Society to blame for demonising dads
September 26, 2013
Please allow me to respond to The Royal Gazette's article Re: DeSilva: My Gun Crime Frustration, by the Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva dated 18th September. I applaud some of his commentary and feel his frustration. The Commissioner stated that “Bermuda was too slow to respond to the rise in gang activity and now paying the price”. He further goes on to say that “young men lack a positive male influence….”. I remember not too long ago, we claimed that we did not have gangs in Bermuda! Thus, it begs the question, “Was it only lack of response or was it denial also?”
In Dr. Linda Nielsen's research, she tells us why many children become “fatherless” and fathers end up “childless”. This is mostly due to societies' outlook on fathers, as fathers are demeaned, demoralised, and disenfranchised (Journal of Divorce & Remarriage-1999). Further, she says “Only 8% of divorced fathers get to live with their children for as much as a third of the year”.
Why are there so many young men/children lacking father/male influence? Dr. Nielsen further tells us that there are five key answers: (1) Our society's attitudes about fathering; (2) the ways in which we idealise mothers and motherhood; (3) the legal system's treatment of divorced fathers; (4) differences in the mother's and father's parenting styles; and (5) the mother's attitudes and behaviours.
Bermuda in comparison to Dr. Nielsen's and other research around the world, show similar trends by awarding custody to mothers 80% of the time and visitation to fathers every other weekend. These types of situations do not show great benefits to children.
Further, Dr. Nielsen says, “When the mother grants the father some voice in how his child support money is being spent, the father rarely fails to pay and often pays more than legally required of him. Moreover, a father is often required to pay more in child support than he would have been spending on the children if he was still married.”
The involvement of fathers provides many benefits to children, also shown in Dr. Ronald Mincy's Bermuda report (On The Wall or On The Margin 2009).
Much research indicates that gang formation is caused by family fragmentation and single parenting. Also, Dr. Richard Warshak tells us that “A mother's negative opinions of her former spouse, if conveyed to her son, can do more harm to him than the lack of contact with his father”.
Should we then be responsive and take quick action to the research given to us by Dr. Nielsen and others? Dr. Linda Nielsen is a huge advocate for “Shared Parenting” like many others. We believe a quicker response to legislate “Shared Parenting”, promised by Government, would assist greatly in a better community.