December 7, 2017 • Sarah Jean Gosney
Edit: I understand that gay marriage was not legalized until 2015, however, I was unable to find more recent stats about married gay couples with children. I included that statistic in order to show that the children of same-sex married couples have not been studied on the level that those of opposite-sex married couples have. Feel free to contribute if you find them.
“The buck stops here.”
This is a phrase that may induce in you eye-rolling as it brings back memories of out-of-touch grandpas.
But were they out of touch? I think not. I cannot claim this phrase as one that was heard in my household growing up, but I do think it embodies the spirit of how I was raised, one that promoted firm boundaries that came from the top. There was no child-led parenting for us.
When my sister or I misbehaved, there was always a firm ruling on our punishment, and my parents always presented a united front—each and every time. The way it would often play out was that my sister and I would act up (I remember a lot of candy-stealing in my youth, though I don’t think this was my primary offense), my mom would witness it, she would go consult my dad who would devise a punishment, and then she would deliver the sentence.
Usually time-out or some loathed chore was what we got, but what mattered far more than the severity of the punishment was that my parents were on the same page, no matter what. I’m sure there were times when they disagreed, but they always delivered together. And this happened because my mom would defer to my dad when they disagreed.
I heard a great metaphor recently regarding relationship dynamics that illustrates the need for a leader: In marriage, […] as in ballroom dancing, one must lead and the other must follow. This is not to say that both roles are not equally important.
But why must the man lead? Simply put, I think women have a hard time respecting men who do not take initiative. Whether you call it a flaw in our makeup or a law of nature, it’s a difficult truth. I believe that when women complain about the burden of emotional labor, what they are really experiencing is a desire for their man to take charge.
If you think that you don’t need a clear leader in your relationship, I ask you to think back to the last few times you and your partner were trying to decide where to eat. Did this result in a never-ending chorus of “no, you decide!” or worse, in bickering? What happens when the task is much more serious, like decisions about your children’s well-being? Maybe you are able to equitably solve issues every time, but in my experience “equitable” usually means “constant strife.”
“What about non-hetero couples?” you may ask. My general opinion is that for these couples, it’s a tricky situation to navigate and is largely up to them to figure out on their own. I’d advise that they find strong roll models for their children for whichever sex is not represented in the couple, because all children need strong female and male role models. In terms of final decision-making, I’d advise one person to take the lead.
The statistics show that children living with married parents have the lowest poverty rates in the country. They also state that they are significantly less likely to be abused. These are benefits that traditional, patriarchal marriage brings. (According the 2011 census, only 43,933 same-sex couples with children were married as compared to a total of 22,561,313 married couples with children under 18.)
When you bring a child into the world, you become responsible for shaping and nurturing another human life. This forces all parents to asses the way they approach the world as it affects their children. A dose of patriarchy goes a long way to simplifying these difficulties.
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