Childcare

(80 Posts)
avenueone Sun 30-Sep-12 23:28:14

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.

BexFactor Sun 30-Sep-12 23:40:03

I agree with you.

I blame the mums though. Of those I know, they all take 100 per cent responsibility for childcare - doing the nursery drop offs and pick ups and also those that do part time. They could all encourage their partners to do some stuff too, but they don't. Or they could chose not to have children with sexist useless men. Sadly it's the women perpetuating the myth that childcare is woman's work.

Did you watch the Hilary Devey programme on BBC 2 recently, Women At The Top? There was a woman on there saying it was really hard to juggle work and home life. So she went part time. Her partner doing more for the kids/home was never mentioned. She freely admitted her career was over. Very sad really.

avenueone Sun 30-Sep-12 23:52:40

Thanks Bex - I do agree that women are to blame in many ways and it was mainly women who were speaking at the conferences about it. I did feel you are not doing us any favours here.
I don't have anyone to share the care - I picked one so useless blush however I still didn't like feeling that just females `need' help from the state for childcare.
I didn't see the programme but have seen similar with the same results. I agree very sad. Maybe it is where I live but I have really struggled finding men who have feminist views. I am probably one of the older mums on here and have to say I see a slight shift in younger men but have I been accidentally wearing those pink rose tinked goggles again wink

avenueone Sun 30-Sep-12 23:52:55

* tinted lol

EatsBrainsAndLeaves Mon 01-Oct-12 08:56:09

I share your frustration with this OP. of course childcare shouldnt be a women's issue, it should be a parent's issue. And normally only women politicians talk about it as so many male politicians dont seem concerned about it.

I think it is a bit unfair to blame women though for being concerned about it. Often they end up being the ones concerned about childcare because their male partners abdicate the responsibility to them. And somebody has to sort out and think of childcare at the end of the day. The book Wife Work explains this kind of situation really well.

noviceoftheday Mon 01-Oct-12 09:05:33

male politicians don't talk about childcare because typically it is not an issue that concerns them because they have someone taking care of it for them. I don't think that one has to marry a feminist man, but I do think a woman has to be prepared to do two things: 1. not take on the role of what i call the "senior" parent and 2. if a man stops doing his fair share then not to accept the status quo. So the latter for me that means that you don't allow a man to abdicate responsibility for childcare because that means that you naturally slot into that senior parent role.

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 01-Oct-12 11:50:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FrothyDragon Mon 01-Oct-12 12:04:39

"Of those I know, they all take 100 per cent responsibility for childcare - doing the nursery drop offs and pick ups and also those that do part time."

Just because they "take 100% responsibility" doesn't mean they choose to. From the moment females are born, we're moulded and coerced into a "caring role". I mean, just look at what we see marketed to our children. If women are taking responsibility for childcare, surely it's worth questioning why the man feels his parental responsibility permits him to terminate the parental responsibility when it suits him, whilst maintaining his rights. Men get, what I call, the "frills-only" contract of parental responsibility. Anything they can't be arsed to do gets passed over to the mother. However, anything the mother can't be arsed to do earns her the label "bad mother". Just look at the disrepancies in how mothers and fathers are viewed. Men have to do less to be praised as fathers, and they have to do something horrendous to be labelled a bad father. To be labelled a bad mother, a mother just has to act like a "good" father. What we perceive an "excellent father" would, by the same standards, be an average mother.

BexFactor Mon 01-Oct-12 12:37:07

I think the sisterhood need to take a bit of responsibility themselves for changing things, Stewie and from my own experience, a lot don't.

Which leads on to Frothy's point... Women are moulded to fit this role. It's hard work to break that but from what I see, many just won't. They sigh and say, 'oh well, I could fight or I could just get on with this and put up with it'. So they just put up with it and their men take advantage.

There's another interesting thread on MN about how women are expected to be good parents and how men are positively saintly if they do tiny things. Again this goes back to all of us having responsibility for breaking the molds and changing perceptions - and yes, as 50% of the population, half the job, possibly more, is ours.

Meglet Mon 01-Oct-12 12:41:08

bex I tried to get my XP to do his share of parenting. I usually got a mouthful of abuse. I certainly didn't put up with it and threw him out in the end.

I think this smacks of victim blaming, to me.

Instead of asking "Why doesn't she leave her abuse husband?" it is revolutionary to ask: "Why does he give himself permission to abuse her?" -because it puts the responsibility on the person who is doing the wrong thing.

Instead of asking "Why do women do all the childcare rather than row with their husbands? Why don't they have more fight in them?" (because they love their children, don't want to see them suffer, and are exhausted/beaten down by a sexist world, durrr!) it is revolutionary to ask "Why are men doing less than their fair share, being inadequate or lazy parents, not attentive and loving enough to their spouses and children, and given a free fucking pass by society to do all this?"

Blaming women for not fighting back more/harder/at all just gives men a free pass to keep doing it.

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 01-Oct-12 12:44:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 01-Oct-12 12:49:22

Bex, some women have to assume responsibility as the men folk are blooming useless. XP forgot to pick DS from school and was generally crap in many other ways. I didn't trust him and ended up doing everything myself.

AbigailAdams Mon 01-Oct-12 12:52:41

Well said blackcurrants

BexFactor Mon 01-Oct-12 12:53:06

Indeed blackcurrents. We should be asking those questions - but not just leave it to politicians and feminists in the media. It's up to us to ask those questions of our partners, brothers and sons and my point is that so many women don't. I understand what you mean about women not having the energy to have that argument after they've spent all day doing everything themselves- which is why it's so important to have that convo long before you have DC.

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 01-Oct-12 12:55:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 01-Oct-12 12:56:58

StewieGriffinsMom, indeed, I had no reason to suspect XP was a lazy piece of shit until I became pregnant.

AbigailAdams Mon 01-Oct-12 12:57:54

And if the man moves the goalposts after you have had children or while you are pregnant? You can have all the talks in the world the man still has to step up in a society which positively reinforces him doing not very much childcare at all. Putting this responsibilty on individual shoulders to come out from oppression is not fair.

BexFactor Mon 01-Oct-12 13:02:02

The men I see that are useless have come from equally useless dads who didn't do anything either. The ones who are useless have never been asked by their partners what they will do with regards to childcare (everyone assumes it will be the woman and then it is).

On the other hand the relationships with a more modern, progressive, forward thinking dad involved are the ones where they actually do stuff with their children (go part time, do their fair share).

Maybe if we said this isn't acceptable and stop breeding with these idiot males we might get rid of them eventually. grin

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 01-Oct-12 13:03:24

As a parent what are you supposed to do if the other one doesn't rise to the challenge? Someone has to be adult about it and take the responsibility, it just usually happens to be the woman for various reasons that we all understand.

Nobody in their right mind would leave the care of their children to an incompetent idiot. Also, why shouldn't women want to work part time with when they have children? Can only high flying academic and career minded women count themselves as feminist?

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 01-Oct-12 13:06:28

Sadly most of these useless dads aren't stupid, just lazy, and they fudge things up so they won't get asked again. They then feign ignorance. Good idea to stop breeding with them. Unfortunately you don't always recognise them 'till it's too late!

BexFactor Mon 01-Oct-12 13:11:06

No, not at all Lesley. Being a feminist (to me) means doing what is right for you and your fanily regardless of your sex - that can mean being a SAHM or being Xenia wink or dad being at home or any one of the various things people do.

It's where women have no choice or where they are brown beaten and tired from all the drudgery I have a problem. And yes I do have a problem when women shrug their shoulders and give up of hoping for equality in their relationship, or when they just expect men to be useless. It makes me sad it gets to that.

AbigailAdams Mon 01-Oct-12 13:19:04

It would be lovely to think that every woman is aware and sees the red flags in a relationship. But they aren't (and let's face why should we have to be) and women are taught it is their responsibility to make relationships work so papering over cracks is pretty normal.

All this focussing on women's behaviour is a good old patriarchal trick of removing the focus from men's bad behaviour which is where the focus should be. And yes I would like to see politicians tackling the root of the problem. Tackling all these men who absolve themselves emotionally, morally and financially of their children. Tackling the violence against women and children and naming it for what it is. Tackling how the workplace is completely geared up for people without children, given that most people will have children in their lifetime.

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 01-Oct-12 13:23:41

Yeah, I do know what you mean Bex. I'm still scratching me head over this one. DS's father is a great example of this. His friends seem to think he is a great bloke, yet DS 13 now has nothing to do with him and neither do I.

However, I am a complete bitch apparently, because I moved to the other side of the country with DS after his dad had refused to see him for 8 months because I was - shock horror - seeing a man, and therefore a "fat fucking slag". The fact that we moved from a shitty area of a city in SE England to a rural location where me and DP could buy our house outright isn't the real reason for us moving. It was purely to get at him. hmm

Tbh XP actually thought he was doing me a favour if he looked after DS or picked him up from school etc. I never got any maintenance bar £400 last year, and he seems to think that made up for 12 years of paying feck all. If he disagreed with something I did he would refuse contact. This was despite me saying that he was only hurting himself and DS by being such a cock-end.

I have often thought about starting a name and shame website for men like him, but I'm not sure about the legal ramifications and morality of it.

Sorry to go on, I am rather roused now. Absent irresponsible men and the double standards make my blood boil! angry

notcitrus Mon 01-Oct-12 13:29:08

Until people marry partners on average the same age, most couples will have a higher earning man when the woman gets pregnant, and as part time options are still rare in well-paid jobs, it usually makes sense for the man to keep that fulltime role and thus the woman is left to work round childcare.

In my case, MrNC is 7 years older so further up the career ladder etc. However he works for a rare IT firm that let him do 4 days plus some home working, though it's made clear he'll never get promoted that way. But he gets called by headhunters every few weeks telling him he could earn twice his current income with his skills (true), he says great, but tell the firm I do 4 days a week. So far over 50 firms have refused to consider talking to him, which is especially daft when employers think they couldn't afford someone with his skills, but instead of hiring 80% of him, always go for someone less well qualified.

It's got to the stage where the recruiters bet £10 they can get him interviews but then come back cursing the stupidity of the firms!

So, while he's a decent bloke and we used to have a very equal relationship, and it would be great if we could both work 3-4 days a week, doing similar amounts of childcare, jobs just aren't set up that way.

BexFactor Mon 01-Oct-12 13:33:37

Why don't YOU tackle the root of the problem, Abigail rather than wait for someone to do it for you. Your approach hasn't worked so far and it didn't work for Pankhurst el al who got off their arses and did something themselves.

BexFactor Mon 01-Oct-12 13:36:24

Notcitrus - what would happen if he took one of these jobs and then requested part time working?

Lesley- that sounds rubbish sad

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 01-Oct-12 13:47:23

Bex, I suppose the point I was trying to make is that there are quite a lot of women who have had similar experiences to me, and the only option is to just get on with it and do it yourself.

Unfortunately there are no laws to ensure that fathers behave responsibly. XP quit his job, claimed benefits and worked cash in hand to avoid paying maintenance.

As a naive 21 year old I wrongly assumed that he would behave like any 'normal' father would. In fact, you can't make these men do what they don't want to do. This is why I think the focus should be on helping the parent who actually cares for the child.

It's more sad when mums feel as though they can't leave useless partners though. sad

BexFactor Mon 01-Oct-12 14:02:04

I completely agree Lesley. There should be more provision for all parents and more support for a parent wanting to leave a situation like yours - I can't imagine how hard it must be to leave with a child. I guess a fairly useless DP is often better than no DP at all.

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 01-Oct-12 14:16:01

Most men are relatively reasonable people, if a little entrenched in their views about a 'woman's place'. They could probably be persuaded to take more responsibility, but there is also a contingency of men who just aren't reasonable and you can't make them do anything.

Leaving with a child was a no brainer for me. I already felt like I had two children, only one was the same age as me and not my responsibility. It was my flat too. wink

AbigailAdams Mon 01-Oct-12 14:18:06

hmm OK, no need to be so rude Bex. Politicians are employed to tackle problems like this. Unfortunately, personally I don't have the power to change laws and change the required systems to chase men who aren't paying for their children, take DV seriously, prosecute more rapes etc. Politicians do have the power (or at least more influence than we do)

I can (and do) raise awareness, lobby MPs and other organisations. However, I can't stop men being violent and abusing women. Society can.

CaringMum28 Mon 01-Oct-12 14:22:49

All my friends are Marrying men their age who agree to work flexibly after having children and both parents have 50/50 careers.

People involve are in all (professional well paid) careers - nhs consultants, big 4, legal, teaching.

My friends all say they wont have kids unless it's 50:50 responsibility.

My DH and I both work 4.5 days 1 at how and take parental leave extra 2wks per year.

It's an education issue and of self respect I think.

notcitrus Mon 01-Oct-12 14:38:20

Bex - most likely, knowing people who do work for such firms, he'd be told no and expected to work 50+ hour weeks, and have little flexibility. Especially as many have adopted the 'management' strategy of firing the lowest 10% of performers each year. Though getting offered a post and negotiating hours before giving notice on current job would be the way to go when he really wants a move - I'm about to return to work and probably change jobs, so we're happy with his company being very secure right now. Once kids are at school in a couple years, we'll rethink.

I do get the impression many couples never discuss life/work/child balance until after having children, whereas MrNC and I started debating it 5 years before moving in together - which did scare me, being 21 at the time!

sleepyhead Mon 01-Oct-12 14:39:10

I agree that things are changing. The man being far away the major breadwinner isn't common amongst my friends and the consequence of this seems to be more childcaring by the male partner. There's no longer an automatic decision that the female will work part time, or leave early to collect from childcare, or take all the time off to cover sick leave. Instead it has to be negotiated and what's best for the whole family, and each partner, and their jobs/careers taken into account.

However, employers (it would seem to me) still make assumptions about men and their responsibilities to their children. Dh finds it much harder to get his employer to be flexible about ds's hospital appointments. I guess this will also change gradually as women out-earn their partners.

Dh is planning to take 50% of the parental leave when dc2 is born and I'll go back to work at 6 months. We're keeping it quiet from his work at the moment though because they won't like it and I wouldn't put it past them to try to get rid of him.

EatsBrainsAndLeaves Mon 01-Oct-12 14:41:49

It is great if parents genuinely split the childcare and housework responsibilities. Too many couples however agree to do this and then when it comes to the crunch, the woman is left doing the majority of childcare and housework

Xenia Mon 01-Oct-12 15:00:53

I think it's very sad so many women on here don't know feminist men. In the mid 80s it was as much my husband's responsibility as mine to find childcare and get home first from work. I know lots of men like that both my own age and the age of my graduate chidlren. Is it a class/educational issue - that bright middle class men from feminist home take it for granted things are fair at home and their bright high earnings wives willn ot tolerate sexism even for a day whereas some religious and other cultures and working class culture is women earn a pittance and serve men?

Anyway things are changing very well. I certainly think it helps a lot if you both do everything except breastfeeding from day 1. For example their father did all the washing for years to the point where I am not sure I nkew how to work the machine at one stage and I got stuff ready for school next day. He took the 5 children to the dentist for 17 years and I plaited the girls' hair for school etc etc.

I think it depends on your family too. My grandmother was widowed with a baby so of course my mother was therefore brought up in that kind of a household - no sexism. She worked and used to talk about the 10 years her earnings put my father through his medical degree and she claiming the married man's tax allowance, first claimant in her town who was female. Her own grandmother was pretty formidable as well and her own mother went off to India on her own to work int he 1920s. if you have that tradition behind you and you grow up reading Greer and Friedan as most clever girls will do and you earn 10x your husbamd's pay it is very very unlikely you will end up in a sexist relationship.

LesleyPumpshaft Mon 01-Oct-12 15:27:08

Xenia, you have touched on a point that I think is very important. Men should be brought up in such a way that they have a responsible attitude towards relationships and parenting.

Tbh DP's mother was not highly educated or middle class, but she instilled good values in him. I also know men from very privileged backgrounds with successful mothers who are complete wasters and coke heads. It's not down to class, but rather sensible parents.

if you have that tradition behind you and you grow up reading Greer and Friedan as most clever girls will do

I think it's harder for clever girls to get their hands on feminist literature, feminist thought, or get themselves under feminist influences, than it was In My Day.

I think there's a lot more 'cultural' sexism now than there was in the 80s, Xenia. This is slight thread-drift but when I read Greer in the mid 90s (my early teens) I was a bit of an oddball at school, but I wasn't actually pilloried. Now I have very bright female undergraduates in my Ivy League classes saying "I'm not some kind of feminist or something!" in horror when we discuss Homer. As if a feminist was a terrible, terrible thing to be. By contrast, in my first university classes (1999) I was far from the only student (male or female) saying "let's look at this from a feminist perspective". That's all but gone now (hah, not in my classes, where it's a big part of my requirement!) in their cultural terms. And these are the academic elite in liberal NYC.

Returning to the point of the thread somewhat, when you're both earning good money in your new flat, taking turns to make dinner, enjoying being a young couple, you don't tend to assume that things will change for the worse (and sexist-er) when you have a baby. But they do, they seem to, and one of the parts of it I'm afraid is that when a woman is on Maternity Leave she takes a huuuge paycut, and suddenly somehow it seems like the man makes the money and so gets to, eg, make decisions about large purchases or whatever. I've seen that happen a lot. I agree that "I am breastfeeding. You do all nappies, walk the dog, do all housework and incidentally please look after our other children" is a fine way to establish fair household roles (worked for me smile ) but it doesn't work if the man is out at work all day. Suddenly you are breastfeeding, the dog needs walking, house needs cleaning, food needs preparing, other children need entertaining, and before you know it you're a miserable drudge, or, perhaps woman who hasn't intended to become a housewife, but has become one by being there when things need doing.

My H changed all the nappies he was home for, that was the 'I'll do input and you do output' deal we made when the baby was born. Would I have left our son in a wet/shitty nappy when his father was out 'because it's his job?' no - that's shocking. But that's also how women end up doing all the childcare. Because it needs doing, and because women are there when it needs doing.

I didn't want to go back to work when my son was 6 weeks old (had no choice) - and I wouldn't recommend it as a fun option. But I am fairly sure it is one of the reasons I have an extremely equal division of household labour.

avenueone Mon 01-Oct-12 16:57:17

Great responces - I'm at work so just a quick nip on but will reply and read a bit more thoroughly.
Blackcurrant your point on what you should say instead of what you (me) may say is great - can I have a direct line to you and ear piece for the rest of my life.

I dunno about that, avenue - I put my foot in it quite a lot grin

avenueone Mon 01-Oct-12 20:28:31

I totally understand that whilst it may only be women MPs who speak out and at least someone is, they need to say that more male MPs should speak about the subject and they themselves can talk about the importance of shared childcare responsibilities and not just ask for more support for `women'.
There are many I know who may to a girlfriend say they don't like the situation but they will not address it with a male partner for fear of loosing them. They can't even turn the question to them and ask why don't you share the childcare - can no blame be lay at their door? My refusal to do as I was told (everything and not just because I was the one there - well I was in the end he left) lead to my EXP leaving and I will feel no guilt for this. What was the other option? I didn't leave. And I wasn't being `emotional' in expressing my views.
There is a point well made by a few of you that there are no guarantee that when the child is born partners will behave in a certain way or should I say responsibly but is it better to accept their ways as even if questioned they don't change or what?
When generally talking about childcare esp. in relation to legislation and political policies I feel it should be the word parent/s that is used not just women. I agree that not just politicians can help this and I would never say `women need more help from the government with childcare' I would always say `Parents need more help with childcare' in relation to enabling them to work - if the parents want/have to work.
With regards maintenance I would suggest this is considered in payments - why should one parent be allowed to work free and the other not. If the majority of single parents were men do you think the current situation (childcare not considered) would be the same? - I think not.

Xenia Tue 02-Oct-12 11:54:40

It would have been easier in the last 70s for me to read feminist books although I did not mention it at school as most of the others there would hradly ever read and very few did A levels even. At that time the weekend newspapers, colour supplements were often filled with feminist stuff - it was the feeling of the moment after the 60s and 1970 equal pay act.

We then had a period when it was harder to use the word feminist, where legal rights were better and men were doing even more at home, but there was a huge emphasis on looks (in social media, magazines etc although I do not even watch television or films so I suppose I am shielded from much of that and just see women in the City working and being good at work).

I think people like Caitlin Moran of the Times who one of my daughter likes have helped make feminist "cool" again and that in the last two years it has started to lose its dirty word status.

I agree with avenue and I always try to use gender neutral terms and ask propsective fathers what their childcare arrangements will be without making an assumption a mother will sacrifice her career for life yet again on the altar of a male career.

I would hope most of my chilren before they got too close to someone would be able to find out if they were sexist - in either direction, male or female - or not. One ex of my child I remember once saying a housewife was the most important job (ugh......) if these men think it's so important here's the apron - get into the kitchen do the job for 40 years.

avenueone Tue 02-Oct-12 20:20:40

Totally agree Xenia I find it depends on the age of the person I talk to the response I get to the word `feminism' I pass my Caitlin Moran Books around as much as I can. I don't agree with every word she writes but I think that is the point. I see so many of her words repeated on talk forums and it is great to see. I didn't see the importance of really making sure my partners were not sexist.. I didn't see how harmful and serious it could be down the line. I have lived and learned and try to pass on what I have learned. What I find sexy in a man now it very different even if harder to find it stands out so much easier.. can I go back to being 20 with my new found knowledge please.

kim147 Tue 02-Oct-12 20:29:40

How many MPs try and work around their family commitments? Doesn't Nick Clegg do the school run?

avenueone Tue 02-Oct-12 20:35:50

I always think that Kim when I see them in downing street at 8am or overseas. Guess some have to.. nannys? (not grandparents).

Xenia Tue 02-Oct-12 21:33:44

Yes, the bottom line is often where women out earn men (I earned 10x my children's father) and Miriam G is a law firm partner who will outearn her husband by a very l;ong way, then men have to pull their weight just as women who earn a pittance pin money end up doing the lion's share of childcare and dull cleaning stuff. Money and power.

Anyone interested in economics should watch the BBC series I just finished watching tonight - tonight was Marx (you see I am very open minded)
Episode 1:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01mxpzv/Masters_of_Money_Keynes/

I prefer Hayek though - episode 2.

Plenty of us have to do things early morning. I have had to arrange childcare when I leave at 4.30am for a flight abroad. Life is tough if you want to do well but well worth it and msot of us make huge efforts to see our children and that enthusiasm for life, high pay and a lovely life makes up for the hard work at work you adore as long as you find the right balance for your own family, which no one can dictate to you. The Marx programme tonight makes the point that we are not really workers and bosses any more when the bosses often work along for themselves from a computer and the workers contract in their labour and have such a stake in capitalism. The issue of whether state intervention- Finnish style very cheap state child care coupled with 65% taxes - is the best or expensive free market UK chidlcare with still relatively lower taxes and more opportunities to do well is best. I know into which camp I fall.

Obviously if it became necessary to provide free childcare to get workers then it would be provided in free markets and indeed has been.

avenueone Tue 02-Oct-12 22:21:42

Very interesting stuff.
I actually like taking my son to school and don't see it as in any way not as good as going to work (at that time - I do work full time) and not dull (well ok it is dull sometimes lol) and when I have to work away and I miss it, I also enjoy working away but can also find that dull at times too.
The original post was not really about the childcare options that is a whole other subject, it is was about it being discussed as part of `women's issues' and not as a parental issue and I wasn't keen on how only if more child care support is given to `women' will they be able to succeed - def. not the case in my case.

SpeverendRooner Wed 03-Oct-12 00:00:34

A slight corollary to Blackcurrants' point about women "being there when things need doing" is that the end result (with longer maternity leave than blackcurrants) is a mother who is practised in childcare compared to a father working out of the home and only seeing children on evenings and weekends. Even if all else is equal, she ends up genuinely better at childcare than the father - because practice makes perfect.

I remember that DW seemed to "get" our son so much better than me during her maternity leave that I felt all thumbs. I can see how it could be easy to "let her get on with it" and proceed down the path of learned helplessness. I ended up being a SAHD, and it all evened out (I doubt DW would have stood for apathy on my part, anyway).

Flexible parental leave would be a good thing, in my opinion.

OneMoreChap Wed 03-Oct-12 10:06:48

What would help a huge amount is transferable tax allowances. SAHP transfer allowance to the other; significant increase in household income.

The other thing that helps is better examples; more men caring for their kids, more male carers in playgroups. 20+ years ago, I got some very odd looks taking DS to toddler group.

sleepyhead Wed 03-Oct-12 11:26:11

Well it would help people with a SAHP enormously. A lot of us are muddling along on a mixture of hours for both parents and it wouldn't help at all.

There would be an interesting calculation to be made about whether it would be "worth" the SAHP going back to work if there were a transferable tax allowance. Given that the cost of childcare already keeps many parents out of the workplace, sticking a few grand of "lost" tax transfer cash on top of that might keep people at home who didn't want to be there.

Depends what your aims are. If you start from the basis that a SAHP is the ideal then it's a no-brainer, shame for the losers who can't afford for one parent to SAH and already have childcare costs to find, but there you go, life isn't fair.

If you start from the basis that making it feel harder for someone to enter the workplace after a period of SAH (if they want to) isn't maybe sensible in the long term then it's not such a clear cut winner.

avenueone Wed 03-Oct-12 14:07:22

totally agree onemorechap about more men in playgroups - maybe even some men actually running the group? (I know there will be some run by men but not enough in my opinion).
I also like the tax allowance transfer but what about if the parents are seperated? can you not have flexible parental leave now? or have I just heard it being discussed as an option?

Xenia Wed 03-Oct-12 18:28:34

Never ever ever will women want transferrable allowances. We fought so very hard as feminists to have separate taxatino of husbands and wives for decades,. It was a massive triumph to achieve that. If we want women working full time and outearning men the last thing we want is a tax system which rewards women who screw their earning capacity to pieces who become unpaid servants at home doing nothing but cleaning and childcare. We want women at work and we want to make it as hard as possible for housewives to be housewives living off male earnings in return for cleaning, childcare and sexual services. Tranferrable allowances ensure women are kept as housewives and chattels and are a very bad thing.

OneMoreChap Wed 03-Oct-12 19:30:33

Xenia, why on earth would you think that the transfer would be to a husband.
To a working partner , male or female - and husbands and wives is a bit heterosexist, too. Spouse is better.

If having both parents working is your bag, fine. It isn't everyones'.

HoleyGhost Wed 03-Oct-12 20:00:09

It comes down to time horizons - being a WOHP is more rewarding in the longer term as skills and confidence are kept strong.

SAHP is so much nicer in the short term when dc are babies and there are not enough hours in the day.

It is not a good idea to further incentivise a decision which results in so many being dependent

avenueone Wed 03-Oct-12 20:12:05

Agree Onemorechap esp. in relation to same sex relationships.

The female but I was more hoping for the male... would get it back at soon as they engaged in employment again, there is no reason why it can't be changed on any particular day. If it was `hand it over forever' then no I wouldn't want it no man or woman would sign up to that but that would not be the case unless I misread what you would like to see onemorechap?

Anything that puts more money in parents pockets at this time can't be a bad thing.

OneMoreChap Wed 03-Oct-12 20:15:51

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.

sleepyhead Wed 03-Oct-12 20:30:28

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.

wheresmespecs Wed 03-Oct-12 22:30:49

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.

Newfathers4justice Wed 03-Oct-12 22:54:23

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.

LordLurkin Wed 03-Oct-12 23:23:02

Hello NF4J.

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)

Newfathers4justice Wed 03-Oct-12 23:36:30

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.
YOUR ADVANTAGES:
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.
YOUR DISADVANTAGES:
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.
SUMMARY.
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 :
(1) Arguing
(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.
SUMMARY
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.

OliviaPeaceAndLoveMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 03-Oct-12 23:41:12

Hello
<Peace and Love>

LordLurkin Wed 03-Oct-12 23:45:41

Hi Olivia. smile

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.

Newfathers4justice Wed 03-Oct-12 23:52:29

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?

LordLurkin Wed 03-Oct-12 23:59:08

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

OliviaPeaceAndLoveMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 03-Oct-12 23:59:50

Hello NF4J
May I point you in the directions of our Talk Guidelines?
Much obliged

missingmumxox Thu 04-Oct-12 00:04:30

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 smile ) 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 wink
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 sad 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.

wheresmespecs Thu 04-Oct-12 00:07:54

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.

missingmumxox Thu 04-Oct-12 00:09:35

Jesus ( sorry if that offends) I am a slow typist, NFFJ its taken me since his first post to type my post smile

missingmumxox Thu 04-Oct-12 00:43:23

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"

missingmumxox Thu 04-Oct-12 00:45:26

shoe shoes don't buy themselves.. Dunce

Newfathers4justice Thu 04-Oct-12 07:39:07

As a committed father, I spent £15000 over two years in the family law courts to obtain regular access to my daughter against the mother’s 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, I’m not entitled to any.

Let’s not forget the £15000 debt I am repaying because of this scum of a mother and the corrupt, biased system that’s in place.

And yet the Child Abuse Agency still hound me and steal from my pay packet.

missingmumxox....do the maths....dunce!

Xenia Thu 04-Oct-12 09:07:41

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.

avenueone Thu 04-Oct-12 20:03:27

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.

missingmumxox Thu 04-Oct-12 23:42:49

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.

Xenia Fri 05-Oct-12 07:49:20

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).

avenueone Sat 06-Oct-12 02:11:50

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)

missingmumxox Sat 06-Oct-12 02:52:05

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!

avenueone Sat 06-Oct-12 20:38:36

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!! shock guess we must only make small messes wink 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).

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.

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