How far should parents go in playfighting with their children?

Reporter:

Staff reporter (Rhyl Journal)

A Colwyn Bay man told Llandudno magistrates that he felt that the “rough and tumble” was an important part of growing up, but his wife took a different view, believing that the children should be protected.

And when her estranged husband refused to stop their two youngsters playfighting during their visits to him she stopped him seeing them.

That led to a series of phone calls, text messages and e-mails and eventually to his facing a charge of harassment.

The 36-year-old man, who cannot be named to prevent identifying the children, denied the charge  but was found guilty. He was given a 12-month community punishment to include 60 hours of unpaid work and 15 says of supervision.

The court heard that the couple were married in 2008 but split up in 2012 and remained on good terms, agreeing to his having regular access to the children.

The woman said that in November last year her four-year-old son told her he didn’t like playfighting with his father, so she stopped the children seeing him and told him that any future visits would have to be arranged through the courts, and told him not to contact her again.

Within four days she received 27 e-mails to which she did not respond but he pleaded to be allowed to see his son on his birthday.

In one message the father said: “Hurry up, you horrible cow. It’s nearly Christmas.”

On December 18 he called at her home, allegedly banged on the door and threw stones at her window to attract her attention, but he denied being noisy, and explained that he merely wanted to discuss the Christmas arrangements.

The woman told the court she didn’t like the aggressive nature of the playfighting and the impact it could have on the children, but in evidence the man said: “Young active boys need to do playfighting but it is not violent.......I am not hurting my son. It is always fun and never real fighting.” 

He said he was “emotionally fraught” when he sent the messages because he felt his wife was being unreasonable.

“I just wanted to see my children and I think it was cruel not to let me see them for a month,” he said.

He told the court he did not undertake to stop playfighting because it would have been a lie, and it was doing no harm.

Chairman Ken Allitt said it would be clear to a reasonable person that his conduct amounted to harassment.

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