If you have elderly parents, especially if they have dementia or Parkinson's disease, this is quite a moving video. Schmaltzy, but right on. Their needs in their elderly years mirror the needs we had as toddlers and children. Time to take care of them, as they took care of us.
Jill over at Estate Vaults told us three weeks ago that her mother was dying. In a very moving piece, Jill describes how the family came together and supported their mother in her last few days of life. The nurses were right, and Jill's mom really did only have two to four weeks to live; she died just three weeks later. Jill writes that it was a beautiful death:
"We hear so much of horrific and painful deaths that it's hard to imagine death can be beautiful. Yet, such was my experience of my mother's death. She was in her own house, in her own bed, surrounded by love. Every one of us believe that it was a great privilege to be with her and with each other, our bond as a family greatly strengthened."
"...Because all of seven children came home to be with her, someone was always with her, reading, saying prayers, playing music or lying down beside her. Downstairs, meals were made, dishes cleared and washed, laundry done, bike trips taken, gardens weeded, flowers planted and beer drunk."
"Monday, the last day, my brother Robby brought up my mother's favorite wine, Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio and we all - me, Kevin, Billy, Colleen, Robby, Julie and Melinda toasted our mother and put a tiny drop of wine on her lips, the last thing she tasted."
Came across a few articles lately on the importance of kids having a married mother and father. Although many in our society are blase about single moms or unmarried couples having kids, there is no denying that children do best in a home with married parents. This simple fact affects schools, neighborhoods, crime rates, delinquency, and kids' economic mobility.
“The two-person mother-father model of parenthood is being changed to meet adults’ rights to children rather than children’s needs to know and be raised, whenever possible, by their mother and father,” according to the report, The Revolution in Parenthood: The Emerging Global Clash Between Adult Rights and Children’s Needs."
"Trends driving the revolution in parenthood include high rates of divorce and single-parent childbearing, the growing use of egg and sperm donors, support for same-sex marriage, increasing interest in group marriage arrangements, and proposals to allow children conceived with the use of sperm and egg donors to have three legal parents."
".... the report is calling for a moratorium or “time-out” on further changes to the institution of parenthood until more research has been done about those policies and practices that will best serve the interests of children."
I like the idea but wonder how to enforce that moratorium. Anderson asks "If all this legal and genealogical confusion is not good for the children involved, or ultimately good for society, is there nothing we can do to stop it or slow it down--or must individual adults' freedom to choose always prevail?" In boomer generation, adults' freedom trumps all, but that may not be the case in another generation or two.
"It turns out that the dramatic rise in illegitimacy and divorce during the last forty years - what I call the unmarriage revolution - has been largely limited to less educated men and women. College educated women have never gone in for having babies outside of marriage.... the large majority of well educated women are raising their children with their children's father."
"This is not the case with less educated women. They are much more likely to have a child without getting married first - over half of births to women without a high school diploma are non marital. And when they do marry, they are far more likely to divorce than college educated women."
"Given that children who grow up with their married parents do better on a wide variety of measures, that means family structure is playing an important role in the rise of inequality and the decline of immobility. Worse, because the children of single mothers are more likely to become single parents themselves, the marriage gap is self-perpetuating. The children of college educated women will go on to become college educated, to marry, only then have children, as well as to be affluent. Thechildren of less educated womenare more likely to graduate high school, or if they do, to drop out of college and to go on to have children when they are not married who will go on to repeat the cycle. Hence, my title: Marriage and Caste in America."
I saw a news story a few days ago about the increased demand for food pantries to serve needy people. The customers for the food pantry were largely single women with children. Where are their fathers? Why aren't women waiting to have children until they get married? Shifting our society back to that line of thinking (marriage and fathers) would result in a lot less people lined up at the food pantries.
The Brookings Institute has determined that if people 1) graduate from high school, 2) get married, 3) don't have kids until after they're married, and 4) have small families, they're virtually guaranteed to avoid poverty. I don't know how we shift ourselves back to committing to marriage and bringing back a social stigma to single parenting, but we need to swing that pendulum back.
"Today, with one subtle shift of an apostrophe, my family will change Father's Day to Fathers' Day."
Greenwood is gay, married, and he and his husband adopted a child last year. She has two daddies and no mommy, hence the apostrophe shift. Not the typical family. He describes an encounter with a waitress who's gaydar wasn't turned on:
"One Sunday, we went to a diner with another pair of gay dads, a child between each set of men. Still, the first thing out of the waitress's mouth was "Wives' day off, huh?" Even in the land of gay marriage, she reverted to the most traditional story line for the families before her."
"Even as we try to raise Lily with love and a sense of safety, she's always going to see that her family isn't the established norm. Is it any wonder, then, that we get dreamy-eyed over ads for Rosie O'Donnell's R Family cruises, designed for gay-parented families? Or that we plan to make an annual tradition out of Family Week in Provincetown in hopes that, for at least a few days a year, Lily will see her family as the yardstick, not the exception to the rule?"
Maybe we'll look back in 10 or 20 years and wonder what all the fuss was about. Then again, maybe not. Either way, we're in for "unintended consequences" in spades. My sense is that only a small percentage of gays (themselves a small minority in the population) want to have families. I don't know how many gay families there are, but indeed they are the exception to the rule. Why not just accept that and go with it? As Eric from Classical Values (himself gay) says, "I liked the old days when it was cool to be gay, but no one worried about aping mainstream society's institutions, much less claiming them as civil rights."
Greenwood doesn't pause for even a moment to consider that what he's done (marrying a man and adopting a child) was not in the realm of possibility in any society until a few years ago. Not even Sweden or Holland! For the history of the human race, no society has sanctioned this social arrangement. You'd think he'd acknowledge that what he's doing now is remarkable and unprecedented. And it happened virtually overnight in Massachusetts, by a judicial decision.
The Boston Sunday Globe Magazine feature story this past Sunday was about the trend in bigger families. Couples in the wealthier suburbs outside of Boston are not longer stopping at 2 perfect kids, they're going for 3, 4 and even 6 or 7 kids. In these families, the husbands make enough money that the wives don't have to work. They're highly educated, stay-at-home moms, often assisted by a nanny or au pair. As one mom put it, it's like managing your own team. The author is clearly uncomfortable with the idea (although he confesses that he and his wife have 3 kids), and there's some nonsense from a psychology professor about the middle kids getting short-changed. The article manages to avoid the topic of religion, but it's a safe bet all these families are religious, and the biggest family interviewed (8 kids) is undoubtly Catholic. The Church loves and welcomes children, unlike society at large.
In two weeks, the Sunday Globe magazine will no doubt publish lots of letters decrying the selfishness of these families, they’re using up the resources of the planet, etc. I hope other folks write in noting how wonderful it is that people are having “big” families again. I come from a family of ten kids myself. Now that my parents are elderly (one with Alzheimer's), it really helps to have brothers and sisters to share in taking care of them. Domenico over at Bettnet.org critiques the article here. One of the commenters at Bettnet.org confirmed my suspicions:
As one of the people interviewed by the reporter, I can assure you that God was mentioned, but the reporter purposely chose to ignore it. When asked what the common denominator was among the larger Wellesley families, I answered, “With the exception of one family, they are all Catholic.” He also chose to overlook a very visible rosary in my car and the fact that I told him that I was a Catholic convert that accepted “the whole package.”
Charles Krauthammer wrote last week about the link between gay marriage and polygamy in Polygamy, Gay Marriage and Values, While advocates of gay marriage dismiss the notion that allowing two homosexuals to marry has anything at all to do with allowing three people to marry, advocates of polygamy have seized upon it.
"With the sweetly titled HBO series ``Big Love,'' polygamy comes out of the closet. Under the headline ``Polygamists, Unite!'' Newsweek informs us of ``polygamy activists emerging in the wake of the gay-marriage movement.'' Says one evangelical Christian big lover: ``Polygamy rights is the next civil-rights battle."
"In an essay 10 years ago, I pointed out that it is utterly logical for polygamy rights to follow gay rights. After all, if traditional marriage is defined as the union of (1) two people of (2) opposite gender, and if, as gay marriage advocates insist, the gender requirement is nothing but prejudice, exclusion and an arbitrary denial of one's autonomous choices in love, then the first requirement -- the number restriction (two and only two) -- is a similarly arbitrary, discriminatory and indefensible denial of individual choice."
"This line of argument makes gay activists furious. I can understand why they do not want to be in the same room as polygamists. But I'm not the one who put them there. Their argument does."
"Call me agnostic. But don't tell me that we can make one radical change in the one-man, one-woman rule and not be open to the claim of others that their reformation be given equal respect."
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe speaks up again about the controversy over Catholic Charities policy of not placing children with homosexual couples. (See earlier blog entry here.) The Human Rights Campaign, a national lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender political organization, recently issued a press release on this. The organization said of the Boston Archdiocese: “These bishops are putting an ugly political agenda before the needs of very vulnerable children."
As Jacoby notes, if anyone has a political agenda, it would be the Human Rights Campaign. He points out:
"Catholic Charities made no effort to block same-sex couples from adopting. It asked no one to endorse its belief that homosexual adoption is wrong. It wanted only to go on finding loving parents for troubled children, without having to place any of those children in homes it deemed unsuitable. Gay or lesbian couples seeking to adopt would have remained free to do so through any other agency. In at least one Massachusetts diocese, in fact, the standing Catholic Charities policy had been to refer same-sex couples to other adoption agencies."
Clearly, that's not good enough for the Human Rights Campaign or the many groups that have condemned the Church for its decision. Jacoby closes with a prophetic statement from two years ago:
''As much as one may wish to live and let live," Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon wrote in 2004, during the same-sex marriage debate in Massachusetts, ''the experience in other countries reveals that once these arrangements become law, there will be no live-and-let-live policy for those who differ. Gay-marriage proponents use the language of openness, tolerance, and diversity, yet one foreseeable effect of their success will be to usher in an era of intolerance and discrimination . . . Every person and every religion that disagrees will be labeled as bigoted and openly discriminated against. The ax will fall most heavily on religious persons and groups that don't go along. Religious institutions will be hit with lawsuits if they refuse to compromise their principles."
We're heading in the wrong direction here.
And can anyone explain why the Church has done such a poor job of explaining their beliefs and policy? Back in 2003, Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Ratzinger) issued a doctrinal statement stating that ''allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such (same-sex) unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development." Catholics believe that a child deserves a mother and a father. Is that so hard to explain?