TOOL OF THE DAY: Child Abuse…Lowered Standards have Hidden Costs
CATEGORY: Family Law Due Process
This must have been shocking when this father found this video on his son’s IPAD. The mother is very young. And she obviously has very poor coping skills and no tools or skills for raising two toddler boys. She certainly gave me a sound bite to play to my teenage daughters to show them that raising children is hard. But even they would know that this is not an excuse for how intense and severe the punishment was for spilled milk.
It is very notable where she screams that she is a “single parent” and has “no daddy to help her.” Those of us who are familiar with parental alienation cringe at this as well. And many might have even thought of using this as a PSA (public service announcement) for making other young and older parents aware of how alienation might start in some cases.
We don’t know for sure if this mother is making these claims because she feels that the father is unavailable for her boys or whether she is just speaking about the immediate instance where each of the parents parent alone now since they aren’t together. Most likely it is the former that she is referring to though and in blame mode. She probably blames the father for everything that goes wrong and tells the boys all about it. Most of the time, we hear a parent blaming the other for not being available and for everything that is going wrong in their life. That’s a bad, bad cycle, and unfortunately far too common.
Stress can definitely send people over the edge. And none of us really know how much stress might affect you from day to day. I’m sure none of you imagined that you would ever go through the kind of stress that the family court process has placed you under, or that you might have to single parent, or that you might be cut out of your child’s life. You might not have been prepared for any of this and might have done some things you regretted. But then perhaps caught yourself the next time and learned not to discipline your children when you were angry with them.
There are some questions that I would like to ask though in relation to applying individual rights – the mother’s rights and the children’s rights.
Is what this mother did illegal? I guess this would depend on what state she is in and what their child abuse laws are. If you feel this is child abuse and the state you live in does not, you can address your state legislators and ask them to change the laws to include it. I believe in New York it is illegal to scream at your children. (Of course, we all know that family court doesn’t care about even asking if something is illegal. If it falls under the illegal standard, they usually use it as an excuse to insert themselves as protector of the children and then impose burdens on sometimes both parents. Even if requirements aren’t placed on both parents to go through parenting or counseling there is still that little (huge) issue of legal expenses.) I know that many people might say that in a case like this it is good that the family court can use lowered standards. I address that in a couple of paragraphs.
Should a family court impose the requirement on the mother to learn better coping skills and parenting methods? Only if it can be proven that this is a form of child abuse that would be applied to all parents in that state. If they single this mother out but allow married parents to do the same, then no. (Remember, constitutional principles can be hard. You have to take the emotional parts out of it. If you bend the rules in one spot because something grabbed your heart, you’ll invite others in power to abuse their power and start imposing your ideas of what’s best over yours onto you.)
If you want equal protection of the laws and you don’t want the family courts to impose all sorts of expense on you and then judge you for every parenting flaw that you have, then you cannot do it to others. Think about it, there might have been a time that you did something very similar to this.
There is another question to ask as well however. What if this kind of intensity and screaming and punishment was happening constantly? Could it be considered child abuse then? Most states have emotional abuse laws and I would hope that they would consider intensity and duration. Some states consider a one-time incident child abuse, but it also generally depends on what that incident was. Texas for instance can completely terminate a parent’s rights for smoking pot one time. If they scream at their child one-time, no. There are things that they require to be patterns.
But if it the behavior this mother displayed was frequent I would think that then you are now crossing into the children’s rights to be raised to be healthy, happy, productive citizens. If she has set conditions in her home that are not conducive to the children becoming good, caring, productive citizens but rather would cause them to develop anxiety, depression, other forms of these like PTSD, or even psychopathic tendencies, etc., then certainly, this mother has crossed the line from raising the children how she sees fit and believes to impairing the children’s well-being as well as affecting society negatively. We’ve all heard the horror stories from serial killers who had abusive childhoods.
Now how do you prove this? How do you prove that there is a frequency and duration? Certainly not with the lowered standards of the family courts. While some of you might think, that is better, less red tape. But too many children end up remaining in the hands of parents who truly are abusive. There just are too many people in this industry that get manipulated and bought off or apply their own biases and belief. There is too much at stake here and proper measures need to be taken for preventing the children from developing into strong, adjusted, healthy adults.
You prevent this by applying proper due process. When you use lowered standards you have more risk of error. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee the conviction of the person, but it certainly makes it more difficult for the person to get off the charges, and now you have an adjudicated parent, so the court isn’t left with an option now for who gets to be the primary parent for the child. And the other parent isn’t left dealing with the terror and constant suffering of their child either.
The other problem with this picture is that in many states you have to get a prosecutor to agree to convict. If that’s the case then you should be working on getting that requirement changed. Too many times prosecutors decline taking any family cases, especially if there is a dispute over custody. That’s an easy fix though take the requirement out that the prosecutor has to prosecute it or cps and instead raise the due process standards in family court.
Now you have reduced the risk that the court will make a mistake and deprive you of your rights and time with your child and you can hold a fitness hearing where the court can adjudicate a parent unfit and assign a rehabilitative program. (Naturally the laws in each state will differ as to whether or not there is rehabilitation available or not. I would hope so though because I think that many times parents like this one in the video just need some maturing and certainly those boys could benefit from two healthy parents.)
I know that I have written about this in a very basic and general manner here and that it might still be difficult for you to understand how this would work. There are many more details and issues that would need to be addressed. I just wanted to bring up the idea a little more especially since I have a video about lowered standards cause children to end up in child abusers hands. You can find that one on our YouTube page. See the links below.
So just one last thought, before you think that every parent who raises their voice or spanks their child is a villain or will raise their children to become one, remember the stress you underwent during this family court process and how you might have lost it a time or two and regretted the intensity that you came across with to your children. Or perhaps your children were acting out from the intensity and duration that the case has gone on and you had to get very strict with them and discipline them and it came across with intensity. As long as those incidents are not frequent and they were not done when you were angry, and you knew that it was necessary to get their attention — for example if they did something that would endanger them — then you may be using the appropriate level of discipline necessary at that time. But when a child just merely makes a mistake like these children did, it certainly is not good or appropriate to use this kind of intensity and punishment. A child shouldn’t have to fear spilling milk. After all, don’t we have that saying for a reason…”don’t cry over spilled milk.”
I think that more education in general to the children as they are growing up to teach them coping and parenting skills from younger ages would serve society well. And I think that this mother is definitely hurting her children if she continues this behavior. Your children should not be afraid to make a mistake.
Hopefully someone who cares about this mother and these boys will see this and help her learn some more appropriate parenting skills. And hopefully the mother will be open to the suggestion.
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*We are not telling you to disturb the peace. This paragraph is a quote from the movie “Selma” 2014.
Strategic Parental Rights Strategist, Instructor, Constitutional Scholar, and Author
Divorce Solutions and Child Custody Solutions
Co-author “Not in the Child’s Best Interest” (Book on parental rights and children’s rights)
Co-author “Protecting Parent-Child Bonds: 28th Amendment” (Book includes guide for legislators)
Twitter: https://twitter.com/fixfamilycourts (@fixfamilycourts)
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