Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Interviewing a child

I just talked to my 5-year-old daughter Jenny on the phone, and heard her blame her older sister Mary for the custody schedule. When Mary was interviewed by the court-appointed psychologist, he badgered her to express a preference for one parent over the other. To her credit, she apparently refused. To try to get a preference out of her, he asked her about emergency procedures. Mary told me that she didn't know what to say, so she eventually decided to tell a story about how my wife once instructed her to jump out the window in case the house was on fire! This discussion got written up in the custody evaluation as follows:
This evaluator asked if there was an emergency who would handle it better. She stated Mother would know what to do and Father "really doesn't listen." They have talked to Mother about emergency procedures.
I'll have to explain to Jenny next week that this really isn't Mary's fault. It seems clear to me that the evaluator has grossly misinterpreted what Mary said. Either he was deliberately twisting what Mary said, or he has no idea how to interview a 7-year-old child. (He is an out gay man with no experience with children, as far as I know.)

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