Father’s rights is about equality for both male and female participation in the parenting of children. It has never been about misogyny; equality is the goal. Sadly, there are some men out there, especially in the many labyrinths of internet comment sites, who rant and rave about how they can’t see their kids because of gender bias. I dare say that many of these men fail to be accountable for their own actions or inaction that led to their situation. The father’s rights ethos calls upon men to act in a way that equals the importance of their role. Often this requires sacrifice, and most of the time, it requires hard work. Men sometimes find themselves doing things that they should not have to do, paying money they should not have to pay, and having restrictions with no foundation in fact…all to be able to see their kids. It happens frequently. Some will get caught up in victimizing themselves, refusing to pay support or to take anger-management counseling etc. because they “should not have to do it.” They are right that they should be treated fairly, and a lot of the time they must sacrifice a measure of pride to receive rights they should have had in the first place. However, the end goal must take priority over the hardship of the moment. Fathers’ rights means putting your kids first as the highest priority.
My mother is a great lover of cliches. She put a poster in my room with the words “To be good one must struggle; to be bad one has only to quit.” I have found this cliche to be true in life and the obstacles we face. Winning a fathers’ rights case often requires struggle and persistence. It is a process and not a quick one. It requires patience and calculated decisions. For example, suppose your temporary order identifies a meeting spot for visitation exchange. Your ex derisively tells you “we’re busy so you will have to pick them up at home.” Do you A: respond saying that you are going to make her pay in court for violating the order; B: Diplomatically say that you would prefer to follow the order, but rather than not see your children, you will pick them up at home; or C: Not respond at all. The correct answer is B. You shouldn’t have to carry a greater burden than what your order requires, but if you shift your focus to the greater goal, spending time with your kids, then you will take advantage of every reasonable opportunity. You should view gaslighting and trap-setting as an opportunity to make your case. Imagine the effect in court when someone argues that you don’t really care about your children. You will be able to genuinely respond that you do care, so much so that you were willing to go above and beyond the literal requirements of your order to spend time with them. You make a temporary sacrifice to achieve the greater goal. As another example, suppose someone makes a fraudulent accusation of abuse in your case. The judge orders you to attend anger counseling and group therapy. Do you A: Throw up your hands in frustration and yell “I give up!” B: Refuse to attend the class and when the judge asks why you did not attend you respond “I shouldn’t have to.” or C: Attend classes, sitting in the front row while taking notes and participate actively in group therapy while encouraging/inspiring other attendees. The correct answer is C of course. Think of how compelling your testimony will be when you tell the judge that you did not agree with the order to attend classes/therapy, but since that was the order, you decided to get everything out of attending that you could. You will describe your experience and the insight you gained. Perhaps your therapist or teacher could be called to testify about your constructive participation in classes/therapy. Are you catching the vision?
Fathers’ rights requires paying the price of equality. Give me a client with unshakable resilience and rock-hard grit and that is someone I can work with. The price of equality is often a path littered with hardship, but the end goal is more than worth the price. I think Rocky Balboa said it best: “It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward…how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” Winning a custody case requires perseverance and patience, but with a clear plan, and a good lawyer, you can improve your situation.