[I] received an email letter from a Mom who is greatly concerned because the courts are recommending shared custody of their 10-year-old son. She, rightfully so, feels this recommendation is unfair because the father has been out of the son’s life for most of his childhood, and yet the social worker feels it is the child’s best interest. Unfortunately, fair is never part of the custody equation.
Take a moment and read yesterday’s post, 10 Reasons Alienating Dad is Bad for Your Kids, as that will give you some hard factual evidence of this decision. To help explain why judges and social workers feel it IS a good idea for fathers to be involved in their children’s lives, even if they haven’t been involved early on, let me tell you two stories. Perhaps these stories will shed some light and give you a different perspective.
A Story of Two Farmers
A happily married couple with two kids owned a farm in Topeka, Kansas. After fighting debt collectors for a year, the couple realized they were not going to make it farming. Without drastic change, they were going to lose the family farm. To make matters worse, Mrs. Farmer was expecting their third child. To keep the house, Mr. Farmer got a good paying job with a company teaching farming in Saudi Arabia. It paid very well, but requires a four-year overseas commitment, before being transferred back to the States. It was terribly hard, but the couple felt it was the right decision.
Sadly, Mrs. Farmer became a “single parent” and Johnny the IV was born never seeing his dad, Mr. Farmer. After four years, Mr. Farmer did return home, spent a week getting re-introduced to his kids, before being transferred for another year to Portland, Oregon. This time, the couple arranged for Mr. Farmer to bring one of the kids up one weekend a month. They eventually dug out, bought the farm and lived happily ever after. The moral: Mrs. Farmer worked with Mr. Farmer because she understand the value of the father in their children’s lives–and the children were the better for it.
A Story of Service Woman
A young couple met in the service and got married. After they served their country, the couple settled in Texas. Mr. Serviceman got a job as a teacher. The couple had a beautiful baby daughter. When the daughter was five, Mrs. Servicewomen got asked to serve her country on a very important five-year mission to Mars. After much debate, the couple agreed Mrs. Servicewomen should not pass this opportunity, even though she’d be away for five years. Mr. Serviceman worked to keep his marriage and re-introduced his daughter to her mother when she returned. The moral: While difficult, it is important to bridge the relationship with a wayward parent who has returned.
Fair is Not a Part of the Custody Equation
Now I ask you is this fair? Is this right? In my stories who was this NOT fair too? The kids! You are correct. In fact, regardless of the circumstances, the kids have a God-given right to have a relationship with their parents. Even the parent that left. Now let’s add some complexity to this exercise and make it more real.
Let’s pretend, Mrs. Farmer and Mr. Serviceman got divorced immediately after their spouses left. Furthermore, let say they had no idea when the other parent would return, if ever. Would the kids still be entitled to the same working relationship with their other parent when the parent returned? Of course they would. And this my friends, is how the courts and especially social workers, see the new relationship when the other parent re-enters their lives. This is not fair to the parent that stayed but it is fair to the kids.
[tweet “Children, especially young kids, are entitled to a relationship with their parents.”]
There are exceptions. It is different with much older children, but unless your dealing with a child abuse case, all kids, especially young ones, have a right to shared parenting with their parent despite time and distance. That is what is fair to the kids. Even thought fair, is not a part of the parents’ custody equation.
How do you feel about a wayward parent returning and wanting visitation?
Featured image from Dollar Photo Club.