Friday 20 January 2012

It just doesn't work this way - thank heavens!


Just reading the title of this article is enough to raise the blood pressure.  The author is Kelly Rose Bradford and you can find a list of her articles for the Daily Mail at this link:

Kelly Rose Bradford Daily Mail articles

All very enlightening and moderate, I'm sure.  It seems that Kelly is a freelance journalist who writes for the Express as well as the Mail - now there's a surprise!  On her own website she describes herself thus: " Wearing my serious hat, I produce well-researched, thought-provoking, informative copy on health, pregnancy and birth, parenting and women's issues."  So which of these is the best descriptive term for her most recent article?

Option 1 - Well researched.  As this is just a rant about her own personal prejudices, research hasn't entered into the equation.  Nothing has been researched at all.  She has reacted out of her own apparently ungovernable emotions.  That has to be a fail.

Option 2 - thought-provoking.  Well, 1218 people have commented on the article as I go to press, and that in the space of only just over 24 hours.  Something has been provoked right enough.  As many of the replies are forceful but reasoned, perhaps thought has been provoked. The trouble is that I rather think that it would be equally accurate to describe it as "red mist inducing", where thoughts are certainly provoked but not necessarily constructive ones!

Option 3 - informative.  This falls foul of the same issue as option 1 - it's all entirely subjective.  It informs us of Ms. Bradford's prejudices but very little else.  An informative article would perhaps tell us whether in the wider community such a stance is considered acceptable.  Perhaps it would tell us how courts view this sort of reason for limiting contact with fathers (as it is most usually fathers who are affected).  No, it's just Ms. Bradford's take on what her son's father can and cannot do.  It doesn't even explain how it is that she believes that she has the right to dictate to her ex.

So does this article have any value?  Actually, it goes a little way to restoring my faith in human nature.  If you list the comments by approval rating, you find that all the top rated comments, entirely without exception, strongly take issue with our Kelly.  They find her actions and opinions obnoxious.  Conversely, the comments which are worst rated are all approving of the article.  The switch from disapproval to approval comes when the comments switch from supporting Kelly's stance to condemning it.

So what are the realities here?   Evidently the great British public simply doesn't share this restrictive and controlling approach.  What Kelly doesn't get, and most other people do, is that her son is not her possession.  I don't know why in this age of equality it remains the case that so many mothers see the children as theirs alone and not as shared with their fathers.

In my experience, courts firmly take the view that whereas it is appropriate to give a little time to allow children to get used to the new reality of separated parents before getting to know a parent's new partner, there is going to come a time when the new partner will have to come into the equation.  Just look at it from a practical perspective - let's say that Dad now lives with someone else.  In the dead of winter, if the children are not to be allowed to come into contact with the new lady, who is supposed to vacate their home when contact is taking place?  Does Dad have to take the children out on a miserable day, or does his new partner have to make herself scarce?  And who has the right to force this choice anyway?  Why does Mum think that she is allowed to call the shots?  The truth is that she isn't and if push comes to shove, a court won't permit her to.

That of course is the fatal flaw in Kelly's article.  She adamantly insists that there is no way she will allow it.  "There is just no way I am ever going to hand my little boy over every other weekend to play happy families with someone who is nothing to do with him."  But what if a court orders her to?  Is she going to disobey and find herself the subject of court sanctions?  How undignified and immature would that be?  Perhaps she needs to go down that route simply to get the benefit of the Separated Parent Information Programme ( - it certainly looks like she needs some serious help in getting a realistic view of how to do things. 

After all, it's not about her - it's about what's best for her son.  His voice is not even considered by her and his happiness is not even mentioned.  The reason for her ultimatum is her emotional demands and it has nothing to do with what's best for the child.  It's as well that the only standard the court applies is the child's welfare and that is why Kelly is ultimately doomed to fail.  There's no reason from the child's perspective that he should be excluded from any contact with his Dad's new partner, so a court won't forbid it.  However, it's clearly best for him to continue his relationship with his Dad, so a court will certainly make orders to ensure that he can.


  1. 'I don't know why in this age of equality it remains the case that so many mothers see the children as theirs alone and not as shared with their fathers.'

    Where do you get this from? That is certainly not my experience. I don't dispute that this does happen now and then, but in the last few years of practice, I have only encountered two mothers with this attitude. I have also seen it from some fathers i.e. attempting to remove the child and obtain residence without any good reasons, because they do not like mother's new partner.

    More often than not, I come across mothers who want their children to have open / unlimited access with their fathers, but fathers that do not take up their role and cannot really be bothered to maitain contact.

    Perhaps the author of this article should also do a bit more research

  2. Perhaps my experience is skewed in that the only children work I deal with tends to the more acrimonious and complicated cases. That said, I have certainly encountered my share of the fathers you describe, who do little if anything to foster a close relationship with their children.