I have met and heard the tragic stories of many parents. PA is a function, by and large, of a custodial ex-partner, although some alienation can start while the couple is still together.

This blog is a story of experiences and observations of dysfunctional Family Law (FLAW), an arena pitting parent against parent, with children as the prize. Due to the gender bias in Family Law, that I have observed, this Blog has evolved from a focus solely on PA to one of the broader Family/Children's Rights area and the impact of Feminist mythology on Canadian Jurisprudence and the Divorce Industry.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Sack Lunches ~ A Story of Soldiers

Author Unknown

I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight. 'I'm glad I have a good book to read. Perhaps I will get a short nap,' I thought.

Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to start a conversation. 'Where are you headed?' I asked the soldier seated nearest to me.

"Petawawa". We'll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we're being deployed to Afghanistan

After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for five dollars. It would be several hours before we reached the east, and I quickly decided a lunch would help pass the time.

As I reached for my wallet, I overheard soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch. 'No, that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch. Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks. I'll wait till we get to base '

His friend agreed.

I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch. I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty dollar bill. 'Take a lunch to all those soldiers.' She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me. 'My son was a soldier in Iraq ; it's almost like you are doing it for him.'

Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated. She stopped at my seat and asked, 'Which do you like best - beef or chicken?'

'Chicken,' I replied, wondering why she asked. She turned and went to the front of plane, returning a minute later with a dinner plate from first class. 'This is your thanks.'

After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room. A man stopped me. 'I saw what you did. I want to be part of it. Here, take this.' He handed me twenty-five dollars.

Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked, I hoped he was not looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane. When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand, an said, 'I want to shake your hand.'

Quickly unfastening my seatbelt I stood and took the Captain's hand. With a booming voice he said, 'I was a soldier and I was a military pilot.

Once, someone bought me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never forgot.' I was embarrassed when applause was heard from all of the passengers.

Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He left another twenty-five dollars in my palm.

When we landed I gathered my belongings and started to deplane. Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word. Another twenty-five dollars!

Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their trip to the base. I walked over to them and handed them seventy-five dollars. 'It will take you some time to reach the base. It will be about time for a sandwich. God Bless You.' Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of their fellow travelers. As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were giving their all for our country. I could only give them a couple of meals.

It seemed so little...

A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank cheque made payable to ' Canada or United States of America for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'

That is Honour, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.

“A Good Childhood: Searching for Values in a Competitive Age”

The following is a summary of a study done in the UK and released less than a week ago at this writing. It reinforces the notion the nuclear family is the best environment for children, with a mom and dad present. It emphasizes the importance of father's in a child's life and discusses what end results occur with father absence. This is the UK but some of its conclusions require no national borders. As an aside the report apparently had participation by left wing labourites so it is interesting how it flies in the face of the current Labour Governments approach to Family and how a diversity of family types is good and the nuclear family represents an oppressive approach.MJM

The Good Childhood Inquiry, "A Good Childhood: Searching for Values in a Competitive Age"

5 February 2009,

by The Children's Society, UK

Family

Two things stand out compared to a century ago:

Most women now work outside the home. In Britain 70% of mothers with 9-12 month old babies now do some paid work. This compares to only 25% twenty-five years ago.

Women's new economic independence has made women much less dependent on their male partner, as has the advent of the welfare state. These factors have contributed to the rise of family break up. As a result of increased break-up, a third of British sixteen year olds now live apart from their biological father.

A child's performance at secondary school, self esteem and well being as an adult is linked especially to the father's input. Children, whose parents separate are 50% more likely to fail at school, suffer behavioural difficulties, anxiety or depression.

Parents, even when their child's welfare is of primary concern, should not stay together if the level of conflict between them is very bad. After a separation the issue of conflict remains central. On average, children are less likely to become depressed or aggressive the better parents get on and the more they see their separated father.

So it is a real worry that in Britain around 28% of all children whose parents have separated have no contact with their fathers three years after separation. A high percentage of these children did not talk intimately to anyone about their concerns.

How common is parental separation? At present about 15% of mothers who give birth are already living on their own, 25% are cohabiting and 60% are married. But by age 16, a third of British children are living apart from their biological father. On present trends this figure will continue to rise.

So to reduce the level of conflict in family life, parents must give more priority to their relationship. This would do more for children than anything else.

Children's evidence

I think all kids should have the right to live in a happy place where they feel safe and loved. I haven't felt like that in some time but I know my parents don't mean it. It's just they argue and take it out on me.

- Frankie, 14, Manchester

I wish I could make all childrens parents love them.

- 11-year-old boy

Children with single or step parents are 50% more likely to suffer with lower academic achievement, poor self-esteem, unpopularity with other children, behavioural difficulties and depression.

Friends

As children grow older they spend less time with their parents and more with other children. If they develop good friendships at this stage, they are on their way to happy, fulfilled lives. But the number of 16 year olds saying they have a best friend they can really trust has dropped. Between 1986 and 2006 the rate fell from 87% to 82%, a trend that was evident for both boys and girls.

Children who make friends early do better. They have greater moral sensibility and better understanding of social relationships. They are also more popular, less bullied and less aggressive. Unfortunately some children are unpopular and they will tend to associate with other children who reinforce each others' aggression.

Friendship is about exploring beyond family. Yet parents are increasingly afraid to let children explore the outside world unsupervised. Thirty-nine per cent of adults went out unsupervised before their 11th birthday, according to a representative survey. But only 17% of the same adults believed today's children should be allowed to do so.

There are various reasons for these changes: parents fear the abduction or murder of their child. But such events are incredibly rare. Murders of children by strangers average around one a year in Britain. The annual risk of murder by a stranger is 1 per million and of abduction 6 per million. This compares with 2,400 children per million who are injured in a road accident.

The problem is that television and the newspapers now bring us the minutest details of every tragic event, so that murders are now much more salient in people's minds. We need to restore a sense of balance.

Yet there are fewer places where children can play safely. We can hardly be surprised when our children become obese, if we build over open spaces.

Once past puberty romantic friendships are an important feature of young people's lives. The age at which people have their first sexual experience has fallen dramatically. For women it dropped from 21 in 1953 to 16 in 1998. Teenage pregnancies are higher in the UK than anywhere in Western Europe, at 27 per 1,000 compared to only five in the Netherlands. This is the product of many forces including: more privacy when both parents work, commercial pressures towards premature sexualisation and a fundamental shift in attitude toward pre-marital sex.

Children's evidence

You can't have a good childhood without friends, every child needs friends. Lots of friends to confide and talking is what young people need for a good life

- 12-year old girl

I would try and stop ALL bullying!!!

- 11-year-old girl

Some parentas dont let kids go outsdie and play whith their friends.

- 8-year-old boy

Lifestyle

Compared with 50 years ago there have been three massive changes:

Children have more money. They have more leisure. New technologies.

The effect of all this is children now inhabit a new youth culture, more separate than ever from adults. But modern culture involves three serious dangers. It encourages:

* The view that to be happy you have to be wealthy and beautiful.

* A confliction and often-violent model of human relationships.

* Physical inactivity, eating, drinking and smoking to excess.

New technologies have also brought serious problems. On average children spend 17 hours a week watching television. They use the computer or play video games for four hours a week. Eight out of ten 5-16 year olds have their own TV; Seven in ten have internet access. Two out of every three have their own mobile phone.

With £3 billion a year to spend, children attract massive advertising. By the age of two children handle a new toy differently according to whether they have seen it on TV the previous day. By the age of three they prefer an advertised brand to another. Much advertising is good fun but some advertisers explicitly exploit peer pressure.

The more a child is exposed to TV and the internet the more materialistic they become, the worse they relate to their parents and the worse their mental health. The way firms are promoting sugary, salty high-fat foods to children is leading to rising levels of obesity. If current trends continue, by 2023 there will be a 54% rise in Type II diabetes and by 2051 life expectancy will fall five years.

The most dangerous aspect of media content is the lurch to more and more violence, which we know can breed violent behaviours and increased mental illness. The biggest problem though is alcohol, with a quarter of 16-19 year olds now engaging in hazardous drinking.

Children's evidence

People at school look down their nose at you if you don't have an IPod or whatever.

- 14 year old girl

I thing what all children need for a good life is lots of sport to keep them fit and well.

- 9-year-old boy

Lots of people eat junk food and they have no time to do exercise to burn it off.

- 10 year old

Values

Our values and beliefs tell us how to behave in our dealings with others and they give us our purposes in life. They define both our morality and our aspirations. They represent our vision of the person we would like to be.

But the decline of religious and, more recently, secular belief in social obligation means there is less confidence in values such as generosity and fairness. Such values are more difficult to inculcate when parents and children are repeatedly told they need to posses more material goods and compete successfully against others.

This void has left the way open to excessive individualism – the belief that things will work out all right if everybody looks after themselves. But the philosophy behind excessive individualism is fundamentally flawed. Psychological research shows unselfish people become on average happier.

Children are born with moral potential. But it only develops through fruitful human interaction. What children need is unconditional love but also firm guidance about boundaries and how to behave. The right guidance is based on reason, not command – ''authoritative'', not authoritarian. The main principles are rather simple:

* Other people matter as much as you do

* So consider how your behaviour will affect them and how they will feel.

* Agreement is bound to involve compromise.

Clearly parents have the biggest influence on children's values. But schools also make a major difference. What is needed is a common vocabulary used by both teachers and parents. The words we use have a powerful influence on how we would like to be. At ''Values-Based-Schools'' such as West Kidlington in Oxfordshire, staff, parents and children agree a list of words such as ''respect'' ''trust'' and ''generosity'' which in turn become word of the month and get written on walls around the school. Teachers are expected to practise the same principles as children and parents are included at every step.

We are arguing for a significant change of heart in society where adults, be they parents or teachers, are less embarrassed to stand for the values without which a society cannot flourish. For example, sex and relationships education should become a statutory, not voluntary, part of the curriculum and be presented not as biology but as part of social and emotional learning. Parents should teach the importance of key values and help children to develop spiritual qualities.

Childrens evidence

You should treat others as you would like to be treated back and respect the people around you, whoever they are. If they have a disability or a problem still treat them as you would treat others.

- 9-year-old boy

I think people should listen to kids more. Adults never seem to truly listen, and we have good ideas.

- 12-year-old girl

Schooling

Educational inequality

Britain has a largely excellent school system, blighted by unequal outcomes. By 2006 only 28% of children in the most deprived quarter of schools gained five or more good GCSE passes at A*-C. That compared with 67% of children in the least deprived quarter of schools. We also have the weakest system for giving less academic children a proper training in a profession, craft or trade in Western Europe North of the Alps.

The key to educational progress is recruiting enough good teachers to our deprived areas. There is every reason to re-introduce higher pay for teachers, especially in secondary schools with a high proportion of children on free school meals. In addition every young person with a reasonable school record should be offered an apprenticeship.

Testing and league tables

The Government has insisted that the overall test results for each school are published. But there are many problems with the tables that appear in newspapers. Some give only raw results with no adjustment for the type of children going to the school. The adjusted figures get much less publicity.

Most of the published scores relate to the percentage of children who reach a certain standard, such as gaining 5 GCSEs. If children are a long way below this threshold, even with good teaching, they are unlikely to get near this target and therefore will not impact on the schools overall published statistics. Therefore there is no incentive for schools to focus on these children

Values and discipline

Disruption in the classroom is one of the main impediments to learning. In a survey of children aged 11 to 14 in metropolitan areas 29% said that every day other pupils tried to disrupt their lessons. Forty-three per cent said that other pupils were ''always'' or ''often'' so noisy that they found it difficult to work. Disorder on this scale is highly disturbing. Schools should consider piloting new tests at ages 5, 11 and 14 to assess each child's emotional well-being.

Children's evidence

My school helps people who are bullied and that's why I really enjoy going to school because the teachers and pupils are really nice and friendly.

- 11-year-old girl

My school is helping me prepare for life because it is teaching me so many useful skills - everything from how to cook to how to speak in public to how to climb mountains and how to communicate with other people well.

- 15-year-old girl

Mental health

Most of our children lead happy lives, but a minority are seriously troubled or disturbed. Yet only a quarter of those affected are getting any specialist help. This neglect is extremely unjust but it is also short-sighted because these children are highly likely to grow up to become troubled and disturbed adults.

One in ten 5-16 year olds now has clinically significant mental health difficulties - ranging from anxiety, depression, over activity, inattentiveness (ADHD) and anorexia - through to conduct disorders such as uncontrollable or destructive behaviour.

Mental health difficulties have increased because the quality of children's experience has deteriorated. The key factors that directly affect mental health include living apart from your father (which increased difficulties by over 40%), family conflict, poor mental health of a parent, living in rented housing and ''more than two adverse life events.'' The effect of not having a stable family life or stable friendships is particularly striking. In nearly every survey the proportion of children with behavioural difficulties is at least 50% higher in families with single parents or step parents than in families where both parents are still together. Ninety per cent of adolescents convicted of crime had shown conduct disorder in childhood.

So what can be done about the problem? There are a number of well-developed treatments that have good records of success and are recommended by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Usually the basic ideas are drawn either from cognitive behaviour therapy or from interventions derived from social learning theory that change family interactions.

But at present only a quarter of children with mental health difficulties get any specialist help. To ensure maximum effectiveness we need a five-year plan for child psychological therapy. This would have two key features: a plan to train or retrain at least one thousand child psychological therapists in the skills of evidence-based therapy and assessment, and a plan for progressively establishing NICE-recommended services throughout the country.

Relieving this suffering would probably pay for itself. A child with a conduct disorder costs the taxpayer £70,000 in crime, social care and remedial costs by the time they are twenty eight compared to £7,000 for a child with no such problems.

Children's evidence

I have good days and bad days. Some days I feel pretty and other days I feel really ugly, and when I have those days I pile on the make-up. I think that I need to love myself more.

- 13-year-old girl

I would change in my life my sadness.

- 9-year-old girl

I sometimes feel that noone wants me or likes me.

- 11-year-old girl

http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/all_about_us/how_we_do_it/the_good_childhood_inquiry/report_summaries/13959.html