With Father’s Day having passed recently, we here in the Working Dads space thought it would be good to turn a spotlight on the need to reform our nation’s family courts, which continue to marginalize the role fathers play in the lives of their children by ordering sole custody, usually to mothers, in more than 80 percent of cases.
Father’s Day is an opportunity to highlight the gender inequality that presently exists in the family courts, as well as a chance to advance shared parenting as the new status quo in instances of divorce or separation. Presently, nearly 20 states are considering shared parenting and parental equality reform legislation that would not only recognize the value of both parents but more importantly, provide children what they most want and need — equal time with both parents in instances of divorce or separation.
“Fathers want to share the parenting time with mothers after separation, and research shows children want the same thing. Also, research overwhelmingly shows children greatly benefit when both parents play significant roles in their lives. With this in mind, I can’t think of a better gift for everyone on any Father’s Day than moving shared parenting reform efforts forward,” said National Parents Organization Founder and Board Chair Ned Holstein, MD, MS.
The shared parenting movement is supported by recent child development research. The most recent of many examples appeared this spring in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. This 150,000-person study found that shared parenting after divorce or separation is in the best interest of children’s health. The study, “Fifty moves a year: is there an association between joint physical custody and psychosomatic problems in children?” evaluated the mental health of children and concluded that children with shared parenting, spending substantial time with each parent, were significantly less stressed than children living mostly with one parent.
SINGLE PARENTING VERSUS SHARED PARENTING
Not only do studies consistently show that shared parenting is best for children when parents divorce or separate, but also, federal statistics show the startling impact single parenting has on children. Consider that, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Census Bureau, the 35 percent of children raised by single parents account for:
- 63 percent of teen suicides;
- 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions;
- 71 percent of high school drop-outs;
- 75 percent of children in chemical abuse centers;
- 85 percent of those in prison;
- 85 percent of children who exhibit behavioral disorders;
- 90 percent of homeless and runaway children.
“Too many children have suffered when both parents aren’t actively involved in their lives. Please support the best interest of children on each and every Father’s Day by joining me in supporting efforts to bring shared parenting and parental equality to family courtrooms nationwide,” Dr. Holstein said.
Whether the problem is emotional disturbances of children, drug use, alcohol use, teen pregnancy, poor performance in school, trouble with the law or running with gangs, being raised by a single parent is a powerful risk factor. For many of these outcomes, single parenting is a stronger risk factor than race or poverty. Conversely, children on average do much better on all these measures if they have shared parenting. Children ardently desire shared parenting in most cases and are happier with it.
For parents, shared parenting significantly increases child support compliance, diminishes parental conflict and domestic violence and allows both parents to pursue their careers, social lives and other interests without the burden of single-handedly raising a child.
National Parents Organization, a charitable and educational 501 (c)(3) organization, seeks better lives for children through family law reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers after divorce or separation. The organization is focused on promoting shared parenting and preserving a child’s strong bond with both parents, which is critically important to their emotional, mental, and physical health. In 2014, National Parents Organization released the Shared Parenting Report Card, the first study to rank the states on child custody laws. Visit the National Parents Organization at nationalparentsorganization.org.
This article is reposted with the author’s permission from examiner.com.