I have been watching the political party conferences so far and women's issues are always discussed. When it came to childcare put into the same bracket I felt this was in some ways wrong - am I right to feel this way?
Don't get me wrong - anything that helps women have more equal rights to gain employment/ opportunities is a good thing and we have to live in current reality and the childcare does still tend to fall to the female (wrongly)- but I feel it could be looked at as `parental' help and something both parents have a responsibility for or would this be too difficult to have a policy on?
My thoughts on this subject go a bit further regarding maintenance and responsibility for childcare when parents split. Why should the resident parent (usually the mother but not always) have to fund this or face unemployment - their employment opportunities are at the very least restricted by working/school hours already unless shared care is taking place.
I would be interested in you very bright and insightful women's opinions.
missing I quite agree with you about the crap sludgy colours for boys. I can get lovely bright primary colours for DS but only by haunting the sale section of quite posh shops. Oh, and people say H&M is good but I don't have one near me...
DS likes 'helping' with cleaning but invariably makes more of a mess than if I can do it without him. He will certainly have a rota of jobs when he's older, though. Everyone should contribute to housework.
Do you know it never crossed my mind when I bought my DS cleaning things they were not aimed at girls that is a good thing. His smaller dust pan and brush are actually used more than mine!! guess we must only make small messes it does help it just being me and him because he sees me do everything so never things certain jobs are gender specific and he helps with everything not just `boy jobs', he's a cracker (totally biased I know).
No worries avenue, one of my boys liked cleaning he wore out 2 cleaning sets, I brought him, I was getting all excited about him being gay as i had heard it is known from age 3-4 by most of my gay friends... he has turned into the most hetrosexual males on the planet..at 7 but he still can clean a room if his pocket money depends on it.
Oh here is a top moan when he was in his early cleaning frenzy...all the cleaning stuff as in toys where aimed at girls, took us an age to find a purple set...and on the flip side why can I only buy sludg colours for my boys, when there where babies I brought girls babygrows as my boys looked adorabel in Red, and grey and red...along with the anti pink, lets get rid of sludge colours for boys!
My DS asked me aged 4 why his grandma irons and I don't lol
I just said ` I don't like it'.
love my Ds his fav colour is pink he told me yesterday. (I know its late here and i get emotional)
There are more and more women like missingm and I am, who do not tolerate sexist men. The risk is that on divorce if you have a househusband your children will not live with you but (a) half of marriages don't fail and (b) most parents reach an agreement which suits them (c) chidlren over 13 choose with whom they live by and large (d) in shared housework/childcare marriages often you both work anyway.
The missingm post does show how smoe of us simply do not tolerate sexism from the start (my children's father already owned a house and I remember he showed me his system of hanging his shirts - he knew more than I did about that kind of thing and of course I was delighted to leave some of it to him) and it can come down to family backgrounds. Mumsnetters need to look at their days and say am I presenting a picture to my chidlren that women serve and earn nothing and men don't do a stroke at home and just earn money or is the example different - it it example and not our words which counts. I apparently had a great aunt who moved hundreds of miles in the 1920s as a nursing sister who came to London for a long good career (and my grandmother took herself off to work in India for a bit). Some families do seem to have had a long history of strong women who worked and it isn to the case that before say 1960 every woman was at home in her pinny. In fact a lof of us may hav had women in WWII who flew planes, worked in factories and all kinds of things.
(I never wield an iron - Shirley Conran was right years ago to say life is too short to stuff a mushroom and I put ironingin that category).
Can I apologise, the dunce was actually directed at myself the shoes don't buy themselves was if you look back at my Original post I wrote shoes don't but themselves, but I realise that looked like a dig at you. it wasn't.
Xenia that is enlightening as in that is how I think, when I met my husband ! earned more, had house mortgage and car, he has rent, and a stereo those where the days, Our second date I arrived at his and he started to do the pathetic wheel the TV out towel on top and make a attempt to iron a shirt, after a while of ignoring his huffing and puffing, I said I was sorry but I wasn't going to rescue him as I could not believe at 30 he was incapable of ironing a shirt and if he was incapable or did want to be rescued then we had better not go on the date because I was not that woman.
he is self reliant and my Mum always worked and I use her mantra with my DT's both boys, because when I would huff and puff that I couldn't do something as a child, my Mum would say "who is the only person you can rely on in life missing" and I would always say "you" and she would say "no, yourself" she always worked even when she had me, she is proud to say the hospital had been bemused when she didn't leave on marriage in 1968 and but they couldn't do anything she said contra to belief at the time many workplaces abandoned the no working when married in WW II but then never thought to reinstate them after.
she did part of her nurse training in Denmark 1964 and she said she had never seen a clearly pregnant women at work until then and suddenly she was surrounded by them. it was the eye opener she needed.
So when she was pregnant with me she did the same thing brazened it out, and low and behold because the hospital had never dealt with married ladies before, they had absolutely nothing on pregnant married women, lots for the unmarried unfortunately. but that was 69, she was given 6 months unpaid leave and when she returned they put her on nights for a year!, so I was sent to live with my Gran and Grandad, because my Dad worked shifts on the ambulances as well.
my grandad was a supporter of women working (in the way of for their worth not because they had too) he was a factory owner and encouraged my Gran to work and was very proud of her Nursing and ambulance work in the 30's and during the war, Gran didn't marry a well off man to work and proceeded to manage her contraception so she had a child every 5-6 years, 5 in all until I popped up, she always called me her saving grace as my aunt was 6 when I was born (mum eldest) and gran had been trying for another.
maybe gran should not be seen as a icon of feminism but she used her femininity to achieve what she wanted.
This is the long road round to say Yes Dad's should have equal responsibility, these days Dh earns 3 times what I do, but I don't have time to spend money, I want someone to share the responsibility, which he does in spades at the weekend when he gets home.
Oh! and I still don't iron for Dh as I bloody hate it, and I don't do it for DT's 7 if they ever get fashion conscious they can do it themselves like me. my dad and Brother had to.
NewF4J - taking such a far reaching stance will cause more decent, genuine fathers to have to spend the time it took you to go to court IMO.
Sadly not all parents -(this can't be seen as gender specific either) are good ones, some (both genders) have vexations motives... and it is sometimes the applicant that is making a vexatious application to court and as the welfare of the child is paramount - should as you claim all fathers just be given instant access, then when children get hurt in any way the system gets tighter and that hits the applicants harder.
A gentler approach will get much quicker results.
Your post from a web site I have read before gives a very narrow view of the subject and is unhelpful in my opinion as it attacks at every of those many points. Resolution does not work in that way. If the woman is doing what you say she is doing for any of those reasons - attack is not the best form of defence, it is dangerous. Extreme views are always unhelpful no matter what the subject. You are on a feminist thread as I am presuming you feel feminists are extremists - I can't obviusly speak for everyone on here but I just want equality at home and in the workplace - I think it would be more beneficial if you are as caring a father as you say you are if you joined a group that wants equality too. Working together with women not always battling against. Lordurkin sounds like he is and I hope you do getting chatting over PMs.
Divorce and chidlren are very emotive issues. Those of us who are divorced always have strong views and I know lots of women particularly femniists on mumsnet welcome the chance to debate these issues with men.
What I have always lobbied for is fairness at home and work which is all feminism is. What that means is even forcing a man after divorce to have his children 50% of the time so he is doing half the cleaning, childcare, half the mental responsibility of which day is the PE kit taken in and at my kind of income level half of paying for the nanny and fixing the childcare when either husbnd or father has a 5am business flight. Too msany enhanced maternity rights might make some servile mothers who like to rely on men feel good but they are being conned - they ghetto- ise women into the home. Of course women give bith and not all choose to work until they go into labour and return full time after 2 weeks holiday as I did but we ought to be as much praised for doing that as criticised and thankfully we are free to write about how that really benefits babies and families and ensures much more equality in relationships.
Thsi is my advice to men to loko into even before marriage - has she a good career> What was her mother's career? What does she earn? Is she materalistic? Is she lazy? Is the keen to be a housewife? Does she talk about "traditional roles"? HOw does she react if you suggest you might want 3 years at home afte she has 3 at home? Test all that out - do your due diligence/ Don't pick her because of her breast size or because she cooks nice meals.
Secondly the courts maintain the status quo mostly (not always and I accept there is any male bias and a lot of sexist judges out there). So do not let her become a happy little hosuewife dependent on male earnings . However nasty it might feel that you as aman are rushing to collect from nursery or emptying the washer at 12 mid night when you're exhausted from another night up with the baby think of the longer term -0 think of what your wife will earn over 30 years if she is full time adn think about how dreadful your legal position may be if you divorce if she has been a housewfie and avoid that mistake.
Next time round if you are divorced take the advice above. If you she earns 10x what you do (as I did) and adores her work she is not likely to stay home and wash your socks or steal your children on divorce - she will actively want your childcare servces and responisbility at least half the year.
Follow these rules and men will be in a much better position. May be the father on her might like to refer other men to this advice. It does work.
On the childbenefit and tax credits side in my view they should be split 50.50 as long as the parents have the children 3 or 4 days a wek on average and provided they are splitting costs. For families on my income level I have never had a tax credit in my life but for lots of parents they are a big issue and it is unfair on men and women that the one who has the child just slightly less does not get the benefit. As a flat tax supporter who wants rid of all allowances I would rid us of all child benefits and tax credits anyway but there we are. They are here for now. There is nothing to stop parents agreeing to divide those payments of course.
I always encourage women to earn more (and men for that matter) . See entrepreneurs threads etc. people struggling post divorce should also consider 6 or 7 day a week working as many of we single mothers do at times and second and weekend jobs to help financially.
A last point to NewF not all women are like that. Most men and women amicable sort out contact and finances. For those few who don't it is painful and horrible. I didn't feel particularly happy to pay my children's father such massive sums which he never earned. I dont' think anyone should benefit from money they did not earn and I think if a parent refuses an agreed contact visit or perhaps 3 in a rwo the sanction should be harder than it now is. Similarly if a father is moer than 15 minutes late on 3 weeks in a row he should lose contact for 3 months after that. People whatever their sex can be horrible and mess others around and they are not penalised for that at all.
As a committed father, I spent £15000 over two years in the family law courts to obtain regular access to my daughter against the mothers will who seemed to think I was going to be shut out of her life following our separation.
Having been through hell I now have a court order for my daughter to live with me approximately 170 days/nights a year.
I lost my job of 20 years in 2010 and took any job i could find as never been on benefits in my life. From my current earnings of £9000 a year I have to house, cloth, feed myself plus house, cloth, feed my child for 150 days a year.
Mother earns £40,000 plus a year, I earn £9000.
Mother gets child benefit and tax credit, Im not entitled to any.
Lets not forget the £15000 debt I am repaying because of this scum of a mother and the corrupt, biased system thats in place.
And yet the Child Abuse Agency still hound me and steal from my pay packet.
missingmumxox....do the maths....dunce!
shoe shoes don't buy themselves.. Dunce
NFFJ calm down, I don't know what you hope to achieve? I agree on the fact some women do use children, but rarely have I seen it one sided, I can not tell you how many times I have had to listen to the full ins and outs of a relationship by a father and how his ex is using the children, to finish with "why should I pay her money! that is what benefits are for!"
I remember the week of the crying men..3 in a week, all had had affairs, all teenage children involved and interesting male children apart from 1 girl and all the children had refused contact but interestingly not the girl, I think the male mind might be more black and white, but I don't know, her brothers had refused contact, and in all cases the father was withholding money for lack of contact which is what they told me at the start but as the hours mounted up and the sobbing went on they told me they had never paid money at the start, moved out, then returned then moved out again to girlfriend, I don't work in SS, Court I am nothing to do with this area of law, but it affects their work and they end up in front of me, I send them to counseling and we have had 1 breakthrough,
school shoes don't but themselves.
I have no doubt you are one of the good guys in this but there are too many bad ones and ranting does not help the cause.
says me who does know a good guy and I am supporting him in every way I can, and he is winning the war without ranting at "women"
Jesus ( sorry if that offends) I am a slow typist, NFFJ its taken me since his first post to type my post
The irony here is that I think a radical overhaul of parental responsibilities, practical and legal, would be a good thing all round. I would love to see men more involved in all aspects of their children's care, and taking a bigger role in their lives - and for mothers in general to take less of a hit in financial and career terms. I don't see how one is possible without the other.
but then I see rants like that (no - i didn't read the whole thing) and think - well, clearly we can't talk sensibly about it, so it's not going to happen. I'm sorry for your troubles fella, but you're shooting yourself in the foot.
Hi New here, but not to Mumsnet, Don't get cross with me..but feel free to correct.
I found that childcare has become the responsibility of a lot of my friends as in the (Mum) because when they had their children they where then on mat leave and thus "felt" (wrongly I feel) because they weren't working they should take on all the responsibility, other half would then offer to take over say for a afternoon while they went out, much kudos then given to said partner for being so good and caring (quite rightly but they don't need kudos they should be anyway and where is Mums?)
when they returned something would have happened, nappy on back to front, baby fallen from from changing table, forgotten a feed because baby slept through, didn't use the correct wipes, didn't bath baby before bed..these are all real life examples I can remember...I can't trust them! and as the minor offenses mounted up the control of all things child became Mum's responsibilty and the withdrawal of partner.
nights out when my Dt's where babies where a nightmare, partner would phone up and say DB was crying and they had done the obvious, feed, change, comfort and take temp, in a few cases I suspect partner couldn't hack it any more and those partners are out of order, Mum's are expected to get on with it, most wanted advice or didn't want a row when Mum came home because Db was still awake, and some because they where genuinely worried, some Mum maybe asked for a rescue call.
queue pub slowly emptying out and only the few left.
the first time I went out DT's where 10 days old one still in SCBU, childless friends who all helped us so much in those early years, he went out for 1.5 hours came home and I went out for 1.5 hours (can't work out how to do a half and it wasn't done on a stop watch ) as I left home, he gave me a thumbs up and I gave him the words "don't phone me unless when I return I would be greeted by blue lights outside the house" hardest 1.5 I have ever done, I could hear babies crying every where and I had to force myself to stay, twas much easier after the first glass of wine
he has forgotten to feed them as toddlers then wondered why they got fractious, he has had periods of unemployment and had to do it all, and because he like most Mums has made his mistakes in private then told me about it (maybe not all I know I haven't told him all my silly mistakes), he has never seen it as my job, to the point until this year our Dt's are 7 I have never had to take more than 2 days off for illness and that was because I was ill too, his employers have always had a more enlightened parenting policy (more on that theory later I fear a tick box of Dads getting parental leave) it has always until he has been self employed and working 150 miles away easy for him to get time off work for care he lives away Mon to Fri now.
In case you are wondering I used partner as I have 2 lesbian friends with partners and I really didn't see any difference in the dynamics after the first few months, there was a lot of 2 Mums theory but the one working came off worse or better depending on your viewpoint.
and after sounding so virtuous you have no idea how many times I have had to repeat under my breath "He is not wrong, he just does it differently" to remind myself that I would be all sympathetic to a friend if they had gone throught the same but it wasn't my DC.
May I point you in the directions of our Talk Guidelines?
Different kind of fathers groups .... More helping dads (single or not) to spend time with their children.
In my personal life I am lucky to be in a very stable long term relationship with my children's mother. But was very closely involved in helping a few other dads with access problems.
If I was to open a thread in the chat section of this site would you participate on it. I still believe that with a calm approach there could be bridges built and not the state of war that seems to so often happen on this kind of discussion.
Feel free to PM me to talk off of here
LL - derailing threat, maybe. But you read it, right.... and it has valid points...right. You said you have been involved in several fathers groups yourself...so you had problems with access too I guess?
NF4J This is not helpful and is derailing a thread. If you came here to talk then by all means start a thread and we will talk. But a cut and paste document is not talking at all.
<Peace and Love>
WHY DOES THE MOTHER WANT TO GET RID OF THE FATHER?
There is no clear cut answer to this. In some cases it is done with intent by the mother to get rid of the father, while in other case the situation just gets out of hand and drifts to the point where PAS just becomes one more step in the wrong direction. A survey of NewFathers4Justice members showed the following variety of reasons. In many cases there will be several different reasons combined.
There are many reasons why a mother should want the children to hate the father. Some of these are listed below.
1. The mother wants to start a new life and wants the father out of the way. She may be more successful than he is. He is seen as an encumbrance.
2. The mother wants money/property from the father and uses the children as bargaining pawns.
3. The mother hates the father and uses the children as weapons.
4. The mother is possessive and wants all the childrens love.
5. The mother is jealous of the love/gifts the father gives the child but not to her.
6. The mother cannot cope with her own life. Contact with the father in any form is difficult for her. It is a common statement by fathers that the mother suffers from depression. Sometimes PMT, when rows are likely to flare up over minor incidents, and lead to greater hostility.
7. Disappointment. She feels he is unworthy to be a father and doesn't deserve the children.
8. The mother is egged on by other women hostile to men. Typically if she is in a group of single mothers.
9. The mother uses access to control the children (if you don't behave then you can't see daddy).
10. The mother can't compete with the father who may be able to give the children more treats in the short time he sees them. The children may boost him at her expense, and typically demand more from her.
11. The children may be the only aspect of control the mother has, so uses it to boost her own esteem rather than for the interests of the children. This is the power motive more commonly seen in men.
12. The mother may still like the father and uses the children as a means of controlling him.
13. The mother may be punishing the fathers new partner indirectly as the father may know that he could see the children if it wasn't for the new partner.
14. The mother may be independent and never wanted a man around anyway apart from fathering her children (entrapment). Or she may have gained independence during the marriage and now wants to exploit it.
15. As often quoted, the mother may see children as a way of getting a house, welfare money, and other benefits. The father was always incidental in the matter.
16. Some women actually believe that men are not interested in their children.
17. The mother assumes hostility by the father towards her is also towards the children, so 'protects' them by keeping him away.
18. The mother has a different lifestyle to the father, and does not want the children to copy his way of life.
19. The mother may have no family of her own (typically foreign wives), whereas the father may have a family. The mother regards the child as 'her family'.
20. The mother may become emotionally dependent upon the child, and regard any affections the child has for the father as depriving her.
21. The mother simply regards the child as her property, and sees the father as making a claim on her 'possessions'.
22. The mother dislikes the fathers new partner, who she sees as a rival 'mother', so prevents the child seeing the father.
23. The mother's new partner is the one who is preventing contact because he wishes to be seen as the 'daddy'.
24. She fears the children will leave her for him.
25. She wants to prove to her new partner that he is the only man in her life.
26. She may have come from a broken family, and not be able to sustain a relationship.
27. The father is a constant reminder of the failed relationship that she prefers to forget.
28. She may be starting a new involvement, or having difficulties with the existing one, and doesn't want the children to tell the father about her affairs.
THE IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING WHY THE MOTHER DOES IT.
If you know why the mother behaves as she does then you are in a much better position to deal with the situation. A mother who has another partner will want the father out of her life for the simple reason that it makes her life complicated to have him around. The childs needs are secondary. On the other hand a mother who lives in a house owned by the father and relies on his goodwill for extras over and above maintenance, might be alienating the children as a means of getting the property or getting more money. In such a case the situation might be open to negotiation.
WHAT ARE THE FACTORS TO CONSIDER?
As the main aim of the mother is to stop all contact, while the main aim of the father is to gain all contact there are a number of factors that can be assessed to give the father an idea of his chances.
1. The age of the children. The older the better.
2. The locality of the children. The nearer the better.
3. The number of children. The more the better.
4. The independence of the mother. The less the better.
5. The friends and relatives of the mother and father. The more the better.
6. The resources of the father. The more the better.
7. The mobility and availability of the father. The greater the better.
It is a mistake of many fathers to assume that the matter is in the hands of the court, and decisions made there are the essential ones. The reality is that the courts decisions are only one aspect of the situation. The mother has her own life to live, and she will have the same problems as most people, probably more, so she will not want to add to those by devoting her life to being obstructive. She will only do it so long as she can get away with it without too much effort. The children also have their own lives to live and they will not want to give up the father just to please the mother. They may obey or reflect her wishes, but only so long as they have no choice. Experience has shown that in most cases where the father has kept in contact with his children he will see them again. The fathers own situation will change. What seems to be an insurmountable problem today may seem solvable in a years time.
HAVING A PLAN IS IMPORTANT.
When a father first realises he is going to lose contact with his children his feelings go from disbelief, through despair, anger, depression, confusion, and a total sense of injustice. It is based on the assumption that 'everyone' knows how important it is for children to have the support of their father, and that he obviously loves them, and they love him. Such notions are unfortunately naive. The law is itself very confused. A court that refuses to send a single-mother to jail for stopping contact will send that same mother to jail for refusing to pay a parking ticket or her TV licence. Such inconsistences will be found throughout the law, and even when the law is clear, experience shows that its interpretation and application is more suited to the beliefs of the judiciary than the children.
Having a plan means looking at the situation logically rather than emotionally. You have to write out all the advantages and disadvantages of yourself, the mother, and the child.
a) You are highly motivated, and where there's a will there's a way.
b) You will be in the company of many other fathers who can offer advice and support.
c) There is a growing recognition by the courts and society generally of the importance of the fathers role.
d) The situation is changing to your advantage as the children grow up as in almost every case known the child wishes to have contact with the father.
a) You will miss out on the childhood years of your child.
b) Other aspects of your life will suffer in many ways due to your distress.
c) You will be unable to plan for the future in any way that will include your child.
d) Much of your time, money, and resources, will be spent on the problem without much to show for it.
THE MOTHERS ADVANTAGES:
a) She has the children and the law backing her.
b) She is probably able to get legal aid and other forms of financial support.
c) She will be in contact with numerous other single-mothers who will support her actions.
THE MOTHERS DISADVANTAGES:
a) The nature of PAS is itself the behaviour of someone who is distressed, so she will not be a happy person.
b) She will know that the children will be mixing with other children who have fathers, and that her children will be aware of this.
c) She will not be able to offer the experiences and support of a father. The children will have a higher than normal chance of suffering educationally, emotionally, and socially. She will have to compensate for this in some way at the expense of her own life.
d) She will know that when the children reach an age of independence they will almost certainly try to contact the father, and she may even lose them altogether.
THE CHILDRENS ADVANTAGES:
a) There are no advantages for a child to have its parents separated, or if separated, not to have free access to both, but children get older, and with time question the mothers behaviour.
b) The disadvantages are losing one half of its family and all the support and experiences that represents. A higher than average chance of suffering from many social problems, which may include repeating the cycle over again.
OUTLINING A PLAN.
1. The first stage is looking for direct contact with the mother and child. Can you meet, write, or phone. If you can, then each instance should include some aspect of continuity. Give your child stamped addressed postcards to send before your next meeting. If the child is old enough give them a phone card. You can even get a 'family' phone card so your child can phone you from anywhere in the world. If the mother allows it, pay for comics and magazines to be sent to your child so that they are reminded of you regularly. Give your child a couple of phone numbers of people they trust who they can contact if they want to speak to someone.
2. If you are not allowed to contact your child, ask friends and relatives to do so on your behalf. Get them to send invites and gifts (even if you have to pay for them). If the mothers friends and relatives are still in contact with you, see if they will give you news of the situation. Try to retain good relations with them.
3. Apart from friends and relatives, the mother and child will have contacts at school, clubs, playgroups, and various local places where the mother and child go. There will be people who make contact with the mother and child and may be able to give you information about them. Remember, the mothers strategy is to block off all information to you. If you are aware that your child plays in the local football team on Saturdays at the park then this will give you some satisfaction from both seeing your child and not being controlled by the mother.
4. Can you participate in your childs activities? If you are not actually banned from seeing your child, or from seeing only on certain occasions, then you might be able to be a school or club helper. In spite of some mothers choosing to interpret 'defined contact' as the maximum, in fact it is the minimum. You would not be breaking a contact order if you went to a school play or sports event on days outside of your contact providing you went for the event and not to have a one-to-one contact with your child. The same applies if you were a helper in your childs school.
5. You can create situations that help you without meeting anyone directly connected to your child. Participating in local events will often enable you to get seen and known by people who know the mother and child. If you can involve yourself in activities that get the attention of your child, or children who know your child then the chances are that it will get back to them. School and club outings, Council sponsored events, charity shows, library exhibitions, and the like are all places that require helpers. Being helpful and seen can pay off in unexpected ways.
6. You can also get known by having letters published in local papers and forming groups of other fathers locally. If the mother knows you are presenting your case in a public way (without crossing legal constraints) then she will know it reflects on her. What she wants is for you to disappear. If you have a high profile in the community then obviously you are not going to disappear, and she knows that it is a problem best resolved by acting with more regard for the child.
7. Chance is a factor. It is quite common for NewFathers4Justice members to meet their children by chance in local places. You can increase the chances by being in the right place at the right time. It is not a good idea to pursue this line, but simply be aware of it.
8. Ultimately the answer is for better laws and a more enlightened court system. That will not come easily, but if it is to come at all then it needs every little help it can get. Most fathers finding themselves in this situation quickly learn that the 'legal path' doesn't lead anywhere most of the time. Some members have spent huge sums of money on legal fees without getting results. Just imagine that money being directed to advertising our case in papers, magazines, and letters to authorities. The results would be more significant. In spite of this it is easier to get most fathers to spend several thousand pounds on solicitors fees than to get them to write to their MP and complain. One of the best boosts you will get is knowing that someone in authority has read your letter and given it consideration. You can learn to write letters by reading what others have written. Even if your letter does not get published, the paper you write to will publish similar letters because it knows the subject is controversial.
Overall your plan is to do something. If you can do something that directly contacts your child then do that. If you can do something that indirectly contacts your child then do that. If you can do something that keeps up your fathering skills do that. If you can do something that promotes our cause generally, then do that. If you can do none of these, then at least keep yourself busy so that you do not get depressed or in a state that leaves you open to the criticism of not being a capable father even if given the chance.
BEHAVIOUR PATTERNS OF THE MOTHER.
The most common pattern of the mother is to show that 'she is in control'. She will do that in a variety of ways ranging from ignoring you to humiliating you. Paradoxically she is able to do it on the basis that you love your child so much you will put up with it. If you didn't love your child you would walk away, she assumes you will not, so will push her control as far as she can. Here are common examples. In most cases the mothers do not take the children away with any clear cut strategy in mind, it is usually an extension of normal hostile reactions going through the sequence of :
(2) Hostile silence
(3) Restricted communication
(4) No communication
(5) Hostile action.
1. To insist that you come and go exactly at the times she stipulates. If you are late or early she will make you suffer for it in some way.
2. She will insist that you detail where you take the child and under what conditions. She will not inform you of anything she does with the child.
3. She will make changes to arrangements you have with the child but not give you these changes until the last minute. If you complain you will lose the contact time. If you have to change arrangements she will simple refuse to accept the changes and you will lose contact time.
4. She will deliberately offer the child alternative events on your days and then say the child has chosen the alternative event. She will make you choose to insist on your contact time or allow the child to do the other thing so that you will appear mean to stop the child.
5. She will duplicate gifts you give the child to undermine the value the child puts on it.
6. She will hide, break, or deliberately be careless with things you give your child.
7. She will deliberately misinterpret anything you do or say to the point where you will think twice about doing or saying anything.
8. She may ask for extra money for the child, and present the request in such a way that it obviously implies you will lose out on contact if you don't make the offer.
9. She will write to inform you of changes in contact times but post the letter so that it cannot possibly reach you in time.
10. She will not keep you informed of the childs well being, education reports, activities or anything that you might expect as a parent.
11. If you do anything to help the child the mother may thank you in a way she might thank a stranger doing a favour.
12. Should you buy the child clothes she will criticise your taste or understanding of the childs needs.
13. She will criticise your home, friends, and life style. She will use any of these as an excuse to stop contact.
14. She will tell the child that the court 'doesn't allow it to see the father more than on the court order' when in fact the court order only states the minimum contact time.
15. She will allow the child to miss homework during the week so that it has to be done in your contact time, so vying with anything else you will have arranged.
16. She will interpret your contact time as being the total amount of time available for all purposes. If your parents want to see their grandchild it will have to come out of your contact time.
17. If she sees you in the street when she is with the child she will ignore you and force the child to do the same.
18. If you participate in school/club events and see your child there she will tell your that you are not allowed to do it. She may well contact the school and inform them (incorrectly) that the court has banned you from such events.
19. If you have a new partner she will insist that the new partner is not involved in contact times as it distresses the child.
20. If you send your child gifts on special occasions they will get 'overlooked' on the day.
21. If you phone your child and she takes the phone she will say the child is busy or out. If the child takes the phone she will listen in or interrupt the child.
22. She will constantly remind you of your shortcomings as a father in front of the child. Any replies to this will be regarded as 'rowing in front of the children'.
In all, the mother will look for any way of undermining your position in the knowledge that if you retaliate in kind she can stop contact and use your retaliation as evidence of your attitude towards her (not the child). It will be her intent to use such provocative behaviour to push you past your limits and act in a way that can be quoted against you.
KEEP A RECORD OF THESE INSTANCES. If she has a solicitor you might send it to him/her and ask for the mother to be reminded that such behaviour is disturbing to the child as well as provoking unnecessary rows. You may have to arrange to meet up in a neutral territory so that the mother has less chance of doing these things.
NewFathers4Justice gets hundreds of cases of PAS. The most common being a foreign wives or women with a history of emotional illness. In most cases the mother needs help. It seems that only a small percentage of mothers who indulge in PAS are normal, stable, and independent. These would more typically be professional women who have another partner and exploit loopholes in the law to get rid of the father. NewFathers4Justice also gets many letters from grandparents who lose their grandchildren, and second wives who suffer (often intentionally) from the mothers behaviour towards the father in using the children as weapons.
The reason fathers suffer is that most studies of broken families are carried out by women for women. This is not to say they are carried out against fathers but simply the fathers side has not been given full consideration. It is only now that this is happening, and is more the outcome of the Child Support Agency investigations than a study of fatherhood in itself. It is for this reason that NewFathers4Justice has to rely upon our members own experiences to get the information needed for progress to be made.
1. Fathers who can stay in contact with their children somehow or other will almost certainly gain regular access to them again.
2. Fathers who can retain some form of communication with the mother will probably regain access.
3. Fathers who have some form of network, family, neighbours, friends, etc.,who can keep in contact with the child or mother will probably regain access.
4. Fathers who rely on the court system to help them will certainly be disappointed.
This may seem an extreme action, but look at who is actually involved in your case.
1. Your solicitor. He will certainly have your best interests at heart, but it is still work for him whether he wins or loses.
2. The Court Welfare Officer. She will doing at least one case a week. At most she will only have about three hours to discuss your case, and probably two days to write it up. It is likely that her decision will be made on her personal reaction to those involved rather than on the evidence. Court reports are notorious for being full of mistakes, misinterpretations, and omissions. Also, even though CWO may be well- intended, sympathetic, and knowledgeable, in the end they carry no weight in court. The report may be completely ignored by the court. This hardly motivates the CWO to produce much more than an outline of the case. Apart from this, most CWO's take on the job as a second career. Many have very little experience or training in the area of child welfare. If they are women, then it is likely they have more experience at being mothers than being court officers. This is often reflected in their assessments. It is a very common experience for fathers to have the CWO tell him how well he can cope with his children, only to find the court report stating the very opposite.
A good CWO is probably your best friend. If they like you, and believe you have a good case they will give you better unbiased advice than anyone else. It is a pity that they have little power to help in a more practical way.
3. The Magistrate. Family law magistrates are predominantly women, and likely to be mothers. Though well intended, they may well feel that what is good for the mother is good for the child. This is not malice on the part of the magistrates. A typical magistrate may well have been a legal secretary for thirty years prior to becoming a magistrate. They have a background in legal technicalities, but not years of training that allow the broad interpretations of the law to be applied. Many apply the law in the sense that a traffic warden applies the Highway code. In all, you are better off if you can avoid having your case tried in a Magistrates court.
4. The Judge. At County Court level you will get a mixture of Judges. The worst are those who feel it is beneath them to deal with the 'litigant in person'. It is well known that some Judges will always turn down a father who presents his own case. Others are simply out of touch with what is going on, or use the court for their own performance. Because the court is what it is, one cannot act and say as one would in other circumstances, but a just look through a book of aphorisms relating to Law and Judges will show that they haven't changed all that much over the ages.Of course, a good Judge is one who can help. But as the above letters show, the Judges insistence that a mother obeys the court order is no guarantee that she will.
5. The Mother's solicitor. He/she is your worst enemy. It is to his benefit if he can 'win' - by which we mean take your children away from you, or at least keep the matter going for years. The mothers solicitor represents the mother, not the child.
6. The Child Psychiatrist. These generally agree the problem is between the parents and not the father and child. Most will advise mediation. Most mothers refuse. Most Judges will not insist on counselling between the parents, though in the USA this is now a common approach and a successful one. Most child Psychiatrists and Psychologists agree that the courts are a waste of time in resolving family problems.
IS THERE HOPE?
'Parental Alienation' is emotional child abuse. The Health department has no clear definition of what 'emotional abuse' is. This means that a 'emotional child abuse' is rarely - if ever - acted upon. It is only acted upon as an extension of Neglect, Physical, or Sexual Abuse when investigated by Social Services. For the courts to accept 'emotional abuse' as evidence would require calling in Social Services. That is expensive and time consuming, so courts avoid it if possible, in spite of the evidence.
Also, the standard answer from the Lord Chancellor's department is that 'It would not be in the child's best interests if the mother was sent to jail for disobeying a court order'. This of course, implies that it is in the child's best interest to lose it's father forever. In spite of that, the Criminal court will, and have sent several single- parent mothers to jail for leaving their children at home alone. They do so on the basis of the child being 'emotionally abused', but in terms of neglect.
IF YOU CANNOT GO TO THE COURTS, WHAT DO YOU DO?
In practice you cannot avoid the courts totally, but they should be used as a last resort. If you consider your situation in terms of war then there are three possible outcomes:
1. One side wins.
2. Neither side wins or can win, but they stay in a state of hostility and fight a war of attrition.
3. Peace is negotiated.
The problem here is that if the mother has been given custody she has no reason to negotiate. But there are two cases where she might.
a. If she wants something from you.
It is obvious if she wants money, property, etc. This is common enough, but she may want something that is not obvious, and she is not prepared to tell you. It could be a change in attitude towards her. The above list of 'Why mothers want to get rid of the father' will offer some clues on this.
b. If it becomes too much of a problem.
This is where the courts can be useful. The nature of the system means that everything takes longer than it should. It will generally be inefficient - losing papers, adjourning hearings, sending the wrong forms, etc. This overall bumbling can be put to good use. If you have already lost your children, and effectively have nothing more to lose, then you can continually make new applications, query everything that comes along, send letters to her solicitor, demand ongoing information, etc. By keeping the issue going the mother will realise that you are not going to abandon your children. She may well feel that it is not worth the trouble, and eventually ease up on restrictions. Also remember that her life is not plain sailing. She will have problems. She or the children might be ill, and you are the only person around who can help. If you make it clear in all you correspondence that you are open to putting the past in the past then chance may well favour you.
THE LAST WORD
Tens of thousands of fathers lose their children every year. Those (most) that want to keep up meaningful relationships with their children fight an uphill battle due to inbuilt bias in the legal system, lethargy by Family support systems, confusion and ill-defined policies by government authorities.
This is offset by the fact that the media is increasingly highlighting the problems of broken families. The social problems that spin-off from broken families results in cost to the government, and indirectly, concern to solve those problems. Fatherless families are now a political problem as well. Most of all, the increasing use of communications among NewFathers4Justice members, and allying ourselves with similar groups of both fathers and mothers separated from their children is now paying off. The recognition of PAS officially would in itself effectively block a major loophole in the law, with the subsequent benefits for children. This is the aim NewFathers4Justice.
Yes there are many fathers out there who do want to be involved in their kids lives and be fully involved in the care of their children. But perhaps you could be so kind as to direct me to where I can find them.
Having been involved in several fathers projects while my children were younger that were trying to get dads involved in their children's lives you would have expected me to have met rather a lot of them. Guess what ... we had the same core of dads show up to nearly everything and the majority actually didnt seem that fussed. More often than not if it clashed with football they went and watched the match. Or if there was something at the pub then they went to the pub.
And before you accuse me of being a man hating bitch yes I am a man.
I don't doubt you have been to hell and back with regards to your children and as a parent you have my deepest sympathy and regards. But coming on here to rant isn't going to help your cause at all.
The ironic thing is F4J could if the rhetoric and hatred was dropped work very well with the good people over here at Mumsnet and make a real difference to the lives of children. All anyone on either side seems to ask for is for fairness for all. (once you get past the almost hateful speech sometimes)
Sadly there are many fathers out there who would love nothing more than to provide care for their child but cannot because of the evil mothers who prevent contact and the biased family justice system. Following seperation with my daughters mother, she had the idea we were over therefore my involvement as a father was over! I'd been the primary carer for our daughter following the mothers return to work after maternity leave until our seperation when my daughter was 14 months. All of a sudden because we were no longer together i'm this womanising, unstable, unfit, violent alcoholic that my daughter needs protecting from. And so the war began....to cut a long story short i spent £15,000, made 27 court appearences, faced some horrific false allegations including my allegedly exposing my daughter to sexual activity, which resulted in suspension of my contact until investigated, had a 4 hour psychological assessment ordered by the court, cafcass report after report, contact centre visits, police arrest after arrest......and why......all because my scum of an ex was using our daughter as a weapon...disgraceful! Thankfully i sit her today with a contact order in place giving me 170 day/nights contact relieved this scum did not succed. I'm lucky, thankfully the courts, police etc eventually saw her for what she was and she was told at court that if any further unfounded allegations were made a residence order in my favour would be considered. The battle for justice is demanding and many fathers haven't got the strength lose hope. Those women reading this who know they have abused their position by systematicaly removing the father of their child, should hang their heads in shame.
Childcare should be a parent or family issue - not just a woman's issue. Of course.
But for nearly all families I know, the template for parental responsibility was set when the children were babies - when mum took some parental leave, or went part time, and was responsible for sorting out any appointments, arrangements, care etc.
There is no real reason why it should be mums at the school gates rather than dads, but it's almost like having taken the initial 'hit' in terms of work and career, that's just the way it carries on.
I don't think most dads WANT more responsibility for their children, or their children's care. If they did, things would be changing pretty damn fast. The reality is, a very unequal division of labour in terms of parenting suits men down to the ground - until a marriage breaks up, and then they find they are considered to be the 'minor' parent (less knowledgeable and skilled than a mother, less involved in their children's lives) with consequences for custody and access.
The problem with nearly all 'women's issues' is that they involve men too. For women of my generation with children (I am 40), it is not enough to say 'I deserve a place at the career table'. We have to say 'I deserve a place at the career table AND IN ORDER TO MAKE THAT WORK, I NEED THE FATHER IF MY CHILDREN TO TAKE ON MORE PARENTING AND HOUSEHOLD RESPONSIBILITIES.'
Which will have an inevitably limiting consequence one way or another on the father's career. no matter how much we point out that they will have a better relationship with their children etc, most men won't sign up for that when it comes to the crunch.
So to that extent, it will remain a 'women's issue'. Which depresses me no end.
Many pensioners pay income tax, and it couldn't really chop and change all that much. The unwaged partner would have to have paid no tax in that year surely, and also intend to pay no tax otherwise it would get insanely complex.
What happens if your partner gets made redundant, you want to get a job to support the family, you've already spent your personal allowance? Expensive. Or your wage earning partner legs it, but they've already spent your personal allowance...?
I think it would leave the unwaged partner quite vulnerable.
To be honest, it has applicability outside parenting.
One partner is unable to work....
One partner has retired....
Where I think Xenia and I might agree is that the government already takes enough tax from the income of people. This alleviates the tax burden in a couple.
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