By Julie Garrison
Special to DadsDivorce.com
Society needs to be educated on the necessity of shared parenting and the innumerable benefits it affords to children.
If not, children will continue to be denied the foundation of an equal relationship with both of their parents.
There are longstanding attitudes about shared parenting that have influenced the public and the present family law system. Most of these attitudes are fiction and need to be debunked.
Fiction: Most children are satisfied with the amount of time that they are allowed to spend with their fathers after their parents divorced.
Fact: Most children say that they would like more time with their dads. The main reason that a child doesn’t want to spend more time with his dad is because he feels like an interloper in his father’s new life.
If he saw his father more often, the child would feel more included as a part of the family, instead of feeling like a “white elephant” of a previous marriage who drops in every other weekend.
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Fiction: Children don’t want to live part-time in both parents’ homes, going back and forth.
Fact: As long as a parent portrays shared parenting – and the going back and forth — as “normal,” it feels normal to a child.
It is similar to the mother who has a career. If she says to her children, “Okay, now we go to daycare,” daycare will seem like a normal part of their lives.
If she says, “I’m sorry that I have to spend so much time away from you,” the children will feel resentful. Shared parenting follows the same line of reasoning.
Fiction: Divorced dads who share parenting pay less child support and the children are worse off financially.
Fact: Dads who share parenting also share the economic burden of raising their children. Child support is equalized according to the amount of parenting time a child spends with each parent.
The divorced spouses who make shared parenting work, collaborate on providing for their child’s physical needs, such as school clothes, medical insurance, dental care, and uniforms for band, cheerleading and sports.
When both parents are integrally involved in the life of their child, they are far more likely to include financial responsibility in their commitment to their child’s wellbeing.
Fiction: Most divorced dads don’t want to spend more time with their children.
Fact: When a man gets divorced, he is usually relegated to the role of a part-time visitor in the lives of his children. What man would want that? The truth is that most divorced men would like to share in their children’s parenting and spend as much time with their children as possible.
Dr. Linda Nielsen, Professor of Women’s Studies at Wake Forest University, says the following on the realities of today’s custody arrangements:
“Almost half of the children in the U.S. are deprived of the lifelong benefits of two parents who share the parenting throughout the first 18 years of their children’s lives… Only 15% – 20% of parents share parenting after divorce. Existing legal procedures & attitudes of people who influence the decisions about children’s living arrangements often make shared parenting harder to achieve.”
According to the Stepfamily Association, 23.3% of children live solely with their biological mothers, yet only 4.4% only live with their biological fathers. These statistics alone illustrate the inequality of today’s child custody orders.
Julie Garrison has been writing articles and short stories for the past 10 years and has appeared in several magazines and e-zines.