Children’s Needs and Parental Responsibilities
Things have gone from bad to worse for divorced fathers.
Edward Kruk came to this conclusion while following up on a study he did two decades ago that found men who were separated from their children suffered greatly.
“Fathers are now more involved with and attached to their children but this is not recognized by family courts, who routinely remove them as active parents from their children’s lives,” Kruk, an associate professor of social work at the University of British Columbia, says in a recent email interview.
For his latest book, Divorced Fathers: Children’s Needs and Parental Responsibilities, Kruk interviewed a sample group of 82 fathers who’d been unable to obtain any kind of meaningful help for their situations.
But they were eager to discuss their predicaments at length, from their children’s needs to the shortcomings of the social-service and legal institutions.
“The fathers in my study were acutely aware of the negative effects of their absence from their children’s lives, and this was a source of their own pain,” Kruk says.
Kruk says that 20 years ago it became clear that fathers had become the “disposable parent” in divorces. Yes it’s not fathers’ rights he especially concerned about-it’s the removal of a loving parent from children’s lives and the effect this has on them.
“Canadian children fare extremely poorly in regard to their social and emotional (and spiritual) well-being as a result of policies that devalue parental care,” he says.
Some of Kruk’s strongest criticism is levelled at the family court system-an institution of which he has first-hand experience.
“I am no different than many divorced fathers,” Kruk, who has two sons, says. “Most divorced dads have no inkling of thecorruption and injustice endemic to the family court system, but become acutely aware and politicized as they themselves go through the inhumane adversarial ‘winner-take-all’process.
“Most, however, suffer in quiet desperation.”
There is much greater sympathy from the public than the institutions making the decisions, Kruk says. But a viable alternative would be to have both parents share in their responsibilities to raise their children.
“The present system removes parents from children’s lives and fuels discord, increases conflict and engenders first-time violence, whereas equal parenting is associated with ongoing relationships and reduction of conflict,” he says.
“And in children’s eyes it is associated with their best interests.”-Jeffrey Simpson, The Novascotian/Books, November 2011