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In many cases a Judge will determine the amount and type of custody a father receives based on the parental fitness of both parents.  Both parents are normally fit parents but a Judge may rule one parent more fit or even both parents unfit.  If both parents are unfit the courts may look to grandparent fitness.  Really, the child has the right to spend easy quality time with both parents so a measurement in this way violates a child’s rights however understanding parental fitness and why it is used may help you to improve your own parenting ability and help your child spend more quality time with their biological parents.

In almost all of the cases we have seen, a judge will award a mother with more custody than a father and blame the judgement on parental fitness.   If you are a father and you want to make sure your child’s health improves because they are able to spend time with their biological father then improving your understanding of parental fitness may help.

Parental Fitness Definition

The best definition I have found for parental fitness is the way in which a parent is fit during post-natal and child care including food provisioning and the protection of offspring.  This also includes healthy parent child communication, ability to reflect emotion, ability to talk with respect, ability to enforce limits, and the parent’s ability to poses an unrelenting deep belief in the child.  The components of fitness may include the well being of existing offspring, parents’ future reproduction, and inclusive fitness through aid to kin.
My opinion is that to posses strong parental fitness you must have some parental investment which means any investment by the parent in an individual offspring that increases the offspring’s chance of surviving at the cost of the parent’s ability to invest in other offspring.  In many cases a mother may allow a new boyfriend or relationship to take away from time their child could be spending with their biological father or mother.  This shows that the mother is more interested in creating new offspring than taking care of the existing which would therefore make her less fit to be a parent.

Other Legal Parental Fitness Definitions

(i) The willingness of the parent or parents to receive or care for the child; (ii) That the child has been removed from the custody of the parent by temporary order of the court for a period of six months and further finds that: (A) The conditions which led to the removal still exist; (B) There is little likelihood that those conditions will be remedied at an early date so that the child can be returned to the parent in the near future; and (C) The continuation of the parent-child relationship greatly diminishes the child’s prospects for early integration into a stable and permanent home

Being A Fit Parent

So you are doing everything you can for your child’s health but remember that you must also keep yourself in perfect fitness to be an optimal parent.  This will help you defend your child, think clearly in stressful situations, and develop a better relationship with the other biological parent.  These are some of my ideas on ways to improve your health and manage stress:  http://www.gregoryhillman.org/2011/08/03/how-to-manage-stress-grief-and-ways-to-optimize-health

CDC and Parental Fitness

The CDC offers ways to be a positive parent which may also improve your parental fitness.  Here are some examples that may help from the CDC for ages 2-3:

Positive Parenting

  • Set up a special time to read books with your toddler.
  • Encourage your child to engage in pretend play.
  • Play parade or follow the leader with your toddler.
  • Help your child to explore her surroundings by taking her on a walk or wagon ride.
  • Encourage your child to tell you his name and age.
  • Teach your child simple songs like Itsy Bitsy Spider, or other cultural childhood rhymes.

Child Safety First

  • Encourage your toddler to sit when eating and to chew her food thoroughly.
  • Check toys often for loose or broken parts.
  • Encourage your toddler not to put pencils or crayons in his mouth when coloring or drawing.
  • Never leave your toddler near or around water (that is, bathtubs, pools, ponds, lakes, whirlpools, or the ocean) without someone watching her.
  • Never drink hot objects while your child is sitting on your lap. Sudden movements can cause a spill.

Please let us know what you think about parental fitness and how you have helped improve it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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