“Alternative” families are near occasions of sin for children

I am going to make a very bold claim: so-called “alternative” families are near occasions of sin for children.

In order for readers to understand this claim, I will first define a few terms:

  • Intact family structure (we have to understand the “intact” form before we can understand the “alternative” form)
  • Alternative family structure
  • Near occasion of sin

Definition of “intact family structure”

I define an “intact family structure” as when male/female couples put these three ideas together to form families:

  • Marriage
  • Sex
  • Procreation

God designed these three things to function together as a unified whole, not to be separated.

Regarding infertility: some male/female couples experience infertility due to no fault or actions of their own. I include those couples here, since their lack of procreation is not their doing but God’s. I leave that in His hands, and I know that He has a plan for them. I also include here married and infertile male/female couples who have caused their infertility but later realize their error in causing the infertility and turn from it.

Definition of “alternative family structure”

I define a “alternative family structure” as when adults create a family by separating one or more of those things from the others (marriage, sex, procreation). I exclude ethical adoption from the definition of “alternative family structure,” since its purpose is to find parents for children who need them, rather than finding/creating children for parents who want them as we see in the “alternative” form.

Definition of “near occasion of sin”

According to the Baltimore Catechism:

The near occasions of sin are all persons, places, or things that may easily lead us into sin.

Lying is sin, and having the structure of a family that fosters lying about what it is like to be separated from one’s parents, extended family, origins, and culture qualifies as a near occasion of sin, in my view.

One of the things I love about being Catholic is how we learn to make proper distinctions. That is what we are doing here, making proper distinctions.

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Author: everybodysdaughter

I'm an adult child of divorce, having been raised in multiple divorce/remarriage situations. I originally started writing here to shed light on the problems of divorce from the perspective of the child. I gradually started writing about the Catholic faith, and the blog probably is more of that at this point. However, there is overlap between the two, since the "shape" of the family is a triangle, which is a reflection of the Holy Family and the Holy Trinity.

20 thoughts on ““Alternative” families are near occasions of sin for children”

  1. “God has a plan for those who are infertile”???? It’s very easy for someone who was able to have children to be so casual about it all like that. But judging by the rest of this post and your blog it seems you are very sheltered when it comes to this stuff.

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    1. Haha sheltered is probably the last word to be used to describe my childhood, partly because of being raised in a so-called alternative family structure. Adults do not have unlimited rights in that area.

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      1. Being raised in an “Alternative” Family Structure doesn’t mean you have any insight into infertility and the “plan” god has for those of us unable to have kids.

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          1. How can you say that? If you believe there is a plan “God” has certainly you world know what that plan is.

            Is that plan that those unable to have kids are meant to be slaves for those who have kids and then when they are no longer of use to you when they age you just push them off to the side letting them die alone?

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            1. I don’t understand your reference to being a slave. Please explain.

              Many people who have children end up dying alone. Having children is not a guarantee for that, or for a lot of other things. For example, it’s not a guarantee of being wished a happy Mother’s Day.

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              1. Meaning we pay taxes to educate your kids. We pick up the slack in the workplace when you are unable to work or have to leave work early for your kids. We are outcasted by society by people like yourself who feel you’re superior beings.

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                1. Ok, I see. You probably won’t think this is a positive, but my kids are funding your Social Security. I home schooled my children for 9 years. I didn’t get any subsidies for that. I was self employed for most of their childhood. When I got sick, the work didn’t get done. I could make a similar argument as you’ve made by saying that you’re getting more Social Security off of my expense of raising my children. And to be frank if I think about it too much I do start to feel resentful because why should my kids payroll taxes be used to fund other people? That doesn’t seem very fair to me when I’m the one who bore the expense of raising them. I only say this to let you know that the financial argument runs both ways. Perhaps it all balances out?

                  Putting all that aside, I want you to know that I am very sorry about your suffering. I truly am. I can relate to broken dreams, because the only thing I ever wanted was a happy, intact family. I didn’t get it as a child or as an adult. It has been hard to accept.

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                  1. Who are you kidding about “being sorry for my suffering”? Your blog does nothing but mock people like myself. And my pain has everything to do with my body failing me in ways normal people’s bodies don’t. It’s not about a dream not happening like dreaming to be rich or famous. You have little knowledge of what not being able to have kids is like.

                    With regards to Social Security, I’m not counting on it being there when and if I make it to retirement age. And you’re assuming your children will actually work and pay into the system when you don’t know. Also if it’s there it’s not like they won’t use it themselves. So that argument is flawed.

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                    1. You are making a lot of assumptions that are untrue. For example, my kids are grown and are already working. In fact I’m a grandmother. No, my blog doesn’t mock anybody and you have no evidence that it does. I point out the inequalities that adults create for children when they think that they have unlimited rights when it comes to a child’s family structure. Imagine being the child, growing up in the inequality and being lied to and told it’s all the same, when you know damn well it isn’t all the same. Your thoughts and feelings about it are not welcome and you must suppress them. And that’s supposed to be love? No, that’s abuse. It isn’t all the same and I’m going to continue to say that it’s not all the same. If pointing all of this out to adults hurts their feelings, then frankly I do not care. Their feelings don’t trump the injustice that the child experiences. Plus you don’t get to speak for how I feel or what my intentions are. If I empathize with your pain then it seems to me the good faith thing to do is to accept that. And my Social Security argument is quite valid. Look, what I really don’t appreciate about your remarks is how you are assuming bad faith on my part. That has to stop immediately. If you continue to assume bad faith I will delete your comments.

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                    2. It’s unfortunate that your kids never experienced infertility maybe if they had you would have a better understanding of what it’s like not to be able to have kids. Your blog does mock those unable to have children. The whole god has a plan for those unable to have kids is mocking us. That’s like telling someone who has terminal cancer that god has a plan for them.

                      I think that your pain is leading you to lash out at people unable to have kids. And BTW I believe your pain is absolutely valid and think you should absolutely speak your mind about how the family structure you grew up in has impacted you. It’s extremely important that you do speak about your experiences. You’re right your experience and family structure wasn’t the same. I don’t judge you for that.

                      What I do judge you for and really have trouble believing is that you have empathy for those unable to have kids. That if you were us you would have just rolled with it and your life would be the same as it is today. That society would have valued you the same as a non mother as you are a mother. That you would be ok with the inequalities that exist for those unable to have kids that parents like yourself have. My point is you have no idea how you would have lived your life and what it would look like unless you’ve walked in those shoes.

                      If your arguments just stuck to your experiences and how your family structure impacted you I wouldn’t have taken issue. But the constant attacks and judgement on others is something I take offense too especially when you have zero insight into what they go through.

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                    3. I’m not sure why you keep reading into me. If I say that God has a plan, it’s possible that I’m wrong about that. But that doesn’t mean I’m mocking you. I might be misguided, I might be deceived. But I’m not mocking. Mocking means being evil, being mean, taking pleasure at the expense of somebody else’s pain. I’m not being mean to say that God has a plan. I’m either right or I’m wrong. And maybe I am wrong. But that doesn’t mean I’m being mean. And I certainly take no pleasure in your pain.

                      And I never said I knew what it was like to not have children. I said that I knew what it was like to have broken dreams. If you can’t accept that then okay. But there are certain things that I thought I was owed as a matter of justice and love from my own parents that I didn’t get. And so I see an intersection with your pain. Maybe I’m wrong, but it is what I see. It doesn’t make me evil or doesn’t mean that I’m mocking you. It just means I’m wrong.

                      If you don’t want to believe that God has a plan for you, then I can’t change that. But I do think he does have a plan and I also think you would be happier if you believed that he did. It would be wrong of me to withhold that information which is why I share it.

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                    4. I just don’t believe in the whole god has a plan for people. It’s not me trying to insult your faith but rather there are too many tragedies in this world that happen to good people for no reason. I believe that unfortunately bad things happen to good people to no fault of their own for no reason. I can’t believe that god’s plan was for my wife and I to go through what we have and have us heading down the path where in the future we’ll have no family.

                      Not being able to have children is not a broken dream it’s your body not being able to do something that almost every person’s body is able to do. Again it’s not like being able to get rich or famous. It’s not something frivolous.

                      While your pain is valid I disagree that it intersects with mine or people in a similar situation. My pain is due to my body. It has nothing to do with anyone else. Your pain is due to your life experience and those adults in your life. Those adults made decisions that caused your pain. I’m not saying that my pain is greater or less than yours but rather that it’s different. Similar to the way your family structure was different not the same as others. Just recognizing that situations are different can go a long way in being empathetic and helping one another.

                      I don’t think you’re an evil person. I just think you’re misguided in understanding what would drive adults to create families similar to the one you grew up in. That’s not to justify them causing you pain but to better understand how to connect with them.

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                    5. I don’t mind if you disagree with my statement that God has a plan for you, and I don’t take it as an insult to my faith. I glad we are clear about the difference between “disagreement” and “mocking.”

                      Regarding broken dreams… wanting and needing an intact family is not something frivolous, and yet it is a broken dream. I mean “broken dream” in a deep way, not in a superficial way.

                      “I just think you’re misguided in understanding what would drive adults to create families similar to the one you grew up in.”

                      I think I know pretty well the cultural underpinnings of why people do this. It is several things. 1) sexual and reproductive liberty (that adults get to do what they want in those areas without restrictions), 2) adults’ inability to see how sexual and reproductive liberty creates injustice and inequality for the children conceived from such liberty. 3) the idea that “kids are resilient” which has a subtext, “adults are fragile and so we must let them do whatever they want in those areas.”

                      I fully realize that most adults who create inequalities for children don’t articulate or even consciously know these things. As I said, these are cultural underpinnings.

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                    6. I think you are missing one key part. Our society places an extremely high value on becoming a parent. Non parents are told “you don’t know what Love is until you have kids” “you don’t know what tired is until you become a parent” “being a parent is the most important job in the world”. That’s what drives people who are unable to become parents to go to different lengths to become parents. Non parents are viewed as being less than parents in our society. And a lot of this is driven home by the church.

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                    7. Oh dear. Yes, that is a problem. I am so sorry that people have said that to you. How awful, and cruel. Wow, that is so heartless of them. For the record, I don’t feel that way at all. I don’t blame you for feeling upset. No wonder you think that people with kids think they are better. I get it now.

                      When you say “church” I am uncertain of what you mean, so I am not sure what to say there.

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                    8. It’s not just me it’s people like me. These things are all over society and to be honest I never thought about them much before I found out I was unable to have kids. This is what people like me here and that’s what drives them to seek alternative methods to become parents. Now it’s not a path my wife and I went down but I get why others do and I don’t judge them for it. Until society changes I cant fault those who go down paths to parenthood that we didn’t.

                      I’m not religious so it hasn’t happened to me but there have been many in the infertility community who have been made to feel like they are less than by their church and not supported being childless.

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                    9. One of the reasons I like being Catholic is that the Catholic Church makes really good distinctions, in this area in particular. For example, there is no mandate to procreate, only a mandate to be open to procreation within the sexual act (which is only supposed to be between a man and a woman inside marriage).

                      That might seem like a fine line, but it is an important one. For one thing, it protects people like you from the fundamentalists who wrongly believe there is a mandate to procreate–as if we had control over it like a spigot. Let’s call this wrong belief “the fertility mentality.” Of course such a mentality would prove to be burdensome, even harmful, not only to people like you but the children so conceived. Unfortunately, I must say that the sort of judgement you describe here actually does exist in the Catholic community, but those people are wrong, wrong, wrong. For one thing, they are using their own children as a means to an end, which is a very unCatholic thing to do. For another thing, another couple’s infertility is nobody else’s business. And finally, their fertility mentality is the flip side of the contraceptive mentality. (In fact, if you want to make a Catholic fundamentalist with a lot of kids really mad, you can say that to them, but be careful because their head might explode! lol) What I mean is that both mentalities view fertility like a spigot that each couple has 100% control over. And that’s just false, no matter how many kids a couple has.

                      I could go on but I’m sure you get the point.

                      I’m glad we got to the point where we could have a conversation. Thanks for sticking it out.

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                    10. Thank you for sticking it out with me especially with how strong I came on. It’s appreciated and I hope I was able to bring a different perspective.

                      It’s interesting because being raised Catholic and no longer being a practicing Catholic I always felt there was pressure on families and having kids. Think a lot of that could be the Church and the Priests that can vary.

                      I think that as a society if we were more accepting of those who are different things could change. If we didn’t judge others and the decisions on how they live their lives. As long as they aren’t hurting anyone else we should support and respect them.

                      Thanks again for engaging and your patience with me.

                      Liked by 1 person

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