“What’s a “normal” family in 2020? There’s only one answer: Whatever you want it to be.”
That is the assessment of Claire Gillespie, writing in The Week.
A Generation Battered by Divorce
By modern standards, Mrs. Gillespie is not outwardly radical. Her bio states that she “lives in Scotland with her husband and six kids.” Her cavalier attitude on the nature of the family is, unfortunately, all too mainstream. It doesn’t say as much about her as it does about her generation. They are products of the declining standards of personal morality and marriage throughout the twentieth century.
The 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia’s entry on marriage notes that “Between 1890 and 1900 the divorces granted in the United States averaged 73 per 100,000 of the population annually…. Relatively to the population, about two and one-half times as many divorces are granted now in the United States as were issued forty years ago.” Between 2008 and 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control, that figure was a little over one hundred times as high – 7,530 per 100,000 population.
The Catholic Encyclopedia entry writer, J.A. Ryan, was scandalized at the U.S. divorce rate, which was three times higher than that of France at the same time. On the other hand, Mrs. Gillespie and her contemporaries accept the current situation as normal. They tend to diminish the role of traditional families. Most young adults today, even those from intact two-parent homes, see divorce as a daily reality from which few marriages are immune.
Is Co-Parenting a Solution?
The lamentable divorce rates should be bringing young people to a new appreciation of traditional marriage. Unfortunately, the fear of divorce brings many to consider a far less stable option for raising children – “co-parenting.” As Mrs. Gillespie explains, “How we define family is changing. While the traditional ‘married with children’ approach is still very common, other options are growing in popularity. One such family structure relies on so-called ‘platonic parenting,’ perhaps more commonly referred to as ‘co-parenting.’”
Rachel Hope, the author of Family By Choice: Platonic Partnered Parenting, calls co-parenting a “social evolution” that brings society closer to the “traditions” of a “tribe” raising its members’ children in a communal setting.
The first chapter of Family By Choice provides an example of what co-parenting entails.
“My friends Cindy and Will are brother and sister co-parents. Cindy used a sperm donor to become pregnant with Ella. She planned to be a single mother with a loving and supportive family … Her brother Will stepped up and became ‘Uncle Daddy’ to Ella …. As a gay man, Will might never have had children, but I know that Ella’s world, as well as our community of Los Angeles, is better off because of the way things have turned out.”
What About the Children?
One wonders what a fifty-year-old Ella will say about her experience being raised in such an unstable structure. It is unlikely that Rachel Hope’s optimism will be borne out. Even within couples who are committed to traditional marriage, parenthood produces strains. Ella’s “co-parents” will have to agree about her education, standards of dress, rights and responsibilities within the home. Will “Uncle-Daddy” Will find a new relationship and relocate to Seattle? All these questions remain unanswered.
The British newspaper, The Guardian, approves of the trend but presents a cautionary tale. It concerns Amy, a woman of 37, who decided to co-parent with “a friend of almost a decade.” Both wanted to be parents and lived about ten minutes’ drive away from each other. Amy describes her thought process. “For years, I wanted the big love. I ended up with a very broken heart, but still wanted a baby. I could have paid $500 at the sperm bank, but I was pretty sure I could do it for free. If I couldn’t have the big dream, this felt like the next best thing.”
The “next best thing” became “the biggest imaginable nightmare.” There was a subsequent battle for custody of the child, a girl named Emma. Amy admits her mistake, although she sees it in a bizarre light. “Looking back, I wonder if I really felt my child needed a father, or whether that was societal pressure?” Incredibly, Amy does not regret bearing Emma in this uncertain relationship – but regrets thinking that Emma needed a father at all.
Another Strike against the Family
It will come as no surprise that co-patenting arises from the homosexual “lifestyle,” a fact acknowledged by many of its supporters.
Sarah Breiner, who styles herself as a “Personal Family Lawyer,” explains the connection. ”Platonic parenting was pioneered within the LGBTQ community, where until recently same-gender couples couldn’t legally marry and didn’t have the court system to make up rules for them about post-breakup parenting. Following a romantic split, these families were forced to create innovative, outside-the-box parenting arrangements on their own…. I, personally, am so happy to see this trend but we still have a long way to go.”
Such thinking comes from rejecting the traditional family, including its life-long nature and the God-given roles that God has assigned to each child’s father and mother. The Sexual Revolution of the sixties and seventies used artificial contraception, sterilization and abortion to separate the marital act from reproduction. Co-parenting – along with so-called same-sex marriage – separate reproduction from marriage. It is just another page from the same book, one authored by the father of lies.
The Saint Joseph Daily Missal (1957 Edition) contains a prayer that the priest says after a couple takes their marriage vows. Even though it was composed long before “co-parenting” advocates were born, it does apply to this situation.
“Look, O Lord, we beseech You, upon these Your servants, and graciously protect Your own institution, whereby You have provided for the propagation of mankind, that they who are joined together by Your authority may be preserved by Your help, Through Christ our Lord, Amen.”
© Adobe Stock/Andrey Popov