The organisation aims to bring together women from all walks of life who support and promote shared parenting (I prefer the term shared care), with a view to changing policy and perception. This excellent blog by one of the Leading Women, Rachel Alexander, explains more about the organisation and contains some very recent research to back up the LW4SP’s position.
The calibre of the Leading Women is incredible, there are politicians, researchers, lawyers, writers, campaigners, child advocates, journalists, academics; the roll-call of names is impressive and inspirational – I am very proud and honoured to be among them.
This history of LW4SP is taken from their website:
Leading Women for Shared Parenting was founded to dispel the widespread myth that it is only – or even mainly – disgruntled fathers with limited access to their children who promote equal shared parenting as the default model for separating parents.
That is simply not the truth.
Polls in the United States, Canada and other western countries consistently demonstrate overwhelming support in the general population for equally shared parenting. Both fair-minded men and women across all social and cultural lines understand that mothers and fathers are equally important in the lives of their children.
For some years a number of prominent women in media and politics have been championing this issue in the public forum of ideas and in policy-making circles. Eventually they sought a common platform from which they could bring their support for equal shared parenting to effective attention and positive legislative action.
Thus LW4SP came into being, with more than 150 influential women lending their names in support of the equal shared parenting principle.
Much has been written, debated, discussed and argued about the benefits of shared parenting to children – and to parents –
- It ensures continuation of family life for the child, with the advantage of nurture from both parents rather than just one.
- It reassures the child that he has two parents, and although they live in separate places, he definitely has a home with both of them.
- It dispels the notion that only one parent is “caring” and that the other is “errant” or “absent”.
- It ensures that one parent is not unfairly burdened with the responsibility of discipline whilst the other is relegated to (or marginalised as) the fun or contact parent.
- It provides the opportunity for children and parents to develop meaningful and lasting relationships – in place of the artificiality and frustrations of contact .
- It affirms the parents in their belief that they both have an ongoing role in their child’s life.
- It places both parents on an equal footing with schools, doctors and the world at large – who might otherwise only want to deal with the residential parent.
- It confirms that no matter what, each parent wants to, and is able to, provide a home for their child.
- It reassures the child that in the event of one parent dying he still has a home to go to.
- Without a Shared Parenting order, if one parent dies, the child would not automatically go to live with the other parent, but would be left with whoever they were living with at the time or handed over to a guardian – a poor substitute for a natural parent.
In his article in Psychology Today , Edward Kruk, Ph.D. puts forward 16 arguments in support of shared parenting:
1. Shared parenting preserves children’s relationships with both parents
2. Shared parenting preserves parents’ relationships with their children
3. Shared parenting decreases parental conflict and prevents family violence
4. Shared parenting reflects children’s preferences and views about their needs and best interests
5. Shared parenting reflects parents’ preferences and views about their children’s needs and best interests
6. Shared parenting reflects child caregiving arrangements before divorce
7. Shared parenting enhances the quality of parent-child relationships
8. Shared parenting decreases parental focus on “mathematizing time” and reduces litigation
9. Shared parenting provides an incentive for inter-parental negotiation, mediation and the development of parenting plans
10. Shared parenting provides a clear and consistent guideline for judicial decision-making
11. Shared parenting reduces the risk and incidence of parental alienation
12. Shared parenting enables enforcement of parenting orders, as parents are more likely to abide by an equal parental responsibility order
13. Shared parenting addresses social justice imperatives regarding protection of children’s rights
14. Shared parenting addresses social justice imperatives regarding parental authority, autonomy, equality, rights and responsibilities
15. The discretionary best interests of the child / sole custody model is not empirically supported
16. A rebuttable legal presumption of shared parenting responsibility is empirically supported
LW4Sp are asking everyone who supports shared parenting to sign up and endorse their statement:
A growing number of children are being raised without the benefit of meaningful engagement with both parents. As contemporary research conclusively demonstrates, a child who effectively loses one of his or her parents through a custody decision, usually the father, is a child at risk for a number of negative personal and social outcomes.
Research also proves that, although children want a relationship with both their parents regardless of marital status, healthy bonding with a non-residential parent is impossible without a substantial amount of time spent in that parent’s physical presence.
Consequently, LW4SP is sending our elected representatives, the judiciary and policy-makers the clear message that substantive changes in family law must be implemented: changes that will ensure children the opportunity to remain fully engaged with both their parents into adulthood.
The women endorsing this statement know that not all children can have full access to both parents, and we know that not all parents are fit to raise their children. But we also know that far too many good, willing and fit parents are pushed to the margins of their children’s lives by unfriendly family courts, government policies and laws that undermine family integrity and autonomy.
It should be alarming to women everywhere to know, as they look at their son’s, there is a significant likelihood our government will turn him into a visitor to his children in the event he no longer resides with his kids’ mother.
Parental separation should not spell the end of a relationship between a child and one of its parents.
Forced separation from one’s own flesh and blood in the absence of abuse is morally wrong and socially irresponsible. That is why LW4SP supports equally shared parenting as the default arrangement for separating parents of minor children.
You can sign up and endorse Shared Parenting by visiting www.lw4sp.org and fill in the online form. Be a Leading Woman, encourage your friends, colleagues, family to sign up too.