Yet another excellent editorial by The Daily Telegram! This time on Michigan House Bill 4564 and Michigan House Joint Resolution NN (2008) - if only other newspapers in Michigan had the same journalistic integrity and courage to report on the facts and not push liberal agenda.
Sunday MARCH 2, 2008
‘Fatherhood month’ deserves state action
At issue: February being declared Responsible Fatherhood Awareness Month in Michigan.
Our view: Key bills need passage to help more children benefit from having fit non-custodial parents more involved in their lives.
February is “Responsible Fatherhood Awareness Month in Michigan,” declared by Gov. Jennifer Granholm to raise public awareness that involved fathers are important in raising children. Research shows that fathers parent in ways that tend to provide somewhat different — but complementary and equally important — benefits from parenting provided by mothers.
Unfortunately, society has moved away from the two-parent model for raising children. The U.S. Census Bureau found that between 1970 and 1990, the proportion of children living only with their mother doubled from 11 percent to 20 percent. Wednesday, the Census Bureau issued its new report that showed the latter rate has increased to 23 percent. More than one-quarter of American children live with only one parent and, in 88 percent of those cases, the Census Bureau found the mother has custody.
Divorce is a major cause of the trend. In most cases in Michigan, children of divorced parents typically are only given four to six days per month with their non-custodial parent. This arrangement remains the standard in any case in which either parent refuses joint parenting.
Two proposals are before Michigan lawmakers that would help ease that problem. One is Michigan’s Equal Parenting bill, HB 4564, which would establish that more equal parenting would become the normal expectation in contested divorces involving parents who both are fit adults. Judges still would have the authority to assign primary custody, however the burden of proof for denying one parent more equal time with their children would be shifted to a presumption of fitness rather than today’s general presumption of single-parenting.
Another proposal is House Joint Resolution NN, the Parental Rights Resolution, a proposed constitutional amendment to establish that “parents and legal guardians have a natural and fundamental right to direct the care, education, and upbringing of their children. No government action shall burden, abridge, or hinder this natural, fundamental right unless it is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
The Equal Parenting bill has languished in the House Judiciary Committee since Oct. 10 after six months of sitting in the Families and Children’s Services Committee without a hearing. A similar bill received mostly favorable testimony last year, but died when Rep. Dudley Spade, D-Tipton, declined to vote “yes” or “no” on it in committee.
Spade has signed the Parental Rights Resolution as a co-sponsor, although Rep. Mike Simpson, D-Liberty Twp., has not.
It is time to move these pieces of legislation forward for consideration by the full House. This month’s declaration pays recognition to fatherhood. It is important now that lawmakers also create a more equal state environment in which more children will benefit from responsible fatherhood.