I think it was Freud who once said, “I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.” In this day and age, I don’t think we need an Austrian neurologist who died nearly one hundred years ago to tell us what is glaringly obvious – meaningful relationships between children and their fathers, where possible, are imperative to the health and well-being of those children... and in most cases, to the father’s as well.
The importance of ‘dad’ to a child is limitless, boundless and immeasurable. They lifted you on broad shoulders, with your chubby little fingers gripping their receding hairlines, hanging on for dear life; they did that weird ‘help I’ve cut off my thumb trick’ until you very nearly didn’t believe it anymore (but he still did it anyway); they helped change nappies, clean vomit, rock and swayed you at 2:30am in the morning when you couldn’t be settled; they taught you to kick a ball, with the inside of foot and not to toe bash it; they have sworn, under their breath, an infinite number of times, that they will protect you with every fibre of their being until the nanosecond that they die.
At law, a child’s best interests are paramount. Those best interests may be defined by a meaningful relationship with both parents, where possible and, generally, in the absence of family violence. That means a mother and the father.
A scenario that we see happen very often is like this: two people, who have children together, separate. There is hatred, sometimes inexplicable, and that translates into irrational or illogical behaviour on part of one parent. Let’s say for the sake of this illustration, that the behaviour is perpetrated by the mother, with whom the children live. The children are taken away from the father by the mother, sometimes on ‘ransom’, for a variety of reasons - sometimes for financial gain from the father (“pay me more child support”), a concocted ‘payback’ mentality (“he cheated on me, it’s payback time”)... or sometimes, it can just be as spiteful as “I don’t care”.
The father is caught in a Catch 22 situation – he is damned if he does, and equally damned if he doesn’t.
Whatever the reason, whatever the background story... the law only cares about what is in the best interests of the children, not what mind game either parent wants to play with the other.
Child alienation is against the law. The importance of ‘dad’ is immeasurable. If you are being alienated, act quickly and firmly. That child is yours too. This was a post by HNT Legal, the legal firm of choice for the Australian Dads Network. A partnership supporting Dads across Australia. For more information on this partnership visit our website www.australiandadsnetwork.com.au