Equal parenting refers to the concept of sharing parenting responsibilities equally between two parents, regardless of their gender. Texas is becoming an advocate for equal parenting, promoting both parents to have an equal say in important decisions related to their children’s upbringing. I will try to explain why equal parenting is essential in Texas, and most importantly, why it fails so far, to become a legal reality.
Equal parenting promotes and fosters gender equality. It removes traditional gender roles that assign women as the primary caregiver while men act as breadwinners. This outdated ideology is no longer applicable to families due to technological advancements, the need for dual-income households, and modern progressive attitudes. In contrast, equal parenting allows fathers to become more involved in their children’s lives, contributing more time and effort towards taking care of them beyond providing financial support. Additionally, mothers can also prioritize their careers without the traditional social pressure to sacrifice their personal aspirations to care for their children. The need for gender equality in parenting is a growing trend worldwide and has been shown to be beneficial for the development of children (Jones 2021).
Equal parenting reduces conflict between parents. When couples separate or divorce, children usually have to adjust to new routines, living arrangements, and the end of the family unit. Often, parents can resort to hostility and bitterness out of frustration or disagreements related to their children’s upbringing. Parental conflict can negatively impact children’s emotional and mental well-being, especially if it is prolonged after a divorce or separation. Equal parenting can reduce tensions between parents, allowing for a smoother transition of responsibilities and minimizing distress for children.
For example, Texas parents, Aaron and Monica Jackson were convinced that their son’s needs were best met when both parents shared custody. After initially receiving minimal visitation rights, Aaron implored the Texas Family Code to support joint custody as the default after divorce (Bruce, 2021). They won the case, and this ruling was a significant victory for equal parenting, setting a precedent for future rulings.
Equal parenting provides children with better opportunities to build strong relationships with both parents. Children generally thrive when they have a close, supportive relationship with both parents. Equal parenting increases the children’s opportunity to build strong relationships with both parents and minimizes the chance of the children feeling marginalized or rejected by one parent. Additionally, the shared responsibility provides for a diversity of experiences, lifestyles, and perspectives, exposing children to multiple ways of life.
Equal parenting promotes stability and consistency in children’s lives. When children move from house to house, it can be stressful and disorienting for them. With equal parenting, children have consistency in routines, rules, and structures in both households. Both parents work together to provide a stable and loving environment for their children, minimizing the risk of developing behavioral problems.
In conclusion, equal parenting is essential in Texas, promoting gender equality, reducing conflict between parents, providing children with better opportunities to build strong relationships with both parents, and bringing stability and consistency to their lives. Equal parenting is an urgent issue globally, and Texas should become a leading advocate on this matter. Parents should have equal access to parent their children without fear of parental bias, primarily based on their gender. Evidence supports the benefits of equal parenting; it fosters healthier development in children, reduces parental conflict, and provides stability in their lives.
Despite these well-documented benefits, Texas is still dragging its feet in instituting equal parenting as a default for fit parents. In 2021, bipartisan House Bill 176 and House Bill 803 died in committee. The head of the committee was a lawyer.
For session 2023-2024, bipartisan Texas House Bill 3379 and Texas Senate Bill 1702 have been filed. There’s no progress and fears arise that equal parenting will not find room in the legislative schedule.
There must be a powerful reason to ignore these facts:
- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) – 5 times the average.
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average.
- 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Center for Disease Control)
- 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes –14 times the average. (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)
- 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (National Principals Association Report)
- Father Factor in Drug and Alcohol Abuse – Researchers at Columbia University found that children living in two-parent household with a poor relationship with their father are 68% more likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs compared to all teens in two-parent households.
- 70% of youths in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Sept. 1988)
- 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Fulton Co. Georgia, Texas Dept. of Correction)
- Daughters of single parents without a Father involved are 53% more likely to marry as teenagers, 711% more likely to have children as teenagers, 164% more likely to have a pre-marital birth and 92% more likely to get divorced themselves.
We need to see clearly who is behind the quiet but powerful resistance against equal parenting. During the committee hearings in 2021, dozens and dozens of voices supported equal parenting. Churches, parents and community representatives of all colors, cultures and party affiliations spoke one after another about the horrific consequences of the current system that favors one-parent outcomes.
The only voice against equal parenting was from the Texas bar association.
Equal parenting would mean less incentive for parents to spend thousands and thousands on never-ending court wars. Less legal expenses mean more money invested in the kids’ well-being. It is time for Texans to make the right choice.