Pick a contentious issue about which you care deeply — it could be the same-sex marriage debate, or just a disagreement you’re having with a friend. Write a post defending the opposite position, and then reflect on what it was like to do that.
I have given this post a little thought, not so much about the content as whether to post it at all. Since I started this blog I have tried to steer clear of any contentious or controversial issues for fear of offending a reader, or driving away my modest readership.
That said, I think that it is important that this blog is a reflection of who I am, and what I truly believe, else what is the point of it’s existence? I have therefore decided to publish and be damned, and if I offend you, well I am sorry, I hope you forgive me.
Today I am going to try and defend a position which I am opposed to, and which I am struggling to articulate, but here goes anyway…..
Today a growing number of women around the world are exercising their right to conceive a child without the input of a partner. They are often financially solvent, intelligent women who have not taken this decision lightly, but after a great deal of thought about the implications of raising a child on their own, having determined that they are able to provide for the needs of that child by themselves, and are committed to the process.
In the United States almost half the children born today are born to single mothers or mothers in so called ‘fragile families’ where the relationships within that family are considered at risk of disintegrating. Research indicates that the children born into these circumstances are more likely to be involved in crime, less likely to graduate high school, less likely to have healthcare, more likely to suffer low self esteem, ill health, a shorter lifespan, and so on and so on.
Critics of such research will point out that it is in fact poverty that is the key factor in the reduced quality of life, and that poverty happens to be a common factor among single parents. The Affluent Single Female, free from this issue is able to offer a stable home environment in which a child can thrive.
The ASF is able to raise her child in a home free from the psychological damage that can be inflicted by the tensions of marital discord and the negative effects on self esteem that instability in family life can bring.
A great deal of thought will go into plugging the gap left by the absence of a second parent, with the ASF enlisting the help of male and female family members and trusted friends to provide role models for their child, and additional support.
These women are resourceful, intelligent and successful in their chosen field and their contribution to the wider economy may well have been lost had they elected to ‘settle down’ before building the financial security that their children will be able to enjoy.
The constitution of the United states (written by men) enshrines the ‘right to bear arms’, surely there is room for the right to bear children? Women do not need to ask society’s permission to have a child. It is not an act of mysandry to have a child in this way, and yet as science advances and even the need for sperm is cast into doubt, there appears to be a growing realisation that man is not essential to the process.
Modern society is made up of many different family models and there is increasing acceptance in the wider community that it is not the composition of the parents that truly matters, but the quality of the parenting.
OK, well that was weird, I almost convinced myself! Trying to make an argument in favour of something I fundamentally disagree with is interesting, but I am not sure that I was motivated enough to really do my best. I feel a real temptation to under-do the opposite point of view, presumably so that I can deconstruct it more easily and maintain the foundations of my own beliefs.
But what does that really say about me? It says that perhaps I am not as open minded as I would like to think. Perhaps what it ultimately says is that I am somewhat inflexible and intolerant, at least on this point.
I understand why women would make this choice; because they can. But is that a good enough reason? If we all had to apply for the job of parenting our children how many kids would choose just mum when they could have dad as well? Isn’t deciding quite deliberately to raise a child on your own, and in so doing depriving them of a parent, an act of monumental selfishness?
There is much more to this too. Raising kids is a lot of work, if you are going to do it properly it is a time consuming business that can leave you drained – and lets face it, downright cranky at times. Who gives you a break when you really have had enough? Do you really want to be ‘bad cop’ all the time? Isn’t it great to let your partner say ‘no’ sometimes so you don’t have to always be the one in conflict?
What about diplomacy? Sometimes things go too far, things get said and people stop talking. Enter the other partner to start the Camp David talks. When she’s not talking to you because she hates you and you are ruining her life, isn’t it a relief that she isn’t screaming at dad/mum/significant other? They need to save face too and having another parent around to mediate can help resolve the issue, and let you know when you (God forbid) are the one in the wrong.
All of this doesn’t even touch on the pain and loss that they will probably never tell you they are feeling, or the resentment that may or may not be there. OK, so in this brave new world we live in you really can have it all, but does that really mean that we should?