Friday, May 18, 2012

Pawns in the evil games adults play

Late posting again--I'm still not back on track after yesterday. :)

This makes for an interesting read:

For those engaged in America’s culture wars, it is clear that the welfare of children is the battle ground of choice. We are barely out of the gate with civil unions and same-sex “marriages,” and we have been told, in defense of these new institutions — and with the help of Hollywood — that The Kids Are All Right. And if it be true that “by their fruits ye shall know them,” then, if the kids are all right, so must be their parents.

But as we hurtle along in our social experiments, allaying our fears that children may not be getting the best deal in the new domestic arrangements, let’s pause for a moment and pay heed to the many children who, as adults, have come forward to say something about that older, accepted, and more or less “settled” issue: divorce.

Elizabeth Marquardt, author of Between Two Worlds (2005), Stephanie Staal, The Love They Lost (2000), Andrew Root, Children of Divorce (2010) and Susan Gregory Thomas, In Spite of Everything (2011), all have in common is a willingness to fully and honestly examine the perspective of an entire generation of children who experienced their parents’ divorce and have conducted their own hard-won research. Their forthright, painful stories challenge the entrenched doctrine that it is better for children to have a “good divorce” than a bad marriage.

Living in the trenches, between two separated households, these authors have been able to put their fingers on what is essentially bad about divorce no matter how much their parents adhered to the norms of the “good” one — avoiding any public conflict, parting “amicably” and sharing the kids equally.

They were exposed. They had been brought into the world by two worlds coming together; and now they were “left hanging,” so to speak, “between two worlds.” And notwithstanding all of their measurable successes (good grades, high college enrollment rates, and well-paying jobs), the divorce of their parents had inflicted a wound at the depths of their being. For this wound, there was no remedial “social capital.” [...]

Then there is the lingering question that divorce injects into the consciousness of the surviving progeny: “Who am I now that the two people who together made up my origin have gone their separate ways?” — as one conference participant put it.

There is no question in my mind that divorce harms children. Even the adult children of divorce I have known would agree--and even when the marriage was highly dysfunctional and the separation of the spouses necessary for one spouse's safety or the safety of the children. Most cases, though, are not that dire, and this leads to even greater suffering for the children of divorce. The power struggles over the children and their acceptance of the situation continue well past the point when the adult children of divorce have left the parental nests--yes, nests, because children of divorce never forget that they have two "homes" now, one with mom and one with dad (even if they only live with one parent, and merely visit the other).

Now: how much will this situation be magnified in the case of same-sex couples acting as parenting partners to children?

There are three ways that children can end up in same-sex parented homes: the children are the biological children of one partner and that partner's former heterosexual spouse or lover; the children have been adopted; the children have been manufactured like consumer products using IVF and reproductive prostitutes. In my opinion, all of these children will experience direct harm as the result of the choices those raising them have made on their behalf.

The adopted children are being harmed because adults decided for them that they did not need one of two parents (a mother or a father). Instead, two "mothers" or two "fathers" were good enough. Never mind if a little girl being raised by two men already has deep issues in her relationships with other women because her birth mother abandoned her--it's just not important for her to develop a healthy psychological relationship with an adoptive mother. The experts say so, and they're all really brilliant. Or, never mind if a little boy is already struggling to trust men because his birth father beat or otherwise abused him. He can be raised by two lesbians without any problem, because he really doesn't need a father, a positive male role model to help him overcome the early traumas. The experts say so, and they're all really brilliant...

Moving on to the children of divorce, here the children are already suffering like other children of divorce because the two people who brought them into the world have parted worlds...but in addition, they must now learn that mom doesn't like men or dad doesn't like women. In fact, the kind of sex mom or dad really likes doesn't produce babies. Ever. Was I a mistake, a regretted accident, then? the child in this situation wonders and fears...Was I just another chain, another bar of the prison?...and that fear and anguish may last forever.

The third situation is the most evil, and thus the most harmful to children. The child with two "moms" or two "dads" finds out one day that he was made to order. His own biological mother or his own biological father cared nothing for him, nothing at all. He was sold into emotional slavery by the person who should have cared the most for him in the whole world--but to whom he was nothing more than disposable genetic material, merchandise, a consumer product. That he lived while his embryo-siblings, his womb-twins, died was only an accident, and not an accident anyone cared very much about, not his biological parent or parents, and not the person or couple for whom he was manufactured. Indeed, the evil of IVF parenting is so great that the additional injustice of depriving that child forever of either a parent of his own gender or the opposite one is only an added crime against the child, whose donor mother, perhaps, never saw her daughter or cared what became of her at all, and whose two "dads" are openly and deeply hurt if she ever expresses a wish that she had a mom, or knew what that might be like.

We have already done so much harm to the emotional well-being of children and adults by blinding ourselves to the great nightmare of divorce and its effects on children. Now we are faced with the public cry to magnify that situation by forcing children to pretend that two "moms" or two "dads" are exactly the same thing to them (emotionally, psychologically, relationally, and so on) as a mother and a father would be. We keep making children pawns in the evil games adults play, and then we wonder why society has to keep stepping in to bandage the gaping, bleeding wounds and divert our attention from the real stories and sufferings kept bottled carefully inside the walking ghosts of broken families.


Pilgrim said...

The educational system has the answer to all the problems you pose. Pay more taxes, and they will take care of these children and meet all their needs.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Given a choice between listening to people who want to affirm themselves and find self-fulfillment, vs listening to the children who are the proposed object of the self-affirmation, I vote for listening to the kids.

If you are thinking first of yourself, you are not fit to be a parent.


L. said...

"If you are thinking first of yourself, you are not fit to be a parent."

Good thing we don't have to provide any proof of this before we procreate, or many of us parents would have failed to qualify.

Tony said...

Actually, that's not a good thing. Some parents ought to be disqualified. :P

Red Cardigan said...

L., your comment also got eaten by my comment glitch this morning (please see above post comments for details). Here's what L. wrote:

Tony, we already have laws against parental abuse and neglect. As long as those of us who truly suck at being parents aren't doing anything afoul of these laws, I'd say we all qualify.

(Sorry for the comment glitch: E.M.)

Siarlys Jenkins said...

L and Tony both have valid points. (My own sin of pride is thinking I am the fair and balanced voice of sweet reason. I know I'm not as perfect as it as I think I am, but I try.)

There is no way to set up a human authority to vet potential parents, with appreciably better results than the natural random hormonal and social processes delivers. Thus, we in this nation have constitutional doctrine that raising one's own children is a liberty interest of parents, which the government may not interfere with wholesale. Laws against some obvious forms of abuse have passed constitutional muster. So has some deplorable interference by self-righteous child protection agencies. But still, the principle is there.

But then we have people who by nature cannot procreate, who have discovered that for some reason or another, selfless or selfish, they wish to experience the joys of parenthood.

I have some sympathy. I'm sure a stable gay couple would be much better for a child than bouncing around the foster system, or being raised by a single mother on crack. I know a single (Catholic) woman who decided she had been single to long to want a man around, but did want a child, so she adopted.

But, stepping outside the natural spontaneous order, one doesn't have the same claim to natural spontaneity. One is already manipulating the process, and manipulating the life of a child. If one is doing so to affirm themselves, one should find a different means of self-affirmation, so as to bear the costs and consequences one self, not inflict them upon a hapless tool.

One of the better arguments I've heard for choice in matters of abortion is a study of women in Denmark who had to apply for permission to abort. Following up those who applied, and were denied, it turned out they were horrible mothers whose children lived badly abused lives and grew up, at a much higher rate than most, to be destructive. So, sometimes the selfish urge is its own cure... other times, it seems to seek out a live child as a trophy.