Letter: Weston Children benefit from joint custody - Father Hunger
Thursday, June 22, 2006

To the editor:

    I read with interest The Weston Town Crier June 15 opinion article by Madeleine Jacobson, "Fathers and sons." I only wish the title of her opinion article were "Fathers and sons and daughters." I believe much of what Ms. Jacobson wrote about the effect of absent fathers also applies to effects on daughters too when fathers are absent.

    People need to be educated on the reality of divorce in Massachusetts. This past November in Weston, and across many parts of this state, voters approved by over 86 percent that in the event of separation and divorce that children should be able to be raised by both parents equally. People often asked, isnít this the norm? Much to my and many peopleís amazement joint custody is not the norm in Massachusetts, and in many parts of the country. Joint custody is the norm when both parents put their kids first and they agree to parent their kids jointly. However, when parents canít agree, or as it is termed, there are custody issues, the courts intervene, and in the majority of cases, primary custody is usually awarded to the mother.
    A presumption of joint custody would reduce the litigation in divorce situations. However, divorce is a huge industry in this country. Litigation helps to destroy families, both emotionally and financially. The Legislature, made up primarily of lawyers, some who practice divorce law, are not willing to change a system that helps to feed them. Many people do not know that the committee taking up the bill on shared custody, here in Massachusetts, has many divorce lawyers sitting on its panel. To many, this might appear as a conflict of interest. It is.
    Ms. Bellowsí story is of a boy whose parents divorced at 2. She stated that Adam suffered from "father hunger." This "father hunger" has been documented to occur not just in boys but in girls, too. Here children long to have more contact with their dads. One would think that society would do everything to encourage continued contact with fathers. The reality is so far from the truth. Walls are put up. It is equivalent to extortion. Legal moves, such as motions, legal delays and many legal tactics, are often used to keep fathers, and sometimes mothers, away from their kids. One just has to go to the number of parent web blogs on the Internet to see how pervasive this is. Alienation of kids from fathers and mothers too is more prevalent than many of us can believe or comprehend.
    The last paragraph of Ms. Jacobsonís article is the most telling. She correctly states that "Men no longer are just the providers and protectors of their families leaving the child care to women. They are also nurturers providing a different quality of care than their wives."
    Boys and girls of divorced families need both their mom and their dads. I urge you to speak to our local State Sen. Susan Fargo, D-Lincoln, and Rep. Alice Peisch, D-Wellesley. Tell them to pass the shared parenting bill. Tell them kids do need a mom and a dad. Legal maneuvers that keep children from one parent of the other are not in the best interest of kids. Kids do suffer from "father hunger," and sometimes in some cases "mother hunger." Tell everyone, kids really do need and benefit from two fit parents in their lives.
    Peter G. Hill
    Warren Avenue