We recently published an article on the site asking, "Are joint custody and shared parenting a child's right?".
One of our readers, a divorced dad to a 14-year-old girl, responded that not only should a child have both parents in their life, the child should actually have a say in the custody arrangement. Here's their story in his letter to Parent24.
Read the full article here: Are joint custody and shared parenting a child’s right?
"In 2008, my then wife and I made the decision to get divorced. It was a mutual decision as we had fallen out of love, so to speak, and did not want to start fighting and creating a bad/negative atmosphere in the house around my daughter, who was 4 years old at the time.
My daughter and I had a very strong bond. From birth I had been there for her. Her mother did not breastfeed, so it made it easy for me to be the one waking up in the middle of the night to give her milk. I fed her supper, changed her nappies, bathed her and disciplined her. These things that a lot of parents see as chores, are the perfect opportunities to bond with your child. The first 2 years of a child’s life are the most important stages. Character is built, insecurities develop and a bond is formed.
My daughter was 4 years old when we decided to get divorced. It wasn’t an easy decision. All I wanted for my daughter was a happy family – mom and dad in the same house. However, I feel we made the right decision to end the marriage before it got ugly.
My daughter, although only 4 years old at the time, understood, but was very upset. It was hard telling her the news.
We didn’t want to fight about custody and had agreed that joint custody would be the best option not only for my daughter, but for us as well. It was just a matter of deciding what arrangement would be best for my daughter. One week with mom, and then one week with dad. Friday was the change-over day.
- Also see this page with a list of our divorce, mediation, co-parenting, custody and maintenance stories.
This arrangement worked for a while, until my daughter started getting older. There was more school work and sports and one week each side became too unsettling. She needed something more stable. Her relationship with her mother started breaking down, due to many reasons on her mom's part, and she started staying with me for longer periods.
My daughter is now turning 14 at the end of this year and lives with me on a full-time basis. We let her make the decision, although her mother knew it would be the best thing for their relationship.
My daughter sees her mother when she wants/needs to. I would never take her away from her mother as she needs both parents in her life. However, it was her decision who she wanted to live with. The bond I created with my daughter in the first 2 years of her life was a huge factor in the decision she made.
Through the years I have been understanding, caring, forgiving and honest with my daughter. Building a friendship. I have to admit, the teen age years and puberty have not been easy. The mood swings, the interest in boys. But she does still have her mother for when it is too much of a girl topic to discuss with dad.
- Also read: Why dads can't be the dads they want to be
Having said all of this, a child does need both parents in their life, and they should have a say in the custody arrangement, depending on their age.
There are a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration. Are both parents equally fit to look after that child? Each case is different, each separation is different, and each child is different. I have seen many fathers being denied custody or shared custody of their child when in fact, the father should be the one getting custody.
With women having better opportunities in the work environment these days, fathers are finding themselves bonding more with the children and playing the 'mother role', which is great. But like in a marriage, both parties need to be equally involved. Both parents need to be 100% committed to their child.
Bottom line is that children need both parents in their lives."
What are your thoughts on joint custody and letting children have a say in the custody arrangement? Do you have a similar arrangement? Or maybe a completely different one that works for you? Send your comments and story to firstname.lastname@example.org and we may publish it.
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