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BREASTFEEDING AND CHILD CUSTODY: 6 points that will empower you.

Breastfeeding and Child Custody: 6 Points to Empower You
Published by Marie Biancuzzo on September 18, 2018

Whether you are breastfeeding or not, gaining child custody is always a painful ordeal. However, if you are breastfeeding, you should be prepared for another layer of complexity. During my recent interview with Shannon Shubert, it occurred to me that mothers should consider at least 6 factors when considering breastfeeding and child custody.

Family courtroom during child custody hearing
Keep the focus on the baby.

It should always be about the baby, right? However, it’s important that the judge and the court recognize the “benefits of breastfeeding” as immediate, as well as those life-long benefits that a father or formula cannot provide.

I suspect it will become more difficult for a mother to fight in court for a non-bottle situation with the recent popularity of “pump and feed.” Certainly, the baby benefits from being fed at the breast, but that fact might be a hard sell with the judge.

As Shannon reminded us, child custody is not going to be a 50/50 arrangement. It’s going to be about what’s best for the baby.

Be prepared for misconceptions.

Shannon mentioned that when the topic of breastfeeding comes into the custody discussion, people may perceive that the mother has brought out a “weapon.” Well, certainly, she has brought out a “weapon” that no one else can bring into the custody battle. Be prepared that this “weapon” perception is prevalent.

Of course, one of the biggest misconceptions is about weaning. Here in America we often think that any baby more than about 6 months old is “too old” to breastfeed. The “normal” age of weaning has not yet been determined. People also assume that at 6 months old, the majority of the baby’s nutrition should come from solid food, which is entirely untrue. Mothers may want the attorneys to consider those facts as they seek child custody.

Personally, I think it’s hard for the general public to see the nutritional differences between human milk and formula. Emphasis on the “remote immune” system, bonding, life-long protection against chronic disease, and the fact that breastfeeding is free is likely to be a more effective approach. Formula can’t claim any of those benefits.

The list of misconceptions goes on and on, but such misconceptions are likely to look uglier in court.

Assume that fathers will have visitation rights.

Here’s where it gets especially sticky. Not long ago, there was a situation where a mother objected to the father having a 2-hour visitation with a baby who was over 6 months old. Her claim was that the baby couldn’t go without breastfeeding for that period of time. I basically said, “No one will agree with that. Pick a different argument.”

However, it’s good to remember some of the practical aspects of the father feeding the baby. Haven’t you seen babies who simply will not take a bottle from anyone—the mother, the father, the grandmother or anyone else? If the mother’s milk is the sole source of nutrition, this is a practical problem. Judges aren’t likely to think of that.

Know your legal rights.

Shannon mentioned “Friend of the Court” during her interview. Friend of the Court assists with custody issues in the state of Michigan and makes recommendations to the court that a judge may or may not follow. This concept is not common. The state of Michigan is one of the few states with laws that stipulate that the judge may consider breastfeeding when determining custody agreements.

Be aware of your state’s laws.. Keep in mind, even if your state doesn’t have a breastfeeding and child custody law, that doesn’t mean a judge won’t consider the circumstances. Be prepared to advocate and educate along the way.

Be willing to negotiate in child custody battles.

I’ve never been divorced, and I’ve never had a child custody battle. But I know that people—married couples or partners who are in a custody battle—may not be communicating effectively. Where possible, use a mediator to help negotiate child custody rather than having a judge decide what is best for the baby.

Nonetheless, it’s unlikely that either parent is going to get everything they want. so, the breastfeeding mother may need to make some concessions.


Ever wondered why some kids are not always in a happy mood to go back to school especially at the beginning of the new session? This is a period when we witness all manners of tantrums from kids

I equally experienced this normalcy growing up as a child and would only get over it after some weeks into the new session after I would have received some strokes of the cane to ‘reset’ my mind back to school. Sadly no one , neither my parents nor any of my teachers ever understood the science behind this let alone proffer solution to unravel the mystery.

But researches from several notable experts have revealed this routine behavior in kids to mean school phobia, school avoidance, or school resumption fever. Regardless of the name we’d like to call it one thing that is common to them is that some children are always reluctant to go back to school after a long vacation

School resumption avoidance, school phobia, or School resumption fever are terms that describe an anxiety disorder in children who have an irrational, persistent fear going to school. This usually happens at the beginning of the school resumption. It is different from truancy. Truancy runs through the whole term or session but school phobia is temporary.

It is possible children in this category do not want to miss the attachment they have and cherish with their parents. School phobic children are often insecure, sensitive, and do not know how to cope with their emotions. They usually appear anxious and may become physically ill at the thought of having it.
As a parent it took me quite some time before I could unravel this normalcy in my children, this is after I had subjected myself to series of critical reasoning, researches and a keen study of my children. Of the two my daughter was known for a victim of school phobia who for some periods exhibited symptoms of illness.
So because of what I have experienced of my children and others around me, I have come to know that this phobia usually happens to children from age 2 and above. Reason children from ages 2-5 may cling, cry or have temper tantrum as a result of momentary separation from their parents. In older children the lack of self-confidence among other symptoms sets in. Other symptoms are;
• Frequent stomach-ache and other physical complaints such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, exhaustion or head-aches that can’t be attributed to a physical ailment
• Throwing tantrums in schools and home
• Fear of the dark or being in the room alone
• Trouble going to sleep or having nightmares
• Exaggerated fears of teachers and school
But in dealing with these symptoms, we must put them into two perspectives of Home and school inorder for us to search for the reasons that contribute to the school fever. Parents and school owners please bear with me school phobia is neither a desease nor a yardstick to determine the child’s learning capability.

So I start from my constituency which is home.
• It is possible children have been allowed to watch television, play video games more than studying or complete home work.

• Children may have enjoyed their parents’ unhindered and undivided attention when not in school.

• Have an over protective parents who reinforce the idea that being away from them could be harmful

• The affected children or child may be experiencing a family social change; divorce, death, separation, illness, depression or financial problems.
From school perspectives:

• The child may fear criticism, ridicule, punishment by the teacher and seniors.

• The child may have learning difficulties, for instance; read aloud, takes test.

• May be a victim of peer bulling during school, walking to or from school even in the school bus.

• Receive threat of physical harm.

• Feel socially inadequate due to poor social interaction skill.

• Be environmentally sensitive to new revolutions in schools or poorly ventilated classroom.

• The child may have difficulty in adjusting to a new system.

However, I have noticed in recent times some of us parents and most schools do not want to know why the affected children feel this way at every beginning of the session. We only more often than not subject them to name calling. But the focal point of my concern on this is to sensitize schools and parents to engage in a more unified and cohesive game plan with a view to recognizing the problem, discovering the underlying cause(s) for the child’s discomfort, and if possible to work with professionals to alleviate the challenges.

I have few suggestions here what parents can do
1. Have medical experts examine the child to know if the child has legitimate illness
2. We should listen to the child talk about the school to get some clues if he/she has seen any reason why he/she doesn’t want to go to school
3. Have a talk to the child’s teacher , headteacher, or counsellor to discuss possible reasons for the school fever
4. Establish a caring relationship around the child with his/her teacher and counsellor
5. Attends school related events even outside their children’s school.

Suggestions for schools
1. Schools should monitor bullying activities that may be taking place around the school.
2. Adjust work assignment to match the child’s academic skills
3. Help the child to build self confidence by discovering his/her strengths with required opportunity for the child to excel
4. Include the student in a friendship group facilitated by the school counsellor.

Please let not forget that the aim is to get kids back to school with sound emotional, physical, and intellectual readiness. So if the phobia persists beyond two to three weeks of resumption , then both school and parents of the affected kid may employ the assistance of a professional child therapist to handle this case

Thank you

Parenting is not Natural

Nothing resonates with my total belief in the sphere of Parenting than the apt submission of a panel member in a seminar I was invited to as a co-discussant on a major topic in the Institution of Family and Parenting. So this panel member rapped up his contributions with the statement ‘Parenting is not natural’ he enjoined every parent present to seek more insights better than what they already know into the world of parenting.


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Nothing in this life is not worth waiting for. Especially when it has to do with the decisions that have multiplier effects on others.

Please permit me to share with you a short story of a frustrated student and an old woman.