Happy Father’s Day to all the men that would lift the roof to protect their children. In order to protect their children, they must be allowed to participate in their child’s lives fully. Oklahoma’s laws, courts, and OKDHS policies & procedures are borderline archaic and actively prevent fathers (men) from actively participating in their children’s lives. Reading OKDHS policies and training manuals, the gender bias is mother-oriented and very evident; almost painting the image of fathers as abusive cavemen. You’d think OKDHS Policy and Oklahoma Family Court Laws were written in the 1800s, but NO, they have been reviewed & revised within the last 3-4 yrs by Oklahoma legislators! There’s no protocol for fathers as victims of domestic abuse, but THERE ARE clear procedures for mothers as victims. The gender discrepancies are evident throughout OKDHS policies and the courts have maintained mothers are the priority, not the children. Generally, mothers are penalized lightly, if ever, for harmful acts to children that would get fathers a life sentence.
This “Disneyland Dad” accusation and phenomenon is problematic on different levels. Times have changed and policies need to reflect it. Disneyland Dads typically get every other weekend visits so, of course, fathers will plan fun activities to ensure quality time with their kiddos for the 2 days they get to see them per week. These are the Dads who were present every day prior to court involvement. Disneyland Dads are a force, not a choice. These fathers are the ones that want to step up and would love to see their kiddos every day. The issues they bring forth for discussion are not about how much child support the courts order (also still very gender-biased), the issues are the custody decisions, the clash that really hurt these dads. It’s natural to assume that children, especially wee ones, need mom more than dad but that’s not a safe assumption anymore. OKDHS policies regarding fathers’ rights are backwards and almost egregiously flawed in favor of mothers.
Fathers can be penalized for just making a report of abuse, while on the flip side there is NO policy regarding abuse by mothers. This lack of policy applying to unsafe mothers is pushing children through the cracks. The outdated assumption, that a mother is somehow safer than a father, allows life-altering legal decisions by uninformed judges, which frame a child’s entire life. Oklahoma needs reform, in so many ways, and the priority should be keeping our children safe, at home and at school. We need to allow loving fathers to take the wheel when the mothers are not safe. In addition, fathers deserve more time with kids and should always be included in decision-making.
A father actively fighting for more time with his kids means he wants the chance to be a good father; offering love and support. When children don’t receive the love & support (basic human needs) that they deserve, the emotions and trauma will often be manifested into problematic behaviors later in life. Children shouldn’t suffer and be victimized, regardless of the reasons why parents separate in marriage. Oklahoma, for the benefit of your children, all children, get it together by recognizing that reform and change is necessary now.
Happy Father’s Day to all you amazing dads and hopefully you’ll get a hug from the lil ones you love most in this world.
And to everyone that has an incredible father, be so grateful for him.
(Writing by Anonymous Oklahoma Professional, MA, Counselor; Letter To The Editor)
(Editor’s Note ): None
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