Often when you hear about custody cases, you hear about mothers trying to secure their rights as the primary caregiver, with fathers relegated to a “visitation” schedule. The courts are beginning to recognize, though, that fathers serving only in limited parenting role is detrimental to the child’s well-being. As society has evolved and more families consist of two working parents and a split of duties when it comes to child care, fathers have every need and right to fight for equal parenting time and responsibilities. While men and their children recognize the importance, many mothers are still doubtful and some courts still would rather see the kids spend the majority of time with their moms.
So why the disconnect?
Fathers help bathe their children, feed them, read them stories, help with their homework, and provide for them financially. So why is it that primary custody is associated with mothers? Unfortunately, society tells us that children need their mother to nuture them, but this not only discounts the father's rights to their children, but also the benefits children derive from building a close relationship with their fathers. Long-range studies indicate that even fathers who were less active in the day-to-day care of their children often play an important role if they are ready to step up to the plate to provide care and nurturing.
Why it is crucial for children to have time with their fathers
Divorce can be particularly rough on children and even more so when a parent is alienated through custody battles and visitation limitation. Studies show that girls who grow up without fathers are more likely to:
- Be at a higher sexual risk
- Suffer from anxiety
- Experience lowered self esteem
- Earn less over their working lives
Boys who grow up without an active father in their lives are more likely to become fathers at a young age and struggle with school. On the flip side, children of divorced parents who spend time with their fathers are often as well-adjusted as children whose parents remain together.
Most deadbeat dads didn’t start out that way intentionally
Fathers deserve to know they are more than just a wallet for their children’s financial needs. It is crucial to not let fathers be deterred into thinking they cannot care for their children. They should be allowed and encouraged to take an active role in the family life after divorce. If you are involved in a custody battle, choose an experienced attorney who will fight for the time you deserve with your children.