Wednesday, June 18th, 2014
A growing number of family lawyers are focusing exclusively on men’s issues–specifically fathering issues that come up during custody battles following divorces. USA Today has more on the trend:
Law firms that champion men’s rights — and particularly those of fathers — are a growing breed across the U.S., marketing themselves to men who are increasingly empowered in their role as dads. More state legislatures are rethinking child custody laws amid the latest scientific research showing that fathers are important to their children’s physical and emotional well-beings.
As the nation mark[ed] Father’s Day on Sunday, evidence is growing that when marital bonds sever or cohabiting couples with children split, more men are unwilling to accept the visitation and child-support arrangements of yesterday and are doing what they can to remain relevant in their kids’ lives.
Jeff Robinson, an IT manager in Allen, Texas, hired a men’s firm when his 27-year marriage broke up. His two daughters, Amanda and Jessica, are 24 and 21. But son Kyle, 12, is a minor.
“My fear was to be kicked out of my home, and she’s going to try to keep my son away, and (I) have to fight for any visitation,” says Robinson, 52, whose divorce became final last June.
At Seattle-based firm Goldberg Jones (with offices in Portland, Ore., and San Diego), co-founder Rick Jones says clients “know they’ve only got one shot. Clients come to us with the security of knowing that’s the mind-set we come in with already.”
Custody laws vary so much across the USA that “shared custody” in one state doesn’t necessarily carry the same provisions in another, family law attorneys say. Cordell & Cordell’s lawyers say some states have changed the language of their statues from “sole custody” and “joint custody” to terminology such as “parenting time” or “legal decision-making.”
And though some states — including Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Missouri and Maine — have taken steps to be more gender-equal in their decision-making, no state is considered “a beacon of being father-friendly,” according to Cordell & Cordell.
“Custody decisions vary not only state to state, but even greatly within a state and within a county from judge to judge,” says Jennifer Paine, an attorney in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Image: Parenting arguing in front of child, via Shutterstock
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Monday, June 16th, 2014
Fathers are far more engaged with their children than they were four decades ago, according to a new British study that found that dads spend seven times as much time with their kids as they did during the 1970s. More from the Guardian:
While the time focused on their offspring still comes in at a fairly low average of 35 minutes a day for working fathers, it is far higher than the five minutes registered in 1974. Mothers’ quality time with their kids has also risen over the same period, from 15 minutes a day to an hour.
But while it would seem to be good news for children, the researchers found a worrying social disparity over how that extra time is spent. More educated parents were far more likely to report spending time helping their children with homework, while parents without further or higher education were less likely to get involved in any kind of learning activity.
The research, by Dr Almudena Sevilla of the school of business and management at the University of London and Cristina Borra of the University of Seville, used parent and child time diaries between 1974 and 2005 and looked at how parents divided heir time between work, leisure and childcare over a 24-hour period.
Sevilla said the research, to be presented at the ESRC Research Methods Festival this month, showed that, while the extra time given by mothers was coming out of their leisure time or time doing housework, fathers were finding more time out from their working lives, indicating more appreciation of the importance of fatherhood versus a career.
However, Sevilla said the main implication of the findings was about inequality. “If more educated parents are spending more time with their kids in valuable activities for their development, then children will be doing well. But what do you do about the children whose parents are not spending their time in these kind of educational activities? That’s the question for policy makers I think.
“With this data we couldn’t tell the impact on child development, but other research has been done that suggests the more time we spend with our children, the better for cognitive development.”
Find out what career your child will have and shop fun kids’ games.
Image: Father helping son with his homework, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
A 25-year-old dad may be at risk for a surprising symptom of early parenthood–postpartum depression, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics. More from Time.com:
Men who entered into fatherhood at around age 25 saw a 68% increase of depressive symptoms over their first five years of being dads—if they lived at the same home as their children.
The study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, looked at 10,623 young men who were participating in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The study tracked the fathers for about 20 years, and kept score of their depression symptoms.
While fathers who didn’t share a home with their children didn’t experience the same high increase in depressive symptoms in early fatherhood, most of the fathers in the study did live with their children. Those men had lower depression symptoms before they became dads and experienced a spike in symptoms when their child was born and through the first few years.
Identifying depression symptoms in young fathers is critical, since earlier research shows that depressed dads read and interact less with their kids, are more likely to use corporal punishment, and are more likely to neglect their kids.
“Parental depression has a detrimental effect on kids, especially during those first key years of parent-infant attachment,” said lead study author Dr. Craig Garfield, an associate professor in pediatrics and medical social sciences at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, in a statement. “We need to do a better job of helping young dads transition through that time period.”
Image: Sad father, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, February 27th, 2014
Mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), may be more common in children born to fathers who are “middle aged,” or age 45 and older, according to new research conducted in Sweden. The New York Times has more:
In recent years, scientists have debated based on mixed evidence whether a father’s age is linked to his child’s vulnerability to individual disorders like autism and schizophrenia. Some studies have found strong associations, while others have found weak associations or none at all.
The new report, which looked at many mental disorders in Sweden, should inflame the debate, if not settle it, experts said. Men have a biological clock of sorts because of random mutations in sperm over time, the report suggests, and the risks associated with later fatherhood may be higher than previously thought. The findings were published on Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
“This is the best paper I’ve seen on this topic, and it suggests several lines of inquiry into mental illness,” said Dr. Patrick F. Sullivan, a professor of genetics at the University of North Carolina, who was not involved in the research. “But the last thing people should do is read this and say, ‘Oh no, I had a kid at 43, the kid’s doomed.’ The vast majority of kids born to older dads will be just fine.”
Dr. Kenneth S. Kendler, a professor of psychiatry and human molecular genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University, also urged caution in interpreting the results. “This is great work from a scientific perspective,” he said. “But it needs to be replicated, and biomedical science needs to get in gear and figure out what accounts for” the mixed findings of previous studies.
The strengths of the new report are size and rigor. The research team, led by Brian M. D’Onofrio of Indiana University, analyzed medical and public records of some 2.6 million people born in Sweden from 1973 to 2001. Like many European countries, Sweden has centralized medical care and keeps detailed records, so the scientists knew the father’s age for each birth and were able to track each child’s medical history over time, as well as that of siblings and other relatives. Among other things, the analysis compared the mental health of siblings born to the same father and found a clear pattern of increased risk with increasing paternal age.
Compared with the children of young fathers, aged 20 to 24, those born to men age 45 and older had about twice the risk of developing psychosis, the signature symptom of schizophrenia; more than three times the likelihood of receiving a diagnosis of autism; and about 13 times the chance of having a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder. Children born to older fathers also tended to struggle more with academics and substance abuse.
The researchers controlled for every factor they could think of, including parents’ education and income. Older couples tend to be more stable and have more income — both protective factors that help to temper mental problems — and this was the case in the study. But much of the risk associated with paternal age remained.
“We spent months trying to make the findings go away, looking at the mother’s age, at psychiatric history, doing sub-analyses,” Dr. D’Onofrio said. “They wouldn’t go away.”
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Image: Older dad, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, December 26th, 2013
One out of every six American fathers lives apart from his children, according to new data released by the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The data was part of a study that examined how involved fathers are in their children’s lives. More from HealthDay News:
“Men who live with [their] kids interact with them more. Just the proximity makes it easier,” said study author Jo Jones, a statistician and demographer with the U.S. National Centers for Health Statistics.
“But significant portions of fathers who are not coresidential play with their children, eat with them and more on a daily basis. There’s a segment of non-coresidential dads who participate very actively,” Jones said. “Then there are the coresidential dads who don’t participate as much, although that’s a much smaller percentage — only 1 or 2 percent. Living with children doesn’t necessarily mean a dad will be involved.”
Jones said other studies have shown that a father’s involvement helps children academically and behaviorally. “Children whose fathers are involved usually have better outcomes than children who don’t have dads in their lives,” she said.
The findings were published online Dec. 20 in a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study included a nationally representative sample of more than 10,000 men between the ages of 15 and 44, about half of whom were fathers. The study included adopted, biological and stepchildren. The men were surveyed about their involvement with the children in their lives.
Seventy-three percent of the fathers lived with their children, while another 11 percent had children they lived with as well as some they didn’t live with. Sixteen percent of the fathers had children they didn’t live with at all, according to the study.
For children under the age of 5, 72 percent of dads living at home fed or ate meals with their child daily, compared to about 8 percent of dads who didn’t live with their young children, the study found. More older fathers, Hispanic fathers and dads with a high school education or less reported not having eaten a meal with their children in the past four weeks.
Ninety percent of fathers living with their young children bathed, diapered or dressed them, compared to 31 percent of dads who lived apart from their children. Older dads, Hispanic fathers and those with a high school diploma or less again were less likely to have participated in these activities, according to the study.
Dads who lived with young kids were six times more likely to read to them.
Image: Father and child, via Shutterstock
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