Why do children forgive fathers before mothers?

Fathers demand equality

This is the story of a man who dearly wanted to be a father. Let's call him Hans Kowalski.

"We really wanted a child, yes. That was the case. But the mother then changed her mind - with a pregnancy test."

Their daughter was born six years ago. The mother wrote: "Father unknown" in the birth certificate, decided independently on the name, would have preferred to withhold the child from the father. Since the two were not married, the mother had the law on her side.
"Then my mother allowed me to see her in the pub for half an hour once a week. That was 30 rounds in the first year, so of course it wasn't possible to establish real contact."

But Hans Kowalski did not give up.

"Yes, I love my daughter."

The father - a lawyer by profession - threatened to go to the family court. The mother finally gave in and agreed to custody of the father. It took a few years for the daughter to say "Papi" to her birth father. "Papa" was already taken, that was her mother's new boyfriend.

"The child was hers, that was her concept. Then she had a new partner, that was the family. And I was the producer. That was her concept. And that is also fully covered by the current legal situation. She is allowed to do it that way if she so decides. "

That is why Hans Kowalski, together with other campaigners of the "Väteraufbruch" initiative, is pushing for modern custody in which both parents have equal rights. If the mother and father are not married to each other, then both parents should automatically receive custody from birth - demands Rainer Sonnenberger, federal chairman of the "Väteraufbruch" association.

"We are currently demanding that the fathers should come in so that it becomes normal to look after your children and so that you can get away from fathers who run away."

The federal government has already passed a corresponding draft law. The illegitimate fathers will in future have more rights, but will not be treated on an equal footing with the mothers. After the birth of their child, the father can apply for custody. The mother has six weeks to formulate her contradiction. If she is silent, the father also receives custody. If she objects, the case goes to the family court. Federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, FDP, thinks this is a good solution.

"Therefore it is a better position for the fathers, they now have predictable procedures here in a foreseeable period of time. And I think we take both interests properly."

The father activists do not think so at all. They demand custody right from the start. In the first six weeks, the biological fathers remain locked out, complains Rainer Sonnenberger from the "Father's departure" initiative, and the first few weeks are particularly important.

"As with the naming of the child, for example, he is not allowed to have a say. He does not have a say in the place of residence. Whether the child is baptized, that is religion, he is not involved. And particularly interesting: Now is yes the law regulating circumcision has just been passed, where it is said quite deliberately that both parents should decide. But the father would not be there, especially with the Jewish religions, because he was in which that happens then, custody cannot even be obtained through legal channels. "

For the father activists, the draft law on custody of the unmarried does not go far enough, while for others it already goes far too far. These include conservative and strongly religious circles - they see the special position of marriage enshrined in the Basic Law at risk. But women's and single parent associations also criticize the rule "If the mother is silent, she agrees". Ramona Pisal, President of the German Association of Women Lawyers:

"The consequence that if you stay silent you practically have someone in the house who can always and constantly interfere in everything, but whom you may not even know better, that is not clear to every woman in the situation."

The focus must be on the child's best interests and not on the parents' egoistic interests, argues the Association of Women Lawyers. Therefore: no automatic custody of the unmarried father if the mother does not object, but in all cases a decision by a family court.

"The court should hear orally, should hear the parents, father and mother, also the youth welfare office and should then decide, after the situation of the matter and exhaustion of all evidence, in such a way that it is positively beneficial for the well-being of the child from a judicial perspective."

Clearly - both sides have completely different fathers in mind with their arguments. The female lawyers fathers who slip away from responsibility after conception, pay no maintenance and only want custody to annoy their former partner. The father activists, on the other hand, only see those men who are devoted to their children and who feel that their former partner has been tricked. Fathers like Hans Kowalski.

"It's just about the question, are you the sugar daddy who can offer something extra on the weekend, so to speak, and make yourself so popular, so to speak, or are you a caregiver with whom the daughter or child also has to deal. It's simply about the question: Am I present as a father or am I an onlooker? "