I return now to Dr. Brad Wilcox’s pre-Fathers’ Day message in which he debunks five popular myths about dads. My first post on that is here.
His second and third myths don’t require a lot of explication. “Women Want Everything 50-50” is well-known to be false. What women and men both want is a firm sense that a relationship is fair, i.e. that neither is pulling too much of the load. That usually means that Mom does most of the child care and Dad most of the earning, or, some version of traditional sex roles. Few couples, if any, attempt to enforce a strict 50-50 sharing of all tasks and, it seems clear to me, anyone who does is incapable of maintaining a serious, stable, intimate relationship.
Wilcox’s third myth, “Cohabiting Dads are Just the Same as Married Dads,” is similarly easy to dispose of. They aren’t and neither are cohabiting mothers. Like it or not, marriage is a great deal more than “just a piece of paper.” Marriage typically means greater emotional commitment of the adults to each other and to their children. That commitment means a longer-lasting relationship and more careful, loving and nurturing parenting of the kids. Much science bears this out.
Meanwhile, Wilcox’s myths Four and Five go together, but he betrays no awareness of the fact. Myth Four claims that “The Kids are Alright.” Again, they’re not. Kids without fathers are indeed far from “alright” and Wilcox makes the point cogently. After skewering the myth-monger and thoroughly loathsome Sandra Tsing Loh, Wilcox offers this:
According to research by Sara McLanahan of Princeton University and Paul Amato of Penn State, girls whose parents’ divorce are about twice as likely to drop out of high school, to become pregnant as teenagers, and to suffer from psychological problems such as depression and thoughts of suicide. New research indicates they are also less likely, as they move into adulthood, to attend and graduate from graduate school. Girls whose parents’ divorce are also much more likely to divorce later in life.
We are also increasing hearing the voices of adult children of divorce, who tell us that the loss of their parents’ marriages brings lifelong, though often hidden, suffering.
Fortunately for everyone, at least among college-educated Americans, the divorce rate is falling sharply. Those are the ones who were kids in the 70s and 80s when adults decided divorce was a “no-harm, no-foul” event that freed adults from less than perfect relationships and weren’t a problem for kids. Those kids, now grown up, know the truth about divorce and do their best to avoid it.
But is it divorce itself that harms kids? Or is it the way divorce is done by state laws and the judges who adjudicate child custody cases? Wilcox’s fifth myth that “Dads are Dispensable” is of course far from the truth, but I find it odd that he didn’t notice the quite obvious connection between the importance of fathers to children and the harm inflicted on kids by divorce. Put simply, divorce and the loss of Dad are often one and the same. Does Wilcox really not see that?
This myth fails to take into account the now-vast social scientific literature showing that children typically do better in an (sic) intact, married families with their fathers than they do in families headed by single mothers.
Very true, but Wilcox left out another arrangement altogether – equally-shared parental care post-divorce. Yes, intact families are better than families headed by single mothers (or fathers). But there’s an alternative to both. Another “vast social science literature” demonstrates that children in shared parenting arrangements tend strongly to do better than those “in families headed by single mothers.” Is Wilcox aware of that science? If he is, you’d think he’d mention it in an article about the value of fathers to children. If he’s not, he has no business opining on the subject.
[The myth] also overlooks the growing body of research indicating that fathers bring distinctive talents to the parenting enterprise. The work of psychologist Ross Parke, for instance, indicates that fathers are more likely than mothers to engage their children in vigorous physical play (e.g., roughhousing), to challenge their children—including their daughters—to embrace life’s challenges, and to be firm disciplinarians.
Not surprisingly, children benefit physically, mentally, and emotionally from being exposed to the distinctive paternal style. Sociologist David Eggebeen has shown, for instance, that teenagers are significantly less likely to suffer from depression and delinquency when they have involved and affectionate fathers, even after controlling for the quality of their relationship with their mother. In his words, “What these analyses clearly show is that mothers and fathers both make vital contributions to adolescent well-being.”
That of course is something every judge ruling in child custody cases should be made to read and reread every day. Human beings are a bi-parental species. Unsurprisingly, the sexes tend to parent differently and children need both forms of care. Mothers’ style tends to inculcate self-esteem, something that everyone needs.
But self-esteem needs to be tempered by an understanding that, while your parents may love you unconditionally, no one else does. To the cop on the beat, your first-grade teacher, the teller at the bank, etc., you’re just another person, one of many, no more entitled to respect or special treatment than the next person. Fathers’ parenting tends to inculcate that understanding in kids. It’s necessary to get along in the world. And it’s necessary to counterbalance mothers’ style of parenting.
Articles like this one continue the verbal assault on the Trump Administration’s separation of children from adults when they cross our borders illegally (Detroit Free Press, 6/16/18). In this one, a University of Michigan law professor, Vivek Sankaran, reprises the usual talking points that rightly emphasize the trauma to children when the adults go to prison and the kids go either to detention or foster care. Unquestionably, the children suffer the same trauma that all kids do when they’re separated from their parents. These kids additionally suffer the pain of experiencing that in an unfamiliar place.
Sankaran goes a step further than previous articles to compare the Administration’s policy to that of CPS agencies. To put it mildly, he betrays little knowledge of how the child welfare system actually works. He knows the law well enough, but says nothing about the realities faced by children and parents when attempting to deal with CPS.
[F]ederal and state child welfare laws allow the government to remove children only as a last resort, when physical separation is necessary to assure their own safety.
I’ve done this once, but indirectly. It’s time to do it directly.
“It” in the first instance was aimed at the New York Times. The Times, like so many other news and opinion outlets has been bewailing the Trump Administration’s decision to jail adults who cross our borders in the company of a child. That decision necessitates removing the child and placing it in either foster care, other temporary care or sometimes in detention. This has thrown many serial opiners into quite a tizzy. Imagine how the children suffer!
And of course they do. The Times piece was actually quite moving as it described the anguish one little Honduran boy experienced over being separated from his father who’d tried to cross the border illegally and landed in jail.
Prior to Fathers’ Day and, to prepare readers for the expected spate of ill-informed articles about dads, W. Brad Wilcox published this piece. I’ve criticized Wilcox before for his complete failure to grasp – or apparently even consider – the many downsides of marriage for men. But his most recent piece is spot-on.
He takes on five myths about fathers. I’ll deal with them each, one at a time.
Today we celebrate fathers. We should do so more often, but this is fathers’ special day. Fathers are vital to children and children’s well-being. They’re vital to the well-being of the adults children become. That means they’re vital to the health and well-being of society. And yet, in many ways, we marginalize fathers in children’s lives. That is our society’s gravest error. We see its consequences every day in our educational system, suicide figures, crime, addiction, emotional deficits and the like. Like mothers, fathers are special. They bring special benefits to children. They are irreplaceable. Today, we must rededicate ourselves to rectifying the many ways in which this society denigrates and sidelines fathers. The science on our need for active, involved fathers is by now beyond question, so we must bring public policy and law into line with that science.
Today is just a single day. But every day of every year, we should be doing our utmost to bring fathers and children where they belong – together.
With Fathers’ Day fast approaching, we can expect the usual wave of articles and commentary, much of it nonsense, some of it kind, some of it malicious. But the ever-excellent Barbara Kay’s piece won’t be found among the latter (National Post, 6/13/18). Her topic is the urgent need for our societies and cultures to once again place value on men and fathers. Of course, she nails it.
It is difficult to overstate both the positive effects of growing up with a father and the negative effects of father absence, especially for boys. These myriad benefits and perils are on record, undisputed and easily accessible. But in this gynocentric era, what is good or bad for boys does not seem to attract the interest of our cultural elites.
This post continues yesterday’s regarding the Ryan West child support case.
District Judge Cynthia Wheless ignored the pleadings of the parties, the evidence before her and Texas law in order to rule that Ryan West, the custodial parent, owes child support to his ex-wife. From where I sit, it’s hard to not conclude that Judge Wheless decided the outcome she wanted and simply ruled accordingly.
The Texas judicial system is hard about the task of ruining a thoroughly decent man and excellent father, a man whose current girlfriend calls him “a saint.” That man is Ryan West, about whom I first wrote here. West’s case appears from here to be one of outright, unconcealed anti-dad bias on the part of not one but two family court judges.
West is such a good dad that Judge Margaret Barnes awarded him primary custody of his daughter Alanna. He has her about 70% of the time, his ex has her the rest. The bias appears when she awarded child support. Barnes ordered West, the custodial father, to pay child support to his ex, the non-custodial parent. Now that’s not supported in the child support guidelines that are supposed to direct judges’ rulings, but Barnes did it anyway.
Is this progress (New York Times, 6/7/18)? On one hand, it may actually be that the New York Times has discovered fathers of whom it approves. On the other, those dads are all Hispanic and from countries other than the U.S.
So it’s hard to know what to think. The self-appointed “paper of record” has, to my knowledge, never before located a father it could stand. Indeed, its descriptions of fathers in the past has run to words like “ornamental” (Maureen Dowd) and “inessential,” (Pamela Paul). Others depicted dads as flummoxed by the simplest parenting tasks (Filip Bondy).
Here and here I wrote about the federal criminal trial of wealthy Brazilians Carlos and Jemima Guimaraes. They were charged, tried and convicted of aiding the abduction of their grandson, Nico, by his mother (their daughter) from Houston to Brazil. She abducted him four years ago and the Brazilian courts have yet to order his return to the U.S.
Now, Nico’s country of residence is the United States inasmuch as he was born here and lived here his entire life prior to his abduction. Accordingly, the courts there should have ordered his return shortly after his mother, Marcelle, turned up with him. But, as things so often go in Brazil, the courts allow the plain meaning of the Convention to be flouted.
The judiciary of Nebraska is at it again. Readers will recall that, earlier this year, the Judicial Branch Education Advisory Committee published proposed amendments to existing rules regarding the public’s access to training materials used to educate judges. In a nutshell, the JBEAC wanted the records of judicial training to be kept secret from the public that pays for those materials, the judges’ salaries, their courtrooms and courtroom personnel, etc. That of course was in response to a lawsuit brought by Dr. Les Veskrna seeking the release of judicial training materials to the public. His suit was successful and the public was duly apprised of the misleading and sometimes outright false “information” that had been presented to family court judges on the issue of the best interests of children as it relates to child custody and parenting time orders.
Not satisfied with the various court rulings requiring publication of judicial training materials, the judiciary sought to change the rules. They sought to send those materials underground again, far from the prying eyes of We the People.
Here’s Naomi Schaefer Riley’s response to the knee-jerk claims by Slate’s Rachelle Hampton that CPS agencies are racist (American Enterprise Institute, 6/4/18).
Interestingly, she quotes at length a Los Angeles County child welfare worker, Sharonda Wade, a black woman, who has her own take on the idea of racism in the system. According to her, because blacks have so often had bad experiences with a variety of state agencies, they’re not exactly open to friendly interaction with CPS. And, since CPS caseworkers are disproportionately black, a level of black-on-black racial animosity can crop up.
Indeed, Wade tells me that a black person working for child protective services (CPS) may actually make the situation worse from the perspective of black families. “Some people—even black people—feel like a black social worker won’t do a good enough job, that they’re not as educated, not as professional.” Even worse, “They see me as being a traitor.” During the four years she was an emergency response worker, clients would call her supervisor to complain. “They wanted a white social worker.” Others attacked her for working for CPS at all. “Some of the moms would be screaming: ‘How dare you work for CPS? You’re going to get your ass whupped for working for the man.’”
I’m responding to this article today (Slate, 4/3/18). I’ll discuss Naomi Schaefer Riley’s rebuttal on the American Enterprise Institute’s website tomorrow.
The Slate piece would be just silly if it didn’t deal with such an important issue. Put simply, even if you agree with its thesis – that the child welfare system in the United States is racist – you have to admit that shoddy work like Rachelle Hampton’s does your cause only harm. That thesis, that bald assertion is about all there is to Hampton’s article. In support, she offers nothing but a single anecdote and a single factoid. Beyond that, her article is simply the ideology of the social justice warriors – that all outcomes that differ by race are per se indications of racism.
Hampton considers the case of Sarah and Jennifer Hart that was much in the news two months ago. They’re the white couple who adopted six black children out of foster care, were investigated for child abuse and neglect and died in infamy when they, apparently, drove their car, holding themselves and their children, off a 100-foot cliff.
I was going to respond to this article (New York Times, 5/14/18) a couple of weeks ago, but other posts intervened and now Dr. Leonard Sax has beaten me to the punch (ahem) (IFS Studies, 5/29/18). The Times piece is just the usual baying at the moon on the part of the Social Justice crowd. Sax rightly rebuts it, but leaves out one very important point that I’d like to add.
The NYT article is about a new toy for boys – a doll. Yes, I know, those who believe that gender is a social construct have tried to peddle dolls to boys before and yes I know they failed miserably. But hey, why not try the same thing again? Maybe this time they’ll get different results!
As I said last time, this article appears bent on finding a scandal where there is none (San Antonio Express News, 5/29/18). Yes, the fact that 1,707 children ran away from Texas foster care last year is important. But so is the fact that almost 1,500 returned within a few days, a point not mentioned by the article.
What the writer hopes to convince her readers with is this:
Texas had 245 foster children listed as runaways as of Tuesday, and they are at high risk of falling prey to sex traffickers, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
This will be a two-part post. I’ll follow up this one with a second on Sunday.
First, we learn that Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, of which Child Protective Services is a part, saw 1,707 kids in foster care run away last year (San Antonio Express News, 5/29/18). Of those, 223 haven’t been found and have been missing on average for 13 weeks. In other words, most of those kids will never be found by CPS or the police. They may return of their own accord, but they won’t be found.
Unsurprisingly, the kids run away often because they don’t like being in foster care and/or don’t like CPS. The 2017 Annual Foster Youth Runaway Report by the DFPS notes the fact.
This article by the Heritage Foundation’s Emily Kao is over two months old. Still, it’s worth mentioning. It responds to the shooting at the Parkland, Florida high school that so shocked the nation. It does so by examining the most important aspect of the problem we face of mass shooters – fatherlessness. That’s a good thing and Kao does her topic justice. She not only knows the problem of fatherlessness, she feels it deeply.
And yet, like so many similar articles, Kao’s fails to address the major source of the problem. It’s right there in front of her, begging to be shown to the world, but Kao doesn’t see it.
New Zealand’s Ministry for Women has produced a study of the work habits of mothers and fathers. I’ve seen no indication of what it cost to do the study and the write-up, but if it was a dollar, it was a dollar too much. Its 44 pages can be summed up with a simple “duh.” A more articulate response might be “Yes, we already knew this.”
The study’s authors, by contrast, appear a bit mystified about their findings. The study has throughout a tone of subdued bafflement. I suspect that’s because the ideology that holds that women are systematically deprived of what they really want to do – work for a living – is dominant at the Ministry and reflected by the study’s authors. More on that later.
Continued from yesterday.
So the Brazilian courts and the U.S. State Department have, simultaneously if not in concert, managed to violate, in the case of Brazil the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and, in the case of the U.S., the Sean and David Goldman Act. In doing so, they’ve deprived a little boy of his father and the father of his son. Kidnapping of children, if it’s allowed to continue for long, is child abuse, but the two countries wink at that when it comes to Nico Brann, who’s now eight.
That of course is bad enough, but the case just may get worse. Indeed, a federal judge in Houston, Alfred H. Bennett, may get in on the act.
International parental kidnapping is back in the news (Houston Chronicle, 5/24/18). And the latest case may yet to take its most outrageous turn.
Wealthy Brazilians, Carlos and Jemima Guimaraes were convicted by a jury in federal court of aiding the kidnapping of their grandson, Nico, the son of Marcelle Guimaraes and Christopher Brann. The couple lived with Nico in Houston until the boy was three. That was when Marcelle told Brann she wanted to take the child to visit relatives in Brazil. He agreed to a 20-day stay. That was five years ago and the two are still in Brazil.
Now, you might ask how that could possibly be. After all the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is clear that signatory states are supposed to make a decision . Needless to say, that hasn’t happened in the Brann case, but it should have. That’s because, at the outset, there was but one issue for the Brazilian court to decide – the child’s country of habitual residence. Given that both parents and the child had lived in Houston all the boy’s life, that shouldn’t have been a hard decision to make.
At a time when about half the states of the United States are coming to grips with the need for shared parenting, Canada lags woefully behind. Nothing quite demonstrates that like this article (CBC, 5/23/18).
In many ways, this CBC article has a lot in common with the one I wrote about yesterday. That is to say, it’s intellectually bankrupt, journalistically unbalanced and eager to promote concepts that are just plain wrong. Its writer, one Brandie Weikle, knows little of her topic.
The reason for the article is a proposed amendment to the Divorce Act that would make several changes to existing law. Needless to say, none of the changes even nod in the direction of shared parenting.
I swear, there must be a recipe – a recipe for this type of article (CBC, 5/17/18). It’s about the fifth one I’ve seen and each follows in lock-step with the others.
The article is about parental alienation and takes the position that all parental alienation is a ruse by violent fathers to wrest custody from “protective” mothers. The recipe goes something like this: begin with one “example” of PA that’s not an example; stir in one statement that PA isn’t in the American Psychological Association’s DSM-V; add a quotation from one domestic violence “expert” that men are violent and leave aside any mention that women are too; under no circumstances add a mention that, in your example, DV hasn’t been established; add a healthy amount of claims that courts opt for shared parenting even when there’s DV and that DV isn’t taken seriously by courts.
Overheat all of the above and - presto! – you’ve got your article. Never mind that it’s utterly misleading and nothing but an attempt to derail children’s legitimate interest in maintaining meaningful relationships with their fathers post-divorce.
It’s the domino effect all over again. No, I’m not talking about the Cold War theory that, if one country became communist, then others around it inevitably would follow. I’m talking about the effect one shared parenting law in Kentucky seems to be having on the states around it.
As readers of this blog know, thanks to the National Parents Organization and the redoubtable Matt Hale, Kentucky became the first jurisdiction in the English-speaking world to enact a presumption of equal parenting into law. The new statute becomes effective on July 1. As if that weren’t enough of a landmark, it’s beginning to look like the states around Kentucky may be influenced by its success.
Certainly the news media in those states have taken note. In Ohio, Missouri, West Virginia, New York, Indiana and Minnesota at least, print and broadcast media have picked up on the Kentucky story. By now, the people of those states and their elected representatives know that another state has taken the plunge and decided to actually do what’s best for kids. Kentucky now walks the walk instead of just talking the talk.