It can – if you want it to

The Family Law Act amendments in 2007 encouraged share care parenting arrangements between parents. In 2009 another amendment was made to discourage shared care arrangements if there was high conflict between the parents. So where do we stand with this now?

The presumption was that children would get to share their parents time and their home would remain similar to that prior to the separation or divorce.

The fact is, their home is different, very different in many areas. Is it therefore beneficial to the children to have shared care? Research indicates it is in fact the best arrangement for the children as they get to have both parents equally involved in their lives.

This can work if parents are on similar page with child raising, have fair to good communication as many things need to be discussed when sharing parenting arrangements and parents live close to each other so school drop off and collection is easy.

Does children suffer or thrive in shared care arrangements?

While many have read plenty of information about how children from single parent household suffer, I disagree with this. If children suffer from being raised by a single parent, they will suffer anyway. Simply having 2 parents at home does not mean the child will excel.

I ask – what about all the children raised by parents when one is in the defence services and away considerable time or a parent in a fly in fly out job, or parents whose work hours are excessive; do these children suffer more than a child visiting their other parent every second weekend or 3 to 4 days each fortnight.

The stigma this places on a solo parent is enormous and disgraceful. If it isn’t hard enough to raise a child solo, to put this rubbish onto them about their child suffering and performing poorly due to being from a separated family is shameful.

Most children of divorce do not end up depressed, drugged out or delinquent. Research has also shown that children suffer far more when there is continual conflict within the home and can thrive more when the parents separate and conflict is reduced.

There are plenty of success stories of children exceeding when raised by one parent, just the same as there are dreadful and concerning abuse stories of children in 2 parent households. It doesn’t matter how many parents live in the home, it matters on the type of parent you are, how involved you are with our children, how engaged, supportive and loving you are. What is good about shared parenting is often the conflict is reduced. One parent is not as angry due to being kept from their child. It is fairer for both parents to have their children.

No longer should we expect such gender bias to parenting. There would be less child support intervention and hopefully less dependence on welfare payments for the single mother as with shared parenting there is no reason both parents cannot attain work or study therefore saving the community billions each year. Further it should greatly free up the family court system bogged down because parents can’t agree on number of days dad should be allowed to spend with his own children.

Parent Child Relationships

Many studies have connected the differences in parenting behaviour and parent-child relationships to the developmental differences in children. A range of other influences can also affect children, such as individual characteristics of children and parents, economics, life stresses, family functioning, neighbourhood effects, education of parents, their work and family culture. When parents have chronic conflict, children are known to suffer anxiety and stress.

There is considerable literature regarding the relation between parental conflict and emotional and behavioural problems in children. This conflict is often escalated due to parents arguing about who will have the children and time spent with the parents.

If shared care was a mandatory starting point then I believe we would circumvent much conflict, free the courts and save considerable welfare funds.

Karen Phillip Blog

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