Friday, July 2, 2010

Fatherhood Conundrum

My dear friend Daphne gave her readers a problem to solve. She, herself had three possible ideas.  Perhaps, problem and solve aren't the right words to use when discussing this topic. One of the "solutions" seemed a bit too final, though I suspect it was made in jest. Here is her post in full, without the comments.

I happened to eavesdrop on a debate of sorts yesterday, I immediately came up with three separate answers to the central question, none of which formed a satisfactory or cohesive conclusion and one that bordered on the extremely hypocritical.
The conversation was centered on following premise:
Should a man be legally required to financially support a child he did not want to father.
They had a few caveats to take into consideration.
He was single, used protection consistently, had made it very clear that he had no desire to father a child with the woman he was sleeping with, inquired and requested that she use some form of birth control.
So, we have a single, responsible man who has told his girlfriend in no uncertain terms that he has zero desire to father her children but due to honest contraceptive failure, or her deception, he ends up facing a large financial responsibility for an unwanted, unplanned child that the woman has decided to keep, despite his strong objections.
My first response was a firm no, he should not be compelled to financially support her decision to keep the baby. A woman would never be legally compelled to abort or become a mother against her wishes, so why should a man, under these circumstances, be forced into a lifetime of fatherhood? The woman should be prepared to shoulder the financial ramifications of her decision alone since it was made without the man’s mutual consent.
My second response was a resounding yes, of course he should provide support for his child’s basic needs. The child’s feelings and general well-being came into play for me on this answer. The majority of children who live without the financial support of their fathers generally rely on some sort of tax funded programs or tax abatements to bridge the gaps in their mother’s paychecks. Children are expensive, even with a Walmart on every other corner. More importantly, children know when their fathers choose to contribute nothing for the food in their bellies or clothes on their backs. That can be an emotionally devastating rejection, living with the knowledge that your parent essentially doesn’t care if you’re dead or alive. I would prefer, however utopian the thought, that no child suffered that unnecessary dark bruise.
The third, knee jerk bit of inanity that leaped into my brain was righteously Calvinist in nature; you shouldn’t be sleeping with someone you don’t want to make babies with!  A bad sentence and a load of howling hypocrisy all rolled into one. I’ve never played by that rule in my own life and I still don’t. My husband and I do not want anymore children and we still like to knock boots, but how fair is it to expect a young, unmarried man to take the permanent precautions we have against an unwanted pregnancy? The woman of his heart’s desire, future mother of his most beloved, cherished children, could be waiting around the next corner of his life.
I’m stumped.
Your turn.
That is a real conundrum. It's a situation I would hate to be in, if I were a man. On the other hand, there are many more women whose children go through life without ever knowing what a father is, or what a father will ever be. Having grown up semi-motherless, myself, is like being an amputee, in a way. You always feel like half of you is missing.

And then there is the daily, obscene parade of  sloven,  foul-mouthed, uneducated teen mothers who wind up on Maury Povitch's wretched cavalcade of excess - seated next to an equally repulsive potential father. Potential, because in the hideous spectacle that follows, we see the circus master with the manilla envelope containing the DNA results that will either bind one loser to the other as the father of the unintended consequence, or it will free him  from any responsibility to a child who may know him as the only  'daddy' he's ever had. Interspersed scenes of close-up shots on 'daddy's' face and behind the curtain shots of the poor tot come up, to the 'ooohs, and awwws' of the equally sloven, stupid audience members, who seem to be wagering on the outcome. It's all so much destructive entertainment.

And then, after bitter accusations, and weeping and teeth-gnashing we get the results:  Either yes or no. But the money shot, the hook that keeps the kids watching this festival of dregs is seeing the reaction by the boy to the test. More often that not, he remains in denial of his responsibility.  The reaction to a test that exonerates the boy is equally telling. He usually jumps for joy at the prospect of not having to support this child. Relief. Joy. The 'weight', meaning the child, is now forever NOT his responsibility.

Only occasionally do we see a man of any substance on the stage. You can tell his character when, upon finding out that the child is his:  Joy. Happiness. Resolve.  And when finding out that he isn't the father:  Sorrow, a sense of betrayal, and in the very rarest of instances: Resolve. To take care of the child he didn't father, knowing that the child has looked up to him as his father. Even on a show highlighting the low-lifes, one or two rise above the pit and walk upright as men.

Imitation isn't always the best form of flattery, sometimes it's a condemnation.

Next post:  Happy, Wishful Unrealities vs. Harsh Realities - Guess who loses


  1. Growing up like an amputee is a perfect analogy, Jewel.

    Something integral is always missing in a child's life when one parent goes missing.

  2. I am happy that Irksome and Boyfriend have cemented the deal. When he saw his creation on ultrasound, he wept.

  3. The fact still remains, if you dont do the crime you dont have to do the time. Whatever happened to abstinence? Birth control fails, its not 100% so these things happen even with protection. Why should the woman carry the whole burden?

    Ive always felt birth control wasnt fair. It always seems to be on the woman and if it fails its her fault. Even when a man uses something. The fact remains, we know pregnancy can happen. So if you do not want ANY CHILD as this man said.....then he shouldnt be with any woman. Its about responsibility. Yes he should pay. He did have other options, he chose this and if failed.

    Nobody takes responsibility anymore.

  4. Indeed, we have Grubbermint Agencies and Laws a'mighty to relieve us from that bit of archaic truth, seanymph. And for the woman to carry the whole burden, who made that a reality? Again, the government. Look at the communities where mostly mothers are raising their boys to sire babies they will never take responsibility for: Brought to you by the very best of intentions of Uncle Sam, whose lousy with cash! This has been the point of complaint for many decent men and women in the black community where, since the introduction of welfare in 1965, there were far more two-parent homes, and I have seen this personally, in my own life, with family members who brought a child into the world and opted out of marriage, because they would have preferred the welfare. Seriously. I had a family member on welfare for more than 20 years, with 3 kids by 3 fathers since she was 13. She didn't aspire to be anything more than a baby receptacle subsisting on gubcheez until she was forced to by new laws. Her eldest, fatherless child went on welfare and herself became a welfare cheat and criminal when she tried employment. She ultimately went to Federal prison for her crime. Her little sisters learned the lesson her mother almost didn't learn. They both refrained from sex, are married to successful men and mothers in good marriages. Their children will undoubtedly fare better than they did, growing up.

  5. Unless rape is involved, whereupon the issue gets a whole lot more complicated, having sex = consenting to run the risk of ending up a parent. It really is that simple.


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