Column: Parenting Council Needs Both Genders

August 6, 2015

[Opinion column written by PLP MP Michael Weeks]

“While I applaud Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin for the institution of a Co-Parenting Council, whose primary aim would be to assist parents finding themselves in the midst of aspiration [whether matrimonial or relationship]; and in dealing with the management of amicable agreements where their children are concerned, I would be less than honest, if I didn’t express my immediate concern at her appointment of an all -female Co-Parenting Council.

The fact that this Council has only females at the helm, negates immediately, the knowledge and experience that males with just as many credentials and experiences could bring, if given the opportunity.

The Minister appears to justify the all – female council by making several alarming statements -

“We are not discounting the worth of men in the process – the starting point is really where we need to get it right.”

“Women have a certain sensitivity.”

Then she further says, “it would appear, that the prerequisite to be a member of the council is to be a female.”

Well, news flash Minister, the very words in these statements discount and disrespect men right off the bat. Minister Gordon- Pamplin has essentially discounted the worth of males, by not including them in this important initiative.

In addition, the unfounded assumption that having an all-female council would ‘get it right from the start’ wrongfully suggests, that males would not have what it takes to get it right from the onset.

She further states that women bring a certain sensitivity to the role which subtly presumes, that males would not bring a similar sensitivity to such a position.

And, yes, Minister, it does appear that the ‘prerequisite’ to sit on this council is for one to be female, because you have not seen fit to utilize even one of our many talented and experienced males, whose backgrounds would rival the females in the areas of psychology, law, mediation and or social work.

Certainly, this is not to suggest that the women chosen are not suited or credentialed, but I do suggest, having a background in social work myself, that males with those credentials do also exist!

A council of this nature, comprising males and females, would certainly ensure that [using your words] ‘you get it right from the start’. It would deliver the necessary balance that such an important council requires.

As a father of four children, three of which are males, I am of the persuasion, that no one can bring the perspective and experience of a male, but a male. And certainly, no one could relate best to a father facing the natural challenges of co-parenting, but another father or male, whose knowledge brings an invaluable asset to the discussion.

Lastly and certainly not least, in the times that we find ourselves, ones where males are feeling disenfranchised or marginalized by the ‘system or society at large’, we must seek every opportunity to not only acknowledge, but to validate those who are and can make valuable contributions to the society in which we live. We must give our young or even adult males role models that they can identify with or emulate.

So, I urge the Minister, to give more thought to an integrated council. One in which males and females find themselves working in tandem and making positive contributions to assist these disjointed families.

Let’s truly get it right from the start and allow those clients to benefit wholly from having competent males and females assisting them in what is already a difficult transition.”

- Michael Weeks


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Comments (25)

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  1. stunned... says:

    both genders need to be represented in the council when it comes to parenting. this is foolishness. women do not hold a monopoly on nurturing and as an enlightentened community we need to be more inclusive. children benefit greatly by having both supportive parents and this includes all parents, gay, straight or otherwise.

    not having males on the council is akin to having a committee on race relations with only one race being represented.

    • Raymond Ray says:

      With regard to the fact that the Council currently has no male representation, Minister Gordon-Pamplin said, “I am confident that the persons currently appointed to the Council will carry out their mandate with professionalism and be able to set high standards for co-parenting mediation in Bermuda.
      Read the full article presented by Minister P. Gordon-Pamplin.
      “I further wish to make clear that the legislation provides for a council of 5 members, with 2 representing public servants, one of whom must be a mediation coordinator with the Department of Child and Family Services, 1 member representing the Bar Council and 2 members representing mediators in the private sector.”
      Minister P.Gordon-Pamplin added, “I expect that males who are interested in joining this regulatory Council, and who meet the legislative criteria will make themselves known for future consideration.”

    • NT says:

      Gay parents? Doesn’t that contradict what you just said? How does one benefit from having both a male and female in their lives if they have two parents of the same gender.

    • Onion Juice says:

      Its been a long practice in the Post Slavery Era with African descendants.
      Its called Emasculation.

  2. watching says:

    Well said Mr Weeks. I too was confused when I saw the makeup of the coparenting council. Why would you have only one gender on this council? what does it say to males? many males already feel the judiciary and decision makers are biased in favor of the mother, and now you establish a committee with no representation from males. Very strange thought process here. I hope the Minister reevaluates and adds one of two men onto the council.

  3. hmmm says:

    So is Weeks volunteering his time to the Council or just picking holes.
    She also joked about a doubled barreled last name, but you omitted that.

    Weeks off you trot and request to join the council. I’ll be watching your attendance.

    • Hmmm says:

      Yep read the original press relesae, Weeks is twisting context.

      Still if it is that important, he will join the committe won’t he!!

      If a group needs help do you comment from the sidelines or do you step up and help?

      • Tania says:

        I know that Mr. Weeks is very involved in a number of initiatives assisting young men in Bermuda to grow into productive citizens. I would imagine the Council is designed to be apolitical so Mr. Weeks can not volunteer, but I can vouch for the positive input he would bring.

        • Hmmm says:

          But he won’t join the council, but he will attack it.

          • AVoice says:

            Well Said Mr. Weeks. I was also stunned to see an all-female group myself regardless of their credentials. This is certainly not the way to start and I am sure there are many of us males who agree. The law is already one-sided against males. Do we need another council as well? Minister let’s correct this right away please. Thank you.

  4. Alvin Williams says:

    YEs it is a mistake to include only women on this council; there is the male perspective and without a presence of the male perspective; I hardly think that it will be totally effective.

    • jt says:

      I will agree here. While an all female council does not inherently make the council less than 100% effective, it would seem prudent to want to include males on such a council.

      • Cranston says:

        I would argue that it does make the council less than 100% effective. As a father in a co-parenting arrangement, I can say with some certainty that it would be an insurmountable obstacle for a woman to place herself in my shoes. She may imagine, assume perhaps even genuinely empathize with my position, but she will never fully understand it. There are nuances about the female experience that men will never understand, that is just the way of things. This council cannot be 100% effective on an issue of co-parenting without male perspective.

  5. Rhonnie aka Blue Familiar says:

    In this I have to wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Weeks.

  6. aceboy says:

    “…..whose primary aim would be to assist parents finding themselves in the midst of aspiration [whether matrimonial or relationship]; and in dealing with the management of amicable agreements where their children are concerned…..”

    Paula? Is that you Paula?

  7. I don’t often agree with everything Mr. Weeks has to say but in this case he is correct . There really needs to be males on the council to get it right from the beginning with fair decisions for both parties which has not been the case for a lot of fathers in the courts . I think the Minister made a mistake with this one !

  8. Onion says:

    Nice to see him write an article that didn’t involve being totally dishonest.

    I agree, Mr. Weeks.

  9. Barbara T. says:

    Well said Mr. Weeks. As a person needing the help and support of such a council, this council given its makeup is a non starter for us unfortunately. Such a waste of time.

  10. Kenneth says:

    I concur with Mr. Weeks’ comments, as it took both sexes top procreate they should have a say in the parenting process. Having a council that brings both perspectives on the co-parenting issue is imperative as men and women do look through different lenses but undoubtedly want to reach the same destination.

  11. PBanks says:

    You’d think that at some point during the allocation of these Council Members, the Minister would have thought, hm, it’s probably prudent to have a man or two on board, would save some controversy or backlash later…

    But nope. Another misstep that could have been easily avoided.

    • stunned... says:

      … another unnecessary U-turn in the making along with the Tobacco proposal…jeesh

    • hmmm says:

      Perhaps none stepped up when asked.

  12. Next says:

    Didn’t she also say that they would eventually add males? Also shouldn’t someone who has actually raised successful well adjusted noncriminal children be making these sort of demands and heading these councils.