Monday, December 10, 2007

A day in my life...

Some days I have an email exchange that sticks in my mind for some time. Today is such a day:

“I just stumbled across your book while searching Briefly, are your writing basically in support of the natural family, 2 biological parents, etc?”

“I am writing in support of loving, nurturing families, irrespective of their composition. Blended families and families created by adoption are as genuine a family as those created by two parents who have not divorced, in my opinion.”

“Do you mean regardless of sex or number of parents?”

“What is the objective of your questions?”

“Well, I'm not trying to challenge you or anything. I know my question comes across that way, but I guess I'm interested in your idea of what is the best form of family, if any? Initially when I saw the titles of your books, it sounded like books about what my children need from both their mother and father, and I figured I'd best be emailing you to ask. I'm reading up on this whole issue myself. And, I'm a psych student.”

“I think the best form of family is one that is loving and nurturing to the mind, heart and soul of the child. It is great, even desirable, when that occurs in an intact family of origin, but it often does not. Thus, if step-parents, adoptive parents, or gay parents can provide that love and nurture, it is a fine family in my mind. It is better to be a loved and wanted child in a non-traditional home than an unloved or neglected child in a traditional home.”

“I think I agree with what you're saying, but if I may ask to clarify. Are you saying that the best form is the non-incestuous man and woman for life marriage is the best family form for children, but if such isn't available, others are good too, if they are loving and nurturing? In other words, putting children preferably in a family form closest to the natural family as we can is best, if it is available?”

“You are attempting to pigeon-hole me so let me be clear. The ideal form of a family is one in which neither spouse is unfaithful (wives cheat, too), the man-woman marriage remains happily intact and they are cooperatively raising children in a loving, nurturing environment. I say ideal, not best, because this family form is historically accepted and as such faces less obstacles and scorn from those who judge others. Yet this form of family is less prevalent, leaving us with the question of what is the “best” family environment for the children who have little say in the decisions adults make. You and I can exchange moral or theoretical arguments all day long, but in the end, the best family is the one a child can point back to and say “They (or even he/she; a single-parent home is still a family, I believe) are my loving parents and that was my happy childhood home.” Who am I, or you, or anyone else, to disagree with that child just because one parent may not be a biological parent, or both parents may be of the same sex? Or one is black, or Hindu?

Rather than think about “putting” children in a certain kind of home, why not think about how to help those people succeed who endeavor to give a family experience and home to a child?”

“I apologize. I didn't mean to pigeon-hole you. I was hoping to cut to the thrust of your idea just to get hold of the basics.What I meant by ‘putting,’ was, if a child can't be in their biological home for whatever reason, we would put them somewhere else sometimes. I didn't mean to degrade those who would want to give a child a loving home. I agree, love and nurture is very important. I wasn't envisioning an exchange of views, but since we've kind of ended up here, I guess we diverge on the questions of what is best for a child. Love and nurture, or a specific family from that also provides love and nurture.”

“Please share your opinion on the questions you have asked.”

“Well, I'm swaying towards the natural family as the most optimum, but I don't know that there's good research to show that non-traditional family forms are worse off -- Maybe they are just as good. I don't know. As I understand it, most of the research on non-traditional family forms are from families where there is a divorce, or death which is obviously going to contribute to negative outcomes for whoever is involved. I also think a lot of the research is politicized by whoever is quoting from it, so I feel at the moment, I should hold off from a definitive opinion.”

“Yes, most research is conducted to prove a point, often one that was pre-determined, rather than to find an answer. It is a human weakness – to see only what we are looking for.”

"Yes. I hope to rise above it."

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