Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Mom Loses Custody Over 'Permissive' Hands-Off Parenting Style

Posted by   + Show Post

Mom Loses Custody Over 'Permissive' Hands-Off Parenting Style

by Linda Sharps 1 hour ago Email 8

  Despite what the most opinionated, outspoken people might have us think, I'm not sure it's actually possible to definitively prove one parenting style is superior to another. Attachment parenting vs free-range kids, co-sleeping vs crying it out, commercially packaged baby purées vs the thing where you chew up organic foods and gently spit them into your child's mouth … really, it all comes down to personal choice. Except, of course, when the legal system gets involved -- which is what recently happened with an overly "permissive" mom. A High Court judge recently decided that a British mother had failed her children by letting them play video games for hours on end, not enforcing their bedtimes, and that ultimately she treated them more like a friend than a parent.

  The ruling: custody of her 11- and 14-year-old sons went to their father, who is much more in favor of "structure, boundaries and discipline." Judge Laura Harris accepted the father's accusations that the 41-year-old mom was prone to leaving the boys on their own for long periods of time while she talked on the phone, used her iPad, or napped. She also agreed with his claims that the children had no regular bedtimes and were often late for school or failed to do their homework. I consider the mother's parenting has been permissive, and, although the court must be tolerant of different standards of parenting, I consider the permissive parenting in this case has caused the children harm.

The mother … has, in my judgment, consistently failed to meet their educational needs and therefore risks compromising in particular [the older boy’s] educational prospects. It is likely that [the younger boy] would be in the same situation as he grew older. (…) I accept the father's evidence that she is more like a friend than a parent. Judge Harris said the woman had an "almost pathological" hatred of the children's father, fueled by a belief he had cheated on her before their marriage ended. While the woman had been routinely accusing him of harassment, calling the police, and threatening injunctions, the judge believed that she'd done so in order to alienate the kids from their father.

That is not to say that she does not love her children, I have no doubt she does, although I find her love to have something of a possessive quality about it. While the judge said she had real concerns about the mother's ability to be a role model, she was deeply impressed by the father's "dogged" determination: He has, in my view, demonstrated far better insight into the needs of his teenage and pre-teenage boys, for example, around issues of guidance and boundaries, than the mother. Their parenting styles are very different. He is much more in favour of structure, boundaries and discipline, and I can understand why the boys might baulk at that, given what I consider to have been the very permissive atmosphere in which they have lived at home. He is totally committed to his sons. He has given his proposals a great deal of thought, and I was impressed with the breadth of the proposals and their depth. I was impressed with how he said he would deal with difficulties, for example, if either of the boys ran away. His analysis of what he saw facing the boys if they stayed with their mother was insightful.

Oh man, this story makes me SO uncomfortable. I mean, if she truly left her kids on their own every single day while she stayed in bed, there's obviously a problem and I'm glad someone's looking out for the boys' welfare. On the other hand, a lot of this sounds like he-said/she-said, and it feels totally possible that the dad could have simply made the more convincing argument -- or that his views on parenting better aligned with the judge's. In my opinion, some of the mother's choices that were described in the case -- if true -- go beyond permissive parenting and into neglect. But it also seems like overall, this was a judgement against a woman's parenting style. Permissive parents are described as nontraditional and lenient, who do not require mature behavior, allow considerable self-regulation, and avoid confrontation. They usually very nurturing and loving towards their kids, and often seem more like a friend rather than a parent. The results of overly permissive parenting are generally viewed to be negative, and god knows it's not how I would ever choose to raise MY kids (I'm more the authoritative type with some forays into authoritarian) (like if you argue with me about cleaning your damn room).

Still, is permissive parenting so bad someone should lose their kids over it? Without, apparently, any chance to correct the behavior with the help of a social worker? I don't know, but in this case, the judge has made the final decision. Dad's boundaries and discipline won out against Mom's hours of Xbox. Let's hope for the kids' sake this situation eventually improves to a point where both parents can be involved in a healthy manner. What do you think of this case? Do you agree the mom should have lost custody of her children?

by on Feb. 17, 2014 at 2:12 PM
Replies (11-18):
by on Feb. 17, 2014 at 7:57 PM

That sucks. I think that the best thing you could do is call CPS. Kids will almost always want to be where there is the lax amount rules - but if you can show them a better way and why it is better (how it will get them further in life), then they at least have been given a fighting chance. Otherwise it is all that they know, which is sad! I saw so many kids make such bad choices simply because they didn't see all the choices that they really had and had never seen life from another point of view. Im not saying that foster care is better - often times it is worse. This why I think communities have to get better at being involved. If you see a kid struggling, then you have to try and find a way to mentor that child. It doesn't always sink in right away or work at all - but at least they were given some sort of a chance. 

Quoting Jinx-Troublex3: I know a family.who sounds like the Mom in the article. To the point she allows the kids to run the neighborhood at all hours, she takes.them to adult parties and allows them alcohol, they cuss out both parents. She has two of.the kids.enrolled in k12 and both have laughed and told me how they do the bare minimum and cheat to pass the tests

I wish CPS would step in! I called after she snuck alcohol to her DD at a party aty house. She asked to give her 16 yo DD a virgin Margarita. I said sure but the mom made her a real one. I kicked them out once I realised the DD was acting strange and called her on it. She admitted it. DH is a cop, if something happened and it came out she got it at our home he could lose his job. We havent talked since.

The middle boy just had to go through an 18 week court ordered with our Sheriff's dept.

by Platinum Member on Feb. 17, 2014 at 9:34 PM
1 mom liked this
I agree that it is he said/ she said until significant abuse comes up.

Quoting TJandKarasMom: This does happen in some cases, but not all. My DH and his ex always had one custody issue or another, it wasn't until SD was 6 that a Guardian ad Litem got involved, and she went to each home and each school, and made a couple phone calls to 'references.' Before that, the judge just made orders based on he said she said basically.

I also don't know how it works in other countries (and other states here as well).

Quoting celtic77dragon:

When there is a custody issue, the courts do not rely on what the parties say about each other. There is an extensive home survey done. They do multiple interviews with immediate family members (including the kids), they talk to people close to the family, the school, and they do home evaluations. They would have had a very clear picture of what those kids day to day life was like with the mother and the father.

Courts generally like to side with the mothers if at all possible. There had to be a substantial case here for them to side with the father - and it sounds like there was. 

Reading this article the judge said about the father making the effort to pursue this case (at his own expense and hassle), having a history of a structured life for the kids (it sounded like the father has struggled with kids who are resistant to that and yet he still maintains structure for their best interest), and having a plan and determination to deal with the long term issues and plan of getting these kids on track. It all just leads me to think that this dad IS the best suited parent for raising the kids. 

I think minimum time with the mom is needed at first until the kids adjust to a different and better structured life with their dad. I hope all of them get counseling though. I think a relationship with BOTH parents is important to maintain EVEN if the one parent is not suitable enough to raise children. I also hope that the long term goal is to help the mother understand how important her role is as a mother and how she is better able to be in that position (most of the time the state DOES try to accomplish this). 

There are probably so many details to this case that we don't know and it is good. There is no reason for this familys flaws to split out to the mainstream media to know all about. So I am sure there was more going on than just a mom allowing her children to play too much Xbox. 

by on Feb. 18, 2014 at 3:03 AM

If the story is basically telling the truth then it doesn't seem like the mom had some well thought out parenting style but rather more likely there are depression issues. I would have to say based on the article, I agree with the judge. Though I think you can go overboard with structure and discipline you do need some of that. Life just isn't easygoing and you can't just do whatever you want when you want. Getting them to school on time and making sure they do their homework is imperative for teaching them a good work ethic for when they go into the workforce. Now maybe playing xbox all day will help them with skills to become a graphic designer or to become game creators but most likely it will just teach them to play computer games while still living at mom's house when they are 30.

by on Feb. 18, 2014 at 9:23 AM
It's very different in NH. I went through custody of my DS where we both agreed, most simple thing to do, but we didn't agree on child support which is a completely different thing here. Then like I said, the custody issues of my SD. And I was a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children that were removed from homes by CPS. I also worked in a court appointed visitation and exchange center no dealt with many different kinds of custody cases. Our system works a lot differently than yours it seems. So I do wonder what it is like in other countries.

Being a judge in situations like this has to be hard, but it sounds as though the mom did not deny the allegations against her and the judge determined more structure would ultimately be best for these children, I have to agree. And I would say that us what the judge determined in our case here as well. My SDs biomom was not unfit, but she also wasn't the most stable and structured parent either.

Anyway, there are definitely procedures in place in every state, and in most countries I would guess. But I think the procedures can vary greatly. Here, we don't even have the manpower so only 50% of CPS calls are ever even investigated. Then from there, the ultimate goal in my state is reunification. They do everything possible to keep a child with their biological parent(s). It's not always the best case scenario in my opinion, but it's the procedure that is in place.

Quoting celtic77dragon:

I lived in foster care for most of my life and saw cases unfolded on a regular basis. I now work for a private agency that deals with these types of situations. So I have seen this stuff my whole life. 

In Pennsylvania anyways (and probably in most states), there are procedures set into place. For the typical custody issues; there is a tiered system. The first step is a hearing where just the parents and their attorney is present - it is usually done in the domestics office. If they agree then a judge is pulled into the room to sign off on the agreement. If there is no agreement met, then they make an appt to have a mediator come in and help the parties agree (with attorney present). If they agree then a judge comes in and signs off on it. If they STILL can not agree, then they go before a judge. The judge orders a few things done prior to the hearing with him and it can be as simple or as complicated as the parties make it (so if they make wild allegations, then a more indepth look has to be done).

The exception to this is if CPS somehow got involved. Then you go through different procedures. Depending on the seriousness of the allegations made, the child may be removed while an investigation occurs. Then a list of pretty strigent requirements are required to be met before the child can be returned at all. The case has more people involved because you have CPS and the judge looking over the case. There is no way of knowing if the father had CPS called on the mother or if he just went through the typical custody procedures. His attorney may have had him call CPS so that it showed a urgency and seriousness of neglect going on, it would have involved a more detailed look in the home life, and got them in front of a judge sooner. 

Quoting TJandKarasMom: This does happen in some cases, but not all. My DH and his ex always had one custody issue or another, it wasn't until SD was 6 that a Guardian ad Litem got involved, and she went to each home and each school, and made a couple phone calls to 'references.' Before that, the judge just made orders based on he said she said basically.

I also don't know how it works in other countries (and other states here as well).

Quoting celtic77dragon:
by Sonja on Feb. 18, 2014 at 1:20 PM
Unless there is suspected abuse or even positive proof of abuse, then it is a case of her word against his word.
by Silver Member on Feb. 18, 2014 at 6:54 PM

If what is said is true, I understand why the judge rulled that way, although it sucks that he didn't give her time to fix it. 

by Silver Member on Feb. 18, 2014 at 7:07 PM
1 mom liked this

Now if she was a single mom, do you think cps would be trying to take her kids?

by on Feb. 24, 2014 at 12:23 AM
It was a decision about custody following a divorce where BOTH parents asked for custody.

Its not like cps came in and removed her kids from her. Dads have a right and a say in how their kids are raised and he asked for a ruling.

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)