I wish I had a dad

According to my analytics, last week somebody found my blog by searching for the phrase, “I wish I had a dad.” I haven’t written on that exact topic, so I searched for that phrase to see where my blog appeared, and which post appeared, in the results. I couldn’t find it, but while scanning it became clear to me that a lot of others have written on that exact topic.

If by some chance you are here because you were searching for that phrase, and you wished you had a dad, let me offer this little bit of information and hopefully comfort to you.

1) You aren’t alone. A lot of people wish they had a dad.

2) It’s not your fault that you don’t have a dad.

3) Our culture believes that the definition of freedom includes having the State annul familial obligations whenever adults want. So part of the reason you don’t have a dad is because our culture was more concerned about your dad’s freedom (from you and your other parent) than your feelings about him, and your legitimate need for him.

4) If you don’t have a dad because you were donor conceived, then it’s also true that our culture is more concerned about your mom’s ability to choose how to reproduce than what those choices do to you, your long term prospects, and your feelings.

I say things as plainly as I can because I don’t want to be misunderstood. But I also hope for something else:

It doesn’t have to be that way for future generations. YOU can be part of the change. You can tell your story and speak out so that others don’t choose to do to their children what was done to you. If enough people speak out, then laws can be changed so that these injustices aren’t condoned by the State. The adults around you failed in their duties, but the State and the wider culture has a large part of the blame. When the State annuls people’s familial obligations without cause, it is acting unjustly and outside of its authority.

5) If you are grieving alone because you don’t have a dad, then you may be experiencing disenfranchised grief. This is grief that is not acknowledged or accepted by the wider culture. As a way to be part of a community who understands you, you might want to consider publishing your story online for others to read. It will help you see that you’re not alone, and there is a small movement afoot that calls attention to the injustice you are facing. If you want to tell your story, there are a couple of websites that want to hear what you have to say. They will publish your story, anonymously if you prefer:

  • Donor conceived people can do that here.
  • Others without dads can do that here (single mom by choice, kids harmed by divorce and/or parental alienation, kids in gay households, etc).

Finally, it is OK to put your mother and your father together in your heart and your mind. Your mom and your dad are each half of who you are. Speaking for myself, I fully acknowledge the legitimacy of that family triad, YOU, your mother and your father. Even if you don’t know what your dad looks like, that’s OK. He’s there in you, along with your mom. That is real because it is YOU. You don’t have to tell anybody that you’ve done this. But if you do tell somebody and they don’t agree, just remind that that this is your choice. Everybody else gets a choice, right? So do you. I think that part of the healing process includes letting ourselves acknowledge this, because it is truth.

holy family

Kids of divorce are like side jobs

As I mentioned before, kids of divorce have a harder time finishing their educations than their counterparts in intact families. I hope you read the article at the link, and the comments too. Very enlightening. My own experience matches what is there.

I have read enough of the research know that researchers are missing something important. Researchers often focus on money, money, money, as if enough money will fix any problem. I’m sure that a lack of money is an issue, so don’t misunderstand me. But money doesn’t overcome one of the most basic problems, which is this:

After splitting up our first families, our parents move on with their lives.

Before the divorce, we were a joint project between the two people who brought us into the world, whose DNA we share. We were like a single, full time job shared by two managers whose lives largely converged. The two managers acted in unison for our good.

After the divorce, our managers acquire new, full time projects, and we become two separate half-time side jobs with two different managers. Rather than having their lives converge in the unified home we share with them, we live in “two homes,” and their lives become more and more divergent as time goes on.

remarriage-diagrams-both-together
Post-divorce: half-time project going in one direction while in mom’s home, then half-time project with a different direction while in dad’s home. Repeat ad infinitum.

The more I think about the project analogy, the more I like it.

The analogy should shed more light on why “two homes” is not what’s best for kids. It is confusing and it pulls us into two different directions. Our parents hate each other so much that they are willing to ignore half of who we are. Divorce judges fail at their job to recognize the injustice of being raised that way and so are complicit in perpetuating it. Practically speaking, it means that our parents are not there for us in so many ways. When they jettisoned our other parent, they jettisoned half of us.

I’m doing my best to shed light on the problem, but I’m just one person who probably comes across like she’s just too angry to take seriously most of the time. It is unfortunate that I have to be a spokesman for this cause, really, because I’m sure others could do it better if they knew what I know. Unfortunately, too few people really want to pay attention to how hard it is to live in our parents’ post-divorce, ever-increasingly divergent worlds.

Maybe we have become very hard-hearted towards unwanted and half-wanted children. Or maybe we always were. Or maybe we’ve participated in some way, feel guilt about it, and instead of alleviating the guilt through sincere repentance and rectification, we justify our actions. Or maybe it’s just very difficult to start a social movement when everybody believes that the definition of freedom means having the State annul our familial obligations at will. Or maybe when we look around, we see so many fractured families that the problem seems too overwhelming.

See also:

POLL: Am I an abortion survivor?

I need some help. I’m not really sure how to classify myself. My mother got pregnant with me when she was 19. She and my dad (and me of course), went to Mexico to get an abortion. When they got there, the abortion doctor told her that she was too far along with me. So they walked in to get an abortion, and walked out with me still intact. So it’s not as if I survived an actual abortion attempt. But it was pretty close. I want your input:

Should I call myself an abortion survivor?

Does it fit? I like it since it gives me some quick-credibility in the discussion. On the other hand, I don’t want to mislead anybody into thinking that I underwent an attempted abortion procedure and survived it.

So I’m not really sure if a qualify to use that label. But it would feel really great to be able to say something like this:

I’m an abortion survivor and I think you’re full of shit for supporting abortion. Your support for abortion is as if you are saying to my face:

“I’m totally fine with you not even being here. I’m fine with your body being burned until you die with saline, or torn apart limb from limb, then thrown into the medical waste like trash or sold for medical research. Because #freedom!”

Do you know what it’s called when your freedom costs somebody else their life? It’s called war. You send innocent human life into “battle” to die for your “freedom.” It is disgusting and you should be ashamed of yourself. You don’t have a right to something that can’t be guaranteed–you never had a right to pregnancy-free coitus. Your cry for freedom is a cry to remain immature and irresponsible. Stop advocating for the slaughter of the unborn and grow up. You never had a right for pregnancy-free coitus. If you don’t want to bring a child into the world, then don’t have sex. It’s really and truly that simple.

Yep, that feels good, gratifying, honest.

Here’s Gianna Jessen, giving testimony to the House Judiciary Committee in 2015. She was born alive during a saline abortion. Obviously, she qualifies as an abortion survivor:

Maybe I’ll use the label, and if anybody questions it, I can link back to this post. What do you think?

The State’s (very active) role in family breakdown

I was thinking more about how abortion and no-fault divorce are similar. Here’s a chart I made that shows it more clearly. I included another category: anonymous gamete donation.

states-role-in-family-breakdown
How the State “frees” some at the expense of others

So you can see the pattern. In each case, the State is siding with one person (Party A) while simultaneously providing no legal defense for the other person (Party B). It is obviously unjust for the State to provide Party A with absolute control, and to deny Party B any legal means to stop the action.

Why is this happening? It’s because of how we view freedom. We believe that freedom includes being free from familial obligations. That is bad enough on its own and in fact, stating it that plainly makes it seem pathological. But what is even worse is that we believe that the State has an obligation to uphold that version of freedom, even though it is profoundly unjust for many people. In prior generations, I’m pretty sure this mindset would have been viewed as irresponsibility, not as freedom. Our forebears recognized the difference between liberty and license.

We are living in a time when an entire class of people (Party B) are summarily denied the opportunity for justice so that others can be “free” from their obligations (Party A). One way to view slavery is that the slave has no legal means to stop the slave-owner from doing certain things. That pattern is playing out today under the guise of sexual and reproductive “liberty.” This is more evidence those ideas are regressive. Some people get to be “free” while others, who are directly impacted by that “freedom,” are denied justice as a matter of course.

Now it should be obvious how active the State is in breaking down the family. So much family breakdown happens because of how the State has positioned itself. If the State provided a way for Party B to defend against the action, and denied Party A unilateral capacity to commit the action, so much family breakdown just wouldn’t happen.

See also:

How abortion and no-fault divorce are similar

One strategic mistake my side of the debate has made is to ignore the divorce issue. The top leadership on my side almost totally ignores it, and I find this not only discouraging, but logically problematic. They just leap over it as if it wasn’t there. I mentioned this before when I wrote about the conservative preference for the children of gays.

Let me distill it as well as I can. Here is how the two issues are related:

Abortion is like no-fault divorce in that the State annuls people’s familial obligations to others who are legally innocent. In both processes, the State has failed to provide any legal means to defend against the process. The process happens at the behest of one party (Party A: petitioner in a no-fault divorce action; woman seeking an abortion) who claims that the process is needed to secure their “liberty” from the other party (Party B: respondent in a no-fault divorce action; unborn child). Party B has no legal means or protection to stop the process. The State sides with Party A 100% of the time, to either actively enforce the action (divorce) or let it happen (abortion).

This is one reason why I say that the leadership on my side of the debate is not logically consistent. We can’t expect to succeed if we ignore the more entrenched foe.

See also:

One Ph.D. gets it: “Children who are bounced from home to home have no true home”

Just found this, from SteamboatToday.com. It is a fictional account of what it is like to live as a child of divorce, by Chris Drake, Ph.D.:

…After going back and forth from Dad’s house to Mom’s house, I began to feel like I had no real home. I had trouble knowing where my stuff for school and sports was. It seemed like I had to make all the changes, even though I hadn’t divorced my parents. Why couldn’t they let me stay in one house and they move in and out for a week at a time?

No one asked me if my mom or dad spent more time with me before the divorce. No one asked me how I felt toward each of them and how much I trusted each of my parents. No one asked me if I’d feel better living more with my mom or my dad. No one asked me if I even felt safe. The judge decided how and where I would live for the rest of my childhood.

…Children who are bounced from home to home have no true home…

Thank you, Dr. Drake. Read the whole thing here.

Alicia Keys’ “Blended Family” song is a lie and I’ll prove it to you

Alicia Keys says that there’s nothing she won’t do for love for the step-child. That is a pleasant sounding statement and lots of people will ooo and aah over it.

However, it is a lie and I’ll prove it to you: guess who’s the one living in “two homes?” It’s not her and her new husband–that would be too inconvenient. So that burden is placed upon the child under the belief that “kids are resilient but adults are profoundly fragile.” Did you notice the new photos in the family album? No sign of the child’s mother. The dynamic in these diagrams is fully at play:

remarriage-diagrams-both-together

As I have stated before, this dynamic is largely independent of the adults’ post-divorce behavior. It is a consequence of them “moving on.” See also:

 

 

I can’t wait until the Ph.Ds admit they were wrong about divorce and children

I can’t wait until the Ph.Ds admit they were wrong about divorce and children. I can’t wait until I no longer see blogs in my WordPress feed saying divorce won’t scar children for life. It is a lie, and it is malpractice to say it. The social science data is very clear about the long term impact and dramatically increased risk factors for those kids. Anybody who isn’t familiar with the data should not call themselves a therapist.

Furthermore, to promote the idea that fighting is the main contributor to post-divorce problems among children demonstrates a dramatic intellectual failure. “Structural issues” are always present and are largely independent of the parents’ behavior. This should be self-evident. My parents never fought but they did ignore each other, which meant they ignored half of me. It was extremely confusing and lonely to live that way.

I suspect that in their minds, they justify divorce on the grounds that they have the skills and knowledge to take care of any bad effects among the kids. It’s just a hunch–I have no evidence–but it fits what we know. If I’m right, then we know for certain that they are not ignorant about the data, and they really ARE lying to people about it.

See also:

The medical community is deliberately ignoring data about childhood trauma

Divorce is killing our children: a medical doctor speaks out

 

 

Affirming first families

When I see somebody whose parents are divorced (or never married) and they claim everything is OK, I am highly skeptical for a number of reasons:

1) They have strong incentives to say this, and no incentives to say anything else.

2) Their relationship with their parents is tenuous, so they can’t rock the boat.

3) Our culture harshly criticizes apparently healthy people who can’t pick themselves up by their bootstraps and move on from whatever hardship they encounter. “You don’t like that your parents are divorced? Too bad. Get over it or you’re ostracized.”

4) Related to this is how people will ascribe that pain to a treatable mental illness, rather than an ongoing painful circumstance that could have been handled differently with the right help and knowledge. If they think it is a mental illness, they will criticize the person for not seeking treatment. If they seek treatment and don’t get healed, then they didn’t try hard enough, or maybe it’s genetic (yes, I’ve had all of these said to me in recent years). In no way can the circumstance be to blame–freedom to do as one pleases trumps all. It is as if they believe that our knowledge of the human psyche is absolute, which means everything is fixable.

5) We are a highly individualized culture and we value adults having freedom more than anything else, particularly sexual freedom. If a child spends his childhood feeling alone because the adults are exercising their freedom, that is the price that must be paid.

6) We start with the triad, yet too many Christians have abandoned it in favor of flawed theoretical models such as “blended family.” But we are Trinitarians, which means we believe in the community of three distinct persons of the Godhead, yet who are one. How many of us actively affirm everybody’s first families?  If we look around, I think we would have to be honest and say that we have not done a good job there. We have too often abandoned the Trinitarian theoretical model that God wrote into our bodies, in favor of creating “choices” and “freedom” for adults. Sometimes it will be extremely difficult to affirm that community of three persons (father/mother/child) for certain individuals, but I believe it must be done as a matter of justice for that person. Consider that any difficulty in affirming somebody’s first family might be one consequence of our idea of “freedom.” In other words, we might have to revise our view of freedom in order to affirm first families.

holy family

Evaluating the State as a vehicle for poverty alleviation

Please read my post from yesterday if you haven’t yet. It will help you understand the argument I make today.

Here is a diagram I made based on the essay I linked yesterday. Notice how far removed the recipients are from the donors (taxpayers). Also notice the accountability loop:

modern-state-as-an-occasion-of-sin-diagram
Did Jesus intend for donors (taxpayers) and recipients to be so far removed from each other?

Is Jesus happy with this system? I don’t know. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. The verses in the New Testament indicate that we are to give to the poor directly–that is the plain reading of the texts. Why did he phrase it like that? Was it so that we would be close to the poor, to look at them, to touch them, breathe the same air they breath, see how they live? I think so. In the state-sponsored system, we see how far removed donors and recipients are from each other.

Somebody might counter that this is OK because it is an agency relationship. If so, I disagree. This isn’t a true agency relationship, since it is based on fear/coerced “giving” and the principal (taxpayer) does not have direct control over the agent (the state). For example, try not paying the portion of your taxes that would otherwise go to the poor. Tell the IRS that you will donate that money to a worthy charity instead. See how much control you have (as the principal) over the agent (the IRS). It is actually the other way around. The agent controls the relationship. That is fine as far as it goes (Romans 13:1-7), but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that this is a true agency. It isn’t.

philemon-1-14So our state-sponsored poverty alleviation system is not an agency, it is based on fear or coercion, it lacks accountability to the donor (taxpayer), it separates donors from recipients, it fosters moral hazard/rent-seeking behaviors, it thwarts intact family formation, and creates occasions for temptations to various kinds of sin (for the donors/taxpayers, the administrators, and the transfer recipients). A lot of people like this system, even those who are not transfer recipients. I wonder how they get around all of the problems I mentioned. Do the the ends justify the means in this case?