Be grateful, because you should be.

I've just spent time with women who chose to have children with men who are bad fathers. One has children who are grown and are helping their mom with the death of her husband, their dad. The other has three daughters, with the oldest being "almost 14". I know the parties involved as they're my aunt and cousin, two different generations of moms who for some reason refuse and refused to protect their children as best they can or could from fathers who are unwilling or unable to put their kids before themselves. As a result, NOBODY is putting their children before themselves. They refuse and refused to see the good no longer outweighs the bad, and didn't and won't do anything about it.

The women in my story are not evil. In fact, I love them both very much. My aunt is She wasn't always, in fact I use to look at her in horror when I was a child, wondering how a mom could verbally abuse beautiful, innocent little kids in the way she did when her children were young. Somehow along the way though she was able to turn this around, become a sweet, caring woman who I've been very fond of for many years. Maybe she just didn't like babies or little kids. No matter though, damage done.

My cousin is sweet, has always been. She lost her own father at a young age and luckily had a mom who was completely dedicated to her kids and grandkids. A mom who did all she could to raise 3 children on her own, and to me was a hero in how she coped with the many severe health issues that ultimately took her life, far too young. One would think that with a role model like this, my cousin would be strong when it came to her own children, she'd emulate her mother's determination and dedication to mothering, but no. She's weak, more concerned with keeping her daughters' father as her husband than how this "man" is influencing three little girls' view of themselves, and of the world.

It's strange to care about and love two people that I can have such disdain for. I watched my grown cousins console their mother and accept words of condolence from family friends.I heard the priest tell them how their father will be forgiven and cared for now by god, heard people tell them how great a guy their dad was.I listened to my grown cousin tell me how difficult it was to stand there and have people tell him what a good guy his dad was when he knew the truth, had suffered and still suffers from the truth.

I held my tongue as I listened to my cousin's daughter who's "almost 14" be told parents know best, that she was to listen to her mom and dad as they know everything. This little girl has the honour of being confidante to her parents, the privilege of knowing all the gritty details of her father's infidelity and mother's heartache and pathetic attempts to "keep her man". A little girl who wrote emails to the would-be mistress telling her to stay away from her daddy. A little girl who shed tears in my home when her dad sulked in the car because it hurt his feelings to be told it was uncomfortable to have him around so soon after he decided to fuck over his family, no pun intended. A little girl who is blessed to have as a father a man incapable of even sucking it up for an hour so his wife and daughters could enjoy a family reunion. A little girl with two younger sisters she tries to protect, who may also never know there's another way.

Both of these mothers had and have opportunity to leave these men who are a detriment to their children but chose and choose to stay. The effect on their babies is not as important as their personal desire to remain married to these bad fathers. To allow these men to influence their children in life and haunt them in death is  cruel and selfish and not a way any parent should behave.

But parents don't always behave they way they should. If you happen to have gotten one or two that do, whether blood related or not, be grateful, cause you should be.


  1. I am thankful for everything that I have. The reason I don't like the "gratefulness" concept, when directed specifically at adoptees (which I know you were not doing) is because of how orphans and "illegitimates" have been viewed and treated in not-so-distant history. "Grateful" in that aspect meant "you are unworthy but we took you in any way."

    That's why I say, I am "thankful." I am thankful for lots of things -- all of my parents included. :-)

  2. Definitely as you get older, you take less and less for granted that your parents always behaved like grown-ups who put the kids ahead of themselves. . .

    Too bad "grateful" has taken on this negative connotation and I agree it has because of certain religious and cultural assumptions. The root of grateful is the Latin "gratus" which means pleasing. "I am pleased with" is different from "I am grateful for".

  3. Happy, thankful, grateful, relieved, lucky, whatever, it's a crap shoot when it comes to having one or more decent caregiver.

    It's such a big deal to parent. People can say all they want that it's nature that will always win in the end, that a person will be what he or she will be regardless of nurture but it's just not true.

    Our parents have a great influence on us and those who have one that's dedicated to taking their role seriously are fortunate.

  4. Also, I'd like to add that I am not grateful to my parents for adopting me. There is no need to be. It is not an act for which gratitude should be expected. They should be grateful to have gotten to parent.

    I am grateful however that my dad was the kind of dad he was, family focused and dedicated. A man who put his responsibilities and commitments ahead of his own wants and desires.

  5. Some women find themselves in codependent relationships, not easy to get out of and we can judge all we like and make our views known but it won't make a jot of difference.All you can do is support them as best you can perso nally and encourage them to get help and hope they one day can see the light.Very tough to see parents raising kids this way.What a legacy!

  6. No, never hold us poor women accountable eh?

    Just keep on saying how we are naturally inclined to protect our young, that it's natural bonds and hormones that make a good mother.

    I said these women have/had opportunity to get out and I do judge them for choosing not to just as I judge the fathers of their children for their decisions.

  7. I believe women should be held accountable for choosing bad men over kids. Ultimately, a mother is there for her kids--the next generation. That is the humanity she needs to nurture and protect. If she can't see that, too bad for her but it shouldn't be too bad for the kids. Unfortunately, they often just slip by.

  8. Sometimes leaving an abusive man isn't as easy as saying that you will do it. It normally takes time and a gathering of courage, the finding of resources, and the ability to find a shelter and courage to disrupt kids' lives.

    Yes, in an ideal world, it would just take gumption. But some women are financially dependent on their abusers or fear for the lives of themselves and their children if they do leave. It's not always a black-and-white situation, and I am hesitant to cast stones because my own life isn't all that pretty.

    The situations you describe do, however, sound quite morally deficient on the parts of both parents, and yes, nurture adds a great deal to nature. My amom is, by all accounts, a much better mother than my nmom, who isn't even kind to the son she kept.

    It worries me though, when people say that the victim in violent or coercive relationships is to blame. The situations are usually very complicated and not absolutely clear to the outside world.

  9. I never said the victims are to blame. The kids aren't guilty of anything.


  10. Stories like this reenforce the boundless appreciation, love, and admiration I have for my completely awesome parents. And they redouble my determination not to parent a child until I know I can give that child everything it needs, place its cares ahead of mine, and be completely dedicated to its well being.

    I hope these women find the strength to do right by their children.

  11. Well lia, if you know for sure you won't be able to step up then I think you are doing the right thing. I truly mean it when I say I think you could be an amazing mom but it doesn't just happen on it's own so nobody knows better than you if you would make it happen.

    If you're committed to not parenting, please please do all you can to ensure whomever will be is going to kick ass at it. Be better than you.

    I wrote a post about deciding what's important to me in parenting and addressing what would "you" ask prospective adoptive parents. Not sure if you've ever read it or where you are in your arrangements.

  12. Read your list from the August post, Campbell. Like most closed adoption birthmothers, I did not know anything about the people who got my child, and it never occurred to me to make any specifications. I imagined they would be perfect, like Dick and Jane's parents in the old 50s first grade reader. Was I ever wrong!

    Judging from what my child did get, here are a few things I should have asked: Parents young enough to raise a baby, not a man old enough to be my father. Parents who looked normal, not beautiful, but not a 300 lb big woman with a 98 lb.little man. No corporal punishment, and no mental illness. No son was not homeschooled but often kept home to keep his agoraphobic mom company. No much older biological child. Love of books and pets, especially cats. Stability, no constant mysterious moves and changes of school. Finally, a little education and class,sadly lacking in the adoptive mom, although Dad was better. Actual interest in children, my son was puzzled as to why they had married, or why they had adopted as they did not seem child-centered.

    Among the things my son thankfully did not have to deal with, no super-rich snots, no religious fanatics of any kind, but what he got, pretty lax Catholics, was ok, no extreme bigots, no animal haters, no super neat freaks, no New Age or other nutters. Day care was not a question back in the day but he would have been better there than with crazy mom. Halloween? VERY important, and home-made costumes! My son and his wife do it for themselves now. One big plus my son got from his Dad was freedom and encouragement to be himself and pursue his own interests, which were very different from his Dad'a. This included getting my son a very expensive early home computer when they were not common in the early 80s.

    For someone surrendering now, the most important thing I would ask is that your child be seen as an individual human being with a different genetic heritage, not something to be molded into a clone of adoptive parents or made to fit their expectations. Openess goes without saying.

  13. "Day care was not a question back in the day but he would have been better there than with crazy mom"

    I know of a family personally where I had to admit the kids were better off at daycare than with their mom. More time away the better, and these children are not adopted.

    Thanks Maryanne : )

    From what I understand,in my sister's experience, things (such as religion) that my parents thought mattered to her bio mom, didn't.

    My guess is back then, any requests by bio moms would have been met with false assurances by agency and some adoptive parents would assure things just to get the child. I imagine it still happens.

  14. I was just meaning to explain why I, personally, prefer "thankful." The religious community I grew up with perpetuated more than enough stereotypes surrounding adoption, illegitimacy, and unwed motherhood. The word "grateful" for me, has always been loaded with negative implications because of that experience. I understand that is not everyone's experience.

    "Also, I'd like to add that I am not grateful to my parents for adopting me. There is no need to be. It is not an act for which gratitude should be expected. They should be grateful to have gotten to parent."

    I agree! :-)

  15. Amanda : )

    There are many things I feel because of imposed religious stereotypes and ideas. I totally get what you're saying.

    Thankful it is!


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