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Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Illustration Anna Parini (The New Yorker)

I am traveling, and I brought with me an old issue of the New Yorker, the August 7 and 14 one, for I wanted to read Larissa MacFarquhar’s article, “The Separation. Why should a child be removed from his home?” It is a superb piece about the destruction of a family, and a must-read for any parent (father) confronted for whatever reason to the monstrous US family justice system.

MacFarquhar’s article narrates Mercedes’ quest to be reunited with her three children taken away from her by the Bronx family court. Mercedes is not a bad mother. She made mistakes, like all of us, but she was not abusive and deeply cared for her kids. Once they are taken away from her, it seems to her like her life stops.

Everything starts with a phone call of Mercedes’ mother to A.C.S. (the Administration for Children’s Services), out of spite. Mercedes visited her mom, with her two kids (Mercedes would give birth to two other children later on). Leslie, her daughter, had accidentally burnt herself with a hair dryer. Mercedes‘ mother was not especially alarmed for the child, but called ACS nonetheless. Fatal mistake. A.C.S. agents are like the Inquisition. They are the ones who know about good and bad parents; You cannot question their intrusion into your life and your relationship with your children, because they hold the fate of a relation in their hands. From this point onward, Mercedes is snatched into a process that is going to crush her and her relationship with her kids.

A.C.S. is yet just one of the culprits of Mercedes’ ordeal, which has no end in sight still. They are all these actors of the system acting at cross-purposes: A liberal-minded judge, who is used to put impossible demands on the way the single parent is to raise their child, which the mom cannot meet because she is poor; Racist and classist social workers, who presume blacks to have a normal life, let alone to raise kids; A stingy social system, which does not provide for the poor, notably as far as housing is concerned. The justice system had no problem however to provide foster parents caring for Mercedes’ children with generous foster care benefits.

I wish such a detailed analysis of the working of the family court system had been available 17 years ago, when I was deep into my post-divorce saga.

 

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Sand Museum, Tottori (Japan)

Everyday that passes cruelly makes me aware I will never keep up with the goodies technology has to offer. Last month, at a friend’s place, I discovered the existence of Alexa and all that my friend asks “this creature”to do for him. Today, I found something even better than Alexa: Veldt’s newest smartwatch.

I skipped the technical details, which are well above my head. This Veldt’s watch records quality time you spend with your children. Quality is a matter of distance. If your child is around you within 30 meter (32 yards) or less, you are good. Your watch records it. Otherwise, zip.

Let me tell you something. If I ever spend any time again with my children (who are now adults), it won’t be “quality time” or otherwise. Whatever happens, it won’t be memorable time and I will need no watch to record it.

That brings me to the most interesting part of this Veldt’s watch story, which Zoey Chong from CNET does not elaborate on. Veldt (a Tokyo-based company) seemed to have developed this watch with the help of the Japanese government, whose intent was to encourage people to move to the western rural part of Tottori, not as glamorous and attractive as Tottori city, famous for its sand dunes, or other cities of the Tottori region filled with culture and history. The way the Japanese government sold the move to the west: you will spend more “quality time” with your family, which you can measure with this attractive Veldt’s watch.

All this is speculation on my part. Newly inhabitants in Western Tottori, feel free to let us know if the time you spend with your children is better, and if this watch is of any help.

 

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I cannot wait for this presidential campaign to end. The fool with a toupee is dragging people -immigrants, women, disabled – and any issue he dares to discuss in the mud. This is exacting.

The poor fellow is obviously proud in his own sick way of his  daughter, whom he shows off, and whom, miraculously, has not ended up in the beauty pageants he owns. He has absolutely nothing to say about love, fatherhood, education or family justice.

Even if I think the man is likely to take the beating he deserves, I have to grab signs that the world has not turned into a nauseous place he lives in. Sometimes, you find it in the NYC subway.

Photos Laura Martinez

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In November 2014, I contacted my ex-wife to ask her to tell me where Chloé, my youngest daughter, was planning to study next year. Chloé is in her senior year at Brearley, and I do not know anything about her plans for College. I had not asked ex for my oldest daughter on time (before she turned 18) and I should have known better. My ex-wife has never ventured any information about the girls, about education, health, religion or anything, although she is obliged by our divorce contract to “inform and consult.”

At first, ex argued my request was impinging on Chloé’s privacy when she will no longer be a minor.  I insisted, stating that when Chloé will be an adult, she will take care of her privacy herself. Upon my insistence, she announced to me that Chloé would answer to me herself. I received this email [CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE]:

email1

 

 

 

I smelled an obvious rat: the name change – Chloé Jones instead of Chloé Lacour- the “friendly” greetings, the mention of my blog, which truly disturbs ex and ex only. This email looked exactly like the one ex would like my daughter to write to me: a statement of total indifference to what we had, and denying what we may possibly have in the future. I did not buy it.

I am tired of abiding by my side of the contract (the only side that New York State family laws acknowledges unfortunately: paying child support and unreimbursed medical expenses) and not seeing my daughters, let alone knowing nothing about them. I also have been a teenager too, and as a teenager, I broke off with my parents (God bless their souls) as a teenager would do, with the seeming rationality of passion. I did not sense it in Chloe Jones’ answer.  If a break were to happen, so be it. At least, I wanted this break to be between Chloé Lacour and her dad, and make sure that it was not, again, a fake break engineered by ex. So was my answer [CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE]:

email 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I then got the following answer from “Chloe Private”, which confirmed my doubts[CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE]:

email 3

 

 

 

 

 

Oops, I will not stick to the name Chloé Jones, which I picked for no plausible reason. It happened to be that of a porn star, but, mind you, I am fully aware of your obligations as a non-custodial father according to New York State family laws, which, as my “biological father,” you need to comply to.

Who ever thought millennials were trouble makers?

I believe I have not corresponded to my daughter Chloé, and I bet there are 99.99% chances that ex impersonated her. That’s why I am posting these emails; They do document a singular case in the annals of parental alienation.

(And by the way, as another proof of my doubts, there is nothing to respect with French taught at Brearley, if what you get from it after several years of French is what is reflected in this “Chloe Private”s email).

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As I was watching tonight Chris Hayes on MSNBC commenting on a sentence chanted by many US

Eric Garner (photo ABC News)

Eric Garner (photo ABC News)

Presidents, “we are a nation of laws,” my mind started to wander in many directions. Justice is not the forte of the US, and 2014 has not shown any sign of progress in that department. After Trayvon Martin’s murder in 2012, Michael Brown in Ferguson (Missouri) and Eric Garner (Staten Island, New York) were added to the list of cops’ victims in 2014, just to mention the most famous ones. And the culprits, Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo, are free to carry on with their lives.

Undoubtedly, there are many people like me who saw the video of Mr. Garner being chokehold to death and cannot figure out how Daniel Pantaleo has been set free by an Staten Island grand jury. A sophisticated commentator on The Brian Lehrer Show last week pointed at the prosecutor engineering the grand jury’s decision through a “smart framing of the narrative.” I surely am no law expert, but I cannot fathom how Pantaleo’s narrative as reported in The New York Times, did fly: Pantaleo did indeed report that “after he released his grip, he held down Mr Garner’s head down Mr Garner was not injured by other officers rushing in, as well as to prevent Mr Garner from possibly biting one of them.” That ‘s all there is to it, folks. Pantaleo was here to protect, and did protect Eric Garner from his colleagues and his colleagues from Eric Garner. It did not work for Eric Garner, but what seems to have mattered for the Staten Island’s grand jury is Pantaleo’s intentions: to protect.

Holding for cultural differences – the US is a cop-loving country, while where I come from, the love of cops is not exactly part of one’s DNA- this self-righteous justification of a crime with the intent to protect gives me goosebumps, as I have heard it so many times from ex against any attempt on my part to have a role in my girls’ life, or simply to know about them.

Speaking of protective chokeholds, I recently asked my ex where my youngest daughter, 17, was planning to go to college. Ex’s email reply: Sorry, this information concerns her future adult life. I am here to protect her future privacy (she was already bestowing her with the mission of extending her motherly protection to my daughter’s adulthood).  As I insisted that by our divorce agreement, she had to provide me with this  information, I received an email, supposedly from my daughter, whose style and message revealed mom’s craftsmanship: Hi, sorry (no “Dad,” an intolerable greeting for mom) but I cannot give you this information because you will post it on your stinky blog (in fact, it is mom who has a grudge against this blog… Let’s say she likes to protect unnoticed). I am 99.9 percent sure that mom impersonated my daughter, but hey, even if I could prove that in a court of law, she would claim it was all for my daughter’s own good .

It’s time for the justice system to clip the wings of the Pantaleos of all kinds, cops and alienating mothers; for the sake of their proteges, whom they keep from breathing. It just takes precedents.

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Hitchhiking scene  (It Happened One Night, Capra)

Hitchhiking scene (It Happened One Night, Capra)

Praising a Capra movie is like touting the Taj Mahal as one of the greatest monuments in the world: it is neither original nor insightful. Anyhow, I will. I just saw “It Happened One Night,” a movie Capra directed in 1934. In a nutshell, the movie tells the story of a romantic encounter between a runaway heiress, Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert), and a journalist, Peter Warren (Clark Gable).

This movie is a jewel, but I want here to chat about the father-daughter relationship, which is bumpy, physical and loving. Alexander Andrews (Walter Connolly) is a rather invasive father: he has kidnapped his adult daughter on his yacht to have her break up with a fortune hunter she is supposed to marry. Ellie, the daughter, is not that fond of him but cannot stand her father telling her what to do all the time. She starts a hunger strike. Her father brings a tray of food in her room which she throws on the floor. He slaps her, and she escapes by jumping off the boat. On the bus to New York, she meets Peter Warren, a journalist she falls in love with. And she tells him. While Warren rushes to New York to get money and propose, Ellie is woken up by the owners of the motel, with no money to pay for the room. She naturally asks daddy for help. As she brings herself to marry the rich playboy, Andrews gauges her daughter’s true feeling in a beautiful scene, where Andrews comforts his daughter Ellie, as he did when she was a little girl.

Let’s face it. The story of “It Happened One Night” would not even be considered by Hollywood studios nowadays, if not for MAJOR changes. Let ‘s see… Upon her escape, Ellen rushes to court and gets a restraining order against dad…Better: she brings in Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler (Law and Order, Sexual Victims Unit), and they get her to sue the paternalistic pig. In the end, Ellie has Warren sign a prenup in Cancun. Lastly, Warren gets to work for Joe Biden’s campaign against domestic violence with Marishka Hargitay…

These timely adaptations of the script of “It Happened One Night” are of groundbreaking relevance. Oh, I forgot: In the movie, before going to the bottom of his daughter’s feelings, Andrews meets Warren to pay him back for his expenses, and finds out about Warren’s feelings for his daughter (see, that was a time when men dared to mingle into things that were none of their business). Warren, who is never at a loss for words, tells Andrews what he thinks of rich folks and the way they raise their kids. So thirties…

Is it Capra’s genius that makes Depression times almost charming?

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Readers of this blog are right. There is some good stuff in bill A 6457, sponsored by Assemblyman Brian M Kolb. The bill was introduced on

Louise

Louise

April 1 to the New York State Assembly. I am not exactly done reading the some thirty pages of the bill, but there are things I can live with, especially as far as parenting is concerned.

The bill is an amendment to the infamous-to-fathers New York State domestic relation laws. It aims at establishing the presumption of shared parenting.  I could not help but smile at the carefully crafted reasons for such a presumption one reads in the legislative findings and intents (Section 1 of the bill) : “Shared parenting, where both parents share as equally as possible in the legal responsibility, living experience, and physical care of the child has been found to be in the child’s best interest in […] certain circumstances.” It seems the sponsors have some (not bullet proof tough) evidence of the obvious. Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the sponsors of the bill: they are asking their colleagues to reform female-biased New York State family laws without stating these laws are a dismal failure, for they would vex the susceptibilities of those who supported and keep support them. Tough job.

How is shared parenting to be established upon divorce in the bill? Parents are to agree on a “parenting plan” during mediation (p.3) which would resolve contentious issues such as transportation from one parent to the other. Both parents are to have “parenting time,” and not only mommy (who usually gets sole custody), with dad (the non-custodial parent) doomed to get “visitations.”

For these changes not to be only semantic, and fathers’ right to be a parent of their children  to be guaranteed by law, shared parenting has to be the rule, not an option hanging on the good will of the other party. That’s where there is a puzzling glitch: the amendment 240e to the domestic relation act states that if one party is seeking shared parenting and the other sole custody, “both parties shall bear the burden of the proof that their requested arrangement is in the best interest of the child.” That’s a weak side in the bill: for shared parenting to ever happen, it should be the only responsibility of the party who does not want it to contest it, and with serious reasons for doing so.  The bill might well talk about “immediate sanctions” for interfering and withholding “parenting time” (p.24), it should better prevent one parent from tampering with the other’s party’s “parenting time” right from the start.

I know what I am talking about: “my parenting time” is long gone, and ex is now tampering with any communication from me and my family with my girls. The law is always going to be several steps behind the malicious creativity of alienating parents.

If I may dare the comparison, bill  A 6457 sounds like Obamacare, (which fortunately so is now the law of the land ): it ain’t no public option, but is much better than what was before. Bill A 6457 is worth supporting and be made better.

To be continued…

 

 

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