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Posts Tagged ‘Australia

The ACES study — Bridging apparent Skipped Synapses in Family Court thinking….

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Happy Labor Day post.  I give you one study I refer to often on this blog, that dates back to 1998, and one (more) inane/insane custody discussion from Australia, case dating 1999-2003, and topic, joint legal custody and visitation with a young girl and the father who crushed her baby brother’s skull with his bare hands, baby being 3 weeks old and in his father’s arms at the time.  The court is less concerned with that behavior than the mother’s “phobia” (odd label, eh?) about that behavior.  Nothing much new for Family Law Arena — this is its speciality, in fact, stigmatizing parents that actually seek to protect their kids from trauma, abuse, and possible (in that case) death.

 

ACES (below):  Bridging the Gap between Childhood Trauma and . . . . .Negative consequences later in life.

 

Or should I call this bridging the gap between theory and reality?  Which results in the ever-widening “Chasm,” the Court public Credibility Gap.

So, how does one talk with mad engineer at the helm of a runaway train with one’s kids on it?  How get one’s kids safely OFF the train?  because in this venue, it doesn’t seem possible.  If they spend the duration of their childhood on this train, perhaps this will become their new “normal” and then another generation of trainsters and railway-hoppers will grow up, have kids, and provide new cargo for this Trip to Nowhere (except the trips to the bank for the railroad and its employees).  Like the formerly renowned rail system in the U.S., it took a lot of subsidy to keep the thing operational.

There are basically two types of conversations going through the courts:  

1.  IN open court — in open, and 

2.  Behind closed doors — in private.

The heart of the matter is in the 2nd arena.  Best interests of the child is static, sound-fluff and media-bytes.  It’s not reality, and I don’t any longer believe that any one who makes a living in this arena seriously, seriously believes in this paradigm — or if they do, their eyes are simply closed, because the cat is out of the bag.  

I believe the language the speak, as any good employee or business person truly does, is that of who is paying their bills. One reason I know this is that I actually experienced leaving an abusive marriage, and how vital a part finances was in getting free.  I also watched systematic economic abuse (mismangement, comandeering of access to basic funds/cash flow/steady jobs that would make this possible, and so forth), which restricted and delayed the exit.   

Which would you be more accountable to as a secretary whose family’s food and rent (lifestyle) depends on your pleasing that employer?  Up to your own personal level of moral/social tolerance (and ability to choose), a disgruntled customer in the waiting room or on the phone?  Or your employer?    . . . . Well, what about judges and other professionals, some of whose salary (US$) is well over $100,000 and lifestyles and associates to match?  Along with judgeships go political influence and possibly later activity — it’s a career path.  It took a lot of convincing in California (and publicity) for these judges to give up (statewide) their almost $20 million in SUPPLEMENTAL pay, but not until one of their own, an attorney in Los Angeles, was firmly intimidated and jailed for reporting financial corruption (Richard Fine case), which was his actual job to do in this city, as I understood it.  He was put in punitive solitary conffinement, moreover, and I heard, disbarred, for actually bucking this system.

However, these articles ARE about “best interests of the child” and whose head is where in being unable to figure that out in a given case involving infanticide! Or other horrors to any growing child, or the parent of any such child.

 

I am going to start grading the Family Law systems in my country, and in any country that imitates policies that I give an “F” in my country:

 

1998 THIS study is also old, and underestimated.  Probably because of its common sense, like the 1989 and 1992 ones I quoted earlier, from NOMAS, talking about why the HECK have we got to continue exposing each new generation of children to more and more parents who batter, and then posing STUPID questions like, why is the next generation ending up in jail, or beating THEIR women, or taking the assaults, either.

WHY is business as usual, THAT’s why.  A case came to light today where an Australian court (dealing with similar issues down under) is ordering psychiatric evaluation for the mother of a two-year old because the two-year-old’s father, quickly knocking up another woman, had just crushed to death the newborn (3 weeks old) infant with his bare hands, in response to the baby’s crying.  The man is in jail, and the court is trying to tell the mother that she needs to have her head examined for wanting to make sure this doesn’t happen to the one that came out of HER womb.  No, I am not kidding!

 

FAMILY LAW – Children – parenting orders – contact in prison – father incarcerated for killing child of another relationship – specific phobic anxiety of the primary carer and compromised capacity to care for the child – no significant contact ordered.

At what point do we get to have the COURT’s “head”  – and values — examined?   ???

 

O & C [2005] FMCAfam 200 (29 April 2005)

Last Updated: 6 June 2005

FEDERAL MAGISTRATES COURT OF AUSTRALIA

REASONS FOR JUDGMENTIntroduction – the proceedings

1. This matter comes before me as the final hearing of the competing applications of the various parties concerning B M C born 9 March 1999. Final parenting orders were made in relation to B on 20 February 2002 whereby B lived with the mother and the father had regular contact. However, on 11 March 2003, the father killed his newborn child of another relationship, Z, and the father is now incarcerated until approximately February 2006.

Yes you read that right.  Infanticide:  3 years.  3 hots and a cot.  Wonder if he’ll get out on parole early, like Garrido did, in time for a repeat performance.  Sounds like it didn’t affect his entitlement much, being incarcerated for baby-killing; he still wants to assert his shared parenting responsibilities and rights.  Where’s KING SOLOMON (of the Bible) when you need him?   Where’s the anti-abortion pro-lifers when you need them?  This mother, of child “B” is a pro-lifer.  She doesn’t want HER kid to suffer the same fate.  For expressing and acting on this protective, motherly sentiment, she may be sentenced to a lifetime — or at least for the duration of B’s childhood — of having her “head examined” over this “phobia.”

“Phobia” being, I guess, being afraid of something the Court isn’t afraid of, probably because it’s not the Court’s offspring involved or at risk.


2. The proceedings were initiated by the mother filing an application on 1 July 2003 in which she sought that previous parenting orders made by this court on 20 February 2002 be suspended and that she have sole responsibility for making decisions about the long term and day to day care, welfare and development of B. Effectively, she sought that there be no contact between B and the father.

3. On 21 November 2003 a Form 3 response was filed and served on behalf of the father  {{BEING AS HE WAS INCARCERATED??}}. Relevantly, the father sought joint responsibility for long term decisions affecting B and contact in prison 

 

RELEVANT:  What the jailed Dad wants.

IRRELEVANT:  what the killed 3-week old baby wanted before his Daddy crushed his skull together:  probably either some cuddling, a diaper change, some milk, or to be held differently.  Or his Mama.

IRRELEVANT:  What the mother wants, safety for HER kid, and her concerns taken seriously.

YES, this WAS 2006, “DOWN UNDER,” and a term well-earned from what I can see of this decision, at least.

As to his paternal grandparents:  Well, their son was an adult at the time, but still, they raised this guy.  PERHAPS this should be considered “relevant” in allowing unsupervised contact of child “B” with them.  (Not mentioned are her parents. . . . or mother of the deceased newborn.    )

===============================

I give you one more reason (not including Phillip Garrido, Jaycee Dugard, and any woman who opts to marry a convicted kidnapper and raper) to take domestic violence seriously:  The children:

   

 

What is the ACE Study?

The ACE Study is an ongoing collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and 
Prevention and Kaiser Permanente.  Led by Co-principal Investigators Robert F. Anda, MD, 
MS, and Vincent J. Felitti, MD, the ACE Study is perhaps the largest scientific research study 
of its kind, analyzing the relationship between multiple categories of childhood trauma 
(ACEs), and health and behavioral outcomes later in life.

 What’s an ACE?

Growing up experiencing any of the following conditions in the household prior to age 18:

 

  1. Recurrent physical abuse
  2. Recurrent emotional abuse
  3. Contact sexual abuse
  4. An alcohol and/or drug abuser in the 
    household
  5. An incarcerated household member
  6. Someone who is chronically depressed, 
    mentally ill, institutionalized, or suicidal
  7. Mother is treated violently
  8. One or no parents
  9. Emotional or physical neglect

 

Origins and Essence of the Study (2003)

 

ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES AND STRESS:  PAYING THE PIPER (2004?)

 

The findings of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, an ongoing collaboration between Co-Principal 

Investigators Vincent J. Felitti, MD, of Kaiser Permanente, and Robert F. Anda, MD, MS, of the Centers for 

Disease Control and Prevention. 

 

 

Because the two links above are in multi-column format, I can’t copy and paste.  I exhort you to take a look at some of this.

 

Please note that “one or no parents” was NOT on the top of the list, as it is on current “fatherhood.gov” policy, or HHS/ACF grants prioritization in the Designer Family mode it appears to be stuck in.

 

Women, including women like me, whose children have been exposed to from 1 to all of the factors above, are after removing their children FROM such factors, having the courts force them back in through shared parenting considerations.  IN this case the theoretical ideal is held over the head, and clubbing protective parents, of the practical reality that Batterers do NOT make Good parents until they thoroughly address the battering behavior, and what drives it.  Moreover, men have graduated with flying colors from programs allegedly adjusting their attitudes, and gone right out to murder that bitch who forced them to sit through it (McAlpin is one case that comes to mind, Bay Area, 2005.  Within just a few days, her body was discovered in a trunk).

 

 

 

 

Again, the issue becomes who gets to rig the test and give the grades?  I give any policy that lacks common sense — protect the kids! — and ignores the golden rule and “F.”

 

Golden Rule in Family Law:  Do unto OTHERS as you would have them do unto YOU (i.e., if it were YOUR kid, whose father just killed a newborn, would you as a judge order the woman who was alarmed at said murder to have her head examined, and the child ordered into contact with the parents of the killer, OR would you yourself be alarmed, and rule accordingly?)

 

If it’s not good enough for YOUR kid, it’s not good enough for HER kid.  That’s the golden rule in the courtroom, I say.

 

This of course presumes that a judge cares about his or her own kids, which may be a presumption indeed; some judges have been convicted of collecting child pornography and making some of it (Thompson, NJ), another of sexual harassment of female employees (Fed. District judge in Texas).

 

 

Experts Examine WHY Breastfeeding is best: We MUST Know!

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Sniffing Language

 

Cobblers notice shoes, hairdressers notice the other end of a person.  I’m a domestic violence survivor, writer, reader, and I notice (sniff, I observe, I sense dynamic alterations in) LANGUAGE —  the linguistic environment surrounding present and potential policies that might affect the personal survival, health welfare, and safety of my kids, me, or others I know and love, to be quite blunt about this.

 

I can detail about when and where this started to happen too.  I noticed it, a shift in mental processing of things, a heightened sensitivity to the environment.  This was odd — the less time I could dedicate to planning a rehearsal, or choosing a method or approach to a certain topic — because my life was totally dedicated to the safety and survival issues at hand, and seeking ways to ensure them, change the dynamics, and safely set a distance from a man that I simply couldn’t get the courts to give me a restraining order on, or enforce an existing court order of ANY sort, upon.  Nor could I get any social group to communally put some pressure on the guy to get real, get a job, or get lost.  Or, as I say here, “get honest” about any number of manners.  So, I didn’t do the usual things I formerly was taught lead to good rehearsals leading to good singing.  I had to get the general idea (as in, repertoire), get in there, go on instinct, respond to the singing I heard in the situation, and just lead.

 

The odd (and disturbing — at least to certain theories about how things work) about this was, they started singing better.  Rehearsals were more dynamic, and skills and sound improved.  In more than one group.  Go figure!  Hmm. . . . .  

 

I came to understand that the habit of being dynamically sensitive to my environment, and little details in it, had carried over into the rehearsal situation.  And in the arts, this is GOOD, because they come from the spirit and soul within.  I had no time to be cerebral, cognitive and detached, I had to be present, open, and responsive.  And that was EXACTLY what the job required!

 

The exact opposite of this approach to life and relationships can be seen in the detached, categorizing, labeling, and pronouncing language of some of the social sciences.  I do not think the entire field should be tossed, but I think that there are serious loopholes when doctrine is made in a laboratory, without understanding that people (adults, children, and others) really DO behave differently under observation, for the most part, than when not.  If the family law system acknowledged this, I think custody evaluators would probably be done away with.  You can’t really evaluate someone who is doing a performance for you, come on!  And if anyone is GREAT a “performance” it’s a family, or an individual, caught up in the cycle of abuse, incest, or domestic violence.  Or, alcoholism, for that matter.  The whole DEAL is about keeping up the pretense, not talking about it.  

 

A woman’s or a child’s safety could be literally dependent upon how good a front she puts up for public, once the abuser knows he’s being looked at more carefully.  I know about this. 

 

For more on this hypersensitivity, see the book “Animals in Translation” by Temple Grandin, an autistic (or autims survivor?) animal behavioralist.   I understood, after reading this, how my mind had begun to behave more like a deer in the headlights, after a few years post-restraining order, mid-family court, weekly-exchange of kids-wise.  I had lost the sense of predictability in our daily schedule, and I had lost this because EVERY weekend, and leading up to it or recovering from it, I had to deal with a potential incident with the father of our children regarding picking up or, if I was able to, retrieving our children from exchanges.  This was one of the most insane custody orders post restraining order I have EVER heard of, but it was all we had to deal with.  This also relates directly to why I no longer work in a certain field, in which jobs happened on weekends.  The two became so associated in my brain that engaging in in the one, to this day, reminds me of that trauma.  This can be great on certain arts, and hell on the rest of life.

 

PREY animals notice more and interpret less.  This is why sometimes horses wear blinders, when pulling a taxi in traffic, for example.  Humans are designed to interpret more, and once they have  got a label, enabling mental filing, notice less.  However, a teacher (or conductor) must both keep the goal in mind AND notice, and reconcile the balance.  They learn how to do this (for survival).  

 

Theorists, on the other hand, may continue to get a government funding grant, whether or not their theories are true, work, or help or hurt people.  There is a considerable distance between funding and performance.  I notice, therefore, cognitive detachment in linguistic descriptions in some of these topics.  

 

Sometimes this “noticing language” habit is entertaining and fun. Sometimes, it’s disturbing and annoying.  HOWEVER, I think that society might do well, in general, to listen to some of the people on its outskirts.  We are the canaries in the coal mine, and certain things we have to say might contradict (in fact generally WILL contradict) the experts.

 

Of course, the experts are the ones who have the platform, even when their opinions contradict each other — they seem to carry more weight than anyone whose degrees are not as high or deep (Ph.D.) as others.  Remind me, next decade, to go get that Ph.D., maybe it will help…..

 

 

That’s one way of explaining that I happen to notice language.  And there is a style of talking about basic human behavior (of which stalking happens to relate to hunting, which is sometimes followed by a kill, which is why I don’t like being the one followed, or told by people I report this to, you’re exaggerating.  No, I’m not….  I trust the instinct in this one.)  I’m almost getting to the point that I don’t trust language that doesn’t take into account some basic human instincts and realities –ONE of which is, soon after birth or after giving birth, making the nipple connection, and nursing — or allowing it to take place.

 

. . . 

 

OK NOW….

 

Is there really a war on fatherhood?  Or is it on motherhood?  Where’s Mom?

 

 

Consider this word:

 

Breastfeeding, 

 

When, where, how and why did it become so odd a human behavior that it required research papers to be published, to examine — or safeguard — it?

 

What is now called breastfeeding used to be (culturally, and universally) commonplace.  

 

 

Trailer words associated with the fact that both a breast and getting fed happened to be involved, included:

 

Nursing, Cherishing, Protecting, Imparting,

Loving, Knowing,


Gentleness, Compassion, Confidence one is loved and wanted,

just  being there and looking at each other, or nudging each other in a relaxed, nondemanding fashion,

were formerly normal, healthy human behaviors, and not only right after sex.

(If you’re unclear, see “google images” for some visuals)

 

 

I CALL THOSE GOOD THINGS.  

 

 

 

Now the relationships between some of these must be studied, so as to better predict [and manage] outcomes

 

 

I predict that studying what used to be normal, healthy human behaviors (but have been dismantled by various institutions, and industries in “developed’ countries) will soon become the normal human behavior.  It certainly appears to be a healthy way to make a steady income, healthier than most. these days, including producing food, if you’re a small farmer, or milking cows.

 

Asking, well, was it GOOD or NOT good?  If it was good, WHY was it good?  How can we duplicate it, or better yet, multiply it, without dismantling, if possible, some of the institutions that formerly dismantled, or put some pretty weird warps, in the human family situation.  

 

Who funds these studies and poses these questions?  Typically, a government, or a private foundation funding either the government, or some nonprofit, that has an agenda, or some combination of all of the above, as we find in the Fatherhood Movement’s cooperation between many entitities, casting its wide and technically superb  (inter)net (presence) over the human, well, language, eliminating the usage of the word “mother” in order to restructure society into a different image.  I am going to post another time about a former (not very reputable) campaign from the heart of Fatherland America, which trumpeted the virtues of “motherhood, virtue, patience, temperance” and so forth.  And what they did to whoever they thought wasn’t promoting these.   

 

WHY is Breast Best?  Well for one thing, anything so many men are fixated on can’t be all that bad.

 

Just kidding — WHY is breastfeeding best?  Why not ask a Mom?  (Where did Mom go, anyhow??)

 

Nursing is normal.  Did I know much about it before I began?  Honestly, no.  I just, well, there was this brand new kid on my tummy, and it seemed the right thing to do. 

 

Seems to me that slavery was one thing that used to break up families, intentionally so.  Hmm.  SOME folks got educated, but others weren’t supposed to be.  They were to be educated to the limit of their job prognosis.  Hmmm.  

 

I also predict that with the womb to tomb categorization of humanity, from the moment they are born, caught, extracted, or brought forth (depending on how literary you are feeling) and begin to wiggle, the measuring WILL not stop, we will forget what a normal human, bonding relationship WAS.  We won’t have living examples of it to learn from.  

 

Now that ATTITUDE worries me.  I have been worried about this for many months, as I began to examine where my justice went, especially this last year.  Where my children went had already been determined, and I had also correctly looked up that the correct label for the manner in which they went comes under the category “child-stealing.”  The next question was, why was there no concensus on what the law already conceded, and what could I do to get them back?  I looked around with wonder and amazement to see that with flip of the coin, what in one situation was a felony, in an entirely different one (see title of this blog) was interpreted as initiative to be rewarded with custody.  SURELY a father who would love his children enough to steal them, and harass their mother with court case after court case must have been motivated by love and concern.  And SURELy a mother who actually resisted this, and attempted to retain an emotional connection (let alone visual contact) with BOTH her children AND her livelihood (profession) through choosing an alternate educational arrangement must have an unnatural attachment thing going on.  Now, I didn’t have one set of kids I DID nurse and one set I DIDn’t for comparison, but I do know that, even absent from them, there’s an attachment there, and it’s weird every day to have it suddenly aborted.  Yes, I did use that word.

 

 

In my last post I looked at “Where’s Mom?” in a website representing our national direction, and suggested that the ship of state may have lost its moorings, possibly by ignoring the obvious:  So far, technologically, you DO need a Mom to actually get a family, even if it’s dis-assembled shortly after birth.  

 

 

 

Where’s Mom? is a very relevant question, I thought.

So, here’s an article that came across my (virtual) desk, my Inbox, on some astonishingly new and revolutionary perspectives on WHY breastfeeding is best, at least up until a judge decides she’s doing it for the wrong reasons, to get even with an ex. . . . . and sets a limit on how long this parental alienation can be permitted.  The things judges must know these days . . . .

 

We noncustodial Moms (yes, we converse with each other about how and why that happened, and we research and blog, and vote and call our Congresspeople, and write, and support each other, because the court system sure ain’t…..) were happy to find one that counteracted some of this “father-absence” hypocrisy.  YEAH, a lot of fathers are absent.  Now let’s talk about WHY! and stop scapegoating an entire gender!  

 

This article supports the premises that for an infant to have a bonding time with Mom growing up (which may or may not contradict our present government’s wish to push things in a different direction, send Mom to work and give us those babies; we have Ph.D.candidate Human  Behavioralists needing a grant-funded slot at the local Head Start outfit, think about their job futures, OK?  If they do not publish, they might perish!  It’s your civic duty to produce low-income babies (or neglect staying home if you’re not low-income) for them to study.) 

 

It IS interesting too, it talks about more than the nipples and what spurts out of them, it talks even about more than the cuddling.  It looks at subsequent behaviors.  So do I, at the bottom.  I picked a few well-known names.  

 

(Did I mention it’s written by women, also?)

 

 

Abstract

Research paper no. 43

Breastfeeding and infants’ time use (title is link)

Jennifer Baxter and Julie Smith

Australian Institute of Family Studies, June 2009, 48 pp. ISBN 978-1-921414-09-1. ISSN 1446-9863 (Print); ISSN 1446-9871 (Online)


Being breastfed during infancy is known to improve developmental outcomes, but the pathways by which this occurs remain unclear. 

 

 

Research Paper no. 43:  “Breastfeeding and infants’ time use.”

 

 

(More commentary on what governments are studying these days…..)

 

While I’m glad this study DOES support the concept that breastfeeding is good, as when judges in Canada and Australia have to decide on whether or not to agree with the obvious, or respond to the gentle tug on THEIR consciences from the “But Dads are Nurturers TOO!” demands, Moms (Noncustodial ones, through family court matters) were happy to read this, I still have to ask, WHY do we have to even ask?  I mean, in what kind of world are studies needed of this?

 

Here’s what kind of world:

 

IN a world of ever-shifting psychological and spiritual plate tectonics, it’s only human to want to be oh so sure about the obvious.  WHY do we need to be oh-so-sure?  (Using the word “we” loosely, I am not in that mix)

 

WHY is how to develop and serve “humans” and “families” really necessary??  What are they, food?


Why not leave them alone to figure it out? Why not treat them as animate beings with spirit, soul, body, desires, individuality, and what’s more, hopes, goals, and a variety of pathways in which to wend their way through life, like their hunter-gatherer ancestors?

That is, FYI, what they are — not slabs of flesh, inanimate, passive, waiting to be directed, injected, detected, and projected upon the motion picture screen of some faraway government policy!  Unless they (translation:  WE — ALL — begin to see each other in this manner, the only logical consequence is more and more literally inanimate, and in fact lifeless (or is it comatose?) slabs of flesh, and there may not be enough slots to store us in.  Please, PLEASE, remember Auschwitz, and the ATTITUDES that preceded this, and stop the stereotyping and detached, detached, well thank God it ain’t ME, emotional noninvolvement with other human beings, when it comes to running nations and large enterprises.


People have been born for many, many centuries and millennia.  Nations (if not religions, unfortunately) and empires have come and gone.  

 

(And these two are related).

 

With each new empire, history, and culture, is often re-written, by the winners.

 

They can crumble over germs or steel, over oppressing people so bad they simply well up and oust a regime, assassinate a dictator, and/or each other.  Or assassinations, oustings and regime changes can happen for other reasons.  In this world there are now, and have historically been famines, floods, fires, and wars; there is cruelty and prejudice, there is waste and greed.  These are qualities that, as far as I can see, have been around a long time, and are not going anywhere soon.  And I ABSOLUTELy don’t believe they are going away by government fiat, design or study.

 

Given that generic assessment of history, I have to ask, then what exactly are were DOING in this profession of Human Behavioral Sciences?  What were its origins, what are its purposes and why are “we” doing these things?


I’m a researcher, in fact both my parents were too, one a scientist, the other a librarian.  I’m a SEARCHER, I’m curious about causes.

One thing in my searchings I have come to conclude:  some of the worst damages to human rights, and people, has been in the name of theories (or doctrines) similar to the ones I’m reading about now, in our country.  I think it’s an ATTITUDE thing, to study human populace as if they were rats, or mice, or microbes.  I’m not anti-medicine, nad I do appreciate knowing things about molecules, hormones, and, say, that what just happened to me when that stalker called, again, may relate to adrenaline or cortisol, and has some sense behind the chemistry of it.  


However, I think in the social sciences, it’s gone off the deep end into crowd control.   I think it is a clear indication of caste-maintenance, which ain’t supposed to be in the USA, but is.


Who’s developing this master race and utopia? 

 


Didn’t we learn anything from Hitler, or any other genocides?  Didn’t we get embarrased enough by the study of “phrenology”  (measuring skull sizes, to assess intelligence) which to me has an uncomfortable sense of sociology. 

 

Anyhow, this study may be supportive of more maternal time.  Governments have already determined it’s Breast is Best, but what to do when a couple can’t keep it together til the kid is weaned?  Then there have to be policies, judges have to decide, and these judges need experts. W ell, experts are just handy to have around.

 

Are there any MOMs around who have actually seen children grow up that they nursed (and haven’t been incarcerated for this on the basis of unnatural attachment theory)?  

 

Isn’t smarter, healthier, loved and having been held by Mom at least several times a day enough to know?  Apparently not.  I tend to wonder if this isn’t because another artificial nipple, breast, nurture and cuddling experience is in the mix, and will need justification.  OR, it’s been challenged, and then a study is needed to maintaing a semblance of nature in nurture of infants.

 

 

Given what I’ve been reading about our Present Administration’s Parenting Advice (yes, that spells “PAPA”), motherhood is no longer acceptable.  It has a conflict with Early Head Start and propping up a seriously design-flawed educational system that neither nurtures nor educates adequately, and was based on producing factory workers who don’t take orders or think too much.  Crucial to this is boxing them up, and mediating all experience through the teachers and textbooks (which are highly censored).  

 

I just watched the video of Michael Jackson recently, being interviewed about  his father’s severe abuse of all 5 Jacksons, including having them perform with him sitting in his hand with a belt, and ironing cord, using Michael, the youngest, as a role model to chastise the other children, mocking his facial features (you didn’t get it from MY side) and a fairly normal adolescent thing called pimples, about how he didn’t want to grow up (and the uncanny transformation of his own face into something that looks like his hero, Peter Pan), about how his dermatologist nurse (and another surrogate Mom) gave him 3 children, which were snatched at birth (never got to nurse a drop), although by agreement, and now they are going to live with — either Grandpa (that same one that would’ve/should’ve been arrested in our day and time) or Mom (who volunteered her womb and viewed human beings as presents, not people).

 

The most common sense reason for nursing I can think of is that it APPEARS to be part of the design plan for human beings, and a host of other animals also.  Take it away, and they’re sucking down something else for a lifetime perhaps, substitute attachments.  I don’t know.  It just kinda makes sense.  Give the Mom and baby a chance to sit together and make a physical connection. It works together, it helps her womb return to normal size right faster, it’s overall a good arrangement unless she’s been on something harmful which would get into the child.  LIfe is rough.  Give’em a break!

 

 

In the US, we have HHS.

 

 

IN Australia, it’s “AIFS”

Australian Institute of Family Studies.

And has these clearinghouses:

 

 

Research and clearinghouses

 

Like over here, they publish, they serve, they have resources, and they have events.  That’s nice…

 

 

The natural human response, anyone with some spirit at least, is to resist being managed, and only put up with so much as is necessary to get by.  People are MOST human and I say most happy, really, pursuing things — that they CHOSE to pursue.  Ask an adolescent male.  Ask a stalker.  Ask a Mom or Dad going to night school.  There’s something about the pursuit of it, not the having it served up in a soup line.  There’s something about making one’s own personal goals, that brings out the best in a person, or when it’s in a community, that community.  When it gets too large, we lose the human element.

 

There’s not much more intimate, at the start of life, than what’s now called “breastfeeding.”  And there’s not much more tenderizing to a Mom, when it’s in a supportive environment especially, and producing a feeling of well-being, etc., than nursing.  I do not mean to idolize this, but I do mean to call attention to this.

 

I think this term must have come up when other ways of feeding began to compete with it.  It’s not just about FEEDING.  It used to be called NURSING.  Now, Nursing has become a profession (and a great one, I acknowledge), and I hear there’s a shortage of it too.  Perhaps if we could give people better EMOTIONAL and PHYSICAL support near the beginning of their lives, they wouldn’t need so much – or go about getting so much in other, unhealthy ways — later on in life.  Many diseases and compromised immune systems have origins, it’s coming out, not only in antibodies not received as a kid, but sometimes emotional abuse and trauma — the exact OPPOSITE of nurturing.

 

 

So, here’s an article that came across my (virtual) desk, my Inbox, on some astonishingly new and revolutionary perspectives on WHY breastfeeding is best, at least up until a judge decides she’s doing it for the wrong reasons, to get even with an ex. . . . . 

 

 

 

Abstract

Research paper no. 43

Breastfeeding and infants’ time use

Jennifer Baxter and Julie Smith

Australian Institute of Family Studies, June 2009, 48 pp. ISBN 978-1-921414-09-1. ISSN 1446-9863 (Print); ISSN 1446-9871 (Online)


Being breastfed during infancy is known to improve developmental outcomes, but the pathways by which this occurs remain unclear. 

 

Well, God forbid the us not knowing by what pathways developmental outcomes can be improved?  We are, after all, in the business of improving development.

One possible yet unexplored mechanism is that breastfed infants may spend their time differently to infants who are not breastfed. 

Please — PLEASE tell me, some institute is not about to intervene with that Mom’s growing relationship with an infant, and either put a video in the home for later analysis, send a social worker with a note pad to take notes, or ask the MOm, self-reporting, to distract her attention from that little being, to documenther time use.  Give them a break!  They’ll be in school before age 5 (at least in the US) all right already.

 

This paper analyses infants’ time use according to breastfeeding status in order to help inform the debate about how breastfeeding leads to improved child outcomes.

 

“improved child outcomes”

??

 

OK, well that sounds desirable.  I’m just not used to the terminology yet.  It sounds odd on my tongue.  It sounds like a process that might belong more in an auto assembly line. 

Now me, I’m more practically minded.  If it works, keep doing it, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  That’s what my ex used to tell me when our children were sleeping, and I’d go to adjust something, make them more c omfortable, more covered, more something.  “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  

If it works — keep doing it.  If it doesn’t work — as, for example, pushing fatherhood on an entire nation as a response to violence against women and/or feminism, appears to be gettingi more women and children, and men, killed — THEN I’d think this should be closely examined.  But why breastfeeding works ???

 

The analysis uses infants’ time use data from the first wave (2004) of Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), derived from diaries completed by the parents of almost 3,000 Australian infants aged 3-14 months. It explores how much time infants spend in activities such as being held or cuddled, read or talked to, or crying, using data on whether or not infants were still breastfeeding, and taking into account other child and family characteristics. It also compares time spent in different social contexts. Finally, the paper uses the time use data to analyse which infants were still breastfeeding, and what factors are associated with differences in time spent breastfeeding.

The results show that breastfed infants spend more time being held or cuddled and being read or talked to, and less time sleeping, or eating, drinking or being fed other foods.  {{Well, in America, Obesity is a major issue}}

They also cried slightly more, and watched television slightly less {{I’d say that’s positive}} than infants who were not being breastfed. Those who breastfed spent more time with their parents, and in particular, almost one additional hour a day alone with their mother compared to non-breastfeeding infants.  {{This beats being ignored in a daycare situation.  This gives baby and Mom some down time, which she could use also!}}

These findings have important implications for how children grow, and show the value of time use data in exploring pathways to development for infants and young children. The possibility that cognitive advantages for breastfed children may arise from their distinct patterns of time use and social contexts during the breastfeeding phase is an important area for future research using survey data such as from LSAC.

 

Summary

Being breastfed during infancy contributes to positive developmental outcomes, as well as to good nutrition and health. Expert guidelines for optimal infant feeding recommend that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2003) and, along with appropriate complementary foods, continue to be breastfed for up to two years and beyond (World Health Assembly, 2001).

{{I did this for one child.  I couldn’t for the other, but there were intervening factors (like Dad hitting me, and I know this affected the hormonal balance) intervening.  Neither child has ever had an issue with intelligence or obesity, and they were healthy growing up.  They weren’t clingy and they weren’t overly aggressive either, until years later, and this was when they became property fought over, and in the light of this, they were institutionalized again — at least their education was.  I know that in our case, this was not aimed to help their education, but to break their bond with me.  I cannot speak for every case.}}

 

While being breastfed during infancy is known to improve developmental outcomes, the pathways by which this occurs remain unclear. Components of breast milk are known to be important to brain development, but an important question remains as to whether the observed developmental advantages of children being breastfed also represent unobserved differences in the early life experiences of infants who were breastfed compared to those who were not. For example, there may be aspects of the breastfeeding mother’s behaviour or her interaction with the infant that differ from the non-breastfeeding mother. {{I KNEW THAT!}}  One possible yet unexplored mechanism is that breastfed infants may spend their time differently to infants who are not breastfed. Time use research provides a potentially useful tool for further investigation of this issue.

A possible link between time use and children’s outcomes has a basis in the literature on infant development – for example, attachment theory – which indicates that positive interactions with caregivers have implications for secure attachment and socio-emotional development. 

CAREGIVERS are mother-substitutes.  They are not in the original plan.  If you believe in plans.  The word is longer.  The short word is “MOM.” or “MOTHER” (pick your language).  

I know, from the family law experience, that my behaving as a protective or educated mother was not wanted by certain other partiesMy children themselves did not have a problem with this until we went into court, which even the mediator documentedIt was a manufactured problemThe mantra, the ostinato, the continual claim was that by refusing to worship the government education factory (based on its performance), I was a heretic, and eccentric, and those kids were going to grow up weird and isolated.   It was viewed with suspicion, and it was STOPPED.    I have often thought that is children were simply allowed to be in their families (and the families were not violent) for as long as the individual kid was ready, before going to schools, schools would be far better.  They do not need to be clingy and run in packs and herds, hurting each other or (when older) their teachers, and vice versa.  They might have a sense of identity and belonging, and being loved.  Unfortunately, this is NOT part of the economic development plan for “developed” countries.  

Children’s development opportunities may therefore be affected by who they are with across the day, and where they are. Further, associations between somewhat older children’s time use and their development have been explored, with some relationships apparent, which lead us to question whether such relationships may also be apparent for infants. In addition to exploring the association between breastfeeding and time use, this paper also provides a broader examination of infants’ time use, to help understand the possible development opportunities for these infants.

And so forth.  You can read it.   I would just like to end with, after breastfeeding has been properly explicated, I suspect the conclusion would be the same:

 

DO IT.

 

Just like after the interrelationship between domestic violence and custody in family law settings has been properly explicated, I suspect that the CORRECT conclusion would be, as to domestic violence.

 

STOP IT

and as to when this is mixed with custody

 

DON’T!

 

THERE IS A REBUTTABLE PRESUMPTION AGAINST CUSTODY GOING TO A BATTERER.  BATTERING A WOMAN IS  A POOR ROLE MODEL.  BATTERERS DO NOT MAKE GOOD PARENTS UNTIL AND UNLESS THEY HAVE ADDRESSED THIS ISSUE AND CHANGED IT AND KEPT IT CHANGED.  ONE HIGH MOTIVATION FOR CHANGING IS TO GIVE THEM A DOSE OF THEIR OWN MEDICINE, WITH EXPLANATION.  THE ALTERNATIVE BEING, TO KEEP PROVIDING HIM OPPORTUNITIES FOR MORE OF THE SAME.  THIS INCLUDES STRICT ADHERENCE TO THE RESTRAINING ORDER (ONE VIOLATION  = IMMEDIATE ARREST).  PART OF ABUSE, IN CASE YOU HAVEN’T BEEN THERE YET (LET’S HOPE) IS SETS OF MEANINGLESS, TRIVIALLY JUSTIFIED, AND EVERCHANGING RULES APPLIED TO THE TARGET PERSON, NOT THE PERPETRATOR.

(I’D BETTER STOP, THIS RESEMBLES MANY SCHOOL SITUATIONS).

 

I expect that after I’m a long gone (which I hope will be a long time away)  that family law system will still be around, and attempting to dilute and explicate the truth, that it just don’t make sense to say a person can beat another person (or have sex with a minor child) and be a good enough role model for custody, let alone visitation, let alone supervised visitation.  These things — giving custody, visitation or supervised visitation, to a person who has not addressed this problem, called criminal behavior within the family — are going to naturally confuse a child about what’s right and what’s wrong, not exactly something I’d like the next generation to be confused on.

 

I’d like to end with what I’d consider a common sense and practical outlook towards human development, both in the womb and immediately after birth:  this is a healthy attitude towards onesself, I believe.  It just makes sense:

While all these things are wonderful to understand, and be aware of:

List of tables

  1. Overview of infants’ activities
  2. Who infants were with
  3. Breastfeeding time use
  4. Effects of breastfeeding on infants’ activities after adjusting for other characteristics
  5. Effects of breastfeeding on children’s social contexts after adjusting for other characteristics, different estimations compared
  6. Infants’ activities in minutes per day, OLS results (coefficients and [95% confidence intervals])
  7. Infants’ social contexts, OLS results (coefficients and [95% confidence intervals])

 

Can I summarize this?

 

Psalm 139

12Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

 

Those are the words of a man who understands he is in relationship with Someone who loved him, wanted him, knows him, and that he knew was constantly thinking of him, that would never leave him alone.  What better model for this than, at the beginning of life, being held, loved, and nursed by a mother?  That act of nurturing and loving is at times attributed to God who, although He is portrayed as a Father, has also these characteristics:

 

Isaiah 14: 1 Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.

 

These are the words of someone who had a sense of purpose in this life.

 

2 And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;. . . .

 

Isaiah 49

14-15 But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.   Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.

 

 


Nursing and compassion go together.  It’s not just about the baby!  It’s about the relationship.  Not forgetting . . .  Not having compassion for a child one has nursed MAY happen, but it’s not the norm.

Here’s another verse about “cherishing” like a nursing mother, Paul (who takes a lot of heat for his supposed views of women):

I Thess 1: Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: 8 So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.

 

These are from before the days of Enfamil, and babies were nursed by another human being.  For the most part.  It wasn’t always Mom, but it was a woman. Why?  because there weren’t factories, cubicles, etc., to the extent we now have them.  And it was common knowledge that this was a cherishing, tender activity, and associated with it, the desire to give to that child, because the child was precious.  

I understand this.  I nursed my children.  I don’t see them, I still would like to give, and have been prevented from doing so.  Even though they’re almost grown, they were not full-grown when the sudden breakoff of that relatinoship (by a felony act called “child-stealing,”) was a radical disruption to what I was doing with my life which was called imparting good things to my kids.  I do not think that I was inbred — in fact I was a practicing music professional in my communities, and as networked and integrated into other people’s and community institutions as most people are (if not more so, being self-employed).  I most certainly had an independent soul, personality, and preferences — something I had to fight for during marriage (where this wasn’t welcome), and rebuild after it.  I had close and long-term personal friendships, also.

But the primary one was with my children, because they were not yet grown up.  They were not in college.  And some crucial life struggles and issues were still in process.  So, that’s what my life was centered around.  This was part role model part provision, part demonstrating, by providing, that they were worth sacrificing for, but that a mother was not to be “used.”  

A major part of this struggle (in our case) had been to assert a simple right to leave abuse, and as such, that this did not entail suddenly entering a childlike incompetence (in fact it was the opposite) and inability to make decisions, or face a challenge.  . . . .  An assumption was made that my daughters were a BURDEN that needed to be relieved, and dumped in a school, so I could get about my REAL life, which was not (as I had been at the time), a profession, but actually making sure I found a 9-3 job, (or a 9-5 job with daycare) and left the real education to the real experts.  . . . Well, that was nonsense.  The insult was that, I should view children as a burden to be dropped off.  I found the attitude odd.  And it was coming from people who did not themselves have kids.  I have since come to the conclusion (or opinion, really), that these people, like I was at one time, were relationship-starved, despite all the art, all the literature, all the work, and all the adult friends they maintained.  I think they were bored and lacked purpose in life. And I had the misfortune to come near their radar screen with children in hand.  The assumption was that I could not POSSIBLY walk and chew gum, or work and have kids, and what was worse, HOMESCHOOL them too?  This was based on an incredible ignorance of almost all the above topics.  

And I was forced back onto the welfare state, needlessly, and told to be thankful.  I’ll tell you how I feel about this.  I HATE it because I know how it happened, needlessly.  It’s abusive, it’s insane, and it communicates a pervasive distrust of me as a person, and bottom line assumption is of incompetence.  Oddly enough, the factors driving me to this point also made the same assumptions.

I HATE having choice being so taken away from me, but whether to take a handout, or not, resulting in an unnatural relationship.  I HATE the insanity that a government would come in and because of Food Stamps be forbidden to buy vitamins, toilet paper, or cat food, lest I might really be buying cigarettes or booze.  I can go and buy candy and sweets or potato chips, til I get diabetic with the same money, so why not a little choice?  the real reason is the need to have something to measure.  At the same time, they do not take kindly to being measured themselves, lest they come up a little short.

Back to this topic:

Noncustodial mothers, and I know many, do not understand why there is such a national drive to disgrace us and scapegoat us individually, and collectively.  Individually, we have some pretty good ideas why this happens, but nationally, I’m here to tell you, this thing ‘mother’ is important, along with “father.”  Any version of “fatherhood” that cannot pronounce the word “mother” alongside it is a bastardized version of the real thing, a caricature.  Good grief. We are cruel enough already, why add to this?

The word “nurse” in the last reference doesn’t mean the one in a white uniform with a crisp cap (and hypodermic in hand), but the mother (“her own children.”)  It’s a noun used only once in the Greek NT, “trophos” (transliterated), but the verb it comes from “trepho”, means is “

A primary verb (properly, threpho; but perhaps strengthened from the base of trope through the idea of convolution); properly, to stiffen, i.e. Fatten (by implication, to cherish (with food, etc.), pamper, rear) — bring up, feed, nourish.

Here’s one more:

Matthew 23:37 (ERV)
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

The image of Jesus as a mother hen is not, I admit, the most common one, but the gathering and healing/helping, soothing, stopping the fighting  activity (see context) obviously was not..

These verses referring to this common activity: nursing, cherishing, being gentle, imparting, caring, not forgetting, wanting a person (to have a child be WANTED is a big deal!), gathering the kids together and settling the squabbles, before they kill each other ! is not in the competitive context and as opposed to females we find it today “Dads are Nurturers Too!” but was simply part of a natural part of being a complete human being.  

These are from the psalms of David, who was a major figure in the Bible, Old Testament and new, whose exploit with giant-slaying (“David and Goliath”) as well as with women (“David and Bathsheba”) as well as his progeny (Jesus Christ is sometimes known as the “Son of David” although there were many generations between the two recorded) and he was able to overcome having to flee, and live in caves and dens, but then fulfil his destiny to become a king.  Isaiah (the second quote) was also a key player, and Paul — who takes a lot of grief in some circles, in case you didn’t know — over the supposed, “woman shut up in church!” thing –and is heavily relied on for this same reason by a lot of churches that never see MY face any more — in practice, well, I just don’t seem him acting terribly dismissive of women in the book.   

Another major figure in the Bible is Moses.  His story is, during a time of oppression and state-mandated male infanticide to get rid of the potentially upstart slave population’s potential men (and rebels), the midwives were instructed to kill the males.  They didn’t.  Moses was hid by his parents, and as it goes, they sent him down the river where Pharoah’s daughter (wanting a son!) picked him up, and raised him as her own.  Well, I guess she had a figure and a schedule to maintain, and a wet nurse was hired, which ended up being Moses’ true mother.  That worked out neatly, and I will bet that sometime during those months or years in which she got to nurse her own son, she also talked to him, and let him know who he was, and his heritage.  40, 80 years later, he is a national hero, confronting his own (surrogate) father and leading millions out of slavery.  

These major players in Bible history:  in approximate order:  God, Moses, Isaiah, David, Jesus, and Paul  (most of whom have been portrayed in statue and paintings by artists also — in fact, I think Michelangelo did at least David, God, and Moses) — all freely referred to the characteristics of nursing, cherishing, caring and in short, the supportive bonding relationship as a human need.  

I would quote from a different sacred script, but this happens to be the one I know best.  Please feel free to comment, if you wish, and if you’ve got some additional (relevant) quotes, I”ll incorporate them into the post.

Nursing was taken for granted as part of human life, and verbs and adjectives were associated with both nursing, and the word mother.

How did these people do such great, history-changing things without expert analysis of WHY breast was best?  

Can we say nursing is a good deal for both mother, child, and the rest of us? Yes, it’s not always possible or advisable, but i DO wonder what we’re in such a rush to get rid of it for (pre-, pre-, pre-school in the US) and then, from afar, examine, pronounce and compare it with something else (is there something else superior?) as if it were a foreign thing?

 

Let’s compare the language used to describe some of this one more time:

Psalm 13913 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

A soul that knows he has a place in this world and was KNOWN.  Assurance, reverence, awe, and praise.  This psalmist went on, being the youngest and often treated dismissively by brothers, and father, to defend and protect his sheep (he could nurture), to slay his giant, to also do music (the psalms), to survive being a fugitive from jealousy, and to go on to be king. When a prophet came to anoint the future king, the littlest one was ignored, not being thought worth a mention.  Older, bigger, better smarter? ones were paraded in front of the prophet, but finally (as it goes) this one was brought out, and anointed officially, prophesied over, and then (apparently) the troubles and jealousy began.  Oh well.  Who would have predicted that?  The best of predictions and analyses go wrong sometimes.

Was he himself breastfed?  Did he have parenting time?  Was he, as a shepherd, familiar with the life process of conception, child(lamb)birth, protection of young, leading, feeding, and staving off dangers from the flock?

Another thing, incidentally, he was famous for was humility — when caught in some serious wrongdoing (adultery, and deceitfully getting another man killed so he could have the wife) and confronted, he admitted it.  This is called repentance, and was commended.

  It’s all in the attitude.

Now, for contrast, a phrase from Study #43 on why, seeking to better perfect human growth patterns and predict, and, and, and . . . . 

 

These findings have important implications for how children grow, and show the value of time use data in exploring pathways to development for infants and young children. The possibility that cognitive advantages for breastfed children may arise from their distinct patterns of time use and social contexts during the breastfeeding phase is an important area for future research using survey data such as from LSAC.

.These data are then used to investigate the central issue explored in this paper: are the days of breastfed and non-breastfed infants spent differently, to the extent that differences in how breastfed infants spend their time could explain their more positive developmental outcomes? 

 

The analysis shows that infants who were still breastfed spent significantly longer in the day being held or cuddled (32 minutes more) and being read, talked or sung to (27 minutes more), after taking into account other child and parental characteristics. There was a small positive effect of breastfeeding on spending time crying or upset. Breastfed infants were more likely to have been reported to have spent some time crawling, climbing or swinging arms/legs, and some time colouring, drawing and looking at books or puzzles. Breastfed children, on the other hand, spent significantly less time sleeping (40 minutes less), other eating, drinking or being fed (54 minutes less) and watching television (9 minutes less).

Breastfed infants spent longer with their mother (57 minutes more) than infants who were not breastfed, including more time alone with their mother (45 minutes more). Breastfed children also spent somewhat more time with their father (15 minutes more), although this was related to time that the mother and father were together, as breastfeeding was not associated with a difference in the amount of time the child spent with the father alone.

 

(It’s a RELATIONSHIP THING, I told you!)  I wish our countries (respectively) would get OUT of the business of designing (measuring, comparing producing, evaluating and predicting, etc.) families.  I really do.  OR, alternately, worshipping them as a national ideal.  I think this can backfire, too.

 

As a word of explanation, I am not writing to discredit the authors, or the study.  Their credits are below.  My point was in the larger context of, my own wonder and awe not at, well, being fearfully and wonderfully made, but at the whole industry of studying human behavior with a view to predicting, developing, understanding, justifying, and possibly controlling it.  This is actually a positive contribution to the understanding that MOTHERING is important.  Not SMOTHERING.  

In my readings about the history of some of the larger social institutions dedicated to studying children and families, it came up that one cause of this was the tremendous amount of orphans caused by war, specifically World Wars I and II.  It was both a problem and a ready source of oobservation of what happens to kids without families.

Along these lines, and based on my experiences (and associations, readings, etc.) I am personally very disturbed by the nationalized, so-called “public education” system.  Over the long haul — and my life is five decades long, plus some — I was an academic success in a public school, but some of the values problems, and the absence in this context, of solid human connections with more than a few teachers, of discussions about the meaning and purposes of life was absent  Though smart, smart was not appreciated in our high school, in fact it was  social detriment.  Though smart as a kid, I was also picked on as a kid, and my main memory of elementary school was this.  I’m not complaining, I’m thinking here.  It never occurred to me to tell my mother (or father) about the bullying, which went on a long time; I was very young, and the entire schoolyard was involved at playtimes.  I still remember.  I had everything handed to me, excelled here and there, and came to life around high school because of music, and I know this was because of the communal experience of doing something worthwhile other than sitting in a classroom, bored, and waiting for the bell.  

As to bonding with one’s children, there is a bond.  I can’t help thinking about Michael Jackson’s 3 children, basically kids for hire, given up AT BIRTH (I don’t think any one of them got a single sip from their mothe’s breast, and the 3rd, he related, he took away right away, placenta and all, as soon as the cord was snipped.  The stunned reporter, well, was stunned.  Putting this together with Michael’s stories of his threatening domineering father (they practiced with him sitting by with a belt) and when relating it, Michael put his hand over his mouth.  His features were mocked, blaming it on the Mom.  Fantastic wealth, fame, and musical success, yet this person, I looked at him on TV, had tried to turn himself into Peter Pan, he did not want to grow up.  What did he have for his mother — a woman who was as chastised as the Dad?  His own children didn’t know mother, at all, and ALL of them are going to go now either to abusive grandparents (let’s hope that’s changed), or a mother who gave them up at birth and viewed them (the first 2) as a “present” for Michael. They might be fought over, they probably won’t be hurting for food (one never knows) but what would be their place in the world?  And what identity?

I am also looking at all the GRIEF in my own home, and life — first the bastardized version of “fatherhood” and “headship” that I lived with in marriage, which entailed also being domineered and, when necessary to make a point, assaulted, in the name of this ideal– and then, after I left that, the closest handy male who himself ALSO had not become a father, or raised a family, tried to catch up on lost time, with the assistance of his wife, and united with husband to remove the children from my care on the basis that i CERTAINLY couldn’t run a life without a man’s direction.  The real basis, I believe was their need as people, despite all success, to have a meaningful relationship with young people they were related to.  It just so happened they were short two, and mine were on the radar, and basically, that was that.

I don’t mean to give a hard time to people who can’t or don’t keep children with them longer.  It can work out.  

I do believe, though, that when it comes to national policy, it would be suicide to practice the disappearing Mom act.  It’s the beginning of life, and it sets a standard. Leave those children alone!  And let them bond with their Moms.  Support that standard, and many other things will do better — it might make for better mothers, too, if we allow them space and time to do it.  NOW, I have got to say, I think that the educational system exists in relationship to the job system.  They are intertwined.

 

And i think sooner or later when we look at educational failures, and human behavioral failures (which domestic violence, and associated things ARE), we have too look at conceptual failures to acknowledge some basic human truths. And one of those is that MOST of us don’t like being treated like cogs in a machine, or parts in an assembly line.  MOST of us would like some decent relationship with a sane human being that knows us, appreciates us, thinks POSITIVELY of us (which many school programs, alas, do not), and does not have an ulterior motive – job stability, money, sex, power, fame, prestige — etc. in there competing with why we are being raised as we are.  

Human beings need a raison d’etre, a purpose in life, too.  A friend of mine likes to say, all we need is:

  • Someone to love
  • Work to do.

One way to be able to love someone else is to have some self-respect (skills mastery, accomplishment, service, function in a community) oneself.  A sense that one is unique, not just a point on a bell-curve.  Let’s have a little motherhood in here, it’s a great start to other endeavors.  That nursing baby NEEDS Mom, and to be held.  That Mother/baby situation NEEDS Dad to protect it, and enable this situation.  If, however, Dad has become inappropriate because of violence, or absent by choice, or incarceration, then they need a little space to grow up.  Neither of them needs to be around violence or poverty and no child certainly should be treated as a piece of property — which is EXACTLY how too many institutions are indeed treating them, no matter what the sign on the doors.    

How complex is that?  In this regard, I think many institutions have got it wrong in trying to give people what they might rather earn or learn themselves.

Sorry to be so long-winded today. 

Here are the women who did the study; it’d be great to read the entire thing (link up top):

 

About the authors

Jennifer Baxter is a Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), where she works largely on employment issues as they relate to families with children. Since starting at AIFS, Jennifer has made a significant contribution to a number of important reports, including the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) Social Policy Research Paper No. 30, Mothers and Fathers with Young Children: Paid Employment, Caring and Wellbeing (Baxter, Gray, Alexander, Strazdins, & Bittman, 2007) and AIFS’ submission to the Productivity Commission Parental Leave Inquiry (2008). She has also contributed several Family Matters articles and had work published in other journals. Her research interests include maternal employment following childbearing, child care use, job characteristics and work-family spillover, breastfeeding, children’s time use and parental time with children. She has made extensive use of data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) to explore these areas of research.

Jennifer was awarded a PhD in the Demography and Sociology Program of the ANU in 2005. Her work experience includes more than fifteen years in the public sector, having worked in a number of statistical and research positions in government departments.

Julie Smith is a Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Economic Research on Health at the Australian National University (ANU). She has published over 20 articles on public finance and health policy issues in peer-reviewed journals across several disciplines. She has authored two books on taxation (Taxing Popularity and Gambling Taxation in Australia), and received an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral (APD) Fellowship and Discovery Project funding for her research on the economics of mothers’ milk. She conducted a significant national survey of new mothers’ time use in 2006-07. Her research interests include: economic aspects of breastfeeding; the time use of new mothers <www.acerh.edu.au/programs/Time_Use_Survey.php>; non-market economic production and the care economy; taxation, tax expenditures and public finance policy; economics of the non-profit sector; tobacco control; and health financing. Julie was previously a senior economist in the Australian and New Zealand treasuries, and a Visiting Fellow in the Economics Program at the ANU Research School of Social Sciences. She was awarded a PhD in Economics (ANU) in 2003.

 

 

Causal vs Casual relationships in single mother households, Violence, Poverty

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Dear Silent Visitors,  

 

I have some more news for you.  Actually, this is over 4 years old in Australia, but apparently news to large sectors of America (North, USA):

 

 

UNLIKE  Family Violence Prevention Fund, or, say,

 

White House.Gov (Issues – Family)

 

 

Australia actually USES the word “mothers” in conjunction with the words “Families” in a public forum.

 

 

When I saw, I was so excited, I had to post it.  

 

I have also some more initials for you:

 

NCSMC 

 

 

 

 

(Australia: 2005, NCSMC, Inc. writes SCFHS, Gov. (Say, Huh?)

 

http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/fhs/reports.htm

 

 

22 April 2005 

SUBMISSION NO. 108 

AUTHORISED: 9 2OS~QS I 

Committee Secretariat 

Standing Committee on Family and Human Services 

Parliament House 

CANBERRA ACT 2600 

fhs.reps@aph.gov. au 

 

Dear Secretariat, 

 

Please find attached the submission of the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children to 

the Commonwealth Parliamentary Inquiry into Balancing Work and Family. 

 

This submission specifically addresses the second term of reference in relation to single mothers. In 

particular, we would like to draw to the committee’s attention how experiences of violence impact 

on single mothers’ transitions from welfare to paid employment. We note that this is an area that is 

largely unexplored and urge the committee to consider the need to rectify this. 

NCSMC would welcome the opportunity to make oral submissions to the Secretariat in support of 

this submission. 

 

If you have any need for further information with respect to the issues raised, please contact myself 

or the Executive Officer, Jac Taylor. 

 

Yours sincerely, 

Dr Elspeth Mclnnes 

Convenor 

 

NCSMC National Council of Single Mothers and their Children Inc. 


220 Victoria Square Tarndanyangga Adelaide SA 5000 Ph: 0882262505 Fax: 0882262509 

ncsmc~ncsmc.orc.au http://www.ncsmc.org.au 

1

About NCSMC 

The National Council of Single Mothers and their Children Incorporated was formed in 1973 to 

advocate for the rights and interests of single mothers and their children to the benefit of all sole 

parent families, including single father families. 

NCSMC formed to focus on single mothers’ interests at a time when women who were pregnant 

outside marriage were expected to give up their children for adoption by couple families and there 

was no income support for parents raising children alone. Today most single mothers are women 

who have separated from a partner. Issues of income support, child support, paid work, housing, 

parenting, child-care, family law, violence and abuse continue as concerns to the present day. 

NCSMC has member organisations in states and territories around Australia, many of which also 

provide services and support to families after parental separation. 

NCSMC aims to: 

Ensure that all children have a fair start in life; 

Recognise single mother families as a viable and positive family unit; 

Promote understanding of single mothers and their children in the community that they may 

live free from prejudice; 

To work for improvements in the social economic and legal status of single mothers and 

their children. 

This submission will focus primarily on the second term of reference: 

Making it easier for parents who so wish to return to the paid workforce. 

NCSMC wishes to highlight that existing legislation does not allow single mothers on income 

support to choose the circumstances of return to work as they are compelled to undertake certain 

activities as part of their “mutual obligation”. It would appear that the Australian Government 

intends to significantly increase these obligations, making choice even more limited. Thus, 

NCSMC wishes the committee to note the double standard that currently applies where single 

mothers face compulsion to undertake paid work, compared to couple mothers who may choose 

their involvement.1 

Parental separation and violence 

Single-parent households comprise more than one in five households with dependent children in 

Australia and comprise one the fastest growing family forms (Wise, 2003). Most single parents are 

1 Refer to Appendix A for NCSMC’s Guiding Principles to further welfare reform. 

2

mothers, with nine out of 10 children living with their mothers after parental separation (ABS 

1999). The rise in single-parent households is primarily attributable to the rising rate of separations 

between parents, and violence is implicated as a strong driver of relationship breakdown. Recent 

Australian research into the reasons for divorce found that, after general communication 

breakdown, violence and addictions were the most common reasons women gave for ending the 

relationship (Wolcott & Hughes 1999). 

This reasoning is supported statistically in the ABS (1996) survey of women’s safety, which found 

that single women with an ex-partner were the most likely to have experienced violence, and the ex- 

partner was the most probable assailant. The population survey found that 23% of adult women 

who had ever partnered had experienced violent assault by a current partner or former partner, but 

single women who had previously been partnered were at highest risk of experiencing assault, with 

42% reporting violence at some time during their relationship (ABS 1996, p. 51). Family court data 

indicates that 66% of separations involving children have violence or abuse (Family Law Pathways 

Report 2001). 

The data reported in the submission are drawn from a doctoral research project undertaken in South 

Australia in the 1 990s (Mclnnes 2001), which compared the family transition experiences of single 

mothers who left violent relationships with those who did not have to content with violence.2 

Interviews were conducted with 36 single mothers, which included separated and divorced mothers 

and women who had given birth outside of an established partnership. Of the 29 women 

interviewed who became single mothers as the result of relationship break down, 18 reported that 

their relationship ended due to violence. Abuse was self-defined by respondents and always 

included physical violence and sometimes included sexual, social, financial and emotional abuse. 

The violence typically formed part of the relationship dynamic in which the mother and children 

lived in constant fear and anxiety, rather than a single explosive event. 

Labour market participation 

Only 4 of the mothers interviewed had never participated in the paid workforce, and 28 of the 36 

women were either undertaking paid work or study at the time of interview. Thus for the majority, 

paid work and/or study formed an integral part of their identity and daily experience. 

Single mothers who separated from violent relationships were less likely to be in paid work, but 

more likely to be studying, than other mothers at the time of interview. Of the 20 survivors of 

childhood and/or adult violence, 70% were mainly reliant on income support. Two-thirds of the 

3

mothers who were mainly reliant on income support were studying at the time of interview and 

three out of four single mother students had left violent relationships. This fits with existing 

research that found that divorced women who had been exposed to severe abuse were less likely to 

be in the paid workforce than other divorced women (Sheehan and Smyth 2000). 

The differences between single mothers’ paid work and study status according to their exposure to 

violent relationships indicates that analysis of single mothers’ economic participation cannot be 

reduced to infrastructure needs such as childcare. Women’s exposure to gendered violence and their 

responsibilities for care of children combine to qualitatively change their access to the paid 

workforce. 

Gender and working parents 

Australia’s paid workforce is highly gendered, where women’s work is predominantly clustered in 

low-paid part-time service work (Baker and Tippin 1999; Edwards and Magarey 1995; Pocock 

1995; Sharp and Broomhill 1988). Women’s increased participation in paid work has not produced 

a proportionate decline in their share of domestic and family work relative to men (Bittman & 

Lovejoy 1993; Hochschild 1997). Thus gender remains a clear determinant ofworkforce 

participation, reflecting women’s unpaid caring responsibilities, and the higher rewards of work 

available to men. 

Current family policy increases the risks ofunemployment for single parents. Current family policy 

pays higher rewards to mothers in couple families withdrawing from the workforce, through the 

non-means tested payment of FTB B to single income families. When mothers are not partnered 

they become subject to new participation requirements to maintain access to a subsistence income 

support payment. Current family policy is thus incoherent and inconsistent by paying some mothers 

to stop work and requiring other mothers to start work. The best protection against unemployment 

for single mothers is to enable all parents, couple and single, to make structured transitions in and 

out of the workforce as caregiving needs require over the life course. This means consideration of 

initiatives such as maternity leave and paternity leave, quality affordable child care services, 

retraining packages and subsidy entitlements for caregivers returning to work. 

2 All identifying information has been removed to protect the privacy and confidentiality of respondents. 

4

Single Mothers and Paid Work 

A study comparing return to work programmes for low income mothers across Australia, Canada, 

New Zealand and the United Kingdom concluded that the variation in levels of workforce activity 

required of mothers affected the level of difficulty experienced by families, but did not essentially 

change the degree or scope of poverty of single mother households (Baker and Tippin 1999). 

Along with responsibility for dependent children, low paid work in insecure jobs in a gender- 

segmented labour market prevented single mothers from gaining access to economic independence. 

Only well-paid, secure full-time jobs would enable parents to support their children on a single 

income, without any reliance on income support. 

In the Economic Consequences of Marriage Breakdown study, McDonald (1986) found that being 

in the workforce at the time of separation was the most important factor influencing post-separation 

workforce participation of mothers with dependent children. Women who had undertaken paid 

work during the marriage, particularly after the birth of the second child, were the most likely to 

continue paid work participation. Women with professional occupational experience had a higher 

workforce attachment, and better access to secure working conditions. Reporting these findings, 

Funder (1989:82) noted that decisions taken during the marriage about the gender division of paid 

work and child rearing responsibilities strongly influenced women’s post separation employment 

prospects. 

Recommendations: 

NCSMC recommends that government policy be reviewed to address inconsistencies that 

“encourage” single mothers, on the one hand, to enter paid work, and couple mothers, on 

the other, to stay at home. 

NCSMC recommends that family support policy be reviewed to introduce paid maternity 

leave and paternity leave, quality affordable child care services, retraining packages and 

subsidy entitlementsfor caregivers returning to work 

Factors such as the women’s level of education and history of paid work also affect their likelihood 

of paid work participation. A relatively high wage was needed to compensate for work costs and 

the loss of income support, as well as rent increases for mothers living in public housing. Research 

in Australia into sole parents leaving the income support system, has confirmed that access to well- 

paid employment with family-friendly workplace conditions and appropriate affordable childcare 

was the most sustainable path out of poverty for single mothers (Chalmers 1999:45; McHugh & 

Millar 1996; Wilson et al. 1998). 

5

Factors identified in previous research as producing the highest incidence of reliance on income 

support were: 

Being out of the paid workforce at time of separation; 

Not being involved in the decision to separate; 

Having an income lower than the benefit level paid; 

Having less than Year 12 schooling; and 

Not re-partnering within five to eight years (Funder 1989:85). 

The number of children in the family also affected a mother’s labour market participation with 

participation in work declining as the number of children rose (Funder 1989). In Mclnnes 2001, 72 

percent of the sample had one or two children, and four out of five of these were working or 

studying. None of the respondents with three or more children were in the paid workforce at the 

time ofinterview, although seventy percent of these were studying. 

p 

Paid work and caring responsibilities 

In the study by Mclnnes 2001, parents felt torn between their parenting and earning roles. The dual 

demands of being the only available parent and income earner made participation in paid work a 

balancing act for many women. While mothers expected to work and earn their own income as 

their children grew older, a lack of alternative care meant they could not easily work outside 

standard office hours. 

If you have a partner it~s much easier to stay back at work. Childcare finishes atfive thirty and you have 

to be there to pick the child up. I always had to leave early to pick her up I missed out on hours of 

work. Iwas only paid by the hour (Juanita, 41, 1 child). 

It would be very difficult doing shifi work. There~s lobs that I’ve had that I wouldn’t be able to do now, 

like when I was working with young disabled people 8 hour sh~fis over a 24 hours period seven days a 

week and I]ust wouldn’t be able to get child care (Ann, 40, 1 child). 

I couldn’t possibly see howl could keep a night-time job. Childcare was something that wasn’t available 

at night in those days… My mother was prepared to have the children but only ~fItook them to her house. 

She had no room set up for them. I had to pick them up at 11 o’clock at night, take them out and put them 

in the car, and drive home (Kerry, 31, 2 children). 

Respondents stressed that being able to meet their children’s needs came first, and their ability to 

undertake paid work had to fit in around these needs. However, they did sacrifice their own needs 

especially in relation to recreation and leisure time, leading to increased isolation and stress. 

Work made me really very isolated because I was losing my energy I was coming back at about seven 

o clock in the evening and trying to cook something for her. She was screaming because.. she spent 

between ten and twelve hours in a day-care centre so she was miserable (Sasha, 42, 1 child). 

6

When Ifirst came back, because I was so tired and getting so little sleep, I was bursting into tears all the 

time and Ifound it very hard to look professional… I’ve had to go home during the day and have sleeps 

because I was just so knackered (Ann, 40, 1 child). 

Where mothers had made the transition into paid work some found themselves having to return to 

income support due to illness, lack of child care, lack of transport and stress. 

I can’t nurse any more I’ve got registration however I’m not able to work any more as a nurse because 

I have to take care ofeverybody including my ex. I had to accommodate my life to suit his 4fe because he 

refused to do it (Sasha, 41, 1 child). 

Recommendation: 

NCSMC recommends that ‘welfare to works policy must enable easy and fast transition between 

paid work and income support to ensure single mothers are able to meet their children ~sneeds. 

Despite their efforts to find ways to work, single mothers’ workforce participation remained 

subordinate to the demands of family for a number of reasons: P 

There was no other present parent to share care for children; 

Mothers barely saw their children when they worked full-time; 

Working full-time meant risking exhaustion; 

Children needed their remaining parent’s attention. 

For those mothers who had experienced violence, their family demands were higher due to the 

continuing impact of trauma on their own and their children’s health. Taft (2003) notes that there 

are strong links between intimate violence and damage to women s mental health, including 

depression, anxiety, substance misuse, suicidality and post traumatic stress disorder. 

Child Care 

The single mothers in the sample (Mclnnes 2001) drew on both formal and informal sources of 

care, with the most advantaged mothers being able to draw on a wider range. Informal sources 

included relatives, friends and the other parent and had the advantage of being both flexible and 

cost free. For women who had experienced violence their choices were far more limited as they 

were often isolated from both informal and formal sources of care. 

Consistent with other research (Swinbourne et al. 2000; Wijnberg & Weinger 1998), the women in 

the sample with close relationships with family found this the best form of alternative care. But not 

all women could rely on family support, especially migrant women. Women who had experienced 

7

childhood violence could not rely on family, and those who had experienced violence as an adult 

had been forced to move away from their ex-partner and were thus isolated from family. 

Only 13 mothers (3 6%) in the sample (Mclnnes 2001) had regular contact with their ex-partner. A 

study of labour force capacity of sole parents who shared care with the other parent found that 

mothers who shared care in a regular, co-operative, flexible and satisfactory arrangement with the 

other parent were considerably more likely to be in paid work than single mothers who did not 

share care (Dickenson et al. 1999). However, where mothers did depend on ex-partners for care 

while they undertook paid work, ex-partners were able to continue to exert control over mother’s 

activities, echoing other research findings that partners decided whether to ‘allow’ mothers to work 

in couple families (Eureka Strategic Research, 1998:68). Full time work by mothers could also 

create barriers to regular contact with the non-resident parent. When mothers were working full- 

time, weekends were their only opportunity to spend leisure time with their child, competing with 

non-resident fathers’ time. Access to care by the other parent was not possible for the women 

whose ex-partners were absent, and not in the child’s interest when the other parent was abusive. 

Survivors ofviolence thus had less access to this source of care. 

A third source of alternative care was neighbourhood networks, providing the convenience of 

locality. Like family, friends were an important resource out of hours, or when children were sick 

and could not attend school or childcare. Relocation after separation created barriers to women 

sustaining the neighbourhood friendships that had developed before their relationships ended. 

Women fleeing violence were often forced to move away form their neighbourhoods. Those who 

were able to remain in their homes during and after the separation were more likely to have access 

to neighbourhood support networks that could replace or extend family support. 

Most commonly, formal child care was used. Less flexible and more expensive, it was more 

reliable for mothers to meet work and study commitments. Survivors of violence and migrants 

were more reliant on formal childcare services. However, child care usually had to be booked in 

advance, creating difficulties for women who worked casual hours and were unsure of their child 

care needs. Cost limited mothers’ use of child care. Mothers who had experienced abuse of 

themselves or their children were often distrustful of childcare. Overall, survivors of violence 

experienced relative disadvantage in access to all sources of alternative care. 

Despite the limitations, high quality affordable, accessible childcare was important to reducing 

isolation among survivors ofviolence, migrant mothers and others who did not have ready access to 

informal care sources. The data indicate that accessible, affordable, safe child care remains 

8

fundamental to enabling single mothers to participate in paid work, particularly for migrant women 

and those who have survived violence. Identification and awareness of the needs of parent and 

child survivors of violence could provide considerable support to women seeking to improve their 

workforce opportunities. 

Recommendation: 

NCSMC recommends that government fund affordable, accessible, appropriate, quality child care 

places, in numbers sufficient to meet demand. 

Workforce motivations and barriers 

Poverty Trays 

Gaining financial rewards from work was important to justify the additional cost and effort of 

workforce participation for mothers, however, poverty traps undermined respondents’ motivation to 

work. Respondents in this research (Mclnnes 2001) calculated the impact of market eamings on 

their income support payments and felt there needed to be greater financial incentives to enter the 

workforce, particularly for those living in public housing, when earnings also increased rent. 

I was earning maybe one hundred and fifty extra but I had to cut it down to part-time and it just wasn’t 

worth it. Housing Trust put your rent up. Social Security takes away money and I was aboutfive dollars 

better off (Bonny, 28, 3 children). 

My rent went up over sixty dollars a week when I started working and when I complained about that they 

said ~youare already in subsidised housing what are you complaining about’ (Laurel, 38, 3 children). 

The combination of low-paid, insecure jobs with high effective marginal tax rates in income tests on 

public rental rates and income support payments, provided no economic benefit to families in public 

housing to compensate for the time pressure and the financial and family costs of going to paid 

work. Poverty traps did not as severely affect single mothers in private rental housing or 

homebuyers as earnings did not directly increase their housing costs. Survivors of violence and 

mothers without wage income capital assets were more likely to be living in public housing, and 

were thus more severely affected by poverty traps than other mothers. The paradox of poverty traps 

is that mothers with higher income earning capacity and assets are less severely affected than 

mothers living in deep poverty, in public housing, with poor income prospects. 

Recommendations: 

NCSMC recommends the removal of quadruple income test (Youth Allowance, Family Tax 

Benefit, Child Care Benefit and Child Support). 

NCSMC recommends federal and state governments cooperate to address the public housing 

rental / market earnings poverty trap. 

9

Access to transyort 

A key dimension of poverty and isolation among single mothers was their access to private 

transport. The study or workforce prospects of single mothers without access to private transport 

were limited, compared to those who held a driver’s licence and could afford to run a car (Mclnnes 

2001). Getting children to child care or school on public transport and then getting to workplaces, 

often required mothers to rouse children at dawn. Women living in non-metropolitan areas were at 

an even greater disadvantage due to limited services. 

I would have had to drop him at somebody’s house atfive in the morning, having got myself up and the 

baby up it would have to be a house close by… I would have to have him there including weekends when 

there was sh~fl work and it~ harder to find child care on rotating shifts (Judith, 34, 1 child). 

I had to take her in the morning on the bus, then catch another bus, with the pusher, with her bottle, her 

nappies, everything, to the child care. I then had to walk down to the day care centre, then come back 

and walk to my classes and then back to pick her up. Whew! I was walking. It was a slavery (Sasha, 42, 

1 child). 

I was catching buses. I didn’t have a licence. I was leaving home at quarter to six in the morning to be at 

work by seven and I wasn’t getting home tillfive thirty at night (Judith, 34, 1 child). 

Women’s life histories of income status, relationships, culturally scripted gender roles and 

motherhood formed part of the context in which some had not been able to learn to drive. Some 

women had grown up in low income households without a car, others had lived in relationships in 

which only men were drivers, and therefore controlled women’s mobility. Gaining a driver’s licence 

meant gaining freedom to move. 

Recommendation: 

NCSMC recommends that government provide funding to single mothers on income support to 

cover the cost of driving lessons and purchase ofdriver ‘s licence. 

Post Sevaration Violence 

Despite the widespread belief that leaving the relationship stops domestic violence, a number of 

survivors of violence reported continuing harassment, stalking, threats and physical attacks by their 

ex-partner (Mclnnes 2001). Mothers who had to maintain contact with a violent ex-partner for 

child contact found that management of their ex-partner’s violence changed, but did not necessarily 

stop after separation. Their actions were still constrained and conditioned by the need to manage 

and reduce the risk of further violence against themselves and their children. 

I still have to appease his moods. Even though we are apart I have to be careful about what the children 

might say on the phone to him so as not to rock the boat in order to protect myself to protect the 

children (Mabel, 36, 6 children). 

10

There was ofien conflict at exchange at access so we have been through the Family Court and had 

restraining orders put in place and conditions of access and that sort of thing (Tare, 36, 2 children). 

In cases of continuing contact between children and abusive fathers, both mothers and children 

were unable to work on recovery from their trauma, remaining hostage to the potential and actuality 

of ongoing violence. Mothers whose children had been abused by their father were presented with 

a no-win situation in which they had left the relationship to protect their children from abuse, yet 

they were required to cooperate with presenting their child for contact with the alleged perpetrator. 

Recommendations: 

NCSMC endorses the Family Law Council (2002) and Every Picture Tells a Stoiy Report 

(2004) recommendations that a national child protection service be established, improving the 

quality of child abuse investigation and evidence available to the Family Court. 

NCSMC recommends that the Family Law Act be amended to privilege child(ren) ~ safety in 

determining his/her best interests. 

Education and Work Histories 

Those in the sample (Mclnnes 2001) with little education had mainly held low paid, part time jobs 

such as cleaning, retailing or food and hospitality services. The mothers with post-secondary 

qualifications were more likely to be mainly reliant on market income than those who had no post- 

school qualification. Forty-five percent of the sample had not finished Year 12. Of these mothers 

many had held jobs with no training, no security and relatively low pay. For women who grew up 

with an abusive parent, leaving home and schooling was a way to escape the abuse. 

Women who had not succeeded at school did not expect that they would be able to handle study as 

an adult. Success at education as adults prompted women to re-evaluate their capacities and goals. 

Gendered expectations about women’s working lives, the demands of marriage and family, as well 

as experiences of violence were the main factors which had shaped single mothers’ education and 

work histories. Many respondents had left education as young women believing they would 

eventually be supported by their partners, or to escape abuse from their family. Husbands’ views on 

mothers’ workforce participation, as well as the demands of children, restricted women’s work 

during the partnership, and left many single mothers with a low income earning capacity after the 

relationship ended. 

Gaining new or updated workplace skills was an important step for single mothers who wanted to 

return to work. Study and training courses provided women with new opportunities; however, 

11

women were interested in careers which would support themselves and their children, rather then 

short-term low-paid job options. 

Single Mothers and Study 

Combining parenting and studying generated similar conflicts to those between paid work and 

parenting demands. Students were more able to be flexible to meet family demands, but student 

workloads were often organised around the lifestyles of young adults without dependants. Mothers 

often experienced time and family stress while studying. Not only did the demands of children and 

study conflict, but educational institutions made few allowances for the needs of carers. 

On the first day of orientation we had someone come in to talk about time management and he proceeded 

to tell single parents why they shouldn’t be at university. That was my introduction.., we all felt really 

bad. He told us you can’t be a good parent and study (Anita, 38, 2 children). 

Despite the lack of flexibility and recognition of single mothers’ family needs by some education 

institutions, access to higher education was greatly valued by women in the study. Department of 

Family and Community Services data shows that sole parents were the income support group with 

the highest rate of participation in education (Landt & Peck 2000). 

Half of the respondents (Mclnnes 2001) were enrolled in a post-secondary course at the time of 

interview. Two-thirds of these were enrolled in university and the remaining third in TAFE 

courses. Further education was seen as a way to improve their earning capacity in the longer term. 

The data showed a trend for the level of education to increase with age. Many respondents who had 

returned to study as a single mother discovered they were able to succeed educationally. Success at 

education was important to recovering a positive sense of identity and achievement, as well as 

expanding social networks and decreasing isolation. However, poverty remained a barrier to single 

mothers’ participation in education, and survivors of violent relationships often lived in deeper 

relative poverty, with less access to assets from the relationship and less access to child support. 

In summary, respondents’ motivations to begin studying were linked to their desire to achieve 

longer term career goals. Success in education offered a positive sense of self-esteem and 

achievement sufficient to persist though barriers including lost earning opportunities, costs of 

studying, risks of not getting a job on completion and the stress on the family. When the family 

experienced increased stress due to illness or other crises, mothers preferred to defer studies to 

attend to family demands. 

12

Recommendation: 

NCSMC recommends government promote and encourage single mothers on income support to 

undertake higher education, by subsidising places at institutions, allowing study as an approved 

activity, and ensuring the continuation of the Pensioner Education Supplement. 

Summary of Research Findings 

The impact on work and study arising from violence emerged in the research (Mclnnes 2001) as an 

issue for women in the workforce. Violence against women and children is commonly constituted 

within a welfare paradigm of social policy providing crisis housing and financial relief, while the 

legacy of violence on survivor’s work and education opportunities has received comparatively little 

attention (Danziger et al. 2000). The poverty, health impacts, isolation and loss of trust arising 

from violence affected survivors access to paid work and study and their use of alternative care 

resources. 

Single mothers’ opportunities to develop market earnings were underpinned by a range of 

prerequisites which could not be assumed within the cumulative gendered effects of prolonged 

poverty, experiences of violence and responsibility for dependent others. Such prerequisites for 

labour market participation included: 

Physical safety for parent and child(ren); 

Emotional and physical health of the parent and child(ren); 

Secure housing; 

Access to transport; 

Access to appropriate child care resources; 

Access to suitable training / education; 

Access to network with employment opportunities. 

Violence negatively impacted on single mothers’ workforce and study opportunities in a number of 

complex ways, mediated by other factors: 

Survivors of violence often experienced increased family demand due to the physical, emotional 

and financial stresses of past and continuing violence, thereby reducing their sustained 

availability for other activities. 

Survivors were more restricted in access to alternative forms of care. Survivors were often 

isolated from family and friends through having to move or go into hiding. They could not 

safely call on their ex-partner to provide care, and their experiences often made them more 

distrustful of childcare. 

13

Survivors were more likely to have been housed in public housing, and were thus exposed to 

deeper poverty traps compared to those in privately rented or purchased housing. 

Survivors were less likely to have access to private transport, due to poverty, and never 

obtaining a driver’s licence. 

Survivors of violence as children had often left home and education to escape, placing them at 

risk of long-term disadvantage in the labour market. 

Survivors of violence carry the costs, including impaired physical and mental health of both 

child and adult targets, which impact on their capacity to participate in paid work and education. 

There are the increased financial and time costs of attendance at health services, medications, 

and disability aids. Many survivors of violence also face increased legal costs to try to protect 

themselves and their children using the state and federal courts. There is also the cost of the 

loss or damage to housing and possessions arising from the destruction of property, forced 

abandonment of home, debts arising from the relationship and forgone claims to property of the 

relationship. 

Policy approaches assisting mothers to seek work need to take account of the extra demands on 

survivors of violence and the responsibilities of providing care. Constructing mothers as gender- 

neutral agents in the labour market cannot adequately account for the gendered dimensions of the 

distribution of unpaid care, poverty and violence. Thus increased compulsion on single mothers to 

participate in workforce activity can be expected to create increased burdens on the most vulnerable 

families and do little to address the drivers of relative disadvantage among single mothers. 

Policy reforms such as increased financial rewards for paid work, increased access to affordable, 

quality, flexible child care and increased assistance with transport and education cost are necessary 

to supporting single mothers to improve their income-earning opportunities. Recognition of the 

impact of gendered violence on single mother’s poverty and their subsequent working opportunities 

indicates the need to dramatically improve legal responses to financially compensate mothers and 

children for violence against them, and the support their safety and recovery after separation. 

Recommendations: 

NCSMC recommends that government, in considering policies to encourage transitions from 

welfare to paid work, prioritise rights to safety, healing and recovery for all victims ofviolence, 

beyond the current scope of crisis intervention. 

14

NCSMC recommends that government does not overlook the imperative to consider the impact 

of violence when developing policy to encourage the transition from welfare to paid work. In 

doing so, further research specifically addressing this area will need to be undertaken. 

NCSMC recommends that government consider how it could improve the legal responses to 

victims of violence to financially compensate them for the violence suffered, and help in their 

healing and recovery. 

NCSMC recommends that government fund the provision of training and education of 

professionals, volunteers and helpers who come into contact with victims of violence. This• 

needs to include prevalence, characteristics, dynamics and consequences of violence/abuse in 

families, how to recognise it and what to do about it. Workers need to know how to go about 

prioritising responses to achieve safety, and supporting healing and resiliencefor victims. 

In addition to the above recommendations, NCSMC recommends that government implement 

thefollowing policies in recognition of the unpaid care work single mothers undertake: 

1. Increased national investment in access to retraining and education packages for 

parents and carers who haveforegone wages to meet care commitments. 

2. The development of wage subsidy packages to build worliforce attachment and skillsfor 

parents and carers who haveforegone wages to meet care commitments. 

3. A nationalflexible system of maternity leave and parental leave to support parents and 

carers who haveforegone wages to meet care commitments in the early period of 

children ‘s lives, with pathways back to employment emphasising parental choice and 

flexibility. 

4. Affirmative action in the workplace to support women ‘s and mothers~ access to 

permanent employment with career paths and skills acquisition. 

5. Increased investment in family support services, with pathways to employment and 

education servicesfor parents and carers who haveforegone wages to meet care 

commitments. 

REFERENCES 

Australian Bureau of Statistics (1996) Women~ Safety After Separation, Catalogne Number 4128.0, 

AGPS, Canberra. 

Australian Bureau of Statistics (1999) Children, Australia: A Social Report, Catalogue Number 

4119.0, AGPS, Canberra. 

15

Baker, M. & Tippin, D. (1999) Poverty, Social Assistance and the Employability ofMothers, 

University of Toronto Press, Toronto. 

Bittman, M. & Lovejoy, F. (1993) “Domestic Power: Negotiating an Unequal Division of Labour 

within a Framework of Equality”, Australian and New Zealand Journal ofSociology, 29(3), 

pp. 302-321. 

Chalmers, J. (1999) Sole Parent Exit Study: Final Report, Social Policy Research Centre, Sydney. 

Danziger, Sandra, Corcoran, M., Danziger, Sheldon, Helflin, C., Kalil, A., Levin, J., Rosen, D., 

Seefeldt, K., Siefert, K., Tolman, R. (2000) “Barriers to the Employment of Welfare 

Recipients”, in Cherry, R. & Rodgers, W. (eds.) Prosperityfor All? The Economic Boom 

and African Americans, University of Michigan, Michigan. 

Dickenson, J., Heyworth, C., Plunkett, K., Wilson, K., (1999) “Sharing the Care of Children Post 

Separation: Family Dynamics and Labour Force Capacity”, Family Strengths Conference, 

University of Newcastle, November. 

Edwards, A. & Magarey, 5. (1995) Women in Restructuring Australia, Southwood Press, Sydney. 

Eureka Strategic Research (1998) Qualitative Research on Women~ and Families’ Workforce 

Participation Decisions, Dept. of Health and Family Services, Dept of Social Security, 

Office of the Status of Women, Canberra. 

Family Law Council (2002) Family Law and Child Protection, AGPS, Canberra. 

Family Law Pathway Advisory Group, (2001), Out of the Maze: Pathways to the Future for 

Families Separation, AGPS, Canberra. 

Funder, K. (1989) “Women’s Post Separation Workforce Participation” in Whiteford, P. (ed.) What 

Futureforthe Welfare State? Volume 5, Income Maintenance and Income Security, SPRC Reports 

and Proceedings 83, Social Policy Research Centre, Sydney. 

Hochschild, A. (1997) The Time Bind, Henry Holt & Company, New York. 

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs, (2003), Every 

Picture Tells a Story: Report on the Inquiry into Child Custody Arrangements in the Event 

of Family Separation, AGPS, Canberra. 

Landt, J. & Pech, J. (2000) “Work and Welfare in Australia: The Changing Role of Income 

th 

Support”, 7 AIFS Conference, Sydney, 24-26 July. 

McDonald, P., (ed) (1986) Settling Up: Property and Income Distribution on Divorce in Australia, 

AIFS & Prentice Hall, Melbourne. 

McHugh, M. & Millar, J. (1996) Sole Mothers in Australia: Supporting Mothers to Seek Work, 

Discussion Paper 71, SPRC, Sydney. 

Mclnnes, E. (2001) Public Policy and Private Lives: Single Mothers, Social Policy and Gendered 

Violence , Thesis for Doctor of Philosophy, FUSA, Bedford Park. 

16

Mclnnes, E. (2004) Keeping Children Safe: The Links Between Family Violence and Poverty, 

Because Children Matter.~ Tackling Poverty Together, Uniting Missions National 

Conference, Adelaide. 

Mclnnes, E. (2004) The Impact of Violence on Mothers’ and Children’s Needs During and After 

Separation, Early Childhood Development and Care, 174(4), pp. 357-368. 

O’Connor, J., Orloff, A. & Shaver, 5. (1999) States, Markets, Families: Gender, Liberalism and 

Social Policy in Australia, Canada, Great Britain and the United States, Cambridge 

University Press, Cambridge. 

Pocock, B. (1995) “Women’s Work and Wages”, in Women in Restructuring Australia: Work and 

Welfare, Allen & Unwin, Sydney. 

Sharp, R. & Broomhill, R. (1988) Short Changed: Women and Economic Policies, Allen & Unwin, 

Sydney. 

Sheehan, G. & Smyth, B. (2000) “Spousal Violence and Post Separation Financial Outcomes”, 

Australian Journal ofFamily Law, 14(2), pp. 102-118. 

Swinbourne, K., Esson, K., Cox, E. & Scouler, B. (2000) The Social Economy of Sole Parenting, 

University of Technology, Sydney. 

Taft, A., (2003), Promoting Women’s Mental Health: The Challenges of Intimate/Domestic 

Violence Against Women, Issues Paper No. 8., Australian Domestic and Family Violence 

Clearinghouse, UNSW, Sydney. 

Wilson, K., Bates, K. & Pech, J. (1998) “Parents, the Labour Force and Social Security”, Income 

Support, Labour Markets and Behaviour: A Research Agenda Conference, Background 

Paper, Dept. of Family & Community Services, Canberra, November 24-25. 

Wijnberg, M. & Weinger, 5. (1998), “When Dreams Wither and Resources Fail: the Social Support 

Systems of Poor Single Mothers”, Families in Society: The Journalfor Contemporary 

Human Services, 79(2), pp. 212-219. 

Wise, 5. (2003) Family Structure, Child Outcomes and Environmental Mediators, Research Paper 

30, AIFS, Melbourne. 

Wolcott, I. & Hughes, J. (1999) Towards Understanding the Reasons for Divorce, Working Paper 

No. 20, AIFS, Melbourne. 

17

Appendix 1 

Guiding Principles Sole Parents & Welfare Reform 

Overview 

NCSMC recommends that the Australian Government does not increase participation requirements 

for Parenting Payment recipients for the following reasons: 

Sole parents are the most active income support recipient population undertaking paid work, 

employment assistance programs, study and training; 

Demand for employment assistance programs, training and child care places far exceeds P 

supply; 

No evaluation data is yet available to determine the success or otherwise of the Australians 

Working Together legislation as implemented as at 30 September 2002, and 30 September 

2003. 

NCSMC recommends that the Australian Government implements the following reforms: 

Invest in the well being ofAustralian sole parent families by increasing the number of 

places available in employment assistance programs, training and child care; 

Facilitate the uptake of such places by providing sufficient funding to allow sole parents to 

fill these places; 

Provide evaluation data so the success or otherwise ofthe existing Australians Working 

Together legislation can be determined. This should include, but not be limited to, data with 

respect to parents and others on: 

~ Movement from benefit to paid work (including casual, part time, and full time) 

~ Access to services, including return to work programs (eg JET, TTW), training 

education, and child care; 

~ Breaching rates 

Consultation 

To ensure proper consultation takes place, NCSMC recommends the following consultation process 

takes place: 

Public meetings to be held in each state/territory; 

A Discussion Paper is drafted by DEWR and released for public comment (by written 

submission and with reasonable time line); 

Following this, an Options Paper is drafted and released for public comment (by written 

submission and with reasonable time line). 

NCSMC 

National Council of Single Mothers and their Children Inc. 

220 Victoria Square Tarndanyangga Adelaide SA 5000 Ph: 0882262505 Fax: 0882262509 

ncsmc(~2ncsmc.om.au http://www.ncsmc.org.au 

18

Assistance / Supports IServices in DEWR lan2uaael 

Retention of current Parenting Payment (pension) levels and income test (with taper rate at 

40 cents in the dollar) for existing Parenting Payment recipients and new applicants; 

There should be acknowledgement that further assistance and support is needed (both access 

to and funding of) to address the structural disadvantage faced by sole parents; 

Access to affordable, accessible, appropriate, quality child care, including before and after 

school, vacation, night-time & weekend care; 

Provision of funding for appropriate and long term substantive training and/or education, 

including the retention of the Pensioner Education Supplement (PES), as well as expansion 

of PES to those receiving Parenting Payment Partnered (PPP); 

Access to and funding for appropriate transport, noting that sole parents have a double 

transport burden (children to school and parent to work); 

Access to funding for job search costs; (noting that these costs were never factored into 

current pension amounts, as raising children alone was considered sufficient activity); 

Access to appropriate employment / return to work programs, with appropriately trained 

staff (eg TTW, JET, PSP) these programs need to be responsive to needs of sole parents 

and their children, flexible, friendly and not based on compliance; 

Access to and funding for health or other therapeutic services (parents and children) needed 

to enable a parent to engage in participation requirements; 

Access to wage subsidy programs that lead to real jobs (paid work experience); P 

Access to family friendly workplaces; 

The RTW/JET child care subsidies should extend to all PP recipients undertaking labour 

market related activity; 

Participation supplements, and/or well publicised, dedicated funds within Job Seeker 

Accounts and RTW/JET budgets to assist with the direct costs ofjob search, employment 

and education and training. 

Incentives / Removal of Disincentives IWork Incentives in DEWR 1an~uas~e1 

Retention of pension income test (taper rate at 40 cents in the dollar), and this taper rate 

should also apply to PPP recipients to encourage part time paid work; 

Removal of quadruple income test (Youth Allowance, Family Tax Benefit, Child Care 

Benefit and Child Support); 

Progressively remove anomalies that result in reduction / loss of family income once 

youngest child turns 16; 

Addressing major disincentives to repartnering (ie marriage like relationships); 

Addressing uncertainty brought about by forced participation (eg focus on meeting 

obligations demands less focus on children’s needs, ability to transfer from paid work to 

pension); 

Breaking down disincentives; including cost of child care, cost of working (especially initial 

costs of work entry) 

Activities must lead to “real” jobs; 

Public housing rent increases / disincentives 

Concessions cards need to retain access for some time as it provides access to state (eg 

transport, telephone) concessions; and these concession cards should be available to PPP 

recipients as well. 

19

R&iuirements IWork obli2ations in DEWR 1an~ua~e1 

Should the Australian Government not accept NCSMC’s recommendation and choose to pursue 

an increase in participation requirements, at a bare minimum the following protections should 

be legislated: 

The legislative protections underpinning the participation requirements introduced in 

Australians Working Together should be retained, including: 

(1) any requirements should be averaged over a number of weeks rather than a fixed 

number ofhours per week 

(2) parents should have the option to participate in education and training that would 

improve their future job prospects and income 

(3) parents should be exempted from participation requirements where they have: 

~ a child with a disability, 

~ a sick child, or 

~ where a critical event in the family’s life (e.g. divorce proceedings, threat of 

domestic violence) would make compulsory participation unreasonable at this 

time. 

(4) decisions on breaches ofparticipation requirements or agreements should continue to 

be made by the delegate of the Minister pursuant to social security legislation 

(5) an accessible, fair and prompt Social Security Appeals system should remain in 

place, and payments should continue or be resumed while appeals are being 

considered 

(6) existing arrangements to waive penalties on compliance and use suspensions rather 

than breaches to encourage attendance should continue 

The following additional protections should be introduced: 

(1) The legislation should specify that any participation requirements must be 

reasonable, taking account of children’s needs, parents’ education employment and 

training history and goals, and barriers to participation such as disabilities 

(2) The breaches system should be reformed in accord with the Pearce Report: 

including a reduction in maximum non payment periods to a maximum of eight 

weeks 

no requirements apart from interviews should be imposed for the first twelve months 

after the recipient receives Parenting Payment 

The current participation requirements for sole parents on income support whose 

youngest child is 13 should not be increased; 

The legislation should protect the legal obligations / primary responsibility of parents to 

provide care to their children without risk of loss or reduction of income support, or 

other penalty (this would include missing appointments, leaving the work place, failing 

to attend training, etc when children/domestic needs arise both in the short term and 

over the longer term); 

The legislation should protect the rights of child(ren) to have access to parental time as 

needed; 

Where accessible, affordable, appropriate, quality child care is not available , there 

should be no requirement to participate; 

Parents should not be required to engage in activities outside of school hours (including 

school holidays); 

The number of dependents (children, elderly parents, etc) in a parent’s care should be 

recognised as limiting their capacity to participate; 

Time limits should be placed on travel requirements consistent with current AWT 

legislation, ie a maximum of45 minutes each way (this includes travel to/from child’s 

school and parent’s work); 

I 

I 

P 

20

Monitoring 

To ensure the well being of single parent families it will be essential to closely monitor the 

implementation of any new welfare reform measures. This should include, but is not limited to: 

Ongoing and regnlar publication of data; 

Ongoing and regular consultation with sole parents and organisations involved with sole 

parents; 

Independent evaluations of impact of any new reforms; 

A transparent and easily accessible complaints process; 

A transparent and accessible appeals process 

P 

21

Nature (specifically, nipples) vs. Shared Parenting: Family Law Inanity in Australia, too…

leave a comment »

 

Humor me here…. 

Sometimes I have a bit of an inferiority complex when I read the generally higher level of discourse in news articles outside the U.S.  This began years ago when I was corresponding with a certain UK group  concerned about the British system which they said was, unfortunately, adopting  practices that had already failed in the USA.  Not that this STOPPED such practices, but the Brits & Scots were complaining too on a number of lines.  California was specifically named.  I’m not a West Coast native, and didn’t quite duck my head in shame.

 

What IS it about California?

I don’t know whether it’s hiring former actors as and Governors, if not later President, or whether it’s Hollywood per se, or it’s maybe because the pride from having succesfully detached from England a few hundred years ago filled American think tanks with hot air, or whether educational policy — what IS it, then that causes “educated” people to lose their grip on reality, and really stupid stuff to erupt, Krakatoa-like from this part of the Pacific Rim, and drift transcontinentally, via Internet, El Nino,  (sorry wrong medium)or in the winds of change, and drop its dusty thinking world-wide, gunking up thousands of otherwise sane and at least semi-functional lives?

(More realistically, the dust driving the Dust Bowl of idiotic legal behavior, if you read yesterday’s post, is more likely Gold.  Which I could also blame on California in another century, I suppose).

Maybe it’s reverse psychology — if it IS absolutely In-ane, or otherwise quack science, SOMEONE will declare it “scientific” and a market niche is born.  Hence, PAS is now being taught in Spain, I heard, by people already discredited in the US, and we already had the Judge in Toronto making decisions on breast-feeding vs. shared parenting.

 

Thank God, Inane, Insane Behavior is not Indigenous to the USA!

Now here it is in Australia too.  Finally I can hold my head a little higher as an American, because another continent(‘s legal/judicial system) has sunk to our shameful, dogma-driven level (drivel?), when it comes to Fatherhood, Healthy Marriage, Co-parenting, Joint Custody with severely aggressive batterers (resulting in family-cides) and Judges (??) making decisions as to how healthy an INFANT (and Mum) are allowed to be.

Given the chaos, progress, or perhaps it is liberality that is “U.S.,” especially on the West Coast, the headline “Breastfeeding Mums forced to share care” (below) has someone like me naturally wondering at first whether this piece was about one such same-sex marriage and two Mums sharing parenting.  Gee, I hadn’t thought about THAT one yet.  My confusion is understandable, I hope.  First of all, I’ve been in family court system for many years and found out the most words in there are topsy turvy to start with (for example, “mediator,” which means, a person whose favor one must win, within 45 minutes of a first encounter, after which, the hearing process is a simply a shoe-in…), or, say, the word “family” to start with, the composition, schedules, members, relationships, and prosperity of which typically ends up different going out than going in.  The word meat grinder comes to mind…

Moreover, being as I am from the home of the brave, the land of the free, and one of the several US states that legitimized, at least for a period, same-sex marriages, and is working HARD at promoting the concept at elementary school level, the words “Breastfeeding Mums (plural) forced to share care” brings up images of an individual case, not an entire class of cases.  Perhaps if they had said “with whom” these Mums (and how many of them) were forced to share care, I might have had an easier first-glance assessment.  Don’t point the finger at me, I already know anything goes from a number of angles.

However, on actually reading the article, it appears to have been heterosexual couples uncoupling, and thereafter, as children were involved, they must go through the system and face the same old insanity — every time a couple parts, a family law judge will have to play God and juggle priorities.  Added to the complications, the children involved were not yet weaned.  No matter, a decision is here…

Breastfeeding as parental alienation”? If so, then the judge could simply penalize the mother, about $250,000, for not sharing nuturing well enough with the children’s father, as a Canadian judge did recently.  I wonder if it was the same Toronto judge that ruled on how long the mother could breastfeed, and what her real motivations for doing so were.  Family law judges are well-known for mind-reading and intention assessing.  

In short, there appears to be no area of life which judges are not deemed to be expert to pronounce upon.  If they lack expertise, no matter, experts are at the beck and call of the court to add the appearance of logic to decisions.

By the time my children are grown and I am 100% divorced, and hopefully into a new profession not subject to first-trimester-abortion-by-child-napping or frivolous lawsuits, I will probably have experienced every emotion, and aspect of life possible, and should probably head for a judge-ship.  I will keep a coin handy for flipping during the more difficult cases, and hire a private security guard in case I mistakenly rule AGAINST a battering or child-abusing, indigent, law-breaking, stalking or kidnapping parent, thereby alienating my colleagues in the courts.

(HEY — even the best of us have our fantasy life, right?)

 

Back to the topic of allotting nipple-nudging time  in a co-parenting plan.

IMAGINE being that judge:

 

Do I, as judge:

 

wield my ??-appointed authority over litigants’ health, wealth, lifestyles, and divorce, choose:

  • (A) Growing baby’s health and Mom’s, as already determined by clear medical evidence (and milennia of practice, world-wide) and bend shared-parenting laws to accommodate breast-feeding, knowing (as the average adult, I hope already does) that breastfeeding is indeed in the best interest of the child on a score of physical, emotional, psychological categories, for BOTH Mom post-delivery, and breast fed babies tend to be smarter, healthier, less obese, and more disease-resistant, as well as cow’s milk has several contraindicators (first of which is, it was designed for herbivores, not omnivores, and for large-boned bovines, and more)**
  • {{**Certain exceptions apply, as when Mom is abusing a substance, or possibly is so traumatized or stressed out that cortisol, adrenaline (i.e., stress hormones) are flooding her system, and as such, her nursing infant’s.  GEE, what circumstances might engender that?  (a)  possibly violence in the home?  (b) possibly knowing that her nursing infant’s/child’s saftey and future, and her relationship with this “fruit of the womb” is  totally in the hands of a family law judge?}}

OR, do I, as judge:

  • Go with more recent, and far fuzzier (but currently more popular, at least with the generally dominant gender) psychological assertions that”Fathers are Nurturers Too!” and “Female-Headed Households innately are poorer, and more dangerous, and in short to blame for society’s ills” dogma (imported, I believe, from Southern California legal experts, aided by some conservative think-tanks/foundations, and policy-makers who help drive policy from Washington D.C.).  To this, I suppose I should add “Breastfeeding Sucks!” and any Mum who won’t just give it up is overly bonded to her infant, and a parental alienator — doesn’t she care about her kids’ emotional needs for two parents, especially a father? 

 

  •  Which is it?  History, or Recent Theory?
  •  
  • Do I want to risk criticism from the medical establishment (which has set a clear “Go Thou and Nurse” policy, which my government has already endorsed) or
  • Do I want to compromise potential funding (this blogger comments from her USA perspective) from the post-Dr. Spock, feminist-defanging doctrine from about 1980s forward, which the globally mounting drumbeat of fatherhood mongers claim is endangering their offspring’s health by removing the radiant glow of Dad’s presences from Kids’ lives?

Another possible fulcrum of the Decision See-Saw might be:

  • Do I want to show I share common sense with the rest of the public, therefore possibly compromising my ambience of near-divine, esoteric insight (I’m JUDGE, right?  and no common bloke), or do I want to throw my clout around?

(And DO I CARE that newly-divorced, or restraining-ordered, irate fathers are still dropping kids (excuse me — GIRLS) off bridges, or otherwise killing them, if not themselves also, on visitation, throughout my country, and others).

 

 My imagined judicial angst probably didn’t last long, if it ever arose.  There probably was no wavering, no virtual see-saw.

This is FAMILY Court.  It’s a no-brainer:  Given the obvious, do the opposite:  Throw the kid in a carseat, share “parenting”, and “let’em drink (cows’) milk half the time and breast milk the rest.  Or make Mom pump extra for 3 days a week.  Why cry over spilt milk from both sides?   

Moreover, throwing in some inanity shows who’s the boss in court.  The next uppity woman who comes through here will know better and make our lives easier.  Don’t they know, men don’t like to WAIT in certain matters??

 

With judicial rulings -and poorly prognosticated legal concepts — like this, who needs Parenting Education (or for that matter “Healthy Marriage” promotion)?

The only other sarcastic “Good Grief!” leverage I could get from this article is to comment that with examples like this, we really don’t need “Healthy Marriage” education in either Australia, or the USA!  Just make them read the news…

MY CONJECTURE:  Any couple that separates before a child is weaned either (and very possibly) had domestic violence as an issue (in which case, sole custody would be more advisable) or wasn’t too bright to start with – – if they read newspapers, they would surely learn, as of 2006 in Australia, that any child conceived would go through carseat, attachment, and digestive hell unless the parent stuck it out a little longer.  Or, she was indeed using him to get a baby.  (Not that men have never done this of a woman, either….)

A close friend of mine who is as thoroughly disgusted with my case’s many years in court, not to mention child-stealing, unprosecuted, after I’d just stabilized the household, believes — and it appears to be serious — that people should have breeding licenses.  In the current climate, I think a thorough course in the legal system (including recent fads) and the domestic violence statistics, plus a thorough understanding of the cost of attempting to separate, when kids are involved, should be requirements.  

Chalk this one up to the hands of the anti-VAWA people.  No one in their right mind would subject a child to this, it’d  be better to stick it out, and have a safety plan each time someone loses it emotionally in a relationships, than to send a growing human being through this official-DUMB.

Please forgive me, but one more shot:  Surely this shared parenting law could NOT have come from legislators who actually breastfed before; it’s like salivating — your body acclimatizes to supply and demand, and let alone jerking the child around emotionally, how about them breasts?  (or, to become a judge, possibly, one must act like a man, including as to schedule, and therefore women judges would skip the attachment phase, use formula, or get us to pumping in the lady’s room between hearings?

Incidentally, and Mums would also know this — what comes out the other end is MUCH less offensive when it came from a human teat, not a cow’s one, via pasteurization, or formula, which isn’t even that healthy.  So there could be additional causes for grievance, as in, “child was habitually returned to mother with a real stinker.”  Good grief!  Let the kid nurse.  When it’s older, it can see Dad more, and will recognize him well enough.

The legendary , proverbial “King Solomon” — who was noted for taking his inherited kingdom down in good part by too many expensive wives and concubines (no, that was NOT a sideways snipe at the US Congress)(perhaps) supposedly saw two women (were they breastfeeding?) who claimed one child; the other one had been rolled over and smothered to death in sleep.  Threatening to enforce “Shared Parenting” by “raised sword” the real Mum piped up and said, “let her have it!” and the real wise king recognized the real Mum, and she got her baby back.

Guess what with all them wimmen in his life, he knew a thing or two about nursing, even vicariously.  Or, he’d remembered the story of Moses.  Their cultural baby factories, I guess, included wet-nurses, not nurturing Dads vying for kids’ allegiances and affections. 

OK, I’m through.  If you’d gone through the co-parenting with a controlling personality, thereafter losing your  kids scenario (I did, if you’ve read other posts, and at a   huge cost, and after a very dedicated motherhood lasting til they were more than half raised), you might be tempted (as I was, and obviously succumbed) to make a point with this Caroline Overington article from “The Australian.”

(The headline is the link also.)

Breastfeeding mums forced to share care

Caroline Overington | June 10, 2009

Article from: The Australian
THE Family Court is placing infants who have not yet been weaned from the breast into shared care arrangements with their separated parents.

A study by academics at Flinders University has found that infants less than a year old are spending one week on a diet of cow’s milk, and one week nursing at the breast, so that parents can share their care, as recommended by the Howard government’s shared parenting law.

Others are spending up to three hours a day in a car, shuttling between homes.

The shared parenting laws, introduced in July 2006, are attracting complaints from a range of professionals at the coalface of family law.

The study on the shared care of infants after divorce was conducted by Linda Sweet, of the Flinders University School of Medicine, and Charmaine Power, an associate professor at the School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Their report said the shared parenting law placed “expectations on both parents to participate equally in care, regardless of the child’s age”.

The report said there was “ample evidence that breastfeeding is the best form of nutrition for infants” and the Australian government’s dietary guidelines espouse breastfeeding as the optimal food for children for the first six months of life.

“It would be expected that breastfeeding infants would not be ordered into substantial shared parenting arrangements, ” the report said. “However, many infants regularly are.”

One mother, “Georgianna” , separated from her husband when their child was seven months old. The magistrate ordered week-about shared parenting, saying the boy could have his nutritional needs met by means “other than breastfeeding” .

“Georgianna’ s milk supply became erratic as a result of these week-long absences,” the report said. At the time of interview, her son was receiving breast milk while with her, and cow’s milk while with his father.

“Trish” separated from her husband when their child was five months old. The court ordered shared parenting of seven days a fortnight, but no overnight stays, with dad. The distance between the homes meant the child spent three hours a day in a car seat.

The authors concluded that “national and international guidelines on optimal duration of breastfeeding” have less sway with judges than the benefits of time with fathers. “This in itself is not a bad thing, and all women in our study encouraged father contact,” they said.

Breastfeeding was at issue in a Family Court matter heard in Cairns last year, involving a couple who had been married for less than a year when they separated. Their daughter was five months old. The mother was committed to “attachment parenting” and demand feeding, and would not allow the child to stay overnight with her father.

The judge said the mother had “no time set for the child to be weaned** and allowed the father to see the child only when a mothercraft nurse was present (the father had an annual income of more than $280,000, plus a $350,000 annual bonus, so hired help was no problem).

The judge said the father “wanted to take the child out and have her stay overnight but could not “because the mother insisted that the child be breastfed”.

The judge said the shared parenting act made it necessary to “consider whether it would be in a child’s best interests” to spend such limited time with her father, and concluded that overnight visits should begin three months from the date of the hearing.

Five months, turn that faucet off, folks!  Right?

Department of Human Nutrition and LMC Centre for Advanced Food Studies, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

There are differences between at what age industrialized countries recommend that cow’s milk can be introduced to infants. Most countries recommend waiting until 12 months of age, but according to recommendations from some countries (e.g. Canada, Sweden and Denmark) cow’s milk can be introduced from 9 or 10 months. The main reason for delaying introduction is to prevent iron deficiency as cow’s milk is a poor iron source. In one study mainly milk intake above 500 ml/day caused iron deficiency. Cow’s milk has a very low content of linoleic acid (LA), but a more favorable LA/alpha-linolenic ratio, which is likely to be the reason why red blood cell docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) levels seem to be more favorable in infants drinking cow’s milk compared to infants drinking infant formula that is not supplemented with DHA. It has been suggested that cow’s milk intake can affect the later risk of obesity, blood pressure and linear growth, but the evidence is not convincing. There are also considerable differences in recommendations on at what age cow’s milk with reduced fat intake can be introduced. The main consideration is that low-fat milk might limit energy intake and thereby growth, but the potential effects on development of early obesity should also be considered. Recommendations about the age for introduction of cow’s milk should take into consideration traditions and feeding patterns in the population, especially the intake of iron and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and should also give recommendations on the volume of milk.

 

**Perhaps instincts, observation, judgment might play a role?  Perhaps the father’s substantial income was a factor in his failing to realize that waiting can be a virtue, at times?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Object lesson:

Show a 2nd grader a picture of a calf and a baby.  Now ask the 2nd grader what the calf eats (grass).  Then ask the same child where milk comes from (“cows.”)  Ask them to talk about the differences between a Cow and a Person.  Pick a female dairy cow for the example.

 

Object lesson, courtesy Google Search on this phrase:

The Milk Of Human Kindness: Uses For Human Breast Milk

Every year, the citizens of the United States drink on average 21 gallons of milk. Most of this milk is from cows. Ever since I heard that PETA wanted Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream to use human milk, I have been researching about the advantages and uses of it. Here is what I have come up with.

{{I think this is actually worth a post.  Yes, I sucked onto this thread of thought and am not letting go until

 

 

What a nice comic break– some posts are “no-brainers,” when their subject matter clearly already is.  Just show the article and have a bit of fun.  

A certain  sense of personal wellbeing (admittedly not very empathetic), comes from realizing that even YOU, had YOu been judge (or, legislator) wouldn’t have been that inane, or cruel to a little, nonambulatory child as to switch its diet, regularly, and hope its intestines and still-plastic brain can figure it out:  is it time to suck (and what), or to sit in a carseat, unnurtured by either male chest or female breast, for 3 hours at a time?

With nipple confusion beginning for age one, ADHD is sure to follow by the time he gets to Australia’s equivalent of Early Early Head Start.

On the bright side, if the worldwide intent is to produce confused, passive, detached kids, adolescents, and adults (perchance,lawmakers?), who can’t digest food right, let alone information, this WOULD be the way to go.  Get ’em before they know who Mom is.  Or Dad.

 

Meanwhile, “Part I of II” on ‘Who’s Funding My Goverment?” is still forthcoming;

I have been researching.  Some leads were hot, some were disconnected.

 

Court-ordered dysfunction does not, really, proceed from well-intentioned intelligent weighing of right vs. wrong, but rather pays versus doesn’t pay.  Just imagine the parenting coordinator business that will come from these scenarios.  Child winds up with digestive problems, or a split personality, because Dad can blame Mom for breastfeeding (Breastfeeding as Parental Alienation?) and Mom can blame Dad for compromising baby’s long-term mental and physical health (and be closer to the truth, on that one).  More business for civil litigation.  Will he get lowered child support payments becauase he actually has to PURCHASE nutrition for the little one?  

 

The possibilities are endless, which of course is the point.

 

Let ~Behavior~ not ~Gender~, Determine Custody once Crime has Occurred. FYI, Law, not Psychology, Defines Crime.

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“Peace” without “justice” is not peace.

 

Any child’s and any woman’s right to physical life and freedom from molestation and abuse ALWAYS should prevail over the child’s purported need to access to both parents, when one is abusive.  

One wants to ask why, in the domain of “Family Law” that “family” should always prevail over “Safety” when kids are involved.  Suppose there were no children?  Would someone dare to tell an adult woman, she has a “right” to the man she just left, and is incomplete without him?  Or some other man..  Or cannot earn a living without him? 

One woman without an in-home abuser, or without one stalking her after being evicted, is ALWAYS more competent, and her children in better hands,  than that same women with no exit from the abusive relationship.  The fact that so far all are alive should be enough testimony to networking and someone’s bravery.  MOST communities to NOT confront a man that is paying some of their bills.  The fact she got out probably relates to initiative and resourcefulness, which are transferable skills.

FYI, Domestic Violence, and its response, The Fatherhood Movement, are industries like any other.  Solve the main problem — put an IN-HOME deterrent to men beating their women, or thinking this is acceptable,  – – – and 9 times out of 10, she’ll probably stay.  IF she leaves, then she gets the children, and too bad, sir — abuse was a choice.  These two industries are then out of commission and will have to go find something else to fight about that does not have human casualties, preferably.   And the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services will have to go find someone else to study, and then administrate and “serve.”  They can keep their essential departments, and delete those millions going towards grants to “promote responsible fatherhood” and “collect child support” and going into prisons to find men to seek increased access to their children in exchange for lowered child support arrears, which is simply a way to pass the “buck” off to a different set of professionals that come into play when the mothers, naturally, resist and protest this insult.  ONce they find out about it….

IS it better for the greater good that families continue to be wiped out (fewer mouths to feed?) than that we stop this insanity?  These family wipeouts, or woman-wipeouts, accompanied at times by kid- or father-wipeouts (or, the intergenerational perpetuation of PTSD, the trauma that accompanies war, which FYI, this is…) will not stop until the myth that ALL the people operating under EITHER DV initiatives OR Fatherhood Initiatives are doing so out of pure motives and the wish to save individual families, or families as a whole.  

They aren’t.  They are busily either bouncing angrily off each other, and frequently interbreeding, endlessly, draining the lower ends of society and enriching the upper (Harvard, Yale, Indiana, George Washington, other institutions that receive grants to study these problems).   Middle classes continue to muddle along, thinking mindlessly that those experts have it all under control, to this day.

The last incidents I heard/read of were yesterday — a 15 year old girl reported missing 2006 shows up — buried — in her father’s back yard.  He was already in prison on some other charge, and supposedly methamphetamine was involved.  I didn’t finish reading about it.  “National Father’s Return.”  He was a biological father and a father figure.  Not too bright, apparently.

And a friend of mine, who had to (first time in her life) preside over a memorial service and subsequent cremation for a youngish- (45 yr old) male who had thrown his 70 year old female mother across the room in retaliation for her having tried to surreptitiously call 911.  She managed to flee (NB:  her own home where her son was living) to a neighbor, 911 DID eventually come, along with a SWAT team, and after the man, having realized I gather he had crossed the Rubicon, shot up the place (including several windows, and a few cats, as it was a cat rescue place), and eventually himself.  My friend, whose husband was ordained but out of town, stepped in and presided over the thing, as well as helped participate in cleaning up the mess.  That was less than 24 hours ago, and only a sampling.  We cannot keep up with the atrocioties.  That was not a custody case, but it WAS a male adult who somehow felt like a failure, and spread some of this around the neighborhood.  

This same state just received (I also read yesterday), $2.8 Million to prevent “Violence Against Women” as its own Senator promotes a yet larger, more ambitious Fatherhood Initiative, press says.  WELL, make up your mind — which do we want?  Nationalized Fatherhood with ongoing fatalities, or a balanced budget without them?  

More likely, a perpetual cash flow in the direction of mental health professionals is the end game.  I will bite my tongue and stay on topic here.

Regarding my last post, about a young woman who fled to Australia from England (from her Serbian husband), and was ordered BACK there to determine custody, whereupon she was shortly after asking police to drive her to a “safe house, ” dragged from between her two sons, in the back seat of a car her mother was driving to flee for safety, and (by this same man) stabbed to death in front of them all — there is a simpler answer which was proposed in at least 1992, and has been systematically fought in Family Law courts throughout the U.S., as well as in others.  

It is a rare woman who can afford to fly to another continent for safety as fast an effectively as these dangerous & deadly ideas, applied in the context of previous domestic violence, are flying around the internet, and their proponents around the globe promoting them.

This simple, sane answer ALSO has been written into laws in most (U.S.) states, containing the words  “rebuttable presumption against custody being granted to a batterer…

What’s a good upstanding batterer to DO?  The women are getting uppity?  Easy – retreat to certain venues (where those feminazi radical _ itches are not welcome, — and the existence of which women fleeing violence are not informed.  If such a woman WAS informed, the average one can’t afford to attend anyhow…) and focus on other, nonjudicial processes, are ignoring, at least until said laws can be diluted, and overturned, and stomped on, and out of the public conscience — kind of like some people are, in this form of violence.

Folks, the protective laws are already on the books — they are just not being enforced! Initially, this confuses people coming to court for that purpose — the legal process, and contempt for its violation.  BUT, I say, Family Court ITSELF exists as a practice and as a venue, to overturn those laws.  It, like them, has a history.  I didn’t know til I studied, nor will most.  Here’s part of it:

 

http://www.canow.org/fam_report.pdf

From their Intro:

By the mid 1990s California NOW began receiving an increase in letters and phone calls from 

mothers throughout the state who were being victimized by judges,lawyers,mediators,evaluators 

and attorneys for children in the Family Court system. Some women were being cheated in the 

process of dividing marital property and assets,while other women were unable to get the court’s 

assistance with child support collection.{{THIS IS KEY AND A PART OF THE PROCESS}}

The vast majority of communication,however,came from 

women who were fit mothers and the primary caretakers of their children who had custody 

revoked from them and given to the father.Decent fathers did not take wrongful advantage of the 

courts situation; it was the abusers who did. Too often the communications came from citizens 

whose children had made allegations of abuse against their fathers, although a smaller number 

came from those experiencing domestic violence and those for whom joint custody was simply 

unworkable. It appeared from the volume of communications that the problems, loss of custody 

through gender bias, denial of due process, fraud and corruption and alleged syndromes such as 

parental alienation,were occurring throughout the state,and that it was not being addressed effec- 

tively,if at all,by any branch of government.More recently,women who have experienced this have 

become organized at the grassroots level for the purpose of shedding light on this growing prob- 

lem.These groups turned to CA NOW for assistance.The increasing communications from these 

individuals and groups have demanded action from CA NOW to address the lack of governmen- 

tal response and initiate reform in the Family Court system.

 

 

I would never have called CA NOW if I had not tried other arenas without success first.  As a “woman of faith” (sic), this organization as a whole did not speak for my interests and beliefs.  Yet, no faith community or government agency was.  The nonprofits had played into the hands of my abuser (see above description), nor could I get law enforcement to enforce what I had, by now, learned the laws were — or even an existing custody order.  Increasingly frustrated and indignant at the ongoing, perpetual interruption of my life, and resumption of my rightful, nontraumatized, contributing place in a new community I’d moved to (for some — but not too far from their father — distance), I had already learned from national organizations, such as “NCFJCJ” that mediation was inadvisable for people in my situation, yet it was being rammed down my throat every time an incident was created that brought us to court.  I had also, as my manner is, studied this topic of domestic violence (I study things that affect my family!), and found more than one author who directly spoke to my situation, including Lundy Bancroft’s cogent analsyses, “Why does he DO that? ” and “The Batterer As Parent.”  I had experientially determined that the local DV supportt group could provide moral support to endure abuse, but at this point, my concern was to STOP it, not endure it more graciously — and this is where I returned tos etting firm boundarie,s in my situation, and saying “NO” or “MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS ON YOUR OWN TIME” more often.

  It is devilishly hard to analyze a situation as it enfolds, and when survival is an issue, but between my background as a musician, and in diverse places adn fields within music, plus my 10 years with an abuser, I had some skillsets.  

 

The further afield (wider and wider spheres of influence I investigated), the more shocking — and chronically common — is the situation.  

Nothing, really, could prepare a person who has been a lifelong citizen of one country for such widespread and uniform betrayal by this country of people of my profile, that profile being (1) FEMALE, and (2) additionally — and let’s face it, many females share this other trait — MOTHER. People who have already been betrayed and oppressed or diminished on some other additional characteristic — such as skin color or ethnic background, accent (i.e., national oriogins or familys’ national origins) or religion, have been better prepared.

 

Nothing in my personal experience, which was not exactly that narrow, in the standard sense, prepared me for an assortment of the acts of (1) marriage and (2) giving birth to children — having, in others’ minds, suddenly, and permamently, infantilized this 40- year old woman with a diverse background, and some sigifnicant educational experience.  

 

In other words, I took foir granted things other women had fought hard for in decades past, and (being busy working, and otherwise engaged in life), had not been privy to what the U.S. Congress, prompted by initiatives prompted by religious world views (in great part), also prompted by fear of loss of power and control of money, was itself engaged in.  I am posting some of it on this site.

 

Civil rights, like legal rights, don’t just show up on the landscape and continue of their own accord, like a perpetual motion machine.  They were fought for to start with — any independence is — and need continued “fights” for their maintenance, even as I, as a musician often in charge of choirs, “fight” to maintain a certain standard of excellence (and progress towards it, or, if one level is achieved, progress towards the NEXT (higher, not lower), standard — as a lifestyle.

 

 

FOR READERS WHO ARE SHORT ON TIME, YET STILL INTERESTED IN THE TOPIC, SCROLL DOWN TO THE RED-INK PORTIONS, AND BELOW THAT, THE fine-print green centered quotes..!  

 

TYPICALLY, I GET TO THE MAIN POINT TOWARDS THE END OF THE POST, AND REFLECT ON & SUPPLEMENT IT IN THE TOP PART.

MY THINKING IS MORE OF A TAPESTRY, AND I ENJOY WEAVING THE THREADS, THAN AN OPAQUE STATEMENT.  PROBABLY IN PART BECAUSE OF HOW HARD IT HAS BEEN TO RECONCILE SOME OF THESE ISSUES, AND IN PART BECAUSE I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A READER, AND NETWORKER.  SOMETIMES I OVERESTIMATE OTHERS’ WILLINGNESS TO PROCESS ALL THE DATA.  OR MAYBE IT WAS A FACTOR OF CHILDHOOD (LOTS OF TIME SPENT OUTDOORS) OR WHO KNOWS — I HAVE THE GENES OF, OR ADOPTED THE HABIT OF, ASKING “WHY?” OR “SAYS WHO??” EARLY ON  — I REALLY DON’T KNOW WHY.  I DO KNOW THIS IS HOW IT GOES.  

 

Inherent in the processes  of growth is conflict and overcoming of gravity, need for nutrients, and conditions required for life.  Even physical human life requires assimilation, digestion, absorbtion, and excretion.  It requires water, and it requires activity.

So does any good marriage or relationship.

When a law system, or government, comes in and says “conflict is bad, only total peace is good,” for one, it is lying.  Governments PROSPER (and grow, oppressively so) the more conflict and chaos exist, because it is human tendency to delegate out authority & responsibility when stressed.  In other words, to hire shepherds, policemen, farmers, lifeguards — and doctors, gravediggers, and ambulances — to assume the problems of life.

But, we need to be watchful, when government encourages us to hire out (1) thinking and (2) the education of our (respective, not “communal”) young.  These skills and life activities, like others, will go stagnant — and the populace become passive, fleeceable sheep — when un-used.  Few things that have kept me sharper in life (other than learning to survive abuse) than working for years with children who challenged authority, including existing educational theory (read “limitations”) on how children learn, or what they can do.  Poverty also is a teacher, up to a certain point, to value one’s time and bottom line.   In music these were not typically age-sorted, or easily intimidated.  When I began, I was not much older than, and certainly not stronger or taller than, the teenagers I was working with (or faster than the little ones).  Obviously, we had to work things out.  And not in a manner that regimented & squelched the energy level, which making music requires.

No Conflict?  There are many situations in life in which “peace” exists, at least temporarily.  One of them is tyranny.  One of them is death.  Another is stagnation – there is little conflict or dialogue because nothing of substance is being done; routines are settled, status is “quo,” and flab of some sort is being accumulated.  This may not be the best for intimacy, or the sex life, FYI.  Like TiDES, ALL of life has some ebb and flow.

For an institution to come in and label the degree of conflict a marriage can have (while ignoring when blows have already been delivered) is an insult.  The thing is, to strive “lawfully” to work it out.  When the mediators and evaluators are themselves conflicted over the existing laws, their usefulness is dubious.  Whatever the intent, the EFFECT is to further reframe and confuse a situation, not DE-fuse it.


As usual, this post covers several topics, but related to the post title.  I have an integrative, symbolic mind, and enjoy viewing common topics in a less common light.  Turning ideas – not just physical objects — upside down, or inside out in this manner, can show what makes them tick, or lets the reflect diffferent light — particularly puzzling topics like, why when a young mother reports that her husband threatened to dismember her, and flees to the otherside of the world, “POLICY” brings her back to be dragged out of a car and murdered by this same person.  

The role of the police, in their capacity to protect, was to give her a “panic” alarm, not a self-defense class or even a knife, pepper spray, or Taser (stun-gun).  WHY?  Because a woman defending herself in this society is an anomaly — and would upset the status quo of who women ARE.

This thinking habit may relate to my music background (which is the language of expression, itself a symbol for emotion, carried in  visual symbols translated into real human b ehavior).  It may be due to the multiple perspective changes that a home not being a safe place, or a (religious) sanctuary, actual sanctuary, or having had family flip viewpoints on me for the smallest acts of independence after abuse.  I don’t really know why, but it does make life more interesting. 

That that woman died, needlessly, was a top-down, institutional factor of failure to respect her boundary or give her permission to FIGHT BACK AND, IF NECESSARY, WIN!

If women were taught to actually defend themselves from their partners, physically, society at large would probably descend into chaos.  Well, it already IS there, but this would give it at leat a different flavor. Don’t worry — I do not think this is about to happen.  

Think about it — how many industries are based on and sustained by the fact that women do not have equal rights, “unalienable” or otherwise?   The existence of  “Fatherhood” resolutions being passed by both houses of the U.S. Congress testifies to the fact that some are running scared.  But consider:  would it not improve sexual excitement overall, as rather than seeking more and more younger and younger partners, men would have an in-home challenge, knowing that this act was not a power play, but an communion thing.  IS quantity really better than quality?  I don’t think so.   In other fields (food, music, art), discretion and quality should prevail  AND then these non-co-dependent partners in relationship and lifell could then go about separated lives as well, exist as individuals, and not as functions in life, and a gender caricature in their communities, too.  They would cover each other’s back, rather than one constantly putting the other one on (hers), and not just for sex.  Vive la difference, avec dynamic balance – individual, and as to gender only.  Fluidity and grace/strength.  Not one blustering male and one overworked passive female — OR vice versa.

 

I don’t know where it would go from there, but I STILL think self-defense training (before marriage?) is a good idea that hasn’t been tried yet.  

As verbal many times precedes physical, we’d have to also take a stand on demeaning, derogatory talk.   I believe this would also elevate men, as well, from beyond their figurative role, to actually interacting with their partner as the full-scale human beings they are.  One person who agrees with me has actually been honored by the “fatherhood community,” and that’s (Rabbi) Schmuley Boteach, whose book “Hating Women” (the title is misleading), I read, and approve of.  He is the one that said, women with out men can and do live clean and orderly lives, with no dead bodies around at the end off the day, but there is excitement in the relationship.

The same would go for LGBT relationships — the domination paradigm would need to GO!  As men and women no longer existed as caricatures of how “male” and “female” really show up in human beings, I suspect that the need to rebel against that also might.   The entire pornography industry would likely take a hit, as there is absolutely that sex + violence (as a combo) does have an audience, avid consumers.  And possibly, young men might stop showing up in schools with guns to get attention.

THAT stance would probably require dismantling not the educational system, but just the compulsory, mind-numbing, child-leaving-behind government sponsored and funded one as well as not a few religious institutions.

When an entire system is based on threat — of withdrawing funding, of police hunting down if a someone fails to attend (but it STILL fails in cases of foster children, and others, as we have already seen, and it CONSISTENTLY underperforms other, existing systems based on the free-market system, some of which can also be done by poorer families) —  it is itself disrespectful, personally insulting, and a violation of boundaries, and those who prosper in that system are going to breathe in and exhale the same negative attitudes.  I say this after decades of perspectives on this at all levels, and am not alone in this statement.  

In fact, in viewing the womb-to-tomb institutions of my country, the teacher/student, expert/plebian, priest/proselyte, guard/prisoner, controller/controlled viewpoint is VERY common.  This is not obscured by the fact that great and inspired people exist in many of the middle layers.  The bottom layers are being squished and punished, usually arbitrarily, and have been squirting back in rebellious forms in direct proportion to their need to recover a sense of humanity, dignity, and to have their voices be HEARD.  

And the less noble among the men, take this out on the women closest to them, punishing and killing as they too were punished and felt something important in themselves killed.  Sometimes, and unfortunately, the women too, take this out on the children.  How can that sense be transformed into something better, eh?

Why are the arts historically the LEAST valued aspects of our public school system, when in fact they are closest to the most important, along with sports, debate, and mastery of foreign languages?  The medium of this large mess is the MESS-age.  It’s too large, too bulky, and too inefficient, and too impersonal.  Then people wonder why the prisons are crowded.

ANYHOW, I have often in hindsight thought back as to what would happen if we were taught to do fight back, and that at times it’s good to break some rules.  Not in the girl-gang manner, but individually.  

When I taught people to sing, together, in ensembles:

As a teacher, and whose job used to be helping groups of diverse ability sing complex and scintillating music, which ALWAYS included skill-building and endeavoring to communicate the vision of how it would sound, and the enjoyment of their personal voices and their personal voices in balance with each other (and what the music required, to come to life) — it was VERY helpful to simply teach the difference between right & wrong, or Good and Better, in specific situations.  This is NOT so hard as it sounds, when participants are a little willing (which, FYI, is KEY).  MOST kids like a challenge, within range, and in general many adults don’t have the free-flowing physical energy after work to do this — BUT THEY CAN, AND MANY TIMES DO.  No matter the size of the group, I would seek to show and offer individuals for examples, and let those examples then also, themselves, practice feedback, leading, and commentary so that we all would understand what the principles were (this, moreso with children then with adults).

Once the difference between “Good” and “Better” has been taught and recognized, it is only necessary to consistently remind people, if they do not recognize, which way Better is in, and movc on to another skill.  IT is the consistency which gives them and me feedback, and keeps us on track towards excellence, which is the goal.  YES, it’s interactive and dynamic, but once the direction is positive, and understood, the hope of getting and the joy of the process, picks up momentum.  

You cannot have a successful singing group if they are never told the difference between off-key and on, or better and best.

In every singing group, there are more and less highly motivated people.  The thing is, the overall concensus, and whether the conductor can live with the level involved (i.e., his/her musical conscience), and to the singers, whether they can live with the concept that singing does entail expenditure of physical and mental energy, and will they engage in the process, and also continue to enjoy it.  Any conductor knows that permanent plateau doesn’t exist — no growth = erosion.  That’s how the human psyche works.  Boredom = sloppiness increases.  

Now think about abuse — does this person want to learn?

YES we adjust for times of tiredness, or illness, but the overall thing is continuing to keep the standards improving; MOST PEOPLE like to do well.  If I find a choir is in a status quo mode, a social group only, and there is no potential or interest for much more, I do not stick around for long.  Typically, this is rare, as choirs tend to be volunteer situations.  I am amazed at how well a smaller unit of nonprofessionals can do, with time, and some love and positive direction.

 

When I filed a domestic violence restraining order

The question of INTENT to abuse had already been established, and the thing was to establish a boundary, now, limits.

Now that I had experienced a little life with a little more boundary, there was extensive cleanup and repair to be done in all categories.  The immense energy from having the threat of immediate physical harm at unpredictable times REMOVED, allowed me to have a joy and concentration in my work that was sporadic and rare previously.  Even before we were completely on the road, healed, restored, there was  such an exhilaration in the sense that I could GET there.  The person who had viciously and intentionally been sabotaging my work and endeavors, in front of our kids, was out of the house.  I remember at one time regretting that he could not share the sense of peace — until I remembered why it wasn’t there when he was!  

AFTER THAT:

It was possible to actually reap rewards from initiative/effort that were more commensurate with the effort.  But I needed boundaries respected, and it took time to start to develop the vigilant patrolling of them, which no abuser likes.

The Family Law Venue — and in cases (as mine) where biological family ALSO failed to report and stop the violence — tends to then defines success in such cases in terms of ability to moderate and get along peacefully with someone who had formerly been beating the crap out of one parent, or threatening to do so.  This breaks down her boundaries, making it harder for her to sustain work, and repair momentum.

A woman who has successfully experienced the difference between in-home violence (and all that goes with it), and NO in-home violence, who has been interrogated and derided, etc. for eyars — and NOT having to be pulled out of a sound sleep for this, or stopped leaving the home  for work for this, and whose pets, and personal property is not being broken and hurt to make a point — will NOT readily go for more of it from another source.  

She might come off as somewhat “thorny.”  This is because there is work to do!

 She may not waste as much time explaining to the next few people who wish to violate her boundaries, and interrupt her work, or taking care of her children, that this is inappropriate.  I didn’t.  When my family came after me (having failed to label the DV to start with) and began “advising,” I did not waste AS MUCH (though still TOO MUCH) time saying, “Get a life.  I have one already.”  

The struggle moved to the only times and means available this man had to then sabotage, interrupt, and harass me with – my relatives, exchanges with my children, any point in the custody/visitation order which lacked clarity (and ours was POORLY written, in violation of standards I later learned the mediator was responsible to know and address), and so forth.  I was advised to GIVE him joint legal custody by the family violence law center, and on an irrational basis.  I did so, and this was a huge chink in the door, larger even than the poorly written custody order.  

An abuser has failed to learn some very basic lessons in life, and unless there is some strict accountability, the lesson will not be learned.

BOUNDARIES:  

 N THE CASE OF ABUSE, IT IS ALSO NECESSARY TO BE CONSISTENT IN MINOR DETAILS.

ONE OF THE CHARACTERISTICS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS SIMILAR TO THAT OF A CAPTOR DOMINATING A POW.  ABSOLUTE OBEDIENCE IS THE OBJECT, INCONSISTENCY IS THE TECHNIQUE, AND NO INSUBORDINATION GOES UNPUNISHED — BUT THE CAPTOR IS NOT GOING TO KNOW WHEN.  THEY ARE CONSTANTLY SET OFF BALANCE UNTIL THEY (HOPEFULLY) COWER.

I have heard of similar, but not so violent, methods being used in training a dog.

In order to “TEACH” the abuser that boundary violations and attempts to revert to the former “ordering” her around behavior is unacceptable, SHE NEEDS to protect the boundaries, and have some means to say NO! available when they are violated.

There should be a consequence for domestic violence, and that is simple.

No contact, for a significant time, with minor children until the father (or mother) has figured out that this was an unacceptable role model, example, and way of interacting with other people, including little ones.  

 

Jack Straton, Ph.D., (NOMAS) Said it Straight in 1992, 2 years before

  • The 1994 passage of the Violence Against Women Acts (“VAWA”)
  • The 1994 formation of the National Fatherhood Initiative (“NFI”)

First of all, who IS the guy?  Well, I didn’t know this til recently, but among other things, hover cursor over the link for a short description — he has worked in two different fields, Photography & Physics.  

http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_general_education/v048/48.2george.html

He co-authored with “Linda George” the following article, which makes a lot of sense to me:

Approaching Critical Thinking Through Science

 

In that it talks about Viewpoints (natural, in a photographer, one would think), Process, Values, Perspectives, including this segment:

 ((Please note:  The PROCESS is explained in the article))

How Do Scientists Make Truth Claims?

Before beginning to work with issues in science, we find it useful to discuss what science is and is not. As a starting point, Steven Lower’s computer-aided activity “Science, Non-science and Pseudoscience” (1998) provides some good working definitions of the terms hypothesis, theory, and scientific fact. In addition, the interactive program guides students through issues that attempt to frame the domain of science: what kinds of questions science can and cannot address, what kinds of practices distinguish science from other types of knowledge, and so on.


 OR. . . . 


Knowledge and Uncertainty

Students tend to have polar views on the nature of scientific knowledge. On the one hand, there is a sense that knowledge that has been derived scientifically is “factual” and is closer to “Truth” than other ways of knowing; on the other hand, once students have been exposed to the notion that knowledge is mediated by one’s perspective (Tompkins, 1986), this is often misunderstood to mean that there is no “real” knowledge since “everything is biased.” [End Page 113] These epistemological issues are ones that scientists tend to ignore, but we bring them into the course because they connect directly to issues of diversity and multiculturalism. For example, students read essays about scientists who are not white or male and discover that, throughout the history of science, the fact that science is done by human beings who have socially constructed “perspectives” has a significant influence on what kinds of science get done and what kinds of conclusions are arrived at.

We unpack the subject of “knowability” by exploring wave-particle duality in the quantum world. We first demonstrate “conclusively” that light is made of waves and then provide “proof-positive” that light is made of particles. We next show photographic evidence that matter, too, has both particle- and wave-like properties, so that wavicle might be a better descriptor. Next, we discuss the social controversy over welfare and take students through a parallel series of steps that reveal a paradox like the wavicle: the rich are often in favor of cutting welfare, but if welfare is cut, starving people will turn to crime or revolution, neither of which is in the interests of the rich. The ultimate lesson is that if we get stuck on any particular perspective in science or society, we are likely to be missing much of what we can know.

 OR. . . . 

Science in Society

One unfortunate development in our educational system is that science usually is thought of and taught as a discipline different from every other. The result is that science does not usually appear in “nonscience” courses. 


Someone who can talk sense in one category, can often talk sense in another.  
Common sense says there might be more than one perspective in life on a problem.  
Now, that 1999 Resolution of Congress (2 posts ago) is not drenched with common SENSE, 
just common ASSERTIONS.  
As such, I claim that MY assertion that IT constitutes a prophetic utterance, and 
attempt to establish a religion. I observe that its assortment of facts in support of a theory
came from its own hired experts that already believe such theory, and many of them, on the basis
of a commonly-held religion that has been wont (see "Genesis 3") to blame women when held to task
for its own failures (a.k.a. disobediences).

Anyhow, here is what Jack wrote in 1992 as to:

 

What is Fair for Children of Abusive Men?

Journal of the Task Group on Child Custody Issues 

of the National Organization for Men Against Sexism 

Volume 5, Number 1, Spring1993 (Fourth Edition, 2001) 

C/o University Studies, Portland State University, Portland, OR, 97207-0751 

503-725-5844, 503-725-5977 (FAX), straton@pdx.edu 

         

What About the Kids? 

Custody and Visitation Decisions in Families with a History of Violence 

National Training Project of the Duluth Domestic Abuse Project 

Thursday, October 8, 1992, Duluth, Minnesota 


This is 9 pages only, and has 59 detailed cites.  I recommend reading it ALL.  However, here is the conclusion:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me sum up what I have shared 

with you.  I have criticized the “Best 

interests of the child” criterion as 

being so vague that it requires us to 

rely upon the opinions of adults as 

to what “best interest” means.  And 

the norms behind these opinions 

are seldom acknowledged, and thus 

not refutable.


I then showed that 

courts who apply this criterion have 

disregarded the severe effects of 

domestic violence on children, even 

to the extent of saying that killing a 

child’s mother is not a sufficiently 

depraved act so as to deny a man 

custody.  If it is possible for a cus- 

todial criterion to allow such twisted 

result to result from a jurists value 

system, that criterion itself is se- 

verely flawed. 


We then looked at the flaws inher- 

ent in presuming joint custody to 

be in children’s best interests.  I 

then described the primary care- 

taker criterion and showed that for 

violent families it will almost auto- 

matically remove a child from 

harm’s wayorder. 


We found that children who wit- 

ness wife beating have difficulty in 

school and are much more prone to 

juvenile delinquency and, ulti- 

mately, violent crime than children 

from non-abusive families. 

 

 

FATHERS’ GROUPS, WHO DID NOT ORIGINATE

IN LOWER-INCOME OR POORLY EDUCATED CIRCLES

ALTHOUGH THEY SEEK MEMBERSHIP AMONG SUCH,

WOULD HAVE US BELIEVE

THIS IS DUE TO THE ABSENCE OF A MAN

OR FATHER FIGURE IN THE  HOME.

 

TO ACHIEVE THIS, IT SEEMS NO HOLDS ARE

BARRED AND NO PROCESS ILLEGAL

IN HARASSING AND PURSUING

CHILDREN THROUGH OTHER MEANS

WHEN A WOMAN CHOOSES TO LEAVE,

WITH KIDS


They 

have poor relationships with peers 

and siblings, learn to despise their 

mother for her abuse, and learn to 

emulate their father in his expres- 

sions of aggression. 


We found that the longer the abuse 

witnessed, the more severe the re- 

sultant disorder. 

 

A decade-long study between Kaiser and the CDC (Center for Disease Control)

on the topic of, initially, OBESITY, concurs.

It too, has largely been ignored in family law circles,

which prefer their own experts.  

Yet no feminists, anti-violence people, or father’s rights groups

initiated this study.  Two (male) doctors did, in the context of an obesity clinic.

{{“The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study: “Bridging the Gap between Childhood Trauma

and negative consequences later in life” 


What is the ACE Study? (please hover cursor, for more detail)

The ACE Study is an ongoing collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and 
Prevention and Kaiser Permanente.  Led by Co-principal Investigators Robert F. Anda, MD, 
MS, and Vincent J. Felitti, MD, the ACE Study is perhaps the largest scientific research study 
of its kind, analyzing the relationship between multiple categories of childhood trauma 
(ACEs), and health and behavioral outcomes later in lif
e.}}

How much trauma, substance addiction (driving an escalating prison population in the US),

disease and eventual “leading causes of death” might have been avoided,

had someone listened more to “Dr. Jack” (below)

than “Dr. Phil” (TV personality) when it comes to Custody After Abuse?

 

Given that assaults 

on women actually increase after 

separation and divorce, we would 

expect that children have more trau- 

mas associated with this phase.  I 

was able to find only one rational 

conclusion from this cascade of phe- 

nomena; that a cessation of contact 

with the abuser is the only way to 

minimize demonstrable and fore- 

seeable harm to these children. 



How can we 

face future generations of our kind (FYI — that’s HUMANITY)

and say that we knew about the 

abuse and did nothing to help? 


Join 

with me; take your place at the front 

of our march toward freedom; let it 

never be said that our generation 

was too afraid of male violence to 

stand up for the lives and hearts of 

children. 

 

  • Written by a Photographer (skillset — observing, choosing subject matter, different light, framing, focus, development (pre-digital), exposure, and all sorts of variables are required for a BFA in this field).  
  • Written by a Ph.D. Physicist who teaches.  Skillsets — knowing and communicating concepts and process to a variety of students.  (I also recommend reading the first link– it’s interesting!).

The scientifically-inclined mind will question why such reasoning is absent in Family Law arenas, and WHY.  

Only taking out a personal mirror, and examining one’s own preconceptions about others’ viewpoints, will a rational explanation be found as to WHY?   this paradigm will not rule.

I have a link on the blogroll showing what it takes to become a Certified Family Law Specialist in ONE of the 50 United States.  Even a cursory reading of this shows that the focus is NOT on safety for one of a couple (Domestic Violence) or protecting children from abuse (Child Abuse), physical or sexual, but on other fields.  No matter how frequently such specialists and their associated professionals convene and publish to “explicate” domestic violence in the context of divorce, the fact is that such violence, once it occurs IS the prevailing context of that divorce, and has to be handled.  

As such, mediation (at least as practiced in court venues, and as this tool is used), is NOT advisable where violence has already occurred.  Undeterred, these associations, of which “AFCC” is primary, push, publish, and promote mediation as THE standard, and the parent who (for safety, for boundaries) who refuses, as uncooperative.  

That is, I believe, why this field of family law exists.  I have believed this for a long time, and this is why I am not interested in attempts from bottom up to “reform” the field.  It exists to “reform” (reduce, dilute, and eliminate) certain rights that laws that exist to protect women from being battered in a relationship, and their children from witnessing it by virtue of simply being around it.

Jack’s recommendation, and those laws, settle the question.  Continuing to ask the same questions that were already answered (“Prop 8” In California comes to mind) reveals an intent to undermine those laws.  Don’t be silent, and don’t assume the experts have it all under control.  Stay home from something and read up.  Don’t go just to newspaper to find out about the fiscal budget — go to governmental websites.  MUCH of this information is already on-line.  More of it is available (USA) under the FOIA (freedom of Information Act).  

 

Thank you.

A Toxic Mixture – Survival Instinct diluted by Submission to Custody Orders (UK/Australia)

with one comment

Cassandra Hasonovic...convinced she was going to die at the hands of her husband.          

Cassandra Hasonovic…convinced she was going to die at the hands of her husband.

WHAT FATHERS’ RIGHTS PEOPLE DON’T TELL ABOUT WHY “MOTHER-HEADED HOUSEHOLDS” CAN BE SUCH A RISKY BUSINESS. . .

AND IT’S NOT THE MOTHERS…. 

 

I pause from mocking  the “Fatherhood” resolutions of the US Congress to demonstrate that while they are laughable in premises, these resolutions are no laughing matter; to demonstrate again that  men in positions of power worshipping abstract theories/myths/idols (or their images of themselves as a class) can put a woman face down dead and bloody on a slab of concrete, and just  did.  Again.

Another myth is that deadly consequences like this will cause  deter the same men in power (I’m talking governmental representatives) from initiating, more, similar, and more costly mythology at a governmental level from continuing along the same path, gaining momentum and funding as they go:

What Policy Makers are Saying

NFI asked some** of our nation’s elected leaders about their views on the future of fatherhood in public policy.

(**more specificaly, The National Fatherhood Instititute (ca. 1994) chose to interview select policy makers who just happened also to be members of the “National Fatherhood Initiative’s Senate Task Force on Responsible Fatherhood” (origins at least pre-1998) what they thought of Fatherhood.  Calling this “policymakers” is both true — they are PUSHing this policy through — and deceptive, as though it was representative of the entire Congress, prior to being pushed by these folks on this initiative.  At least I HOPE there are some in Congress still that can see that this is costing women’s lives, and children’s in the long run….)  Perhaps these fathers are upstanding in their own marriages and have a family life to be envied (although it could hardly be called a representative lifestyle, being a Congressperson).  

What about the carte blanche, the clear endorsement such proclamations are giving men at the bottom of the economic spectrum, or of the behavioral spectrum, who may already have a chip on their shoulders and be looking for an excuse to dominate another woman?

We already have religions that do this.  There are already honor killings, beheadings, in our country (USA).  There are already family wipeouts in this country.  There are horrific practices upon women in certain countries, still — stonings, genital circumcison, retaliation for attending school, rapes as a form of warfare, or when leaving a refugee camp to seek firewood.  I am sorry to say this, but do we REALLY need a Congress of primarily (but not only) white men to say, with other (primarily) men of other color, and a woman or two, that it’s time to go back and reclaim your biological property, eradicate single motherhood that happened because a woman chose to leave abuse, or, you failed to use a condom or proper protection?   

I would love to see a survey of every Congressperson, and see which marriage they are on, and how faithful they have been to their wives or, as it may be, husbands.  If women, I would like to see how their grown children are behaving in THEIR marriages.  When they divorce, do they pay child support?  Do they engage in bankrupting and badmouthing a former partner?

To me, this is nothing less than Congress choosing to violate the First Amendment, in the U.S.  It is the establishment of a state religion. How it relates to other continents and cultures?  Similar doctrines, similar family law theories and practice.  

Here is what some policymakers** are saying:

Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN)

“The American family is the foundation of our society, and we must do all we can to help fathers do the right thing for their children. Today, too many men leave mothers to bear the brunt of being both mom and dad**, forcing them to face the challenges of raising a child and providing for the family on their own. I know President Obama shares my commitment to helping fathers become the best dads they can be; we worked together on these initiatives in the Senate. With the new administration on our side, we can make healthy families and responsible fatherhood a priority together.”

– Senator Evan Bayh*** (D-IN); co-chair of National Fatherhood Initiative’s Senate Task Force on Responsible Fatherhood

 

**Hypocrite!! The entire thrust of this movement (pun intended), as far as I can see in hindsight, was to prevent women from throwing abusive men (not ALL men) out on their asses for their abuse.  The premise behind it, and the practices, and some of the groups, show the reality — allegations of domestic violence and child abuse are false, mostly, and highly exaggerated.  Women do not have a right to leave with their children, and so must be re-programmed how to get along with fathers.  The organizations funded, and subsidized (federally / state/ local) then go into prisons and other places where substantially suspect fathers may be found, and — in order to reduce the welfare tax load, and by reducing child support arrears in exchange for more contact with their kids, thereby burden the rest of society with the results.    The  NFI (this initiative) almost exactly coincides with the VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) and was heavily funded from the start.

Did I know this before working closely a few years with the local child support agency and finding out how “opaque” they truly were?  No.  Not til I started actually reading the programs, and comparing the programs with the rhetoric.

***Of note:  Senator Bayh’s personal acquaintance with fatherhood includes having a father who was a U.S. Senator

From the time he was about 8 through majority, his Dad was a Senator.  

Evan Bayh graduated with honors in business, economics and public policy from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business in 1978, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi, and received his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from the University of Virginia in 1981. After clerking for a federal court judge and entering private law practice in Indianapolis, he was elected Indiana’s Secretary of State in 1986.

Bayh was elected Governor of Indiana in 1988 and re-elected in 1992 with the highest percentage of the vote in a statewide election in modern Indiana history

While this stellar college performance and work history is commendable, I do not think it provides an experiential understanding of the situations that lower-income brackets face in their families.  I think that a little failure would have perhaps been helpful (Lincoln had some, right?) along the way, perhaps. 

As Such, What THESE Policy Makers are Saying. . . 

. . . is kind of like the Foxes quoting other Foxes (from the Fox Initiative) on how “difficult’ the Hens must find life without a resident Fox in the house.   I am not referring to all men — I personally like men, and am heterosexual, and don’t think they all think like this.  At least, I know at least one or two who do not, and hope to find more, as they are good company.  

FINANCIALLY SUPPORTING A FAMILY IS ONE OF THE LEAST WORRIES TO SOME SINGLE MOTHERS…

 

Here’s the summary, and the story is below:

Despite History and Threats of Further Domestic Violence, British Wife Who Fled to Australia Seeking Safety is Ordered to Return Children to England for Custody Determination

(NOTE:  This is why I like Jack Straton’s article on Custody Rights to Men Who Batter).

Posted by Janet Langjahr. Filed under Domestic Violence & AbuseChild Custody,Hague Convention Kidnapping International Child Custody.
  • Husband is convicted of sexually assaulting Wife.
  • Wife is terrified that Husband will kill her.
  • Husband allegedly threatens to dismember her.
  • Wife flees to Australia with their two Children.
  • But the Australian courts rule that England has child custody jurisdiction under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
  • Wife returns to England with Children.
  • Police are summoned to intervene in domestic clashes several times.
  • Police give Wife a “panic alarm”. {{SHE’s ALREADY Panicked & Alarmed?  How about Pepper Spray?  A self-defense course?  A “right to carry?” (I guess UK doesn’t do that).  Or a KNIFE , and training in how to use it?– he killed her with a knife…}}{{So much for “panic alarms.”  Oh, she was just exaggerating, the police will protect her.  TELL ME — has practice changed since THIS murder?}}
  • About a year after Wife’s return, Husband allegedly drags her from a car and stabs her to death … in front of her own mother and their Children.
  • Just a few hours after she begged British police for protection.
  • While she was in the midst of trying to flee from Husband again.
  • Husband is convicted of murder.
  • He will serve at least eighteen years in confinement.
  • (I add:  Her sons will serve a lifetime, with this memory, plus their grandmother, plus all acquaintances.)

Read more in this Brisbane [Australia] Times article: Young mother fled to Sydney to save her life.

 WHATEVER PRINCIPLES AND PREMISES LED TO THESE COURT DECISIONS — FOR WHOSE GOOD?

THEY WERE Speculation.  That’s a Risky Business, and I feel that the indicators that this is straight mythology, at some level.  This type of decision is driven by “fatherhood” as an ideal, and premises that a man without his children is a man without an identity, as is a woman telling the truth — this is a dangerous situation.  A man’s rights, even if he’s already been proven criminal, are more important than a woman’s rights — to self-defense by fleeing.  A mother’s words are less valid than a father’s.  Women as a class are to obey.  Men as a class, if forced to subject themselves to the same laws, are prone to killing for the humiliation, and yet still, the NEXT set of women (with kids) are also told, they must obey or go to jail.

In the last post (U.S. Congress Resolution of 1999, a National Fathers Return Day) it was said that “mother-headed-households” fare worse, as a class.  Whether or not the data was true, THIS is partly why, and was not reported.  Because they are taking heat already for being single.  Perhaps a second husband (Women, would YOU remarry quickly after her experience? Men, would YOU marry a woman with kids who was in the process of fleeing her first one?  Unless this answer is YES, and some man is brave enough to step in the gap (and being armed, probably), that is going to be a mother-headed household.  Put this in your pipe and smoke it when you read the NEXT proclamation I post, US House of Reps, saying the same thing, and voting unanimously as to its truth.  Yeah, well, some truths are created, others are self-evident without that extra self-propagating “creation” of a risky, dangerous situation, that of being a single mother when the climate is globally cooling towards permission of this state of affairs.  And in ONE country from which some of the laws in the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave. 

That’s ridiculous.  I am so at a loss for words, I would like to quote some scripture here, but I’m talking about Family Law, if you will bear with me:


(Bible:  Eccles. 3, ERV)

This, from the same guy that said, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity…, and the same one who, one time, when judging between two women who argued over one baby, after one had just been rolled over and smothered to death, was able to discern by a simple test – and his test, though with a sword, has some resemblances to the co-parenting, 50/50 talk of today. The woman who did NOT want her kid chopped in half (this time, physically) was the true one.  Nowadays, this dude (who went down the tube, eventually, the record states) ain’t around, or anyone with close to the amount of discernment shown below:

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;  {{like a dangerous marriage…}}

3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down{{ibid}}, and a time to build up;

4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7.  a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

{{This woman saw fit to “rend” her marriage.  She was not permitted to.  Why??}}

8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Human sacrifice has ALWAYS been the trademark of religion.  Some faiths would say, a false religion.  True adherents of any religion are typically willing to kill others, not just themselves, for its sake.
 

It is right to hate placing onesself and one’s offspring (and others) in the path of danger.  That’s a “time to hate.”  Not people, but the situation.  Sacrificing others may come easily, but sacrificing one’s own offspring is NOT a natural act.  Forcing someone to do this is to do violence against her integrity, and one of the primary functions of “MOTHERHOOD” in the name of  “FATHERS HAVE RIGHTS TOO!”  – — yes they do, but this one, in particular, should not have.  You will say, but what about due process?

What about due haste when life is at risk?

Young Mother Fled to Sydney to Save Her Life.  UK forces her back, where she is stabbed to death in front of her two boys, and mother, by the man she fled.
Paola Totaro Herald Correspondent in London

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

May 2, 2009

 

CASSANDRA HASANOVIC was convinced she was going to die at the hands of her husband but her pleas for help – in Australia and Britain – fell on deaf ears.

He said he was going to chop me up in little pieces and post me piece by piece to my family,” she told police more than a year before her death.

The nightmare tale of the mother, 24, who was dragged out of a car and stabbed to death by her husband in front of her mother and two young sons in July, neared its climax in a British court yesterday.

Mrs Hasanovic died hours after begging British police to drive her to a safe house: “I live in fear for my safety. I am so scared of him.”

{{THERE IS A MORAL TO THIS STORY, IN ASKING POLICE FOR PROTECTION….}}

Her story was recounted this week during the trial of Hajrudin Hasanovic, 33, who was last night found guilty of murder and sentenced to a minimum of 18 years in jail.

The jury learned how he was to have been deported to his native Serbia after losing custody of his children, following his conviction for sexually assaulting his wife.

They heard a damning story of a woman whose fears were ignored by authorities in two hemispheres for more than 12 months.

The five-year marriage ended in May 2007 after the sexual assault and Mrs Hasanovic fled to Australia, where she had relatives. She lived in the safety of Sydney’s western suburbs in the fervent hope of seeking custody of her sons.

But Lewes Crown Court, in West Sussex, heard that Australian authorities insisted she return to Britain, arguing the case had to be pursued there.

Philippa McAtasney, QC, who opened the case for the prosecution, told the court that she returned to Britain at the cost of her life.

In the months that followed her return, police were called to several violent confrontations between the couple, and officers equipped the young mother with a panic alarm.

{{Why didn’t they arrest and incarcerate the attacker?? ???   ????  She was already panicked and had already sounded the alarm, by fleeing the continent — but was not heard…..}}

Mrs Hasanovic’s mother, Sharon De Souza, broke down as she described the terror inside the car on July 29, when her son-in-law appeared from nowhere and lunged at the car as she prepared to drive her daughter and grandsons to a refuge.

{{WHEN WILL WE — WORLDWIDE  – – STOP FOCUSING ON REFORMING BATTERERS (WHICH DOES NOT HAVE A TRACK RECORD OF SUCCESS — AND TEACH WOMEN TO DEFEND THEMSELVES, FOR A DETERRENT?  IT TAKES A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF COWARDICE TO ATTACK AN UNARMED WOMEN, WITH KIDS NEARBY.  PERHAPS THESE COWARDS HOW PICK ON THEIR WIVES, IN FRONT OF THEIR SONS AND DAUGHTERS, CAN BE DETERRED WHEN THEY REALIZE, THAT THEY ARE NOT GOING TO GET AWAY WITH EVEN THE 2ND SUCH ASSAULT. THERE IS NOTHING UN-FEMININE, REALLY, ABOUT SELF-DEFENSE.  WE HAVE TO TEACH WOMEN THIS.  NOT GANG-STYLE, BUT INDIVIDUALLY, TEACHING US TO DEFEND OUR PERSONAL BOUNDARIES, PHYSICALLY IF NECESSARY.}}

In the panic, the car’s central locking was de-activated, allowing Hasanovic to reach into the back seat, where his wife was sitting between the boys.

“I just remember trying to start the car and the alarm went off and I could not get the car started … I could see a figure coming towards me in the shade …” Mrs De Souza said.

“I looked up again and he was staring towards me. … I just thought: ‘Oh, my God.”‘

She then saw Hasanovic drag her daughter from the car, leaving her face down on the pavement.

“She was lying on the ground. Her eyes were open and she was not moving at all.

“I didn’t realise she was dead. I said: ‘Come on, hold on, you’re going to be OK.’ I could see the blood [but] I could not take it in and I remember hearing the boys screaming.”

“Cassie was devastated when under the Hague convention she was ordered to return the boys to England,” Mrs De Souza said.

“This brutal, cruel and senseless act has torn our lives apart”.

   

AND — IT WAS NEEDLESS.

I hope, pray, blog, and ask people who are in “intact” marriages (not marked by violence, or even bitter divorce) to wake up and participate, not in indignation that women are indignant, or fleeing, but in studying WHAT your governments are doing (worldwide) and the NGOs that are running the place.  Thank you.  Take time off from barbecuing, or soccer teams for a month, or a season.  I’m talking to what remains of “middle class” people, who perhaps are employed and housed, and panicked about losing work or housing.  How does that compare with women like this one, above?  Your governments, at least I can speak for mine, ARE wasting money and time in policies that kill.
IN HER PURSUIT OF LIFE (LET ALONE, LIBERTY AND PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS), THIS WOMAN FLED TO AUSTRALIA, LISTENING TO THE OBVIOUS, AND HER INSTINCTS.  BEING A MOTHER, AND HAVING HAD CHILDREN (a.k.a. property), SHE WAS SPIT OUT FROM AUSTRALIA BACK TO UK, AND THERE MURDERED.  IN FRONT OF HER SONS, AND HER MOTHER, WHILE FLEEING.

More Sardonic Commentary

Meanwhile, in family courts around the world, women (and some men) are told that expressing outrage at indignation and crime is itself a crime, and should be punished by paying for “parenting classes” until they (as adults) realize that the police, the judge, the psychologist, the evaluator, the Guardian at Litem, the Child Protective Services worker, the District Attorney, the Mediators, the educators, and the government know more ab out their own lives, and what’s best for them, than they themselves do.  

This is called the Artificial Womb.

(GOOD GRIEF — I just Googled that term, and found this:

Why Not Artificial Wombs? 

Christine Rosen

In 1924, the British scientist {{PROBABLY MALE!!}} J. B. S. Haldane coined the term “ectogenesis” to describe how human pregnancy would one day give way to artificial wombs. “It was in 1951 that Dupont and Schwarz produced the first ectogenic child,” Haldane wrote, imagining how an earnest college student of the future would describe the phenomenon. “Now that the technique is fully developed, we can take an ovary from a woman, and keep it growing in a suitable fluid for as long as twenty years, producing a fresh ovum each month, of which 90 percent can be fertilized, and the embryos grown successfully for nine months, and then brought out into the air.”

I mean this METAPHORICALLY, and I guess now have another post….THIS one is about how worshipping fatherhood has cost real mothers their lives.  I had not realized (yet) how long ago it entered into men’s imagination to eliminate pregnancy and childbirth, which I suppose interrupts for nine months some of their other wished-for biological functions, that is in men not mature enough to understand what the whole wonder, relationship, and process is actually about.   I predict, that if this becomes successful — that motherhood as a relationship reality is eradicated, AND as a biological one — that the entirety of the human race will become so theoretically smart, and practially stupid, that we (so to speak — count me out!) will destroy ALL of each other, sooner, rather than later.  Which of course, some of the human race is currently engaged in, and at least two world religions I am aware of predict.  That’s probably less “myth” than an accurate reading of human nature, which this “fatherhood” stuff is not.  It’s an “ism” not a reality.  The REALITY is that men and women vary in behaviors, beliefs, attitudes, and levels of responsibility to which they have risen.

 BACK TO THIS POST:

Good “parenting” teaches one’s children’ how to recognize danger (and when to flee it), that it’s OK to express indignation and anger in order to protect personal boundaries (i.e., send a warning message to whoever is violating them), and if necessary after that, fight back.

Parenting classes, as I understand them, exist to prevent fathers and mothers from doing this, and to create a numbed down (or, bipolar) set of behaviors — one for the teachers, and one when the teachers are not watching.  This is a recipe for destruction.

Men around the world are whining, publically and in on-line groups, and promoting studies, that women are just as violent and dangerous as they are.  Well, if that WERE so, it appears to me that nonviolent self-preservation techniques (like FLIGHT) aren’t working, so what shall we then do?
Where are all the men killed by angry ex-wives?  They aren’t there because our cultures (exception:  TV media, popular films), and primary institutions coach women to be passive and submissive — or they will be punished.  We are told to obey rules, and we do. 

Perhaps it would be better if it was understood that it IS dangerous to confront a woman physically.  Perhaps this might be a deterrent.  If men are going to reject, as partners, women who stand up to them, then let them propagate with the passive ones, and perhaps — just perhaps, some of the non-passive surviving women may be a role model, should this get to the point of violence.

The last time I had personal contact with a woman who lost a child to a man she’d divorced who had already been convicted of molesting her other child, was only yesterday.   This is distressing.  As is typical, she has to pay for supervised visitation to see the pre-adolescent son that was removed from her custody for reporting child abuse.  

It’s also an unfair choice to any woman –become a criminal and fugitive, or risk your life,

and your children’s lives and sense of sanity and safety in this world, til they mature.

 

 

 

 

In the Best Interests of Suffering the Little Children – to survive Childhood (alive)…

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(From “WAtoday.com.au”)

Suffer the little children

  • Jen Jewel Brown
  • May 2, 2009

IT WAS 3am on Anzac Day when Dionne Fehring woke in fear. She was in her mother and stepfather’s Tallebudgera house on the Gold Coast, the house she’d fled to after her marriage turned irrevocably violent. “I felt that there was something wrong. Just had that natural mother’s instinct,” she says now.

There’s a quiet dignity holding the tremor in Fehring’s voice these days.

“I just had a feeling from the moment that I woke up that something wasn’t right. Everyone around me was very excited about the kids coming,” she says.

“There was something inside me that would not let me get my hopes up. I had a feeling that he wouldn’t make it that easy. But I never thought that he’d actually kill them … I thought he might kill me, but never them.”

Fehring, whose surname was Dalton back in 2004, was right to be afraid. At 3am precisely, her two children, 17-month-old daughter Jessie and baby Patrick, 12 weeks, were being murdered by their father, Jayson Dalton.

“They know when it happened,” says Fehring, “because when the police broke in, they broke in to find the kids lying dead on the bed, and he’s actually put down the time that he had killed them and written it above their heads.

He had suffocated them with plastic bags. Then he killed himself the same way.

Moving to Seymour in country Victoria, Fehring has mercifully had two more young children she rejoices in. She now works as a patron with the Gold Coast Domestic Violence Prevention Centre.

She sees herself as a survivor rather than a victim. Yet a growing sense of frustration and bafflement has led her to speak out publicly for the first time since 2004.

“In five years, I have seen no changes in the way we deal with the deaths of women and children who come through the Family Court,” she says. “We continue to lose these beautiful little children. It rocks me to the core. I have waves of sadness, then anger, that the deaths of my children were in vain.”

The story of the Dalton family is just one of many domestic tragedies that have played out in Australia over recent years.

According to Australian Institute of Criminology research, an average of 25 children were killed by their parents each year between July 1989 and June 2002. Beyond this worst-case scenario is a hidden epidemic of child harm that the welfare system struggles to control.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports that there were 317,526 reports of suspected child abuse and neglect made to state and territory authorities in 2007-08, continuing a trend of increased notifications — up more than 250 per cent on a decade ago.

Children at risk of such harm are likely to end up being processed by a family law system that critics, including Fehring, believe is not well-designed to protect them.

In 2006, the Family Law Act was substantially amended to reflect a greater emphasis on shared parental responsibility. One of the changes required the court to look at two primary considerations when deciding what is in the child’s best interests. The first is the desire for children to have a meaningful relationship with both parents; the second the need to protect them.

But some experts believe that in cases of family violence, the principles conflict with one another.

Sarah Vessali, principal lawyer at the Women’s Legal Service Victoria for almost eight years and now in private practice, deals daily with family law matters. “There is a contradiction between the two fundamental principles — they cannot work together where there is family violence,” she says.

THE Dalton marriage had bloomed gently at first from an internet romance. “He had moments when he was loving and tender,” recalls Fehring. But a punch that cracked their car windscreen also produced the first cracks in the marriage.

Dalton became verbally abusive. He insisted his wife go back to work three days after giving birth to Jessie, their firstborn. Then the beatings began.

In the 2½ years of their marriage, Dalton threw a microwave at his heavily pregnant wife and toddler, shattered French doors and bashed Fehring repeatedly. Multiple assaults were on police record. In fact, police were so concerned for her safety, they applied for (and were granted) a domestic violence order on her behalf, as she was too frightened to take one out herself.

By March 10, 2004, the marriage was in a state of collapse. Dalton, so much bigger than his wife, told her: “Tonight’s the night. It’s on. It’s going to happen tonight.”

Fehring was left in a state of intense fear. As she drove to her mother’s with the kids, Dalton gave chase. He rang her mobile 76 times in that 90-minute drive.

When he hit her mother on arrival, he broke his latest domestic violence order for the second time. Arrested and jailed overnight, and released at midday the next day, Dalton was in a savage mental state.

Fehring began to panic. She had given birth to Patrick (who, although much loved, was conceived, she says, when Dalton raped her), only about six weeks earlier. She didn’t last the five-hour drive with her mother and the kids to a relative’s home. Exhausted and at breaking point, she was hospitalised in the acute mental health unit at Toowoomba Hospital for 10 days. That was Dalton’s chance.

On March 17, 2004, in a 14-minute hearing, the Brisbane Family Court gave interim custody of the infant Patrick and his sister Jessie to Jayson Dalton, former One Nation candidate and long-term batterer.

Fehring’s solicitor, Ros Byrne, had less than 24 hours warning of Dalton’s bid for custody. She told the judge: “There are domestic violence issues.” That was it.

Fehring, ill, could not be there. “I have no idea why they gave him custody,” she says. “And I don’t think I’ll ever understand it. They were in no danger, they’d been with mum, she was taking care of them with my sister.

“My solicitor knew I was petrified. She told the court there were domestic violence issues and yet the children were handed over to a violent man.”

In the weeks that followed, Dalton’s dad helped his son care for the children. By April 23, Fehring was well enough to go back to court and be awarded custody, with Jayson to have the children every second weekend. On Anzac Day, Dalton was supposed to hand the children back.

Asked to turn her mind back to that Anzac Day afternoon, and the mad dash she made from the Gold Coast when Dalton did not arrive at the Southport police station with the children as arranged, Fehring clears her throat. Although she didn’t know it then, her mother had already found Dalton’s emailed suicide note.

“My mobile had gone dead and so no one could call and tell us what had happened, and by the time we got up there, just to the rise of where the actual house was at the bottom of the hill, um, we could see all the flashing lights, fire brigade and the ambulance and newsmen and everything else, and I just raced across the road,” she says.

“The police stopped me from going up the stairs into the house and I just said to them, ‘Cover me, I don’t want anyone to see me’, and I just collapsed in a heap. My stepfather nearly had a breakdown. He tried to climb the stairs and they pulled him back.”

She continues after a deep sigh. “We didn’t get to say goodbye to my babies until early the next morning. I had to go to the morgue and identify them. Their little bodies covered with a sheet.

“I just want something changed so that we can protect women and children so that these cases don’t continue to happen. No mother should ever be put through that experience.”

Child abuse expert emeritus professor Freda Briggs, of the education, arts and social sciences division of the University of South Australia, has firm views about changes needed to family law.

“The level of ignorance by judges and (Family Court) staff about child development, domestic violence and sexual abuse is inexcusable,” she says.

“Judges ignore DV (domestic violence) because (a) some psychologists tell them that men who bash their wives don’t necessarily bash their children and (b) they don’t seem to know that witnessing violence is as damaging to children as being a victim of it. Education is so badly needed.”

Sarah Vessali agrees that change is necessary. She suggests that Australia look to the New Zealand model, where the prima facie stance is that where allegations of abuse are raised, contact is disallowed until they are disproved.

In Australia, the legal system demands that the accusing parents prove such allegations, which can be difficult.

“If (the allegations) cannot satisfactorily be proven to the court … then (the accuser) runs the risk of having the court order costs against them,” Vessali says.

A petition calling for change has gathered close to 3000 signatures from affected families and professionals, women and men. One anonymous signatory summed up the concerns of many who work in the system: “As a community worker providing support to women and children escaping domestic violence, we have significant contact with the Family Court and access orders.

“It has been our organisational experience that the family orders often place the children at risk of emotional, if not physical, abuse.

“It is of upmost priority, for the children involved, to have a closer look at issues of domestic violence when deciding on residency issues.”

In Fehring’s view, the system is going backwards not forwards. “Why do women and children continue to lose their lives?” she asks. “What I want is a more in-depth look into the Family Court. We need to get to the root of a problem and not just make a snap decision based on two minutes worth of information.

“I want us as a society to be able to see this openly.” The media, she says, should not be prevented from reporting important cases. “If we are not made aware of these problems, then we blindly go about our day totally unaware of what is going on behind closed doors.

“The women who might be sitting at home contemplating leaving a domestic violence situation may get the strength to leave her relationship. We need to become proactive before any more of these problems occur and we lose more of our precious children.”

As part of a campaign by concerned Australians to improve the way the Family Court system deals with cases such as Fehring’s, national rallies, run by the Safer Family Law Campaign, are planned for this morning.

At the Mayday! rallies, affected parents wearing red scarves and masks to hide their identities (family law curtails free speech) will speak alongside child rights representatives, academics, lawyers and members of various groups.

Clotheslines strung with children’s red clothes will be raised at rallies in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth.

Jen Jewel Brown is a Melbourne writer and Victorian co-ordinator of the Mayday! Safer Family Law Campaign rally, which will be held in Carlton Gardens, Rathdowne Street, 11am-12.15pm

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