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March 26, 2005

Fatherless Stats Reared Their Ugly Heads At Pandagon

I am so sick of seeing "fatherlessness" statistics that pop up in conversations about single and divorced mothers. Those statistics demonize mothers. I saw them at a post at Pandagon, in response to a post Amanda had written about single mothers. I wondered how long that would take. As Amanda had written, correlation does not equal causation.

The commenter wrote the following:

Children not in contact with their father are five times more likely to live in poverty and twice as likely to commit crime, drop out of school and abuse drugs and alcohol

The majority of violent criminals were raised without their fathers, according to numerous studies

Those statistics have long ago been debunked, but they pop up frequently to "prove" that single and divorced mother homes cause all kinds of social pathology. Here is research that debunks "fatherlessness" statistics:

Father Absence Alone? No, Other Mitigating Factors
(Plus, Most Children in Divorced and Single Mother Families Turn Out Fine)

"... the great majority of children brought up in single-parent families do well. In particular, differences in well-being between children from divorced and those from intact families, tend, on average, to be moderate to small." [U.S. government census statistics 1998; DHHS, "Percentage Distribution of Children in United States by Number of Parents in Household, see Family Structure; and Zill, N., Morrison, D. and Coiro, M., 1993. "Long Term Effects of Parental Divorce on Parent-Child Relationships: Adjustment and Achievement in Early Adulthood," Journal of Family Psychology, 7(1):91-103.]

"In recent years, the lives of America's children have improved in measurable ways, according to a new collaborative report from federal agencies. America's Children 1999 shows that youth are less likely to smoke, die and or be victimized by crime, but they have made fewer gains in areas that predict their economic futures... Among the report's most positive results is a 40 percent drop in serious violent crime involving juvenile offenders since 1993." Some indicators of child wellbeing have gone down; but others have gone up. [Pascual, Patrice, "America's Children 1999," Connect for Kids Benton Foundation 1999]

"Whether parents are chronically stressed or depressed often more powerfully influences a child's fate than whether there are two parents in a home or whether a family is poor." [Weissbourd, Richard. The Vulnerable Child: What Really Hurts America's Children and What We Can Do About It. Reading: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1996; Also see: Coontz, Stephanie. The Way We Really Are: Coming to Terms with America's Changing Families, New York: BasicBooks, 1997.]

"The quality of the single-parent family environment is at least as important for children's well-being as the fact of the divorce itself." [Heath, P. A., & MacKinnon, C. (1988). Factors related to the social competence of children in single-parent families. Journal of Divorce, 11, 49-65.]

"Meta-analysis supports the notion that the impact of father absence appears to be mediated by family conflict; father absence in itself may not affect children's well-being. The family conflict perspective was strongly confirmed by the data. This perspective holds that children in intact families with high levels of conflict should have the same well-being problems as children of divorce, and the data supported this hypothesis." [Amato, P. R., & Keith, B. (1991). Parental divorce and the well-being of children: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 110, 26-46.]

"[T]he effects of marital disruption are often collapsed with single parenting or female-headed households. Distinctions are not made between the homes of never-married women and divorced and separated women.... More basic studies and secondary analyses are needed... to support the sweeping generalizations that are made about the impact of father absence from a relatively small core of data." [Gadsden, Vivian L. and Marcia Hall, National Center on Fathers and Families. Intergenerational Learning: A Review of the Literature]

"The absence of a male role model following divorce is much less significant than the economic, emotional, and psychosocial consequences of family disruption in explaining the negative effects of divorce on children." [Lamb, M. (1994). Paternal influences on child development. In Changing fatherhood (pp. 25). Tilburg, The Netherlands.]

"Father absence does not significantly influence the level of well-being of either daughters or sons. Rather... children's perceptions of their relationships with both parents have a more direct influence on their psychological well-being than does the physical presence or absence of their father." [Wenk, D., Hardesty, C. L., Morgan, C. S., & Blair, S. L. (1994). The influence of parental involvement on the well-being of sons and daughters. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 56 (1), 229-234.]

"Meta-analysis supports the notion that the impact of father absence appears to be mediated by family conflict; father absence in itself may not affect children's well-being. The family conflict perspective was strongly confirmed by the data. This perspective holds that children in intact families with high levels of conflict should have the same well-being problems as children of divorce, and the data supported this hypothesis." [Amato, P. R., & Keith, B. (1991). Parental divorce and the well-being of children: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 110, 26-46.]

Dropping Out Of School

"Culminating a decade of steady improvement, US high school students who took the SAT this year posted the highest math scores since 1969, according to scores released yesterday. Nationally, the SAT scores released yesterday continue a roughly 10-year trend. Scores declined throughout the 1970s and early 1980's, but they stabilized in the mid-1980's and have risen steadily since then. Many attribute the initial drop to the fact that a far larger and more diverse group began to take the test." [SAT math scores best since 1969 Figures reflect steady US climb; Mass. students keep up the pace; The Boston Globe; By Scott S. Greenberger, Globe Staff, 8/30/2000]

Alcohol and Drug Abuse

"Youth living with two biological or adoptive parents are significantly less likely to use alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs, or to report problems with their use, than youth not living with two parents. "[However] the highest risks of youth substance use, dependence, and need for illegal drug abuse treatment are found in families with a father and stepmother. Risks of youth substance use, dependence, and need for illegal drug abuse treatment are generally higher among youth who live with a biological father and a stepmother than among youth who live with a biological mother and a stepfather. Youths who live with a biological father and no mother or stepfather are more likely to use substances, to be dependent on substances, and to need illegal drug abuse treatment than youths who live with a biological mother and no father or stepfather." [Johnson, Hoffman, and Gerstein (1986), on the effects of family structure on adolescent substance abuse, data from 1995 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse.]

Incarceration and Juvenile Crime

"Also examined was whether the history of father involvement up to 1984 had any effect on youths' well-being in 1987. Indicators of well-being include measures of educational and employment attainment, whether or not the adolescent had a child before age 19, whether the adolescent had spent time in jail, and signs of depression. The presence of fathers at home and regular contact with fathers was found to have little to no effect on these well-being outcome measures in the bivariate analyses." [Christine Winquist Nord and Laura Spencer Loomis Westat, Inc., ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY: SELECTED CHILD SUPPORT ARTICLES citing Furstenberg, F.F. and K.M. Harris. 1993. "When and why Fathers Matter: Impacts of Father Involvement on the Children of Adolescent Mothers." in Young Unwed Fathers: Changing Roles and Emerging Policies, R.I. Lerman and T.J. Ooms (Eds.) pp.117-138.]

"Studies have shown repeatedly a consistent relationship between juvenile delinquency and large family size, marital disharmony, alcohol abuse in parents and overall social deprivation. A consistent relationship has also been shown with delayed reading age, below average scores on intelligence and achievement tests, conduct disorder of childhood and parental aggressive behaviour." [Kelly, Mary, Bernadette Mackey, and Michael Fitzgerald, A TEN-YEAR DESCRIPTIVE FOLLOW-UP STUDY OF 50 DELINQUENT BOYS, British Journal of Clinical and Social Psychiatry,April 1999, Vol. 10 (1999) , no.1.]

"Overall, juvenile crime rates have been falling since 1995. And despite a 50 percent drop in the juvenile murder arrest rate from 1992 through 1998, states gave criminal prosecutors increased power to bypass the century-old juvenile system, or chipped away at options juvenile judges had for trying youth cases."

"The rise in juveniles going to jail is due to prosecutors and judges having more options in trying juveniles as adults." [Number of juveniles sent to adult prisons skyrocketing, study shows The number of minors in state prisons has more than doubled in the past 12 years, according to a study by the Justice Department February 27, 2000]

"The number of serious crimes reported to police went down for an eighth straight year in 1999. The 7 percent drop extended the longest-running crime decline on record and pushed the murder rate to a 33-year low, the FBI reported yesterday. The overall violent-crime rate sank to a 21-year low of 525 murders, rapes, robberies, and assaults for every 100,000 residents. The last time the figure was lower, 498 in 1978, came before an epidemic of crack cocaine sent violent crime soaring in the mid-1980s. [Violent crime drops for eighth year FBI report says decline in rate soon may level off By Michael J. Sniffen, Associated Press, 10/16/2000]

"The rate of violent crime against Hispanics fell 56 percent over a seven-year period in the 1990s and is now similar to that against whites, the government reported yesterday. The decrease for Hispanics coincided with a steep drop in violent crime against all US residents, and against whites, blacks, and American Indians, according to the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics.In 1993, the violent crime rate for Hispanics was closer to that for blacks, who experienced 70 violent crimes per 1,000 people. By 2000, it was closer to that for whites, who experienced 27 violent crimes per 1,000 people. [Rate of Violent Crime Drops, Especially Against Hispanics, By Jennifer Loven, Associated Press, 4/8/2002]

"A new FBI survey says the nation's crime rates have dropped for the seventh straight year. The survey shows that arrests for serious and violent crimes dropped 5.4% from last year and 12% from the previous year. In addition, the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports for 1998 indicates that the reduction in crime is a national phenomenon; it is lower in every region of the United States."

"The FBI figures also show progress in fighting juvenile crime, with the report revealing that the number of juveniles arrested for serious and violent crimes fell nearly 11% from 1997 to 1998, almost twice as fast as the overall decline in arrest rates. While robberies by juveniles dropped the most, by 17% from 1997, juvenile drug violations and weapons charges also saw significant reductions." [What's Responsible for the Dropping Crime Rate?; Tuesday, October 19, 1999; Crime rates are down in every region of the U.S.; by Ellen Sung.]

"New York Times: a study among 1,000 girls in detention in Alameda, Los Angeles, San Diego and Marin counties, revealed that 54 percent of their mothers and 46 percent of their fathers had been locked up, indicating that the greatest predictor of criminality in girls is having a parent who has been incarcerated."

Violent Criminals? Most Likely "Father Absence" Is Due To Dad Being In Jail

"The most significant predictor of criminality is having a parent or other close relative who exhibits anti-social behavior or has been incarcerated." [DiLalla, L. F., & Gottesman, I. I. (1989). Heterogeneity of causes for delinquency and criminality: Lifespan perspectives. Development & Psychopathology, 1 (4), 339-349.]

"Like the overall inmate population, imprisoned parents were overwhelmingly male, 93 percent, and predominantly held in state prisons, 89 percent, rather than in federal ones, 11 percent." [About 1.5 million US children have a parent in prison, study finds By Michael J. Sniffen, Associated Press, 8/31/2000]

Posted on March 26, 2005 at 10:47 AM | Permalink

Comments

I grew up with, and have known in the years since, many people who grew up in single parent families because a parent died, and that is infinitely more traumatic than divorce. It is, truthfully, the worst thing that can happen to a young child.

Posted by: kohoutekdriver8 at Mar 26, 2005 11:00:01 AM

Being widowed is traumatic, but it's different from divorce. Widows and widowers and their children have social and familial support that divorced and single mothers in particular and their children don't have. Divorced and single mothers suffer from social stigma that widows and widowers don't experience. The comments I've seen at Pandagon show how much that stigma continues to exist. The widowed also have financial support from insurance that divorced mothers overall do not have. While I agree that both being widowed and being divorced can be traumatic for children and parents, the dynamics are different.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Mar 26, 2005 11:15:20 AM

http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/links/doi/10.1111%2Fj.1467-9450.2004.00418.x

Residence arrangements and well-being: A study of Norwegian adolescents
FOLKVARD NÆVDAL1 and FRODE THUEN2

The purpose of this study was to assess any differences in psychososial problems among adolescents living with both parents, or with their mother or their father. Any benefits of living with a same-sex parent compared to a parent of the opposite sex, was also analysed. A total of 1,686 adolescents aged 1415 years participated from 29 schools in Hordaland county, including schools in downtown Bergen and more rural areas. The findings revealed significantly more psychosocial problems among the adolescents living with one parent compared to both parents. Significant differences were also observed between adolescents living in mother custody compared to father custody, indicating more problems among the latter group. Furthermore, girls living with their father had significantly higher levels of psychological symptoms, compared to boys in father custody. Similarly, boys living with their father were involved in more stealing behavior than girls in father custody. However, residence arrangement accounted for only a limited proportion of the variance in the adolescents' psychosocial problems, indicating large within-group variance and overlap between the different custody groups.

Posted by: passing by at Mar 26, 2005 11:37:33 AM

Thanks for posting that. It supports what I've posted. I've never seen that study before.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Mar 26, 2005 11:46:24 AM

But these studies are kind of besides the point...

I mean it doesn't matter how well or badly in fathers' custody children do...There are simply NOT going to be any children for either sex to raise if women don't have babies to begin with...it's that simple...and women are NOT going to have kids in a world where almost half of them or more are going to have to spend years fighting to keep their kids in all kinds of custody battles...it's not going to happen...

I mean even in nature, where some sort of traumatic event is going on impacting the environment, a drought, for instance, or long winter, females in nature just shut down reproduction until the crisis passes...they don't continue normal reproduction just to have their young be lost to them through starvation, exposure, etc., it probably even explains why zoos rarely have successful breeding programs...most zoos in the past simply removed the young from their mothers as soon as they were born to hand raise them...so guess what, the females just quit having young...Now zoos, for the most part, leave the young in with their mothers after birth and claim: it's a new way of doing things...no...it isn't. In fact, it's a very old way of doing things...

So these studies are missing the bigger picture here ...Western civilization probably has the lowest death rate AFTER birth of all civilizations existing today...so the problem is not in what happens AFTER birth...it's getting to the point of BIRTH in the first place...so we can at least have a replacement level of population in order to keep our society stable...

I mean I understand Holly Berry is finally looking for a 'sperm donor' to have chlldren with, she's close to 40 and has been married twice already and has just given up on waiting for a stable enough marriage to have children in...Now don't tell me she would NOT have had children earlier with one of the men she married if she had been assured of not having a custody battle in the event of divorce...I'm sure that is the reason she waited and the reason why she's finally decided to just go ahead and be a single mother...

And I'm sure her children will be no worse off then the thousands of Hollywood stars who are in and out of marriage having kids...actually there was a study that showed it wasn't whether one was married or not that lead to raising healthy kids, it was more related to stability then marriage per se...in other words if you were married when they were born, stay married; if single, stay single...

Posted by: NYMOM at Mar 26, 2005 12:20:39 PM

I did notice the part about delinquency being higher in kids raised by single fathers. I don't think it's so much that in itself as the fact that if it's a single mother, that's just kind of the way it is, and if it's a single father, there's a reason, and often a very good reason.

Either he's a widower, or (in most cases) something is really, really wrong with the mother, and he had to fight to get those kids, who were traumatized in the process.

Two examples I know: When I was in grade school in the early 1970s, I had a classmate whose parents were divorced, and she and her two sisters lived with their father, which at that time was completely unheard-of. Why? The mother was a drug addict. The dad was able to cope with the addiction until he learned that the wife had turned to prostitution to support her habit. That's all I remember, but think about it. What if he had left her and SHE got custody?

I know another man whose ex-girlfriend (they never married) was a big partier, and if she couldn't get a sitter, would leave the kids (6 and 10) alone until the wee hours. He finally got custody; what's remarkable is that the older one wasn't his. If she knew who his father was, she never told anyone. He did allow her liberal visitation rights.

Again, there are too many variables, and statistics can be manipulated to make them say whatever you want them to.

Posted by: kohoutekdriver8 at Mar 26, 2005 12:28:54 PM

P.S. about Halle Berry

She was raised in a very unstable family environment (dad was an abusive alcoholic who eventually abandoned his family, but he did eventually quit drinking and she made her peace with him before he died).

She actually is a legal parent because her second husband was a widower and she legally adopted his daughter by that marriage.

Posted by: kohoutekdriver8 at Mar 26, 2005 12:30:52 PM

There's a lot of people wanting another post at Pandagon on this issue. I think I'll deal with it again this weekend and I'll keep your post in mind for linkage.

Posted by: Amanda at Mar 26, 2005 12:41:14 PM

"Either he's a widower, or (in most cases) something is really, really wrong with the mother, and he had to fight to get those kids, who were traumatized in the process."

Actually, a big reason some dads win custody isn't because mom was unfit, but because they had more money at their disposal to contest custody than mom had. That the children are faring worse in father-custody homes shows that conflict between the parents remains an issue, as is stated in the research I had posted. Chances are there were problems before the family split, so it would be a good idea to see how the children were faring when the family was together. Another thing that needs to be pointed out is that abusive dads are gaining custody these days. The American Judge's Association found that batterers have been able to convince authorities that the victim is unfit or undeserving of sole custody in approximately 70% of challenged cases. Abusive fathers are also more likely than nonabusive parents to contest custody, not pay child support, and kidnap their children. So, it's not necessarily the case that dad got custody because mom is unfit. In the cases where the children are faring worse in dad's custody than in moms, the presence of dad's abuse is likely to be an issue.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Mar 26, 2005 1:30:07 PM

Thanks, Amanda. The comments are really going strong over there. Feel free to take whatever you want from my post when you post again about this topic.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Mar 26, 2005 1:31:20 PM

I mean it doesn't matter how well or badly in fathers' custody children do...There are simply NOT going to be any children for either sex to raise if women don't have babies to begin with...it's that simple...and women are NOT going to have kids in a world where almost half of them or more are going to have to spend years fighting to keep their kids in all kinds of custody battles...it's not going to happen...

This is an absolute truth, NYMOM. Here's another absolute truth - this sexual civil war we are currently fighting is stupid and self-defeating. The only winners are those in the divorce industry. Let's talk about presumed joint custody but let's not look at it in the light of winner or loser. No BS about fathers wanting out of support or mothers using kids to get it. No more BS period. If you and I are getting divorced, can't you see how more civil and child-friendly it would be if we both knew we were going to remain fully involved in our childrens' lives? I've got a piece somewhere where the author states that once the couple is divorced they have no place else to take their fighting except for custody matters. They WANT to keep fighting, how whacked is that? But it's true. And mothers' rights sites and fathers' rights sites just keep adding fuel to the fire.
No one in their right mind could possibly think that a mom or dad can just turn of the parenting switch because some piece of paper says their no longer husband and wife. Trouble is, too many people aren't in their right minds.

Posted by: rooman at Mar 26, 2005 2:53:17 PM

"Actually, a big reason some dads win custody isn't because mom was unfit, but because they had more money at their disposal to contest custody than mom had."

You think I didn't already know that? (sarcasm) Most lawyers, and other people, can see right through people like this, and oftentimes it's a toss-up because not all women wear wings and halos like some of these posters seem to believe.

Posted by: kohoutekdriver8 at Mar 26, 2005 3:23:10 PM

"I've got a piece somewhere where the author states that once the couple is divorced they have no place else to take their fighting except for custody matters."

I have a BIL and SIL like this. It's been almost 10 years and they still pull all kinds of funny stuff. Some of the things they have done would almost be comical if it wasn't for what it's done to those kids. I'm glad the kids are both boys because (and maybe she has indeed done this and I don't know about it) if they weren't, she would certainly have filed false sexual abuse charges against him.

The marriage was fraudulent from day one, from both perspectives. She wanted to get married and he didn't, so she quit taking her birth control pills and didn't tell him until several years later. After the divorce, she found another man.....and so did he. Some people seem to think there is something heroic or fashionable about having a spouse come out; they have obviously never met anyone affected by this ultimate betrayal.

I have never heard of someone having a child so they could use it as a pawn in an upcoming divorce, but it wouldn't surprise me if this is why they had their second child. People have done stranger things.

Posted by: kohoutekdriver8 at Mar 26, 2005 3:28:42 PM

rooman sez: "And mothers' rights sites and fathers' rights sites just keep adding fuel to the fire.
No one in their right mind could possibly think that a mom or dad can just turn of the parenting switch because some piece of paper says their no longer husband and wife. Trouble is, too many people aren't in their right minds."

Kev sez: Ding, ding, ding!!! We have a winner!

Very well said, rooman!

Posted by: Kevin at Mar 26, 2005 5:28:00 PM

Kohoutekdriver8 sez: "Either he's a widower, or (in most cases) something is really, really wrong with the mother, and he had to fight to get those kids, who were traumatized in the process."

Kev sez: This is a very good point.

My first ex and I divorced when our daughter was two years old. We'd been separated for close to a year by that point. She got custody (I didn't fight her for it, btw). Fast forward 11+ years. My ex calls me up one evening and says she's kicking our 13 year old daughter out because she can't handle her any longer and if I want her then I'd better drive down (about 100 miles from where I live) and pick her up - which I of course did. Our daughter was horribly traumatized. She hadn't brushed her hair in months, so that it was almost dredlocks and she bathed very infrequently. She looked and acted shell-shocked for months afterward. I've honestly never dealt with anyone who had a lower self-esteem than my daughter did at that point.

Although my daughter has vastly improved self-esteem now (almost 4 years later), there are residual problems. Whereas she'd gotten straight F's for the school year at the point where I gained physical custody of her... she is now getting passing grades in all subjects with quite excellent grades in a couple subjects, truancy has been an off and on problem. It's gotten to the point where the Sheriff office's attendence enforcement officer is involved. Her attendance has improved since that. But, my point is that I (the father) am dealing with problems that stem to her mother's custody. I doubt that the mentioned study accounts for situations like this in it's dry statistics... or how those dry statistics are portrayed by individuals citing them on blogs. :-)

Few things are as simple as they seem on the surface. Custody issues are no exception.

Posted by: Kevin at Mar 26, 2005 5:46:16 PM

Kohoutekdriver8 sez: "Either he's a widower, or (in most cases) something is really, really wrong with the mother, and he had to fight to get those kids, who were traumatized in the process."

Kev sez: This is a very good point.

My first ex and I divorced when our daughter was two years old. We'd been separated for close to a year by that point. She got custody (I didn't fight her for it, btw). Fast forward 11+ years. My ex calls me up one evening and says she's kicking our 13 year old daughter out because she can't handle her any longer and if I want her then I'd better drive down (about 100 miles from where I live) and pick her up - which I of course did. Our daughter was horribly traumatized. She hadn't brushed her hair in months, so that it was almost dredlocks and she bathed very infrequently. She looked and acted shell-shocked for months afterward. I've honestly never dealt with anyone who had a lower self-esteem than my daughter did at that point.

Although my daughter has vastly improved self-esteem now (almost 4 years later), there are residual problems. Whereas she'd gotten straight F's for the school year at the point where I gained physical custody of her... she is now getting passing grades in all subjects with quite excellent grades in a couple subjects, truancy has been an off and on problem. It's gotten to the point where the Sheriff office's attendence enforcement officer is involved. Her attendance has improved since that. But, my point is that I (the father) am dealing with problems that stem to her mother's custody. I doubt that the mentioned study accounts for situations like this in it's dry statistics... or how those dry statistics are portrayed by individuals citing them on blogs. :-)

Few things are as simple as they seem on the surface. Custody issues are no exception.

Posted by: Kevin at Mar 26, 2005 5:57:36 PM

"...(in most cases) something is really, really wrong with the mother, and he had to fight to get those kids, who were traumatized in the process."

I see very nicely put...so even when stats come out that show single fathers royally screwing up the kids, it's still their mother's fault...


Posted by: NYMOM at Mar 26, 2005 7:10:14 PM

"She was raised in a very unstable family environment (dad was an abusive alcoholic who eventually abandoned his family, but he did eventually quit drinking and she made her peace with him before he died).

She actually is a legal parent because her second husband was a widower and she legally adopted his daughter by that marriage."

But clearly she wants her OWN children...she is NOT content with being the "legal" parent of an older child...

Clearly something was odd here as she has been married twice and could have gotten pregnant at any point during those marriages...so I think the custodial issue had a LOT to do with it...


Posted by: NYMOM at Mar 26, 2005 7:14:24 PM

"If you and I are getting divorced, can't you see how more civil and child-friendly it would be if we both knew we were going to remain fully involved in our childrens' lives?"

Yes, it would be more civil and child-friendly...that's what I did when I divorced actually...but you can't FORCE people to do what YOU think is right...so procedures and policies must be in place for the significant minority (about 10% of the pool I think) of people who wish to contest custody...for whatever reason.

Posted by: NYMOM at Mar 26, 2005 7:18:37 PM

"Few things are as simple as they seem on the surface. Custody issues are no exception."

So why didn't you fight for custody since abuse or neglect was involved...instead you left a child in a bad situation until she was 13 years old...so you cannot JUST blame the mother here...you should accept some responsibility yourself...

Of course if abuse or neglect is involved then the situation needs to be addressed...no one here ever said differently when abuse or neglect is involved....

Posted by: NYMOM at Mar 26, 2005 7:23:29 PM

Meh - you want to see head? Go look at my bloggg, lol...

Posted by: Moi ;) at Mar 26, 2005 8:47:08 PM

"I see very nicely put...so even when stats come out that show single fathers royally screwing up the kids, it's still their mother's fault..."

Where did I say that?

If a single mother royally screwed up her kid(s), would you blame the father? Betcha you would.

I'm new to this blog, but I have noticed that some of your posts are so contradictory, they make little sense.

Posted by: kohoutekdriver8 at Mar 26, 2005 9:10:38 PM

"Few things are as simple as they seem on the surface. Custody issues are no exception."

So why didn't you fight for custody since abuse or neglect was involved...instead you left a child in a bad situation until she was 13 years old...so you cannot JUST blame the mother here...you should accept some responsibility yourself..."

I had kinda wondered the same thing myself, especially since he was just 100 miles away, but maybe this was a case where she wouldn't let him see the daughter, and he just gave up.

I've seen that too many times as well.

Posted by: kohoutekdriver8 at Mar 26, 2005 9:12:44 PM

NYMOM: "I mean it doesn't matter how well or badly in fathers' custody children do...There are simply NOT going to be any children for either sex to raise if women don't have babies to begin with...it's that simple...and women are NOT going to have kids in a world where almost half of them or more are going to have to spend years fighting to keep their kids in all kinds of custody battles...it's not going to happen."

There is actually evidence to back this up.

Today, while wandering through the stacks of a local library branch I do not visit too often, I happened to see a copy of Phyllis Chesler's 1986 Mothers on Trial: The Battle for Children and Custody. I had heard of the book, but I had never read it in its entirety. Some of it might be considered a little dated, as the information is twenty years old or more. And many of her points have been further substantiated elsewhere. However, one point she did explore, which I have not seen addressed anywhere else, is the following on custodially challenged parents and additional children:

"In my study, 29% of the fathers genetically reproduced other children--before, during or after the custody battle. An additional 21 percent were actively trying to so do or said they would have children in the future. Thus, 50% of the fathers were still engaged in the process or possibility of genetic reproduction. Of the fathers who were not, 25 percent were infertile or had infertile second wives.

Winning custody didn't necessarily satisfy a father's reproductive "needs." Nearly half (47 percent) of the fertile custodially "triumphant" fathers remained reproductively engaged. Why wasn't custody of existing children enough to satisfy their reproductive needs? Some fathers may have had another child in order to "reward" their new wives for taking up the burden of primary child care or as a way of re-experiencing the paternal role with a more obedient wife in tow.

On a bio-existential level, a father might feel more secure if the genetic children already birthed and reared by their bio-genetic mother were to live with him. Then he would have a more primary relationship to them than either their non-bio-genetic caretaking stepmother or their physically absent real mother would. Such a father might ensure his paternal primacy further by having additional genetic children who were not genetically related to his first wife but were related to his first set of genetic children.

Did losing custody depress a father's desire or ability to reproduce himself genetically? To some extent it did. Only 19 percent of these fathers had other children. Nevertheless, 38% said they still wanted to have children. Thus 59 percent of the fathers who (initially) lost custody were still psychologically engaged in the practice or in the possibility of genetic reproduction.

What about mothers? Only 4 percent of the custodially embattled mothers still of childbearing age ever gave birth again. Whether they won or lost, 96 percent of the mothers did not plan to give birth or to adopt in the future. This is similar to Pascowicz's "absentee mothers," only 15 percent of whom ever had children again.

Why do so few mothers ever have children again? The superficial answers are obvious. Custody battles drained mothers emotionally and economically. Also, most mothers viewed themselves as too "old," too "traditional," and too poor to ever have children with husbands or, paradoxically, without being married.

Georgia: I never, never wanted to have another child. Losing my son thirteen years ago ruined my life. I have always used birth control or had abortion since then. I could never face trusting another man or myself enough again to risk another custody struggle.

Lucy: For years, my ex-husband kept pulling our son away from me. He ruined my whole experience of mothering. When my son actually went to live with him eight years ago, I knew I would never have a child again.

Cecily: Never again. No way. I already have three I wasn't allowed to keep." (pp. 217-218)

Posted by: silverside at Mar 27, 2005 12:22:37 AM

NYMOM sez: "So why didn't you fight for custody since abuse or neglect was involved...instead you left a child in a bad situation until she was 13 years old...so you cannot JUST blame the mother here...you should accept some responsibility yourself..."

Kev sez: In a word - Money. Rather, the lack thereof. That coupled with my belief that simple emotional abuse wouldn't be enough to get me, the one with the penis, custody. I'm not being trite. That's the way I saw the situation... I didn't believe there was anything that I could do about it.

My ex pretty freely admits that I know her better than anyone but her mother. And she would also freely admit that she's vindictive.

Lacking the money and the presumed standing with the courts to actually gain custody, the only thing left would have been talking to her. And that would have been counter-productive. Being a vindictive person, she would have taken it out on our daughter as soon as I left. Of that I have zero doubt. So, I bit my tongue more times that I can count and tried to make the best of a bad situation.

Could I have done more? Probably. I'll never know what else might have helped. All I know is what happened and what my thoughts were and how I acted on them.

If it makes anyone feel better to blame me for what my ex did... Go for it. I'd be the first to freely admit my own lack of perfection. Like other mere mortals, I almost never handle anything perfectly. I just do the best I can with what I've got at any given time.

Posted by: Kevin at Mar 27, 2005 12:51:02 AM

[This was cross posted at Lauren's Feministe]:

There’s lots of things happening here. But above all what the Schiavo case should tell us is the absolutely worst place to have these deeply personal decisions being made OR socially ‘graded’ is in Congress or in the State Legislatures. I think collectively American women are due in excess of 20 Billion dollars worth of back child support. THAT should be the government’s first task; see to it that BOTH parents are contributing to the raising of their children.

The state does not raise kids, Parents do. Moms & dads can not do this with adequate income support. It takes a lot to raise kids. The shame, misery and recriminations can come later. (Hey, that’s what the teens are all about, right?) Meanwhile every indicator of outcomes I know is heavily dependent (and deeply confounded with) income.

And ask yerself Ms. Thang (USA Today), what would the world look like if we didn’t all have *some* level of ’selfish desire to procreate’? Yes once again we shall deny certain Human rights to another class of people ‘cause like, they have messy outcomes. All kids have messy outcomes. If you’re rich and well connected enough you bail them out sooner and more often. Muffy goes into detox. Vito finds his cold turkey in jail. Bif gets a new Beemer when he totals his dad’s car while drunk. John’s family will never afford to get him the therapy he needs to recover from his DUI accident, and now he’s got a record to boot. I want to know how we enforce or even imagine this eugenic construct that says ‘only certain folks, good Christians, wealthy or middle class shall be sanctioned to having families’. The rest are just miscreants we’ll barely tolerate.

This is not a simple or unique phenomenon. All of Western Europe is facing the same issue of the rise in single parenthood. It has to do with stability of income and jobs (or the lack thereof, especially for young couples), and the changing nature of both marriage and women’s roles in marriage.

But to me pro-choice means just that. The government should not, can not and must not be allowed to tell you when, where, how of if to have a child. They might suggest that teens are not currently favored by this outcome, and how they might avoid this, but this is nothing they can not figure out on their own.

If you feel the best use of your time right now is raising the next generation while trying to educate yourself, the government should at the very least not have much to say about this decision, failing issues of consent. The central concern should be for the health, safety and sources of support for mother and child. This is of course presently done in a haphazard and more difficult fashion in the US since the abolition of welfare.

Having the government aid in this choice for teens has been tried extensively in Europe with the ‘mixed’ results of MUCH healthier babies AND moms, but increasing levels of single parenthood. There is also a bit of a social backlash at the once lavish level of state financial aid for children, but much less so than here. It would be nice to have a discussion that moved out of the realm of medieval philosophy on this issue. Perhaps our grandkids might live to see it, if the planet is not destroyed and rendered inhospitable for human life by the present generation.

I figure it’ll be a close footrace for planetary survival… When that happens, I just know they’ll blame all the sluts and not the suits, right?
[Yes, that’s a Joke, and NO that’s not my real email].

[More...]

VJ Says:
March 27th, 2005 at 7:02 am
Sheet, that USA Today article is even worse now that I took the time to read it all. As if family violence was only visited upon the poor, or on women who made ‘poor choices’. [It’s that damnable desire to procreate again, right??] All families make poor choices, the difference is that some families have a social support network that makes even big problems seem manageable.

Take bankruptcy for example. It’s the death knell for many a family. Always has been. It’s the last way station to poverty and a childhood of deprivation and loss. It Kills kids.

But Not for our current FearLess Leader [TM}! Bush Jr. Cratered 6 separate business ventures, and each and every time his daddy’s rich Saudi Oil cronies bailed him out. Like taxes, the rich know Debt is for Other People. The Little People.

Posted by: VJ at Mar 27, 2005 8:37:43 AM

Moi: "Meh - you want to see head? Go look at my bloggg, lol..."

I ain't sayin' a word!!!! I already know what post you're talking about. ROFLMAO!!!

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Mar 27, 2005 9:10:51 AM

The findings revealed significantly more psychosocial problems among the adolescents living with one parent compared to both parents. Significant differences were also observed between adolescents living in mother custody compared to father custody, indicating more problems among the latter group. Furthermore, girls living with their father had significantly higher levels of psychological symptoms, compared to boys in father custody. Similarly, boys living with their father were involved in more stealing behavior than girls in father custody. However, residence arrangement accounted for only a limited proportion of the variance in the adolescents' psychosocial problems, indicating large within-group variance and overlap between the different custody groups.

Oy. The Heretik knows something about this situation. He thinks it may have a big reason why he did that month long project Uppity Women

Because The Heretik knows what it is like to be a single parent. The Heretik knows the challenges faced in what can be a sometimes sad situation of recrimination to another and and a sometimes even more corrosive self recrimination within. The Heretik must get over all of that. Our children deserve our best.

Custody is the situation that's best for the children. Sometimes it's with the woman, sometimes it's with the man.

As a single father, who has children with an emotionally "dead beat" mom who has spent all of ten days in the physical presence of her children in the last five years, The Heretik agrees.
If we and our children live in a hell on earth, who has made it so and why?
We live in an unfortunate world where our children's welfare is a battleground for something far more sinister. In the same way that the battle over women's bodies is a battle for our nation's soul, so it is with children and custody issues. When Women's Month is done (note: it will never be over for me), a lot of time at The Heretik will be given over to such topics in a new series Lost Soul. In fact, that series may have just started here with this topic.

Oy, to be present on the first day of Creation! Let there be light and all that fun stuff. Good times!

On another note, The Heretik would like to ask why the brilliant NY MOM does not have her own blog. You know these Typepad deals cost only $14.95 a month and the first month is free! . . . . NY MOM, I am tired of pursuing your briliance all across Penistan and Vaginistan. Can't you set up a salon of wit in the midst of all this sh*t? Can I say sh*t? By the way, it should be obvious that The Heretik doesn't know sh*t.
Somebody like Kevin Dum, I mean Drum, would probably be taking too much time out for "serious" A list topics like catblogging to visit your new and assuredly kick butt contribution to blogdom , but I would spend a lot of time over there.
The Heretik spends a lot of time at a lot of different blogs all over Penistan and Vaginistan as well. NY MOM, yours would be on top of his list, because like Trish Wilson, you are not a list, U R N A+.

But what does The Heretik know. The Heretik is a blogslut ! Going from blog to blog, sucking up wisdom from others. There are worse lives. :0

In closing, (finally, thank god!), The Heretik would like to take a moment out from the moments he has already chewed out of people's lives to say what a wondrous thing it has been to meet Trish Wilson and what a great contribution TW has made to his life.

Oy, are you done now?
Yes, I think so.

Posted by: The Heretik at Mar 27, 2005 9:55:01 AM

Heretik, you are a treasure. And thanks for discussing more of your life. What a great contribution to my blog.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Mar 27, 2005 10:22:39 AM

I'm here via Pandagon. Thank you for posting this. The obvious
misogyny of many prominent "fatherlessness" scholars has been
very disturbing to me, and I've often thought that many of the
problems attributed to "fatherlessness" may have a different
source--e.g. economics, stigma, etc.

Posted by: Linnet at Mar 27, 2005 12:48:10 PM

Thanks, Linnet. I've seen you commenting on various blogs. Yes, those "fatherlessness" statistics do have a different source, as you've said. The scholars have misrepresented valid research to make it look as if the cause of the problems experienced by those families is the lack of a father in the household. It's actually much more complex than that, as I have shown.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Mar 27, 2005 12:59:31 PM

In reading over these posts, I noticed 2 mis-spellings in mine. My mother had sole custody of me and she was a very good newpaper reporter. Obviously then my poor spelling cannot be attributed to a single parent household headed by a woman. *smile*

I also noticed in this thread that people are still quick to pull the trigger and shoot the messenger instead of heeding the message and working to make things better. We can be a force of positive, men/women-driven change or we can continue to attack each other and remain shills for the divorce industry. As Kev said, none of us is perfect. Also, NYMOM was correct in saying you can't force people to do things. Which is my point, we need to educate moms and dads that they're still parents after the divorce and that they need to lay aside their personal greivances and think about their children. The divorce industry will NEVER adopt such thinking which is why blogs such as this one can be so important. But this blog, like all blogs, is simply a collection of you and me. Which means it all starts with you and me.

Posted by: rooman at Mar 27, 2005 3:12:38 PM

VJ gets to the heart of an absolutely crucial factor in all of this - money. I don't think it can be overstated. And it goes well beyond family issues.

I'm a big fan of capitalism. But, the fact of the matter is that there are two different levels of "justice" (in terms of win/lose) in this country. And it all traces to financial resources.

Like many things in life, money is a two-edged sword. Some people become such slaves to the aquisition of money that they lose themselves.

One of the saddest things I've ever read was an account in Dr. James Dobson's book "Love must be tough." He told of two affluent parents in conference with their respective lawyers hashing out the details of their impending divorce. Their only child sat by a window looking outside while each parent tried to force the other to take custody of the child. That broke my heart to read. All the money at his parent's disposal couldn't possibly begin to fix his shattered self-esteem. Surely he would have gladly traded places with a child born into the working class who had the love and devotion of his parents but not much in the way of material possessions.

Posted by: Kevin at Mar 27, 2005 3:45:20 PM

"We need to educate moms and dads that they're still parents after the divorce and that they need to lay aside their personal greivances and think about their children."

Or like the Beatles said, all you need is love. Love is all you need.

Golly, who I am to disagree. But when you are trying to work with someone who is basically void of any sense of fair play or decency, it leaves you in quandary. Still try to be nice, calm and even-handed, even when faced with a never-ending string of personal attacks, slanders, and other manipulations? I'd love to play nice. My basic orientation is to play nice. I used to be pretty amendable to these pious lectures. But given that the rotten types can still play rotten, and not only get away with it, but score points, has left me just a tad embittered. If the courts really believe the sermons, then they should start hammering the people who don't like fair play or rules.

Posted by: at Mar 27, 2005 4:15:00 PM

After a discussion like this, Why would anyone take seriously the notion that the Gay "marriage" movement is not just another shill? All for heartless fools like you people (read feminists) who think (against all evidence) that "all family forms are inherently equal"

Get a clue - (if you care about children or society)

Posted by: GoodMom at Mar 27, 2005 4:23:25 PM

"That coupled with my belief that simple emotional abuse wouldn't be enough to get me, the one with the penis, custody. I'm not being trite. That's the way I saw the situation... I didn't believe there was anything that I could do about it."

Sorry about your situation, Kevin. My dad remained in an emotionally abusive marriage to my mother until I was eighteen for the exact same reason. He didn't believe he could have taken me with him, and he was probably right. Thank God someone was there to help stabilize things for me, or I might have been a wreck too.

Posted by: Anne at Mar 27, 2005 4:23:29 PM

"I'm new to this blog, but I have noticed that some of your posts are so contradictory, they make little sense."

No...

I'm very consistent...

That's what makes so many of you mad...

Posted by: NYMOM at Mar 27, 2005 8:54:34 PM

"But above all what the Schiavo case should tell us is the absolutely worst place to have these deeply personal decisions being made OR socially ‘graded’ is in Congress or in the State Legislatures."


But where else DO you go when you can't get justice? Home to get a gun? Courts are NOT the worse place to ensure justice is served; but the best and when they cease serving that function, we degenerate into chaos...where people just get sick and tired of a legal system that frees OJ Simpson and Robert Blake, but then starves Terri Schiavo to death...

Posted by: NYMOM at Mar 27, 2005 9:07:56 PM

"Golly, who I am to disagree. But when you are trying to work with someone who is basically void of any sense of fair play or decency, it leaves you in quandary."

But again, I have to think why in the heck you would marry and have a child with a person who was basically devoid of any sense of fair play or decency?

I mean are ALL of these traits only revealed when divorcing????

Posted by: NYMOM at Mar 27, 2005 9:11:32 PM

"After a discussion like this, Why would anyone take seriously the notion that the Gay "marriage" movement is not just another shill? All for heartless fools like you people (read feminists) who think (against all evidence) that "all family forms are inherently equal"

And this has anything to do with what we're talking about because .....Fill in blank....????

Posted by: NYMOM at Mar 27, 2005 9:15:11 PM

You don't need any of the studies you posted (some of which have very serious flaws.) It's very easy to show that in the case of divorce or abandoment, the mother and her children will have less money. Less money means fewer options. It's a bad deal.

There are also issues of scale. Any household has chores that need to be done, not having a father there also means one less worker. Again, this will plainly have an impact.

The arguement about "parents fighting all the time" ignore that fact that many people can and should change. No one in the shelter group I work for is naive enough to think that once these women are away from the abuser, life will be rosy. These women need a lot of education and help. (Also $$$ - please give goods, time, or cash the women's shelter in your city!)

My own mother grew up in serious poverty, and she turned out okay (perhaps by marrying a wealthy man of another race, but okay nonetheless).

Posted by: at Mar 28, 2005 11:43:24 AM