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Mother loses custody for permissive parenting

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The father of the two boys, aged 11 and 14 years old, asked a UK family court to allow the boys to live with him, saying their mother was more like a “best friend” than a parent and lets her sons “do what they like”.

He said that he was worried that his sons’ dental and medical needs were being neglected, and that they were “left to play computer games” late at night and had “irregular bedtimes”.

He told the court that his parenting style would be very different to their mothers’, and would be about setting boundaries and providing guidance.

The Judge agreed that the boys showed a “lack of discipline and structure” in their behaviour towards adults.

“I am sad to come to the conclusion that … this mother has significantly failed these boys,”Judge Laura Harris said.

“I consider the mother’s parenting has been permissive, and, although the court must be tolerant of different standards of parenting, I consider the permissive parenting in this case has caused the children harm.”

The couple separated in 2002. In 2004 a court ruled that the children should live with their mother and have only weekend contact with their father. But the father told the court that the contact was “regularly refused”. He also said that he was concerned for his ex-partner’s mental health.

While the Judge did not doubt the mother’s love for her boys, she said that she was so preoccupied with her own sense of grievance and “pathological” hatred for their father that she “prioritised her own needs and feelings at the expense of the needs of her children”.

“I am satisfied that there is a failure to provide proper guidance and boundaries essential for the social and emotional development of these pre-adolescent and adolescent boys. Further, I have real concerns about her as a role model.”

The Judge congratulated the father for his tenacious pursuit of continuing a relationship with his sons and his insight into their welfare.

“He is much more in favour of structure, boundaries and discipline, and I can understand why the boys might baulk at that, given what I consider to have been the very permissive atmosphere in which they have lived at home.”

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