April 29, 2010
Fathers & Families’ Board Chairman Ned Holstein, MD, MS has written a newspaper column Time for shared parenting (Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 4/29/10) in support of Massachusetts HB 1400, Fathers & Families’ shared parenting bill, which will be voted on by the Judiciary Committee on May 7.
Governor Deval Patrick has told the legislature that if they pass the bill, he will sign it. To comment on the piece, click here. To write a Letter to the Editor of theTelegram & Gazette, a 100,000 circulation newspaper west of Boston, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. To read the paper’s submission guidelines, click here. In the column, Holstein writes:
The intellectual basis of the courts” current fixation with sole custody has not withstood objective scrutiny. It started as a psychoanalytic theory – never proven by observation – that after a divorce, children need one primary caretaker and one home. As recently as 1979, Anna Freud, the daughter of Sigmund, re-stated this view, writing that “the non-custodial parent should have no legally enforceable right to visit the child.’ A milder variant of this mindset still permeates the family courts. But modern empirical studies of children paint a different picture. Wake Forest Women”s Studies Professor Linda Nielsen cites 16 studies showing that “Children want more shared parenting.’ Not a single study in which both parents were fit shows the opposite result. Numerous researchers, including Rebekah Levine Coley at Boston College, have documented the many benefits children gain from spending more time with their non-custodial parents. In 2004, a Massachusetts blue-ribbon panel of child development specialists and jurists concluded, “We now know that: children do best when both parents have a stable and meaningful involvement in their children”s lives.’ Yet the courts persist in their archaic practice of awarding sole physical custody to one parent. It often seems that any excuse will do. A reasonable dispute over selling the condo somehow gets elevated into “high conflict.’ The claim that shared parenting will result in “suitcase kids’ overlooks the fact that staying with Dad for a week requires no more transitions than staying with him for one night. The belief that an infant must stay overnight only with its mother is belied by all the infants in intact families who happily spend overnights with grandma and grandpa. And so it goes. While President Obama decries fatherlessness, the courts needlessly churn out thousands of fatherless kids…
To read the full column, click here.