On any given morning while I’m working, the Cowboy is sitting across from me at the table talking with other parents – both men and women – who are struggling with the parenting situation they’re in due to a divorce or family split. He does this for awhile. Goes about his day shoeing horses. Then does a bit more work on shared parenting each night. He’s not getting paid. He knows the likelihood it will change his own situation is slim. In fact, we’re told right now from a judicial insider, it may be one of the biggest hurdles we face in regard to getting anything to change in our case. The State Bar wants nothing to do with Shared Parenting and South Dakota judges don’t want to be told they have to consider it’s in a child’s best interest to spend as much time possible with both parents. We’re told they know the Cowboy’s been one of the most vocal advocates for the cause.
He does it though because he prays others won’t have to go what he went through as time marches on. Essentially removing one parent from a child’s life, unless there is really good reason, the Cowboy says to me, is just not right. I wholeheartedly agree. But it is more often the norm in our world than the exception. And until moms (the majority of the time) realize they have a role in this as well, recognize it’s in their kids best interest to spend as much time as possible with their dad (or the other parent when roles are reversed) when and if possible, to bring that discussion to the table in resolving custody issues instead of waiting for it to be forced on you as if somehow it’s a horrible thing or something to be ashamed of – that you’re sharing custody and placement, and for both parents to get along and drop the perpetuation of drama and ongoing conflict, will anything change. It’s not about you. It’s what is shown now time and again, when you can work together, to be best for your kids. So why, when the conditions are right, are we doing things so wrong? Would moms sit back and take it if the majority of time there were custody decisions made, they were told it was in their kids best interest to only see them every other weekend? Why, when the roles are reversed, does it seem to be okay? Most dads don’t want to be shut out of their kids lives, nor do the majority of kids want to have little contact with their dads.
Sure, there are exceptions. But they are exceptions.
“If there are two really good parents willing to parent, why don’t you let them?” the Cowboy says as I ask him why he keeps doing this.
I knew this group was out there, Leading Women for Shared Parenting. I read about the group’s launch earlier this year. But after some recent discussions within our own family and with some others, this group and what we might do to be more vocal on the cause – has been on my mind. I don’t know that this is the answer, but it’s another great place to have the conversation. Please consider joining. http://lw4sp.org
“We believe, in the absence of abuse, neglect or abandonment, children’s desires, needs and interests are best served when they grow up loving equally, and equally loved by, both their parents. Further, children benefit equally from the diversity of both mothers and fathers and from the maximum involvement of both parents. Millions of family members, both women and men, have silently suffered the loss of children they love and care deeply about as a result of misguided laws and family court practices which systematically restrict a child’s access to one parent and half of their extended family. Both children and families deserve better than to be forced into an adversarial process with policies that encourage the minimization of one parent in the lives of their children. It is our aim to change this system. The first step is endorsing the statement below. The next step is inviting your friends and family members to do the same.”
Thank You Carleen for that story. It was well put together and is a great piece for the cause. I have had my own story and just now coming out of the depression I have suffered for many years due to the acts of my ex-wife using my children as a weapon to hurt me. Unfortunately it was my children who got the worst of it. I went to court and represented myself Pro Se and maneuvered custody of my oldest daughter. We both go to college now, myself to be a paralegal to advocate for parents rights in family law. And my daughter is a high school student in the running start program. My story along with a man named James who helped me through the courts is just an other example of this social tragedy of using children to profit and hurt the other parent.
Thomas, thank you for your note and wishing you all the best moving forward. I’m not sure how as a society we’ve gotten to this place where we are, but we’re also a smart enough collective now to know what’s been the standard should not be the norm moving forward. Until people are put in the position of being alienated by the other parent, deliberately or at times even unintentionally and see the devastation it causes our children (often years after the fact) do they get it. Those who know simply need to do a better job supporting each other and raising our voices in a way that advocates for change versus perpetuates the chaos. Grateful for your efforts. Please stay in touch.