August 21, 2015 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
The issue of “unintended pregnancy” got an airing in no less a forum than that offered by the “Dear Abby” advice column (UExpress, 8/20/15). Here’s the astonishingly frank letter signed by “Anonymous Relative.”
DEAR ABBY: In my family alone, three young women have — by their own admission — gotten pregnant on purpose to get their boyfriends to marry and support them. None of these marriages worked out. The horrible relationships were and still are hurtful and damaging, not only to the children, but also to the rest of the family. I'm aware of several other women who have admitted to entrapping their baby daddy by "forgetting to take their pills," so I know this isn't just happening in my family.
Contraceptive measures for boys are limited and fallible, and I am concerned. My nephews' mother entrapped their now-absent father, so I doubt she'll mention this to them. How and when does a relative talk to soon-to-be teen boys about entrapment?
“Abby” responded with typically terse but informative advice.
DEAR RELATIVE: The subject of contraception should be part of an ongoing, age-appropriate conversation about sex and reproduction. Boys and girls mature physically earlier than they did decades ago, and because of the Internet they are often exposed to a wide variety of information.
I do think a warning is in order because of your regrettable family situation. However, you should be aware that no law dictates that a man "has" to marry a woman (or girl) he has gotten pregnant. If a paternity test proves he is the father of the baby, he IS required to support his child until the child is no longer a minor.
But, accurate and important as her information is, there’s a lot it ignores. Yes, kids should be taught about contraception and boys should have it drilled into them that they are responsible for themselves, to the extent the fallible nature of male condoms allows them to be. A boy needs to know in no uncertain terms that, if he and his girlfriend conceive a child, he has no option but to support that child until it’s 18 years old and sometimes older. He needs to understand that essentially everything he anticipates about his life well into adulthood will change because of his child.
Girls of course need to know the same things, but parents tend to be more intent on sending daughters the message about pregnancy and, in any case, their contraceptive options, as well as those post-conception are far more numerous and effective than boys’.
Still, “Abby” missed a lot.
Most important, she failed to let her millions of readers know just how common is the problem Anonymous Relative describes. One study of young women attending community colleges in Washington State revealed that fully 33% of them had already attempted to become pregnant on the sly by discontinuing whatever contraceptive method they had been (and their boyfriends believed they still were) using.
A later survey of British women showed 41% of them saying they would lie to their partner about contraceptive use if they wanted to become pregnant.
Those are vital facts for all men and boys to know. The simple fact is that what we call “unintended pregnancy” is very often not unintended at all. Quite the opposite. They need to know that that behavior on the part of women and girls is not some rare outlier, but fairly commonplace. Ergo, men and boys need to do what they can to shield themselves from the potential consequences of sex.
Second, what Anonymous Relative clearly implies, but what “Abby” failed to notice, are the consequences of the very deception at issue. Not just the “surprise” children, but the fact that adult relationships were established by deceit. And, having been so established, they didn’t last long, the writer describes them as “horrible” and they’re damaging to the very children whose existence brought them into being.
That’s all easy to understand. A woman who has so little regard for her partner’s human worth that she thinks it’s OK to force him into fatherhood against his will and without his knowledge can’t be much of a partner herself. If she’s that willing to manipulate him about something as important as parenthood, what other aspects of his life might she decide to control? And since she’s appointed herself sole arbiter of the very existence of the children, isn’t she likely to do the same about their upbringing? The whole sorry affair has “maternal gatekeeping” written all over it.
Add it all up and it’s her choice about everything related to the kids. Him? He looks like a sperm donor and not much else. Is it any surprise when he comes to see himself the same way? No wonder the relationships are “horrible” and the children damaged. And yet significant percentages of women admit to the very entrapment behavior that so disgusts Anonymous Relative.
In the past 50 years or so, Western societies have gone from honoring fathers to dishonoring them. We miss no opportunity to let them know that we don’t trust them, don’t like them, regard them as superfluous and little more than a source of cash for the mother. If we were serious about the best interests of children, we’d do about a hundred things different than we do. We’d bend our every effort toward connecting children with their fathers, but in fact we do the opposite. We go to bizarre lengths to separate fathers from the kids who need them.
Just yesterday I posted yet another piece on Utah adoption laws that often seem solely designed to ensure that mothers keep complete control over fathers’ rights. But it doesn’t start or end there. I support abortion rights, but have to admit that one of the unambiguous messages they send is that fathers have no say about the most basic aspect of their children’s lives — their very existence.
Once a child is conceived, no law anywhere requires its mother to even inform its father of its existence. That’s true during pregnancy and after birth. We pretend fathers have parental rights, but place the exercise thereof firmly in mothers’ hands. Does she want him to be involved in the child’s life? Then he may be. But if she doesn’t, there’s little he can do to force her. Any woman with even minimal ingenuity can convince a man that he’s not the father or simply disappear from his life before she even starts to show.
If he does stumble on the information and he’s got the money, he can go to court, establish paternity and, if she doesn’t decide to level DV charges against him, possibly get an order that allows him to see his child four days a month. But again, that’s if she permits it. If she thwarts his visitation, there’s little he can do — nothing if he doesn’t have the funds to pay a lawyer.
Meanwhile of course the state keeps a watchful eye on him for the least sign that he might have fallen behind on his support payments. If he does, the court’s response will be quite unlike it was when he produced evidence of her denial of his visitation rights. That barely raised an eyebrow, but his failure to pay can bring on the most draconian of punishments.
Does she want to move far away from him, effectively nullifying his visitation rights? Most courts will let her. What if she abducts the child to another country? That’s a felony, but it’s rarely punished. In the event she’s ever found, it’ll probably take the foreign court years to return the child to its home country. And should that happen, she’ll face little or no punishment from any court, civil or criminal for her blatant disregard of his rights. That’s just what happened in the case of Dorothy Lee Barnett. She abducted her daughter from her father’s primary care and remained in hiding for 20 years. Her punishment for entirely depriving a father of his daughter? 21 months with 15 months credit for time served.
The point of all this is to highlight the fact that, “every day in every way” we demonstrate to fathers that they’re not important. Essentially no wrongdoing by a mother aimed at interfering with a father’s relationship with his child is punished in any way. Are we surprised when men get the message?
That’s the larger message “Abby” should have delivered. The outrageous behavior by the women in Anonymous Relative’s family is just one tiny subset of a whole range of behaviors designed to demonstrate women’s authority over all matters related to children. That authority is approved, implicitly and explicitly by courts and laws throughout the Western world. As long as it is, we’ll continue to see fathers disgusted and emotionally maimed and children damaged, often permanently.
About something as important as children and families, it’s no way to run a railroad.
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