I read a blog today that had tempers flaring because I think the writer failed to use language that was conciliatory and peaceful when discussing a toxic topic that will never be agreed upon. The writer and I happen to be married to each other and we raise children together, and yet, we disagree. He says he wasn’t trying to offend anyone. He only wanted to voice an opinion. I do think that his intent was well meaning, but his method was a bit rough. I think that just wanting to voice an opinion -especially about an emotionally charged one requires extreme sensitivity, caution, thought, and diplomacy. Therefore, he challenged me to try to write an argument for the topic “Children Need Two Parents”, without seeming smug. (I had accused his blog post of seeming smug.)
I don’t hope to please everyone. I just hope to be able to think about this subject in a different and less hostile angle.
Children Need Two Parents
What is a parent? A parent is someone who parents. Some who has an active role in providing the essentially care to ensure that a child is loved and provided for.
Who are two parents? Two parents are two people who parent together to provide the essential care that ensures that a child is loved and provided for.
With that defined, I dare say that children need two parents. Why two? Because two is better than one. Call it the buddy system. A backup system. Three might be better. Anymore will just be like the too many cooks that ruin the pot. But let’s just stick with two for now.
I don’t have statistics to offer, because statistics is just a mumble jumble of data, multiplied by some mumble jumble number, divided by other mumble jumble numbers. Statistics don’t mean much to me when dealing with people because people are different and everyone’s circumstances are different.
In my reasoning, the buddy system is the safe system because parenting is a taxing job that is very costly, does not pay one red cent, and offers absolutely no vacation time. Trust me, when “we” (as in my husband, four kids, and I) go on a vacation, there is no me in the “we”. Everyone has a fun, relaxing time – except for me. My job travels.
Yes, one parent can do this alone, but not really alone. A he or she parent that ventures parenting alone will have to rely on at least one of the following resources: nanny, daycare, family, friends. These sources of help are additional parenting sources. So, unless the single parent is independently wealth and can be the soul care provider, then that single parent isn’t really singularly parenting .
I am not saying that daycare qualify as parenting, not at all. What I am saying is that, single parents do need help in raising their kids, when they can’t be available for their kids. Single parents often have to work, and childcare is needed. Family is the optimal choice in this situation. If grandparents are available, then they are wonderful people who can help co-parent. If aunts, or uncles, cousins, etc… are available and willing, then they can provide that co-parenting.
Sure, a two parent, living together situation is very ideal. I would say that it is highly recommended because kids need security, especially in the American culture, where extended families don’t share the same space anymore, much less the same block, city, or even state.
But life is never neat and tidy. Divorces, death, and who-knows-what are circumstances that can change an ideal situation quickly to a less than ideal situation. If something were to happen to my husband today, then I would instantly be in the single parent category. I would be left without a partner in parenting that provides income so I can be available for my family’s needs. I would lose a partner in parenting that can step in when I am sick or worn out. I would also be left without a valuable sounding board to keep my own parenting skills in check.
If my husband were to disappear tomorrow, then I would need the help of my community: neighbors, family, friends, daycare, etc… I would need the help of these resources to fill the gap, and provide a safety net for me and my children.
My mother had an unfortunate life. War, bad marriage, divorce, displacement, bad life choices were the main ingredient. Her unfortunate life definitely affected my life. In the first six years of my life, I absolutely had very few memories of my mother and no memories of a father. Aunts, a grandmother, and a nanny had filled in the gap to care for me during my mother’s and father’s absences.
Did I feel different? Did I feel like I missed out on anything? Yes, and yes. Of course, I felt different. All the kids around me had traditional parents. I did feel like I was missing out on the special bonds and moments of having a mother and father. But my grandmother gave me her devotion. My grandmother provided the motherly love. She stepped off the boat that was suppose to leave for America, and chose to stay back in Vietnam to raise me. My days with her were slow, happy days, filled with laughter. Her sacrifice and devotion made up for most of all that my mother and father failed to provide for me.
A person contemplating single parenting, should definitely think more carefully about the consequences of raising a child alone, especially if “alone” really means a lack of a permanent support group like family, who will most likely be loyal and flexible in generosity and time. Daycare and babysitters, even friends, come with limits. Therefore, I will redefine a single parent who does not have the strong and consistent support of family as the “alone” parent.
All parents get sick, and an alone parent does not have the additional safety partner to kick in. All parents die, and an alone parent will leave his or her children alone, without a parenting source to help the bereaved children cope. The children in this case will become orphans – a common nightmare of parents and children.
I will dare say that any person, male or female, that purposely chooses to have children, when they lack human connection with any other, is probably looking at parenting as a way to fulfill a lonely void. That’s is selfish. And I have a feeling that such selfishness, won’t stop at that, and that it might extend itself into other harmful areas.
But recognizing or even defining the selfishness of wanting children will never stop people from having children. Because, having children is a selfish desire that ranges in degree, from the common “I want children to care for me in my old age”, “I want childen to carry on the family name”, to the ethical delemma of “I want children, more children, to provide a donor match to save my ill child.”
Children are blessings. Young couples are blessed by them, so are women who find themselves yearning for children but don’t have a partner, so are men who also yearn for children but don’t have a partner. Biological or adopted, children are the sweetest things on earth. They deserve good loving homes, surrounded with loving people to parent them.