families.
But even short of that, your personal action now sends a message to your own children in particular, even children whom you may think have been irrevocably lost to you: Their father or mother loves them enough to sacrifice, to risk, and to act.
Many good parents' groups already operate across America and the world, and ACFC does not intend to duplicate or replace or preempt the work of any. Our aim is to unite and facilitate and support.
If you ask what you must do, this is my reply: I personally urge every parent in America -- single, married, or divorced -- to the following actions IMMEDIATELY:

* First, if you have no done so already, join ACFC. (Call 800-978-DADS, or

* Second, join your local group. If it is not yet an ACFC affiliate, begin the steps to make it one. The paperwork is very simple. DON'T BE PUT OFF. ("Yea, I went to a fathers' group, but it was just a gripe session, everyone complaining about their ex-wives and the judge. So I never went back…") A group is what its members make it. If you don't like it, join and change it. YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH NOTHING ALONE.

* Third, contact your local media. Tell them your story. Tell them about your local group. Say they are affiliated to ACFC. Get others in the group to do the same. Then do it again. And again. Be respectful but persistent. Do not let them put you off. Investigating government wrongdoing is their job. Eventually they will respond.

* Stand up in your church, your civic group, union, or place of employment, at candidates' campaign rallies, PTA or school board meetings, or wherever issues of the family or children or public policy are being discussed. Tell them what has happened to you, to your children, and to countless others. Don't be afraid to change the subject. (Getting our issues on the public agenda by definition means changing the subject.) Is what they are discussing more important than your children? Try to have others present to second you. Do not be afraid of what people will think of you. Is the opinion of the world more important than your children? Do not be afraid to be called angry. You should be angry. "There are some things…to which I am proud to be maladjusted," said Dr. King, "and to which I call upon you to be maladjusted." Be dignified but outraged. Show yourself to be a man of courage and a leader. You do not have to climb a scaffold 200 feet into their air, but is it too much to raise your hand or stand upright and relate the atrocious crimes the government has committed against your children? "Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members," wrote Emerson. "Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist." Show the world and your children that you are not afraid to be different, that you are a man.

* Finally, stay connected with ACFC through the email listserve or by the web site for information about developments, groups, and activities.

In times of crisis, people often ask, "Where are the heroes?" In this crisis, the heroes can come from only one place: the parents, and foremost fathers. You may not realize it yet, but eventually the eyes of the world and of history will be upon us. We will be weighed in the balance, and future generations will judge what we do.

Yours in solidarity,

Stephen Baskerville

Dr. Baskerville is President of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children. He teaches political science at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He earned his Ph.D. in political science from the London School of Economics. Visit his MND archive here. Visit his website here. Visit


There is no help or hope for men after divorce

----- Original Message -----
From: dave.mortimer
Sent: Friday, November 07, 2003 8:55 AM
Subject: There is no help or hope for men after divorce.

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please will you help us, I beg you, as it seems no one in the current system cares enough about children or what's being done to men.

The judiciary in the UK are independent from Government, ignore European law and are guilty of being biased against men. The German Government did the same thing and were found to be guilty in the European Court of Justice but the UK legal system has been so badly corrupted by Government, with no one checking on what family court judges do because they work in secret and alone, that unless the media save us by putting the spotlight on these greedy, uncaring people, we are all at risk of becoming victims in the end, and things will only get worse.

How can so called educated professional people who are supposed to represent the law and have the best interests of our children at heart choose to ignore what's been studied and accepted in so many other counties? Surely if the public were asked they would think that these people who decide that they have the right to interpose themselves in private family decisions are clearly guilty of profiting from divorce?

In the UK there is a huge amount of help for women after divorce which actually encourages divorce. In the UK there are over 500 women's refuges and women's groups receive over 50 million pounds a year in funding whilst men get nothing.

If the Home Office produce reports that accept men and women are both victims of domestic violence, and men are the ones who are always thrown out of the family home when couples separate or divorce, then it is so transparently unjust that there no men's refuges that it is small wonder that men become brutalised and alienated from society. They have nowhere to turn, they must endure. This is their lot in life. What colossal social,
economic, legal and political hypocrisy!

At the moment men are committing suicide 4 times more often than women because there is no help or hope for men after divorce. In countries were they have fault-divorce and shared parenting, divorce is reduced and the adverse effects on all groups, particularly children, and the cost to society is reduced.

We are just ordinary men, fathers who love our children, but when judges do not act in the best interests of our children and do not respect our children's rights or men's rights, we have nowhere to turn. If the public were asked they would surely think there's something very wrong with our courts. The courts have created a society where people have no faith in the law because judges have refused for years to enforce their own orders for contact, never punishing mothers that break these orders. The courts have created resentment by supporting one parent as a matter of dogma, of patent bias, this is our reality.

And because there is no help for men after divorce, this has led to frustration. Because of the stress, through the court authorised removal of children from men, through the profiteering from this misery by professionals, men become depressed and many give up and commit suicide. The government do not treat men and women equally in the family and only see men as abusers of women and children but in fact that could not be further from
the truth. More women than men actually abuse their children.

How many more men must die before we are given the same help and support as women receive after divorce? The Children's Act has been twisted not to protect our children but to assure the best interests of the mother. The assumption that it is damaging to remove a child from its mother totally ignores the obvious fact that it is also as damaging to remove them from their father. It shows that our judges give no consideration to the reams of
studies showing that children bond with both parents, achieving their own sense of identity and the possibility of love and security in a society of both sexes thereby.

The courts have created a fatherless society, a society of maimed and alienated, socially indifferent young men and women, without the power of empathy or compassion towards each other. We have all seen a rise in anti-social behaviour in our youth, more teenage mothers, more children turning to drink , drugs and crime. We have all seen the murderers and rapists we choose to revile, in jail, explaining the abuse and callousness that has inured them to the grief and harm they do to others.

The Government and the courts will of cause blame the parents but this will not wash because of what is now known and this in time leads to men forming groups like Fathers4Justice who in less than 9 months now have over 4,000 members who will in time demand justice. Why not give them this justice, this compassion and this empathy as of right? Why not take the manly step of putting things right before you are forced to by common decency and the profound anguish of those children and parents whose lives are already being ruined by this hideous system?

It is no longer deniable that removing fathers from children's lives does not give children a balanced psycho-social upbringing. This anguish does not merely reap its bitter harvest amongst men but also amongst those who try to love them dearly, the single mothers and children who also long for security and love with men who have an honoured place amongst them. What is money and institutional support if your children cannot play happily with a father who is a respected contributor to the family sphere? Where is the humanity in
isolating mothers and children from fathers treated like beasts? Is a world of institutionalised men and women, begging for hand-outs in resignation to their fate what this society really needs? Is punishment the only thing you wish us to understand? How many prisoners are men from fatherless families?
Support families, not individuals living lives of crisp indifference to their fellow men. This situation is intolerable, and all those who fail to speak out are party to it. Enough is enough. Stop this social carnage!

David Mortimer

This is not a message, this is a cry - a cry for interest and help, for change!



Only the children are really punished

Main cause of drafting this article was the Fathers for Justice Demonstration in London on Wednesday 23th of October 2003

23 October, 2003

"Only the children are really punished"

By Boris Johnson
(Filed: 23/10/2003)

We will never know exactly what drove Sharjan Kabir, 39, to stab to death his 10-month-old baby in a Carlisle bakery. But we can safely say one thing about his feelings. They were not directed primarily against the baby. He killed the baby, and yet the baby was not the real object of his violence.

He meant above all to hurt the boy's mother. He meant to hurt her, because they had split up. He wanted to punish her, to spite her, to express his own ungovernable feelings of jealousy and pique.

So he did what so many people - men and women - do in these miserable circumstances. He used the child as a utensil of retribution. "How sweet is the breath of children," says Medea in the tragedy by Euripides. She hugs them. Then she stabs them, as the cruellest possible way of punishing Jason for shacking up with a younger, prettier girl.

She knew what she was doing was mad, and yet she couldn't help herself. The children were her last, best means of getting her own back on her husband, and many modern women, let us face it, are actuated by a version of the same impulse.

They don't necessarily kill or harm the children, though some of them do. They just remove the kids from his presence. In the disaster of their collapsing relationships, they find they have one sovereign right: to stop that man enjoying the physical company of his children, irrespective of whether the little brutes have sweet breath, impetigo, or anything else. The modern tragedy is that the courts allow them to get away with it.

Yesterday, on the way to the Commons, I cycled past a demo in Trafalgar Square, by a movement called Fathers4Justice. A bunch of people were parping out The Dambusters theme tune on top of a double-decker. They had purple balloons and seemed very jaunty.

But, as I looked up, I saw the anguished pale faces of men who have become driven to the point of obsession by the need to vindicate their rights. They are often consumed with hatred for the mother of their children. They are convinced that the law has let them down. They are willing to fight until the last apathetic judge has been strangled with the guts of the last hyper-feminist, men-hating welfare officer; and, while I certainly feel their pain, I am not sure, frankly, that I share all of their objectives.

Some members of Fathers- 4Justice were at the Law Courts yesterday, staging a sit-in. Some of them have been involved in bomb hoaxes. Sometimes, for my money, they sound a bit extreme.

Their patron saint is Bob Geldof, who had such trouble over the custody of his children by the late Paula Yates. Sir Bob is an authority on Africa, and has written at least one imperishable pop song. But when he says, in a new book on fathers' rights, that "there is no evidence for a maternal instinct", one feels he is over-egging his case.

Nor do I think it axiomatic, as do Fathers4Justice, that men should be entitled to 50 per cent access to their children in the event of separation or divorce.

There are two objections: first, that it is probably in the interests of the child to have one address that they broadly call home, rather than ping-ponging to and fro; and that is why English law has been historically sensible to award "residence" to one person, almost always the mother, since that seems to reflect some kind of biological reality.

My second objection is that, if you accord all men the automatic right to see the child for 50 per cent of the time after a separation, then you must surely presuppose a male duty, in happier times, to change 50 per cent of the nappies, wipe up 50 per cent of the lunch, pour out 50 per cent of the Sma milk formula and generally rally round in a way that does not (yet) correspond to the reality of British child-rearing.

There seems, in short, to be an implicit super-feminism in the demands of these Fathers4Justice boys. That may suit many men, but by no means all. You can call me sexist on this point, but there is nothing more sexist than sex, and it is still a more or less invincible fact of nature that women have babies and men do not.

But if Fathers4Justice are maximalist in their demands, it is because they are maximalist out of desperation. What they really want is reasonable access to their children, and in far too many cases that is denied in circumstances bordering on the demented.

As a means of punishing the father, and barring him from his babes, the mother can trump up virtually any charge she wants. "He stresses me out," she says. Very well, says the court: access forbidden; and there follows an access hearing that takes months, while the guy has his nose up against the window pane.

It would be reassuring to think that the courts were starting to take account of the distress of these men, who massed in London yesterday, and who appear in MPs' surgeries, and whose numbers are evidently increasing.

Alas, it would appear that the judges have yet to grasp their duty. The other day, Lord Justice Thorpe, head of the Court of Appeal in the Family Division, refused a father access to his four-year-old on precisely the feeble ground that we have just discussed: that dad's presence kind of freaked out mum. If the Fathers4Justice lobby is right, that kind of judicial spinelessness is replicated across the country.

The judges sometimes say that they can see the problem, but that they need a lead from Parliament. That is a cop-out. The law is clear. The duty of the court is to the child. It should be obvious to the judges that children should not be irrationally used by one parent to inflict pain on the other; because that is in no child's interest.

*Boris Johnson is MP for Henley and editor of The Spectator

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Something rotten about the state of family law

THE TIMES - Law (U.K.)
October 07, 2003

“Something rotten about the state of family law”

by Martin Davis

Children and their parents are being let down by a system that has been neglected for more than 30 years

DISILLUSIONED fathers, frightened mothers, abused children, exhausted and frustrated solicitors, powerless or aloof judges, and now bomb threats to Cafcass, the government-created body that sits at the heart of the family law system. Something has gone seriously wrong with family law, yet nobody with authority in government or the judiciary appears willing to accept this reality, let alone make any proposal for change that has any likelihood of restoring credibility to the system.
An exaggeration? No. Family law has been in a state of decay for more than 30 years. Perhaps the reason that this has gone unnoticed for so long is that the public have never had a system of family law that works well.

Our divorce law has not been significantly amended since 1973. The ill-fated Family Law Act 2000 showed just how little those governing us could achieve when granted parliamentary time to amend the present fault-based system that was, and is, incompatible with the 21st century. Subsequent government intervention, with one or two exceptions, has amounted to little more than Treasury-led tinkering to control the legal aid budget. And this lack of attention causes those who find themselves forced to rely on the family law system to suffer in ways that should be unacceptable.

Take the case of a woman who has been assaulted by her partner. Here you might hope that recent reforms would help her in obtaining protection, but the police are likely to decide that the assault is a “domestic” dispute and tell her to consult a solicitor to obtain an injunction. The woman will almost certainly have to bear the costs, paying perhaps £1,000. This alone is a scandal, but there are no proposals to reform this part of the system.

Then consider a man in full-time employment seeking an order for contact with his children against the mother’s wishes. Ineligible for public funding, such a man can spend his life savings trying to compel his estranged partner (who will often benefit from apparently limitless state funding) to allow contact, and many “contact” orders are granted in these cases. However, if the mother wilfully fails to obey the order and the father returns to court to seek enforcement, he will find the judge unwilling to jail the woman. Were the same man to breach an order preventing him from harassing or attacking his wife he would soon, rightly, be jailed — probably by the same judge. But the psychological harm meted out by a mother to her children and their father is not deemed worthy of proper punishment, making a mockery of the entire process.

A recent reform of one area of family law is supposed to encourage the early settlement of family finances on divorce. It seems to work well except for pensions, an asset that can be worth more than the family home. Ask any lawyer or judge to explain how any court will value a pension and you are unlikely to get a clear answer.

Look at child support. Is it unreasonable for a single parent, usually the mother, to expect the father of her child to pay towards its upbringing? Of course not. But the Child Support Agency has failed for more than ten years to compel more than a fraction of absent parents to pay what they should.

Then we come to the bomb threats. The Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), created by this Government, has been a disgrace since its inception. Its staff are committed and highly skilled but overworked and underfunded. Children are left without their “guardians” for weeks during complex court proceedings that will decide whether they will return to their, in some cases abusive, parents. It can take 12 weeks for a Cafcass officer to be assigned to make a recommendation to the family court on where a child should live in a divorce or separation case. This is a long period in the life of a child. Now these professionals are facing bomb threats from a frustrated complainant.

The Government’s response? No new funding, but it has created a new protocol for use in complex cases and suggested the post of a children’s commissioner. These reforms seem to be preferred to properly funded social services departments, competitively paid legal and social workers and enough judges to oversee the system.

The Lord Chancellor, determined to reform the profession’s constitutional framework, seems to have developed myopia when it comes to the question of whether a significant part of the system over which he presides actually provides an acceptable level of service. Intent on “Tesco law” and reviewing restrictive practices he may be, but neither of those issues will help people saddled with a flawed and unworkable system that most need to rely on only when they are at their most vulnerable.

When something goes rotten from the inside, the continuing decay is invisible to the casual eye. Eventually imperfections appear and spread quickly. That is what is happening with family law, as many now recognise. It is the responsibility of those administering and regulating the system to find a better way. The public, and children especially, deserve much, much better.

The author is a solicitor and a partner with Battens Solicitors, Sherborne, Dorset

Copyright 2003 Times Newspapers Ltd.




By James Brown

On that warm night in July, you lift yourself up to the railing of the overpass above the Los Angeles River. In the distance you can hear the cars moving along the Hollywood Freeway, and beyond it you see the glow of the city lights. I want to believe that as you fall you feel nothing more than the wind rushing up against your face. There is no pain. No impact. In my dreams you are suspended in midair.

You were 44 years old the night you stormed out of the house in the heat of another fight with your husband and ended your lifelong battle with drugs and alcohol. That it happened in July, the month our brother lost this same battle years before, was no coincidence. You had never been able to reconcile Barry's death; the sadness only deepened over time.

I know that there were other roots and causes for your illness, our brother's and my own, and that the symptoms came earlier, in childhood. That need for stability. That need to belong. We were just kids when our mother got out of prison and moved us to Los Angeles from San Jose. I could never understand why our father let us go, because our mother wasn't mentally stable, and the years we spent in L.A. were dangerous ones. We had little supervision, no hard and fast curfews. At 8, I had my own apartment key and came and went as I pleased.

Barry was determined to become a successful actor, and he did, eventually starring in ''Bad Company,'' with Jeff Bridges, and ''Daisy Miller,'' with Cybill Shepherd. But also around this time, his drinking escalated, when he couldn't get up in the morning without a half-pint to steady his trembling hands. By 27, his once handsome face was severely bloated, the whites of his eyes were yellowed and across his nose spread a threadlike pattern of broken blood vessels. The condition is called spider angioma; I know because I developed it, too. I know because I've read dozens of books on alcoholism and drug addiction, though no amount of knowledge ever helped me stop.

At 14 I was already drinking and using. The first time I shot heroin a friend and I had just burglarized an office building. We fenced the goods in Watts and then drove up to Griffith Park. Along a quiet mountain road, my friend tore a strip from an old beach towel and tied it around my arm in the car. ''Make a fist,'' he said. The sun was setting over the city, a thin layer of smog hung in the sky and the colors, refracted through the fading light, were remarkable. Pinks. Yellows. Shades of purple and brown. ''Hold still,'' he said, and then I felt it, the needle, like the sting of a mosquito. It was as if I were sinking into myself, and for a moment, instead of feeling pleasure, I panicked, because I didn't know where or how far it was taking me. But then it leveled out, and I found myself in a fine place somewhere between consciousness and a dream.

That summer I left L.A. to live with our father again. At the time I was afraid of what I was becoming, but I didn't realize that this choice would one day help me overcome my addiction. He was a building contractor, and he taught me how to roof a house and pound a nail straight and true. Each day we worked long hours. At home he expected me to pick up after myself, to help with the dishes and laundry. If I went out, I had to be back by a certain hour.

We lived in a rented house on the poor side of town, and until we could afford another bed, I slept with our father. At night he told me stories about growing up in the backwoods of Oregon and how he used to hunt for deer and fish for salmon. He told me about the years he worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad and laid track through terrain that until then no white man had ever seen. He told me about the Cherokee and taught me to count to 10 in their language. He had a talent for detail, and as he described the rivers, the salmon leaping out of the water, the sun glinting off their backs, I was there with him. I lived in his stories as I would someday live in my own.

Now it is your story and our brother's that I am thinking about. In my dreams I am beside you on that overpass above the L.A. River. In my dreams I am beside our brother when he pulls the trigger of a .38 Smith & Wesson, the barrel in his mouth. I reach for your hand. I reach for his. You look at me and smile. Then you let go, as Barry lets go, and I watch you fall, again and again, as I will watch the image of our brother recoiling from the blast. There is no more pain. No impact. In my dreams you are suspended in midair, the wind rushing around you, captured in flight. And finally I see myself, at 14, in bed beside our father, the room still and dark. That kid who shoots heroin, robs and steals, is getting drowsy, his father's voice slowly fading, and when I wake up 30 years later as a middle-aged man, sober, alive, I realize that this brief time I spent with our father has much to do with why I am still here and you and our brother are not.

James Brown is the author of ''The Los Angeles Diaries: A Memoir,'' $; 2003 by James Brown, to be published next month by William Morrow and from which this column was adapted.


Should boys have male role models ? Australian Fatherhood Foundation says : YES

The Age (Melbourne)
26 June 2003

Boys with absent fathers 'more likely to rape'.

Boys from a fatherless home are more likely to rape, drop out of school and end up in jail, fatherhood advocates said today.

The Fatherhood Foundation today released a 12-point plan to reverse the trend of fatherless boys in Australia.

The plan received bipartisan support at its launch in Canberra today, a day after Prime Minister John Howard bemoaned the lack of male role models for young boys.

Mr Howard this week announced a parliamentary inquiry into child custody laws, saying a major social problem was the lack of male role models.

Moves were already underway to try to boost the number of male teachers in primary schools, and fathers were today encouraged to spend more quality time with their children.

The document contained research that boys from fatherless homes were more likely to abuse drugs, commit rape and commit suicide.

Labor frontbencher and father of two young boys, Mark Latham, said boys who had no father in their lives and no mentor often suffered throughout their youth.

"Those boys lose that sense of normality, that sort of anchor in their life; looking up to someone who's sending hopefully positive messages about right and wrong, how you be a good man," Mr Latham said.

"If boys haven't got those messages we shouldn't be too surprised if later in life some problems emerge."

With the changing role of women in the last 30 years, men were confused in dealing with their new role and relationships, Mr Latham said.

"We don't want a men's movement that blames women; we want a men's movement that works with men and women to develop better identity, better relationships, a stronger fathering role in our society and to develop win-win outcomes," he said.

Under the 12-point plan released by the National Fathering Forum, government should address inequity in funding for men's issues, and establish a minister or office for fatherhood.

It also says after divorce or separation, all children have a right to equal contact with their mother and father unless there are proven mitigating circumstances.

Fathering Forum convenor Warwick Marsh said rather than letting work crowd their life, fathers should attempt to spend more time with children to provide a positive role model.

Children's Minister Larry Anthony said 55,000 Australian children each year were affected by divorce or separation, and kids did better when they had more contact with their dads.






When your daughter is born the circle of your life will be complete. Within her lies your immortality on this earth. When you hold her for the first time you will understand what I am saying, but until that moment nothing I can say or do will make you understand.

Your relationship with her will not depend upon your relationship to anyone else. Your bond is unique and written into her soul before she was born. Whatever the circumstances of her life the fact that you are willing to take her into your heart is all that she needs for you to do. Your physical presence is beneficial but it is your love that will make her grow and accomplish all that she needs to do in this time of her earthly journey.

You are going through yet another sea change in your life. The upheaval will culminate with her birth and changes in your external life. Some of it will be painful and debilitating but God also called your name before you were born and you have a straight and shining path. Have the courage to walk and you are no longer alone because you have created another dynasty that will be here long after you have moved on.

-- Erin Pizzey


The International Declaration of Langeac on Equal Parenthood

International Support for Shared Parenting

At the international conference on shared parenting, which was held 25-31 July 1999 in Langeac, France, there was unanimous agreement among delegates from all countries that shared parenting best serves the interests of children, parents and society in general. The promotion of shared parenting, both within marriage and following marriage breakdown, was identified as a key priority which should be supported by Government institutions.
Reports by delegates to the conference on the situation in their respective countries will enable the newly formed International Committee on Shared Parenting to identify 'best practice' in the promotion of shared parenting and make recommendations to State authorities on a transnational basis.

At the conference agreement was reached on a draft document entitled the 'Declaration of Langeac', setting out the basic principles of shared parenting.

English text


1. Fathers and mothers should be accorded equal status in a child's life, and consequently should have equal rights and equal responsibilities.

2. Where the parents cannot agree, the children should spend equal time living with each parent.

3. Parenthood must be based only on the child-parent relationship, not that between parents. Children have the right to know both parents and vice versa.

1. The interests of the child

a) The interests of the child will not be viewed as a pre-defined and separate entity from that of parents and family or as something to be defined by the public authorities or professionals. Parents will act as the medium for interpreting the interests of their children except in extreme cases of individual abuse or parental incapacity.

b) The public authorities and third parties can and should be encouraged to support families and individual family members when they need help and if necessary proactively. However in no case except that of severe abuse should they have the right to intervene where parents do not wish this.

c) The child has the right to communicate with his or her parents whatever the situation.

d) Biological parenthood should be established at birth by way of DNA testing. For any DNA test all material evidence and records should be destroyed immediately the conclusion of parenthood (or non-parenthood) is reached.

2. Elective contracts between parents

a) Parents will be able to sign legally valid contracts which may vary their individual rights in regard to their children, eg: in the case of a family split they may agree to make a non-equal division of time and salaries if both so wish, or incorporate clauses involving spousal maintenance. The governments bureaucracies involved in these areas are charged with creating suitable blank contracts and formulae in order to simplify the choices involved and the cost of such procedures.

b) Parents will have access to advice and structured agreements (contracts) which will in all cases, be it via mediation or judicial intervention, stand as valid instruments permitting the formalisation of such methods as division of residential time, etc.

3. Respect for the individual freedom of action of each parent

a) ... will not be modified, except by the minimum requirements of parental cooperation.

b) Geographical dislocation: where one or both parents wishes to move somewhere far away, leading to potential problems of contact, transport costs and disruption to children, may require outside authorities to make decisions affecting the quantities of time spent with each parent. This is because the free adult choice of where to live may be in conflict with the compromises necessary to ensure parental residence. Decisions thus arrived at must take into account all factors, including the need to find a job by moving for instance, and the need to respect adult choices and decisions. Assumptions based on the dogma of stable residence should not be made.

4. Adoptive parents, extended family and significant others

Children should have the right of access to and information from members of the extended family on both sides and vice versa. The residential parent at any given time should have the right of final decision over children's contact with other parties excepting extended family, parents and adoptive parents. The child retains the right to know both natural parents, of both receiving and sending communications to them, with proof that this has arrived.

5. The Politico-legal Context

a) The politico-legal context within which family and gender issues are decided must be clear and fair between the sexes, with neither positive or negative discrimination. Relationships between men, women and children will be treated in such a way as to preclude the development of group competition and polarity between them. There should be no presumption that one group's needs override the interests of others.

b) The interests of the child are defined by parents, together. In the case of separation they are to be defined by each parent in their residential time with the child. Only in the case where clear abuse against the child is established may other parties or public bodies acquire the right to override parental decisions in this repect. In all other cases, their decision-making power should be limited to the ability to offer help and support to families in need.

6. Equality at work

a) Both sexes should have equal right to parental leave from work.

b) Work structures should be planned so that both parents are able to participate as fully as possible in the life of their children.

c) This indisputably requires the restructuring of employment so that in many ways it reflects the work patterns of primary and secondary school teachers. This proposal is made, of course, within the context of a global reduction in the requirements for workers and in the light of general awareness of the need to enrich the emotional and functional links between the generations.

7. Mediation, Judicial Discretion and Involvement of Professional Third Parties

a) Mediated cooperation through professional third parties may be preferable where children's welfare requires it. Residence should not be dependent on the assessment by professionals of parental cooperation or non-cooperation.

b) Certain decisions require joint consent. Structures should be put in place to enable this, whether through third parties or directly. Examples of such decisions: vaccinations (medical care), choice of school, residence timetables, etc.

c) Only in the case that parents are not able to arrive at a mutual agreement will the intervention of mediators in the first instance and of the court as a final resort become necessary.

d) In cases where parents simply do not or cannot reach agreement, either directly or through mediation, judges will have to make the decisions for them. This does not imply that these outside authorities have the right to decide the quantities of parental time, but only the distribution of the quantities of time agreed by both parents or the default of 50 / 50.

e) Justice should not only be done but be seen to be done. In camara proceedings should be avoided wherever possible. Where it is deemed necessary or desirable to protect the identity / ies of the parties, records of the proceedings and justification for the decision should be made publicly available. In order to achieve this, proper stenographed records of all proceedings must be kept.

f) Mediation should be available before, during and after divorce / separation. Mediation must be independent from the courts. It must always be a free public service, optional and ender neutral. Courts should respect mediation agreements and mediation intervention.

8. Finances

a) If parents are financially capable, each parent is to be held financially responsible for half the costs of childcare. This cost may be pre-determined on the basis of minimum child maintenance and childcare costs, which will be the responsibility of parents in the first instance, and of the state or other responsible bodies where parents do not or cannot fulfill their obligations.

b) Any other agreements or contracts between the parents regarding financial maintenance and other childcare issues may be freely entered into by mutual accord between both parents. That is to say, both parents can mutually sign legally valid contracts varying their basic rights, for example, by giving more or less rights to money or residential time to one or the other parent.

9. Child abuse

i) cruelty; ii) negligence; iii) violence; iv) sexual abuse should be dealt with under the relevant criminal law, not the laws of residence and equal parenthood. The presumption of innocence until proven guilty should apply in all cases except those at b) below.

a) Evaluation of child abuse should be without prejudice. The four types of abuse will have no order of priority in judicial decisions. Unless accusations are of such gravity that they affect the immediater safety of the child, no decision to suspend residence with either parent should be made.

b) Where accusations exist and residence has been suspended, immediate provisonal investigation to assess dangers of residence should take place, with a maximum of a two weeks' delay permitted before 50 / 50 or other agreed double residence is restored. Separation should not be used as an opportunity for revising the residence rights to one of the parents.

c) False accusations of perjury should be severely dealt with under the criminal law.

d) As parental alienation damages the child-parent relationship, it is detrimental to the best interests of the child, and should be viewed as a form of child abuse. Actions by state uthorities which damage child-parent relationships should also be viewed as a form of child abuse and carry corresponding penalties.

10. Cases which do not concern equal parenthood

EP does not directly address cases where one or both parents refuse or cannot take up their parental responsibilities in respect of their children, to care for and maintain them. It only addresses those cases where both parents want to look after and be responsible for both of their children. Within EP it is recongnised that to force a parent to look after their child physically when they state they do not wish to is probably inadvisable. However, given that financial obligations to care for the child exist, the need to provide care for the child are available, either through the aprents or the state. Equal, child abuse is under EP, regarded as a distinct and separate question.



... are defined as the biological parents or in the case of severe abuse by biological parents or where children are orphaned, the adoptive parents.


... is taken to mean a human being from birth to the age of emancipation or majority, whichever is the lower.

Family a child and it's biological or adoptive parents.

Extended Family

... are the blood relatives of the child or his or her adoptive parents.


Each part of this declaration is integral to the whole and cannot be applied outside the context of the other clauses.

Signed on Friday 30 July 1999 by:
Signature Name in block letters Organisation Country

Julian Fitzgerald
Joep Zander
Gerhard Hanenkamp
George Brito
Ipe Smit
Mary T Cleary
Antonio M. Diaz
partly on behalf of others and organisations

Friday 30 July 1999

Subsequent Signatories should date their adherence to this Declaration and then add any reservations or recommendations they may wish to include, specifying if these are for local or universal application.

For a list of people and organisations who have signed the declaration see the equal
parenting site

International Equal Parenting - Campaign Group
We are a group of men and women campaigning on family issues and helping families in distress.
We believe in a child's right to both parents.


Helping Your Children through the Divorcing Process: Do's and Don'ts

Reena Sommer, Ph.D.

"It's an understatement to suggest that the divorcing process is challenging and stressful. Often times, parents are so wrapped up in their own emotional turmoil, that they fail to appreciate how difficult it is on children. Because children are limited in their ability to intellectually process what is going on, parents often misread their children's lack of response as a sign that they are handling their separation without any major impact. How children cope varies greatly on their age, maturity, temperament and the degree and duration of conflict between their parents."





The following are a few do's and don'ts to keep in mind during this time of


* Reassure your children that they will be safe, sheltered, and cared for.
* Maintain your parental role. Be an adult! Your children will find that reassuring.
* Tell them that they are loved and wanted.
* Be sure that they understand that the breakup was not their fault.
* Encourage your children to express their feelings about the breakup in safe ways.
* Stay healthy yourself. Get plenty of rest, exercise nutrition, and support.


* Make any unnecessary changes. Keep as much stability as possible in daily routines and especially in rules, bedtimes, discipline styles, and socializing.
* Talk badly about the other parent, their lifestyle or their new partner.
* Indirectly or directly expose your children to your conflict and/or the details of your separation. Children deserve to be free of their parents' feuds. They have a tough enough job already in adjusting to their new and changing family situation.
* Lead them to believe in (or hope for) a reconciliation that isn't likely to happen.
* Threaten your children with abandonment or sending them to live with the other parent.
* Communicate with your spouse through the children. They aren't couriers; they are kids. If you can't communicate directly with your spouse, do so through your lawyers or friends.
* Use your children as spies. It is upsetting and disrespectful to them. Place your children in a position where they feel they should be your best friend, sounding board, therapist or even a parent!


"A newsletter for and about people going through separation and divorce"

Published by Reena Sommer, Ph.D. - Divorce Consultant

Surviving Divorce: Dr. Reena Sommer & Associates - Divorce Consultants

Vol. 1, Issue 3
April 17, 2003



In honour of the late Dr. Gardner

+Prof. Dr. Richard Gardner died on sunday 25 May 2003

enormous loss!


Our concern being great what did Dr. Gardner think makes a good parent?

Here is a concisely written article, found in his archives. This will also clarify Child Custody evaluations.

One could read the indicator factors as pointers for self-improvement, as well as a preparative guide to arguments in court.




Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 1999, 30(1/2):1-9

The Michigan guidelines (1993) require the evaluator to compare the parents on 12 factors that are considered to be applicable to a custody/visitation determination regarding what is in the best interests of the child.
Although I consider there to be some weaknesses and omissions in the Michigan criteria, I believe the principle is a sound one. Especially attractive to me is the requirement that the parents be compared on each of the items, following which the examiner comments on which parent has been preferred on each of the items and then tallies the total score for each parent.

In this report, I utilize the same principle but provide what I consider to be a superior set of guidelines, guidelines that expand upon what I consider to be the valid criteria in the Michigan protocol and omit (in part or in toto) what I consider to be the weaker criteria. Elsewhere (1999), I have published on these guidelines.

1) The Stronger, Healthier Psychological Bond.

This is first criterion because I consider it the most important. The best-interests-of-the-child presumption is too vague to be particularly useful. Everyone waves that flag: both parents, both lawyers, the judge, the guardian-ad-litem, and the parade of mental health professionals who testify on both sides. No one claims not to subscribe to this principle. No one claims that he (she) is operating against the best interests of the child. What usually happens is that all these vociferous proponents of this principle cancel each other out. Accordingly, the best-interests-of-the-child guideline is meaningless.
Actually, what we are really trying to assess in a child-custody dispute is which parent has the stronger and healthier psychological bond with the child. Many aspects of the evaluation provide data of use in making this specific assessment. Joint interviews can be particular useful here, e.g., father plus child, mother plus child, both parents plus child.

Particularly useful are interviews in which both parents are seen together in which they have the opportunity to confront one another directly with their often conflicting opinions regarding a whole series of events.

When implementing this particular criterion, I utilize the following principles:

a) Preference should be given to that parent (regardless of gender) with whom the child has
developed the stronger, healthier psychological bond.

b) That parent (regardless of gender) who was the primary caretaker during the earliest years of the child's life is more likely to have developed the stronger, healthier psychological bond.

c) The longer the time gap between the earliest years of the child's life and the time of the custody evaluation or decision, the greater the likelihood other factors will operate that may tip the balance in either direction regarding parental capacity.

It is important to note that this criterion is only applicable when the bonding being assessed is healthy.
Obviously, pathological bonds can exist between a parent and child, but their presence would not argue for primary parental designation. Rather, their presence would often argue against such designation.

2) Parenting Capacity

This criterion focuses on the comparative ability of the parents to properly and effectively raise the children. It includes knowledge of child-rearing techniques and the utilization of humane and reasonable disciplinary measures. It includes the knowledge of how to provide the children with guidance, instruction, and care.

3) Values and Morality

Parents serve as models for their children. Accordingly, a parent with unhealthy values and/or
immoral behavior is likely to transmit these undesirable qualities to the children. The evaluator
assesses here honesty, sensitivity to the feelings of others, social commitment, lifestyle, and other personality qualities which would be useful for the child to emulate and identify with.

4) Availability

The evaluator should give consideration to the availability of each of the parents who are involved in the child's life. Particularly important is each individual's availability for getting the child off to school, being available on their return, and being available to care for the child during illnesses and emergency situations. This criterion also refers to availability to care for the child during school holidays and during the evening for homework assistance.

5) Educational Commitment (Curricular and Extracurricular)

The evaluator should compare the parents with regard to their genuine commitment to the educational process and the appreciation of its importance in the child's life.
Such commitment not only manifests itself by what the parent says but, more importantly, by what the parent does with regard to his (her) actual involvement in the child's school activities. This includes parent-teacher conferences, PTA meetings, as well as attendance at school extracurricular activities, e.g. sports, music and dance recitals, plays, etc. The evaluator does well to try to determine the degree of pride and joy each parent has when observing the child's involvement in the extracurricular activities.

6) Health Care (Physical and Mental)

The evaluator should compare each parent's commitment to and availability for involvement in the child's health care. This includes visits to health care providers, both physical and mental, e.g., pediatricians, psychologists, and psychiatrists. It also involves availability and commitment to the child when physically ill and home care is required.

7) Appreciation of the Role of the Other Parent in the Child's Upbringing

The evaluator should compare each parent's appreciation of the importance of the other parent in the child's upbringing. Parents who try to exclude the other parent from the child's life exhibit a parental impairment. This is especially the case if such exclusions are associated with attempts to denigrate the other parent to the point that the child may develop complete alienation from the targeted parent (Gardner, 1992, 1998).

8) Cooperation

The evaluator should compare the parents regarding the willingness to cooperate with the other parent concerning issues relevant to the healthy growth and development of the child. Although divorce hostilities may interfere with such cooperation, healthy and committed parents recognize that it is important to separate their own interpersonal difficulties from the important obligation that both of them have to cooperate in the raising of the child. Although angry and irritated with one another regarding unresolved divorce issues, healthy and committed parents are still able to cooperate with one another regarding the care of the child. Parents who require court orders before cooperating with the other parent on issues related to the child's healthy growth and development are exhibiting a parenting impairment.

9) Communication

The evaluator should compare the parents with regard to their receptivity to communicating openly and freely with one another on issues relevant to the growth and development of the child. Parents who refuse to speak on the phone with one another exhibit a parenting deficiency and this is especially the case for parents who insist on communicating only through lawyers.

10) Commitment to Providing the Child with Food, Clothing, and Shelter

The evaluator should compare the parents with regard to their commitment to providing the child with the basic necessities of life: food, clothing, and shelter. This criterion has less to do with the actual amount of money the parent earns and more to do with the sense of commitment to providing the children with these necessities of life.

11) Physical Health of Each Parent

Obviously, in order to care properly for the child, the parent must be reasonably healthy physically. Accordingly, the examiner should get information in this realm in the course of conducting the evaluation.

12) Psychological Health of Each Parent

Each parent should be assessed psychologically to ascertain the presence of significant psychological disorders. It is not necessary that formal psychological tests be administered to each parent in the context of a child-custody evaluation. Generally, clinical information obtained from each parent about himself (herself) and about the other party will provide the necessary data.

One is particularly interested in obtaining information about severe forms of psychopathology, especially when hospitalization has been required. Accordingly, the examiner should assess for evidences of psychosis, severe personality disorder, substance abuse, abuse of family members (emotional, physical, or sexual), psychopathy, and difficulties with law-enforcement officials. Relatively mild forms of psychopathology should not generally be given significant consideration here because both parents are likely to have some diagnosis and it is not generally useful to compare whether mild psychopathology category A makes one less capable as a parent than having a mild form of psychopathology B.

13) Presence of Parental Surrogates in Each Parent's Home

The evaluator should determine whether parental surrogates are living in or immediately available to the homes in which the child lives. These would include stepparents, new partners or companions, grandparents, and other individuals who are significantly involved in the child's life and would be reasonably available on a continuing basis to be involved in the child's care.
Although housekeepers and maids may be given consideration in the assessment of this criterion, the evaluator should appreciate that many such individuals may be transient in the child's life.

14) Appreciation of the Dangers of the Child's Exposure to and Embroilment in the Parental Conflict

Healthy parents recognize that it is important not to expose the child to or embroil the child in the parental conflict. In contrast, parents who utilize the child in their conflict, e.g., as a weapon, as a rope in a tug of war, as a spy, and as a saboteur, are exhibiting a parental deficiency. Parents who induce in the child a campaign of denigration against the other parent, utilizing the child then as a weapon in the parental conflict also represent a significant parenting deficiency.

15) Commitment to the Child's Enrichment

This indicator focuses on commitment to the child's involvement in activities beyond those provided in the school (both curricular and extracurricular). This would include a wide variety of enrichment activities including music lessons, sports, scouting, camping, gymnastics, travel, visits to museums and historical sites, and other forms of intellectual and emotional stimulation.

16) Extended Family Involvement

Healthy parents recognize that it is important for the child to have a sense of family ties, an appreciation of one's importance in the family network. This not only includes the extended family of the parent himself (herself) but also the extended family of the estranged spouse. Parents who expand their acrimony from the spouse to the spouse's extended family manifest a parenting deficiency.

17) Involvement with the Child's Friends

Healthy parents recognize the important of friends in a child's life. Accordingly, they facilitate visits by friends to the home and the child's visiting friends in other homes. They also facilitate overnight visits as well. Accordingly, the evaluator should compare the parents with regard to their receptivity to the child's involvement with peers.

18) Pride in the Child

Healthy parents have pride in their children. This is one manifestation of their love. Such a parent's heart swells with pride when observing the child in school recitals, plays, and sporting events. Healthy parents may cry with joy on such occasions. They carry pictures in their wallets of their children and are quick to display these with pride to anyone who shows interest in looking at them. A reasonable degree of boasting about the child is also healthy and a manifestation of good parenting. Of course, when boasting is excessive or pride is being used in the service of denial of a child's obvious weaknesses, then this criterion is not satisfied.

19) The Child's Own Stated Preference

It is not by pure chance that this criterion is put near the bottom. Obviously, for younger children it is not a consideration. But even for older children it may be a risky indicator because the child's cognitive immaturity may result in his (her) stating preferences that are not really judicious, e.g., a six-year-old states, "I want to live with my daddy not my mommy. My daddy is a lot of fun. He buys me pizza and we play ball a lot. He lets me stay up and watch television. My mommy's mean. She makes me go to sleep early and makes me do homework."

Furthermore, children who have been subjected to a program of alienation (Gardner, 1992, 1998) may profess preferences as a manifestation of their being programmed to denigrate a parent who might very well serve as a good and effective primary parent.

20) Commitment to the Care of the Handicapped Child

Raising a handicapped child is one of the most sensitive tests of parenting capacity. A parent with compromised commitment is likely to exhibit such compromises when called upon to take on the extra tasks and burdens of rearing such a child. Obviously, then, preference should be given to the parent who exhibits greater commitment in such situations.


The examiner who focuses on these 20 areas, not superficially but in depth, is likely to be able to make reasonable parental preference recommendations in the vast majority of child-custody evaluations. In most cases the examiner will find that the parent for whom the evaluator recommends primary custody is likely to be superior in the majority of these indicators. It is important to note that I have studiously avoided giving any specific number of criteria that must be satisfied or any specific cutoff point. Rather, the examiner should operate on the principle that the greater the number of items on which a particular parent is superior the greater the justification for recommending that parent to be designated the primary custodial parent.


Gardner, R.A. (1982), Family Evaluation in Child Custody Litigation. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

_______ (1986), Child Custody Litigation: A Guide for Parents and Mental Health Professionals. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

_______ (1989), Family Evaluation in Child Custody Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

_______ (1992), The Parental Alienation Syndrome. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

_______ (1998), The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

_______ (1999), Guidelines for assessing parental preference in child-custody disputes. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 30(1/2):1-9.

Michigan Guidelines for Assessing Parental Preference.
MCL 722.23; MSA 25.312(3), as amended by PA 1993, No.
259, 1. effective November 1993.


How Do Fathers Fit In ?

Message by Sean O'Connell about "Families without Fatherhood"

Having just skimmed through a book called "Families without
" by Normna Dennis and George Erdos on behalf of
the institute for civil society, there is an abundance of
research and info which may be useful.

Costs 6 quid and their website has some other useful stuff.





Fathers and Teenagers

One of the main tasks for adolescents and teenagers is to develop their personal identity and deepen their relationships with their friends, while also maintaining a strong connection to their families. Teenagers spend more time away from their parents and look to their friends for cues on how to dress and which parties to go to. However, mothers and fathers continue to have a strong influence, especially upon their children's beliefs, values and plans for the future.
Adolescence is often a time of increased conflict between children and their parents, especially their mothers. This might be because teenagers spend more time with their mothers than their fathers, or because mothers tend to take issue with aspects of behaviour that touch on teenagers' sense of personal identity, such as clothing or body piercing.

Although teenagers rely more upon their mothers for emotional support, the relationship with fathers continues to be important. Teenagers rely more upon their fathers for conversation, advice, and just 'being there'.39 Adolescents who felt their fathers were 'available' to them had fewer conflicts with their friends.40

Unfortunately, some fathers seem to withdraw from their teenagers. Whether this is due to his concern for instilling independence in his children, or due to changes and stresses he is experiencing in his own life, a reduction in a father's availability and guidance during his children's adolescence can have bad consequences. This is especially the case for daughters. As noted above, fathers' involvement was important to both sons' and daughters' self-esteem when they were in primary school. However, for 15-16 year old girls, the level of a mother's involvement seems to have more influence. 41 Teenage girls find it easier to talk to their mothers, which can make fathers feel as if they are not needed. However, this is not the case. Teenage girls may find self-esteem in their relationships with mothers, but they find guidance about how to relate to others and how to plan for the future from their fathers.

References :

39 Catan, L., Dennison, C. & Coleman, J., Getting Through: Effective Communication in the Teenage Years, London: Trust for the Study of Adolescence & the BT Forum, 1997; O'Brien, M. & Jones, D., 'Young people's attitudes to fatherhood', in Moss, P. (ed.), Father Figures: Fathers in the Families of the 1990s, Children in Scotland, HMSO, 1995; O'Brien, M. & Jones, D., 'The absence and presence of fathers: Accounts from Children's diaries,' in Bjornberg, U. & Kollind, A-K. (eds.), Men's Family Relations, Gothenburg: University of Goteborg Publications, 1996.

40 Lieberman, M., Doyle, A.B. & Markiewica, D., 'Developmental patterns in security of attachment to mother and father in late childhood and early adolescence: Associations with peer relations', Child Development, 70, 1999, pp. 202-213

41 Amato, P., 'Father involvement and the self-esteem of children and adolescents', Australian Journal of Sex, Marriage, and Family, 7, 1986, pp. 6-16.

Find out why one of the foremost authorities on children's welfare, Professor Sir Michael Rutter, called "An interesting and informative guide"

'even Toddlers Need Fathers'
45 Roberts Road,
SO15 5DF
United Kingdom
Kingsley Miller MSc.,Cert Ed.


  The judicial manslaughter of Mark Edward Dexel

From: Mark E Dexel <>
Organization: The judicial manslaughter of Mark Edward Dexel
Date: Mon, 03 Feb 2003 09:54:40 -0800
Subject: The Judicial Manslaughter of Mark Edward Dexel

Dead Men Can't Cry Š Any More

February 2, 2003


On Thursday, January 23, 2003, another BC father committed suicide. Mark Edward Dexel, 42, took the only exit some fathers can find when tortured by the most prejudicially biased judicial system ever known to Canada.

In despair of never seeing his son again, he hung himself in a Kamloops motel.

The day before, Mark had told his girlfriend, and other friends among the local support group, Parents of Broken Families, that he was going to Vancouver to visit his parents. This unexpected tragedy has been a bitter blow to his girl, his family, and his friends from Parents of Broken Families. It has shocked and outraged non-custodial parents groups across Canada.

It is a haunting echo of the death of Darren White in Prince George two years ago.

On Friday, the RCMP found Mark¹s body with a note in which he blamed the judges and lawyers in particular, and the injustice of the ŒFamily Court¹system in general. On that Wednesday, Mark had also told to a friend in the group that it was the one-year anniversary since he had last seen his 3-year old son. Mark added that he would again have to appear in court on January the 29th. His series of court appearances had spanned a full year, and in all those appearances Mark had gained no relief at all from his acute pain at being maliciously shut out of his son¹s life.

The stresses of the adversarial system of justice, the humiliation of his abuse in court, and the helpless longing for his missing son combined to form a lethal depression that led Mark to take his leave of the torture.
It¹s an experience many non-custodial parents are put through at the hands of the divorce industry, but Mark¹s experience was particularly brutal and relentless.

Mark was aware of the introduction of Bill C-22, a projected legislation that makes the family law system even more adversarial, and offers no hope for the future of split families. He had hope that the 1998 bi-partisan joint Parliamentary report on Reform of the Divorce Act might have offered a more equitable status to fathers in family court. The betrayal of this promise by the Federal government was on his mind at the time he despaired of the struggle.

Mark was a loving father of five children and had all reason to live. He was actively involved in the lives of his children from previous relationships.
He had amicable arrangements with their mothers to see them. He made his living running his own business building log furniture, and also as a computer salesman. However, the stresses and time demands of the litigation forced him to give up his work in the effort to to get his baby boy back into his life.

All who knew Mark described him as an affable man who frequently showed up in court to support others. He was crushed by an irresponsible comment from a judge in a previous hearing, who told Mark that any access was up to his ex-wife and her lawyer. Mark considered that man an unscrupulous solicitor who had managed to have all his access suspended. Even if the judge may have been legally allowed to make such a comment, it is a reflection of how insensitive and out of touch with the needs of children and their parents the court system really is. Nevertheless, Mark seemed to hold on to hope, and he was still going back to court to have it rectified.

The rate of suicide increases 4-fold for fathers following separation or divorce. It can be easily understood how this stressful experience was particularly devastating for this devoted father, who had committed no crime and done no harm, and yet Š.

Parents, grandparents and children rights advocates are blaming the
government for this, and all those other deaths by suicide that have
occurred as a result of the refusal to reform the present system. Separated
parents groups are bitter in the belief that if the proposed reforms had
been implemented in 1998, when they were defined and recommended by the
Joint Senate Committees report entitled ³For the Sake of the Children²,
Mark¹s life would not have been wasted and five children would still be
enjoying the love and care of their adoring father.

Furthermore, after the death of Darren White, the government has already
been presented with studies linking the adversarial system of justice to
suicides by parents being abused by it. It is inexcusable for the government
not to stop this bloodshed and the subsequent pain and irreparable loss to
the children, especially since these tragedies are being repeated daily
across Canada.

Bill C-22 is understood among non-custodial parents as a fraud perpetrated
by vested interests within the government, and it is the source of great
anger against the Minister of Justice for his betrayal. On this tragic but
predictably inevitable occasion, groups across Canada may rally behind the
grief experienced by Mark¹s family, his children and friends, and express
their renewed anger at the complicity of the Federal government in
perpetuating this inequity at law.

To Mr. Cauchon, Attorney General of Canada: We, as grandparents, parents, second wives and children¹s rights organizations all across Canada say:

Stop playing politics with the hearts, souls and minds of our children, and
stop ruining their parents. Stop the divorce industry from exploiting our
kids! Look to their welfare; that is your duty.

For further information, please contact:

Todd Eckert (250) 554-1418 or 250-314-7722

President Parent and Child Advocacy Coalition

Past President of Parents Coalition of British Columbia

Member Parents of Broken Families

Spokesman for the Drexel family (by their permission)

And, Personal Friend of the late Mark Edward Dexel

"We will miss you always."

I would urge you to drop a few lines to those responsible for Marks demise

The Federal Minister of Justice

The Honourable Martin Cauchon

The Premier of British Columbia HON. GORDON CAMPBELL


And of course the Judges I know the name of one, Judge Blair

The Supreme Court of British Columbia

223 - 455 Columbia Street. Kamloops, B.C. V2C 6K4


News from The Star-Ledger

Kids with 1 parent at risk of mental illnesses

Friday, January 24, 2003


LONDON - Children growing up in single-parent families are twice as likely as their counterparts to develop serious psychiatric illnesses and addictions later in life, according to an important new study.

Researchers have for years debated whether children from broken homes bounce back or whether they are more likely than kids whose parents stay together to develop serious emotional problems.

Experts say the latest study, published this week in The Lancet medical journal, is important mainly because of its unprecedented scale and follow-up - it tracked about 1 million children for a decade, into their mid-20s.

The question of why and how those children end up with such problems remains unanswered. The study suggests that financial hardship may play a role, but other experts say the research also supports the view that quality of parenting could be a factor.

The study used the Swedish national registries, which cover almost the entire population and contain extensive socio-economic and health information. Children were considered to be living in a single-parent household if they were living with the same single adult in both the 1985 and 1990 housing census. That could have been the result of divorce, separation, death of a parent, out of wedlock birth, guardianship or other reasons.

About 60,000 were living with their mother and about 5,500 with their father. There were 921,257 living with both parents. The children were ages 6 to 18 at the start of the study, with half already in their teens.

The scientists found that children with single parents were twice as likely as the others to develop a psychiatric illness such as severe depression or schizophrenia, to kill themselves or attempt suicide, and to develop an alcohol-related disease.

Girls were three times more likely to become drug addicts if they lived with a sole parent, and boys were four times more likely.

The researchers concluded that financial hardship, which they defined as renting rather than owning a home and as being on welfare, made a big difference.

However, other experts questioned the financial influence, saying Swedish single mothers are not poor when compared with those in other countries, and suggested that quality of parenting could also be a factor.

"It makes you think that what you're seeing is just the most dysfunctional families having these problems, rather than the low income. The money is really an indicator of something else," said Sara McLanahan, a professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University, who was not involved in the study.

"If you really thought that it was the income that makes the difference, you would think that Swedish lone mothers would do a lot better than the British or those in the U.S., but they look very similar," she said.

Other experts agreed.

In the last 20 to 30 years, poverty has been greatly reduced everywhere in Europe, but psychiatric problems in children have not, said Stephen Scott, a child health and behavior researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, who also was not involved in the study.

He said that in previous studies, once researchers have adjusted their results to eliminate the influence of bad parenting, any increased risk of emotional problems shrinks markedly. This, he said, indicates it is not so much single parenthood but the quality of parenting that is at issue.


New legal Book for Fathers

Enthousiastic presentation by Phillip Parker

to Euro-dads and mums and others...

Dear People,

There is a new book entering the Father's Rights communities to bring in not only a New Year; but a millennium of timeless proportions. Something which has never been seen before within Family law movements... A book of grandeur proportions, a full 656 pages in length, with over 1,100 case cites, and with a breadth of research and charts and diagrams; rarely seen before in any book. There is no book like this in either the legal or father's rights domain.

The book is called "Suffering Patriarchy:
by Robert
Lindsay; Cheney Jr.

This book is a palpable, empirical resource to any father, currently engaged within the court system. The book explains various studies of the law, in a system's engineered approach to the number one problem which afflicts our nation(s) today: fatherlessness.
The book will also be a necessity to any Father's Rights advocate, who needs to know and have first hand knowledge as to the law, and how it effects fatherhood. This book is again written at a University level, and will be a resource to any father attending father's rights issues. Currently, pre-release versions have become available, and those father's using this book, have entered court with the book, with various post-it notes intermittently spilling out from the pages of this work.

Fathers are now capable of standing in front of judges and District Attorney's and are able to "touch the law," with this book. They can palpably see the law which effects them, and be able to enter courts, and tell the courts they are wrong in which to defend themselves. Then, they can read the judge the law.
For instance:

The book has a finding that there is truly no "old law." That in a case decision that will shock most judges and lawyers, our courts have iterated this fact saying: "In this case, however, the Court finds that, because the underlying authority and rationale of these cases has been vitiated, it must begin its analysis [of old law] anew::. " [From: U.S. v. Tri-State Hospital Supply Corp. SLIP OP. 99-107, UNITED STATES COURT OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE, Before: WALLACH, Judge, Court No.: 97-04-00678]

Many laymen fathers are using this book to currently aid them in the drafting of their legal documentation.
For instance, this book is a monumental and huge resource, covering virtually every issue which is currently effecting fatherhood. For instance, do you know that a father can reasonably punish an unruly wife?? The law is succinct on the issue:

"Husband has right to Coerce Wife:, is required to govern his household, and for that purpose [he] may use toward his wife such degree of force as is necessary to control and unruly temper and make her behave herself; and unless some permanent injury is
inflicted, or their is an excess of violence, or such degree of cruelty inflicted as shows a desire by the husband to gratify his own bad passions, the law will not invade his domestic forum nor inflict punishment upon him." State v. Black, 1 Winston's Law, 266 (1864)

Most certainly, this work will become a definitive "must have" for any professional or father or father's rights advocate attempting to discern the current issues effecting fatherhood. For the scope of this work, is no less than stunning.

What all fathers must recognize, is what one father who read this book commented when hearing of its contents: "For the first time in years; I have hope."
What any reader will find when reading this book, is a very pragmatic analysis of the current corrupt court system. This book will inform readers as to the various mechanics'--and in a stunning revelation; this book has "rediscovered" some astounding facts at law, for instance: that the "Best Interests of the Child" standard, is a test...and that test, shows at law, that there is a declination to whom, and where the child is going to be assigned under law, before the courts decide they have to 'rescue' the child.

Any father reading this book, will become so informed as to make the clear choices as to where he wants to go, and how he will present himself and/or defend himself in open court. The information contained within this book, is clearly of such a caliber, where it will allow men for the first time in decades, to tell both their lawyers and judges, what can and cannot be done in open court. It will enable fathers who want to control their own cases--an eminent tool in which to do so. The power a father will accrue by simply getting through this book, will create adroit citizens, able to find the answers to many incongruous questions the courts are currently presenting fathers with: which is a 'no win scenario' in modern courts.

Father's should consider this book as Condensed Soup. In using condensed soup, a person does not have to know how to grow the vegetables, he does not have to know when to harvest; he does not have to be a cook, nor know the recipe, nor know the ingredients...all any father has to do with this book, is add his effort to simply read it, and from that, he will become the master of his own domain.

The book is $30.00 [U.S.]. It is 656 pages long in 8 x 11 hard copy paper format, with two sided high quality laser printing, and neat covers. There is a case cite index, with a table of authorities, and bibliography, with a substantive index in the back. It has various charts and photographs throughout the work. The book is the culmination of over four years of direct effort, and is a sequel to Volume I: "Suffering Patriarchy: An Analytical Exploration into the Promise of the Forbidden Planet," [a free e-book of 530 pages, located at with Appendices A, B and C]. To place an order, please call Nelson Kenyon at 925-458-5002.


Fatherless families 'face raft of problems' One in five children now live in a one-parent family

Ref.: BBC News 16 september, 2002

Children who grow up without a father are more likely to be unemployed, homeless, to contract illness or be imprisoned, a wide-ranging survey has suggested.
Independent think-tank Civitas has analysed 30 years of data on changing trends in family life.

It suggests the decline of the two-parent married couple family had resulted in increased incidence of poverty, ill health, educational failure and anti-social behaviour.

Lone mothers are poorer, more depressed and more unhealthy than mothers in two-parent families, according to the think-tank.

Fathers not living with their families have higher death rates, drink more heavily, have more unsafe sex and risk losing contact with their children.

Rebecca O'Neill, author of the survey, entitled Experiments in Living, said: "The weight of evidence indicates that the traditional family based upon a married father and mother is still the best environment for raising children and it forms the soundest basis for the wider society."

Ms O'Neill pulled together the results of dozens of studies, carried out over three decades, to give an over-arching picture.

Most of the studies, she said, had been based on 1,000 families each.

One in five children now live in a one-parent family. One in 14 live with their mother and a man who has no birth or legal tie to the child.

Civitas is now calling on the UK Government to do more to encourage people to live in more traditional family units.

Civitas director David Green said: "We need to see a change in government policy which favours and encourages the most responsible behaviour amongst parents, rather than the opposite, as is currently the case."

The study itself "Experiments in Living : The Fatherless Family" by Rebecca O'Neill can be found on the CIVITAS website. Click on the given link!

(Source of information Broken Link 32.htm by Theo Richel - 17th of September 2002)


Parents Advocating for Recovery through Education by Networking Together
P.O. Box 134
Capron, VA 23829



Once again there will be fathers that will spend another Father's Day without their children. They will not get the greeting card handmade with crayon or paint. They will not feel the embrace of small arms around their necks and will not hear the words, "Daddy, I love you." The pain can be unbearable.

Now lets shift to the child...

Imagine if you were a little kid and everyone in your classroom at school were making father's Days cards. You sit wondering who you are going to give yours too. You are embarressed to tell the teacher your mom won't let you send your dad a Father's Day card. Your teacher asks you to write a paper on, "Why My Dad is the Best", but you can not remember much about him. You sit frustrated. You remember the time he put you on his shoulders and took you to the carnival. His face is long forgotten, but you remember a smile and the hugs. You wonder if you should write about this...Suddenly, tears fill your eyes. You are afraid if you write about your dad, your mother might find out. She will be angry. She hates your dad. That is why you are not allowed to see him. Your teacher notices that you have crumpled up your paper and are upset....but you can't tell her why...your mom told you to not speak of this a long time ago. Suddenly, you are angry at your mom.

Happy Father''s Day to all those dads that took the time to put their child on their shoulders, spent time with them and left a memory of their smile. Their mom can never take this away. You will be remembered this Father's Day.

Maureen Dabbagh



Poem from an abducted Child

Hello To Me
By Kelly Niles

Why didn't you love me ?
All I did was try to love you
To receive your love in return
All I wanted was you and your approval
The Little girl in me came out everyday
Everytime we were together

I just wanted you to love me
I just wanted you to accept me.
My Flaws; My shortcomings.
Many though they were. Are.

I 'm sorry I never met your expectations
I'm sorry I was never the daughter you wanted
I'm sorry I looked too much like my mother

I was created in the name of love
Taken into a world you tried to make for me
A world of anger and hatred
A world of fear and loneliness

It has taken me so long
To stop running, stop hiding
Even after you brought us back
Almost killed me along the way
I have had to say good-bye to you
Hello to me.

Received on the 24th of May 2001


A Child to its Father

Written with a pen.
Sealed with a kiss.
If you are my friend,
Please answer this:

Are we friends
Or are we not?
You told me once
But I forgot.
So tell me now
And tell me true
So I can say....
I'm here for you.

Of all the friends
I've ever met,
You're the one
I won't forget.
And if I die
Before you do,
I'll go to heaven
And wait for you.

I'll give the angel
Back their wings
And risk the loss
Of everything,
just to prove my
friendship is true
to have a friend like you!

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