Shared overnight care of infants after parental separation - An academic and social debate in stalemate
The controversy over this issue has a long history(1). The debate has escalated over the past decade with concerns over family law reforms, although there has been scant new evidence to be considered. Recently, media in the UK (Telegraph, Guardian, Daily Mail, Independent) and here in Australia (ABC, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald) have covered this topic. The media attention has been sparked by the controversial opinions of Penelope Leach – countered by Sheila Kitzinger and fathering advocacy groups. Journal publications addressing shared overnight care of young children (2-10) have been referred to in support of the case for and against shared care after separation.
It is generally agreed that the important issue here is what is best for the child – not parent rights (see my posts on the comparable issue of the increasing use of child care). The parenting role does not come with rights - it comes with responsibilities. The demand for parental responsibility is highest at a child’s time of greatest vulnerability - around birth and infancy. It is imperative that at this vulnerable time others uphold the rights of the infant.