I decided to look back at the story about the Minnesota child who went missing with his father for two weeks, and then upon being found, inflicted injuries on himself.
My initial reaction is that the father is mentally ill and should not have custody of the child. I think it was unstable and wrong for him to take off with the child in the first place because it was unlawful, but the fact that he then inflicted injuries to himself only confirmed my initial fears that he was an unstable person. I am a single woman with no children. In fact, I don't even like children all that much, so my view is very limited as to how these types of thing work. What does a custody battle like the one the Minnesota man is going through look like? How does this really affect the child? I can only guess.
I brought this up to a friend, Ryan, 35, who is the father of two boys to get more insight. I found it surprising that his initial thought wasn't first about what a sick man the father was like me, but about the sadness of the custody battle. My friend did not condone the father's actions, but said simply, "I don't see why there has to be a custody battle in the first place."
Ryan talked about how he feels that it is in the best interest of the child to have 50/50 custody in most cases, and he felt it was sad that the child was used as "leverage" in the custody proceedings.
Ryan wondered aloud, about why it is, "presumed that it is better for the kid to be with only one parent, anyways."
After talking to Ryan regarding the part about the dad inflicting bodily harm to himself I asked him if he thought the father was stable enough to care for the child.
Ryan said he felt the incident was an act of desperation, which could probably be blamed largely on "the system."
"Now this guy is going to labeled as a flight risk and emotionally unstable for the rest of his parenting life and it's going to be an up-hill fight to maintain any remotely normal relationship with his kids," Ryan said.
Ryan finished by saying he thought many of these issues could be avoided if there was a presumption of equal custody from the start of custody proceedings.