Parental Responsibilities

Discussion on LinkedIn Family Law Professionals, October 13, 2013

Marcia Malsack:
You want forthright … ? Why do we believe that there is an inimitable right to procreate at will with no regard as to parenting, feeding, housing, educating, clothing, safety (both emotional and physical)? Certainly we dare not even suggest that some requirements should be met by those choosing to procreate. It is perfectly OK that a male and female coupling results in a pregnancy.

I am not advocating anything in particular beyond that perhaps we should not be so ready to accept free sex and inadvertent pregnancy as so culturally and socially acceptable. Would planned and responsible pregnancies end all the divorce trauma and pain to the children? Of course not, but it would probably result in a lot fewer damaged children. My comment is result of Donna’s comment about selfish parents. In my view, having children without the wherewithal to parent and provide is, in general, the highest form of selfishness.

Mark Roseman, Ph.D., CFLE:
I think the answers all reflect an idealized view of the world, when traditional communities bound social values with societal norms. Rather, the West since WWII and greater prosperity gave rise to challenged family values. We must still recognize that when lovers,.married or not, break up, there remains a huge, widened emotional gap through which much reason falls. Anger and retribution remain which drives both an emotional wedge and often, physical distancing. 

The nature vs. nurture is irrelevant. The 50-50, is also irrelevant. It is that parents need to adjust to their emotional loss. What seems to be an argument for the better parent really is inappropriate. It is inappropriate until we can all, all family professionals working together, to help parents in their devastating loss of relationship. When these parents are happy, then a child’s happiness and positive outcome will be realized. This is the premise of the Toby Center. It is based on twelve years of research and working with families.

Marcia Malsack:
Mark, so well said AND I love the mission of the Toby Center.
I have an issue with irresponsibility in any manner. My biggest issue with the “at will ” procreation is when there is no relationship, no lovers or love, just casual sexual activity. Sadly, there is much with no thought for the consequences. Yes, it certainly is argument about values. And economics. And child caring, and “entitlements”.

Philip Marcus:
Part of the problem is that sexual activity is often seen not as procreational, but as recreational, and not connected with any idea of a permanent relationship between the participants, let alone the possibility of offspring. This is inter alia the result of widespread availability of contraceptives.

So when a pregnancy does arise, the male can say that the baby is nothing to do with him, since he had no intention that the act would be anything more than having a good time; the female may also have the same attitude, (and may not even know who the father is) but because of biology, she is (literally) left holding the baby.

For this reason I maintain that parental responsibilities start as soon as the couple agree to have relations – even the use of contraceptives is not foolproof.