Monday, September 13, 2010

Train Wrecks and Children

I don't usually keep up with the dramatic lives of celebrities. Left unchecked, I enjoy a train wreck as much as the next guy, but I'm too much of a wreck myself to rubber-neck towards the follies of others. I do confess that I once had a subscription to People magazine as a teenager, but I think it was mostly to find out the latest on Mariah Carey. Confession #2: I once had a huge crush on Mariah Carey.

Forget that. I was in the library recently when I ran across this People magazine headline - Anniston: "I don't need a man to be a mom." My first thought was, "Wow. I guess Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt broke up." I told you that I don't keep up.

My second thought was, "Yes, you do need a man to be a mom. That's kind of how it happens." I know that's not what she meant, but I couldn't help it.

My third thought was, "My, how fathers are becoming disposable." In Canada, there is now no line for the father's name on birth certificates, only a line for the mother's name and an "other" parent.

My final thought was about how a statement like this is completely adult-centered. I get what Jennifer is saying. She can be a mother to her child without a husband. Unfortunately, many woman are forced to do precisely that. God bless them. Still, this situation shouldn't be praiseworthy. The fact that it is praised shows how self-centered we adults are in these rough family situations. We are almost never child-centered. For example, it may be true that moms can be moms without a man. But it is never true that a child can be a child without a mother and a father. Every child has a mother and a father. Every child needs a mother and a father. Children suffer when their fathers fail to father them. And children suffer when we pretend fathers are not essential to their development as whole persons.

It's time that adults stop the tunnel-vision that sees only how bad marriages affect us. We must adopt a child-centered view of these troubled situations. What is best for them always trumps what is best for us. It's one way to stop a train wreck.

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