Letter: Some dads manipulate custody

Today, most families need two breadwinners -- and Today, most families need two breadwinners -- and even that is not enough. Photo Credit: Donna Grethen / Tribune Media Services

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Columnist Cathy Young writes that feminists, myself especially, oppose hands-on fathering ["Still adjusting to stay-at-home dads," Opinion, June 18].

In both the 1986 and the 2011 editions of my book "Mothers on Trial: The Battle for Children and Custody" I oppose the systematic persecution of good mothers by exceptionally violent and misogynist fathers who use children as weapons in a holy war against women, who batter or sexually abuse their own children, who smother and alienate them from good mothers, or who seek sole or joint custody only to avoid having to pay child and spousal support.

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Good fathers -- and they certainly do exist -- do not launch custody battles from hell. And, it is true, like good mothers, good fathers are sometimes also discriminated against by a legal system that is overloaded with cases and that relies on inexpert advice from its forensic investigators.

Today, most families need two breadwinners -- and even that is not enough. Traditionally, working-class fathers and mothers both worked outside the home, and female relatives were called upon to help. Hands-on fathering is not new. But one can recognize and applaud good fathering without forgetting that women are good mothers. I share Young's desire that conservatives, liberals, independents and feminists all accept fathering in its many guises.

Here's to hands-on fathering -- and to feminist fathering. Joint custody is something that should begin at birth, not after divorce.

Phyllis Chesler, Manhattan

Editor's note: The writer is the author of 14 books and an emerita professor of psychology and women's studies at the City University of New York.

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