Thursday, January 26, 2006

Redmum column Jan 19

FIRSTLY here’s the first readers’ letter concerning the phone nazi post as well as last week’s installment concerning fathers’ rights. As ever the original wording is contained below.

Readers' letters

Redmum response

Redmum - Jan 19

Why fathers' rights groups have it all wrong

Once again last week representatives from fathers’ rights groups protested over visitation rights and I have to say that I feel very uncomfortable with the campaign.

It is hard to listen to their arguments without coming to the conclusion that many are anti-women rather than pro-father. And the debate is rarely centered on the child in any real way despite being the most important part of the debate.

This is certainly a very complex issue but it should not be focused on fathers or indeed on mothers, instead we should be talking about children. They are the ones who are really losing out.

We know that the best place for a child is generally with its mother – research backs this up. However that is not to say that fathers are not important, of course they are a vital part of a child's life and must be, where ever possible, as involved as possible.

I will be honest and say that much of my feelings about this stems from the fact that my own daughter's father has had no part in her life since she was four years old and that has been his choice.

However that is far from the only thing to influence my opinion, there are many, many other women and children in our position whom I know to also back that up.

My ex and I spilt when our child was a baby and we continued on in an uneasy relationship until our child was four when all hell broke loss. As much as I tried to be adult in it all it was very tough carrying a lazy father on top of everything I was already doing, ie being a mum on my own going to college as I was at the time.

During this time he married and also paid no maintenance, except for four months of a miserable £60 he paid when she was four years old.

What I didn't know was the resentment he and his new wife had to paying me this pittance maintenance, this resentment built up and a row of epic proportions took place.

So I decided at that point that nearly four years of organising, arranging, accommodating, travelling, and basically making his fatherhood as easy as possible, that I had had enough.
If he wanted to see her, he would have to ring and arrange it. He never has.

So who has been hurt in this, where do I start?

His mother, very much so. Other members of his family, absolutely. Me, yes without a doubt. But of course the real one to have lost out most of all and in all sorts of horrible ways is my honey.

Then I read about the various fathers' rights campaigns and I find it so hard to be sympathetic. And I know it is wrong because I know fathers who have been separated from their children by bitter-exes, but I know more mothers and more importantly children let down and left high and dry by their former partners/fathers.

There is an outrageous statistic out there for irresponsible fathers who have abandoned children without realising/caring/taking action on the implications for the children. I seriously worry about the moral lessons we are teaching our children, particularly our boys, this devil-may-care attitude is common-place now but will have serious implications later on.

We need to teach all our children responsibility and duty, and without repeating the age-old adage these are seriously lacking in many, many young people. Unfortunately in this debate it is the responsible fathers who bear the brunt of this irresponsible behaviour. But the debate on fathers’ rights needs to take a different slant altogether, we should not even be talking about father’s or mother’s rights; it has to be about children's rights.

Surely that encompasses everything that is important about this debate, not about one ex being wildly bitter over another, which seems to me to be at the centre of most of the arguments we hear.

We should make it about our children and their well being, there is nothing more important at all.

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Anonymous said...

ok so you told us of your story but you really didn't back up your headline, or explain how father rights groups get it wrong, yes there are plenty of absent and feckless fathers but fathers rights groups main aim is to see their children, this to me show interest in the child.

Red Mum said...

In the post I said that fathers' rights groups have gotten it wrong because the whole argument should not be about fathers' rights or mothers' rights but about children's rights.