Well known journalist Bettina Arndt is researching an article focussed on the recent academic paper in which 110 leading family researchers supported overnight care of infants and toddlers.
She’s urgently seeking men to interview whose contact with their young children has been adversely affected by assumptions in our family law system that such overnight care is damaging for young children. She’s particularly interested in cases where the “research” by Jen McIntosh was used to justify such decisions.
As she needs a father willing to be named and photographed, this precludes men who have had a Family Court ruling – although she would still like to hear from you if you have had a recent (2010 or later) Family Court ruling where such contact was denied. In this case the law requires she can only write about the cases without naming the individuals concerned – but she’d still like to mention relevant rulings.
But most important is finding fathers who can speak openly about their experiences with mediators and lawyers regarding overnight contact with very young children. Perhaps you have been unable to negotiate overnight contact in a mediation session or were told by your lawyer that the courts were unlikely to allow this. She only wants to talk to men who have had this experience in the last five years.
Could you please contact her urgently asap at – firstname.lastname@example.org
March 03, 2014
Commentators opposed to shared parenting and overnights for infants and toddlers post-divorce have been relying on misleading interpretations of very flawed research such as the widely publicized Australian study by Dr Jennifer McIntosh to argue that young children need to spend most of their time and every night in the care of one “primary” parent.
Properly disciplined research has safeguards built in to protect it from the prejudices of the researchers. This is not the case with the results–orientated research by McIntosh and colleagues. Lawmakers and courts often take this research that forms the picture of society on which government policy is based, not to mention the general public, as being simply objective truth.
In order to clarify where social science stands on these issues, a February 4, 2014 study by Dr Richard Warshak, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre, published in the prestigious American Psychological Association’s peer-review journal, Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, with the endorsement of 110 of the world’s top authorities from 15 countries in attachment, early child development, and divorce, concludes that in normal circumstances, overnights and “shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.”
Unlike the flawed McIntosh work this important study sheds much needed light on what is best for infants and toddlers whose parents live apart and its importance cannot be overstated.
The consensus report ends with a number of recommendations. Of particular note:
“We recognize that many factors such as cultural norms and political considerations affect the type of custody policy that society deems as desirable. To the extent that policy and custody decisions seek to express scientific knowledge about child development, the analyses in this article should receive significant weight by legislators and decision makers.”
“1. Just as we encourage parents in intact families to share care of their children, we believe that the social science evidence on the development of healthy parent– child relationships, and the long-term benefits of healthy parent–child relationships, supports the view that shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.“
“3. In general the results of the studies reviewed in this document are favorable to parenting plans that more evenly balance young children’s time between two homes. …Thus, to maximize children’s chances of having a good and secure relationship with each parent, we encourage both parents to maximize the time they spend with their children.”
“4. Research on children’s overnights with fathers favors allowing children under four to be cared for at night by each parent rather than spending every night in the same home. ”
“6. There is no evidence to support postponing the introduction of regular and frequent involvement, including overnights, of both parents with their babies and toddlers.”
In the context of the national family law conversation this significant study is essential reading for lawmakers, social science professionals, lawyers and the family court judiciary.
Warshak R A (2014) Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, Vol. 20, No. 1, 46–67