The August 1993 Issue of the Fathers And Children for Equality (FACE) Newsletter
The August 1993 Issue of the Fathers And Children for Equality (FACE)
Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever
they can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real
loser -- in fees, expenses and wasted time.
- Abraham Lincoln
ABA Unit Finds Children's Courts In Disarray, Urges Unified System
- The American Bar Association takes a shot at domestic
relations and juvenile courts around the US -- pointing out
that they are inefficient and ineffective. Their lowest
priority seems to be the children.... despite what they say.
A New Resolution Process for Domestic Disputes
- I was at a concert this summer when the lead singer, Les
Claypool of Primus, introduced a song by saying the video in
the background was about their alternative energy solution
for the future. The video was seven or eight minutes of
footage of windmills. I was struck by this: of all possible
options for the future, they picked one and only ONE. I
thought about the tragedy I've endured for the last few years
because of the domestic relations court and my ex-wife and I
contemplated whether any ONE of the proposed solutions to
resolving disputes in domestic relations courts was the best
-- and, yes, there was ONE alternative solution to the
standard operating procedures of the court that rose above the
others. So, I asked a friend to write about his experiences
with this alternative solution.
- Dr. Warshak's views on mediation.
Prince George's County Mediation Program
- a reprint from the March, 1992 issue of this Newsletter and
the Children's Rights Council's newsletter, _Speak Out for
Children_ of Winter 1990/1991. This county has some
impressive statistics regarding the success of their
mediation program for access disputes. Why isn't this
program in place in every county in the US?
A Visit From the Children
- Judith Martin offers some advice on making those
extended summer visits with the children run a little
Tears In Our Eyes
- As the teenagers today would say, "A pome."
The Bad News About Stepparents
- Stepparenting is not the panacea many people imagine. In
fact, there is strong evidence that it can be worse than
being raised in a single parent home. This article alerts
everyone to that with the hope that parents and stepparents
will ensure that they don't fall into standard pitfalls and
conscientiously seek out solutions to these standard problems
they will likely face.
Book Guides Teen-age Dads Towards Responsible, Joyful Fatherhood
- A book encourages teenage fathers to be involved with their
children, to bond with them, and act responsibly, with the
hope that they will be the best parents possible, despite the
obstacles they will have to overcome -- for the sake of the
Some Rights are More Important than the Right of a Father to See His
- such as the right to live in a safe environment, free from
crime. This article is a call for everyone out there to
write your representatives, senators, even your President and
let them know that if they are NOT in favor of maintaining
the relationships of two parents to their children, they are
virtually promoting crime.
Successful marriage is an art that can only be learned with difficulty.
But it gives pride and satisfaction, like any other expertness that is
hard won.... I would say that the surest measure of a man's or woman's
maturity is the harmony, style, joy, dignity he or she creates in his
or her marriage, and the pleasure and inspiration he or she provides
for his or her spouse. An immature person may achieve great success in
a career but never in marriage.
- Benjamin Spock, _Decent and Indecent_, 1968
ABA Unit Finds Children's Courts In Disarray, Urges Unified System
By Ellen Joan Pollock
The subject of children's rights evokes images these days of children
divorcing their parents or suing them for damages. But a report by a
lawyers' group argues that children's real legal problems are both more
mundane and far more widespread.
The study by an American Bar Association commission describes a
children's court system in disarray, with families having to truck from
one court to another to solve related problems involving such issues as
child abuse, custody, parents' child support, provision of social
services and supervision of delinquent children.
"In virtually all cases, in virtually all communities, the myriad
courts and social-service agencies do not communicate adequately with
each other, resulting in unnecessary delay, duplication and con-
tradictory rulings and recommendations," the report said.
The report, which endorses the creation of unified court systems to
handle family related issues, is expected to add fuel to a movement
that already exists in some states to create such systems. Hawaii and
New Jersey are among the states that have tried, to varying degrees, to
combine courts overseeing neglect, delinquency, adoption and some
Some ABA members expect the report to receive special attention from
the Clinton administration, which has targeted the plight of poor
children. Yesterday, bar officials formally presented the report to
Attorney General Janet Reno and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Mrs. Clinton,
who has written on children's rights issues, spoke briefly and invited
ABA input on how government can better serve the needs of children and
The report was the result of six months of work by a commission headed
by A. Leon Higginbotham Jr., a former federal appeals-court judge whose
law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, devoted $300,000 of
unbilled time and resources to the effort.
One theme is that family courts have been provided insufficient
resources. According to the report, Los Angeles County Juvenile Court
judges can devote only about 10 minutes to each case. In Cook County,
Ill., seven juvenile-delinquency-court judges receive 13,000 new cases
a year. The report says that financing is only part of the problem,
but it faults the federal government for failing "to recognize the
importance of providing adequate support to state court systems when
expanded workloads result from federal law."
Advocates for children have long made similar complaints about the
civil and criminal juvenile-justice systems. For example, in a civil
rights suit pending in federal court, the American Civil Liberties
Union alleges that Philadelphia's child-welfare system has failed to
meet the needs of abused and neglected children. But the suit also
singles out the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas for failing to
ensure that a sufficient number of judges have been allocated to handle
children's cases. "The hearings are so perfunctory," says Marcia
Robinson Lowry, an ACLU lawyer, that they "don't constitute any
judicial oversight at all." A spokesman for the court system said he
couldn't comment on pending litigation.
Echoing similar complaints about other court systems, Ms. Lowry says
that judges often don't have sufficient information from social-service
agencies to make informed decisions about a child's future.
Some children's advocates and court officials welcome the commission's
Michael R. Phillips, deputy administrator of Utah's juvenile court,
says that his state has been studying the possibility of unifying
family courts for decades, and that it's likely to go ahead with a plan
in the next few years. He predicts that such a system will prevent
situations in which judges issue conflicting orders in neglect and
custody cases, for example.
Among the commission's other recommendations is that lawyers provide
more free legal services to children, and also that they go beyond
their traditional role as court advocates to press for better services
of all kinds for children. The panel encourages lawyers to back
legislation to improve education and health care, and to work to change
policies that discriminate against adopted children.
But even some lawyers who agree with the report are skeptical about its
impact. "I've seen lots of good reports, but very little change over
the last 20 years," says Ms. Lowry.
Source: _The Wall Street Journal_, 1993 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.,
August 4, 1993
A New Resolution Process for Domestic Disputes
By A. Fuller Porter
There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world: an idea
whose time has come.
- Victor Hugo
Noah Webster defines the word trial as:
trial n 2 : the hearing and judgment of a matter in
issue before a competent tribunal (a court of justice)
A trial resolves disputes between parties by presenting facts to a
judge or jury. The judge or jury tries to determine who is at fault --
and then makes a judgment. The judge can set penalties or work out a
solution within the law. All rulings are independent of the opinions
of the parties involved.
Noah defines litigation as:
litigation n : a contest at law
Litigation is a contest -- one with all the usual ingredients of
contests. Winners. Losers. Something being "contested." Litigation is
the process of law at work. It can and often does involve costly
trials and hearings.
Noah defines arbitration as:
arbitration n : the act of submitting for decision to a
person chosen to settle differences between two parties
in a controversy
Binding arbitration is similar to litigation. In binding arbitration
parties in conflict describe the problems at hand and propose solutions
to an arbitrator. This person chooses the better solution after
examining pertinent facts. In effect, the arbitrator acts like a
Both litigation and arbitration leave little if any room for flexible
solutions or for compromise. Both have a winner and, more
significantly, a loser. The loser can hardly feel positive about any
decision resulting from either process because he or she LOST and had
little control over events stemming from whatever decision was made.
There must be a better way of resolving problems ... one that doesn't
always create a loser.
Fortunately, there is -- a process by which two parties can resolve
conflicts legally, one worthy of a free country and a democracy --
MEDIATION. An idea whose time has come.
What is mediation? Mediation is a sensible alternative to litigation
and other forms of prolonged, win-lose battles. A voluntary
problem-solving process, it is constructive, cooperative, creative and
confidential. With the help of a trained, neutral, professional
mediator, people in conflict come together to define their issues,
identify their needs and best alternatives, and negotiate a solution
that is both fair and workable. Mediation is recognized by the courts
and is in use throughout the country. In some places it is mandatory
in domestic relations cases.
All the parties need is to have a sincere wish to solve the problems at
hand. The mediator charts the course through the jungle of disputes,
emotions, and differing opinions.
Mediators typically have a degree in the field in which they work.
A good mediator begins by explaining the process to both parties. The
mediator will probably suggest that you read specific reference
material to familiarize yourself with some of the fundamentals of the
process. Whatever the mediator suggests, DO IT. You are spending
your money, your problems will be addressed, and PREPARATION is a key.
Before mediation begins, you should understand your goals and the
rationale behind them. When mediation starts you should be able to
articulate your goals precisely to both the mediator and your adversary
without demeaning your adversary's point of view.
The first session I attended was an introductory meeting that set
ground rules and explained the process. Both parties (the mother of my
child and I) were told what information was required for the process to
begin. We were allowed to express our feelings a bit about the
problems to be addressed.
Either Party Can End the Process at Any Time!
I must confess that in my first session I became uneasy when my
daughter's mother became emotional and the mediator seemed to empathize
with her. I made the decision to wait and see what would happen in
another session, and this turned out to be an excellent decision.
In the following sessions the mediator went to great lengths to ensure
that neither of us felt alienated. Sensitive issues were handled in
independent sessions. Each of us presented our positions and rationale
on the tough issues privately, and proposed a solution. The mediator
then brought everyone back together to further discuss the issue. This
process continued until the issue was resolved. Rational thought and
reasoning based on facts were used to solve our problems. We could
express emotions privately when necessary, and that seemed to defuse
some potentially explosive issues.
In the end we were able to reach an agreement. This agreement was
translated into a Shared Parenting Plan our attorneys reviewed and
submitted to the court. I was surprised at the efficiency of this
process and recommend it to anyone involved in a conflict both parties
have an interest in resolving.
There are many advantages of mediation over traditional legal methods.
Not only does mediation give both parties a degree of control, and a
feeling of empowerment, it helps alleviate the problem of courtrooms
overloaded with far too many cases. It cuts taxpayer expenses for
handling these cases. And it saves legal expenses for the involved
parties. My personal expenses for over 8 hours in three sessions were
less than $320. My case was resolved for less money than a lawyer's
fees for a half a day in court.
In closing, remember these three things:
1. Ask your attorney to recommend a qualified, reputable mediator.
2. Make sure you are comfortable with the mediator. The decisions
you make are going to last for a while. You must feel you can
speak freely and openly.
3. Be PREPARED. It pays off.
I am pleased with the agreement my ex-partner and I made. We both
By Richard A. Warshak, Ph.D.
On their own, or with their lawyers' assistance, most couples are able
to reach an agreement about custody without resorting to a battle.
Fortunately, couples who can't agree have another option before taking
their dispute to court; they can take their dispute to a mediator.
A custody mediator is a neutral person who attempts to help parents
resolve their disputes in a cooperative and peaceful manner. The
process of mediation emphasizes parents' own responsibility for making
the decisions that affect their children. The mediator's job is to
facilitate communication, keep the focus on present issues and not past
grievances, and thereby prevent discussion from degenerating into a
series of unproductive accusation, criticisms, and name-calling. As
often as necessary, the mediator reminds parents of the benefits of an
Most child-custody mediators act as advocates for the children. They
keep the children's welfare at the center of the deliberations by
educating parents about the psychological development of their
children, by clarifying misconceptions about what children from
divorced homes do and do not need, and by refusing to sanction any
proposed agreements that would be destructive to the children.
The mediator does everything possible to help parents find a mutually
acceptable solution to their dispute -- a solution in which no one
"loses." He or she may offer alternative plans that have not occurred
to the parents, and even make recommendations. Because of the
mediator's neutrality, his or her recommendations are more apt to be
received nondefensively by parents.
Every time Lou and Glenda Nichols tried to discuss the issue of
custody, they became embroiled in a heated argument that ended in
threats to take each other to court. Glenda felt that Lou had a poorer
understanding of their son's needs, and she objected to the various
proposals Lou made regarding future living arrangements. Lou felt that
Glenda's objections were merely her attempt to control him -- just as
he felt she had done in their marriage. Thus, he dismissed her
arguments without giving them any careful consideration. He seemed to
be operating on the principle that, if Glenda said it, it must be
Fortunately, their attorneys were less inclined to litigate custody
disputes (attorneys vary in the extent to which they advocate peaceful
resolution versus knockdown, drag-out courtroom battles). The lawyers
agreed that their clients should seek mediation.
The mediator began the first session with a monologue about the
importance of keeping the focus on Michael, the couple's three-year-old
son. Before either parent had a chance to voice beliefs and
preferences, the mediator clearly established his neutrality. He would
evaluate any and all proposals from the standpoint of Michael's needs,
regardless of who offered the proposal.
Having been told by the lawyers that Lou wanted an arrangement in which
Michael would shift residence every three months, the mediator included
in his monologue several statements about a young child's inability to
tolerate long separations from his parents. This gave him an advantage
when Lou ultimately voiced his plan for sharing custody. Before Glenda
could jump in with her usual objections, the mediator said that Michael
was lucky that his father wanted to be so involved with him. The
mediator referred back to his opening statements about a three-year-old
child's sense of time and difficulty with long absences and challenged
Lou to think of another schedule that would be more in tune with
Had the mediator first allowed Glenda to voice her objections (which
were substantially that same as his), and then agreed with her, this
would have undermined his credibility with Lou. As it stood, Lou could
back down from his proposal without losing face or feeling he was
capitulating to Glenda. Ultimately, the mediator was able to make
specific recommendations that helped this couple fashion an acceptable
agreement that served Michael's needs well.
Despite a mediator's contributions, the power to make the final
decisions is left in the hands of the parents. The mediator only
assists; the parents decide.
Mediation spares parents the sense of impotence that comes from being
coerced, under penalty of law, to abide by a decision handed down by a
total stranger -- a decision regarding their own access to their own
children! It spares parents the infantilizing experience of pleading
to a higher authority to intervene in their conflict, like fighting
siblings running to their mother. It spares parents the indignity that
comes from displaying their dirty linen in a public court hearing, and
the escalation of hostility that is the invariable by-product of this
Instead, successful mediation enhances the self-esteem of the
participants. Parents emerge with renewed confidence in their ability
to cooperate with each other to best meet their children's needs. And
self-respect grows when they resolve their difficult conflicts with
humanity, dignity, and autonomy. Because the decision is their own,
and not imposed by an outside authority, both parents are more apt to
abide by their agreement. This should be viewed as a significant
advantage of mediation over the current system, in which only a
minority of divorced fathers comply with court-imposed child-support
An added attraction of mediation is that parents are spared the
financial expense of a trial. Society, too, reaps the benefits of
mediation: Overburdened court schedules are alleviated, thereby
resulting in a significant savings in public funds. One expert esti-
mates a savings of over $180 million per year if all custody cases were
mediated. Finally, in an age when people all over the world are
seeking to curtail government intrusion into their personal lives,
mediation achieves a separation of family and state in an area where
government intervention not only is unnecessary but actually impedes
the family's adjustment to divorce.
By now it should be evident that I enthusiastically endorse mediation.
Although research is still at an early stage, I am convinced that
mediation benefits children. The children are exposed to less conflict
between their parents, and the parents themselves escape the
psychological problems caused by custody battles. I believe that
mediation is so vastly superior to custody litigation that in coming
years it will replace litigation as the primary means for resolving
Mediation is the wave of the future, and it is a major battlefront of
the custody revolution.
Mediation vs. Litigation
Mediation/Litigation... Mediation Litigation
Allows parents to retain control over
decisions affecting their children Yes No
Enhances parents' self-esteem and
dignity Yes No
Promotes communication and cooper-
ation between parents Yes No
Reduces hostility between parents Yes No
Increases both parents' commitment
to the custody decision Yes No
Expands the range of options for cus-
tody and visitation Yes No
Allows for flexibility of living
arrangements in response to changing
needs of the family Yes No
Keeps personal and family matters
private Yes No
Minimizes government interference
in family life Yes No
Results in financial savings to parents
and to the public Yes No
Source: _The Custody Revolution_, 1992
If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of
government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth --
certainly the machine will wear out.... Perhaps you may consider
whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of
such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to
another, than, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter
friction to stop the machine.
- Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience," 1849
Prince George's County Mediation Program
The Prince George's County, Maryland Visitation Office, which is one of
the few jurisdictions in the U.S. that has staff to resolve access
(visitation) complaints informally out of court, averages about 40
cases per month.
For the third quarter of 1990, 149 cases were received, and 76 percent
were resolved satisfactorily. There was an increase of 10 percent on
the cases received for the quarter which began in October, 1990. The
average time spent in resolution of each case has been 72 minutes.
This information was provided by Linda Botts, executive director of the
Office of Child Support Enforcement of Prince George's County, 14701
Governor Oden Bowie Drive, Suite 300, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772, phone
(301) 952-4823. The National Council for Children's Rights (NCCR) [now
known as the Children's Rights Council] estimates that the average
salary cost for each case that was resolved is $15.00.
Prince George's County, which is just outside Washington, D.C.,
initiated this visitation mediation program in 1985 at the urging of
NCCR [now CRC]. The program was discontinued after a year, but again,
at NCCR's urging, the program was reinstituted.
This is the second year of its reinstitution. For each of these two
past years, Prince George's County has provided $50,000 in county funds
for the program. The program is technically under the county Child
Support Office, but the actual running of the mediation program is
subcontracted to the University of Maryland Child Mediation Office,
which provides the mediators. The University of Maryland is in Prince
Most of the mediation is done by phone, but occasionally, mediation is
provided in person.
NCCR urges you to try to get a program like this set up in your city or
county. Our NCCR Report R105A -- Access (Visitation) Report provides a
lot of the background, and may be purchased for $12.00 by non-NCCR
members, and for $10.00 by members. The address is NCCR, 721 2nd Street
N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002-4307. [New address is CRC, 220 I Street,
NE, Suite 230, Washington, DC 20002-4363.]
SOURCE: _Speaking Out For Children_, a publication of the National
Council for Children's Rights, Winter 1990/1991
A Visit From the Children
By Judith Martin (Miss Manners)
A great many people have been eagerly looking forward to receiving
summer visitors who will stay for weeks, disparage and quarrel with the
rest of the family, make themselves at home in the sense of doing
whatever they want but not in the sense of going along with the customs
of the house, complain about household conditions and gather critical
personal information about them to take back to the hosts'
Why would anyone allow such guests in the door -- especially since they
are all people who have been there before -- much less look forward to
Because these are their own children.
Children who annually spend part of the summer in the homes of a
noncustodial parent are not guests at all, but members of the family
who can legitimately consider that they have a claim to being at home
wherever a parent lives.
Their's is not an easy situation, and Miss Manners does not mean to
suggest that it is their fault that these visits are often hard on the
full-time residents. They are likely to be even harder on the
What visitor would want to spend weeks away from home but not exactly
on vacation, being expected to take part in the routines of a household
in which he or she is neither treated as a guest nor successfully made
to feel part of the family, subjected to unfamiliar rules and
conditions, and perhaps made to hear criticism of a parent and other
Who, then, is to blame for the unfortunate fact that so many of these
joyously anticipated visits turn out to be disappointing for everyone
Reluctant to blame each other, parents and children traditionally
identify other villains: The noncustodial parent blames the custodial
parent, and the child blames the noncustodial stepparent.
Miss Manners does not think that this solves the problem. Perhaps there
are some parents who train their children to be disgruntled spies, and
stepparents whose desire it is to make children feel tyrannized and
unwanted, but Miss Manners tends to doubt that there are as many such
monsters as she hears claimed.
And she is aware that the situation itself is capable of producing
misery all around, totally without the assistance of ill will.
This is because polite guests stay for a short period of time, take
care to show their gratitude for being entertained, and are on the
lookout to fit in with their hosts' expectations, even if it means
suspending their own wishes; while polite children-of-the-house can
expect to be in a relaxing atmosphere where the customs are familiar
and were indeed made with their needs in mind.
And polite hosts devote themselves to amusing guests and adjusting the
family routines in order to make them comfortable, while polite parents
can expect to be in unquestioned charge without their devotion being
So what we have here is an etiquette crisis waiting to happen -- a
situation in which no one quite knows which form of behavior to follow.
An etiquette conference is called for, in which the mixture of
expectations and rules for such a hybrid situation is made explicit:
"We keep rather a neat household, so the best place to sprawl out is in
your sleeping quarters, or on the porch. But the living room is fine,
too, if you just take things with you when you leave the room. We'll
try to get out of the house quietly in the morning, because you like to
sleep in, but when we're home, please use the headphones while you're
listening to music. Want to come along on the grocery shopping and
help get things you like? Is there anything you particularly don't
like? No, we don't have television on during dinner, but if there's a
particular program you want to see, perhaps we could eat before or
Miss Manners is giving the adult side of the dialogue, because she does
not mean to say that everything is negotiable -- by virtue of their
being parents and the heads of that particular household, the adults
are in charge. But she is assuming that they are also entertaining
requests by the child, whenever possible.
What is meant to be missing here is any critical comparison of the two
households where the child has parents. The etiquette rule against
criticizing anyone else's home and relatives applies equally to adult
and child, no matter how closely they may be related.
(c) 1993, United Feature Syndicate, Inc.
Source: USENET, clari.feature.miss_manners, July 18, 1993; also
syndicated to many newspapers around the globe
Tears In Our Eyes
By Joan Clifton Costner of Guyman, Oklahoma
I am a grandmother who believes in family. No one takes into
consideration the most innocent, the most helpless victims of divorce
-- the children. They have no one. And, of course, grandparents are
too old to be considered.
When a nation does to its old and its young what we witnessed in our
family and in our small town, when this can happen in the grass roots
of America, one can only image the horrors of the city and the children
who have no grandparents or interested family.
Because of divorce, I cared for my grandson in the 63 days his father
has him for the summer. When my granddaughter (from a younger son) was
born, my grandson was here in my home and she was placed in my care.
The two formed a sort of brother-sister bond.
Later, her home was victimized by divorce too.
At the end of a recent Thanksgiving visit, they were saying good-bye,
and as I took their picture, they turned and smiled, the tears still
present in their eyes.
The picture I took of my two grandchildren inspired the following
With tears in our eyes
And love in our hearts,
We said our good-byes
And made a new start -
For two homes were broken
And two little friends
Would never be quite like
They could have been
Summers at Grandma's
Sweet, easy days -
When daddies come home
Every evening to play
Grandpa and fishin'
And love did abound...
But we had to go back
With the leaves turnin' brown
For the judge never asked us
How WE felt that day -
And we were so little
We could hardly say...
So we hugged as we parted
And said our good-byes
With love in our hearts...
And tears... in our eyes
The Bad News About Stepparents
By Barbara Dafoe Whitehead
Perhaps the most striking, and potentially disturbing new research has
to do with children in stepparent families. Until quite recently the
optimistic assumption was that children saw their lives improve when
they became part of a stepfamily. When Nicholas Zill and his
colleagues began to study the effects of remarriage on children, their
working hypothesis was that stepparent families would make up for the
shortcomings of the single-parent family. Clearly, most children are
better off economically when they are able to share in the income of
two adults. When a second adult joins the household, there may be a
reduction in the time and work pressures on the single parent.
The research overturns this optimistic assumption, however. In general
the evidence suggests that remarriage neither reproduces nor restores
the intact family structure, even when it brings more income and a
second adult into the household. Quite the contrary. Indeed, children
living with stepparents appear to be even more disadvantaged than
children living in a stable single-parent family. Other difficulties
seem to offset the advantages of extra income and an extra pair of
hands. However much our modern sympathies reject the fairy-tale
portrait of stepparents, the latest research confirms that the old
stories are anthropologically quite accurate. Stepfamilies disrupt
established loyalties, create new uncertainties, provoke deep
anxieties, and sometimes threaten a child's physical safety as well as
Parents and children have dramatically different interests in and
expectations for a new marriage. For a single parent, remarriage
brings new commitments, the hope of enduring love and happiness, and
relief from stress and loneliness. For a child, the same event often
provokes confused feelings of sadness, anger, and rejection. Nearly
half the children in [a study conducted by Judith Wallerstein] said
they felt left out of their stepfamilies. The National Commission on
Children, a bipartisan group headed by Senator John D. Rockefeller, of
West Virginia, reported that children from stepfamilies were more
likely to say they often felt lonely or blue than children from either
single-parent or intact families. Children in stepfamilies were the
most likely to report that they wanted more time with their mothers.
When mothers remarry, daughters tend to have a harder time adjusting
than sons. Evidently, boys often respond positively to a male presence
in the household, while girls who have established close ties to their
mother in a single-parent family often see the stepfather as a rival
and an intruder. According to one study, boys in remarried families
are less likely to drop out of school than boys in single-parent
families, while the opposite is true for girls.
A large percentage of children do not even consider stepparents to be
part of their families, according to the National Survey on Children.
The NSC asked children, "When you think of your family, who do you
include?" Only 10 percent of the children failed to mention a
biological parent, but a third left out a step-parent. Even children
who rarely saw their noncustodial parents almost always named them as
family members. The weak sense of attachment is mutual. When parents
were asked the same question, only one percent failed to mention a
biological child, while 15 percent left out a stepchild. In the same
study stepparents with both natural children and stepchildren said that
it was harder for them to live their stepchildren than their biological
children and that their children would have been better off if they had
grown up with two biological parents.
One of the most severe risks associate with stepparent-child ties is
the risk of sexual abuse. As Judith Wallerstein explains, "The
presence of a stepfather can raise the difficult issue of a thinner
incest barrier." The incest taboo is strongly reinforced, Wallerstein
says, by knowledge of paternity and by the experience of caring for a
child since birth. A stepfather enters the family without either
credential and plays a sexual role as the mother's husband. As a
result, stepfathers can pose a sexual risk to the children, especially
to daughters. According to a study by the Canadian researchers Martin
Daly and Margo Wilson, preschool children in stepfamilies are forty
times as likely as children in intact families to suffer physical or
sexual abuse. (Most of the sexual abuse was committed by a third
party, such as a neighbor, a stepfather's male friend, or another
nonrelative.) Stepfathers discriminate in their abuse: they are far
more likely to assault nonbiological children than their own natural
Sexual abuse represents the most extreme threat to children's
well-being. Stepfamilies also seem less likely to make the kind of
ordinary investments in the children that other families do. Although
it is true that the stepparent household has a higher income than the
single-parent household, it does not follow that the additional income
is reliably available to the children. To begin with, children's claim
on stepparents' resources is shaky. Stepparents are not legally
required to support stepchildren, so their financial support of these
children is entirely voluntary. Moreover, since stepfamilies are far
more likely to break up than intact families, particularly in the first
five years, there is always the risk -- far greater than the risk of
unemployment in an intact family -- that the second income will vanish
with another divorce. The financial commitments to a child's education
appear weaker in stepfamilies, perhaps because the stepparent believes
that the responsibility for educating the child rests with the bio-
Similarly, studies suggest that even though they may have the time, the
parents in stepfamilies do not invest as much of it in their children
as the parents in intact families or even single parents do. A 1991
survey by the National Commission on Children showed that the parents
in stepfamilies were less likely to be involved in a child's school
life, including involvement in extra-curricular activities, than either
intact-family parents or single parents. They were the least likely to
report being involved in such time-consuming activities as coaching a
child's team, accompanying class trips, or helping with school
projects. According to Sara McLanahan's research, children in
stepparent families report lower educational aspirations on the part of
their parents and lower levels of parental involvement in schoolwork.
In short, it appears that family income and the number of adults in the
household are not the only factors affecting children's well-being.
Source: _The Atlantic_ monthly magazine, April, 1993
Our marriage is, in many cases, a mere outward tie, impelled by custom,
policy, interest, necessity; founded not even in friendship, to say
nothing of love; with every possible inequality of condition and
development. In these heterogeneous unions, we find youth and old age,
beauty and deformity, refinement and vulgarity, virtue and vice, the
educated and the ignorant, angels of grace and goodness, with devils of
malice and malignity: and the sum of all this is human wretchedness
and despair; cold fathers, sad mothers, and hapless children, who
shiver at the hearthstone, where the fires of love have all gone out.
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, speech at the Tenth National Women's
Rights Convention, New York City, May 10, 1860
Book Guides Teenage Dads Towards Responsible, Joyful Fatherhood
By Lee Stratton
The daughter wanted a formal wedding. So her dad painted the shotgun
It's an old joke. Old enough to go over the heads of many young people
Shotgun weddings -- in which the pregnant bride's father marched the
groom to the altar at gunpoint -- are pretty much a thing of the past.
Many parents of pregnant teenage girls want to do just the opposite --
they want to keep the father out of the picture. Their attitude is:
"He got her pregnant. He doesn't have a job. He's irresponsible. I
don't want him hanging around my daughter or the baby."
[Interesting that `She got pregnant, she probably doesn't have a
job....' But is SHE considered so irresponsible she is unfit to act as
Jeanne Warren Lindsay, an author and longtime teacher of teen parents
in the Los Angeles area, has a different view.
68 percent of teenage mothers are not married. But that doesn't mean
that 69 percent of the fathers of their babies choose to be
Given the chance, many young men can be good fathers, even if they
don't marry or can't provide immediate financial support.
Lindsay has written 14 books for and about teens who are pregnant or
are parents. Some of her books are used in Ohio public school classes
for pregnant teens and teenage mothers. In 1972 she helped establish
an Orange County school program to help young mothers finish their
education. She taught in the program for about 15 years.
Lindsay says that if the father, at 15 or 16, is involved with the
baby, he's much more likely to stay around after he has completed
school and can financially support the baby.
That's why Lindsay has written _Teen Dads_ ($15.95, Morning Glory
Press), a how-to-be-a-good-parent guide for young men. It spells out
the rights, responsibilities and joys of fatherhood.
"A lot of young fathers don't know they have rights," she said.
"Unless the court says otherwise, he has a right to see the child,
whether or not he's providing financial support."
_Teen Dads_ gives straightforward advice on everything from how to be
supportive of the expectant mother to dealing with the tantrums of
In preparing her book, Lindsay interview 41 teenage fathers nationwide,
from inner-city neighborhoods and from rural areas. Some were high
achievers who held jobs while they finished school. Others were in
The latter group included nine youths at the Buckeye Youth Center on
W. Broad St. in Columbus. Many had taken a parenting course for
The lessons in Lindsay's book are backed up with quotations from those
In the introduction, Darrance, 17, the father of a year-old boy, tells
readers: "Having a baby changed my life a lot. I had to stop doing
about everything, going to parties, hanging out. I had to focus on
Jaysay, meeting his needs. I have to be mature and stand up for
whatever he needs, be a man because I've got responsibilities now."
Lindsay strongly advocates that father and mother finish school.
"Being a good father doesn't necessarily mean living with the mother
and the baby," she said. "Marriage is often not the solution. But
pushing father out of the picture doesn't help anyone.
"With family support and community support, she and he are likely to be
To order _Teen Dads_ or a catalog of teen parenting books, write
Morning Glory Press, 6595 San Haroldo Way, Buena Park, Calif.
Source: _The Columbus Dispatch_, July 28, 1993
Sheryl Lynn Massip, a mother in her mid-twenties who murdered her
6-month-old son by crushing his head by running over it with the wheel
of the family car, over and over, systematically covered up the murder
until she was discovered. Then she testified that she suffered from
postpartum depression -- or "baby blues." Her sentence?
Mothers do, of course, get the baby blues. As do dads. A dad often
feels like the mother has left him for "another lover." Husbands often
say, "It's she and the baby cuddling on the couch and me looking on,"
or, "Now I know the meaning of `two's company, three's a crowd.'" or,
"My wife and I used to spend lots of time together but now we don't";
or, "We've barely made love for two years -- since the baby was born."
Were the husband to kill his baby, as Sheryl Lynn did, it is unlikely
we would just treat him for baby blues or Save The Marriage Syndrome.
Why does her version of baby blues allow her to receive treatment for
child murder while he would receive life in prison for child murder
with or without baby blues?
- Warren Farrell, _The Myth of Male Power_, 1993
Some Rights are More Important than the Right of a Father to See His
By George R. McCasland
Got your attention, didn't I? But what I want you think about is, do
you really have a right to see your children? To be a part of their
lives? Do the rights of others ever exceed your rights?
Now you should be asking yourself, what rights of others can possibly
exceed my right to be a father to my children? The right I have in
mind may not be the one you would probably think of, but in reality, it
is a right we should be arguing for. A right that far exceeds any
rights you, me, or our children may have.
It's the right to feel free from fear. Fear of what? Fear of coming
home and finding our homes ransacked. Fear of being mugged while
walking in our neighborhoods. Fear of driving in our cars and being
robbed, and having our cars stolen. The fear of being a victim of
Now you may be asking yourself, "What in the bloody hell are you
talking about?" I'm talking about a connection. A connection between
your rights and the rights of society as a whole. Let me give you a
quote from the August 10th, 1992 issue of _Fortune_ magazine. That
issue was dedicated to children. A statement in it says, "Ominously,
the best predictor of crime is not race or poverty, but the increase of
the fatherless family."
That is a very significant statement. A very clear definition of what
we have been seeing happening to our society, as a whole. Let's look
at the figures.
Recently, the Center for Disease Control, while conducting a study into
what may be causing the alarming increase in the number of children
with behavioral disorders, found a connection they did not expect. 85%
of them came from fatherless homes. These are children who have
trouble in school, trouble in their associations with others. Now, in
the U.S. today, according to the Census Bureau, 21% of all children are
living in home with only one natural parent. That means that the
majority of these children come from a home environment that is not
whole, not complete.
In the last few years, numerous studies have been showing an alarming
pattern -- children growing up fatherless have a higher rate of
becoming troubled teens and adults. They have a 400% higher rate of
getting involved in drugs, alcohol, crime, teen pregnancy, and
suicide. Now drugs, alcohol, pregnancy, and suicide are considered
personal matters, not generally affecting society as a whole, but crime
does affect society.
The statistics are significant. 82% of all criminals sitting in
prisons today grew up without a natural father present. Over 4/5ths of
the criminals come from 1/5 of the population. This causes prisons to
become so overcrowded convicts have to be released early. At least,
the less violent ones. Less violent than what?
This is how you should be addressing the issue of denial of access to
your children. Not just because you have a right to see them, or for
them to see you, but also because society has a right to know that your
child, and all children are receiving everything they need to become
fully functioning adults -- assets to society. That means they have
the right to be raised with the significant influence of two parents,
and all grandparents -- each adding a little to the life experiences of
the child -- preparing them for what they will be facing in the
This is not to say that every child growing up fatherless will become a
troubled child. Look at President Clinton. His father died at an
early age. Of course, in some people's opinion, using a politician
isn't a very good example, but not every child being raised by one
parent gets into trouble. Yet, so many of them are getting into
trouble that it is causing a major, major problems in our society. And
these are problems that should not exist. We should not have to be
afraid of every stranger we pass.
This is what we should be telling our representatives in Congress, in
the State Houses. If they are not for fathers having equal access to
their children, then they are promoting the increase of crime. In
fact, start by asking them where do they stand on "preventing crime" --
not fighting it, but preventing it. Then ask them pointedly, what have
they done recently to promote children's rights to have their fathers
as a significant part of their lives. If nothing, then they are
pro-criminal. We hear a lot about what needs to be done to fight
crime, but that is not the issue. We need to be preventing it, and
that prevention starts in the home.
We have a cancer in our society. When a doctor first suspects a person
has a cancer, it is because of symptoms. In our society, the cancer
that is growing is the fatherless family. The symptom of that cancer
A few years ago, the head of the Children's Defense Fund, in
Washington, D.C. opposed legislation addressing the issue of vis-
itation rights enforcement. This woman currently has a significant
position in our government -- virtually 24-hour access to the
President's ear. Maybe she should be asked, "With 72% of all repeat
rapists coming from homes where no father had a significant influence
in the person's life, didn't her opposition constitute the promoting of
the physical violation of women, now and in the future?"
How about taking the time, right now, before you get involved with
something else, to type or handwrite out a letter to the President.
Let him know what you think about his policy regarding the strict
enforcement of child support, and the lack of enforcement of visitation
rights. Ask him, in view of the above figures, if he thinks Americans
have a right to feel safe in their homes, in their neighborhoods, in
their cars? If he is not willing to address the problems of fatherless
families, then he is not willing to do much to prevent crime. By not
preventing it, some might say he is promoting it.
Today, our greatest national threat comes not from some external Evil
Empire, but from our own internal Indifference Empire that tolerates
splintered families, unparented children, embattled schools, and
pervasive poverty, racism, and violence.
- Hillary Rodham Clinton, May 29, 1992
Our monthly meeting is at the usual place, the Best Western Hotel on
161 just west of I-71 on August 16, 1993 at 7:00 p.m.
This month's guest speaker is Dr. Judith Thomas, an accredited mediator
with the Common Pleas Courts in both Franklin and Fairfield Counties
and a Practitioner Member of the Academy of Family Mediators. Judith
Thomas earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University in sociology with a
focus on family and organized relationships. She has done research on
family reorganization after divorce, especially focusing on gender
differences and the dynamics of post-divorce cooperative parenting.
She received basic training in mediation from Community Mediation Ser-
vices -- Columbus Bar Association and advanced training from the
Academy of Family Mediators. She is a former faculty member at Denison
University and a frequent speaker and trainer in mediation, divorce,
family and organization issues.
Dr. Thomas will talk about and answer questions you may have on media-
tion. She will also discuss the recent research finding of a study
done by Drs. Maccoby and Mnookin at Stanford University -- the most
comprehensive study ever conducted on joint custody and its effects on
all parties. She will also discuss her own research findings about
First, the advice given during meetings, by members directly and in
telephone conversations, should not be taken as legal advice. It is
the opinion of the person answering the questions at the time, and the
answers are based upon legal advice that attorneys on our board have
given in similar situations. Consult your attorney or one of our
recommended attorneys before taking any action in your case.
Second, the articles in the Newsletter are culled from a variety of
sources, cover many topics and reflect differing opinions. Every
article is the expressed opinion of only the author of that article.
These articles do not necessarily represent the collective opinion of
FACE nor of the FACE directors. Even articles written as editorials by
members of this group are not the opinion of the group itself or of
leadership. The Newsletter attempts to present both sides on issues so
readers can form their own opinions and make informed decisions.
This group is for equality.
We are NOT against women. Women who become noncustodial parents face
the same kinds of problems noncustodial fathers face.
We don't think that child support guidelines are fair. We have actively
worked to help the state fix the child support guidelines so they are
fair and logical. We want parents to pay their child support -- on
time, all the time.
We are NOT advocates of child abuse -- we are very much AGAINST child
abuse. Yet, we want the courts and social systems to recognize that
many contentious ex-spouses make bogus allegations of abuse during
custody battles. We are trying to help the courts and the professionals
that handle such allegations to come up with better methods for doing
We are NOT in favor of the overuse of the adversarial court system for
resolving custody disputes. We think that mediation of these disputes
is a more effective and less expensive solution and we strongly
encourage the courts to utilize this resource more often, more
We are not advocates solely for fathers. We are advocates for children,
because too many children suffer from the consequences of the courts
tearing one parent out of the children's lives and making that parent a
"visitor" and a remote wallet. We don't think that is right or fair. It
hurts children and weakens our society.
We believe that children have the right to and deserve TWO parents. We
believe in equal legal rights and equal physical access to children of
divorce for both parents and the extended family. Hence the name --
Fathers And Children for Equality.
The FACE Newsletter Staff
Jack Quinn Research, Contributing Editor
Aaron Hoffmeyer Research, Typesetting, Contributing Editor
Paul Bokros Research, Contributing Editor, Mailing List
The FACE Officers
Mike Driscoll President
Mike Hamill Vice-Presidents
John McKinley Treasurer
R.W. Fowler Secretary
The Fathers And Children for Equality Foundation is supported by the
Ohio United Way.
(c) 1993. All copyrights are implied and applicable.
P.O. Box 18022
Columbus, Ohio 43218
Aaron L. Hoffmeyer
Sorry. No neat quotes down here this month. This newsletter is available
in FrameMaker, Postscript and as ASCII on cwgk4.chem.cwru (22.214.171.124)
via anonymous ftp.
Ok. One quote.....
"Families mean support and an audience to men. To women, they just mean more
- Anonymous, quoted by Gloria Steinem in _Ms._ magazine,
"The mother's heart is the child's schoolroom."
- Henry Ward Beecher, _Life Thoughts_, 1859.
"Better to be driven out from among men than to be disliked of
- Richard Henry Dana, "Domestic Life," published in _The Idle
Man_ magazine, 1821-1822.
"Discipline is a symbol of caring to a child. He needs guidance. If
there is love, there is no such thing as being too tough with a
child.... If you have never been hated by your child, you have never
been a parent."
- Betty Davis, _The Lonely Life_, 1962.
"Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing
Is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing."
- Phyllis Diller, in _Phyllis Diller's Housekeeping Hints_, 1966.
"The security and elevation of the family and of family life are the prime
objects of civilization, and the ultimate ends of all industry."
- Charles William Eliot, _The Happy Life_, 1896.
"It is my conviction that the family is God's basic unit in society.
God's most important unit in society. No wonder then ... we are in a
holy war for the survival of the family. Before a nation collapses, the
families of that nation must go down first."
- Jerry Falwell, speaking at a morning service, December 2, 1979.
"Total commitment to family and total commitment to career is possible,
- Muriel Fox, quoted by Barbara Jordan Moore in _New Woman_
magazine, October, 1971.
"What maintains one Vice would bring up two Children."
- Ben Franklin, _Poor Richard's Almanack_, 1758.
"No parent was ever very comfortable with a child after it had reached
- Edgar Watson Howe, _Sinner Sermons_, 1926.
"The reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is that they
have a common enemy."
- attributed to Sam Levenson.
"What the world needs is not romantic lovers who are sufficient unto
themselves, but husbands and wives who live in communities, relate to
other people, carry on useful work and willingly give time and attention
to their children."
- Margaret Mead, in _Redbook_ magazine, November, 1965.
"Children aren't happy wth nothing to ignore,
And that's what parents were created for."
- Ogden Nash, "The Parent," in _Many Long Years Ago_, 1945.
"I have no sympathy with the old idea that children owe such immense
gratitude to their parents that they can never fulfill their
obligations to them. I think the obligation is all on the other side.
Parents can never do too much for their children to repay them for the
injustice of having brought them into the world, unless they have
insured them high moral and intellectual gifts, fine physical health,
and enough money and education to render life something more than one
ceaseless struggle for necessities."
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, diary entry, November 12, quoted in
Theodore Stanton and Harriet Stanton Blatch, _Elizabeth Cady
"It's clear that most American children suffer too much mother and too
- Gloria Steinem, writing in the _New York Times_, August 26,
"We are always too busy for our children; we never give them the time or
interest they deserve. We lavish gifts upon them; but the most precisous
gift -- our personal association, which means so much to them -- we give
- Mark Twain, quoted in Albert Bigelow Paine, _Mark Twain: A
"I teach my child to look at life in a thoroughly materialistic
fashion. If he escapes and becomes the sort of person I hope he will
become, it will be because he sees through all the hokum that I hand
- E.B. White, "Sanitation," _One Man's Meat_, 1944.
"There are no illegitimate children -- only illegitimate parents."
- Leon R. Yankwich, in a district court decision, _Zipkin v.
Mozon_, June, 1928.
"Most fathers don't want custody and could not take it on even if they
thought they wanted to."
- anonymous reviewer, _American Journal of Psychiatry_, 1981.
"It would be very difficult for a man to raise two boys like a woman can,
therefore, I'm going to name [the mother] as managing conservator
[custodian] of the children."
- family court judge, Waco, Texas, 1982.
"Mother love is a dominant trait even in the weakest of women, and as a
general thing, surpasses the paternal affection for the common offspring,
and moreover, a child needs a mother's care even more than a father's.
For these reasons courts are loath to deprive the mother of custody of her
- _Freeland v. Freeland_, 92 Washington 482, 483-84, 159 P. 698, 699
"It is not for a court to rend the most sacred ties of nature which bind a
mother to her children, except in extreme cases."
- _Random v. Random_, 41 N. Dakota. 163, 165, 170 N.W. 313, 314
"The mother is God's own institution for the rearing and upbringing of the
- _Hines v. Hines_, 192 Iowa 659, 572, 185 N.W. 91, 92 (1921).
"For a boy of such tender years nothing can be an adequate substitute for
mother love -- for that constant ministration required during the period
of nurture that only a mother can give because in her alone is duty
swallowed up in desire; in her alone is service expressed in terms of
love. She alone has the patience and sympathy required to mold and soothe
the infant mind in its adjustment to its environment. The difference
between fatherhood and motherhood in this respect is fundamental."
- _Jenkins v. Jenkins_, 173 Wisconsin 592, 181 N.W. 826 (1921).
"There is but a twilight zone between a mother's love and the
atmosphere of heaven."
- _Tuter v. Tuter_, 120 S.W. 2d 203, 205 (Missouri Appeals
"Hain't we got all the fools on our side? And ain't that a big enough
majority in any town?
- Mark Twain, _The Adventures of Huckelberry Finn_, 1884.
FOOL, n. A person who pervades the domain of intellectual speculation
and diffuses himself through the channels of moral activity. He is
omnific, omniform, omnipercipient, omniscient, omnipotent. He it was
who invented letters, printing, the railroad, the steamboat, the
telegraph, the platitude and the circle of the sciences. He created
patriotism and taught the nations war -- founded theology, philosophy,
law, medicine and Chicago. He established monarchical and republican
government. He is from everlasting to everlasting -- such as
creation's dawn beheld he fooleth now. In the morning of time he sang
upon primitive hills, and in the noonday of existence headed the
procession of being. His grandmotherly hand was warmly tucked-in the
set sun of civilization, and in the twilight he prepares Man's evening
meal of milk-and-morality and turns down the covers of the universal
grave. And after the rest of us shall have retired for the night of
eternal oblivion he will sit up to write a history of human
- Ambrose Bierce, _The Devil's Dictionary_, 1906.
how great the fall can be
while everybody's sleeping
the boats put out to sea
born on the wings of time
it's seemed the answers
were so easy to find
too late -- the trumpets cried
the island's sinking
let's take to the skies
called the man a fool
and stripped him of his pride
and everyone was laughing
up until the day he died
oh, though the wound went deep
still he's calling
us out of our sleep
my friends, we're glad to know
he waits in silence
to lead us all home
so you tell me that
you find it hard to go
I know I know I know
and you tell me that
you've many seeds to sow
I know I know I know
- from "Fool's Overture," as performed on _Paris_, Hodgson and
Davies of Supertramp, 1973, 1980.