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Topics - Kent

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1
Father's Issues / WSJ article: This is your brain without Dad
« on: Oct 27, 2009, 08:50:29 AM »
From the Wall Street Journal
By         SHIRLEY S. WANG            
Conventionalwisdom holds that two parents are better than one. Scientists are nowfinding that growing up without a father actually changes the way yourbrain develops.
German biologist Anna Katharina Braun and others are conductingresearch on animals that are typically raised by two parents, in thehopes of better understanding the impact on humans of being raised by asingle parent. Dr. Braun's work focuses on degus, small rodents relatedto guinea pigs and chinchillas, because mother and father degusnaturally raise their babies together.
 


  Matt Collins 


Whendeprived of their father, the degu pups exhibit both short- andlong-term changes in nerve-cell growth in different regions of thebrain. Dr. Braun, director of the Institute of Biology at Otto vonGuericke University in Magdeburg, and her colleagues are also lookingat how these physical changes affect offspring behavior.
Their preliminary analysis indicates that fatherless degu pupsexhibit more aggressive and impulsive behavior than pups raised by twoparents.
In a study the researchers presented at the Society for Neurosciencemeeting in Chicago earlier this month and recently published in thejournal Neuroscience, half the degus were raised with two parents,while the others were raised by a single mother, the father having beenremoved from the cage one day after the birth of his offspring.
Dr. Braun and her colleagues found that in the two-parent families,the degu mothers and fathers cared for their pups in similar ways,including sleeping next to or crouching over them, licking and groomingthem, and playing with them. The fathers even exhibited a"nursing-type" position.
When the mother was a single parent, the frequency of herinteractions with her pups didn't change much, which means that thosepups experienced significantly less touching and interaction than thosewith two parents.
The researchers then looked at the neurons—cells that send andreceive messages between the brain and the body—of some pups at day 21,around the time they were weaned from their mothers, and others at day90, which is considered adulthood for the species.
Neurons have branches, known as dendrites, that conduct electricalsignals received from other nerve cells to the body, or trunk, of theneuron. The leaves of the dendrites are protrusions called dendriticspines that receive messages and serve as the contact between neurons.
Dr. Braun's group found that at 21 days, the fatherless animals hadless dense dendritic spines compared to animals raised by both parents,though they "caught up" by day 90. However, the length of some types ofdendrites was significantly shorter in some parts of the brain, even inadulthood, in fatherless animals.
"It just shows that parents are leaving footprints on the brain of their kids," says Dr. Braun, 54 years old.
The neuronal differences were observed in a part of the brain calledthe amygdala, which is related to emotional responses and fear, and theorbitofrontal cortex, or OFC, the brain's decision-making center.
'A Horse Without a Rider'
The balance between these twobrain parts is critical to normal emotional and cognitive functioning,according to Dr. Braun. If the OFC isn't active, the amygdala "goescrazy, like a horse without a rider," she says. In the case of thefatherless pups, there were fewer dendritic spines in the OFC, whilethe dendrite trees in the amygdala grew more and longer branches.
A preliminary analysis of the degus' behavior showed that fatherlessanimals seemed to have a lack of impulse control, Dr. Braun says. And,when they played with siblings, they engaged in more play-fighting oraggressive behavior.
In a separate study in Dr. Braun's lab conducted by post-doctoralresearcher Joerg Bock, degu pups were removed from their caregivers forone hour a day. Just this small amount of stress leads the pups toexhibit more hyperactive behaviors and less focused attention, comparedto those who aren't separated, Dr. Braun says. They also exhibitchanges in their brain.
The basic wiring between the brain regions in the degus is the sameas in humans, and the nerve cells are identical in their function. "Soon that level we can assume that what happens in the animal's brainwhen it's raised in an impoverished environment ... should be verysimilar to what happens in our children's brain," Dr. Braun says.
Other researchers, such as Xia Zhang, a senior scientist at theUniversity of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research, and hiscolleagues in China, have observed different consequences using voles,mouselike rodents that also naturally co-parent. (Fewer than 10% ofspecies raise their offspring with two parents.)
Voles deprived of their fathers—either from birth or later on inchildhood—exhibited more anxious behaviors and were less social,spending less time engaging with stranger voles that were placed intheir cage, according to a study by Dr. Zhang and his colleagues thatwas published in July in the journal Behavioral Processes.
Of course, the frontal cortex—where thinking and decision-makingtake place—is more complex in humans than it is in other animals. Thus,says Dr. Braun, it is important to be "really careful" aboutextrapolating the recent findings to human populations.
"The minute you get into stuff with extensive social andenvironmental components, the social differences between humans andanimals are massive," says Simon Chapple, a senior economist in thesocial policy division of the Organization for Economic Cooperation andDevelopment, the 30-country grouping of the world's largest economies.
It remains an "open verdict" whether single parenthood causes thesebad outcomes, or is merely associated with them, says Dr. Chapple.
Risk of Delinquency
Still, the prevalence of single-parenthouseholds has researchers looking at possible consequences forchildren. An OECD report found that just 57% of children in the U.S.live with both parents, among the lowest percentages of the world'srichest nations.
The report, which sparked some controversy when it was released inSeptember, found that children in single-parent households have anincreased risk of delinquency and attention deficit hyperactivitydisorder, or ADHD, as well as poorer scholastic performance.
The OECD also analyzed data from 122 separate studies and found thatthere was variability in the negative effects on children of living ina single-parent home; on average, the OECD found, the magnitude of theimpact was relatively small. On a standardized intelligence test with amedian score of 100 points, for example, a child in a single-parentfamily would be about 3.5 points worse off than a similar child in atwo-parent family, according to Dr. Chapple, who co-wrote the report.
Dr. Braun's goal for future research is to figure out whether degupups' brains can be rewired by introducing a substitute caregiver, suchas a grandmother, or whether other social and emotional enrichment canhelp "repair" the fatherless pups, she says. Human children may be sentto day care, for instance, which can help them form stable friendshipswith their peers and other adults.
The bottom line, says Dr. Braun, is that parents need to fuel theirchildren's brains with talk, touch and sensitive stimulation thatinvolves give and take.
Parents, she says, "are the sculptors of their children's brains."

2
Father's Issues / Just wondering....
« on: Feb 12, 2009, 06:59:17 PM »
Hi Oldtimers!

Back with good news and some concerns....

After the ex dropped our son on my doorstep and told him he would never see her again, I kinda made her agree to EOW (she didn't care to see him at all anymore). Now he has lived with us for the last 20 months, and been with her EOW.
Of course, she refused to put anything in writing, so we still have a custody order for every other week.
She doesn't contribute a penny to his educational or sports expenses (refused to do so in writing this week).

After many arguments during his weekends with her and her telling him that he didn't have to come to her if he doesn't want to, our son (13) called her 2 weeks ago and told her he wasn't coming. After trying to guilt him for almost 45 minutes (including the usual yelling and screaming) she told him she doesn't want him in her home until he wants to come to her. So he didn't go.
This week I sent her an email asking her to confirm this (we only communicate via email), to which I got a snibby reply that he's just growing up, testing the waters seeing what he can get away with.

Today he called her again, and told her he doesn't want to come this weekend either. She was very kind to him (which was a big shock), and told him that if he didn't want to come, she didn't care that he wouldn't be there, that she loved him, and then hung up.

I know we're skating on thin ice here; she could (and would in a heartbeat) claim that I'm keeping him from her. However, his own statements will confirm to anyone who will listen that he does NOT want to see her, and that I encourage him continuously to be respectful to his mother and attempt to have a good relationship with her.
Also, she doesn't seem to want to go that route. I believe she would have contacted me, requesting me to bring him to her (which I would have done), but no such thing.

Any thoughts? (You oldtimers know what a nutcase I'm dealing with...)

Kent!

3
Dear Socrateaser / To report or not to report?
« on: Mar 16, 2007, 09:06:17 AM »
Soc,

My ex and I have shared physical custody of our 11 year old son (week-to-week), I have sole legal.

My son has for the longest time been telling us that his mother hits him on a regular basis. Knowing that he tends to dramatize these issues, and there not being any marks on him, we have not pursued that issue.

He also tells us on a daily basis that he can't wait until he's 14, so he can come live with us full time.

Lately however, he tells us about her hitting him with a closed fist (still no marks), and last week he told us she had pushed him to the ground and kicked him - still no marks.

His story shows an increasing violence, and hitting with closed fist and kicking is undeniably defined as abuse (rightfully so).

My current wife, being an LPC, is legally required to report any and all suspicion of abuse. By not acting on his stories, she is violating protocol and at risk of losing her license - should anyone find out.

1) Do you believe she should report his stories to CPS?

2) Would it be better to contact the school counselor and ask him/her to talk to our son?

3) How do we go about either option without running the risk of being accused of coaching him - as far as you can coach a strong-willed 11 year old?

Thank you for your time.

Kent!

4
Dear Socrateaser / Listening in on phone conversations
« on: Mar 16, 2007, 08:33:57 AM »
Soc,

Whenever I talk to my son on the phone, his mother is always listening in. A few minutes later she then calls me to "discuss" which parts of my conversation with him she does not like. Is she allowed to do this? GA is a one-party state.

Thank you.

Kent!

5
Dear Socrateaser / Air-soft gun rated 16+ for a 10-year old?
« on: Jul 11, 2006, 08:52:26 AM »
Dear Soc,

Brief history: I (father) have sole legal, permanent residency, and shared physical on a week-to-week basis.

Knowingly against my will, the mother has bought an "air-soft gun" for our 10 year old son, and intends to let him play with it outside, unsupervised.
The package said the gun is only for age groups 16+.
I believe these guns are dangerous (numerous reports of eye/ear loss and even death), and do not want my son playing with them.

1) Is there a way I can prevent her from letting him play with this "toy"?

2) IF he hurts someone with this gun, and a civil suit is filed, who will be financially responsible?

3) IF he hurts someone, what are the chances he will be charged with Assault with a (deadly) weapon, and illegal possession of a firearm? (just Googling "Air-soft gun danger" shows cases where charges were filed)

4) Will these (felony) charges affect his greencard renewal, or even cause deportation?

5) Will a letter from me to her, stating I do not allow allow him to play nor condone him playing with them when out of my control, keep me scott-free if anything happens?

Thank you!

Kent!

6
Dear Socrateaser / Moving closer
« on: Oct 25, 2005, 05:42:18 AM »
Dear Soc,

I have sole legal, shared physical (week on/week off), and permanent residence.

Ex moved 1 hr. away several years ago, she drives our child to school in my district. Child is in 4th grade now.

I plan on moving halfway CLOSER to her, and consider leaving my son in his current school (OK'd by Super Intendent), or move him to my new school district for 5th grade, last year of elementary school. New school would be only 1/2 the drive for her.

1) From a point of view of stability, which do you recommend? (She will b*tch about either one)

2) IF she decides to take us back to court (with only that), does she stand a chance?

Thanks!

7
Dear Socrateaser / Hypothetical question
« on: Sep 13, 2005, 02:23:51 PM »
Dear Soc,

Hypothetical situation (just out of curiosity):

2 married persons divorce. They get shared physical custody on a week-to-week basis, but parent A gets sole legal custody.

At a later point in time, parent A dies.

1) Will parent B be given sole custody?

2) Would parent A's Will, designating custody to a 3rd party (like a new spouse), prevail over parent B's right to the child(ren)?

Thanks!

Kent!

8
Dear Socrateaser / Abuse - wait with counseling?
« on: Sep 23, 2004, 11:15:09 AM »
Dear Soc,

Week-to-week shared physical, I have sole legal custody.
Ex filed false allegations, that didn't fly with the GAL, out-of-court settlement with unchanged custody expected within 2 weeks, or court in October.

Since about 3 months my 8 year old child is reporting that my ex
a) leaves him by himself at a public skate board rink/ramp for more than an hour while she goes shopping,

b) turns her wedding band with the diamond to the inside before she hits him (and his half-brother) until he cries (no marks found though),

c) she and her hubby regularly get into physical fights in front of him.

d) next to a good portion of PAS, she calls him names ("asshole", for example) when she gets upset with him.

However, this is all his words (he's usually very reliable), there is no proof. My son now starts to show aggressive behavior as well, and is obviously upset.

My atty wants to bring this up to the GAL with court (possibly) coming up in October. However, the GAL (neutral so far) has in the past told me that as long as nobody gets hurt, she doesn't want to hear about anything or any allegations, and has ignored previous (less severe) reports from my son.
The GAL also told me that she will look very unfavorable on me putting my son in therapy, which he clearly needs.
OK so far, we can wait until after the settlement / court.

Question:
After court, I want my son in therapy. (IF my son reports same issues to therapist, therapist is required to report to DFACS).
Do I need to inform my ex about the therapy? She will do anything to influence him.

Is it advisable to inform the ex?

What else can I do to bring this to the court's attention, since the GAL is not willing to listen to it?

Thank you so much in advance!

Kent

9
Dear Socrateaser / Ex wants SSN of child
« on: May 27, 2004, 11:59:32 AM »
Background:
Ex and I have shared physical, but I have sole legal. Our son was not born in the US, and does not have a SSN (only a Tax ID Number).
Ex wants me to get him a SSN and give her the number, so she can open a savings account in his name. I am very hesitant to do this.

1) At some point and time I will have to get him a SSN. Am I required to give her the SSN? Nothing in the custody order about this.

2) IF I give her his SSN, and she messes with it (i.e. runs up a credit card in his name), will I be held responsible for the bills? (having sole legal custody)

3) Having sole legal, would I have any rights to this savings account? (Now that would be a hoot... LOL)

4) Is it unreasonable of me to tell her to open an account for him in her own name? You know, dangers of identity theft... (and she deliberatley ruined my credit in the past).

Thanks!

Kent!

10
Dear Socrateaser / Atty fees in small claims court?
« on: Jan 21, 2004, 08:00:05 PM »
Dear Socra,

In her latest filing for a change of custody, my ex made numerous false allegations against me. All allegations have been researched and found to be untrue by the GAL.
The judge however is very likely not going to award attorney fees.

Can I (with all the proof I have that her allegations were false) take her to small claims court, and recoup my atty fees via that route?

Kent!

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