Vol. 9, No. 6 The Fourteen Percenter September 2006
A publication for parents on the wrong side of the standard possession order.
- I see my child two days out of every fourteen; 14%. That's not enough. -
Reprints from the Press
To begin the month, the August 7, 2006, San Antonio Express-News ran my eulogy to the editor regarding internationally known poet, Trinidad Sanchez - http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/letters/stories/MYSA080706.1O.letters.8fd3cb.html.
“Poet fought for fathers” also appeared in the August edition of The Fourteen Percenter http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NCP-TX-Grayson/message/2 as well as the San Antonio Current, http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=16996412&brd=2318&pag=797&dept_id=484045&startrow=1&maxrows=10 .
Regarding a program that allows incarcerated men to read to their children (http://www.herald-democrat.com/articles/2006/07/27/life/life01.txt ), the August 1 Sherman, Texas, Herald-Democrat ran this letter http://heralddemocrat.com/articles/2006/08/01/letters/letters02.txt.
Heartened to hear about reading plan
I was heartened to hear that members of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, the Texas Cooperative Extension and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice endeavor to encourage incarcerated men to read to their children. Even if they read into a recorder instead of in person, the benefits will be enormous to both father and child.
Most inmates did not have an involved father when they were growing up. Fatherlessness is a factor in everything from low grades, teen-aged promiscuity, criminal activity, and more.
Children of prisoners involved in "Fathers Reading Every Day," will gain more than literacy. They will know their dad cares enough to read to them.
Now, if we could get public schools to routinely notify noncustodial parents about their student's grades, portrait announcements, and discipline problems, even regular kids who live apart from their fathers could benefit.
Don Mathis, Sherman, TX
The article about “Fathers Reading Every Day” also appeared in the Texoma Enterprise and the Whitewright, Texas, Sun. Both papers ran the above letter as well.
Apparently, some people do not see the value of the father/child bond if the dad is imprisoned. The Worcester, Mass., Telegram ran an article, “Ruling leaves mom in disbelief - Reluctant kids must take inmate dad’s calls,” http://www.telegram.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060730/COLUMN01/607300407/1008/COLUMN .
Fortunately, the Fourteen Percenter set them straight on August 7, from http://www.telegram.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060807/NEWS/608070387/1055/opinion_letters
Even in prison, father has role to play
Dianne Williamson observed that David P. Furey (“Ruling leaves mom in disbelief, Reluctant kids must take inmate dad’s calls” Sunday Telegram, July 30) has embraced his parental duties relatively late in life. She apparently believes that it’s better never than late for Mr. Furey because he resides behind bars.
Ms. Williamson should know that the majority of men in prison didn’t have an involved father in their childhood. Would she want such a fate for the children of Mr. Furey?
In my neighborhood, groups of volunteers are engaged in a program called “Fathers Reading Every Day.” A select group of inmates are recorded reading bedtime books to their children. The recordings and corresponding books are then mailed to the offender’s children. This activity allows participants to remain active in their children’s lives while in jail, reinforces positive parenting skills and encourages reading and learning in their children.
Experts know that involved parents are more apt to follow the straight and narrow path; dedicated dads are less likely to return to prison. These same experts also know that children benefit from exposure to books, not to mention a father’s involvement. Ms. Williamson paints the mother, Janet M. Lawrence, in a most disparaging light. Don’t these women know parental alienation is child abuse?
The rap sheet for Ms. Lawrence and Mr. Furey provided by Ms. Williamson shows the typical manner in which criminal justice for women is very different than for men. It’s a shame that civil justice is often just as prejudiced against men.
Even though Ms. Williamson and Ms. Lawrence may disagree, children need both parents.
Donald Mathis, Sherman, TX
Also in Massachusetts, the August 18 issue of the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune ran an article, “Activist lawyer disbarred - Barbara Johnson ran for governor in 2002” http://www.eagletribune.com/local/local_story_230154535?page=0 . On August 23, they ran this letter:
Activist lawyer disbarred
Thank you for publishing the article about activist lawyer Barbara Johnson. The nation has heard about this woman - and we are listening.
It is obvious to the layman that Johnson's activism and opinions are the thorn in the saddle of Judge Francis Spina of the state Supreme Judicial Court.
Spina wrote, "the judicial system and the public must be protected from her repeated misconduct." Rather that protecting us from Johnson's free speech, Spina seems to be trying to protect himself and the status quo.
Many people close to Johnson have witnessed her cantankerous character. They also know of her firm belief in her causes.
Her champion cause, fighting discrimination against divorced dads, is one that more lawyers - and judges - should vocalize. Single moms would have more time for their career. Single dads would have more time with their kids. And kids would have equal access to both parents.
As it is now, Barbara Johnson loses. And we all lose. Especially the kids.
Don Mathis, Sherman, TX
John Murtari, jailed since July for contempt of court, brought his plight to the world’s attention with a hunger strike as reported in the August 10 Syracuse, NY, Post-Standard, http://www.syracuse.com/news/poststandard/index.ssf?/base/news-6/1155215113167970.xml&coll=1 .
There were letters from both sides of the Atlantic, both sides of the Mississippi in the August 22 Post-Standard, http://www.syracuse.com/poststandard/stories/index.ssf?/base/opinion-1/1156237838117070.xml&coll=1
Shared parenting in divorce cases is the best solution for the children
To the Editor:
My heart goes out to that man on a hunger strike in Syracuse. There are a multitude of injustices in the child-support industry, and John Murtari is the victim of many.
Regardless if both parents are fit, courts routinely assign primary custody to one, usually the mother. Regardless if both parents work, courts usually order fathers to pay child support.
And it goes without saying that the "winner" in custody cases gets the child - and child support. But the father is not the only loser in such court action. Kids lose loving dads in practically every custody decision.
Many believe the assumption that the mothers get the kids in custody cases may account for many divorces. They could be right. More than 65 percent of divorce cases are filed by women.
Laws need to be changed to start off with a presumption of 50/50 shared parenting. Then, if a mom or dad doesn't want their share, they can pay child support. Fifty-fifty shared parenting is true child support.
Don Mathis, Sherman, Texas
North Dakota is gearing up for a Shared Parenting initiative in their upcoming election. Many opinions have been presented in the Grand Forks, ND, Herald, both pro and con. Here are two pro comments:
Money, not children, motivates state
SHERMAN, Texas - Regarding the viewpoint by Carol Olson, executive director of the North Dakota Department of Human Services:
Olson spills the proverbial beans when she writes, "To get federal funds for the child support enforcement and TANF programs, the state has an ongoing duty to certify to the federal government that it operates a child support enforcement program that conforms to federal requirements."
If that is not clear enough, reread the headline: "Family-law measures would lead to cutoff of federal funds." The government is more concerned with money than with the well-being of children of divorce.
The state's motivation for removing fit and loving fathers from the lives of their children is obvious. "If the measures pass, the state could not certify that its programs meet federal requirements, and North Dakota would lose about $71 million in federal money for those programs during the 2007-2009 biennium," the column states.
I guess if the state gets $71 million, it feels justified in selling children down the river.
It is time for North Dakota voters no, for all parents in America to realize the state's incentive for the extraction of fathers from their children. It is time to realize children are more important than money.
Children need both parents. Children benefit from two loving parents. The state should learn to live without the millions from the feds.
State wants to protect revenue stream - By Don Mathis
SHERMAN, Texas - The forces that are lining up against North Dakota's Shared Parenting Initiative have two things in common: lack of logic and lust for lucre.
For example, Herald columnist Lloyd Omdahl writes, "Dr. Diane Lye said that the single most important determinant of a child's well-being after divorce is living in a household with adequate income”. Does this mean if Dad makes more money than Mom, he should have custody?
How about this one: "Father contact in low-conflict families can be beneficial, but in high-conflict families, it can be harmful." I guess if the ex-wife wants conflict, the ex-husband should just drop out of his kid's life.
In fact, Omdahl and Carol Olson, executive director of the North Dakota Department of Human Services and the author of "Family-law measures would lead to cutoff of federal funds”, both are singing the same tune. They are afraid this initiated measure would jeopardize millions in federal Temporary Aid for Needy Families funds for North Dakota.
The refrain of their song is Omdahl's: "Many custodial parents have had to turn to the government and its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program for help." Well, how many: Fifty percent? Seventy percent?
No, 8 percent. According to Olson, the state's child support enforcement program "serves about 60,000 children monthly, and the TANF program ... each month helps financially support about 5,000 qualifying low-income children who live with single parents or other relatives."
While 8 percent qualifies as "many" if you happen to be in that category, there is a much bigger welfare recipient that all of us should know about.
The federal government gives millions of taxpayer dollars to each state so they may keep track of child support. North Dakota's share is $71 million.
How far would those millions go if they went directly to those 5,000 qualifying low-income children?
The North Dakota Department of Human Services is trying to use children to justify its budget. We have child labor laws to prevent exploitation of our children. DHS should be prevented from using kids for cash as well.
Mathis is editor of The Fourteen Percenter, a newsletter for noncustodial parents.
Regarding the excellent article “Lost Children: Parental Alienation,” http://www.bestlifeonline.com/cda/article/0,5507,s1-3---1942,00.html, the September issue of BestLife ran this letter:
Although this injury is not external, (parental alienation) is child abuse nonetheless. I urge divorced dads to always take the high road and never put down your former wife in front of your child. A child needs a safe haven - and that should be Dad's house.
Don Mathis, Sherman, TX