Giving Divorced Fathers More Time with Their Kids
The evidence that children are happier and healthier with caring fathers who are active in their lives is overwhelming. Yet Illinois family courts still routinely give divorcing fathers minimum access to their children --often no more than overnight visits every other weekend and a once-weekly non-overnight visit.
A new report by the National Center for Fathering and the National Parent Teacher Association, issued just before Father's Day, shows fathers' participation in their children's lives has increased dramatically in the past decade. The report shows double-digit gains in the numbers of fathers who are taking their kids to school, visiting classrooms and attending school events.
Research also shows that when fathers take active roles in their children's education, kids are more likely to do well academically, be involved in extracurricular activities and enjoy school. Other benefits to children whose fathers are involved in their lives include higher self-esteem, an increase in cognitive abilities and better social skills.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 25 million children live apart from their biological fathers. That's one out of every three children in America. By contrast, only 2.3 million kids live apart from their biological mothers.
While no one argues that mothers should be less involved in their children's lives, divorced fathers should be allowed more opportunity to fully participate in those important lives.
Many divorcing men now seek more creative parenting plans than have been traditionally meted out by family courts. Those plans provide for more visits with their kids and more involvement in crucial parenting decisions. It is now more commonplace for courts to award primary custody of the children to their fathers.