I’ve been following the Shared Parenting bill discussion live as much today as possible.
The numbers that showed up, thanks to the awareness these bills were even in the mix this year, was amazing today.
The Cowboy this morning, after the sponsors of the bill spoke, was the first to go. He was followed by dad after dad, grandparents, and few mothers all speaking in favor of Senate Bill 60. I know there are always two sides to every story and both feel their side worthy of consideration in any situation where child placement is concerned. But there was no bashing of ex spouses or co-parents today. There was just a lot of unbelievable sadness one parent has been removed from the mix, because current South Dakota legislation says that is what is best.
Only three spoke in favor of ONLY House Bill 1055 ..three lobbyists. Two for child welfare organizations in South Dakota. The other, the lobbyist for the SD State Bar.
The Cowboy’s mom even went. I feel (and I’m sorry if you don’t agree for any reason), no matter what side you come at this from, her testimony fair.
So today, her comments to State Legislators on behalf of a bill that would ask a judge to strongly consider granting both parents equal time/placement of children in the event of a divorce, all signs pointing to that it is in the best interest of a child, is my post.
I’m going to go back to nervous waiting.. and let her words speak for themselves.
In support of Senate Bill 60
Shared Parenting Legislation
Every person in this room has a story, a story of the events of our lives. My name is (the Cowboys mom) and I am here today because I want to share a part of what is my…or our family’s story.
My husband and I both grew up in South Dakota. Our family roots extend well over 100 years in both the Eastern and Western part of the state. Some of my fondest memories of my life began with my visits to the center of the Badlands where my Grandpa and Grandma lived. We would go visit them every week-end and in the summer we would stay with them for several weeks.
My Grandparents had 34 grandchildren so I had lots of playmates, my cousins. The first picture you see in front of you is a picture published by the Rapid City Journal of some of my cousins and me at Range Days in Rapid City. This picture and story is there because of what my parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles did for all of us. The horses, the saddles, boots, hats and jeans are there because of them. They were there for us, and were able to give us their time and love and most importantly strong family ties.
Time… It’s a precious thing.
My story moves on and in 1973 my husband and I married and are blessed with three wonderful sons. They too were lucky enough to have both parents and both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in their lives. My sons are now grown and have blessed us again with five beautiful grandchildren.
I believe one of the most important things children can have, is time with family. The current SD State Custody Guidelines has given the courts the power to grant non-custodial parents very limited quality time with their children and they with him or her, subsequently we as extended family members have also lost our quality time. We now have limited opportunity to mentor and share our life experiences with these children. Our grandchildren are also missing out on the values of sharing time with their extended family.
What will their story be?
As I wonder about their story, I can’t help but be reminded of one of their favorite movies, a story that we all know, The Wizard of Oz. If they have watched the movie once, they have watched it a hundred times. In reflecting on the last year and a half of our lives…their lives, I can see the similarities . A huge tornado called a divorce has swept these children from the life that they knew and taken them into a new life, a new chapter if you will. A chapter where they no longer see their Daddy on a daily basis, instead see him only 4 days out of thirty, a chapter where they are not allowed to even receive a phone call from him, simply because the SD guidelines use the word should in regards to phone calls. They were forced to change schools/babysitters and change their friends. They no longer get to see Grandpa and Grandma several times a week and have been wisped away from their cousins and aunts and uncles. The yellow brick road this past year has been a rough one to say the least.
As their Grandmother, I worry their memories won’t be of the great times we have had together as a family, but of the times they have had to leave their Dad after one of his four days a month that they get to be with him. Four days out of thirty…think about that. To a child…the days in between are an eternity.
I am concerned they will instead remember the times they cry and scream so hard that they kick their little cowboy boots off their feet as their time with Daddy comes to an end. Or, the times they leave a note on their Dads refrigerator asking him to call but again never receiving his calls.
The times our 7 year old granddaughter holds back her tears as she comforts her little 3 year old brother as he leaves his Daddy saying “ Isn’t it sad Daddy isn’t it sad?”
I could go on and on as they already have many, many more stories to tell. If their current situation continues, by the time they are young adults, what will their story be? How will these circumstances affect them as adults, and what stories will they tell their grandchildren?
As their Grandmother, I pray for them. And since I am only allowed a few hours a month with them, I remind them each time that I see them, that I hug them in my heart everyday.
Time is what not only our grandchildren need. But so many other families. Equal time with their Mommy and Daddy. Equal time with their grandparents, aunts,uncles and cousins. Time to create a story.
Like in the movie, I can’t help but think that somewhere…somewhere there has to be a wizard, a wizard to help these children have a happy ending to this chapter of their story.
In closing, I have but one question for each and every person in this room…What influence did your father have on your life and what would your story be without those influences?
Please support if not Senate Bill 60, House Bill 1055