I’m a former engineer and the non-engineers I worked with were merciless with jokes about how engineers dressed, acted and thought. It didn’t bother me at all because some things were true. Of course other engineer traits were not true of me, but it was all in fun. However, some stereotypes are very destructive and they can be used to falsely accuse, deny, or punish the innocent.
The use of stereotypes is lazy and often convenient for the person using them. This is certainly the situation in many cases involving child custody, when parents cannot or will not live together. And while I can understand those that believe a mother is more beneficial to a child than a father when only one parent will be involved--it is NEVER beneficial to a child to only have one parent. Yet too often mothers, frequently supported by the courts, keep fathers from seeing their children. Stereotypes have much to do with this tragic situation. Fathers are not seen as equal, or even near equal, to mothers, as parents. While it is normal for courts to demand child-support money from an estranged father, they rarely request father-child interaction, i.e. real support. It is one thing when a man is truly a risk to his children, something I think is very rare. However, one of the greatest injustices that exists, is when a man cannot see his children because he is despised by or is being punished by the mother!
Many estranged fathers fight hard just to see their kids. Unless there is overwhelming evidence that contact will be harmful to the kids, what good would there be in keeping them away? Here is a view from one father that I have seen expressed by many others.
“There are homes that are fatherless because the law lets the woman get away with things. They can go in and file an order of protection and get the man removed from the house over lies. The victim’s assistant center laughs when a man goes in asking for help. It's never the woman in the wrong, it’s always the guy, no matter what. For guys it's guilty until proven innocent and for women it's innocent until proven guilty and even then they still get away with stuff. Not all fathers are guilty of something nor or are they deadbeats. There are those that love their kids more than the world itself and women who will do anything to get what they want no matter who they hurt, to include their own kids. They’re quick to point the finger but can't look in the mirror.”
I do understand that there are men who fight to see their children simply to annoy the mother. But I believe those situations are rare and I would always error in the direction of what is best for the children. When a father is truly unfit to see his children, he should be denied. But when a stereotype becomes a determining factor, and when one voice is overshadowed by another because of that stereotype, those involved must take a long look at the potential injustice.
Kids need their father for so many reasons. Those reasons and how fathers can best fulfil those needs are discussed in detail in my book The Power of Dadhood and in this blog.