Large Problems Facing the Men’s Rights Movement in America
By Sam Sears (firstname.lastname@example.org) ( http://www.billsarena.com )
Aka: Bill’s Dad
While there are many egos, attorney’s, women’s groups, etc. that make the fight very difficult for Men to get fair treatment in Family Court, I suggest that the biggest problem is with Men themselves.
Most of us that have been involved in the movement through feelings of being backed into a corner by the Family Court System. Most couldn’t even name State Court Judges that they had voted for prior to going through the Family Court System. We ALL felt that the system would equalize things and had succumbed to the propaganda of the “Deadbeat Dad”; we felt that NO rational human being, especially a Trusted Judge would ever leave us without the ability to have the minimum requirements to survive and be productive and a part of our children’s lives. We were naïve.
Since my own divorce in 2000 I have been through the complete gamut of experiences on this front. I started with a sense that my Ex would be fair when it came to seeing my children (we had ALWAYS discussed the children and come to conclusions regarding education, discipline and other issues), I was very involved with my kids as my own dad had been killed in a car accident when I was 5 years old which made me realize just how important it was for me to be a part of my children’s lives. I soon learned that not only was my ex-wife not going to be reasonable, but was out to utilize the fullest extent of her “legal rights” in order to punish me, not for being unfaithful (I was not), not for abuse (I have never been abusive to her or my children), but simply because she could.
From my experience there is NO Question that Family court is slanted to be anti-father when kids are involved. Most of us have joked about the beating that men take in Divorce Court and heard it since a very young age, but nothing prepares us for the maneuvering, litigation and pain that the current state of Family Law creates by its very nature.
I suggest that the men’s movement faces some very difficult issues that we must overcome.
- Keeping people involved – I know from my own discussions with many people regarding my divorce that there are many men that have been through it, but they all basically say the same thing. I was very happy that my Child Support ended, that my kids grew up and I’m glad to see someone doing something. And yet they don’t want to get involved with changing the laws in order to make sure that their own children and their Children’s Children don’t go through the same pains.
- Financial Struggles - One of the most difficult things in this movement is to raise the finances required to fund Lobbying, Rallies and advertise the efforts of the movement. We are dealing with Non-Custodial Parents, most of whom do not have the resource to take adequate care of them, let alone donate to a cause that may or may not help them directly. The change must come in perception, changes in law come very slowly, but if we don’t start now we are simply leaving the same mess for our children and the future generations to deal with. If everyone who has been wronged in family court would donate just $1 to $5 per year to the cause it would be truly amazing what could be accomplished.
- Getting the Kids to Speak Out - My son runs www.billsarena.com The Internet’s First Divorce Support Site for Kids, by a Kid! I am consistently amazed at how many visitors he gets to his site and yet very few register, post to the forums or actively participate within the scope of the site. Bill has spoken to 3 legislative committees in Georgia, communicates with many legislative officials and executive branch officials, Judges and Family Law Reform committees and yet within the confines of the movement I find that many of our leaders have failed to understand the power that kids bring to the table. Many seem to fear their child’s involvement because they don’t want them to be “involved”; they are already ready involved by default. They are the very ones most affected by Divorce and Custody Situations, don’t sell them short. I think that for most kids they have a sense of helplessness about there situation. YOUR PRIMARY FUNCTION AS A PARENT IS NOT JUST TO PROTECT YOUR KIDS, BUT TO HELP THEM TO BECOME HONEST PRODUCTIVE MEMBERS OF SOCIETY! I ask you what could be more productive than learning how to affect change in society. Bill’s own efforts have been a tremendous learning experience for him, his friends and for me. Just don’t parade them at rallies and lobbying efforts for the sake of it, rather help them to express their own views on the topic.
- Remove the Personal Stories from your Lobbying Efforts - One thing that has made Bill very effective in his efforts is one simple, yet true statement. “I am speaking to you not because it will effect my personal situation, but as a representative for the future children of divorce. I don’t think its right for anyone to go through the pains of divorce and custody that I have been through.” If you need to vent, that is what forums and friends are for, not the Government Officials and Judges.
- Get with others involved with the Movement - When I first started going though my personal Divorce hell I felt very alone. Men are taught from an early age that “Real Men handle their problems on their own.” Changing laws is not something that you can do on your own, especially in a democracy! I can not think of any laws that have been changed as a result of ONE person acting ALONE.
- Don’t bash the opposition - While I believe that it is okay to point out flaws and differing points of view, be careful not to be the “Mad Dad” that they accuse you of being.
- Learn to Lobby from the Best - A simple Google search on how to Lobby will provide many links on how to lobby. Read and educate yourself on the tactics that works best. Find out what groups such as NOW, NRA, Big Business etc use to persuade, believe me they are more experienced and effective then you are from the onset. While not all their tactics will work for you some will. If they are using bad tactics evaluate them and see what you are up against and what not to do. If you want a great example watch my son’s video of his FIRST speech to one of the legislative committee’s from the Interview Section of his site (www.billsarena.com).
- We must get more women involved - Alignment with Second Wives Groups, Daughters of Divorce, Grandmother’s and more are very powerful. While it shouldn’t really matter, we live in a politically correct society and the politically correct thing to do is listen more intently to women than men. Right or wrong it is the way it is.
- Know your friends, but know your enemies better - Its funny, we have all heard this before, but it still rings true.
- Family Law affects everyone – Be vocal with those that are happily married and not a part of the movement. Everyone is affected by the divorce rate and inequities of the law. One thing that has become of great interest to me is the lack of coverage regarding Father’s in the press when a young person goes bad. From my own imperfect research, most of the criminals that I hear about on TV come from families with one parent not present. Explain to your married friends that persons that commit crimes against them or their neighbor is most likely from a broken home and that there are things that need to be done to stop this trend.
- Find a United Front - I think that it is critical that the Family Law Reform Movement find a UNITED FRONT. We need an organization that can step up to the plate and be the movements equivalent of NOW, PETA and the Chamber of Commerce. We MUST do this in order to affect change.
- Perseverance - We must never lose faith in that what we are fighting for is a lost cause. You MUST NOT stop fighting for what is right simply because your personal situation has improved.
- Celebrity Involvement - We all read about celebrities issues with Child Custody, we all see them fight for the rights of animals and various political issues and view points. Where are they in this battle? It is a sad statement in my mind that so many people seem to follow celebrity gossip and that they have as much political capitol as they do, but it is reality. Unless we can get the Alec Baldwin’s, Charlie Sheen’s, David Hasselhoff’s, etc to step up to the plate, the fight will be that much more difficult. Awareness is a huge issue.
- Verbage - Nothing bother’s me more than a few terms that are used to describe people that are parents of children in a divorce or custody arrangement. “Deadbeat Dad” – Very few of these actually exist. If you are behind on child support by as much as $1 you are lumped into this category statisticly. Single Mom for divorced parent – My mother was a single Mom in the truest sense of the word, my father was deceased. A divorced parent is NOT a Single Mom or Single Dad, the child still has 2 parents. These words carry great emotion and connotation that is damaging to the cause. Evil Ex Wife or Evil Ex Husband they may be evil in your mind but you come off as a “Mad Dad” when you refer to your ex as Evil. Every time one of these terms is used in the press it demands a response from all of us. These terms are as divisive and prejudicial as the “N” word that we are all so careful about.
Just my 2 cents, but I believe that most of these are obstacles that we must overcome in order to make Fairness Prevail.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or any other related issues I would enjoy hearing from you at email@example.com.
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