August 21, 2023 – Back to Myths & Lies from Prof. Nielsen
Gene C. Colman Introduction: We now come back after a short break to reproduce some excerpts from Prof. Linda Nielsen’s latest book, “Myths and Lies About Dads”. It’s those myths, stereotypes and outright lies about dads that tend to form powerful blockages against legislating a rebuttable presumption of Equal Shared Parenting. And while Prof. Nielsen not only shatters those myths, she expertly amasses a wealth of solid social science data that supports the key importance of both parents in their children’s lives. Throughout, the bolding and italics are mine.
Here is today’s highlighted myth – lie: Social Development: Dads don’t teach children how to communicate or get along with others the way mothers do.
From page 45: [We are omitting the footnotes. Buy the book to get those great footnote citations.]
The point is that it’s time to call off the contest and acknowledge that mothers and fathers make equally important contributions to their children’s lives. Game over. Each parent’s contributions are different—not better or worse, just different. This also applies, of course, to lesbian couples and gay fathers who are raising children together. Trying to rank the parents is also silly because one parent might have more impact on the children at a certain ages and because siblings have different personalities. Dad might be better at parenting Susie. Mom might be better at parenting Sam. Dad might be better than mom dealing with the kids when they’re babies. Mom might deal better with them as teenagers. Who cares? As long as children feel loved and well cared for, they aren’t judging their parents in some imaginary contest—no matter what the canny little critters might tell their parents when they’re trying to get their way about something.
Stay tuned to upcoming ESP Thoughts of the Day for more insightful excerpts from Prof. Nielsen’s book.
Gene C. Colman comments further
Prof. Nielsen makes some very salient points in this part of her book. Each parent, no matter what the gender, has something valuable to contribute to the child’s development. Let me take this a step further: The adversary legal system encourages the litigants and their lawyers to prove which parent is best, to prove which parent better meets the child’s needs. By establishing such a faulty decision making framework, right from the get go the legal system pits parents and lawyers against each other. If we started from the premise that absent extenuating circumstances the child has the right to equal input, equal time, equal decision making, etc with both parents, then we are removing most of the reason for family law conflict. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?