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

Lack of college degree does not equal “uneducated”

As somebody who only recently finished her bachelor’s degree, it is like salt in a wound when I hear news commentary about “uneducated” voters, those who don’t have a bachelor’s degree.

I wasn’t uneducated before I had my bachelor’s. I wrote books about bookkeeping; created a website; was self employed; marketed, brokered and sold my small bookkeeping business; got a good paying job; had a column at the Christian Post; forged an argument for the defense of marriage by seeing Christian sexual morality as a conduit for justice for children; read a lot; and in general tried to be a good citizen. A college degree is great and I’m grateful I was finally able to finish it, but the lack of one didn’t mean I was “uneducated.” So insulting, elitist, and classist for the news media to use that term.

In addition to the insult about being “uneducated,” this article by Garrison Keillor at the Chicago Tribune makes a stunning, yet buried, admission:

“…it helps a lot if the waitress and her husband encourage good habits and the ambition to use your God-given talents and the kids aren’t plugged into electronics day and night.”

Wait a minute: the waitress AND HER HUSBAND? I thought gender specific words were a no-no now? And what about the single mom like Murphy Brown? What about the gay couple using a surrogate to create and raise a child like David Sawyer and Bryan Collins? What about the gender-neutral trans family raising children? Nope, no mention of them or people like them. How odd, coming from a liberal. Is this a quiet admission that sex differences matter, that the natural family founded on natural marriage actually DO matter to the outcomes of children, just like the social science has been telling us for decades, just like the ancient Christian teaching on sexual morality upheld?

What about those of us who didn’t live with our own married mother and father? Where is the open admission that **championing** “sexual freedom” for adults contributed to kids not finishing their college degrees (or even their high school diplomas)… aka being “uneducated”? Not to mention a lot of other negative, painful outcomes such as shorter life spans, addictions, their own divorces, anger issues, thoughts of suicide, losing contact with grandparents, and on and on? So they’ll destroy our families and champion them never forming, then gloat over us being “uneducated.” They’ll just plug their ears to the social science, since it gets in the way of their “open mindedness” and “sexual liberation.” They cannot admit that kids being with our own married mothers and fathers contributes to them being “educated.” Got it? This is their shtick: “Family for me but not for thee.”

I am so angry right now. The most charitable thing I can say about Mr. Keillor is that he is tone deaf.

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:

Numb by Linkin Park: where’s the dad?

I love this music video by Linkin Park. It was filmed in Prague, which is in the Czech Republic. There is a lot of Christian imagery from the city that the video incorporates. For example, the video opens with a young woman standing on a very famous bridge, called the Charles Bridge. This bridge is lined with 30 statues of Christian saints. Later in the video, she is sketching the statue of St. Anne, who is Mary’s mother.

Other observations: the young woman is angry and sad, she’s struggling in school, she’s an artist, she cuts herself, the mom is frustrated at her, the dad is absent. Maybe the young woman feels “caught in the undertow” of her mother’s choice to live without her dad. Kids forced to live without their dads, forced to ignore that half of themselves, might relate to this diagram:

mothers life after divorce

Living like that makes you feel kinda numb after a while.

The video opens with the young woman looking down while on the bridge, and it closes with her looking down after running inside the Church. Not sure what that means, but one explanation may be that the Church is not doing enough to help her get connected to her roots, not doing enough to defend her emotional needs to be embedded in her own intact family.

=========================================

So after writing all that, I decided to look up the individual band members for some insight into their personal lives. Turns out that one of the co-authors of the song, Chester Bennington, is a child of divorce and a victim of sexual abuse. He’s the blonde singer in the video:

Bennington’s parents divorced when he was 11 years old and his father gained custody of him. After the divorce, Bennington started abusing marijuana, alcohol, opium, cocaine, methamphetamine, and LSD. He eventually overcame his drug addiction, and would go on to denounce drug use in future interviews. During a Linkin Park tour, he started heavily drinking but claimed to have quit in 2011, noting, “I just don’t want to be that person anymore.”

In an interview, Bennington revealed that he suffered sexual abuse from an older male friend when he was seven years old. He was afraid to ask for help because he did not want people to think he was gay or lying, and the abuse continued until age 13. The abuse and situation at home affected him so much that he felt the urge to kill and run away. To comfort himself, he drew pictures and wrote poetry and songs. Later, he revealed the abuser’s identity to his father, but chose not to continue the case after he realized the abuser was a victim himself.

At the age of 17, Bennington moved in with his mother and was banned from leaving the house when his mother discovered his drug activity. He worked at a Burger King and used his money for cocaine and crystal meth before starting his career as a professional musician. He was physically bullied in high school. In an interview, he said, “I was knocked around like a rag doll at school for being skinny and looking different.”

Considering that the sexual abuse continued after the divorce, and that Chester was living with his dad, I wonder if the abuser was a friend of the dad. I wonder what the circumstances were surrounding Chester’s dad getting custody. I am comfortable saying that Numb addresses fractured family structures. It appears that Linkin Park addresses sexual abuse in another video, Crawling. Check it out and see if you agree.

Lyrics for Numb are available here.

Family building and slavery

chesterton photo“Family building” is a pleasant sounding phrase that hides unethical practices based on similar arguments used to justify slavery. For one thing, it deliberately separates a child from his family tree in order to satisfy a market demand for children, thereby turning children into commodities. People are beginning to connect the dots between “family building” and slavery. See, for example:

Mothers urge ban on surrogacy as a form of slavery

The similarity I see to Fredrick Douglass

Sperm and egg donation foster technology-induced child slavery

Here’s another interesting thing to think about. Modern-day “family building” advocates justify the practice by arguing that there is no a priori family to destroy. They arrive at that conclusion through the twin beliefs of “love makes a family,” and “biology does not matter.” According to G.K. Chesterton, the same lack-of-family argument was made by advocates of slavery in the United States back in the 1800s (emphasis added):

“The Servile State… has always been embarrassed by the institution of marriage. It is an old story that the negro slavery of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ did its worst work in the breaking-up of families. But curiously enough, the same story is told from both sides. For the apologists of the Slave States, or, at least, of the Southern States, make the same admission even in their own defence. If they denied breaking up the slave family, it was because they denied there was any slave family to break up.

Free love is the direct enemy of freedom. It is the most obvious of all the bribes that can be offered by slavery.  In servile societies, a vast amount of sexual laxity can go on in practice… One of the conveniences of that pagan world is that, below a certain level of society, nobody really need bother about pedigree or paternity at all… of all the bribes that the old pagan slavery can offer, this luxury and laxity is the strongest…” From Fancies versus Fads, pp. 128-129

Summary: it’s OK for the strong to take advantage of the weak, since the weak aren’t part of a family anyway.

As I have argued before, sexual and reproductive liberty is a might-makes-right ideology. Imight makes right 2 fully expect it to end up in the ash heap of history, repudiated and reviled. Chesterton’s book was published in 1923, decades before “sexual liberation” and the corresponding and widespread breakdown of the family. The man was a prophet.

Thanks to Stephen R.L. Clark who directed me to the Chesterton quote through his book Biology and Christian Ethics.

The professional class destroys what it does not understand

I will use the phrase “the professional class” from time to time. Instead of defining it each time, I will define it here then link back.

Short definition:

The professional class is the group of people who are supposed to understand family issues better than the average person and who give advice, and/or craft/enforce policy surrounding those issues.

Long definition:

I am thinking of specific professions, such as psychiatrists and psychologists. People in this category typically have at least a master’s level of education. Often they have PhDs. I include MDs in this category, although I do not include PAs or RNs (or other nursing designations).

I also include:

  • Any religious leader or religious staff person who counsels people
  • Politicians, since they craft family policy
  • Judges, but only those who enforce family policy
  • Lawyers, but only those who profit from breaking down children’s family trees in various ways (divorce, surrogacy, adoption that caters to custodial adults)

Because of their education or status, they give advice to people (or craft/enforce policy that influences people) related to family issues. Often, they are paid for giving this advice. For example, therapists charge anywhere from $75-$200 per hour. Politicians and judges are paid for crafting/enforcing policy and typically make at least six figures annually. Family lawyers can range from $75-$400 per hour. Divorce lawyers typically charge between $15K and $30K for a divorce. Adoption and third-party reproduction have expensive fees as well although I’m not sure how much the legal or psych portion is.

It bugs me that these people make money on the destruction of children’s family trees. But let me be clear: in principle I am pro-profit. I understand the role of profit. Legitimate businesses need to earn profit. They will fail if they consistently do not earn profit, taking all the jobs down with the failure. Profit serves the need for job creation.

But profit can be used for ill and so must be suppressed by legal means from certain spheres of life. Anything to do with the creation and maintenance of somebody’s family tree shouldn’t be influenced by a profit motive.

But this upsets me even more: these professionals should know better. They are supposed to be educated and knowledgeable about these things. They are far too cavalier and often gloss over the long-lasting issues that these kids have to live with.

They destroy what they do not understand.

“Jesus had two dads…” and Micah 6:8

You may have seen this catchy slogan among some Christians who support same-sex marriage:

Jesus had two dads and he turned out OK.

 

daddyshome movieYes, he did have two dads, and yes, he did turn out OK. But that statement is pretty ignorant overall, if you ask me.

Many people on both sides of the marriage debate haven’t connected the dots between divorce/remarriage and same-sex marriage. Why they haven’t, I don’t know.

Maybe it’s because they lived pretty cozy lives as kids, with their own married parents.

So they either advocate for (or oppose) same-sex marriage without having a grasp on the underlying structure of that kind of family.

They fight over sexual sin, the necessity for complementary sexes, equality, or other things.

But those arguments never interested me.

I often feel like the voice of one crying in the desert. Opponents of same-sex marriage don’t seem to like my arguments.

I don’t like their arguments either so I guess that makes us even! lol

I can only speculate as to why they don’t like my arguments.

It is probably that they really believe their arguments are better. But it could be other things as well. I don’t want to speculate why. But they missed such a good opportunity.

 

You see, exactly like the kids of same-sex marriage, kids in divorce/remarriage arrangements can have:

  • two dads
  • and/or two moms
  • or more

Did you know that? Did you ever put the pieces together that way?

Think about it.  stepmom movie

You probably saw articles like this one: Bride’s Dad Stops Wedding So Stepdad Can Walk Down The Aisle Too

Or this one: To my daughter’s stepmom: I never wanted you here, but thank you

You probably saw this movie: Stepmom

Or this one: The Parent Trap

Or this one: Daddy’s Home

So yea, it’s out there that kids in divorce/remarriage situations were dealing with that kind of confusion. I coined a term for it:

Muddied ontology.

We tell them that the unity of their origins doesn’t really matter.

We make them pretend that the  new people are great additions or substitutions for where they came from.

And maybe the new people are truly good people. I’m not calling their character into question at all. I’m calling attention to the structure, not the individual people in that structure. The structure matters, since it relates to the child’s ontology.

But many people ignored these manifestations of “two moms” and “two dads,” because it didn’t seem like a big deal…

…even though the social science data is clear about the risk factors for those kids.

It’s pretty bad, really. Shorter life spans. Lower educational attainment. Higher risks for addictions and their own divorces. Separation from grandparents. Loneliness. Feeling unwelcome in their churches.

For me, I was raised with multiple divorces and remarriages between my parents. So that’s how I know about this kind of thing.

That’s why I totally dig these family structure arguments. I live and breathe them.

So… back to Jesus.

“Jesus had two dads and he turned out OK,” promotes injustice.

People want to believe that their choices are all good. That’s normal.  I don’t fault them for that.

So they like that slogan since it seems like Biblical reason to support same-sex marriage. After all, if you can get the Bible in your corner, that’s pretty cool.

But the similarity between Jesus and those children is superficial. Check out this table I made:

Jesus Children with two dads
God Incarnate Human beings
Made a free choice No choice given
His Heavenly Father loved His mother Mary Child’s father does not love child’s mother
His Heavenly Father was with his mother through the Holy Spirit Father explicitly rejects mother
Jesus knows His Heavenly Father loved His mother and was with her Child knows father does not love mother and is not with her
Ontology respected; never required to choose between his parents Forced to choose between mother and father, or, choice predetermined through falsified birth records and/or deliberate suppression of origins

(It is similar for kids with two moms. Just switch the sexes in the second column.)

From the perspective of the child, same-sex marriage is more like divorce/remarriage than natural marriage.

Here’s the injustice: It is a codified-step-parent that supplants the natural parent. This forces the child to lie about, or at least ignore, her origins…one half of who she is. Like in this video:

 

Some groups want us to accept them for who they are.

OK, I can go along with that to a point. I didn’t vote Yes on Prop 8, after all. My dad and maternal grandmother lived in an artsy LGBT enclave, and his third wife was bisexual. So I know that these people are people. They’re not subhuman freaks. They were created in the image and likeness of God.They’re just trying to get along and figure out this life.

Like everybody else.

But I have my limits.

My limit to accepting who they are stops at the precise point where they start requiring a child to reject half of who she is so that they can be a parent under the kind of family structure that they want.

It is profoundly hypocritical to demand that a child ignore half of who she is so that some couple can have the experience of being who they are.

Once I put those pieces together, I knew where I had to stand.

On top of that, nobody has an a priori right to be a parent. That’s like saying you have a right to acquire another human being.

We all have the right to parent our own child, certainly, but that comes after (not before) we conceived that child.

Our duty as parents to that child includes a duty to respect our child’s other half…our child’s other genetic parent. We form a triad. And that triad is an ontological unity to the child that we all have a duty to respect.

If it must be dissolved for a reason that protects us or the child, I am not opposed to that at all. But even in that circumstance, the guilty party does not stop being half of who created that child.

So I will never, ever, ever in a million years or more, endorse what we see in that video above.

It is unjust.

I know what it feels like to have to pretend that half of you doesn’t exist. I know what it does to the sense of self, the capacity for moral discernment, the ability to have proper boundaries, and so many other things.

Look, my mom and dad loved me. But they bought into the idea that they could dissolve their unity and it would have no long term impact on me. And why did they do that? Because of the words of professionals.

Professionals (psychiatrists, psychologists, medical doctors, religious and political leaders) started saying, “The kids will be fine if the adults are happy.” Their words influenced my parents and so many other people.

Words matter. Every time somebody says, “Jesus had two dads and He turned out OK, ” it is just another manifestation of, “The kids will be fine if the adults are happy.”

Those words influence people to behave in an unjust way towards their child.

If we are Christians, shouldn’t we be influencing people in a way that pleases God? Wouldn’t this include upholding justice for our own children? I love this verse from Micah 6:8:

He hath shown thee, o man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee
But to do justly
And to love mercy
And to walk humbly with thy God.

 

Respecting our child includes respecting all of who she is. Not just the half we like. “Jesus had two dads and he turned out OK” falls far short of this standard. Plus that’s not how Jesus had to live. All of His ontology was respected.

And that’s what we need to do with our kids, as a matter of justice.

Acceptable losses

Non-triad family arrangements often exist for the benefit and convenience of adults. In order for the kids to conform to these arrangement, we have to embrace a lot of denial. We must pretend that there is nothing wrong with the arrangement, and even that we are happy with it.

We have a lot of help in keeping the denial intact. So far I’ve identified several buttresses that prop up our denial:

  • Honoring our fathers and mothers inappropriately, by pretending that nothing is wrong
  • Professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, medical doctors and religious leaders giving us sacrosanct reasons why we can’t question the loss of our first families, the loss of our ontology, the loss of our cultural or genetic origins
  • Lack of a correct theoretical framework to think about our issues
  • Cultural rites of passage that must be maintained at our expense

Yesterday I may have discovered another buttress for the denial: guilt. Perhaps guilt is a manifestation of the first reason above. I’m not sure.

Below is a quote written by somebody who was conceived with anonymous sperm, somebody who will never know her father (or his family, his culture or origins):

Is it unethical or immoral for me to want to know where half of me comes from? Or is it better to just sit quiet knowing that your own mother intentionally hid half siblings from your reach, registering on sibling registries, viewing their information, letting accounts expire, and moving on silently as if it all never occurred? Am I not allowed to feel hurt or misplaced?

The first sentence just blows my mind. She is questioning if it is unethical or immoral to want to know where she came from. Knowledge that most of us take for granted, she wonders if it is unethical for her to know. I bet her mother knows both halves of where she came from.That’s a form of inequality between the generations, created by reproductive freedom.

Her mother’s reproductive freedom means that she could legally separate her child from the child’s father forever, and the government supports this freedom.

Now, her child lacks freedom. She does not have the freedom to ask her own mother where she came from.

Her love for her mother is being used against her. She feels guilty for even posing the question.

Money is used in these transactions. Kids of sperm/egg donation often feel like they were purchased.

As a society, we do not care about this person’s sadness.

Where are the anthropologists decrying these kids being sold away from their cultural origins? I took a cultural anthropology class recently and made this argument a number of times, about the role of profit in this industry, and kids being legally separated from their cultural and genetic origins on the whim of rich adults. The teacher was stunned. She said that she had never heard it presented this way. But she saw that I was right. We all had to give a five minute presentation as part of our final, on some topic that was discussed during the semester. We would be penalized for going over that time. But she let me give a 12 minute presentation, since she thought what I was saying was so important. 

Anthropologists are uniquely positioned to examine the role of profit in these arrangements, as well as applying equal standards to these kids as they do to kids in other cultures. I may talk more about the role of anthropologists in a future post because there is more I can say.

That class made me fall in love with anthropology, but let me be clear that I’m no left-leaning SJW (social justice warrior). I believe in business, the role of business in creating jobs for people, and the role of profit in not only making businesses attractive to investors but in providing good paying jobs to employees. I am proudly pro-life and pro-marriage.

But I am not a libertarian. I believe that there are some areas of life where the profit motive must be suppressed by legal means. Such as in the buying and selling of human beings, buying and selling the gametes to create them, and renting the wombs to gestate them.

For now, I just wanted to give another example of how the pain of the next generation is an acceptable loss in the advancement of sexual and reproductive freedom.