“At this time of year, we always read of those parents who take their first child to college. They carefully put the sheets on their kids” dormitory beds and neatly arrange their clothes — a momentary nostalgic return to the childhood years that have fled. The new collegians are desperate for them to leave. They depart. They look over their shoulders at their beloved children, overflowing with emotion. They arrive home, open the door — and the house is silent. The doors do not slam. The phone does not ring.
“No backpacks are plopped down on the floor. The cereal has not been devoured. And they feel empty. They gaze at the photographs of their boy when he was three.
“And they know that what was, is no more, and can never be.
“How much worse when this happens before its proper time, when the children are young, when it happens to a loving parent who has done no wrong, when it happens simply by order of an ignorant judge, influenced by degrading media portrayals of men, and empowered by blind laws. This we never read about.
“And here is the ultimate wound: it is done, they say, because it is in your child”s best interest– to be torn away from you!”
“About five years ago, the Boston Globe ran a headline story claiming that the leading cause of death of pregnant women was murder at the hands of their male partners. The story was occasioned by a Massachusetts Department of Public Health special report, accompanied by a press release. As a doctor, I was dubious about this claim, so I looked up the DPH report. It did not surprise me to find that medical causes of death far outnumbered any other cause, and that motor vehicles and drugs came next, with domestic violence making a modest contribution. The Massachusetts DPH never distanced itself from the Globe story, despite its own research report that contradicted the Globe.
“Two years ago, PBS ran a so-called documentary called “Breaking the Silence.’ Its central claim was that two-thirds of fathers who seek the custody of their children, even shared custody, are secret batterers. There is no research basis for this claim whatsoever. I know, because I asked the authors of this travesty for their sources, and then I studied the papers they cited, and I found that this slander was a complete fabrication.
“About the same time, I learned that Australia Airlines and New Zealand Airlines will not seat unaccompanied children next to men. Instead, they will ask the men to switch seats. This is profiling, and it occurs in the absence of any data whatsoever showing that men have ever molested children on an airplane.
“Recently, the state of Virginia erected billboards showing a picture of a grown man holding the hand of a child. It instructed citizens to report men holding the hands of children to the child abuse agency, since, apparently, if you hold hands with a child, you are likely to be a sexual pervert.
“And, about a month ago, Steve Patterson of Fathers & Family alerted me to the fact that an esteemed organization, the Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children – or MSPCC – was running an ad on television intended to inspire the public to support the fight against child abuse. Its style was that of a trailer for a horror movie. Filmed in creepy black and white, the camera angle was that of a child hiding under her bed, and then in a spooky garage, and then in a frightening basement. Every ten seconds or so, the screen dissolved to black, and titles appeared in stark white: “where would you hide . . . . if you were ten years old . . . . and your father was coming home . . . . and he was angry. . . . . very angry . . . and he was looking for you . . . . like he did last night . . . . and the night before. . . and the night before that…’ I”m sure the average viewer now mistakenly believes that fathers commit most child abuse, whereas the opposite is true.
“…we live in a society in which respected institutions…are content to stereotype fathers as vicious villains, stereotypes that are unfounded lies.
“And when we are not vicious, we are foolish, egotistical, narcissistic idiots. Just watch prime time television, and you will see a parade of male buffoons far more offensive than the ditzy females served up in the fifties. At least Lucy was a lovable ditz, not a repugnant narcissist. This is well documented on Fathersandhusbands.org and by a study several years ago by the National Fatherhood Initiative.
“Does this slander matter, or is it harmless fun? Yes, it matters. We need to remember that family court judges are ordinary human beings. They watch the same shows and read the same newspapers that everyone else does. Few of them are intellects, and they were never trained in child development, or how to understand research data, or how to identify a good study vs a bad one. That doesn”t seem to stop them from considering themselves experts on these topics, taking their “wisdom’ from the corrupted images of men perpetrated in the media.
“So it should not surprise us that the treatment we receive in family court as fathers and men reflects the ugly stereotypes we are seeing from respected authorities such as PBS or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. It is little wonder that we are treated as selfish, dangerous, indifferent to our children, cheaters, workaholics, or philanderers, since that is how we are widely portrayed. Most crucially, we are treated as a stereotyped class of underlings, not as individual human beings to be judged on our merits. Why is it surprising, then, that so many loving, caring and wise parents, especially fathers, are deprived of their children?”