A mother who did not discipline her children and adopted a “very permissive style of parenting” has lost custody of her two sons.
The court heard she was “more like a friend than a parent” to her sons, whose behaviour towards adults showed a “lack of discipline”.
Judge Laura Harris said: “I consider the mother’s parenting permissive, and, although the court must be tolerant of different standards of parenting, I consider the permissive parenting in this case has caused the children harm.”
The boys, aged 11 and 14, were often left on their own for long periods of time, failed to do their homework and did not have regular bedtimes.
Judge Harris ruled that the boys stay with their father because their mother had “significantly failed” her sons.
The woman would spend “hours under the duvet, on the phone or using her iPad” while “the children were left to their own devices”, the Family Division of the High Court in London heard.
In 2002, when the couple separated, the mother was given custody of both sons.
But the father told the court how he was alienated from the boys, which the judge said could constitute “emotional abuse”.
Judge Harris said the mother had “prioritised her own needs and feelings at the expense of her children” and accepted the father’s evidence that “she is more like a friend than a parent”.
A legal expert told The Daily Telegraph: “Courts take a change of residence very seriously and will usually only do so in fairly extreme circumstances.
“In this case, the judge obviously felt that the harm from changing the status quo was outweighed by the harm from the permissive parenting.
“Not setting the boundaries to the extent that children become ‘beyond parental control’ is seen in law as a justification for a local authority to remove a child from a parent’s care so it is perfectly possible for a court to change where a child lives for this reason, it’s just unusual.”