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Dr Jennifer McIntosh and Dr John Bowlby - The debate

Family Law SECOND LETTER to Attorney-General Re Dr Jennifer McIntosh and Dr John Bowlby - The debate

I think that would be self evident using this as a guide. http://www.aaimhi.org/inewsfiles/AAIMHI_Guideline_1_-_Infants_and_overnight_care_post_separation_and_divorce.pdf

And at no point does it say anything about no contact up until the age of three.
Samba said
I think that would be self evident using this as a guide. http://www.aaimhi.org/inewsfiles/AAIMHI_Guideline_1_-_Infants_and_overnight_care_post_separation_and_divorce.pdf

And at no point does it say anything about no contact up until the age of three.
 
Yes we have already seen that guide a few times and in a couple of forums.  Perhaps you could you actually assist the Sec in answering the question he actually asked?  Which had to do with suggestions of a possible framework of what to do, not one of what not to do as these guidelines cover! 

"Never, "for the sake of peace and quiet," deny your own experience or convictions". Dag Hammarskjold
I needed help with my case and couldn't afford a lawyer and found these guys invaluable  srl-resources.org
Samba said
…..
And at no point does it say anything about no contact up until the age of three.
Posted in the thread comments relating to  and coming 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 over nights 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 over nights with fathers. No empirical support has sustained
 these recommendations, including the research of psychologists Judith Solomon and Carol George…
The guideline issued by the AAIMHI is unhelpful and does nothing to enhance father interaction with young children. What I am seeking in this forum is an authoritative guideline that will facilitate an INCLUSION statement for fathers not exclusion of fathers and the farming out of infants to everyone and sundry except the father simply because the mother "Can".

The guide line does not help in court where I have one parent wanting to exclude the other from the child's life, or do I just simply "go with the flow" tell the other parent to come back when the child is three or older. By then its all over. I don't think so…

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
 
Hype is just hype. I once wrote an idea, and a few years later a group of aussies claimed that one of them had travelled overseas, came back and thought of that idea, and claimed it was a consensus of all the real professionals in Australia, then took out the one absolutely necessary component. Fast forward several years, and Australians went against the fake plan-so much for it being the only way it could work.  That rubbish got shown up for what it was. The stealing of intellectual property rights for material gain. Bet they got plenty of funding and donations in the meantime.

Australians have plenty of intellectuals. We can also be world's best.

The argument still comes down to hands on good parenting in any age group is worthwhile.
Secretary SPCA, I appreciate your concerns but I believe things are not so bleak.  It is not all over the time a child is 3. It is just beginning…

There is a huge variation in the developmental stage at which mammals are born.  Some like elephants and horses are born good to go and ready for their environment.

Others like pandas and humans are not born ready for the world and the first few months of their life is like an extension to gestation.  As these babies grow into toddlers they frequently do their own thing.  They might pull things out of a cupboard, stick their fingers in things or wander off on their own to explore.  They smile laugh and seek comfort from those around them, but babies and toddlers are NOT seeking interpersonal relationships as children and teenagers do.  In fact too much interaction with a littlie can over stimulate them and make it difficult for them to settle or sleep.  At this young age they need consistent care and a predictable environment.

As these babies grow into children they become much more interested in relationships with others.  It is at this stage that kids often want to spend more time with their fathers.  Older children with divorced parents (especially boys) may express a desire to spend more time with or live with their fathers as they grow out of their need for their mothers care (if she has been the primary carer).  The point I am making is kids need their parents for different purposes at different stages of their lives.  The other point I am trying to make is that it is hard to push against biological evolution in one or two generations.

In a post separation situation care patterns FOR BABIES should ideally stay as similar to what they were before separation because this would be the arrangement which would be most easy on the infant.  There is a temptation to think that the baby was handled by both parents before so lets just keep doing that.  This is a valid point.  However, it is not that dad is now a problem, it is the frequent change of environment and routine which is required for baby to spend significant time with both parents at this young stage which is the problem. Things are also more complicated when mum is breast feeding the baby.

One way dads and mums could both be involved after separation is for the baby to stay in one home and the parents to swap back and forth.  Another would be for one parent to do all the days and the other to do all the nights.  Both these ideas require parents to be co-operative, supportive and live near each other and for both of the parents to have been very hands on prior to separation.

The reality is courts dont deal with these types of cases.  It would be hard to justify a court ordering a baby or infant into shared care when the littlie has only had one main carer in the past.  The reason is there is nothing EXTRA to be gained FOR THE BABY in doing so and it would tax the cognitive resources of the infant to be put in that situation.  The parents definitely gain, one gets a break and the other gets more time with the infant.  However if one parent has not been the primary carer prior to separation then what is the point FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE INFANT to change that after separation?  From the infants point of view they need to have their needs met in a predictable consistent way.  They dont care about interpersonal relationships.  They are the centre of their own world.  Many of them have security objects like blankies and stuffed toys.  Constantly changing their environment and routine is like regularly removing their security object from them.

Babies, infants and toddlers most definitely need both mum and dad.  After separation it is a hard time for dad to keep in the little ones life if the mother is over protective of the baby.  The approach that would be most SUCCESSFUL FOR DADS is for them to offer support to the mother of the infant.  Where fathers threaten legal action to have their rights upheld the over protective mother is more likely to withdraw contact with the baby.  A smarter approach is to frequently remind the mother that the father is a source of support for her and suggestions of dropping over to take baby for a walk in the pusher to give mum a break would be more likely to be met with a positive response than requests to take the baby away to another house.

I know this sounds unfair for men who work to pay child support but get only a few hours a week with their baby.  It is also hard for mums who work hard and make sacrifices to be parents to small children only to have those kids prefer to live with dad when they are older.
April will you give your child to someone else for 3 years, with only occasional visits and wait until that child is 3 years old before trying to be a parent to that child. Do You think that the child will then have a great bond with you and you with them?
However if one parent has not been the primary carer prior to separation then what is the point FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE INFANT to change that after separation?  From the infants point of view they need to have their needs met in a predictable consistent way.  They dont care about interpersonal relationships.  They are the centre of their own world.  Many of them have security objects like blankies and stuffed toys.  Constantly changing their environment and routine is like regularly removing their security object from them.

Whats the definition of constantly? would it hurt if a baby/ toddler (after breast feeding) spent one night per month with the father, plus regular days through the month? Only wondering cause as a single mum, I used to leave my baby with my mum over night every fortnight for a break. It certainly didn't seem to do either her or I any harm, think the break made me a better parent. In-fact I think my daughter has a special bond with my mother because of it. I can understand their being an argument against weekly upheavals in a babies life but what about less regular occasional over nights?  
I was in a situation where my ex didn't want me to have shared custody of my 3yr old as she believed it was "in the child's best interest" to be with her because she was the mother.  That didn't stop her:

  • Leaving my daughter at her mums house every Friday night so that she could go out with her friends.
  • Putting my daughter in crche EVERY day for 2hrs while she went to the gym.
  • Sending my daughter to day care so she could "get time to herself"
This is the problem with the mentality that an infant should automatically spend more time with their mother; it based on financial grounds, not the child's best interest.

BTW, my ex isn't a "special case" and her actions aren't "out of the ordinary".  She hung around with a group of 9 mothers who went out together on Friday's, went to the gym together, and put their kids into day care for some "free time"
Kalimnadancer- yes I would go without seeing my child for 3 years, expect for occasional visits, if I thought it was for the benefit of the child.  It would break my heart but I could put my child's needs before my own if needed.

Bonding is not the same as attachment.  Infants can bond to many people, but usually exhibit attachment behaviour toward one person.


Frenzy - yes what you are suggesting is a good idea.  However, if your baby was teething or sick and very clingy toward you at some stages did you still send him/her to your mums?  The problem is when courts decide when the contact time should be it puts the onus on the infant to fit in with the parents.  Sometimes the infant wants to be with its attachment figure but this would be prevented if court ordered time was strictly adhered to and did not take into account that sometimes the infant goes through clingy stages where separation from the attachment figure presents more of a problem (i.e. when sick).

haknbakr - what your ex is doing is not good.  The best way to deal with it is to reduce conflict with her, try to be polite and supportive of her.  That is hard and you shouldn't have to do that in an ideal world, but if you want to see your child more and she is farming the child out then keep gently reminding her that you are happy to have the child on a Friday evening (or whenever) and communicate that to her in a positive friendly was.  If there is conflict she will withhold the child to punish you.  Totally wrong of her, but you can push it legally and make things harder on yourself or you can be smart and try to be very co-operative and agreeable with her and it might bring down the walls.

If she is not letting you have the child frequently because of financial gain, then tell her it won't affect her CS payments or whatever it is she wants to keep to herself.  Might cost you a bit more in the long run, but isn't it worth it?  Also your child will grow to see that you are able to put your issues aside for the child and that you are a considerate, selfless and reliable parent.
However, if your baby was teething or sick and very clingy toward you at some stages did you still send him/her to your mums?
Yes usually I did. My mum and step father were more then capable of dealing with a run of the mill illness. I didn't have a close relationship with my mum or my step father but as my daughters father was in jail I felt it in her best interest to have some kind of male figure in her life from an early age. My daughter started staying over night at my mums when 4 months old by the time she was 18 months old she spent every second weekend there.

If a baby/toddler is sick and needs to stay at home rather then go to the other parents, why can't the court set up a system which allows the resident parent obtain a medical certificate, excusing the contact. All parents have to deal with a clingy baby at some stage, should those who work not put their babies or toddlers in day care on 'clingy' days?
April said
haknbakr - what your ex is doing is not good.  The best way to deal with it is to reduce conflict with her, try to be polite and supportive of her.  That is hard and you shouldn't have to do that in an ideal world, but if you want to see your child more and she is farming the child out then keep gently reminding her that you are happy to have the child on a Friday evening (or whenever) and communicate that to her in a positive friendly was.  If there is conflict she will withhold the child to punish you.  Totally wrong of her, but you can push it legally and make things harder on yourself or you can be smart and try to be very co-operative and agreeable with her and it might bring down the walls.

If she is not letting you have the child frequently because of financial gain, then tell her it won't affect her CS payments or whatever it is she wants to keep to herself. Might cost you a bit more in the long run, but isn't it worth it? Also your child will grow to see that you are able to put your issues aside for the child and that you are a considerate, selfless and reliable parent.
 "be very co-operative and agreeable with her and it might bring down the walls" and "tell her it won't affect her CS payments"

Are you kidding?  Is this really your advice or are you just taking the micky out of me?  Why on earth would I want to support her (especially financially) and make her feel as if what she was doing was right and that she was a good parent?

What I actually did was the complete opposite. I reduced my support for her and made it VERY clear that she was a bad parent and what she was doing bordered on abuse.  I then threatened to take her to court to seek sole custody as it was obvious that her social life and financial incentives were more important than my daughters wellbeing.  Within 6 weeks I got 50% custody.  Now my daughter and I are very close and I didn't miss out on raising her and turning her into a little princess.  I also stopped her turing into another man-hater which generally happens when women bring up children and don't allow them to spend time whith their father.

I can just imagine how things would be now if I had given in and let her get away with what she was doing.  She'd be stating that because my daughter had been with her for so long, letting her spend time with me now would be too disruptive blah blah blah.  Thank god I didn't seek your advice earlier!

Last edit: by haknbakr

haknbakr said
 "be very co-operative and agreeable with her and it might bring down the walls".
No this is not always the case but is certainly always something that can be tried before meeting fire with fire and causing more acrimony. 

April - you tend to be talking I guess more about the difficulty for this age group in relation to the rigidity of Court Orders being detrimental to the baby/infant/toddler when they go through various developmental stages, health etc and could be more "clingy" to the primary attachment and that this would pose an issue for the child when no there is no flexibility by the parents to accommodate these situations. 

I'm just wondering if in such cases as this age group, when there are Court Orders, that the Orders themselves would be more flexible.  Meaning for example that rather than minimise the other parents time only to "day time" that the Orders would allow for say 1 overnight per week along with day time and that overnight would be change to a "day time" contact during those periods where the child does require the change.  I do realise that this could be abused by the primary carer but I guess I'm thinking that this alternative might be a better one than not even having it as an available option?   

"Never, "for the sake of peace and quiet," deny your own experience or convictions". Dag Hammarskjold
I needed help with my case and couldn't afford a lawyer and found these guys invaluable  srl-resources.org
Flexible orders along the lines of what you say CrazyWorld would be ideal.  The trouble is how to introduce flexibility into court orders.  For every residential parent that withholds contact there is a non-residential parent who insists on it as their right.  Court orders are sometimes used by these parents as a "certificate of entitlement to time" and could be used to threaten the other parent to hand over the baby when the baby is asleep or sick etc.

Please note, I am not proposing that mums automatically get "custody" and that dads don't count.  I would love to see a world where infants spend time with all the people who love them and I firmly do NOT believe that mums are the only ones equipped to raise a baby.  

The point here is how do you get a court to work out time for an infant when the parents wish to use the legal system rather than work together to work out post separation care of their infant.  The answer is the courts should protect the attachment relationship in littlies under 2 as its first priority.  Why? Because we know that infants with disrupted attachment often display behavioural problems and this needs to be avoided for the mental health of the infant. Emotional connections, bonding and relationships with others are not as important as preservation of the primary attachment relationship at that age and the courts will protect it. That is why it is better for dads of very young children to get into a co-operative relationship with the mother if she is the primary caregiver rather than taking her to court.

Mediation is compulsory in parenting matters precisely because if parents work out their own arrangements it is better for kids.  There is nothing stopping a mum and dad agreeing to shared care of an infant, but a court is very unlikely to order it.

The reason why things end up in court is because the mother refuses to let the father have contact or imposes their unrealistic demands on the father.

It has become difficult to ascertain whether a mother is pushing for majority or sole care because they generally believe it would be beneficial to child(ren) or whether they're doing it to get more child support, sole parent pension etc and using "a child's right to be with the mother" as an excuse to get more money.

It always amazes me that mothers state it's "too difficult to return to work" or "it's their maternal right" to stay at home with their child and not work however fathers are forced into working and in some instances made to work unrealistic hours or in jobs they don't want just to support their ex and keep the CSA off their back..

I believe that if mothers were given less financial support and were forced into paid work (like fathers), requests by mothers for majority or sole care would decrease and the number of cases appearing before the courts would also decrease.  If fathers are expected to work and look after children, mothers should be expected to do the same.  Allowing mothers to milk taxpayers and their ex's just because they'd rather stay home with their child and not do paid work is wrong and this sort of behaviour needs to be stamped out otherwise children will always be used as pawns to secure financial assistance.
April said
Flexible orders along the lines of what you say CrazyWorld would be ideal.  The trouble is how to introduce flexibility into court orders.
I think that's what the Sec was suggesting.  To try put together a framework (perhaps like the current guidelines in the CS handbook but for littlies) which includes a recommended contact schedule for this age group. Of course if parents can agree on their own arrangements that best suit their own littlies and them that would be idea.

Do these guidelines consider babies who have older siblings?  Does the babies time still need to follow these same guidelines if this is the case?  Would the Court Order 2 different schedules? i.e. one for the baby and one for the older siblings.  In such a scenario, where the Orders are not the same, could the different changeover patterns cause the same disruptions to the baby as is intended to be avoided?     I think these guidelines are far more complex than they appear. 

"Never, "for the sake of peace and quiet," deny your own experience or convictions". Dag Hammarskjold
I needed help with my case and couldn't afford a lawyer and found these guys invaluable  srl-resources.org
I  know of one case where shared care of a toddler (14 months old) was ordered by the court. It certainly wasn't 50/50, the father was granted 1 over night per fortnight. The father wanted every second weekend (friday till monday), the mother didn't want any over nights at all.

At first both parents were very bitter about the court outcome because neither got what they wanted but now 4.5 years later, all including the child concerned have adapted fairly well. when the child was 4 years old the one night was upped to 2, as the orders where designed to change as the child aged. Once the child started school then school holidays were split 50/50%.

Had the court protected the 'attachment relationship' as its 'first priority' because the parents didn't see eye to eye at that time, then this case may not have worked out as well as it has. Had this mother had a complete 'win' in stopping any over night contact then I think, based on her personality type, it could have empowered her to keep doing so as the child progressed beyond the age of 2 or 3.

I know every case doesn't work out like that above but there are cases where parents overcome the bitterness and adapt after orders are handed down. If courts were to have a blanket no over night rule, then they prolong the possibility of that happening.
Frenzy said
I  know of one case where shared care of a toddler (14 months old) was ordered by the court. It certainly wasn't 50/50, the father was granted 1 over night per fortnight. The father wanted every second weekend (friday till monday), the mother didn't want any over nights at all.

At first both parents were very bitter about the court outcome because neither got what they wanted but now 4.5 years later, all including the child concerned have adapted fairly well. when the child was 4 years old the one night was upped to 2, as the orders where designed to change as the child aged. Once the child started school then school holidays were split 50/50%.

Had the court protected the 'attachment relationship' as its 'first priority' because the parents didn't see eye to eye at that time, then this case may not have worked out as well as it has. Had this mother had a complete 'win' in stopping any over night contact then I think, based on her personality type, it could have empowered her to keep doing so as the child progressed beyond the age of 2 or 3.

I know every case doesn't work out like that above but there are cases where parents overcome the bitterness and adapt after orders are handed down. If courts were to have a blanket no over night rule, then they prolong the possibility of that happening.
 

This is a great example of why the mentality of "the child should stay with the mother and the father should have no overnight custody" is so wrong and why people who preach this sort of tripe need to get back in their box and stop spreading lies.
I guess what you are saying April is that regardless of what arrangements those co-operative parents choose, even if they might not support these guidelines, that at the end of the day the  Court is still going to be conservative when making various contact arrangements for this age group.   Which does in hindsight make a lot of sense (I recant my previous not thought out post) 

btw I am finding your posts quite interesting April so please keep them coming     

"Never, "for the sake of peace and quiet," deny your own experience or convictions". Dag Hammarskjold
I needed help with my case and couldn't afford a lawyer and found these guys invaluable  srl-resources.org
These are quotes from Jennifer McIntosh, taken from the la trobe uni website
In infants under two, the study showed that overnight care with the non-resident parent once or more a week was independently associated with high irritability and more vigilant efforts by the infant to watch and stay near the resident parent.
So why can't the courts take a conservative, once a month or fortnight approach to over night care. Where are the studies that prove that a lesser amount of over night care would in fact harm infants? Has anyone actually looked into the effects of less then one night per week?

In children aged two to three, shared care at five or more nights per fortnight was associated with lower levels of persistence playing continuously, staying with tasks, practicing new skills, coping with interruption - and more problematic behaviour - crying or hanging on to the resident parent, high anxiety, being frequently upset; eating disturbances and aggressive behaviour.
Same again, where are the studies showing that less then 5 nights per fortnight would be harmful. Where is the evidence that granting the non resident parent a conservative 2 nights a fortnight/month is harmful?
April said
For every residential parent that withholds contact there is a non-residential parent who insists on it as their right.  Court orders are sometimes used by these parents as a "certificate of entitlement to time" and could be used to threaten the other parent to hand over the baby when the baby is asleep or sick etc.

I do not believe that you could possibly substantiate that it is the case that for every residential parent that withholds contact that there is a non-residential parent who insists on "it" as a right. Not that you have clarified what the "it" is. Although I guess that you mean contact. For instance, assuming that you are only talking about babies/infants many parents will not have any court orders upon which they can insist on it being met. What you imply is not the case and is an over exaggeration. In fact I doubt that you could even substantiate this as happening rarely if at all and that is even if you amended what you have said to include the existence of court orders as a condition.

April said
Bonding is not the same as attachment.  Infants can bond to many people, but usually exhibit attachment behaviour toward one person.
You appear to be saying that an infant cannot bond with only one person and that bonding is only to multiple persons. I dispute that this is in fact the case and that an infant can bond with just one person. However, you have also acknowledged that infants can attach with multiple persons. You have appeared, due to the lack of any other explanation of the difference, to try to make the difference between bonding and attachment the number of persons. I believe that the difference is not the number of persons and that the number of persons is irrelevant to the difference between bonding and attachment.

April said
 The answer is the courts should protect the attachment relationship in littlies under 2 as its first priority.
Again I believe that you are wrong and in some situations seriously so. Would a child be better off having an attachment maintained to an abuser of the child that eventually leads to that child suffering harm or as in some cases death rather than facing separation anxiety (if that's the correct term). I'd suggest that it would not and therefore in such a situation the courts should most certainly not protect the attachment as it's first priority. Exactly what are the harms of separation anxiety? Surely what the harms are should be considered and as previously suggested placed into order accordingly rather than being assumed as always being the first priority. Otherwise, it appears that you or someone you are paraphrasing or quoting, must consider that it would be OK for a baby or infant to die or suffer other harms rather than have it face separation anxiety.

As such April, I believe that what you are saying has fundamental flaws, some of which I have highlighted and which hopefully you will see fit to correct or have corrected (i.e. you may be unable to edit some of the flawed posts, in which case you could PM a moderator for them to edit on your behalf).
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