Making Of a Grandchild, Minus the Couple

BabyThe Sunday New York Times, Style Section, February 10, 2013, had the following headline article, “Making a Child, Minus the Couple: Pairs of Single People Wishing to Have Biological Children are Creating a New Sort of Family”  The author, Abby Ellin, mentions:

 “ . . . a new breed of online daters, looking not for love, but rather a partner with whom to build a decidedly non-nuclear family. And several social networks, including PollenTree.com, Coparents.com, Co-ParentMatch.com, and MyAlternativeFamily.com, as well as Modafamily.com, have sprung over the past few years to help them. . . .The sites present what seem like a compelling alternative to surrogacy, adoption or simple sperm donation. . . Rather than focusing on a love match, she (a 43 year old who wasn’t married and wanted a child) decided to find someone to share both the financial and emotional stresses of child rearing.”

Yes, I can see you are astounded.  I, too, am astounded that people would take such a risk that affects the rest of their lives.  Here is a quote from one of the founders of FamilybyDesign.com:

“While some people have chosen to be a single parent, many more people look at the scheduling and the financial pressures and the lack of an emotional partner and decide that single parenting is too daunting and wouldn’t be good for them or the child,” said Darren Spedale, 38, the founder of Family by Design, a free parenting partnership site officially introduced in early January.  “If you can share the support and the ups and downs with someone, it makes it a much more interesting parenting option.”

I have never heard parenting called interesting.  It is hard, hard work and difficult for partners who have a relationship prior to determining to have a child together.  Adding an additional dimension of picking a stranger to be part of one’s life forever?

Ms. Ellin continues:

Mr. Spedale, who is writing a book on parenting partnerships, a term he prefers to co-parenting since the latter is sometimes used among the divorced, stresses the importance of having some kind of written agreement in place, not just for legal reasons, but “to get that conversation going about things you might not have thought about asking,” he said.

After raising children, there are many questions I still do not know to ask!  It seems the promoters and websites admit that, as with same sex marriage, the laws on parenting partnerships vary from state to state.  They mention a New Mexico case and California case, both involving sperm donors.  It seems the promoters and websites admit that even a legal document is not necessarily binding.

There are some quotes from some “experts” in favor of such an arrangement:

“Certainly, from a research standpoint, I don’t think having a romantic relationship is necessary to have a good co-parenting relationship,” said Sarah J. Schoppe-Sullivan, an associate professor in the Ohio State University department of human sciences. “Research shows that if parents can have a warm, cooperative, co-parenting relationship, then that’s going to be positive for the child’s development.”  These types of partnerships also encourage people to strategize on a philosophy of child rearing ahead of time, which many traditional couples don’t do.  “That level of thoughtfulness really benefits kids—these are people who have thought about how do I want to raise a child, whom do I want to raise a child with—that can only be good for children,” said Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Equality Council, a national advocacy organization.  “We should all think that hard about how we are going to have our kids and what we-re going to do once they’re in the world.  If everybody gave that kind of thought to having children, we’d probably have better outcomes.”

Now here are the naysayers, according to Abby Ellin:

But Elizabeth Marquardt, director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values, a nonpartisan advocacy group in New York, vehemently disagrees. “It’s a terrible idea, deliberately consigning a child to be raised in two different worlds, with parents who did not even attempt to form a loving bond with one another,” she wrote in an e-mail.  “As children of divorce will tell you, it’s very difficult to grow up in two different worlds, with your parents each pursuing separate love lives that can be increasingly complex over the course of a childhood.” 

So what does this Grandma say?  I agree with one of the quotes:

“When you think about the concept of the village, and how the village was part of child rearing for so many cultures for so many thousands of years, it makes total sense, he said. “The idea that two people—let alone one person—would do it without the village is really nutty.”

Grandmas are the village!  I have said it before and will say it often, being a grandparent is the reward for raising children.  Adult children will not listen to us, no matter what advice, sage that it may be, we give.  Our adult children are adults.  They are free to make ALL decisions themselves.  Giving us grandchildren is a forever gift, no matter how they get here.

This Grandma does not think the new idea above is the reality of today of “Making a Child, Minus the Couple.” In 2008, 40.8% of all children in the United States were born out of wedlock.  In 2012, 41% of all children in the United States were born out of wedlock!  Single parenting is the trend of today and tomorrow.   Would we prefer our grandchildren be born into a marriage?  This Grandma would.  However, the marriage rate is below 50% right now, at 48% in the United States.  Of that 48%, 62% of the marriages are of adults who have a college degree or higher.  I guess we have to encourage higher education to get a higher probability of our grandchildren being born into a marriage!

Our grandchildren may come in many shapes and forms with many variations.  I told my daughters I wanted to be a grandmother and if they were not married at 35, I still wanted to be a grandmother.  I think I was contemplating freezing of eggs and a sperm bank, to tell the truth!  This option of co-parenting partnerships was not even a glimmer . . . .

Would I approve any decision that an adult child made in bringing a grandchild into this world?  No, but I would not comment and remain quiet if I had nothing good to say.  Would I support any decision that an adult child made in bringing a grandchild into this world?  Of course, as it means that I would support the parent of my grandchild and my grandchild.  Even if I thought the decision was ill advised.  Even if I thought the decision was wrong.  There are no grandparent rights and I want a relationship with my grandchildren.  To have the privilege to visit I know I need to remain quiet.

There are many times we grandmas hold our tongues in order to keep the peace and be able to visit and love our grandchildren.  Our grandchildren do not have a choice of their parents.  We have a choice to be the village, the support, the stable and consistent non judgmental unconditional love, for our darling grandchildren, despite their parents!  The grandchildren are the

Joy,

Mema

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