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Can I take a test to show I'm a good Dad?

My wife is alleging that I have "a lack of child care abilities", in an effort to restrict my contact time with my baby daughter.

I'm a mature (middle-aged), responsible man who has looked after children since I was left to baby-sit my nieces as a teenager.  I am calm and nurturing and have read a ton of material on the subject, including the terrific new book Heart to Heart Parenting by Aussie author Robin Grille (ISBN 978-0-7333-2298-3).

I was wondering if there is a parenting course test I could challenge to demonstrate to the Court that I am well versed on the modern principles of parenting, and I'm well and truly able to provide for the physical and emotional needs of my baby.

Be a reasonable person in an unreasonable situation.
Reasonable,I think the course of action most are advised to take in this situation is to go on a parenting course rather than try to show that you can parent. I think the SRL's will be able to point you toward courses.
Reasonable said
My wife is alleging that I have "a lack of child care abilities", in an effort to restrict my contact time with my baby daughter.

I'm a mature (middle-aged), responsible man who has looked after children since I was left to baby-sit my nieces as a teenager.  I am calm and nurturing and have read a ton of material on the subject, including the terrific new book Heart to Heart Parenting by Aussie author Robin Grille (ISBN 978-0-7333-2298-3).

I was wondering if there is a parenting course test I could challenge to demonstrate to the Court that I am well versed on the modern principles of parenting, and I'm well and truly able to provide for the physical and emotional needs of my baby.
Saying you are now middle aged but have experience as a teenager at 'babysitting' but not 'care' and then stating you have read books will 'lead balloon' in the Court.

You don't go into Court to argue something you can easily make a non issue and the easiest way to make this a non issue is to provide a 'Parenting Course' certificate to the Court.

Check with your local Registry and local support organisations for parenting courses (particulary ones recognised by the Fam Courts)

Spend your Court time arguing about the amount of care you can provide.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
This is fairly standard fare from what I have seen in my short experience. My ex is also trying it on. This could be considered good news because she must have nothing else against you.

Happily however it seems to be something they have to substantiate to some extent. If all she is saying is "I think" he lacks the ability without ANY examples, like he has never changed the childrens nappies in their life, doesn't know there allergies, keeps on dropping the baby etc. Then as Agog says do not dwell on it. Simply outline briefly the vast amount of care you have provided for your children in thier lives. Eg I've always changed nappies, regulaly fed them, play with them, up at night for them, I know what settles them and what upsets them etc. Don't buy into it, just deny the allegation and BRIEFLY cover your experience with YOUR children.

I think most judges understand that most parents are not in possession of child care/child pyscology degrees and if you show you are a stable individual and have in the past cared for them to a solid extent without drama they wont put too much on it.

Definitely go out yourself and book into a Post Separation Parenting Course. These are focussed more on parental relationships after separation. Helping seperated parents get along and focus on the childrens needs. Doing it in no way says you need training as a parent. It shows you are being proactive looking for ways to help you and the ex work together for the best interests of the children. It shows you understand that the relationship within your family is different now and you want to manage it in the best possible way for the children. Also get your ex to do the course and if she refuses ask the court to direct her to.

These courses are becoming standard issue by the family report writers and with good reason as there is much research to support them. Do they help? As always it depends on the attitude of the people doing them. Remember to always ask for an internal report from a court appointed report writer.

"When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside can not hurt you"
Good advice and thanks for the perspective on my 'lead balloon'… gotta learn those pitfalls fast!

I'm checking out the parenting course and will get myself booked in.  Dominik, I like your suggestion of getting her to do one too - what's good for the gander is good for the goose.  

I was very involved with my baby daughter before our separation, and did plenty of nappy changes, bottle feeding, soothing and the like.  I'll emphasize that aspect and try to get that parenting course certificate before the Final Orders hearing at the end of November.  She's gone with a shotgun approach and is hoping I'll make a mistake.  I will do my research and get my program together and hopefully will be able to show the Court that I am the good Father I know myself to be.

Thanks again for the suggestions, you've all been very helpful already.  

__________________

Update  

It seems the Triple P (Positive Parenting Programs) are not available for parents with kids under 2 years old.  I have contacted the Community Health Centre but they didn't have a suitable parenting program on offer either.  The Post Separation Parenting Programs are not for parenting skills, but for parent interaction training.  

I'm afraid I've run out of ideas, does anyone know who I should contact?

Last edit: by Reasonable


Be a reasonable person in an unreasonable situation.
You are right there are not really any courses on how to be a parent.

Do you need one?

"When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside can not hurt you"
Triple P is for parenting children of any age. Or so I thought.

You could try ringing your local Relationships Australia centre, or community health clinic and see what they recommend. Even the local daycare will be able to refer you to something.

Consider all the occasions the mother has left the child alone in your sole care. They way you write your affidavit and describe the child's daily routine to the family reporter (when you get to that bit) may stand you in good stead.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Thank you Monster.  For a roaring wookie, you sure have compassionate insight.

I don't need a course; I'm an excellent parent already.  It was more about having a certificate to check off a box than to tell me to never take my eye off my baby now that she's mobile.  

Thank you for the additional suggestions of places to contact, Artemis; I'll give them a call today.  The Triple P classes are only available to parents of children from 2 to 8 years of age.    

I have spent considerable time alone with my daughter and I will document that and describe our routines.  I get to be with my daughter (it will be the first time after 6 weeks of my wife keeping her from me - unconscionable!), on the day of the Family Report interview and I know in my heart that the strong bond we have will be evident.  I plan to greet her with our familiar "hello, hello, hello", then sing her favourite song which has always produced her beautiful smile.  Then, I'll go to her and reach out my hands as I always have and when she reaches for me, I'll say "up" and pull her to her feet as is our custom.  My wife thinks she can alienate my daughter from me, but I know the daily effort I put in from the time she was born will wash away the last six weeks of separation.  

I have it on good authority the Report writer is a fine man, and I've already established a rapport with him over the phone as we setup payment and the interview schedule.  I'm confident that if I just relax, be calm and be "the father of the year" as one Solicitor advised me, I will get a good Report that will establish me as the loving, devoted father I am.

If we were to write a course for Parenting Poppas, what advice would be essential advice?  I'll start:

1. Love is the most important gift you can give your child.  "Moments of deep connection are what your baby yearns for from you." ~ Robin Grille
2. Unless you have a safe cot for her to play in, never take your eye off a baby once she's mobile.  
3. Check the nappy every 3 hours, or whenever she cries, change it if it's full.
4. Feed her whenever she is hungry.
5. Comfort her immediately whenever she cries.  Skin to skin contact and loving eye contact are best.
6. Ensure you have plenty of emotional and practical support for yourself.
7. Talk to your baby out loud, read to her and sing to her every day.
8. Respond to your baby by reaching out to her as promptly and consistently as possible.
9. Establish routines, familiar activities and surroundings.  Stick to a schedule as best you can.
10. Remember that we've managed to make it this long.  Don't be too hard on yourself if you make mistakes.

What would you add or change to make the top 10?

Be a reasonable person in an unreasonable situation.
I think most judges understand that most parents are not in possession of child care/child pyscology degrees and if you show you are a stable individual and have in the past cared for them to a solid extent without drama they wont put too much on it.

Reasonable.

Refer to above. It sounds like you do not need a parenting course. Do the post seperation one, at least book it in before you see the report writer. This will tick that box. He will no doubt suggest it anyway, probably to the both of you.

It sounds like you have confidence in your ability as a father but her allegation has shaken you a bit. I believe the legal eagles(vultures) call this the scatter gun approach. It seems her tactic has worked and a round has hit the mark. Don't let it get to you and don't dwell on it to much.

The report writer is the person you will have to convince, not your ex or her solicitor. Don't sell yourself to much to him as it would appear that your obvious commitment and love will come through. The report writer has seen it all before. He will tell quite quickly what you are all about. Are your the perfect infallable father. I doubt it and so will he. Are you of an acceptable level to look after yout child for extended periods of time and overnights. I would suggest you exceed it. That is all he wants to know. Make your points that you have absolutely proven your ability and commitment and leave it there.

 A important part for the report writer is to determine how you and the ex can work together for the child so remember to be open to all suggestions, without giving ground on points you believe are important, eg time with you etc, and always let him know you are putting your childs needs first but have a desire to include your ex as an important part of your childs life.  This is not only what he wants to hear but also the best way for things to work well in the future.

Also you say you are booked in for final orders. Will you have interim orders for the time in between?

"When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside can not hurt you"
Very sound advice, Dominik.  Thanks for that.  Good call on booking into the Post Separation Parenting Course; I'll bring that up during the Family Dispute Resolution meeting next week.

Scatter gun would be her style, all right!  She's flung so many things up, it should be ridiculous to anybody with some perspective.  I'm not so much hit by this mark, but going through the list to put my ducks in a row.  If there are simple things I can do to shut down various parts of her arguments, as well as clear evidence to disprove some of the lies, I'm confident the overall effect will be to show her true colours.

As you say, the Report Writer has seen it all before.  I'm sure things will be OK if I just keep my focus and don't let anything upset me.  I'm pretty good at that, and I've been doing tons of visualization and mental rehearsals.  I appreciate the feedback on this forum for how to present myself in the best light.

Yes, we have Interim Orders now, and she is in breach of them by failing to provide my daughter for the prescribed contact times.  I'm going down the Contravention route now, and the hearing for that is in mid November.  My daughter is less than a year old, so every week apart means I'm missing out on critical bonding time.  She is changing so much right now and while I expect to get compensation time for the breach of the Order, there is no way to get back these days of her young life.  I just focus on the future and know it will work out for us to be together again soon.

Be a reasonable person in an unreasonable situation.
Hey reasonable

Book in and do the triple P course anyway if you have the time, you'll get the certificate and lets face it no matter how good we are as parents we can always develop skills as well as meet other parents.

Try not to expect make up time that way if it doesn't happen you will not be disappointed and remember that although six weeks is a long time for us it will not effect your daughter in the same way.

Best of luck
Reasonable, A word to the wise.

There have been a lot of common sense replies to your post but when in comes down to the Court listen to what the SRLR badges say and not what other people think will happen. Those people have all the runs on the board and an excellent track record.
Completeing a parenting course will no doubt srengthen your credibility, it does'nt stop there!

You need to look much deeper than that, take a closer look at the FLA, there are several parts of the Act that may apply, example;
60CC.
3.c. the willingness and ability of each of the childs parents to facilitate, and encourage, a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent.
A parent that shows a willingness to encourage a close and continuing relationship, will be seen as a good/better mum or dad ! :ninja:

Again, thanks for the fountain of knowledge.  I'm so glad I joined this site, you've already given me a lot of help in this difficult time.   :thumbs:

I heard back from a couple of the places I left messages for yesterday.  The Uni offers several courses, but they again tend to focus on behaviour challenges facing 2 to 10 year olds.  They have a lead time of 2 to 4 months, but that works out fine for the age of my daughter now.  I'll research and probably book in to one or more of them, as D4E says, "no matter how good we are as parents we can always develop skills".  

The perspective that 6 weeks is different for my daughter has helped me, D4E.  I've been a bit wound up today with all of the Court documents I've been working on and the news from a friend who recovered some of my stuff today that my daughter is "really growing" and looks well.  It is so hard to be forced to be away from her.  Your advice gives me a reminder that she is doing just fine and that we will get our time together again soon.  I take your point about not getting too tied to the idea of make-up time.  My contact time is already appropriately generous, and I am content to simply have the Orders followed.  I think it would be more appropriate to have my wife do community service hours for the time she's deprived me of my contact - give her  time to consider her contempt of Court while helping others.

Through the Uni I can also organize private sessions with a court recognized psychologist, with costs in the $125-$140 per hour range.  They can then write a report for me.  I think I'll just book in through Relationships Australia and go with my experience as a great carer on those times I have had my daughter.  I've just been watching some of the videos I took on the last few contact days, and I couldn't ask for better evidence of how happy and content my girl is with me.

Excellent advice to refer to the Act for direction, monaro.  I'll be printing those relevant sections and studying them closely.  

Last edit: by Reasonable


Be a reasonable person in an unreasonable situation.
It would be nice to think that community service was an applicable punishment for the wrongdoing that are committed as in your case and false affidavits and such.

Try to read some of the posts that relate to others experiences through mediation, good and bad, they will help you prepare for what is to come.

The way you present yourself is also important and I'm sure is discussed in some of those posts, there are a few so try using the search function top right of the page.

I know when I started going through this I learnt early on of the necessity of planning for the future, I spent considerable time working on possible contact orders, not just one version but three in my case fully worked out till the age of eighteen and concerning every perceivable situation. I know pretty anal but I did find it helped me emotionally as well as prepare me for the next conflict ooops sorry meeting.

I know how it tugs at your heart to be away and things just expand exponentially, I won't lie it will effect things for a short time if you have no contact but the time melts away very quickly and your back in the groove.

It's important that you grow emotionally as you grow with aspects of the legal system. This is the hardest thing to achieve because the link is moral belief and our moral belief in the system is higher than what the system is capable of and we have to be prepared to release our moral belief and secure a more business like persona when dealing with the system.

bad advice can seem morally right, good advice seems emotionally and morally unacceptable so reflect on relevance of answers.

All best D4E     
This is an extraction from a judgement where the Magistrate makes reference to Parenting courses:

- On some occasions there will be evidence that a parent has attended a parenting course.

- A certificate of completion will proudly be produced. In my view this carries very little weight.

-The real issue is whether the parent has learned anything and is capable of applying that learning to their child.

- I would be much more persuaded by a letter from the person responsible for the course that gave some account of the quality of involvement of the parent.

This is an excellent point Monaro. These courses are almost a prerequisite now and the flipside is people may simply have perfunctory attendance to get a certificate. Because of this you may have ticked the box, particularly if it was court ordered, but they may not be given a great deal of weight by the court. There is much to be learnt but as I have said before it depends on the persons attitude.

But like any evidence the well informed and well prepared litigant will not simply stand up and produce a shiny new laminated certificate to prove they are a great parent and they now get along wonderfully with the other parent. Instead they will explain how it fits into their case. That is to say they will explain what they have learnt, how it has benefited their circumstances and cite some excellent on point examples to prove how there is good communication between parties and the relationship is stable enough for shared care to be good for the child/ren.

They will explian how they have recognised issues for both parties and how they have gone about dealing with these issues. They will explain how they now understand that parenting, post seperation is different than when they lived together. They will explain how this benefits the relationship they have with the other party and the child/ren. This in turn will assist to explain how the course is just one of many things that supports their application.

A letter from the "teacher" can be useful but the above must also be done.

"When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside can not hurt you"
Without employing a pyhchiartrist to run the courses and have personal sessions it would be hard to analyse if a person goes into the course with the right motivation.

I really wish it was less prohibitive and expensive to make sure that parties get post seperation counselling once they are showing signs of parental conflict. I really wish you could ASK for counselling in court more often.

Rarghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!

Han Solo routine "We're all fine here, thanks. How are you?" *weapons fire* "It was a boring conversation anyway!"
monaro said
This is an extraction from a judgement where the Magistrate makes reference to Parenting courses:

- On some occasions there will be evidence that a parent has attended a parenting course.

- A certificate of completion will proudly be produced. In my view this carries very little weight.

-The real issue is whether the parent has learned anything and is capable of applying that learning to their child.

- I would be much more persuaded by a letter from the person responsible for the course that gave some account of the quality of involvement of the parent.
I find this to be very offensive, perhaps the magistrate could provide me with proof of their competency to adjudicate on my children's lives.

Perhaps I could be directed to qualifications the magistrate does accept, maybe a letter from their mum saying they are impartial and honest and not extorting families for personal gain.

You can not have it both ways.

That sort of comment is the height of arrogance from someone that owes their professional existence to acceptance of qualifications, either these courses are valid or they are not and it is incumbent on a magistrate to know the difference. If they believe they are not then say so.
The question would have to asked, Why do courts even bothering ordering parents to do the course if they place no weight on the certificate received. These comments provide some insight into this magistrates veiw of reality. Are they now asking that we first do the 8 week course, get the certificate, but then we have to get a reference on how well we did the course? Is their any consideration on how these references are standardised and justified? What if one parents reference is better than the others? Will the other parents accept this? Will my X say I am now sleeping with the teacher to get a good reference? Do we now call the teachers as witnesses to prove who is the best parent? I guess we could just tack on another day or 2 to all final hearings to cover this. Clearly this was not a well considered comment by the magistrate.

This is the system and its servants, yes judicial officers are in fact our servants, we have to endure. However as ridiculous as it is we need to do is ensure we make the best of what is an imperfect system and not only gain the certificate but also prove that we were a really good student and learnt lots! The sad fact is that we really do have to pander to the personal expectations of the maigistrate we are assigned who adjudicate on how we live the rest of our lives. This is a good reason to sit in the court of the magistrate we are assigned to see what makes them tick. Almost impossible when we are faced with these type of contradictary comments but this is hardly unusual in our great system.

"When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside can not hurt you"
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