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McIntosh/Australian Association for Infant Mental Health

Separated parents should not share custody of babies or toddlers ...

American Coalition for Fathers and Children - ACFC
Shared Custody and Parenting for Very Young Children

December 15, 2011 - This article from Sydney Morning Herald makes the definitive statement that children 2 and under should not be in shared custody/parenting arrangements.

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/shared-custody-a-mistake-for-the-under2s-say-guidelines-20111214-1ouy6.html

 In 2006, Australia overhauled its family court systems specifically instructing judges to consider shared care as a primary option for children in custody cases. Many interpreted the new law to mean that judges should award equal time to both parents in the event of divorce, however the language in the statute was not nearly that specific. It was noted in Australia that good fathers were being removed from the lives of their children and children were suffering as a result.

 The statute change was many years in the making and fathers were instrumental in bringing the change about. The new law was to be in effect for three years at which time it would be reevaluated with an eye to enhancement. Debate raged for several years prior to the change with the usual groups coming out against this move toward shared parenting.

 One of those raising red flags and arguing against shared parenting prior to changes in the law was psychologist Jennifer McIntosh. McIntosh is cited several times in the article above as the authority on which the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health based its recommendation that Prior to the age of two years, overnight time away from the primary care-giver should be avoided unless necessary.

 McIntosh's reports raise concerns. She indicates her research involves high conflict situations, yet her writing is such that readers will tend to conclude her observations are geared toward and pertain to the broad population of child custody cases. Such extrapolation is dangerous. Are the conclusions reached definitive, the research replicable? [Of course not, "more irritable and worked harder to monitor the presence of their primary parent" - rubbish, what were the control conditions and variables]  Those familiar with family law already knows much of its policies and practices are based on less than stellar evidence. Anyone recall the Super Bowl DV hoax, or the Weitzman divorced standard of living gaffes that have influenced statute development for over 20 years?

 McIntosh indicates her findings demonstrate that babies under two years who lived one or more overnights a week with both parents were significantly stressed. Oh really? That seems an awfully broad statement given the developmental changes infants undergo between the ages of zero and two. Just how is significant stress measured? Does it mean a one month old cries for three minutes instead of two prior to falling asleep? McIntosh indicates these babies are more irritable, and concludes there are very good reasons to be cautious about frequent, regular overnight schedules for little people.

 But is the case against overnights, which primarily affect Dads relationship with his children, so conclusive as to justify curtailing his involvement in his infants life? Hardly. Consider these comments from leading child custody and development expert Dr. Joan Kelly. In her well documented article Developing Beneficial Parenting Plan Models for Children Following Separation and Divorce Kelly notes:

 "One of the more sharply contested issues in custody and access
 disputes has been whether infants can tolerate overnights
 away from their primary caretakers, usually mothers, to spend
 night or weekend time with their fathers.22 Various writers and
 researchers cautioned that any overnight time away from
 mothers before age three or age four is harmful to the
 mother-infant attachment, and therefore strongly recommended
 against overnights with fathers. No empirical support has sustained
 these recommendations, including the research of psychologists
 Judith Solomon and Carol George,

 More recently, empirical longitudinal research reported that
 no detriment to children from birth to three years is associated
 with overnights with fathers
. (emphasis added)

 Several weeks ago Englands Family Justice Review Final Report was issued which indicated there would be no recommendation for statutory recognition of a child's need for both parents and no statutory recognition for any type of baseline time sharing arrangement for the children of divorce. The appendices infer several of the recommendations are influenced by reports out of Australia. It's worth noting that reports out of Australia indicate the reform instituted in 2006 are working well in the majority of cases and citizens are pleased overall with the changes.

 As we've noted over many years family courts are subject to many influences, not the least of which are political and ideological. The effort of special interests to marginalize fathers in the lives of their children, in spite of the well documented evidence of the resulting damage, continues unabated.

 What do you think? Do you have experience with children who were denied access to their fathers from a young age? Were you a father denied access? Were you a child who lost their dad early on? What do you think of all these experts?

This is absurd. The child sleeps in the same house as the father 7 days a week prior to separation. When separation occurs, the Courts automatically grant one parent (usually the mother) "primary custody" status - if temporary. So this child goes from seeing a loving father seven nights a week, or 28-30 days per month, down to what? According to this article ZERO.

 THAT is traumatic. These people are not sincere.

when a child cries at night in A LOT of couples households, it's Dad who gets up and is there for the child. This is clearly not founded on any form of real science.

Limited, Flawed Study from McIntosh

A Response from Robert Franklin, Esq

The roll-back of shared parenting laws in Australia is barely two weeks old, when this "Shared custody a mistake for the under-2s, say guidelines" appears (Sydney Morning Herald, 12/15/11).

It seems that the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health has published guidelines, presumably for use by family court judges in deciding custody and visitation issues for children under the age of two.  The guidelines have no legal authority and there's no indication of who, if anyone, asked the Association to publish them.

In a nutshell, they say that divorced or separated fathers should have minimal contact with their children prior to the age of two.  Oh, they don't say fathers.  They employ the euphemism primary parent, but we all know who that is.  In Australia, over 90% of parents with primary custody are mothers.  According to the guidelines, that leaves dads out in the cold.

     Wayne Butler, executive secretary of the Shared Parenting
     Council of Australia, fears they will influence judge's rulings.

     When parents are together, they care for the babies on a shared
     basis, Mr Butler said.  
     There's no reason why there couldn't be reasonable overnight
     contacts [after separation] when the parents are co-operative.

Mr. Butler is right, of course.  From here on, there won't be a custody case in the country regarding a child under two, in which the mother's lawyer doesn't wave the guidelines in the judge's face.  That's because the guidelines say frankly that there should be only one primary parent during a child's first two years of life.  And we all know who that is  Mom.  According to the guidelines, overnight visits with the non-primary parent should be avoided unless necessary.  What necessary means in that context is left unexplained.

So, if the guidelines are implemented, what does Dad get?

The guidelines recommend that non-custodial parents, nine out of 10 of whom are fathers, should instead see children under two during the day, up to three times a week, gradually phasing in overnight visits after the second birthday.

So the guidelines recommend that dad should see Junior during the day, i.e. when Dad's at work earning to pay court-ordered child support.  As a practical matter, that means he sees his newborn rarely if ever until he/she is two and then he gets gradually phased into the child's life.

I don't know what planet the members of the Association inhabit, but the idea of that happening in the extremely anti-father world of Australian family courts would be laughable if it weren't so tragic.  The simple fact is that the guidelines will be used first to deny fathers real time with their newborn children.  Then, when the child reaches age two, courts will be told that Dad hasn't spent time with the child and so hasn't earned the right [that is does not have a meaningful relationship] to parent in the future.

Whether that's the intention of the Association, I don't know.  In the absence of such information, I'll attribute more benign motives to its members.  I'll say, until I know differently, that these people are academic researchers with an imperfect grasp of what actually happens in family courts, and let it go at that.

Amazingly, the guidelines are based on a single study completed in 2010 by Dr. Jennifer McIntosh and others.  Here it is.

If you have the time, it's an interesting read, mostly because its methodology and findings do little to back up the conclusions the Association drew.  The study deals with children from birth to five years old, with a special section devoted to those under two.  It sought to find out if those children undergo emotional stress from spending overnights with a non-custodial parent.  So it compares infants in intact families to those with various ranges of 'shared care'.  Some of the non-custodial parents had essentially no contact with their child.  Others had between one and 11 overnight visits per year; still others had 1  3 nights per month; another group had 1  2 nights per week and the final group had up to five nights every two weeks.

The researchers gathered data in three areas  whether the child had been sick (with wheezing), its level of irritability and its level of visual monitoring of the primary parent.  Wheezing seems to be a proxy for anxiety, while monitoring the parent seems to indicate stress.

Now, all that is very worthwhile, but the study has some very obvious flaws and weaknesses, many of which are acknowledged in its write-up.  For example, the sample surveyed is tiny; only 258 children were considered.  But of those, 174 (67.4%) had little or no contact with their fathers.  That means that the entire cohort of children studied who had one or more nights per week with their father numbered 63.

More important, was how the data were gathered.  The researchers asked the primary parent for her observations about whether the child appeared anxious, followed her with its eyes, cried easily and was difficult to comfort, and the like.  So, with the exception of illness, 100% of the data are subjective.  If a mother reads anxiety in her little one, that's what she reported.  If not, she didn't.  But there was no effort to quantify or objectify any of the observations.  Mothers projecting their own anxieties were treated the same as those who werent.  The researchers might be able to make a case for that methodology if the cohort of subjects had been large, but it wasn't.  That means errors in gathering and recording data could have resulted in significant errors in the conclusions drawn.

Not only that, but no non-custodial parents were interviewed about their observations of the children they cared for.  That's right, not one.  Of course almost all of the non-custodial parents of the children in the study were fathers.  If I read the data correctly a grand total of two fathers contributed information to the researchers out of the non-intact families.

Do the researchers think that might inject a bit of gender bias into their findings?  If they do they don't let on about it.  And when you consider it, that's a strange way to conduct a study.  After all, many of these fathers had almost no contact with their children, but 83 of them had a fair amount.  That means they were available to the researchers to be asked their views on their children's level of stress or contentment.  But they weren't asked.

Morerover, the mothers who took part in the survey bear little resemblance to Australians generally.  For example, from 0% to 3.39% of the mothers worked full-time, while 78%  83% worked not at all.  An astonishing 79%  90% of the mothers relied on government support for their income.  The mothers with infants under the age of two were overwhelmingly poor, underemployed and undereducated.

All that and more raise the obvious question were the babies stressed because they spent the night with their non-custodial parent or because their custodial parent was stressed? It's a question the researchers neither asked nor answered.

Worse, if their data supports their conclusion, I can't see it.  There seem to be significantly fewer children ill with wheezing who are in the exclusive care of their primary parent than those with more non-custodial parent contact.  But whether wheezing actually is a proxy for anxiety or not looks like an open question.

But on the other two markers, irritability and visual monitoring, significant differences aren't present at all.  Go to page 133 of the study and the two charts indicate only tiny differences among the four groups of parental arrangements.  Indeed, children with one or more overnights per week are exactly as irritable as those in intact families.  But the overwhelming conclusion is that keeping fathers out of the lives of their infants affects their stress level slightly if at all.

The researchers don't notice it, but their findings could argue as strongly for breaking up intact families and turning over the infants to mothers as well as they do for keeping fathers out of the children's lives. [This repeats the flaws of McIntosh's previously discredited study "A Cautionary Tale against shared care" in which her contraindications precluded shared care in the married relationship. This of course exposes her bias and real agenda]

At the end of the study, the researchers take pains to point out its limitations and argue for more research to be done to iron out the wrinkles in their work [then why publish?].  One of the obvious problems they acknowledge is that parents who pass off children to each other for overnights may do so because the children are irritable, stressed and the parents need a break.  That is, the researchers may have mistaken an effect for a cause.

In short, this is a single study and a small one with many obvious flaws.  But that didn't stop the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health from bootstrapping it into a set of guidelines that likely will result in the separation of still more fathers from their children.  That may or may not have been the intention, but it will probably be the result.

Perhaps the last word should come from a parent who's lived what the experts are recommending.

     Caring for a toddler alone can be a tremendous burden, Bunny
     Banyai, co-author of frank
     new parenting book "Sh*t On My Hands", said. Her daughter
     Clementine was 18 months old when Ms Banyai separated and it was
     decided she was too little for overnight stays with dad. But now
     Ms Banyai regrets it.

     I was almost psychotic with tiredness and so my relationship
     with my daughter suffered, she said. She was pining for her
     dad.
I have tried to contact the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health to find out more about the study, the reasons for its release as an authoritative document on the subject and in particular, who the clinicians are that belong to and purport to put these studies together and to find out what some of the quite extraordinary claims such as "Overnight visits with the non-primary parent should be avoided unless necessary" actually mean.

So far no one has responded to my requests for contact nor are there any phone numbers published on their web site that will enable me to make contact. My colleague Michael Green QC is also quite perplexed as to the basis used to release this guideline and we are both looking further into this matter.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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A couple of web blogs worth having a read from Robert Whinston in the UK who is following events in Australia.

McIntosh  has she gone walkabout ?

- is there something inherently aboriginal in the behaviour of Jennifer McIntosh ?

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/shared-custody-a-mistake-for-the-under2s-say-guidelines-20111214-1ouy6.html

There are some newspaper stories that you just couldn't invent, even if you were a habitual acid user.

Take for instance, Australia's Sydney Morning Heralds coverage of everyone's best friend, Jennifer McIntosh (Shared custody a mistake for the under-2s, say guidelines, Dec 15th 2011).

Apparently, spending time away from home is bad for babies and any child under 2.

Who was aware babies and under two years olds had such a good memory that they would be adversely affected the following week or in later life ?  We all should have known better.  Of course, all babies know immediately from the day they are born which house is their home. What rot.

Jennifer McIntosh shields herself from derision by using the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health as her conduit to get her message across  she passes the bullets and they pull the trigger.

The Australian Association for Infant Mental Health (AAIMH) in their guidelines for protecting the very young child's sense of comfort and security is quoted as saying:

    Prior to the age of two years, overnight time away from the primary care-giver should be avoided, unless necessary
    Separated parents should not share custody of babies or toddlers under two, according to guidelines released this week by AAIMH, a national infant welfare group.

Does the AAIMH suggest prohibiting two week long holidays (vacations), or  visits to friends for the weekend ?

What about spending time with grandparents ? Is that deemed too destabilising for the child as well ?

This is madness when put into the context of a married couple and it makes equal nonsense when put into the context of a separating couple. The one thing a child needs is consistency and that includes seeing, in all its manifestations, each parent. To pervert consistancy into meaning a straightjacket of never leaving home under any circumstances is too silly for words.

Through a babys eyes how are separated parents any different from married parents ? Is it in the child's best interests to discriminate ?

We are forever being told (In Australia the Attorney General Robert McClellan) that a child needs both parents, yet this AAIMH view (aka McIntosh view) contradicts all that and for political reasons, one suspects.

    Handicapped by numerical skills

Spinsters have an idealised view of motherhood. The truth of the matter is that sooner or later all mothers, from time immemorial, get frazzled looking after children. There are times when they come under an unrelenting string of screaming, sleepless night, vomiting, diarrhea, falling over, taking out all the dirty laundry that has just been loaded into the washing etc, etc. At such times kids are a pain in the bum and mothers look forward to some relief and a break from them. To share custody of babies helps keep Mums from losing their rag (temper) and keeps them more sane (balanced).

AAIMHs recommendations regarding infant custody guidelines are based on a 2010 study of shared custody by clinical psychologist Dr Jennifer McIntosh.

Even if we were to assume that McIntosh was the worlds foremost clinical psychologist (a stretch, I know, and which she is clearly not), one would have to shoot her down on her lack of numerical skills. You really cant be taken seriously if your data is based on a sample of 258 children in less than 200 families and spans only results from a 4 year period.

To be taken seriously McIntosh would have to assemble at least 1,000 families and study material from 7 to 10 years.

Economics is the only social science to handle number competently and even they dont get it right all the time. Psychologists and social workers should stick to what they think they know best, and leave the numbers to statisticians and actuaries.

    Mechanistic approach

Anyone who has had children, or grandchildren, knows the inconsequential nature of McIntosh's alleged finding in 2010 that:

    . . . . babies under two years who lived one or more overnights a week with both parents were significantly stressed.

Babies and infants under two years of age can be said to be stressed every day of the week, to a greater or lesser extent, and for all sorts of reasons  real and imagined. They are not electric motors that purr away quietly in the background so long as they are topped-up with milk and regularly changed.

If McIntosh wants us to believe her conclusions she should give the newspaper the reasons why she concludes that:

     . . . .  in their general day-to-day behaviour, these babies were more irritable and worked much harder to monitor the presence and to stay close to their primary parent than babies who had less or no overnight time away from their primary caregiver.

What is McIntosh actually measuring here ? The price children pay for having separated parents ? Or a mother who goes out to work versus an unemployed Single other Household ? A caring Dad, or a mother that doesnt want Dad around much ?

Even Bowlby would be pushed to support her claims  and he is old school.

What is  irritability in a baby ?  How can it be measured ?  Has it escaped her notice that in such a small sample size she could just have been unlucky and not achieved a representative cross section ?

The world has already had to withstand the whirlwind of a destructive woman with wrong-headed ideas when placed in a position of influence. Look no further than Anna Freud. She wrecked her best friends family and then went on to destroy millions of other families worldwide with her ideas of the primary carer (see on this blog site  Anna Freud: Part 1  Part  3,  Anna Freud: Part 1 – ‘Her secret failure’ | Robert Whiston)

    Epiphany

Most fathers would agree with Bunny Banyais rather late conversion to shared parenting:

    I was almost psychotic with tiredness and so my relationship with my daughter suffered,.
    She was pining for her dad.

Her frank new parenting book Sh*t On My Hands tells it as it is (no doubt her sequel will be Vomit Down My Bra). One can safely assume that McIntosh has never been anywhere never that state of tiredness.

When her daughter Clementine was 18 months old Ms. Banyai separated from the childs father and it was decided (this can often be a euphemism for the mothers gate-keeping powers) that she was too young for overnight stays with her Dad. But now a wiser Ms Banyai regrets it.

Wayne Butler has it about right. As executive secretary of the Shared Parenting Council of Australia, he recognises that the guidelines have no legal weight but the fear is that they will be used to influence judges rulings.

    When parents are together, they care for the babies on a shared basis. There's no reason why there couldn't be reasonable overnight contacts [after separation] when the parents are co-operative.

It has been a long-standing contention by some commentators that the weakest link in the Family Court regime is the judges themselves. They have far too little training on family matters and that training which they do receive is from a pre-ordained world view not dissimilar to McIntoshs.

Judges in other countries manage to do what Anglo-Saxon societies think of as a most heinous of act, namely, dividing equally the custody of children from birth.

If as Caroline Counsel believes, who is president of the Law Institute of Victoria, there are no hard-and-fast rules about custody. Lets give it a fair go. As she so neatly sums it up:

     There are some children that manage well and some who really struggle.

Why make those that manage well pay the price for the very small minority of those who dont ? Why should children from separated parents be further disadvantaged by not having access to their other parent, aka their father ?

END

I also recommend those who have a more detailed interest in this subject review this blog post. In fact the statistics although old have been more recently updated and show mothers, new boyfriends and new de facto partners of separated mothers are the main contributors to child murder and manslaughter offences.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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It may be the result of the funding wars-psychologists are looking for an in to higher wages. In a recent childrens court case, I had already assessed the psychologist as incompetent from reading her report months previously. At the end of the court day the crown solicitor suggested that the next medic to be used be a psychiatrist. I had months before previously warned the welfare dept supervisor to use psychaitrists, not psychologists.

Under oath, I questioned the person and 'it' admitted 'it' was almost the first day on the job and fresh out of uni and acting as pscycholigist in an important case. Several weeks before hand the court registrar had said to myself that questioning of their "expert witnesses" was not allowed. After a short chat, that registrar said I could ask questions. The child examined had on a number of occasions begged the psycholgst to stop the sexual styled questioning. Under the guidelines provided by the welfare dept of another state, that psychologist had unnecessarily traumatised the little child and could be charged with sexual assault. First day on the job eh.

There are child exploitationists in Australia that make money through govt funding and public donations. They upset the psyche, then put their and out for the cash. Because of those types, funding for the real helpers does not arrive. We are living in a very corrupt country.

Obviously. some dads will fiind looking after newborns 24/7 easy, and some would be better off with shorter contact. It is the sort of thing that perhaps cannot be legislated, other than the obvious-that all should have the opportunity. Yes, it does help if the two parents can communicate on the daily issues. However, as always, only the rich or the lucky recieve justice.

Making a name for yourself of the backs of little kids is so easy, and those that are not seeking to do that end up getting defamed.

Guest

Hmm… Dare I bring up the idea that overnight visits should be in line with the baby's needs? For example if a 'baby' (under 2) is breast feeding then it would be sometime before overnights could happen.

However if the baby is bottle feed and the mother and father are willing then the baby could possibly do overnights.

I do not believe however that a mother should be forced to express for the sole reason being that the father can have overnight visits or that a baby should be bottle feed for the sole reason of overnight visits either. The decision to bottle feed or breast feed should be made with the infants best in mind for health reasons not overnight visit reasons.

Thoughts…for particularly 0-9mths and 9-18mths and 18-24mths???
Summary of issues and interesting comments on this issue that I have received or seen in posts:
Parents cooperate in parenting babies when they are together but as soon as they separate then one parent must be excluded.

Babies sleep a lot, especially at night!

Why can't dads do a night feed?

Dads are working all day so how is the suggestion of three days a week going to work?
Who was aware babies and under two years olds had such a good memory that they would be adversely affected the following week or in later life ?  We all should have known better.  Of course, all babies know immediately from the day they are born which house is their home. What rot.

The Australian Association for Infant Mental Health (AAIMH) in their guidelines for protecting the very young child's sense of comfort and security is quoted as saying:
Prior to the age of two years, overnight time away from the primary care-giver should be avoided, unless necessary and Separated parents should not share custody of babies or toddlers under two, according to guidelines released this week by AAIMH, a national infant welfare group.

Does the AAIMH suggest prohibiting two week long holidays (vacations), or  visits to friends for the weekend ?

What about spending time with grandparents ? Is that deemed too destabilising for the child as well ?

How does the AAIMH and Jennifer McIntosh respond to the large numbers of mothers who put their babies into long term day care for up to 12 hours at a time week days. Does a child care worker get some special privileged treatment over a father?

Through a baby's eyes how are separated parents any different from married parents ? Is it in the child's best interests to discriminate ?

You really cant be taken seriously if your data is based on a sample of 258 children in less than 200 families and spans only results from a 4 year period.

 . . . . babies under two years who lived one or more overnights a week with both parents were significantly stressed.
Babies and infants under two years of age can be said to be stressed every day of the week, to a greater or lesser extent, and for all sorts of reasons  real and imagined. They are not electric motors that purr away quietly in the background so long as they are topped-up with milk and regularly changed.

McIntosh should give the reasons why she concludes that:
     . . . .  in their general day-to-day behaviour, these babies were more irritable and worked much harder to monitor the presence and to stay close to their primary parent than babies who had less or no overnight time away from their primary caregiver.

What is McIntosh actually measuring here ? The price children pay for having separated parents ? Or a mother who goes out to work versus an unemployed Single other Household ? A caring Dad, or a mother that doesn't want Dad around much ?

What is  irritability in a baby ?  How can it be measured ?  Has it escaped her notice that in such a small sample size she could just have been unlucky and not achieved a representative cross section ?

The child sleeps in the same house as the father 7 days a week prior to separation. When separation occurs, the Courts automatically grant one parent (usually the mother) "primary custody" status - if temporary. So this child goes from seeing a loving father seven nights a week, or 28-30 days per month, down to what? According to this article ZERO.

"Overnight visits with the non-primary parent should be avoided unless necessary" What does unless necessary actually mean? Is it covert speak for exclude fathers at all costs?

Commentary and supposedly authoritative reports as flawed as this give rise to bad social policy, flawed and prejudicial legislation.

Jennifer Mcintosh needs to get out there amongst real families.

Dads relegated to same negative playing field as a TV set:
Media from the the American Academy of Pediatrics says, whether playing in the background or designed explicitly as an infant educational tool, have potentially negative effects and no known positive effects for children younger than 2 years, concluded the AAPs report, released Oct. 18 at the Academys annual meeting in Boston and scheduled for November publication in the journal Pediatrics.

From here on, there won't be a custody case in the country regarding a child under two, in which the mother's lawyer doesn't wave the guidelines in the judge's face.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
And then in a short news item this morning on the radio, they mentioned a study into breast feeding in Australia. The recommendation is to feed until at least 6 months but that rate has been falling.

And the reason given by mothers, yes mothers, is that they want the fathers to be involved in feeding as well.

Interesting, one group is happy for fathers to be involved in the care of their children and on the other side of the divide, well, enough said.
When mental health professionals offer opinions that obviously violate logic, common experience, and common sense the possibility of intellectual dishonesty cannot be ruled out. While Jennifer McIntosh may argue that overnight contact harms infants it is there that her case rests:

"Infants and toddlers often sleep away from their mothers and away from their home cribs. They sleep in prams, car seats, bassinets, and parent's arms. They sleep in day care, in church, and in grandparents' homes. Any married couple that takes a holiday in the first few years of their child's life leaves the child in someone else's care. Clinicians do not routinely advise parents against taking such holidays. If infants can tolerate sleeping away from both parents during nap time at day care centres, on what basis can it be argued that sleeping away from one parent, in the familiar home of the other parent, would harm children? They cannot provide no basis for assuming that the children could tolerate different surroundings while awake but could not tolerate such surroundings while they are asleep and mostly unaware of their environment."
 
Warshak R A. (2000) Blanket Restrictions: Overnight Contact Between Parents And Young Children.4 (38) Family and Conciliation Courts Review. pp. 422-445

Further, "Misguided attempts to facilitate healthy mother-infant relationships, based on a faulty understanding of attachment theory, may instead erect unnecessary obstacles to father-child relationships.

The opinion that children can tolerate sleeping during the day in their father's presence, and in the presence of a hired attendant in a day-care center, but not at night with their father, cannot be said to express a scientific judgment. It reveals a bias often rooted in inaccurate assumptions about early child development. Experts who endorse blanket restrictions cannot provide adequate scientific justification for their opinions. Courts, attorneys, and parents should be aware of such limitations. "
 
ERROR: A link was posted here (url) but it appears to be a broken link.
I highly recommend a visit to Professor Warshak's website and read the Excerpts from BLANKET RESTRICTIONS - CR21


What a load of hogwash!!

I've spent the last 2.5 years raising a baby with my wife and it's pretty clear the father and mother play different but essential roles in the child's life. The loss of a biological parent is devastating to a child.

If a parent threatens the court they can-not/will-not support the child's relationship with the other parent, they a not a fit parent and the court should order psychological assessment.

If you look at her website http://www.familytransitions.com.au/Family_Transitions/Family_Transitions.html
you might think Jenny would be a reasonable person in these matters.

However I think she is taking advantage of the gravy train and making the most of it to further her career. The same goes for Flood and his cronies. There's no money or funding in being an anti-profeminist.

It's pretty sad it has come to this as Fathers only want to continue parenting their kids. They are not trying to exclude the other parent from the child's life.
I have a question for the 'experts' that wrote this report and all the mother's that then support the above… Why is it ok then for Nan, Pop, Aunty whomever to 'babysit' the child so you can have a 'night out' with 'friends' to 'remember that your a human and not just a mum' BUT it isn't ok for the child to spend the night with Dad to grow a significant bond?

My ex husband and I used to have Nan or a friend look after the kids ever now and again so we could go out and have some grown up 'us' time to try and strengthen our relationship - were we in the wrong?

Doesn't having a child spend 24/7 with one person then create separation issues?
There are a number of good points made here.  However, I don't think anyone is suggesting that having grandma mind the baby overnight is going to do permanant damage and to suggest that is being dramatic.  

It is important to remember that courts don't usually make parenting arrangements for parents who co-operate with each other.  Co-operative parents make their own arrangements following a separation and usually find what works for the kids, roughly speaking.  Courts deal with higher conflict cases and it is in these cases where the child's interests are paramount.  In these type of high conflict cases it could be argued that a baby or infant, who is cognitively vulnerable, may be more settled in a regular, routine, predictable environment and this is the reason that decisions are often made to restict over nights/shared care while the child is very young.  Situations can arise were one parent manages the infant one way and the other has an entirely different approach.  This can result in infants having little consistency to their routine which can result in sleeping and feeding difficulties.  Not to say it is inevitable, just that having feuding parents sharing the care of an infant can lead to real problems for the little one.

Research into the area of shared care of very young children is very difficult.  No experimentation is possible, and so observational and correlational studies are all that can be relied on largely, and these of course introduce confounding variables.  What is the alternative?  If parents can co-operate post separation then they can make up their own arrangements, but if they want a court to make a decision it should come as no surprise that a court will make a conservative decision when dealing with babies and infants.



April I'm not sure if you are addressing the topic of this thread or not but I will point out, whether they live together or not, it's normal for parents to have different parenting styles. You have a point re conflict  between parents however I think the issue here is the  general position taken regardless the status of conflict between parents.
April,

Do you work with Jenn McIntosh?

I say this because your ideas are very similar. I have posted a letter I have sent to the new Attorney General about her work because she seems to be making the same mistakes Dr John Bowlby made in the 1950's. His theories of 'maternal deprivation' ie that it was wrong to take a small child away from the mother, and 'monotropy' are both discredited but her work includes a recent interview with his son! You can see this letter on the THREAD at;-

PART ONE; Australian Family Law: The contribution of Dr Jennifer McIntosh and Dr John Bowlby

Your reference on this THREAD to lack of research shows the same understanding about the work of Professor Sir Michael Rutter which undermines Jenn McIntosh's work. In my letter I point out it is also based on a 'Bowlby - Ainsworth paradigm' which is very similar to your own view. Was Jenn McIntosh born in APRIL?

Apropos, I have put a link to  two videos I have made on the seminal research Professor Sir Michael Rutter did on Separation and Conflict at;-

VIDEOS - PARENT-CHILD SEPARATION: PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS ON THE CHILDREN Rutter, M.

In our previous dialogue you seemed to know a lot about Bowlby and Ainsworth so I assumed you were in education eg teacher. But your replies on the forum are usually so prompt and reflect the current arguments you must be working in mediation or close to the topic. Please put me out of my misery. (I have sent Jenn McIntosh a copy of my letter  to the Attorney General but she is on LEAVE).

Yours Sincerely,

kip

Kingsley Miller is the author of 'even Toddlers Need Fathers', a critique of the principle of 'Maternal Deprivation' as applied in family courts, which Professor Sir Michael Rutter described as an, 'interesting and informative guide'. He has also received a letter from Buckingham Palace stating, 'It was thoughtful of you to enclose a copy of your book 'even Toddlers Need Fathers' and Her Majesty has noted your concerns'.
I think Aprils post was excellent in response to the criticisms of the Australian Association for Infant Mental Healths guidelines and certainly resound with my experience. Lets not forget that the Association is affiliated with The World Association for Infant Mental Health. These are professionals in their field and are not interested in a gender debate within the realms of family law, nor are they interested in sexual stereotypes.  They are experts that study and promote best practice in infant mental health.



Any woman that has had to deal with small infants enduring extended periods (ievernights) away from the primary attachment figure, their familiar surrounds and routines knows that the consequences are that the child is extremely unsettled afterwards. I guess in most instances the fathers dont see this because they are not there. However I am sure they experience the negative consequence of the child missing the mother. Add to the mix the stress of a highly conflictual relationship between the parents and it all adds up to everyone being very unhappy, which at the baby and infant stages can have lasting and detrimental effects on the children.


The reality is that the mother IS the central psychological figure in babies and infants lives, and men just have to get over this and accept that this is the inherent and natural biological consequence due to gestation and breast feeding.



My own experience of this is that I tried, in vain, to get the ex to maintain HIS attachment to our two children when we separated when they were very small. He was working from home at the time and so the children saw him very regularly. He appeared to think that his role, duty and responsibility as a parent was somehow diminished once we physically left. He didnt seem to have any understanding nor desire to have a really good think about how we were going to manage a succesfull co-parenting relationship that would put the care and mental health of the children first. He just came and went, demanded to take them as he pleased, sometimes with weeks gone in between. The kids were extremely unsettled and unhappy as a result and showed signs of regression. My efforts to engage him in discussions about the mental health of the kids fell on deaf ears and were seen by him as me attempting to control him. So from my personal experience, my studies in the field and anecdotal evidence from other women that have been in the same situation, I fully support the guidelines and I would tend to listen to the world experts in Infant Mental Health over and above the law fraternity.

http://www.aaimhi.org/inewsfiles/AAIMHI_Guideline_1_-_Infants_and_overnight_care_post_separation_and_divorce.pdf
Samba - not all men are like your ex and I'm sure not all women are like you. (thank God) Even 20 years ago in Psychology 101 classes they were saying that a baby only needed one good attachment to establish trust, and it didn't need to be with the mother!
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