Childhood Obesity as a Custody Weapon

This is not from personal experience exactly. It’s more from watching others, either people we know or those that take their battles to the television set. Divorce is often ugly and even if it isn’t there are no winners.

A divorce involving children is the hardest to watch. Accusations often fly back and forth about how one parent or the other isn’t fit to have custody of the children. Sometimes this is monetary. Paying child support can be very expensive. Sometimes it’s spite. None of it is pleasant.

There is now a new “weapon” being used in these battles. Childhood obesity, which is a major problem in the U.S. is now part of the custody battle. While I agree that we all need to work to end this epidemic, in most cases I don’t think it belongs in the courtroom.

I have a good reason for that opinion, and it comes from listening to the children being fought over. These children already have a tendency to think that the divorce is all their fault. They’re already depressed. On top of that, they’re already far too involved as weapons.

An obese child, even if he or she has two loving parents, is not usually happy. They are marked for teasing and bullying in school. They are quite capable of looking in a mirror and they seldom like what they see. Their self image is already damaged. Now you want to add it as an element of a custody battle?

When I was reading case law about custody issues, I ran across one phrase in just about every case. Even if it wasn’t written in the official notes, I’m sure it was used in any decision making. Custody issues must be decided on one factor only; the best interests of the child.

Divorcing parents sometimes forget this. There is anger. Maybe one spouse cheated on the other. Perhaps domestic violence was involved. There is hurt and rage, often locked up, just waiting for a proper venue. There is also a search for every tidbit of information that will show how bad one parent is or how great the other is.

It’s time to stop looking at our children as a weapon in this type of battle. Leave childhood obesity out of the courtroom. If that can’t be done, ask the court to appoint an advocate for the child. Let’s keep the best interests of our children as the major goal and not an instrument of revenge.

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