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Topics - frzrclan

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Father's Issues / Maintaining a Relationship With Kids
« on: Dec 19, 2007, 06:00:39 AM »
Just seeking advice on how I maintain a relationship with my kids under the following circumstances:

Recently, I was on the phone with my 14 year old daughter who told me that, for the first time in her rather short athletic career, she had scored three goals in her last soccer game. My first reaction was excitement that quickly turned to the realization that, not only had I not been there, but that I would, likely, never see her make such an achievement.

This revelation was not made any easier when I told her during the same conversation that for the first time in her life, I could not spend Christmas with her or even see her until next summer for a few short weeks. We all make mistakes on the long road to being good parents, and my first one was believing that, although I am a divorced father, my kids and I had rights that were sanctified by the constitution itself and protected by a fair and just judicial system.

The biggest mistake a parent who lives away from his kids can make is to ask the system for help, even if, as in my case, it is something as simple as seeking more time with your kids. Once you do, especially in child custody and visitation disputes, courts will always appoint a family psychological specialist to meet with the parents and children and then make recommendations to the court on their findings. For the kids and their non-custodial parent, everything goes down hill from there.

The root of the problem appears to be that the family law system is fraught with contradictions. On the one hand, society enjoys a since of righteous indignation at lecturing fathers to stay involved with their families and to constantly vilify those who “cop-out” while, on the other, appearing to be completely unprepared for a father who will ask the system for help to – well, be a father. Also, family law judges usually put professional psychologists on a level next to God when it comes to making decisions about parenting time and will usually restate the psychologists recommendation almost verbatim in decisions regarding parenting time.

For their part, psychologist will almost always admit that it is better for kids to spend as much time as possible with fathers and then with the same breath, recommend much less time then needed to sustain a healthy parent-child relationship. When pressed about this obvious mixed message, what do some of societies best minds tell use from behind their clinical degrees?  Because it is not “fair” to the mother or more time will cause increased “confusion” for the children. Worse, as in my cased, psychologist will usually recommend that the mother, the childrens’ friends, even soccer coaches should have more time with the kids before the biological father.

 This problem appears to have its basis in the psychologist profession’s continuing quest for acceptance. Because psychologists specialize in the study of the mind, they seem to have a heightened need for keeping current with the latest thinking. And when it comes to a public that craves stories about dead beat dads, actors verbally abusing their kids and domestic violence, this particular group of professionals have come to the conclusion that all fathers are either bad or, at least, bungling idiots who don’t really want to be around their kids anyway. Of course, it does not help matters that psychologist have learned that the child support industry is pretty fertile ground and that, in a system which usually tells fathers to “leave your wallet at the door and get out”, they are more likely to get their share of the spoils if they side with the mother over the father.

Okay. So where all adults here. A little ribbing and even the exorbitant child support payments that result from the stigma that comes with being a parent living away from their kids comes with the territory. I can tell you from experience that’s not what bothers us. What does bother us is that, instead of assisting families which is what we pay them exorbitant amounts of fees for, in a system which is already biased against fathers, adding psychologists into the equation typically results in disaster for the parent/child relationship.

The result? The childrens’ supposed constitutional right to spend time with a parent is completely trampled by a system that seems to feel that fathers still owe some kind of debt to society.

Chalk one up for the Grinch this year.

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