Aleasa Word Discusses Case of Kids Incarcerated for Not Visiting Dad
Recent news has been reported on a story about three kids who were sent to a juvenile detention center because they refused to apologize to their father and go with him for visitation. The judge sentenced them to be put in a facility meant for youth who were criminals. The kids didn’t want to go with their dad because of alleged abuse they saw their mother endure by their father. According to media reports, the judge sentenced the kids to a juvenile detention center until they reached 18 years old or attempted to have a relationship with their father who they were estranged from.
Almost immediately this judge’s sentence unleashed a firestorm from people on both sides of the custody/visitation platform. Some parents who have had their children pulled away from them due to parental alienation applauded the move, saying something drastic has to be done. And though I agree something DOES need to be done about the alienation and made up stories and memories children endure, I don’t think this move was the right one. Other parents stood and watched media reports in horror as they were concerned about the long term impact on children in cases like these and more importantly this one where they were given a sentence.
In a country where so many children are caught up in custody battles, it would seem we would have figured out a more humane way to deal with issue. In custody situations there are so many emotions swirling around on all sides 1) parent 1 & parent 2 as well as 2) the children. Studies say they know what is best for the kids and shared situations are the best when possible and there aren’t cases of true abuse. Although I agree when parents are willing, able and emotionally stable to do so, a better way to share parenting is healthier for the kids. The sad part of this is that in many cases not both parties fit that criteria and courts are faced with the tough job of making a square peg fit into a round hole. Often the solution is a 4 hour parenting class for separating parents. That’s the fix all right? Hmm…..so 4 hours to raise a person who will impact society for x number of years but even a college degree to get a job can take upward of 4 years or more.
Somehow I think we are missing the boat on this child custody thing. I wish all kids had the benefit of having a healthy, sustainable relationship with their parents. There are terrific groups out there fighting for shared parenting and they are doing a great job like Leading Women for Shared Parenting. But I say leave this fight to experts like those who can analyze situations and figure out if it really is a best case scenario. These legitimate groups are filled with REAL psychologists, social workers an family advocates skilled at seeing the entire picture. Many times that is not the case and the experts aren’t called in so a decision is made based on a basic state law not taking into consideration all of the variables that go with the case.
Fortunately, in the case I mentioned the children were released and now must go to summer camp and therapy. What a stark contrast to being sentenced to a juvenile detention center. I can’t imagine how the original sentence will impact these kids long term who were ages 15, 10 and 9. Not being certain if the mother was a perpetrator or parental alienation or not, isn’t that something she should have paid the price for if that was the case and NOT the kids themselves? How will this impact their relationship with their father long term?
We have a long way to go in trying to procedurally dictate human behavior. In fact I don’t know that we can ever really do it effectively. Instead, the issue with kids is that we need to put more focus on the emotional well-being of the parents so the kids will be ok. Unfortunately, in my humble opinion, there isn’t enough of that happening and when it does some parents refuse to take the high road and get the help they need to parent children they are supposed to love. Children are not property and when they are treated as such, cases like this are bound to surface. As for today’s kids, most will not have to deal with a situation like this one and the long term hope is that we can find ways whether parents are together or not to parent them with the love they deserve in the first place.
Photo: Rox Biggy/Flickr