January 17, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
All those who reflexively oppose shared parenting should read this article (ABC, 1/16/18). It tells the story of equal parenting from the perspectives of one mother and one father, each of whom has that arrangement with a former spouse. Unsurprisingly, what they report is what equal parenting promises – children’s welfare and better parenting from both Mom and Dad. What’s not to like?
When her relationship with her husband broke down five years ago, they agreed splitting the time with their two daughters 50/50 was the best option.
Not only does she treasure having both her own space and one-on-one time with the kids, she believes the girls have better relationships with her and their dad because of it.
"When in a partnered relationship you may have a break here and there, but it’s limited to a few hours," the Noosa mum of two said.
"With co-parenting, having that ‘me time’ is extremely valuable, not only to recharge and just take a break, but it enables you to work on yourself — whether that is health, career or just concentrating on the future."
That about says it. As is so often the case, given the biology of human parenting, mothers tend to do most of the hands-on parenting during a marriage. Fathers’ doing the bulk of the earning allows them to do that. The downside to that is that the kids’ relationships with their fathers are limited. With 50/50 parenting post-divorce, fathers do half the hands-on parenting so their relationships with their kids become fuller, more complete.
Meanwhile, with Mom relieved of full-time parenting, she becomes less stressed, no longer “on call” 24 hours a day. To an extent, that’s what she was during marriage, but as well, it’s what family courts order in far, far too many cases. When a mother has the kids 75% – 80% of the time post-divorce, parenting takes away a lot of her opportunity to work, earn, save for retirement and advance in her career. It also limits her “me time” in which she can expand beyond her roles of mother and earner.
With 50/50 parenting, Dad improves his relationship with his children and more fully realizes his role as father, a role that most dads see as deeply important, even to the extent of its being their primary reason for existing.
And, as reams of research demonstrate, children do better emotionally, psychologically, educationally and in other ways when they don’t lose one parent to the whims of a divorce court.
Lucy, who writes a blog with the aim of supporting other single mums, said if she had continued her marriage, she would have remained "just mum".
"But instead I’ve had the space to start my own business and be my own person again," she said.
"It’s something your kids watch you do and learn from."
Good point. Kids with parents with equal parenting time see each parent in the role of parent and earner. They see that men can be good, effective parents and women can be relied on to earn the family living. There was a time when feminist organizations saw that as a good thing, but that was a long time ago. Since then, i.e. the early 80s, they’ve stridently opposed shared parenting in favor of the sole/primary model that ensures that transfers of wealth from men to women will continue. Former German feminist and family attorney Hildegard Sunderhauf said exactly that at the conference on shared parenting put on by the National Parents Organization in Boston last May. Those organizations should realize that, if they truly support women’s welfare, they should do a sharp about face and start supporting shared parenting.
Child psychologist Kimberley O’Brien said shared custody allowed parents who were not in a relationship together to give their full attention to the children.
"There are lots of benefits to having one-on-one time," she said.
"They [the children] aren’t competing with the other parent for attention."
Dr O’Brien said it could be a point of tension in a nuclear family when it can often be "all about the kids", and when parents were taking care of themselves, they had a lot more energy to give.
"They aren’t feeling tired or resentful of their own time being eaten into by children’s needs," she said.
As I said, what’s not to like?
National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization
National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved? Here’s how:
Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.