With National Single Parent Day on Monday, March 21, National Parents Organization urges citizens and legislators nationwide to recognize the day by supporting shared parenting legislation in numerous states.
“Right now, most children of divorce have just one single parent, plus one ‘visitor.’ With shared parenting, they get not just one, but two single parents – two for the price of one,” said Dr. Ned Holstein, MD, MS, Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization.
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan honored a request from Congress by issuing a proclamation for the day, and in doing so, he stated that “with the active interest and support of friends, relatives and local communities,” single parents “can do even more to raise their children in the best possible environment.”
“The evidence showing shared parenting is in the best interest of children when parents divorce or separate is now overwhelming. With this in mind, backing family law reform that seeks to move shared parenting from rare to common in divorce courtrooms is a terrific way to support ‘the best possible environment’ for children,” Dr. Holstein said.
While shared parenting – a flexible arrangement where children spend as close to equal time as possible with each parent – is unusual, efforts to turn it from the exception to the norm within family courts are growing. For instance, The Wall Street Journal revealed that nearly 20 states have proposed shared parenting laws. At least three states have recently implemented reform, and numerous states – including Florida, Missouri, Maryland, Colorado and Iowa – are currently considering shared parenting legislation. Additionally, shared parenting has received high-profile endorsements, including support from the Catholic Church as well as the 2015 International Conference on Shared Parenting and the Council of Europe.
“Millions of American children are suffering from the outmoded practices of the family courts of awarding custody to just one parent, with only a few days per month of parenting time with the other parent. This custody model is not in the best interest of most children. It causes heartache for children, who ardently desire the love and guidance of both parents. And such children do more poorly in school, have higher rates of substance abuse, drop out more frequently, and have higher rates of delinquency, gang activity and trouble with the law,” Dr. Holstein said. “This National Single Parent Day, let’s work together to help give children of single parents what they most want and need – the constant love and support of both parents.
The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health published a 150,000-person study titled “Fifty moves a year: Is there an association between joint physical custody and psychosomatic problems in children?” in May 2015 that concluded shared parenting after divorce or separation is in the best interest of children’s health because the arrangement lowers their stress levels.
The Journal of the American Psychological Association published a paper titled “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report” in 2014, and the conclusions were endorsed by 110 eminent authorities around the world. Authored by Dr. Richard Warshak at the University of Texas, the paper concluded, “… shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.”
The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) published the recommendations of 32 family law experts in 2014, and the group concluded, “Children’s best interests are furthered by parenting plans that provide for continuing and shared parenting relationships that are safe, secure, and developmentally responsive and that also avoid a template calling for a specific division of time imposed on all families.”
According to federal statistics from sources including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Census Bureau, children raised by single parents account for:
• 63% of teen suicides;
• 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions;
• 71% of high school drop-outs;
• 75% of children in chemical abuse centers;
• 85% of those in prison;
• 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders; and
• 90% of homeless and runaway children
National Parents Organization, a charitable and educational 501 (c)(3) organization, seeks better lives for children through family law reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers after divorce or separation. The organization is focused on promoting shared parenting and preserving a child’s strong bond with both parents, which is critically important to their emotional, mental, and physical health. In 2014, National Parents Organization released the Shared Parenting Report Card, the first study to rank the states on child custody laws.