Some thoughts on kids & parenting

Hi there,

I have been thinking about a post I read recently in the Ohio Family Law Blog (one of my favorites) about the possibility of parents who are not in the court system already, possibly having their children taken away as a result of childhood obesity.  Morbid obesity in children is clearly a health problem that needs to be addressed, although I am not so sure that a parent who punishes an out of control child by having them swallow hot sauce rises to a criminal child abuse level.  How many of you had your mouths washed out with soap, just askin?

One of the unexpected consequences of filing for divorce can be governmental scrutiny of your parenting style. Different folks, different cultures and different parts of the United States all have slightly (or more than slightly) different parenting norms. In some cultures, sleeping with parents is considered appropriate, in others, not so much. Physical discipline (ie, spanking; I can remember parental belts as not outside the norm, but then I grew up in the 50’s) is expected in some places but not others. The involvement of the Probate Court in your personal lives is a direct result of filing for divorce. If you and your soon-to-be-ex have different parenting styles and or a vicious divorce, you may find what you view as ordinary parenting under scrutiny, sometimes by the Department of Children and Families or sometimes by a guardian ad litem.

My husband and I gave each other a puppy for our anniversary this year (that means we have 2 puppies, probably defining us as insane), so I have spent all summer learning how to train dogs and what I have learned is that it is mostly about training yourself. To respond calmly and quickly, and in ways that are often counter intuitive. I think this holds true for training children as well, and I have become more strongly sold on the idea that any parent who is about to embark on a divorce, might do well to consult someone in the mental health profession knowledgeable in children’s issues as a resource as you go thru the divorce process. If you and your soon-to-be-ex can manage it going together to one therapist, it can work, but in any case you will need a sounding board to understand how and how not to handle your children.

Best,

Nancy

 

2 Comments


  1. As an attorney who practices abuse and neglect work in New Hampshire, the thought of the state petitioning to remove children from their families because of obesity is a frightening slippery slope. I think that there are a lot of of things that a parent might do or not do that are not in their children’s best interests, but is it really reason enough for the state to interfere in the family? For example, how about a parent who allows their child to engage in a dangerous sporting activity – like skydiving? The child’s health could suffer serious impairment, and perhaps the parents did not exercise reasonable control over the situation. I think that there are probably a lot of examples where the state could claim they know better then the parent, and argue that the child needs to be supervised or in the care of the state.


  2. Hi Kysa,
    I agree that this is a VERY slippery slope. It could exponentially (if that’s a word?) increase the litigation in divorce cases, and it would open the doors for alleged problems that are really not problems, but a differing perception and approach. Goodness knows there are enough real reasons for the DCF to get involved where they don’t have the resources to handle things properly now. Add something like obesity and you put more kids at risk.
    Best,
    Nancy
    This Blog/Web Site and email response is made available by Attorney Nancy R. Van Tine and Burns & Levinson LLP for educational purposes only – i.e. to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice in relation to any situation you or anyone else may have. There is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher, Attorney Nancy R. Van Tine or Burns & Levinson LLP. The information on this Blog/Web Site and email response should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state engaged by you for such purpose.

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