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Should We Celebrate the Modern Family?

My children have been busy at a practice all weekend and today for an international Bible quiz meet in Calgary next week, and I'm sitting here in a hotel writing as many columns as possible in a three day period. It's going remarkably well! Got 11 done so far; four more to go.

Over lunch Saturday I decided to switch on the TV, and regretted it almost immediately. Most shows are inane, and the commercials are worse. But one commercial which I keep seeing is for "The Kids Are Alright", an "invigorating and heartfelt" look at the "modern family".

Here's how they define a modern family: married lesbians used a sperm donor to each conceive a child. Those children are now teenagers. The daughter tracks down the sperm donor, and chaos ensues.

Perhaps it is heartwarming. I have no doubt that lesbians in committed relationships truly want to have a child. But let's be honest: while the media loves to talk about this, it isn't that common. Most homosexuals, when given the choice to marry, did not. Homosexual relationships break up at a far greater rate than heterosexual relationships. While some homosexual couples are committed, it isn't the norm. Why should we treat it as if it were?

What I am glad about, though, is that they are showing the quest for the sperm donor, because they're showing that it shouldn't be taken lightly. It's become normal in our culture to assume that sperm donation is a viable option if you want to have a child and your husband is infertile, or you're in a homosexual relationship. But why use a sperm donor? Why not just adopt then?

Because they want a child that is biologically theirs. It is vitally important to them to have that biological link. Yet even though the mother agrees that biology is important to her, by using a sperm donor she makes the decision for her child that biology should not be important, because she creates a child who will never, ever know his or her father. She's saying biology is important to me, but it shouldn't be to you. It's ridiculous and completely wrong.

And thus we have the plot of the movie, where the teenage girl tracks down the sperm donor, who appears to be a bit of a carefree loser who was in it for the money.

I assume it all has a happy ending, but why Hollywood should call this the "modern family" is beyond me. Most families look nothing like this, no matter how prevalent Hollywood tries to make them seem. And that's a good thing. It is chaotic to create a child who will never know one parent. It is one thing to adopt a child and take them away from their biological roots; that child already has been separated by necessity, and that child needs a parent now. But to create a child deliberately? That is entirely a different story.

And then to assume that that child has no need of both parents, or has no need of both a mother and a father, that love is all that matters, is to disregard millennia of knowledge of human behaviour. The mother and father perform unique roles in the family, and are not interchangeable. At times a single mother must raise a child, but we would never say that this is the ideal. And yet with homosexual couples we're supposed to ignore the problem of the lack of the other sex parent and announce that all is hunky dorey to show that we support the lifestyle!

This really has nothing to do with whether or not you think homosexual relationships are fine (I have an opinion, obviously, but that's not pertinent to the issue at hand, and I'd really appreciate it if the comments don't go in that direction, because I think that can be needlessly hurtful). It has everything to do with the rights of a child to be raised by his or her biological parents, or by the next best substitute. And as soon as we begin to say that the substitute need not be an actual mother or an actual father, but could be absolutely anybody, then we destroy the notion of "family". All we have left is love, and love is not all a child needs.

A child also needs a sense of identity, and that identity is best passed on by two parents--one male, and one female. A child needs a sense of commitment and loyalty, which is best found in a committed marriage relationship, not in an ad hoc arrangement of whichever adults happen to love each other at any given time. And a child needs a sense of society, which again, is best found within the family.

As we give up on marriage and replace it with voluntary adult relationships which are not necessarily lifelong, that child loses the sense of community that a committed marriage relationship used to give him. Cohabiting couples who have children, for instance, are six times more likely to break up than married couples with children. And homosexual couples are about twenty times more likely to be unfaithful in their relationships, or to break up, than heterosexual couples. Heterosexual marriage matters.

So perhaps Hollywood wants to believe that this is the modern family, but I don't believe it. It's a modern reality, but thankfully it's still not a common one. And I hope we don't give too much credence to this movie, because I want to believe that we can go back to what is best for the child, not what is best for the adult. We are, after all, adults, and we should start acting that way.


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At 10:09 AM , Blogger Mrs. C said…

This is an excellent post. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this, and share.

The breakdown of the family is having adverse affects on so many children.

A little boy at one of my yardsales, (who came w/ his Grandmother who was raising him), picked up a book that had a picture of a man and little boy walking down a road, holding fishing poles. He told me, "I want this book, cause it's about little boys who get to go fishing with their Daddy." Not knowing his situation, I asked if his daddy took him fishing? "No..." I gave the book to him,it was obvious this little guy was hungry and saw something in that picture that he wanted and needed, a father who would love him and be with him. (In the course of conversation the Grandmother revealed that neither of the boys parents were involved in his life.)

It takes Mommy and Daddy, to meet the needs in the heart of a child. The "me" generation, living in all it's selfishness, will have long lasting effects that will do more harm than any of us can imagine.

In reference to the children you wrote about, I cannot imagine what it is doing to these children, who cannot trace their parentage, not knowing who it is who fathered them. My heart breaks for them.


At 12:05 PM , Blogger Lindsey Dueck said…

This comment has been removed by the author.


At 12:06 PM , Blogger Lindsey Dueck said…

Great post!

I grew up in a single parent home, with just my mom. I don't know who my dad is, and at 25, I don't really want to know. I think my mom did a great job of raising me, and I am thankful she kept me, and I love her dearly for it! She could have given me up, it would have been eaier for her!

That being said, if I could have chosen, I would have chosen for my parents to be in a committed, loving marriage. That is what I want for my own children!

It is not fair to the kids that their chance of having a mother and father is deliberately taken away from them like that. I would have liked to know what it is like to grow up with a father. So don't try to tell me kids are not missing out, because they are.


At 3:42 PM , Blogger triscuitsmom said…

I have to agree with you when you say that identity, commitment, loyalty, and society are all important for children. I disagree with the idea that any of these cannot be found in a stable, loving family, whomever makes up the head of it.

I don't think that statistics are hugely valid in this case for two reasons. The first being that they are so unreliable because they aren't done in an unbiased, across the board way. I have never seen any statistics comparing heterosexual marriage to homosexual marriage divorce rates in couples with or without children, probably because of the lack of data available on the latter side. What I see often compared is heterosexual divorce rates with homosexual relationship break up rates. They don't even come close to resembling each other. I understand that not everyone goes through multiple relationships before settling down, but I would say the vast majority do. So comparing what is a possibly not serious relationship with a marriage commitment which has been at least in theory well thought out and prepared for to be a long lasting relationship is not the same thing. Not to mention the fact that in most places homosexual couples have to show a lot more *want* to get married for it to happen because of legalities and red tape. The same goes for having children. They don't "just happen" in homosexual relationships. They have to be planned and prepared for and whether you go through AI or whether you adopt it is a lot more work than just getting pregnant without thinking about it. Also these statistics do not usually distinguish between couples with children or without which is important if we are going to discuss what is "best for the children".

I also think it's important to remember what is best for the individual child, which will of course depend on the people involved. Not all situations in life are ideal, that is always going to be true, but I don't think it is quite fair to dismiss families no matter what they look like as not as good just because they look different. I think it's deeper than that personally.


At 3:49 PM , Blogger triscuitsmom said…

One more thing I forgot... while I do see flaws in the sperm donation concept, I do disagree that it is *just* to have a biological link. I think that would depend on the person/couple. It is a lot more money and work to adopt in many cases, especially if you are not in a heterosexual relationship. There are plenty of people who should likely not be parents or should have quite a bit more support than they do who are given the privilege of parenting simply because they can get pregnant without help. So it would seem to me if it were really just about what was best for the kids, getting them into families who would love them would be better for them, even if that didn't involve a father and mother together.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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