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Father's Issues / WSJ article: This is your brain without Dad
« on: Oct 27, 2009, 07:50:29 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."

Father's Issues / Re: Hello People! Long time no chat!
« on: May 31, 2009, 06:55:31 AM »
Hi Sly!

Good to hear from you!

Definitely draw up some sort of paper where she acknowledges that as of [date], the father will become the primary caregiver of the child, and the child will place his permanent residence with the father, and have her sign it. Preferably notarized.

I would not file for a change of custody immediately; usually "status quo" will apply after  months, so if he can maintain the new situation for 6 months, then is a good time to file for custody. At that time the child is established in his home, and moving him back to his mother would be disruptive to the child.

Keep in mind that regardless of what they put on paper, he will still have to pay her child support as per the current court order. If they agree - even in writing - that he will not pay her anymore, he may be hit for arrearages if she changes her mind 5 months down the road. Best way is for him to keep on paying, and she gives him the money back.


P.S. Don't be a stranger!

First off,  Please keep in mind that your ex may be looking around here too, it is wise to not use your real name here. We've had that problem on multiple occasions already, and you don't want to give away your strategy.

Usually a judge will blindly follow the recommendations of a court appointed guardian or GAL. Not sure where a DRC falls into that.

You will need to proof that th DRC is completely wrong, and that is very difficult to do.
When you state that you brought up negatives, that may have hurt you. So what kind of negatives are there? Is it just that you believe you are a better parent, or is the mother bordering abuse?

Please provide more detailed information so we can provide better advice.


Father's Issues / Re: MOM changing plans all the time!
« on: May 24, 2009, 05:54:37 PM »
I am not sure how you normally communicate with her, but I would either send her an email and use the receipt confirmation function in Outlook, or send her a certified letter.
In this message, you can state that any and all changes she wish to make to the parenting plan, she needs to request this in writing at least 1 week in advance.
Then, if you get into this same situation, you can remain calm and remind her that she is required to request these kinds of changes in writing 1 week before, and since she failed to do so you have made other plans (and make sure these plans are something your children look forward to! This is their time, and it should be about them).

Furthermore, as a general rule, after my ex pulled this stuff a few times, I informed her that, since she doesn't know how to behave, we will not deviate from the standing court order unless there is an emergency. After that I told her "no" for every change she asked for, and after a while she just didn't ask anymore.

Also, not knowing what your parenting plan is, and assuming that you have the "traditional every-other-weekend", you only see your children 4 days per month. Make sure these are the most unforgettable days of the month for them. Find out what they like to do, and do it with them. Be the fun parent that they want to be with. Take them to the movies, to the park, fishing, camping, whatever they like, and make the weekend about them.


Father's Issues / Re: help !!!!
« on: May 23, 2009, 05:12:38 PM »
I agree with Kitty. Tell your daughter that she can talk to a teacher - if it happens again, but also about this one and other instances that happened in the past.
Teachers are mandatory reporters, and they will report it.
This has two advantages; 1st the report was not made by you (as divorced parents often make false accusations just to obtain an advantage over the other) but by a 3rd party, and 2nd from that moment on the teachers will keep a closer eye on her. The school counselor may occasionally talk to her just to check out how things are going.

Also consider recording your conversations. Check if you are legally allowed to do so: http://www.rcfp.org/taping/index.html
And check here how to make proper recordings: http://www.deltabravo.net/custody/transcribe.php


Father's Issues / Re: Does anyone remember Phillip
« on: Feb 12, 2009, 05:11:49 PM »
I remember Phillip (not the specifics of the case though).

Glad to hear that things are finally going well!


Father's Issues / Re: Doing the right thing with no results
« on: Feb 12, 2009, 05:09:05 PM »
So where do you live? DC or MD?
Things are a lot easier if you live in the same state (better yet in the same county).
But keep in mind that your custody order has not changed. You can only influence what the court order allows you.
The children are at a very impressionable age. Spend all the time with them you can get. Do not refuse a minute with them. Make sure your time with them is quality time; take them where they want to go, not where you want to go.
In time they will see you for who you really are.


Father's Issues / Just wondering....
« on: Feb 12, 2009, 04:59:17 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...)


Father's Issues / Re: I need help in the worst possible way...
« on: Nov 15, 2008, 05:46:58 AM »
You need to get proof of your allegations that she won't let you see the child.
How to do that?
Check whether you are in a one-party or a two-party state. If you are in GA for example, you are in a one-party state. Check here: http://www.rcfp.org/taping/index.html

If in a one-party state, you have the legal right to record any and all conversations you have with the mother without her knowledge. If in a two-party state, you can call her, record the call, and tell her at the beginning of the call that from now on all conversations between the two of you may be subject to being recorded, and then you are in the clear.

Record any conversation, verbal, via phone, in person, etc. etc. Save all recordings and have them transcribed.
A good recorder is the Olympus WS-300M. It is small, good quality, and records up to 11 hours in MP3 format, with a USB connection so you can easily transfer to your computer. Just keep an ample supply of AAA's as it is a battery hog. It empties your battery within a week, even if you don't use it.

Start reading for tipe on how to record and how to conduct yourself:

Good luck!


Georgia State Forum / No thanks
« on: Nov 23, 2005, 07:21:31 PM »
The GASCR boards are crowded by a fixed group of people.
Newcomers are welcome, as long as they do not voice their own opinion.
If you do, you get flamed by several of the group.

No thanks.


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