We here in the WorkingDad corner are typically skeptical of politicians, but it seems like they’re on the right track for once. Nearly 20 state legislatures are proposing changes in law that would promote shared parenting and gender equality after divorce or separation, and they certainly have our support.
The proposed changes are also supported by the National Parents Organization, which is calling on family courts to order shared parenting to fit parents after separation or divorce. The change would allow families to secure the benefits suggested in a recent study of working mothers from Harvard Business School’s new Gender Initiative. The study found that daughters experience significant benefits when their mothers work, including being more likely to complete college, be employed in leadership positions and earn higher incomes.
Yet many single mothers are unable to work, or to work to the full extent of their abilities, because they must provide the vast majority of the parenting instead of being able to share it with their former partner. The recent study underscores the need for our family courts to abandon the 1950’s model of giving sole child custody following divorce or separation to just one parent, usually the mother, instead of dividing the parenting. Currently, about 30% of mothers are single mothers with sole custody of children.
The study, which was highlighted in The New York Times story “Mounting Evidence of Advantages for Children of Working Mothers,” comes at a time when
“At a time when 30 percent of mothers are single moms tasked with 85 percent of the parenting time, this latest evidence on the success of daughters of working mothers makes the need for shared parenting following divorce or separation all the more pressing,” said Ned Holstein, MD, MS, Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization. “For the sake of our children’s futures, our family courts must embrace shared parenting in order to empower moms and dads alike in both the home and at work.”
Holstein also said, “The conclusions of this study call to mind the wisdom of the late, renowned activist Karen DeCrow, the first president of the National Organization for Women. DeCrow said, ‘Shared parenting is not only fair to men and children. It is the best option for women. After observing women’s rights and responsibilities for more than a quarter of a century of feminist activism, I conclude that shared parenting is great for women, giving time and opportunity for female parents to pursue education, training, jobs, careers, profession and leisure.’”
SINGLE PARENTING VERSUS SHARED PARENTING
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Census Bureau and numerous researchers have reported alarming outcomes for the 35% of children who are raised by single parents. Yet, until now, this factor has been largely ignored in the conversation about child wellbeing.
Children raised by single parents account for:
• 63% of teen suicides;
• 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions;
• 71% of high school drop-outs;
• 75% of children in chemical abuse centers;
• 85% of those in prison;
• 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders; and
• 90% of homeless and runaway children.
Whether the problem is emotional disturbances of children, drug use, alcohol use, teen pregnancy, poor performance in school, trouble with the law or running with gangs, being raised by a single parent is a powerful risk factor. For many of these outcomes, single parenting is a stronger risk factor than race or poverty. Conversely, children on average do much better on all these measures if they have shared parenting. Children ardently desire shared parenting in most cases and are happier with it.
For parents, shared parenting significantly increases child support compliance, diminishes parental conflict and domestic violence and allows both parents to pursue their careers, social lives and other interests without the burden of singlehandedly raising a child.
ABOUT NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
National Parents Organization, a charitable and educational 501 (c)(3) organization, seeks better lives for children through family law reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers after divorce or separation. The organization is focused on promoting shared parenting and preserving a child’s strong bond with both parents, which is critically important to their emotional, mental, and physical health. In 2014, National Parents Organization released the Shared Parenting Report Card, the first study to rank the states on child custody laws. Visit the National Parents Organization website at www.nationalparentsorganization.org