Harry

Especially For Young Women

 
   

30/02/03

Dads do not Support the 'Boyfriend' Bill 

In his piece, The 'Boyfriend Bill': You'd think dads would support it, Gerald Rowles is surprised that many biological fathers do not support the Boyfriend Bill. This is a bill that encourages courts to view the new boyfriends of single mothers somewhat suspiciously, in that the presence of such boyfriends could represent "a substantial change in circumstances" which may mean that the custody of the children should be re-awarded to the other parents i.e. to the fathers.

With an array of statistics Dr Rowles demonstrates that children are many times safer living with their married biological parents and that, as such, boyfriends represent an extra risk which should be assessed and monitored in some way.

He says, "So when bio-dads express objections to the boyfriend bill, the implications are that they care less about the risk potential for their child than risking potential inconvenience in losing regular nonsex with their own hookups."

And so the suggestion is that bio-dads are very often simply more concerned about their freedoms than about their children.

But there are many reasons why even non-custodial fathers might not wish to support a Boyfriend Bill.

1. The Boyfriend Bill is likely to increase the amount of acrimony in divorce situations because wives will be more tempted to isolate the fathers - lest they find something to complain about with regard to their future new boyfriends. "Don't you dare tell your father about anything to do with my new boyfriend."

2. Divorced fathers could well be put through the mill twice should they, themselves, end up with new relationships that involve children - which happens often. 

3. It will allow angry ex-wives to inflict even further damage on the future lives of their divorced spouses by, for example, claiming that they were never any good as fathers and/or that they were abusive in some way - the implication being that they should not be allowed anywhere near the children of their new partners. 

And, in today's climate, this will readily be believed and acted upon.

4. Most men will be aware that interfering with their ex's new relationships - their new-found 'loves' - is likely to result in far more damage to their relationships with their own children as a result of the massive increase in hostility that would be generated in retaliation. And so, for example, child contact might well be thwarted more often. More bad-mouthing would occur. Kidnaps by parents may increase. etc.

5. In the article Gerald Rowles suggests that a father might well object to the fact that, for example, the mother's boyfriend smokes pot, or has sex with her in the adjacent bedroom. 

"And what if the non-custodial bio-dad objects to the fact that his ex-wife is now, uh, nonsexing the boyfriend in the bedroom next to his child's? Or what if the bio-dad finds out that the boyfriend is smoking a little pot, and occasionally whipping the tar out of his nonkid?"

But is this not the thin end of the wedge?

How's about a non-custodial father objecting to the boyfriend drinking alcohol? Or to his rather strong religious beliefs - or to his lack of them? Or to his long hair. Or to the job that he does?

Gerald Rowles seems to be suggesting that the non-custodial father should have some right to dictate his ex-wife's future relationships - even, indeed, when he, himself, has initiated the divorce and gone off with another woman!

On the one hand this suggestion can seem very reasonable. On the other hand, in practice, it would likely give rise to far more acrimony and hurt - which will also more than likely arise from the consequences of any reactions of the 'boyfriend', who, rather than sitting timidly on the sidelines, may well become more predisposed to joining in any attack by the ex-wife on the non-custodial father - perhaps even by suing him for any defamation of his character. 

And, of course, the Boyfriend Bill will undoubtedly end up involving more lawyers and more officials in people's relationships as it generates more investigations on the basis of allegations made by angry ex-partners.

And so, throughout the land, the Boyfriend Bill will cause to grow yet another section of the abuse industry which will end up acting very much to the detriment of all men.

Indeed, the next phase of this industry would involve checking out all the biological fathers - perhaps to see if they smoked pot or had sex in the adjacent room!

In summary, men, whether divorced fathers or not, are already more than fed up with being accused, abused and investigated by state officials for this, that and the other, when it comes to women and children. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that they are generally not very supportive of further measures that provide for a greater intrusion upon themselves and for the setting up of a whole new squadron of nosy officials to deal with such things. 

The impressive array of statistics that Gerald Rowles uses also need to be looked at a little more closely. He rightly points out that "the incidence of child abuse is 20 times higher for children living with their cohabiting parents and 33 times higher among children living with their mother and her boyfriend compared to children living with their biological, married parents."  - but there are some caveats that need to be considered.

1. Two-thirds of all child abuse incidents are perpetrated by women. Period. Boyfriends and stepfathers combined do not even come close to the levels of abuse committed by females.

2. While it is true that the statistics show that children are best cared for by both of their married biological parents, there is usually no account taken of the fact that a large part of this statistical effect may well be bound up in the personalities of the couples most likely to divorce or not get married.

For example, those with dysfunctional personalities are very likely to end up divorced. And they are also very likely to have children with problems - genetically-induced or otherwise. Many of the correlations between divorce and single motherhood and the various negative characteristics and propensities exhibited in the children may therefore well be more influenced by these personality factors than by the particular effects of divorce themselves. And the same would also be true for serious child abuse matters such as violence.

No mention is usually made of associated personality variables when discussing the 'effects of divorce' or of 'not marrying'. But they are definitely of some considerable significance

3. Those who remain committed enough to each other to remain married are also more likely to be able to cover up any child abuse that they might have engaged in.

Nevertheless, when one looks at the research it seems that, on balance, the most important factor when it comes to the welfare of the children is marriage, rather than the biological relationships of the parents.

But marriage is a tricky business these days - particularly for men - because it is a one-sided contract. And the same is true for stable relationships that involve children.

The Boyfriend Bill does nothing to address this problem. And, if anything, it is likely to make matters far worse for all parties concerned by encouraging non-custodial fathers to 'spy' on their ex-spouses in order to find fault with their new boyfriends, and this will therefore encourage ex-spouses to alienate them from their children even further in order to defend against this or against the very possibility of it.

Indeed, it is precisely because in western societies there is so much mileage to be gained by making false and exaggerated accusations of abuse against men that there has been such an enormous increase in relationship disharmony, insecurity and breakdown. And the Boyfriend Bill will just add to all this.

Yes. It might well end up protecting a few children. And one can expect to see a trickle of cases appearing where custody is rightly handed over to the other parent as a consequence of a relationship with a profoundly inappropriate other being formed by the parent with initial custody. 

But the overall effects on the vast majority of separating couples and, hence, on their children, will be very negative, as ex-wives with custody (and now also their threatened boyfriends) attempt to drive a greater wedge between the non-custodial fathers and their children.

Just about every one of the laws concerned with protecting people from abuse emanating from within their relationships has worthwhile aims. In practice, however, they have ended up causing an immeasurable amount of damage to the relationships of all people and the resulting abuse and disharmony across society has escalated enormously as a consequence.

Further, the tendency of such laws is to evolve into the realms of the ridiculous and the oppressive. And so, for example, in the same way that the sexual harassment laws have led to so much animosity and legal heartache on the basis of trivial incidents and false allegations, one can expect much the same with the Boyfriend Bill - and, probably, worse, given that the people affected will likely be very much entangled emotionally with each other.

The lawyers and the state will be pleased with the Boyfriend Bill because it will give them more power and more employment opportunities, but it will end up causing further damage to most non-custodial fathers. And this is probably why such fathers are not very supportive of it.

Finally, all men - whether they are fathers or not - are surely learning that getting too involved with children can be a source of serious problems, and even disaster, in very many ways. As such, it is also not surprising to discover that men, in general, are, indeed, emotionally distancing themselves somewhat from any need that they might have had to become child-centred, simply in order to protect themselves from hurt. And so their lack of support for the Boyfriend Bill might also be partly due to the fact that they have resigned themselves to the reality that fighting for their rights with regard to any of their interactions with children, these days, is most likely to be a highly expensive and soul-destroying waste of time.

 

 

 



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