A recent mailout from the Child Support Agency includes the following article:
Me and my family
My name is Stuart and I would like to share my story with you about how my ex-wife and I have managed our relationship since we separated.
As far fetched as it sounds, and despite the circumstances, I have been able to maintain a strong relationship with my two daughters.
My ex-wife and I have a private arrangement for child support payments. After our marriage ended we managed to amicably sort out our financial matters and made a conscious effort to remain friends, for the benefit of our kids.
Four years down the track, we remain good friends and have found a balance, centred on our children. We openly discuss and mutually agree on any changes to our regular child care arrangements.
I know that my children love to come and stay with me and my new partner every second weekend.
As well as the regular child care arrangements, I look after the kids in the school holidays to minimise school holiday care.
The biggest positive of the arrangement is that our children are happy. They can openly talk to either parent and know they will get an equally open and unbiased answer or advice.
I strongly recommend that any parent put aside issues they have with their ex-partners and change the focus to what is better for the children.
If any other separated parents read this and it makes a difference to them and their children, I know sharing this story is well worth the effort.
Next edition: A mum's case study
This sounds as subtle and credible as a page out of a 1950's propaganda leaflet.
A friend of mine who was handed down exactly the same formula as the one recommended above (and they say the system has changed ?) - that is, every second weekend and half the school holidays - ie the same stew they've been dishing out since the 1975 Family Law Act, has been seeing a counsellor to help him deal with his frustrations.
The female counsellor said to him on his most recent visit:
"I don't know why you are still coming along [to counselling]. There is nothing I can do for you until you accept your situation [two days a fortnight]"
This female counsellor is using a mild form of blackmail (conditional counselling) to force her agenda. Another option would be to suggest how my friend could channel his frustration into constructive activism to change a system which extinguishes rights and generates, not averts, confict.
This friend has a son 5yrs old. The school has contacted him to get together with a guidance officer. The impact of conflict is beginning to show in the emotional and psychological wellbeing of his son.
The preventative cost of assigning case workers to situations such as these would be far less than the remedial cost of a boy who grows up a man permanently damaged by chronic passive conflict and parental alienation.
The government and Family Court system do not take preventative measures. On the contrary their policies are harmful to children. In this case the mother is behaving in a way (parental alientation) which is very harmful to the boy.
The father (my friend) could also probably learn something from a course in parental cooperation. A case worker could organise both parents to do such a course - and learn about the harm of passive and chronic conflict and parental alienation on the child, and the statistics of such children ending up in suicide or drug addiction or mental disorders such as depression etc. A case worker could also follow up to make sure the course or courses have had an impact on the behaviour of the parents.
Penalties need to be in place for parents who behave inappropriately.
A Family Court Registrar said to me "we can't change people's behaviour."
The Family Court system throws its hands up in the air unable to respond to inappropriate behaviour. The philosophy is - if there is any conflict, shared parenting is not an option. But can't they see that even if you marginalise the father, the problem is not going to go away? It is no solution. The solution is in respecting rights of both parents, and the rights of the child to both parents, and in EDUCATION as well as a raft of PENALTIES for ongoing inappropriate behaviour.