Divorced Dads

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9780874778625: Divorced Dads

Millions of families strive to give their children the best

possible upbringing after being split apart by divorce. Separated mothers and fathers--and in many cases their second spouses--struggle to find the right way to piece together parent-child relationships in its wake. In this revolutionary work, psychologist Sanford L. Braver--who undertook the largest-ever federally funded study on issues confronting divorced fathers--shows how millions of well-intentioned mothers, fathers, judges, lawyers, educators, and other caregivers have been repeatedly and tragically misled by the prevailing data about divorce and parenthood. For years our society has accepted the image of the "deadbeat dad" who shirks childcare payments and other responsibilities. Yet Braver proves that this villainous figure--like many other myths of the divorced parent--simply does not exist in significant numbers. Moreover, Braver overturns one of the most important pieces of data on divorce in the past quarter-century: the belief that divorced women suffer a steep decline in their standard of living. This widely embraced notion was the result of misread data, but was transformed into "fact" by the media and the courts, and accepted by divorced families and their advocates. No other book has revealed the deep flaws in today's research on divorce. One-sided studies of divorced men and women, misused census data, and poor research have skewed many of the assumptions around which parents and courts have shaped divorce settlements, parenting responsibilities, and child-rearing decisions. Every divorced parent--and anyone who loves a divorced parent -- urgently needs this book to understand the new realities behind divorce and parenting.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

funded study showing that some divorced fathers really do care about their children. In 1985, Braver (Psychology/Arizona State Univ.) began following more than 1,000 families in Maricopa County, Ariz. (which includes Phoenix), who had filed for divorce but whose marriages were not yet dissolved. His purpose was to put some meat on the bones of the numbers that pointed to divorced dads as abandoning their children financially and emotionally, and to find out why this was happening, if it was. He and his colleagues discovered the numbers were wrong. The Census Bureau figures that had fueled tough new laws (and expensive bureaucracies) to enforce child support were based on interviews only with custodial parents (usually mothers). Then, too, census researchers combined statistics concerning families of divorce with those of never-married single parents to create what Braver calls the myth of deadbeat dads. The author's research demonstrates that the divorced father's unemployment is the most important factor in nonpayment of child support. Myths under attack: the ``disappearing dad,'' who initiates the divorce and then deserts his children; and the widely cited 73 percent drop in standard of living that divorced mothers and children suffer (an alleged error in arithmetic by Harvard researcher Lenore Weitzman). Braver's calculations indicate that post-divorce mothers and fathers share about the same standard of living, at least in the beginning. Although hes not above citing outmoded figures and attitudes himself, Braver does demonstrate that much of the negative view of divorced fathers is dated. The book concludes with suggestions for reform of custody policies and for programs, including extensive counseling and mediation, to either prevent divorce or help both parents minimize its impact on their children. Male martyrdom may be overstated here, but new material suggests that everyone, including fathers, suffers in divorce. -- Copyright 1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Men who bridle at the stereotype of the "deadbeat dad" with "zipper" problems who vanishes from his children's lives will find consolation in this provocative look at fatherhood in the age of divorce. In an effort to rehabilitate the image of divorced dads and to present them as overwhelmingly responsible and caring parents, Braver, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University, explains how the negative stereotypes have taken hold. Basing his theories on a study he conducted over eight years with 1000 divorcing couples, he argues that faulty research and the need for a villain in divorce cases has fueled a "jeering chorus" of politicians, journalists and sociologists that has transformed bad fatherhood into "an obvious and defenseless scapegoat for the ills of society." Although the U.S. Census Bureau reports that only half of all women receive the child support awarded by the courts, the author contends that this figure is suspect because it doesn't distinguish between divorced fathers and those who've never been married; the latter group, he argues, is less likely to comply with child support. He also contends that many women give erroneous responses when questioned about the money they've received. Braver supports joint custody as being in the child's best interest, but his conviction that children without active fathers join gangs, commit crimes, become pregnant or fail in school?an idea that Braver traces to Patrick Moynihan's now famous 1968 treatise on broken families?is highly debatable. Braver's argument for encouraging dads to get more involved in their families is refreshingly free of chest-thumping rhetoric, but readers with more fluid, less patriarchal notions of family life will find much here to question. Editor, Irene Prokop; agent, Janet Spencer King.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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