Friday, May 3, 2013

Deciding Whether or not to Compare Likes and Contrasts in Educational Desires for your Children when you have Joint Legal Custody

Disagreements among parents relating to the education of their children can produce hostilities leading to court hearings but through rational evaluation this need not be the result. The drawn out title of this post serves a dual function: to broach the issue of resolving disagreements about a child's education, and to reveal the necessity of a thorough examination of the educational opportunities before strictly adhering to a precept about one's preferences. Finding commonality within the position of each parent may reduce the potential for conflict and lead to out-of-court agreements.

The factors in making educational decisions for the children should be clearly described by each parent. This past week an issue was brought to my attention where a parent who shares joint legal custody decided unilaterally that, against the recommendation of the school, the child would not attend a summer school program. That action is contempt of court. The parent to whom the recommendation was delivered by the child decided not to compare educational desires with the other. But the parents should have been able to compare their wishes.

Education of children has been on my radar recently with the Common Core Education Standards being rejected in Indiana and some other issues. In studying those and my other readings I come across the repetition of phrases that evoke a feeling of similarity, similarity that parents should feel. Namely, wanting their children to receive a proper education that includes accuracy in lessons. Particularly, when listing educational desires, parents may choose whether they want their children to be presented lessons based upon common usage or factual accuracy. Notice my usage of “whether” as a neutral term between two explicit options. Thus, a parent may choose whether or not he or she wants his or her child to learn English properly. Another option could be for a parent to choose whether he or she wants his or her child to learn English properly. Before you think I have made an editing error in the last two sentences where I use the neutral term “whether” look at the last sentence where “or not” was omitted. In that sentence the choices being “to do” or “not to do” are not explicitly stated but are implicit in the term's neutrality. Adding “or not” to “whether” is an improper redundancy and demonstrates a lack of knowledge about the English language. Yet, this phrase is often seen in educational institution text. If a child's education is on the parents' radar screen then likely they may find more commonality than differences.

In examining educational institutions or standards parents should delineate what they like and don't like about each option; “compare and contrast” as some would say – such as the Indiana Department of Education's use on the ISTEP. By creating lists of both positive and negative attributes parents can compare notes to find what factors are like, show similarities, and which contrast, show differences. A comparison, examining likes and contrasts, may demonstrate that the parents are in agreement more than they may initially realize. For instance, they may wish for their children to be engaged in correct usage of the English language such as “compare” being used properly. Milton, in Paradise Lost, wrote “To compare Great things with small” demonstrating existing use of “compare” as meaning to show likeness and difference. The desire for a child to attend a legitimate educational institution, ones who don't use the phrase “compare and contrast” should be universal.

When parents who share legal custody make decisions for their children uniformity in language is beneficial as what one intends in speech may not always be what is conveyed or heard as this joke demonstrates:
A wife asks her husband, "Could you please go shopping for me and buy one carton of milk, and if they have eggs, get 6."
A short time later the husband comes back with 6 cartons of milk.
The wife asks him, "Why the hell did you buy 6 cartons of milk?!"
He replied, "They had eggs."

It's comical but it demonstrates that speaking the same language can be elusive even when speaking the same language.

If you need assistance in ensuring that parents reach agreement of legal custody issues then please visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me. There is no charge for initial attorney consultations.

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More information about child custody rights and procedures may be found on the Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates website.

©2008, 2013 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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