I have sat on my thoughts for a week, trying to separate out my emotions from the thought process. A challenging task, no doubt, for anyone involved in the lives of children....nonetheless here are my thoughts on things. I am appalled at the way we treat fathers in our supposedly equal-rights-minded society. There is a different between "dead-beat dads," or those who do not take an interest in their children's lives, and those fathers who truly love and support their children. Our laws, however, do not allow for a difference. Fathers, regardless of behavior, are all considered money-producers, and little more than that. It doesn't matter who wanted out of the marriage, what the reasons were, or who was at fault - women are the ones who should be protected. Now I am not suggesting that I want the courts moralizing on people's divorce, but I do think we need to start treating the two parents of any child as equal parents. For example: * It should be assumed that the parents will have equal, joint custody, with as much equal time with the children as possible (assuming this is geographically possible), unless one of the parents decides that is not what they want. If it is not possible for one parent to engage in their right to half-time with their children due to a temporary situation, there should be a later date at which the situation can be reassessed. For father or mothers who have abused their children, this would obviously not apply. For situations in which both parents love and nurture the children, each should have equal time to nurture a relationship with their children. I find it abhorrent that school districts should play a part in this, as their objection is often that they child must have one physical address in order to be in that school district. As long as one of the parents reside there, the school district should have no say. * If there is equal custody, there should be no child support; instead, they should pay for the own households, and split agreed-upon expenses. Women are now in the work force, as we pressed for years to achieve. Now, stand up and deliver, ladies. The two parents should alternate sick days and such, and behave as a parenting team. If there is child support being paid, the recipient should have to keep account as to where the money is going. I find it outrageous that there is no check and balances in the child support system, when we are willing to throw a person in jail if they do not pay. It should be just as strict on the recipient of the funds, as on the one paying. * There needs to be a change of attitude. There is a concept that if a child has a mother, they do not need a father. Really? I could have sworn evolution got rid of that which we do not need and kept only that which benefits us. I daresay fathers would have been done away with long ago if children did not need a father past insemination. However, men are living longer, not shorter, lives, and that would indicate that they have a role to play in children's lives outside of just sperm producer. It is deplorable that we treat fathers as though their importance and place in their children's lives is unnecessary. They are merely to pay their dues and be on their way. It is amusing how we complain about men who leave their families, yet we as a society sideline their importance in their families. If they are nothing more than money-producers, why should they bother being involved? Men have an intrinsic need to be needed by their families. Yes, you have to pay for that which you produce - so I am not in any way suggesting that a man, or woman, should not support their offspring. But that support should not be limited by strictly monetary definitions.