NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
April 22, 2015
NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION OBSERVES PARENTAL ALIENATION AWARENESS DAY
LEGISLATION IN NEARLY 20 STATES SUPPORTS SHARED PARENTING AND PARENTAL EQUALITY
BOSTON — As Parental Alienation Awareness Day nears – Saturday, April 25, 2015 – National Parents Organization emphasizes that while our nation’s family courts continue to marginalize one of the parents following divorce or separation, the organization is encouraged by the fact that lawmakers in about 20 states are working to support shared parenting and parental equality in child custody cases.
“Winner-take-all custody battles are unnecessary, since shared parenting works best for children in most cases. Worse, custody battles often create permanent hostility between parents that can then turn into ‘parental alienation,’ a common situation in which one parent alienates the child from the other parent,” said Robert Franklin, Esq., who serves on National Parents Organization’s Board of Directors. “The most powerful way to prevent parental alienation is to have shared parenting from the first day parents separate. It’s very hard to alienate a child from a parent whose loving care the child experiences frequently. Unfortunately, it’s not hard to alienate a young child from a parent they rarely get to see. I’m encouraged by the current, nationwide family court reform effort to move away from parental alienation and towards parental equality.”
As The Wall Street Journal reported April 16 in the article, “Big Shift Pushed in Custody Disputes,” about 20 states are considering shared parenting legislation. The bills are similar in that they encourage family courts to more equally award child custody in instances of divorce and separation. Now, sole custody, usually awarded to the mother, is ordered more than 80 percent of the time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The proposals seek to put parents on equal footing from the start, reducing conflict, parental alienation and legal costs.
This movement falls in line with recent research showing children thrive with significant time with both parents.
“There have been a lot of studies in recent years that show that when you share parenting duty – when both the mother and the father share at least 35 percent of the actual parenting responsibilities – the outcomes are very good for children,” The Wall Street Journal’s Ashby Jones stated in the Journal’s video on the issue.
In the past year alone, three groups of child development researchers and practitioners endorsed shared parenting in most circumstances. Among the endorsements is a report published by the American Psychological Association from prominent psychologist Dr. Richard Warshak, titled “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report.” The paper was endorsed by 110 child development experts and concludes “shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.” In addition, federal statistics show the devastating impact single parenting has on children. (See “Single Parenting Versus Shared Parenting” below.)
“Luckily, this crisis has a solution in shared parenting. I hope we soon see the day where parents are often considered as equal in divorce as they are in marriage – after all, it’s in the best interest of kids,” Franklin said.
Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.
A regular contributor to local and national media, Dr. Holstein is Founder and Chair of the Board of National Parents Organization.
Dr. Holstein was appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts to the Massachusetts Working Group on Child Centered Family Law, and he was previously appointed by a Massachusetts Chief Justice to a task force charged with reviewing and revising the state’s child support guidelines.
A graduate of Harvard College, Holstein also earned a Master’s degree in psychology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His medical degree is from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he later served on the faculty as a teacher and researcher.
SINGLE PARENTING VERSUS SHARED PARENTING
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Census Bureau and numerous researchers have reported alarming outcomes for the 35% of children who are raised by single parents. Yet, until now, this factor has been largely ignored in the conversation about child wellbeing.
Children raised by single parents account for:
- 63% of teen suicides;
- 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions;
- 71% of high school drop-outs;
- 75% of children in chemical abuse centers;
- 85% of those in prison;
- 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders; and
- 90% of homeless and runaway children.
Whether the problem is emotional disturbances of children, drug use, alcohol use, teen pregnancy, poor performance in school, trouble with the law or running with gangs, being raised by a single parent is a powerful risk factor. For many of these outcomes, single parenting is a stronger risk factor than race or poverty. Conversely, children on average do much better on all these measures if they have shared parenting. Children ardently desire shared parenting in most cases and are happier with it.
For parents, shared parenting significantly increases child support compliance, diminishes parental conflict and domestic violence and allows both parents to pursue their careers, social lives and other interests without the burden of singlehandedly raising a child.
ABOUT NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
National Parents Organization, a charitable and educational 501 (c)(3) organization, seeks better lives for children through family law reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers after divorce or separation. The organization is focused on promoting shared parenting and preserving a child’s strong bond with both parents, which is critically important to their emotional, mental, and physical health. In 2014, National Parents Organization released the Shared Parenting Report Card, the first study to rank the states on child custody laws. Visit the National Parents Organization website at www.nationalparentsorganization.org