So the story that’s apparently making everyone’s head explode this week is Thomas Beatie’s pregnancy.
The blogs I’ve read have made me alternately think, chuckle, cringe and absolutely recoil. They’ve run the gamut from unconditional support to name calling to “There outta be a law”. What’s obvious is that this topic has struck something inside many people. And they’re talking about it.
Some people have shouted that Thomas shouldn’t be allowed to be seen pregnant in public because it will inflict damage on children who see him. Others have said he and his wife shouldn’t be allowed to have children and they aren’t fit parents. Some people are throwing derogatory slurs at them and their unborn child.
I say this. To parents with children who will see coverage or hear about the story, what upsets you most? Are you truly upset because you fear this will cause your child irreparable harm? Or is it because you may be forced to come face to face with a situation that you don’t fully understand; one that may make you uncomfortable, and because you may not be able to give your child an immediate, scripted answer and may actually need to think on your feet to provide your child with straight-forward, age-appropriate information on how people and families are different?
Families aren’t simple. That’s a fact. But maybe you could try taking a deep breath and include some of the following phrases in your chats with your kids: “There are lots of different kinds of families…We’re not all the same, and that’s okay…Some families have a mommy and a daddy…Some families have just a mommy or a daddy…Some families have two daddies or two mommies…”. These are just conversation starters. The parenting is really your job.
The list goes on and on. And that’s just for the types of families and all their possible combinations. I didn’t even begin to account for foster families, step-parent families, adoption, extended nuclear family units, or my own family (get ready) that is a gay, trans-racial, adoptive family with two dads. And I beg anyone to debate our qualifications as parents, or our ability to raise our children in a healthy, loving and nurturing environment. See? Families aren’t simple. And that’s just family structures at their basic level.
However, the larger and hopefully simpler point is that the world is made up of many different kinds of families that are started in a number of different ways. It truly doesn’t matter what I think about Thomas and Nancy Beatie’s pregnancy. The fact is, assuming the rest of the pregnancy goes smoothly, they’re on their way to having a healthy baby girl. Are they fit parents? I honestly don’t know. I don’t know them personally. Nancy has grown children of her own from a previous relationship. The couple interviews well. But who am I to judge? And furthermore, who are you?
The sooner people accept that there are others that exist outside the confines of their own homes (or minds), the better off they, their children, and MY children will be as a result. You don’t have to agree with everything that happens in the world, but you do have to accept the fact that the outside world, does in fact exist.
If you let your children believe it’s a perfect world out there, or worse, that the things in the world that different from your point of view are bad, evil, or must be destroyed, your children are either going to be in for a huge shock as they mature, or they will simply continue to breed hate and bigotry as a family value to future generations at your behest. Then, after it’s too late, you can look back and see exactly who has inflicted damage onto your children. And when you do, you’d best have a full-length mirror handy to take a good, long, hard stare.
It’s about damned time we all grow up, take responsibility for ourselves, our own actions and our own children. The world is a big place where family, friends and neighbors can and do work together. And yes, we’re all entitled to our beliefs and opinions. But this world is not big enough to tolerate bigotry and hate. Come on, people. To hate someone you don’t know based on something you don’t understand or because someone else told you to has got to be the most ridiculous thing I’ve never understood. And never will.
For fuck’s sake. Let’s get real.