Parenting as Hobby

Yet another broad-side at marriage as it has been historically understood by just about every culture at every time on earth.  Legal guardianship of a child is now essentially a hobby.  A judge recently ruled that two unrelated friends (not married, not intending to marry, not dating, not anything other than close friends) are able to both be listed as the parent of a child that they together adopted from Africa.

The intention is to raise the child in two separate households with two unrelated groups of relatives.  This isn’t seen as a difficult necessity, as it is with divorce, rather it’s the goal.  And of course, as these good friends date and are involved with other people, the child will be introduced to perhaps multiple other ‘moms and dads’, eventually (ironically perhaps, hopefully?) having another mom and dad if both the child’s current parents marries.  
Which raises an interesting question about their future spouses.  I wonder how thrilled they will be at the idea of playing second fiddle to another parental figure?  It often seems to provide challenges when the parental figure is an ex-spouse.  I wonder how it will be when the other figure is just a close friend?  I imagine this will be a formative issue in who each of these parents is able to date.  Can they transfer their parental rights if they cease to be good friends and a better friend comes along?  
And what happens if they get married, and the spouse(s) decide to sue for the right to be listed as parents as well?  What if they then attempt to get custody, in the event the relationship doesn’t last?
Ahhh, but that’s all hypothetical, you say.  What really matters is that the friends are really committed to this child.  Nobody knows whether a married couple will stay together either – the risks are exactly the same.
No, they aren’t.  Or more depressingly, perhaps they are – now.
When marriage was the institution permitted and charged with raising children, because it was obvious biologically and socially that this is how things are supposed to work, the expectation was that the family should stay together to provide the maximum supportive environment for the child.  For many years this included familial, social (and perhaps political) pressure (and/or support) to parents to stay together.  That’s why marriage has historically been such a clearly demarcated and separated institution.  There is nothing else like it.  Others might fulfill aspects or functions of a marital relationship (sexual relations, raising a child, etc.) but these duties were only and always viewed as of far secondary appropriateness (at best).  And all of these aspects and functions were seen to be integral to the process of creating an environment that was best for the child.
Now, since marriage is being destroyed as this historical, biological, and social institution, and instead turned into an arbitrary arrangement about the happiness and whims of the adults rather than about the expectation of raising future citizens, all of this is jumbled further.  The next step is logical – to have multiple friends or acquaintances or strangers be granted parental rights to a child, each person contributing their particular gift or preferred role.  One might be very nurturing.  Another might be very good at field trips.  Another might be good at potty training.  Another might provide the funding (or zip code) necessary for access to good schools.  Raising a child becomes a consortium effort based not on the child but on the parents.  
Frankly, I think this opens the door for children who are corporately sponsored.  Corporations can ask for parental rights for orphans, and then require the children to become walking billboards for the company’s products and services.  Silly, you say?  What is philosophically different between that and having unrelated, unmarried people raising a child as a hobby, as something they feel like doing together regardless of the complications that it will pose for the child?  Isn’t the child in this case a walking billboard for these two people’s insistence that they ought to be able to do what they like, even when another life is directly at stake?  
All of which pales against the other possibility this continues to open the door to – the insistence that it is not parents (married, gay, or otherwise) who are best fit to raise a child, but rather the State.  
Marriage is no longer about children.  It’s about us.  And if children come along as part of it – or are intended from the start as part of it – more and more they are testimonies not to the sacrificial love of complementary parents that are both necessary to raise a well-rounded child, but rather testimonies to the social stances and sexual preferences and trendy definitions of their parents.  Every bit as much as buying hipster glasses when you can see fine.  Children continue on their march to being accessories ultimately raised as statements about their parents, rather than with their own interests at the forefront.  
And, just so I’m not misunderstood, this isn’t about whether the friends involved in this case are good people.  I trust they are.  In fact, I pray they are.  Their desire to raise a child is commendable.  But they are misguided, I believe.  As is the judge who decided that this would be a good thing for the child in the long run, rather than right now while the child is young.  As is our culture that continues to insist that marriage is first and foremost about the people involved – regardless of how many of them or their gender.  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s