Responsibility in Parenting

When I was two years old, and my brother one, our biological mom and dad made the decision to get divorced. I find myself constantly wondering what kind of misery they could have experienced to make a decision such as this. Since then, we’ve lived with our mom and stepdad and have been raised to the best of their abilities. Of course we’ve spent the occasional summer vacation with father and his wife but since they live half the province away it was never much of an influence.

I’m now twenty and live on my own, and my brother is 19 and lives on campus at a university about halfway between mom and dad. My brother finds it hard to show loyalty to a father who was never really there, one who didn’t seem to even care. In a situation like this, should a child hold it against their parent that they made a choice that seems irresponsible in the grand scheme of things? I don’t. I’ve learned to look past it and have now developed a sort of friendship with my dad and step mom, rather than a paternal dependence.

Some people feel that when a couple becomes pregnant, that both parents should commit themselves 100% to the welfare of that child; that the choice to have intercourse was subsequently made into a lifetime commitment. Making the choice to participate in an intimate relationship may not be a direct choice to become pregnant, but one must enter into all situations being fully aware of all possible consequences. Unless one is prepared to deal with those consequences shouldn’t one refrain from committing that initial act?

On other side of the coin, there are couples that have intentionally made the decision to have intercourse with the goal of impregnation. Some of these couples are unable to do so and must seek other ways to receive a child/children, such as adoption. Theses types of families benefit from mothers who have given up their own chance at parenting. Don’t we achieve equilibrium with the two possibilities? Or has this option been taken advantage of as an easy way out of responsibility? “Oh, we’ll do it without protection just this once,” since the actors know there are many ways to “get rid” of the baby.

Should “irresponsible” couples be forced into parenting when they neither want nor are prepared to? Should abortion or adoption be court appointed? To go one step further, should all couples have to apply for permission to have sexual intercourse? To have rules and regulations on when and with whom we are eligible to do so would be an infringement on the rights and freedoms people in this country have.

Freedom allows us to make these choices ourselves; free of interference from others. Freedom gives people the right to bring a child into an inapt environment. Freedom protects those who cannot protect themselves by allowing society to take children away from parents and situations that are deemed unfit.

In making these initial decisions to participate in the action, do we not then have the right to subsequently withdraw from the parenting situation? Or is it the right of the child to have their parent’s influences? Is it truly beneficial to have a father in one’s life that doesn’t want or know how to be an effective father? Or would it be more beneficial to have a mother, adopted parents, or foster parents who have both the want and know-how to bring the child up to the best of their ability? It is better to be without maternal or paternal influence than to be with the possibility of neglect? In my case, I had multiple surrogate fathers from age 2 to age 9, when my mom finally married my stepfather, who has been that major influence in my life. When my father made the decision not to be a father, it opened up a world of opportunities for all those men who’s ability to father children had expired, and for this I thank my dad. We should not look down on those who’ve made different choices that we ourselves have done, or what society deems as irresponsibility. We all make choices – not only are we free to do so, but we should be free from the discrimination and judgments of others based on those choices.

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