Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Father's Rights

A Father’s Rights; A Father is Right.
My intent is not to argue a woman’s right to choose, but to evaluate the absence of a man’s right to choose and to explore the developments of a man’s life once fatherhood enters it and the choices that he does and does not have. This topic is the most interesting to me in regards to the segregation of rights once the child has been born and a man’s fight to not be absent from the life of his child but quite the opposite; his fight to be an active part of his child’s life, in the end being the best interest for the child.
I am aiming my argument to the single fathers who look to the law for protection of their rights and to the legal system which needs to be more accountable for upholding the rights of both parents on a greater level of equality. I choose this particular audience because as a single father I understand the red tape that is constantly being put between fathers and their children by the courts. What the audience needs from me is the simple layout of history regarding the injustice to the children throughout decades of favoritism for maternal rights. The audience needs to be aware that in every area of life a child needs and deserves two parents.
I believe I thought I was fully prepared to write this essay by the time it was assigned, but gathering the information and the facts and formatting it in a way that I felt would be easy for my audience to follow and understand was more time consuming than
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I had given credit to. I had a multitude of different articles and texts that I searched through to help substantiate my argument; however I found the internet to be the most useful of tools. I think that what would have better prepared me for this essay is a better handle on time management.
I did not receive any peer suggestions or feedback. I did receive feedback from my instructor by way of suggestion a source that I may want to cite, however a lengthy waiting list prevented me from being able to research it.

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It is amazing to me the way the court system views the distribution of rights between the mother and the father. This injustice by the legal system can be defined by the immediate presence of pregnancy and even more distinguished post birth when judgment is made by what is the best interest for the child.
My intent is not to argue a woman’s right to choose, but to evaluate the absence of a man’s right to choose and to explore the developments of a man’s life once fatherhood enters it and the choices that he does and does not have. This topic is the most interesting to me in regards to the segregation of rights once the child has been born and a man’s fight to not be absent from the life of his child but quite the opposite; his fight to be an active part of his child’s life, in the end being the best interest for the child.
It has been established by law that a woman has the right to choose whether or not she plans to go forth with a pregnancy to full term. Since 1973 women have had the legal right to terminate a pregnancy and many times this decision lacks the approval of the father. As far back as the 1850’s adoption procedures have been present in the United States and again this can, in the present time, take place without the knowledge or written consent of the child’s natural father. In the article “A Man’s Right to Choose,” by Cathy Young, it is quoted that though “it might have taken two to conceive and embryo…only one person controlled whether or not a baby was made” and within the same article Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center declares that “once a child is born, neither can walk away from the obligations of parenthood.” This conflicts the presence of adoption and the mother’s right to choose, again outweighing the fathers.
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For the most part, this century’s impression of a father’s role in a child’s life has been exclusively reduced to the contribution of financial assistance in regards to the child’s upbringing. This is a dramatic change of the roles that father’s once played. In the book “Fathers’ Rights,” Jeffrey Leving explains that “during the first one hundred or so years of American history, a father was, by law and in practice, both head of the family and his children’s primary caregiver” and that “when divorce occurred, courts almost always awarded full custody of children to fathers.” This of course can be accounted to the lack of a woman’s individual rights during this era, with most rights of a woman being received through her father or husband.
In 1839, the Custody of Infants Act determined that maternal custody be presumed for children under the age of seven and in 1873 Parliament extended this law to the age of sixteen. In fact only when the mother committed adultery warranted her losing the custody of her minor children. The term often used to describe these rulings is the “Tender Years Doctrine,” monopolizing nurturing and childcare solely with the mother. I believe it is due to this repetitive ruling by the courts that has been the main reason why mothers feel that children do in fact belong with them.
It is frustrating and also a real challenge for fathers to develop a true sense of importance in their child’s life within the eyes of the court, at least one that allows them more than every other weekend and split holidays. While men are seen for being inadequate for nurturing a child and also territorial in nature, recent studies have detailed that in actuality men are very capable of bringing up a child the same as a mother and that children thrive better in homes that have a father present. It brings to light how often it
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seems that the mother is the more territorial of the parents, often seen as the “gatekeeper” between the child and the child’s father which can also lead to the absence of the father altogether.
The “deadbeat dad” is looked down upon by most Americans and much of the public demands legislative enforcement to see that the financial obligations of the father are met. Avoiding the topic of father’s who are deceased, incarcerated, unemployed or even employed and making an earning not even enough to even support himself, it is a continuous argument by most of the fathers who are able to pay child support but decide to avoid it or are tardy with their payments that they feel robbed of their time with the child that they are legally demanded to provide the life for. I do not defend the delinquency of these fathers but have to hold in consideration the emotions that have led to their behavior and feel cause to avoid a judgment on character because of it. “To a father denied the sight of his daughter’s piano recital, or his son’s jump shot at the buzzer, child support is the modern equivalent of taxation without representation.” (Leving)
In the article “Parental Reports of Children’s Post-Divorce Adjustment,” Julie A. Fulton found that “40% of all custodial wives reported that they had refused to let their ex-husband see the children at least once” admitting that the decisions were “punitive in nature” and did not adhere to the “children’s wishes or the children’s safety.” It is expressed in “The Nurturing Father” the mother ensures her own exclusiveness with the child by being “more vigilant and rigid…restricting the father’s access to the baby.”
The role of men in a parental setting has been questioned in a recent finding and in the article “Why Dads Matter,” Farrell asks that if “parenting emerges from a maternal
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instinct, why is it that a full 85% of stepparents are stepdads?” and also cited findings that “children brought up by single dads do better on twenty-six different areas of measurement (academic, psychological, social and physical health) than children brought up by single moms.” This is not stating that father’s parent better, it just means that father’s are different in how they teach and raise their children. They are also more likely to keep an open relationship between the child and the child’s mother, allowing the child continuous contact with both natural parents.
Both parents bring to the child’s life a different take on emotions, financial stability and academic resources. As stated in “Fathering Is a Feminist Issue” Silverstein asserts that “reinforcing men’s capacity to nurture would place intimacy and attachment at the center of masculine gender role socialization, in the same way that acknowledging and reinforcing woman’s capacity to function in the public world of paid employment has begun to find a place for instrumental thinking and active coping skills within the gender socialization of women.”
However when it comes to single mothers versus single fathers and comparing occupation, education, and family income, single mothers are at an extreme disadvantage and often times are finding themselves a lot younger than the male counterpart. It is also suggested that single fathers are looked upon more favorably by society and often receive more help from family and are not met with the loss of social status like many single mothers have had to face. To add to that most single father’s do not require child support due to the advantage of making more of an income than the child’s mother.
It is the general consensus from all of my research that single mother homes are
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twice as likely to fall under the poverty level and that though mothers are credited for using interpersonal interactions to enhance the child’s well-being, in the article “Growing up with a single parent: What hurts, what helps,” McLanahan and Sandefur found that “mothers who had to work longer hours at low-paying jobs had less time to be involved in their children’s daily lives” and this was “especially related to their schooling.” Academic difficulties are reported more surrounding children from mother-led homes due to the economic distress and when considering the best interest of the child this should at all times be added to the equation.
Securing well-paying jobs, furthering education or receiving job training added to not receiving enough child support to maintain the lifestyle that the family was used to prior to becoming a single mother is a large reason why single mom homes have difficulty making ends meet. Fathers find themselves on the opposite side of the economic scale and often times have little difficulty at all providing for their children the life that they are accustomed to. Better income meant better schools, housing, extracurricular activities and child-care where it is sadly a different case for lower income homes that lead to poorer neighborhoods and less credible school systems.
In “How Fathers Care for the Next Generation,” John Snarey from Harvard University states that “Childrearing fathers…(have) produced three outcomes that are specifically relevant to the present investigation: increased intellectual competence, increased social-emotional maturity, and greater sex role flexibility.” Psychology Today reports that when fathers are not around for their daughters, that these daughters are “more likely than a girl with an available father to become sexually promiscuous…have sex at an early age…marry young, to find their own marriages unsatisfactory and
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eventually to divorce themselves.” In addition “Advantages of Father Custody and
Contact for the Psychological Well-Being of School-Age Children” studied the assessments of the psychological well-being of children (self-esteem, anxiety, depression, problem behaviors) found that “children (especially boys) did significantly better in the custody of their fathers.”
Throughout my research I have found data complimenting the presence of dad’s and how greatly fathers impact children on levels of education, social relations, self-worth and relationships, more so the ability to empathize and a father’s involvement is heavily credited to a child’s stability in most, if not all areas of life. Being a father myself I recognize my own “maternal instincts” and am heavily offended that so often courts remain in the emotional state of mind that the mother has to be proven unfit in order to lose even partial custody of her children, especially when so many studies explain the importance of equal time with both parents and even to return to the idea of father’s retaining sole custody after divorce. Instead it is found that “all over the United States…family courts manage to bend, stretch, and twist the law to deny fathers the equitable treatment they deserve.” (Leving)
When it comes to the best interest of the child it can be safely stated that in most custody cases that two parents heavily outweighs the benefits of single parents. Even though both parents have noted struggles with single parenting, when it is resorted as the only option it is indicative that children’s best interest is met when they reside with the parent who is able emotionally and financially stabilize themselves after a divorce; it is to the greater degree that it is the father whom is more successful at doing so. In a world
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that has become soiled with male scrutiny when it comes to matters of abortion and
fatherless homes, it is time that fathers receive a higher level of respect. The same respect fathers are accountable for instilling in our children.

Leving, Jeffrey M., and Kenneth A Dachman. Fathers Rights: Hard Hitting And Fair
Advise For Every Father Involved In A Custody Dispute. New York: Basic, 1998.

Farrell, Warren. Why Dads Matter: The Revolution Has Started, Heads Up.
Web, 10 Nov 2009.

W.S., Parenting Roles: Can Fathers Be Mothers? April 2006. Web.
10 Nov. 2009.


My Reflection of English 111

This semester in English 111 I have completed some essays that I am proud of, and maybe one or two I wish I would have spent more time on. None the less it was a success just to make it through a semester. English was never my strong point, and I have not seen the inside of an English book since nineteen-ninety four, so I can not begin to express the height of my anxiety about taking this class. I knew once I walked in that room I was all in, and that I was going to be committed. “Which reminds me I didn’t even go to English class when I was in high school, I was committed to not going and would just leave the school.”

Honestly I’m glad it is required because I needed the swift kick, and no better way to fight some old demons than to hit English 111 up first, no need to put it off until later. I enjoyed all the essays I wrote this semester, and enjoyed the ability to decide the subjects of the essays. Beginning the semester with the option to write about a favorite road trip, man the brain cells burned thinking about those days and then to use the experience as an essay, it was great. I was sure to send links to the friends who I took the trip with so that they could see what I had written, they appreciated the memories. With that being said the trip and know the essay as well as the class that prompted me to write the essay with always be a story.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Most Memorable Road Trip

The freedom that comes with youth and the lack of responsibility that accompanies the carefree spirit of young adults is often overlooked by those focused on their future and who over plan their whereabouts of tomorrow. This was not the case for me. The most memorable adventure of my life occurred at the age of twenty. It was me and my two closest friends Josh and Gia; we had no exact destination in sight but knew we would be traveling across the country, embracing every adventure and befriending every person we encountered along the way. With Virginia as our starting line we set out to explore such cities as Louisiana, San Antonio, and Hollywood only to find the end of our journey leaving us back on the east coast in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Setting our sights on New Orleans as our first stop we all felt a bit of uncertainty over what we were committing ourselves to, but with every passing mile the nervousness was slowly replaced by the excitement of what we were driving to, Mardi Gras! Arriving just in time for the celebration we were mesmerized by the way the streets seemed to just come alive. There were street performers painted in silver and gold, standing tall above the crowds and stunning the onlookers with their ability to entertain and persuade the crowd. There were small children tap dancing with the hopes of collecting tips as their mothers peered on from the background. The streets were lit with rows of machines filled with beverages only breaking in pattern for an entrance to a bar where people came and went at will. Streamers and confetti filled the air from those who stood on balcony’s to join in on the festivities, and colorful beads draped the necks of all who attended. Only staying a few days, we found this long enough to make a new friend who would ride alongside us for the roundtrip to California.
As we continued towards the west it did not go unnoticed the dramatic change in scenery. Where we once rode among city lights and large billboards we were now surrounded by dessert land with the fields of cactus waving us by. My friend Ron had recently moved to Texas so it was with priority that we make a stop in to see him and to say hello. Ron was a great tour guide for the city San Antonio and seemed eager to introduce us to his new hometown. There was an outside mall called the river walk where we found strips of shops that sandwiched a river and as we walked along this route we found ourselves passing the Alamo where we would find a nearby bar to relax and enjoy fifty cent beers. Somehow between the heat of the cool spring Texan air and the alcohol that our beverages contained we all chose to venture down a river in tubes, still enjoying a few beers along the way and making new friends as we floated passed them. A few days later we would be leaving for California.
I’m not sure why we set out to touch California only with the understanding that we would turn back to the east and put the trip behind us, but leaving Texas made California feel just miles away. We headed their eager to explore the cities of Hollywood, Venice Beach and Mexi-Cali. Once we parked in the great state of California we went from four wheels to two almost instantly, peddling down the strip of the beach and enjoying the many wonderful sites that laid upon it. We passed artists of great talent and musicians that filled the local streets with the melodies from their chosen instrument and vendors eager to share and sell their craft. Making many friends within the following weeks of our stay allowed us the invite to many dinners and suggestions to sights that we can see firsthand, strolling the walk of fame and finding ourselves in front of studios where many television shows are filmed. Soon we found it time to take a moment and appreciate the living we were able to do within a two month period, but had to concede to the end of our time in California and set our sights back to the east coast.
Our return to the east seemed to be a somber event. Stopping once more to say farewell to our friend Ron in Texas, and another stop in New Orleans for our new friend to depart from the ride, we all seemed to spend the last stretch of the ride reflecting on the memories we just concreted in our minds. Once we made it home, we each returned to the lives that we can better embrace the word normal as a description of and in time we would find that even though this adventure formed an unbreakable bond in our individual history, our paths would no longer cross. Regardless of how much of my time on the road has been forgotten, the trip itself will always be remembered.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Most Memorable Road Trip

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Timothy Airington
ENG 111-63
Mr. Gasparo
27 August 2009

Most Memorable Road Trip

Nearly twelve years ago I took a road trip to California; traveling with my two best friends, our dog, and no exact plan or route to follow. We started south towards Louisiana, just in time for Mardi Gras. A city that has its own energy which made you feel like it would never end. Shifting our direction we headed westward, towards an old friends house to relax for a while. We would explore San Antonio and surrounding cities, finding adventure and crossing paths with history. Leaving behind our friend, knowing we wouldn’t be far away, we set our sights on California. We would contemplate residency, but instead explored the local cities for all they had to offer. Our trip would pivot back east where we would end our trip with a visit to Florida. Staying with a friend of a friend in Florida would be nothing more than a quiet and relaxing end to a trip with memories that could not be replaced nor forgotten.

Arriving in New Orleans was a moment of great excitement; the party was already under way as we fell into place. We would encounter street performers painted in silver and gold standing as still as statues. Children tap dancing for tips with mother not too far away in the background. The multicolored drink machines were everywhere lining the walls of the bars where people came and went. We would make friends with some of the locals who had no problem pointing us in the right way. And we would end up bringing one of our new friends for the rest of the trip. Setting our directions west we would leave Louisiana behind with a new traveler and on our way to an old friend.

The scenery changed as we headed west, finding endless highways of desert. It had been a few years since our friend had moved to Texas, so it was only right that he was a stop on our trip. He took us downtown to the river walk which is like an outside mall with a river running through it. We would walk until I passed a plaque for the Alamo, unaware that I was standing directly in front of it. Once we had consumed our share of warm fifty cent beers, we headed to a park which had an entrance to a river which we could tube down. As we arrived to the park we prepared for a ride by strapping six packs to our draw strings which I lost after the first set of rapids, only to retrieve them somehow. I can remember a bridge jump and conversations with random people on the banks of the river. We spent a few of the following days relaxing and then continuing to California.

Unlike our previous stops we had no specific agenda planned. We would freely explore the surrounding cities and see what California had to offer. Almost immediately we hopped on our mountain bikes and headed down to Venice beach. Spending the day amongst the artist and other street vendors, we would come across muscle beach and the set Baywatch was being filmed on. We would cross paths with many of the sights we had only seen on television. Returning to our room we would again make more friends who would invite us to dinner. When we arrived you could smell the meal that consisted of whole garlic, chicken, and vegetables all mixed in one big pot producing an aroma that filled the street outside our new friend’s home. The following weeks we would venture all over Hollywood browsing the walk of fame and seeing the studios many television shows are filmed. We had come to live but instead California was a pivot in a road trip, leading us back where we came.

The route on our road trip took us through many places, making new friends and visiting old ones. The new friends in New Orleans helped us explore every aspect of Mardi Gras, and get the full experience from our visit. We have not been able to see our friend in Texas since this trip, which if all else would have failed would have made it all worth it. And honestly I can hardly remember my time in California but I know I made it to the west coast and wanted nothing more than to find my way home. At the end we all came home and went on with our day to day, but would eventually all take our different paths which would leave and even bigger meaning to this unforgettable road trip.