A court has ordered that two boys should live with their father because their mother was too permissive and acted “more like a friend than a parent”. The couple divorced in 2002 and the boys went to live with their mother. The father was entitled to contact at weekends, but was regularly denied this by his ex-wife. He grew concerned about his sons’ welfare. He claimed the mother repeatedly denied him access because she had remained bitter about their divorce and was convinced that he had been unfaithful. He felt that the mother was too relaxed in her parenting, allowing the boys to do what they wanted with no structure or discipline. He told the court that the boys had irregular bedtimes and were left to play computer games by their mother, and that she was “more like a best friend than a parent”. The mother defended her parenting by pointing out that the boys had an “impeccable record” at school and were “good boys with beautiful manners”. The judge ruled in favour of the father and ordered that the boys should live with him. She said: “I consider that she (the mother) does have a very permissive style of parenting, and I accept the father’s evidence that she is more like a friend than a parent. “That is not to say that she does not love her children, I have no doubt she does, although I find her love to have something of a possessive quality about it. “Her hatred of the father is almost pathological. So preoccupied is she with her own sense of grievance that she completely overlooks the effect of her behaviour on her children. “He has, in my view, demonstrated far better insight into the needs of his teenage and pre-teenage boys, for example, around issues of guidance and boundaries, than the mother. Their parenting styles are very different.” Please contact Stillwells if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any other aspect of family law.