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Fathers' rights and the benefits of paternal parenting

The many fathers in Marietta and throughout the state of Georgia who lament their limited access to their children after divorce are not alone. A recent article in the Yale Herald shows that across the country men who wish to be more involved parents are being denied their basic fathers’ rights. This retraction of rights often leaves children raised without the positive influences generated from a male role model.

The article begins by describing the removal of the Male Involvement Wall of Fame from a federally funded childcare center in the northeast. From there, we hear specific issues of concern from fathers who feel boxed out of their children’s lives. Society often depicts them as deadbeats when in actuality many are fighting the hardships of a recovering economy and are not receiving any government assistance to aid them in paying child support.

To add a level of scientific support to the importance of the father’s presence, the author referenced observations made by a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Yale Child Study Center. The professor, who specializes in children from a low-income families, stated that the role of the mother and that of the father reinforce very different behaviors. Through his research he found fathers played more roughly and were less likely to coddle their children. They also encourage their children to stand up for themselves and compete.

The article goes on to discuss the tendency of child custody court rulings to focus on what the court believes is in the best interest of the child. That is of course a worthy goal, but the unfortunate effect has been child custody decisions favoring mothers over fathers and diminishing fathers’ rights. Other issues, such as reduced visitation rights in cases of overdue child support, can also affect a father’s ability to see his children.

Paternal involvement plays a critical role in the upbringing of a child, and this fact remains true even after divorce. Fathers deserve to have the chance foster a relationship with their children, and children deserve to grow up with a true connection to their fathers. Those who want to maximize the time spent with their children can benefit from learning the inner workings of child custody laws and practices in Georgia.

Source: Yale Herald, “Fathering in practice,” Ashley Wu, Nov. 8, 2013

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