By Julia Battishill | Staff Reporter
Freshman Khalid Al-Sheikh aspires to be like his father. To him, he cannot “possibly form a tangible accolade to represent” his love for his future children like a mother could, but what he can do is be an advisor and help guide them.
“I personally think constantly about the great responsibility I am going to have over my children, and whether I can handle that responsibility,” Al-Sheikh said.
Male parental and custodial rights, however, are often considered a controversial topic. Some feel that there is an unfair bias towards female parents and that the statistics are undeniable, while others feel that there is no bias at all.
Many,others feel that they do not even know enough about the topic.
The subject of male parenting and how fit male parents are in comparison to female parents, especially in court, is highly controversial. Yet no matter how controversial the topic becomes, there seems to be a lack of education about it.
Seattle Pacific students willing to speak on the subject seem to agree that things are unequal somewhere in the system, that the bias swings unfairly in favor of mothers. However, they also admit that they wish they knew more about the problem.
Sophomore Talbot Miller and Al-Sheikh agreed that they wished they knew more about custodial rights and the rights of male parents.
Al-Sheikh remarked that “there is much more to learn and discover in the realm of parenting … I simply know too little about what expectations and qualifications the role of a parent entails.”
First-year Sean Hussey’s believes that male custodial rights should be in place, and are a “good thing according to my limited knowledge.”
It seems that there is a lack of education about male custodial rights and a bias in parental responsibility, which students wish could be looked further into.
According to the 2014 census, about 17.5 percent of custodial parents were fathers — about one in every six.
A custodial parent is defined in this instance as the parent with which the children live, while the other parent lives outside of the household.
Additionally, according to the 2010 census, of the small percentage of fathers who were custodial parents in 2010, 18.8 percent lived below the poverty line.
There was a higher percentage of custodial mothers in the same position; mothers were also less likely to be employed than custodial fathers and more likely to receive public assistance.
From different divorce cases with family and friends, Hussey noticed a trend in a strong preference towards the mother concerning child support and custody.
“I feel like every father should be there for their kids [if they’re able] and 17.5 percent certainly is not enough,” Hussey said. “A son needs a father as a role model and a daughter needs to know what a man of God looks and acts like.”
All of the men felt similarly.
“While I feel mothers should sometimes be given preference in divorce cases, its unreasonable that over 80 percent of fathers were considered unfit to have custody over their children,” Miller said.
This sentiment was echoed by Miller’s 6th Hill floormate, Al-Sheikh.
“I believe there is a significant favoring for mothers in parenting,” he said. “Whether that is justified or not is not up to debate. The mother carries the burden of carrying the unborn child in her own body for three-fourths of a year.”
With this in mind, he believes mothers seem to have sacrificed more than the fathers. To Al-Sheikh, there seems to be a distinct bias both in the fact that mothers tend to end up with more rights and that they often find themselves slated with more of the parental responsibility.
However, this is not necessarily a positive thing in the minds of some students.
Al-Sheikh feels that fathers can be highly capable as parents, and play too important a role to be systematically overlooked and undervalued.
“Fathers [can] do something very special and influential, and that is instilling confidence in their child,” Al-Sheikh said. “This isn’t to say mothers can’t do the same, because they definitely can.”
Bias towards the capability of mothers “can be a dangerous assumption to make, or to use as a deciding factor in divorce cases, especially when the mother may be unfit or unable to care properly for the child,” Miller added.
He believes the most equal approach is to allow both parents to present their cases on “solid footing.” Any bias towards the mother or father should not be used as a major factor when determining parental rights, he explained.
With what he does understand on the issue of parental rights and the responsibilities of the parents, Miller feels there is still a need for more education.
“I still feel pretty uninformed. And there is definitely much more that I still need to learn when it comes to understanding parental rights.”