If you are a part of the Baby Buster generation, you feel like you woke up one morning only to find that all the rules had changed. In fact, that is exactly what happened. You went to work in the mailroom thinking you would stay for life and work your way up. But you found that they only ever saw you as a mailroom rat, and let you go after 2 years.
You were led to believe that marrying and starting your family early was a good idea that would keep you on the straight and narrow. But it turned out that the new conventional wisdom has those milestones waiting till your 30s.
Your parents were able to get credit right out of high school, and jump right into a 30-year mortgage for the one house they would live in. But no matter how hard you work, buying a giant house seems completely unrealistic.
Your intuitions are correct. Things did change. And no one bothered to tell you.
This is especially true with regard to parenting. In the recent case of the tri-parenting custody arrangement, we learned that we don’t even know what a family looks like anymore, let alone what the rights of a parent are, or even what defines a parent. Here are some of the questions raised by that groundbreaking ruling:
Biological Vs. Psychological Parent
From the article linked above:
This case is unique at this time because it addresses many elements often present in non-traditional families: LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) parental rights, the concept of the bonded psychological parent and legal acceptance of the contemporary family unit.
30 years ago, mommy or daddy’s special friend/partner would have had no parental status whatsoever. Now, we are using terms like bonded psychological parent to describe the non-biological parent in a same-sex relationship. Not only does the term make it sound like there is a legal parenting relationship, the ruling in this particular case makes that explicit.
A child can legally have three parents. Growing up, most Busters never imagined that possibility. Even now, it sounds like the punchline to a confusing joke. But it is no joke. It is officially a legal configuration of family. Now, it is just a matter of the remake of the show, My Three Sons into My Three Parents.
The question of which is greater between biological and psychological parents has been answered. It is neither. Both are just parents.
While it was not a question in the case, the ruling begs the question of who gets to make healthcare decisions for a child, and what healthcare decisions are unacceptable regardless of who makes them.
What if one of the parents happens to be an anti-vaxxer? Does one parent have the legal right to force vaccinations against the will of the other(s)? Families who practice certain Christian religions refuse to allow their children to get certain types of medical care that could make them healthy, and even save their lives.
Long gone are the days when these types of questions could be answered by a domineering patriarch laying down the law. We need new laws. And until we get it, this just illustrates the importance of having deep and meaningful conversations before children are brought into a relationship.
Same Sex, Same Challenges
Some people hold the magical belief that same-sex couples will not have the same challenges as a heterosexual pair. They couldn’t be more wrong. If you want to know how gay couples deal with the vicissitudes of life, the answer is, the same way you do.
In fact, it is the exact same vicissitudes. People are complicated and messy. We fall in and out of love. We are equal parts selfless and selfish. And our children, whether biological or psychological, usually end up getting caught in the middle.
The remedies for the problems of parenting 2.0 haven’t been written yet. At the end of the day, those remedies include tri-parenting rights, healthcare that is best for the child, and acknowledgment that we all deal with the same challenges, and so should have access to the same remedies.
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