Friday, August 15, 2008

Dads Get the Short End of the Stick

A blogger on Slate laments the fact that feminism has often had an inverse impact on dads.

When you think seriously about it, the way custody laws are set up is inescapably unfair. As it stands, there's a hypocrisy at the heart of the second-wave feminist movement: It demands that men be equal partners in child-raising, but when push comes to shove and a marriage dissolves it also implicitly claims that women are the true parents and men are not. While the letter of the law gives men certain rights, divorce lawyers are often shameless about using the threat of claiming there was child abuse to get fathers to back off from fighting for more custody rights. Over the past few months, by total chance, I've talked to a couple of newly divorced fathers, including old college friends, who have suddenly seen their children swept away from them. They were dedicated fathers; they now pay child support, and yet their right to see their children is severely circumscribed. I know there's no perfect solution; but couldn't we come up with one that's better than this? If women really want equality in child-rearing, don't we have to acknowledge that this extends even to divorce?

As a divorced father who does not get to see his kids near enough, I certainly have a first-hand account of this. Deadbeat dads get most of the press, but there are a lot of damn good fathers out there who want to do more for the children, but are not given the chance. In the long run, it is only going to hurt the kids.

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