Viewpoint—For the sake of the children cont’d

All 48 recommendations were welcomed by family groups all over Canada.
Shared parenting was to be the cornerstone of the new Divorce Act. (I wonder
how many of our Parliamentarians are aware that we had a very active shared parenting neighborhood in residential Ottawa during the early 90’s and is still active today.)

The following excerpts are from the People’s Report: For the Sake of the Children. Witnesses came from fathers’ groups, lawyers, therapists, mediators, grandparents, and many others who understood the necessity of children having real access to both parents. The exception, of course, is where there is proof of abuse.

“Some men’s groups and fathers asked that the Committee consider recommending a presumption in favour of shared parenting or joint custody. They argued that such a presumption was the only way to ensure that both parents negotiated or participated
in mediation in good faith and with the children’s best interests as the main focus.
Without a presumption of joint custody, these witnesses argued, mothers would not participate in mediation, and the perceived gender bias in the courts would perpetuate the predominance of mothers as the custodial parents.

“The Committee heard testimony from psychologists and social workers who stated that children benefit from maintaining a relationship with both parents after divorce. These clinical impressions were supported by many research studies showing that children’s emotional development is enhanced if both parents are involved after divorce. Parents denied a significant role in the life of a child might withdraw gradually, to the detriment of the child. By ensuring that each parent has a major child care and decision-making role, as the new regime proposed by this Committee would do, shared parenting can maximize the involvement of two parents in the child’s life.

“The advantages of shared parenting are that there’s a win-win situation. The children will continue to be with both parents and have loving and nurturing parents. When there’s a divorce, the children have more need for both members of the family. They have a need for more influence and more affection and love from both parents. If they have just one parent, the insecurity makes them feel stressed … What I would like to share with you today is that there should be a continuance, a presumption of shared parenting. When sole custody is awarded and the children’s father is relegated to that of the uncle dad or the Disneyland dad, the children lose … Kids don’t suffer from too much parenting. They need as much love and affection from both parents as absolutely possible.”

And the actual words from the Summary of Recommendations:
3. 2. The Committee recommends that it is in the best interests of children that: those whose parents divorce have the opportunity to express their views to a skilled professional, whose duty it would be to make those views known to any judge, assessor, or mediator making or facilitating a shared parenting determination.

And Recommendation 16: The Committee recommends that decision makers, including parents and judges, consider a list of criteria in determining the best interests of the child, and that list shall include: 16. 7, The importance of relationships between the child and the child’s siblings, GRANDPARENTS and other extended family members:

The Report For the Sake of the Children was read December 1998, and it brought joy and happiness to thousands of parents, especially fathers, and grandparents. Finally, the government of the day was going to help families. Grandparents were finally recognized as being part of family. Action and change was to be the order of the day.

The Volunteers of CGRA had been working for over 14 years (from 1984) to hear the words that the federal government recognized grandparents as family members.

Reflections from an M.P.:
Grandparents do play an integral role in this process of healing. Grandparents give a real sense of security and continuity. They provide a sense of being wanted and loved. A grandparent’s love is unconditional.

Beryl Gaffney (Former MP)