Maybe you’re simply a bad parent

Posted Tuesday, November 22nd, 2022 by Gregory Forman
Filed under Attorney-Client Relations, Child Support, Not South Carolina Specific, Of Interest to Family Court Litigants, Of Interest to General Public

A sizable portion of my initial consults are with parents frustrated in achieving their custody or visitation goals in the family court.  Often these parents are in the midst of custody litigation and find their current attorney ineffectual.  Other times, these parents have recently ended their custody/visitation litigation and are trying to determine why they achieved much less than they’d hoped.

Sometimes these parents are truly a victim of bad lawyering or bad luck.  But often the reason these parents didn’t achieve their goals is they committed acts or omissions as a parent that a family court judge will uniformly find problematic—and sometimes disqualifying—but no one has explained this to them in the fear of appearing “judgy.”

There are no perfect parents and family court judges are tolerant of some parental errors. But some actions can only be chalked up to one being a bad parent.  There’s the obvious bad parenting—physical and sexual abuse being examples that few parents try to excuse.  However much bad parenting is often accompanied by a parent excusing his or her bad behavior.

One might, on occasion, slap a mouthy teenager in a moment of anger; hitting that teen with sufficient force to break bones is bad parenting.  One might, on occasion, get too intoxicated to drive while one’s children are in the house; getting blackout drunk or drugged when one has responsibility for children is bad parenting.

One might allow an unruly child to stay with others while one develops a strategy for getting that child under control; abandoning that child an obviously unfit caregiver because one has given up is bad parenting. One will surely get frustrated with a co-parent who won’t accept parental responsibilities; constantly reminding the children about this co-parent’s failings is bad parenting.

No one reacts well to being called a bad parent but sometimes it’s the only way to get the attention of a parent who has a long history of excusing inexcusable behavior and then complains about a raw deal from the family court.  One can fix bad parenting—and by fixing bad parenting one will be able to achieve better results in the family court than one could otherwise.  However, if one refuses to acknowledge bad parenting, one will never fix it, and one will never achieve forward progress on custody and visitation goals.

A number of the potential custody/visitation clients I meet with are folks who continue to engage in disqualifying behavior and wonder why they don’t get good results.  They are rarely receptive to the answer but that answer is “bad parenting.”

The ability of parents to completely ignore or discount their own bad parenting decisions while complaining about their poor litigation results will never stop surprising me.  It will also keep me employed as long as I wish to practice custody law.

2 thoughts on Maybe you’re simply a bad parent

  1. Robin Moore says:

    Nicely said sir!! I was a bad parent to!! My 2sons are 39 and 37 !! I never lost custody, came close, I was also a battered wife and mother,, to a drug dealer!! Sure you can read in between the lines!! Both my son’s graduated HS!! Thank God!! And started out with very good work ethics!! My youngest was academically gifted!! While his older brother has a little learning disability!! Young son is now a special needs teacher!! And big brother!! Homeless drug addict with 2 children and a girlfriend baby mama!! And doesn’t have custody mom either!! And me either!! Do to bs past!! And speaking the truth!! About DSS in Horry county!!! I have NO contact with my grandkids after 13 yrs!!living with them on and off !!Backwards hillbillies!! Have long history of sexual abuse!! Drug and alcohol abuse!! The children went from my sister home 150,000.00 yr income to blow property!! 40,000.00 if child support comes in!! DSS says it is for the best interest of children the children will be a lot closer to the parent that lost custody!! Refused drug testing and or care plan,, DDS had put in to place!!thank you for your hard work and good heart!! I’m just ripping, what I sow blessed day robin

  2. Kathleen Ferri says:

    Truth!! And you’re not afraid to say it.

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