If “two homes” is great, why not three?

We live in a “more is better” culture. So living in two homes for a large portion of your childhood may not seem like a big deal if you haven’t done it.

There are a number of children’s books on the subject, and from what I’ve seen, their thrust is “more is better.” Two of everything is better than one.


If it were only that simple.

Last time I wrote about “two homes,” I asked my readers to participate in a thought experiment.

Here is another one.

Our starting point is:

More is better.

Let’s exaggerate it. Since more is better…

Living in “three homes” will be better than living in two, right? Does that sound too far fetched?

It is not.

California, living up to its reputation as the land of fruits, nuts and flakes, now allows three or more legal parents for children. The “three parent bill” was inspired by an ugly lesbian-marriage custody dispute, and signed by Gov. Brown in October 2013. In 2012 he vetoed the same bill. Why he vetoed it in 2012 but signed it in 2013 remains unclear to me. Being the cynic that I have become, I wonder if he wanted to distance himself from the ugly circumstance that inspired the bill.

Anyway… remembering that more is better…

What about “five homes”? Five is better than three, right? Does that sound too radical? Not for some people.

Listen to the words of Masha Gessen, biographer of Vladimir Putin and LGBT activist:

“I have three kids who have five parents, more or less, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t have five parents legally. I don’t see why we should choose two of those parents and make them into a sanctioned couple. And because those five parents we have two groups with two different citizenships… [next she describes the family structure these kids have]. The five parents break down into two groups of three who have two different citizenships. And really I would like to live in a legal system that is capable of reflecting that reality. And I don’t think that is compatible with the institution of marriage.”

“… five parents legally…”

Since the five legal parents won’t have to live under one roof, this means “five homes” for the children. And we have a large group of people cheering these ideas. No thought whatsoever as to what that means for those kids… but since “kids are resilient” this means we can do whatever we want with their family structures and it’s all good. Never mind that Ms. Gessen was raised by her own married parents and so never had her ontology muddied by the presence of step-parents and others who are not related. She takes far too much for granted and, literally, cannot even begin to relate to what she is making her children endure. I’m sure she imagines that “five parents legally” means five times the love. But she is wrong. It means alienation, loneliness, ontological wounds, liminality, and codependency.

The Cinderella Effect is real but who is changing their lives because of it? Do you know anyone who uses this as reason to stay together for the kids’ sake? As a reason to preserve (or even respect) their childs’ ontology? Maybe I’m just too jaded, but it seems that lots of kids could die like this boy before masses of people would begin to question their beliefs surrounding premarital sex (aka, having kids outside marriage), cohabitation, divorce, remarriage, the definition of marriage (aka gay marriage), and third-party reproduction (surrogacy).

“Five homes” is not even the last stop on this wild ride–it gets worse. But I’ll save that for another day.


Author: everybodysdaughter

I'm an adult child of divorce, having been raised in multiple divorce/remarriage situations. I'm writing in order to shed light on the problems of divorce from the perspective of the child. I will also discuss problems with other non-triad family structures, since there is a lot of overlap. People often think that better parenting skills will overcome problems in non-triad arrangements. While I agree that parenting skills are important, they cannot overcome the problems I discuss such as fractured ontology and perpetual liminality. I converted to the Catholic faith in 2012, and will discuss Catholic things from time to time as well.

6 thoughts on “If “two homes” is great, why not three?”

  1. I’d never heard about the cinderella effect. However, I believe this happened to my nephew, if I’m understand this correctly. His mom married my brother and he was my brother’s step son. But my brother hated him. My brother is borderline insane, if you ask me (he’s my half brother). Anyway, he beat him all the time if he had an accident or just generally annoyed my brother. My brother had two other kids and he treated those kids like angels. To this day, he still does and my nephew is in his 20’s. My nephew is now gay and moved into a house with another gay man and is married. He’s cut off all ties with his mom and family because of their abuse. I wish now that I could’ve helped him because I was 16-17 when all this was going on. Looking back, it is sad how much he was abused. So does this play out in adoptions as well? I know a lot of families that adopt from foster care and then post on facebook about it saying everyone should. I’ve never felt up to the task of that. It’s hard for me to parent my own children. I wondered how I could love one that isn’t my birth child. I know people do it and I applaud them..it’s just hard for me to sacrificially love my own kids, I can’t imagine doing it with adoptive children. I wish I was wonder woman like some are, but I know my limitations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, you understand the Cinderella Effect correctly. It sounds like your nephew was living under it. As tempting as it to blame the step-parents (and we SHOULD hold them responsible), I believe the larger share of the blame should be placed on what I call “the professional class.” These are people in positions of authority who follow this kind of research (or at least, they should be following it), yet don’t speak out to warn people. I’m thinking of psychiatrists, psychologists, and religious leaders who do counseling. It doesn’t appear that they are vocal enough and I find this quite upsetting.

      Regarding adoptees: I am not sure about applying the Cinderella Effect to them. I know that they have four times the risk for suicide attempt than non-adopted kids. And they struggle with similar ontological issues as the ones I raise in this blog.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That makes sense. My one friend adopted and she’s an awesome mom. Don’t get me started on the religious leaders who do nothing!! I saw that with a friend in an abusive marriage. So not Cinderella affect but with abuse not being dealt with. It disgusted me. I am a Christian and I don’t fault God or my faith but men who sit idly by and do nothing. It’s maddening.

        Liked by 1 person

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