Helping Kids See more of Dad Since Before it Became Popular.
“Shared Parenting means that a child has a right to equal access and opportunity with both parents, the right to be guided and nurtured by both parents, the right to have major decisions made by application of both parent’s wisdom, judgment and experience. The child does not forfeit these rights when the parents divorce.”
“One of the most powerful shocks of the Middle Passage is the collapse of our tacit contract with the universe – the assumption that if we act correctly, if we are of good heart and intentions, things will work out. We assume a reciprocity with the universe. If we do our part the universe will comply. Many ancient stories, including the Book of Job, painfully reveal the fact that there is no such contract, and everyone who goes through the Middle Passage is made aware of it. No one sets out upon the marital barque, for example, without high hopes and good intentions, however uncertain the compass and shifting the tides. When one stands amid the rubble of a partnership, then one has not only lost the relationship, but also, the whole world view.”
– James Hollis
When the marital barque breaks up on the shoals of life, the law takes its predetermined course, and lawyers can effect the “legal” direction of that course only so much on issues of money and property. But in the area of the rights of children to keep two parents equally in their lives, your choice of lawyer might make all the difference. Historically mothers’ lawyers all too easily turned fathers into “every other weekend” visitors in the lives of their children. Know the personal views of your lawyer. Will they just as easily act against shared parenting as for it?
“But the times they are a changing.”
Like many men of my generation, I got caught up on campus in the 1960s working for the beginnings of what developed into the modern woman’s movement. For the next couple of decades I remained unaware of or ignored the negative effects modern society ( a new strident victim feminism ) was having on men and children.
While the woman’s movement has successfully advanced their issues onto the public stage, men have only recently begun “coming together to face the mid-life truths of stressful lives; personal isolation; numbing addictions; hidden emotional wounds; and confusion about manhood, money and happiness.”
– (John C. Robinson)
Men are now becoming more and more successful in articulating their own perspective. And what they see is the “victim” feminists strongly resisting changes to the law as it relates to shared parenting.
It is these men I want to help (or the rare mother whose children are primarily with their father and are being denied a meaningful relationship with her).
In simple terms it can be said that the role of the mother over time has been grounded in biology. The role of the father, however, to a much larger extent, has been a learned behavior determined by economic and cultural dictates of a particular society at a particular time in its evolution. Fathers have and do play different roles in different societies in relation to nurturing and raising children. The radical changes in North American society over the past fifty years have shattered many social conventions, not the least of which has been the once sacred institution of marriage. For over a hundred years male lawyers, judges and legislators have conspired against their own sex when they helped create and sustain the myth that men were poor nurturers, had fewer feelings, shouldn’t show what feelings and emotions they did have, were good mainly for sweat and toil, and that women were all things loving and nurturing and the only gender capable of parenting children properly. Changing societal, economic and cultural views of “fatherhood” are causing cracks in that myth.
The Divorce Culture in which we now live has disrupted the nurturing role of the father in the lives of his children, and the children are paying the price. All social and behavioral research on children support keeping fathers equally in the lives of children. (For the very best collection of these studies see Warren Farrell’s new book Father & Child Reunion.)
The vast majority of fathers want desperately to be given an opportunity to adjust to the new reality in ways that will let them parent equally with the mothers. It was impossilbe a few decades ago.But the tide is turning. Over the past few years the courts have advanced shared parenting. Compared to the fear of politicians to make any meaningful changes some judges are progressively moving the agenda in the right direction. Progressive judges now start from the assumption of joint custody as the best result, and leave it to the parent seeking sole to convince them. More and more decisions are coming down ordering equal time shared parenting.
I know from personal experience and my work with men that a father can give just as much nurturing, love and affection to his children as can a mother.
I want to help reframe the debate from one of “gender war” to a health model of gender – for men and women and especially for the sake of the kids.
The report of the Joint House of Commons and Senate Committee looking at the aspects of custody and access came out with its report For the Sake of Children. It was a potential start in the right direction but has been gathering dust on the shelf.
Carey Linde has been practising law for 32 years. In that time, he raised three children to adulthood as a single father parent. He is a member of Vancouver M.E.N., a past member of Seattle M.E.N., and a participant in a men’s group. He obtained his B.A. in psychology and law degree from the University of British Columbia where he was the acting president of the student body and president of his graduating class in law schooI. He is a strong advocate for consensus over conflict, but he won’t avoid the just fight when reason fails. He is a member of the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia and a past member of the American Trial Lawyers Association.
Here are two articles he has written. “A Case for Fathers and Co-Parenting” is a very rough 42-page draft of what he had hoped he could someday develop into something useful for the rights of children. (The over-fifty-footnoted referenced source articles can be purchased from our offices in two three-inch three-ring binders for $200.) But this paper has recently been made obsolete by the publication Warren Farrell’s book Father & Child Reunion. Our paper can be reprinted and used in any fashion provided only that the author gets credit – good or bad!
The central focus of our legal practice is in helping kids see more of their fathers (or moms if dad somehow has sole custody). The men’s and father’s movements, supported by lots of very good women, deserve credit for the change in the courts in the past few years towards recognizing the importance of fathers. There remains an enormous way to go before we approach anything remotely resembling actual equality in the roles of both separated parents, to say nothing of equality in co-parenting and rotating time with children.
Every father who stands up for his children in court against the “maternal preference – primary caregiver – tender years” myth, and demands equal physical time is helping children everywhere.