Nielsen: What Divorced Dads Want for Father’s Day: More Time With Their Babies 2


What Divorced Dads Want for Father’s Day: More Time With Their Babies

By Linda Nielsen
May 15, 2014

Linda Nielsen is a Professor of Adolescent & Educational Psychology at Wake Forest University, specializing in father-daughter relationships & shared parenting.

Have you heard that children under the age of four should live primarily, or exclusively, with their mothers after their parents divorce because too much “overnighting” in their father’s care creates a host of problems — especially for infants? If so, then you have been misled just as many lawyers, judges and policy makers have been misled by these reports. And you may not be aware that 110 international experts have endorsed the conclusion reached by psychologist Richard Warshak in his recent research paper: There is no scientific evidence that justifies limiting or postponing overnighting until the age of four. Unfortunately, the alarming reports about overnighting still abound, depriving many babies and toddlers of overnight care from their fathers.

Given this, I set out to answer the question: How did so many people — including well-educated professionals involved in making custody decisions and reforming custody laws — come to believe that overnighting had been “proven” so damaging for infants and toddlers?

The answer involves a process I have called woozling: “Woozles: Their Role in Custody Law Reform, Parenting Plans and Family Court.” The term stems from the children’s story where Winnie the Pooh and his friends became obsessed with the idea that they were being stalked by a frightful beast they called a woozle. In reality, of course there was no woozle. They were merely seeing their own footprints as they circled a tree. They were deceived by faulty “data.” The sociologist Richard Gelles pointed out many years ago that a belief or a claim based on inaccurate, partial or flawed data — data that have been repeated so often that people eventually believe them — can be called a woozle.

In my paper, I describe how we can be bamboozled (woozled), illustrating the process with an Australian study that has frequently been cited over the past five years as “scientific evidence” that babies and preschoolers should spend little, if any, overnight time in their nonresidential fathers’ care. The misleading message that arose from this study was this: Babies who overnight more than three times and toddlers who overnight more that nine times are more irritable, inattentive, physically stressed, anxious, insecure and wary. They are also “severely distressed” interacting with their mothers and they wheeze more often due to the stress of overnighting. These messages were widely reported in the media and at conferences for people whose work involves child custody decisions.

So I peeled back the layers of the many woozles that arose from this particular study. For example, the “wheezing woozle” claimed that babies who overnighted any more than three times a month were so stressed that they wheezed more often. In reality, however, infant wheezing can be caused by many factors having nothing to do with stress — including mold, pets, cigarette smoke and carpet in the home. Add to that another medical fact: Infant wheezing is often difficult to detect even for pediatricians, let alone for the mothers who were asked to answer only one question: Does your child wheeze more than four nights a week — yes or no? And as it turns out, data in the original report showed that toddlers who frequently overnighted wheezed the least. Then the “whining woozle” claimed frequent overnighters were more irritable and more “severely distressed” — which was interpreted to mean they were less securely attached to their moms. In fact, though, these babies had exactly the same irritability mean score as babies in intact families. Moreover, the babies who frequently overnighted were no more irritable than infants who never overnighted. These facts leave the whining woozle on pretty shaky ground. As for “severe distress”, the overnighters’ scores on the behavioral problems test were well within normal range. And those behaviors that were considered signs of a toddler’s “severe distress” — kicking, biting or getting angry at their mom, gagging on food or refusing to eat, being clingy and crying when mothers were leaving — turned out to be behaviors experienced by nearly 50 percent of Australian moms in a separate nationwide survey.

Especially in matters as important as fathering time, we need to be more aware of being misled by reports about the “scientific evidence.” In that vein, journalists like Bettina Arndt should be applauded for bringing our attention to those studies that have been misreported or misrepresented in ways that can lead to misguided public policies. But as individuals, we also have a responsibility to examine more carefully those studies that receive the most attention. We don’t want to end up like Winnie the Pooh — woozled into being afraid of something that should never have aroused our fear at all.

Source: HuffPost


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 thoughts on “Nielsen: What Divorced Dads Want for Father’s Day: More Time With Their Babies

  • Joseph Goldberg

    …Father’s Day, What Father’s Day ? ……..
    How Parental Alienation Effects Father’s Today
    ……………..By Joseph Goldberg, 2012…………………
    .
    .
    This is an important article for Grandfathers as
    well as for fathers.
    .
    I am spoofing the title of this article from a good
    friend of mine, Chaim Steinberger. He wrote a very
    insightful and brilliant journal article on Parental
    Alienation that he called, “ Father, What Father ? “
    .
    I decided to write about this holiday because many
    father’s will be hurting when it arrives. They won’t
    be getting to see their child or receive a call or any
    cards or any other acknowledgement because their
    children are alienated and that means come Sunday
    they’ll be rejected for very unjustified reasons.
    .
    For some dad’s who will be waiting to see their kid
    because a court order forces them to go, don’t be
    surprised when they show up- only to tell you they
    don’t want to be with you or only to say,” I hate
    you “… don’t expect them to change,,, that’s why its
    called a parental alienation dynamic.
    .
    I am writing my article just for fathers and for
    grandfathers, but the rest of you will hopefully
    also appreciate the message.
    .
    You know the old saying, “ Silence is deafening. “
    Well it’s deafening for a reason, and as another old
    saying goes, “ Everything happens for a reason. “
    Even though you may not be getting their affection
    on Sunday, it doesn’t mean your child isn’t at least
    thinking of you, and because they are alienated and
    unable to express to you that you’re not forgotten …
    and that they do love you, let me be the first one to
    remind you of that fact. Your kids do love you, and
    you’re not forgotten because Sunday, is also a very
    painful holiday reminder for them.
    .
    It’s painful to them to be without you because every-
    where they go and see a father with his son or, with
    his daughter; laughing, hugging, or kissing, smiling
    at each other, going out to lunch together, to dinners
    or a movie, driving together, talking on a cell phone,
    texting, meeting up somewhere, it reminds them
    that it’s also not them being with you.
    .
    Every time they turn on their TV that day, flip open
    their computer, listen to the radio, they will hear
    that it’s Father’s Day, and every time they pass by
    a store there will be an item for sale saying it’s
    Father’s Day, and they didn’t get you your present.
    They didn’t get to say, “ you’re my dad “ and then
    the words, `” I love you. “ They’ll try and block it
    out but how do you block out the sky, the ground
    below…. how do you erase the touch on your skin
    or what you feel deep in your bones ? It’s a psycho-
    logical skeleton.
    .
    Denial is a fixated condition for alienated
    children, so is breathing. Memories of love for
    father are never really erased they’re just
    buried below the surface and those memories
    will resurface on this Sunday, Father’s Day.
    .
    Take comfort in the fact that your picture may
    not be in a frame next to their bed or on the wall
    in their mom’s house, but they are not deleted
    from their memory. It is also hard to ignore
    mother trying to pretend how much better off
    they are without you, while the look on her face
    also reminds them she can’t be the father they’re
    missing out on today.
    .
    No matter what stepfather tries to take your
    place after you got replaced, displaced and
    erased, nothing is ever going to hold back their
    feelings of loss because they’re connected to
    their father when they see themselves in a
    mirror. Some likeness of you is something in
    their DNA that they can see in their own face.
    .
    Not only are there painful memories there
    are probably more than a few good ones.
    Like the time you took them to a show, or
    watched them at a school performance,
    or played some game with them, played
    with your pet, took them to visit your
    parents, cooked a meal for them, these
    memories are also resurfacing around them.
    .
    Imagine how it must feel for them to watch
    their friends getting together with their dads
    and how they have to explain or avoid talk-
    ing about you not being around on Father’s
    Day. Imagine anyone else trying to act as a
    substitute for the father they are missing in
    their lives and never saying,
    .
    “ Why don’t you call your dad today ? “
    .
    How is their behaviour going to be memorial-
    ized in the future ?
    .
    Father’s Day, is something I feel long after my
    own father has passed away. You don’t have
    to actually be around to be remembered and
    to be loved. I don’t need to feel bad about the
    father’s day I am not spending with him this
    Sunday, I will be thinking about all the good
    times with my dad and I know that your child-
    ren might want you to believe that they don’t
    love you back, but that’s just denial talking.
    .
    You’re as much a part of their life as you
    have ever been ( even more so ) and not
    because of being present, but because
    of being absent. Believe it because we
    know from all the social science research
    that this is truly how alienated children
    are feeling.
    .
    I feel my father is with me now even though
    he passed more than 15 years ago. I was
    alienated from him by a mother that
    extinguished him from my life, but not
    forever. We made up for all the lost time
    and years of alienation that was stolen from
    us both.
    .
    In the Jewish religion when a loved parent
    dies we say prayers, Kaddish, and we light a
    candle in memory of the parent. Perhaps as
    a way to remember that you are still a
    parent you should light a candle and keep
    it burning all day, on Father’s Day.
    .
    Say a prayer of love, memorialize your
    feelings of loss and perhaps to help be
    forgiving so anger does not take over
    the better part of judgment in your life.
    .
    As a targeted, rejected parent remember the
    good parts of the person you are and remain
    and strive to lift yourself up, don’t let any-
    thing change that belief in your-self because
    sometimes all we have is ourselves to believe
    in, and in truth that’s the one person whose
    opinion counts the most.
    .
    For more educational information please visit
    http://www.ParentalAlienation.ca
    http://www.ParentalAlienationEducation.com

  • Joseph Goldberg

    .Father’s Day, What Father’s Day ? ……..
    How Parental Alienation Effects Father’s Today
    ……………..By Joseph Goldberg, 2012…………………
    .
    .
    This is an important article for Grandfathers as
    well as for fathers.
    .
    I am spoofing the title of this article from a good
    friend of mine, Chaim Steinberger. He wrote a very
    insightful and brilliant journal article on Parental
    Alienation that he called, “ Father, What Father ? “
    .
    I decided to write about this holiday because many
    father’s will be hurting when it arrives. They won’t
    be getting to see their child or receive a call or any
    cards or any other acknowledgement because their
    children are alienated and that means come Sunday
    they’ll be rejected for very unjustified reasons.
    .
    For some dad’s who will be waiting to see their kid
    because a court order forces them to go, don’t be
    surprised when they show up- only to tell you they
    don’t want to be with you or only to say,” I hate
    you “… don’t expect them to change,,, that’s why its
    called a parental alienation dynamic.
    .
    I am writing my article just for fathers and for
    grandfathers, but the rest of you will hopefully
    also appreciate the message.
    .
    You know the old saying, “ Silence is deafening. “
    Well it’s deafening for a reason, and as another old
    saying goes, “ Everything happens for a reason. “
    Even though you may not be getting their affection
    on Sunday, it doesn’t mean your child isn’t at least
    thinking of you, and because they are alienated and
    unable to express to you that you’re not forgotten …
    and that they do love you, let me be the first one to
    remind you of that fact. Your kids do love you, and
    you’re not forgotten because Sunday, is also a very
    painful holiday reminder for them.
    .
    It’s painful to them to be without you because every-
    where they go and see a father with his son or, with
    his daughter; laughing, hugging, or kissing, smiling
    at each other, going out to lunch together, to dinners
    or a movie, driving together, talking on a cell phone,
    texting, meeting up somewhere, it reminds them
    that it’s also not them being with you.
    .
    Every time they turn on their TV that day, flip open
    their computer, listen to the radio, they will hear
    that it’s Father’s Day, and every time they pass by
    a store there will be an item for sale saying it’s
    Father’s Day, and they didn’t get you your present.
    They didn’t get to say, “ you’re my dad “ and then
    the words, `” I love you. “ They’ll try and block it
    out but how do you block out the sky, the ground
    below…. how do you erase the touch on your skin
    or what you feel deep in your bones ? It’s a psycho-
    logical skeleton.
    .
    Denial is a fixated condition for alienated
    children, so is breathing. Memories of love for
    father are never really erased they’re just
    buried below the surface and those memories
    will resurface on this Sunday, Father’s Day.
    .
    Take comfort in the fact that your picture may
    not be in a frame next to their bed or on the wall
    in their mom’s house, but they are not deleted
    from their memory. It is also hard to ignore
    mother trying to pretend how much better off
    they are without you, while the look on her face
    also reminds them she can’t be the father they’re
    missing out on today.
    .
    No matter what stepfather tries to take your
    place after you got replaced, displaced and
    erased, nothing is ever going to hold back their
    feelings of loss because they’re connected to
    their father when they see themselves in a
    mirror. Some likeness of you is something in
    their DNA that they can see in their own face.
    .
    Not only are there painful memories there
    are probably more than a few good ones.
    Like the time you took them to a show, or
    watched them at a school performance,
    or played some game with them, played
    with your pet, took them to visit your
    parents, cooked a meal for them, these
    memories are also resurfacing around them.
    .
    Imagine how it must feel for them to watch
    their friends getting together with their dads
    and how they have to explain or avoid talk-
    ing about you not being around on Father’s
    Day. Imagine anyone else trying to act as a
    substitute for the father they are missing in
    their lives and never saying,
    .
    “ Why don’t you call your dad today ? “
    .
    How is their behaviour going to be memorial-
    ized in the future ?
    .
    Father’s Day, is something I feel long after my
    own father has passed away. You don’t have
    to actually be around to be remembered and
    to be loved. I don’t need to feel bad about the
    father’s day I am not spending with him this
    Sunday, I will be thinking about all the good
    times with my dad and I know that your child-
    ren might want you to believe that they don’t
    love you back, but that’s just denial talking.
    .
    You’re as much a part of their life as you
    have ever been ( even more so ) and not
    because of being present, but because
    of being absent. Believe it because we
    know from all the social science research
    that this is truly how alienated children
    are feeling.
    .
    I feel my father is with me now even though
    he passed more than 15 years ago. I was
    alienated from him by a mother that
    extinguished him from my life, but not
    forever. We made up for all the lost time
    and years of alienation that was stolen from
    us both.
    .
    In the Jewish religion when a loved parent
    dies we say prayers, Kaddish, and we light a
    candle in memory of the parent. Perhaps as
    a way to remember that you are still a
    parent you should light a candle and keep
    it burning all day, on Father’s Day.
    .
    Say a prayer of love, memorialize your
    feelings of loss and perhaps to help be
    forgiving so anger does not take over
    the better part of judgment in your life.
    .
    As a targeted, rejected parent remember the
    good parts of the person you are and remain
    and strive to lift yourself up, don’t let any-
    thing change that belief in your-self because
    sometimes all we have is ourselves to believe
    in, and in truth that’s the one person whose
    opinion counts the most.
    .
    For more educational information please visit
    http://www.ParentalAlienation.ca
    http://www.ParentalAlienationEducation.com