Men's Reproductive Responsibilities

asherasher Shipmate
Over in Hell I was encouraged by Tubbs and Eutychus to start a discussion here about men’s reproductive responsibilities.

Some of the initial thoughts, from a range of posters, included:
-wondering whether it might be possible to have a useful discussion about men and reproductive responsibilities.
- Women don't get pregnant by themselves. Men shouldn't ejaculate into a vagina unless they're prepared to accept responsibility for a baby or an abortion.
- men should not expect women to save all the "potential life" they spray at them.
- It takes two people to get pregnant but it appears that in the pro-life universe only one of them is held to account.
- how are men's responsibilities are seen within the pro-choice universe?

So, I suppose that we might here think about the reproductive responsibilities of:
• men who want children
• men who don’t want children
• men in stable relationships
• men in unstable relationships.
..and anything else you can think of as relevant.

My initial thoughts are around stable hetero couples where one wants children and the other doesn’t. How this might be navigated sensitively and responsibly by both, but by men in particular. Where the issue of having and raising a child exists within the fuller richer context of the relationship.

Regards

Asher
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Comments

  • Most of the teenagers I taught sex education were boys with special needs (behavioural mainly, fairly often accompanied with learning needs). We tried to teach them that they should be prepared to accept that the sexual acts they craved could and often did result in a pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted disease. And that they should be prepared for both.
  • asher wrote: »
    My initial thoughts are around stable hetero couples where one wants children and the other doesn’t. How this might be navigated sensitively and responsibly by both, but by men in particular. Where the issue of having and raising a child exists within the fuller richer context of the relationship.

    I don't think the question of whether a couple should or shouldn't have children is different in substance from many other major questions about the couple's life - should they move to a different city or country because one of them has an exciting job opportunity? Should they spend money on an expensive holiday or save for a rainy day? Should they be a couple at all?

    And it should be resolved and agreed through discussion.

    The idea that one party should trick the other party in to pregnancy (birth control sabotage, getting them drunk, ...) is completely reprehensible.

    But going back to your premise, you posit a stable hetero couple who disagree on whether to have children. I would very strongly urge anyone who was considering forming a stable relationship to talk about whether they wanted children in the future. If one of you wants kids and one is dead set against them, you'll save yourselves a lot of heartache by going separate ways early.
  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    IMHO all human beings who engage in sex voluntarily should take personal responsibility for the results of said sex. And if that means doubling up on contraception because you can't trust your partner to do it right/correctly/honestly, so be it. Nobody gets to bitch about "she didn't"/"he didn't" (exceptions-for-bitching for really egregious acts of betrayal by formerly-incredibly-trustworthy people from whom nobody could have seen it coming, but no exceptions for accidents, suck it up and deal).
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host, Epiphanies Host
    An excerpt from my late dad's sex education chat which made me laugh and think - and be more responsible.
    First of all, if you're going to, don't.
    BUT if you do, at least one of you had better take precautions.
    AND if you can't do that, you're both going to get pretty expert at counting days.
    AND if all else fails, and a mother comes knocking at our door, arm in arm with a girl with a bump out front, and asks "So whats YOUR son going to do about this then?" I shall say "It looks like he's done more than enough already". Then invite her in for a discussion with them, you me, AND your mum.

    He had a happy knack of pointing out responsibilities and consequences.
  • goperryrevsgoperryrevs Shipmate
    I don't think the question of whether a couple should or shouldn't have children is different in substance from many other major questions about the couple's life - should they move to a different city or country because one of them has an exciting job opportunity? Should they spend money on an expensive holiday or save for a rainy day? Should they be a couple at all?

    And it should be resolved and agreed through discussion.

    It is and it isn’t. It is in the sense that those kind of decisions can sometimes mean that they’ll impact one partner more than the other, or that one partner has to sacrifice more than the other.

    However, with pregnancy, it’s the woman who has to sacrifice her body for the nine-ish months of pregnancy, the pain of labour and however many months/years of breastfeeding. And it’s very often the woman who has to sacrifice her career, or at least put it on pause.*

    All of which means that there’s an inbuilt gender imbalance with pregnancy compared to most other decisions.

    In a lesbian couple with a sperm donor, it’s a big decision as to who goes through all of the above. That decision just isn’t there for heterosexual couples. It falls on the woman.

    I think that means the onus on the decision is for the man to bow to the wishes of the woman. It also means, if you’re a man who really wants kids, you should think very carefully before getting romantically involved with a woman who doesn’t.

    * these are generalities of course.
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    There was a famous case in Canada in 1989 when Tremblay tried to have the courts stop Daigle from having an abortion. Here is the wikipaedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tremblay_v_Daigle

    For those who are of that wont here is the SCC ruling: https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/515/index.do

    I was auditing a healthcare ethics course in the winter of 2019 and the professor and I were the only people in the room for which this was current events not ancient history.
  • edited May 13
    How about having sex with less people. Only those you feel a spiritual connection to. Don't have sex with someone unless you have a really good connection to her parents and siblings. Turn her down otherwise. Turn yourself down otherwise. It's called being a civilized human being.

    If you need physical release God have you not one hand, but two. Hormones and a boner are no reason for humping anyone. Unlike pets and barnyard animals.
  • How about having sex with less people. Only those you feel a spiritual connection to. Don't have sex with someone unless you have a really good connection to her parents and siblings. Turn her down otherwise. Turn yourself down otherwise. It's called being a civilized human being.

    If you need physical release God have you not one hand, but two. Hormones and a boner are no reason for humping anyone. Unlike pets and barnyard animals.

    I don't think there's ever a good reason for humping pets or barnyard animals, YMMV.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    edited May 13
    How about having sex with less people. Only those you feel a spiritual connection to. Don't have sex with someone unless you have a really good connection to her parents and siblings. Turn her down otherwise. Turn yourself down otherwise. It's called being a civilized human being.

    If you need physical release God have you not one hand, but two. Hormones and a boner are no reason for humping anyone. Unlike pets and barnyard animals.
    That bit of “morality” is a separate issue to the thread topic. One can be extremely minimal in partners and run across the issue.
  • Penny SPenny S Shipmate
    One of my colleagues had a husband who did not want children, which she knew, and went along with. But there was an accident, and he forced her to have an abortion - I'm not sure how this fitted in with the law at the time. It wasn't something she talked about, but it was known about, and known that it was something she was not happy about. General discussion about linked subjects to be avoided in her hearing.
    I got pretty angry on her behalf when I heard.
  • Jemima the 9thJemima the 9th Shipmate
    edited May 13
    As a parent of teenagers, I’m a big fan of discussing contraception in theory in general, and in specifics waaaaaay in advance of it ever being necessary*. That way I hope it is sealed into the teen brain (and the condom is in the teen wallet) long in advance of it being needed.

    My teens are girls, but I’ll hope to take a similar approach with kid C when he gets there.

    *Like, as soon as there is a relationship.
  • I think that means the onus on the decision is for the man to bow to the wishes of the woman. It also means, if you’re a man who really wants kids, you should think very carefully before getting romantically involved with a woman who doesn’t.

    To the first part, no.

    You shouldn't be having a child unless both parents are committed to the idea. You're right that the impact on the mother is usually greater, but children are for life, not just for Christmas. Does this mean that a man shouldn't pressure a woman into having his child? Yes, of course - but it's also true that a woman shouldn't pressure a man into having one. "I'm prepared to carry the kid, so you shouldn't have a say" is a bad argument.

    To the second part, sure. As I said in my previous post, kids should be one of the things that couples talk about before getting too serious.
    (and the condom is in the teen wallet) long in advance of it being needed.

    Just be aware that long-term storage in a teen wallet isn't conducive to the structural integrity of a condom.
  • asherasher Shipmate
    edited May 13
    I've been at work some of today, got dinner on and grabbing a few minutes here.

    Lots for me to think about.

    @Leorning Cniht having had both holidays and children, I found the experiences and decision making different. I'll go along for the ride for a week doing just about anything, whereas....

    Also, you mention making intentions clear in advance. It seems a well worn coin to me that as people age, their views on the responsibilities of parenthood can change. Both mine and my partner's certainly did.

    @goperryrevs wrote 'for the man to bow to the wishes of the woman'.

    I think that I agree, and that this point, that the man's prime reproductive responsibility is to go along with the wishes of the woman, is a very interesting thing to contemplate.

    This point seems to be implicit in what both @Caissa and @Penny S have written.

    (@Caissa I won't have time to read the links you posted (beyond the headlines) until much later this evening, but will do so.)

    Regards

    Asher

    (ETA crossposted with @Leorning Cniht and @Jemima the 9th - will try to get back on these later)

  • Penny S wrote: »
    One of my colleagues had a husband who did not want children, which she knew, and went along with. But there was an accident, and he forced her to have an abortion - I'm not sure how this fitted in with the law at the time.

    There are two quite separate subjects in this discussion - the first covers a couple deciding to have children (or not) in the first place, and the second (mentioned by you here and by Caissa) covers a pregnancy that already exists, but that one parent wishes to terminate.

    These aren't the same discussion at all.

    In the latter case, the pregnant woman is the only one who gets to say what happens to her body. Accidental pregnancies happen. Plenty of couples decide that they don't want children, or don't want any more children, and then become pregnant. Clearly the couple should discuss what they do about it, but the final decision belongs to the pregnant woman, because it's her body. I will note that depending on how strongly someone wants to avoid the chance of children, there are permanent ways of preventing pregnancy, and of course more or less care can be taken with the use of contraception. (Condoms, for example, are more than 98% effective when used properly (less than 2% of regular shaggers will fall pregnant per year) but their practical effectiveness is often quoted as more like 85% - this is because people are careless. If avoiding pregnancy is important to you, you should take more care.)

    To summarize, both parties should consent before attempting to conceive a child. No attempt at conception should proceed without this consent. Once a child has been conceived, the decision to continue with the pregnancy or not rests with the mother.


  • (and the condom is in the teen wallet) long in advance of it being needed.

    Just be aware that long-term storage in a teen wallet isn't conducive to the structural integrity of a condom.

    Good point, thank you. :smiley:
    <Adds care and storage of condoms to mental list of things to discuss as part of that conversation>
  • edited May 13
    As a parent of teenagers, I’m a big fan of discussing contraception in theory in general, and in specifics waaaaaay in advance of it ever being necessary*. That way I hope it is sealed into the teen brain (and the condom is in the teen wallet) long in advance of it being needed.

    My teens are girls, but I’ll hope to take a similar approach with kid C when he gets there.

    *Like, as soon as there is a relationship.

    I have daughters in their 30s. Discussed with both sexuality and how it all works at young ages. Two stories.

    #1
    There are two school systems here, public and Roman Catholic, both funded by taxation. One of my kids when in grade one asnswered the questions of the neighbour girl in kindergarten about sexuality. The neighbour girl then discussed it all with her class. Which made for an interesting conversation with the principal of a school our children did not attend "was anything inaccurate?"

    #2
    One of my mine came home from first grade 7 school daytime dance (age 12): "dad, you're right, the boys do get boners", those poor hormonal ridden creatures. Subsequent discussion their observations of boys playing "pocket pool" and having difficulty standing up in boring math classes ensued.


    Our general philosophy is to give girls control of their sexuality and they will decide when they want to have sex. never give boys any form of primary decision making power. Being horny is never reason enough to have sex. And with the rise of pornography and its influence on what is considered "normal", we're talking both penis into vagina sex and oral sex, and all the other silly ideas that derive from porno.
  • As a parent of teenagers, I’m a big fan of discussing contraception in theory in general, and in specifics waaaaaay in advance of it ever being necessary*. That way I hope it is sealed into the teen brain (and the condom is in the teen wallet) long in advance of it being needed.

    My teens are girls, but I’ll hope to take a similar approach with kid C when he gets there.

    *Like, as soon as there is a relationship.

    In reality you probably want to discuss it before there is a relationship, because (1) you may not know and (2) you can't rule out teenagers doing something risky with someone they're not in a relationship with, particularly in the presence of illicit alcohol.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    edited May 13
    I think that means the onus on the decision is for the man to bow to the wishes of the woman. It also means, if you’re a man who really wants kids, you should think very carefully before getting romantically involved with a woman who doesn’t.

    To the first part, no.

    You shouldn't be having a child unless both parents are committed to the idea. You're right that the impact on the mother is usually greater, but children are for life, not just for Christmas. Does this mean that a man shouldn't pressure a woman into having his child? Yes, of course - but it's also true that a woman shouldn't pressure a man into having one. "I'm prepared to carry the kid, so you shouldn't have a say" is a bad argument.

    I may be completely misreading, but I had an idea that underlying the OP was the question: 'Should the man get a say in whether or not a woman has an abortion?' I agree that a woman should not pressurise a man into having a child, but if the pregnancy does in fact occur, the man does not thereafter get a say, because it is not his body.

    I may be reading things into the OP though!
  • asherasher Shipmate
    Ricardus wrote: »
    I think that means the onus on the decision is for the man to bow to the wishes of the woman. It also means, if you’re a man who really wants kids, you should think very carefully before getting romantically involved with a woman who doesn’t.

    To the first part, no.

    You shouldn't be having a child unless both parents are committed to the idea. You're right that the impact on the mother is usually greater, but children are for life, not just for Christmas. Does this mean that a man shouldn't pressure a woman into having his child? Yes, of course - but it's also true that a woman shouldn't pressure a man into having one. "I'm prepared to carry the kid, so you shouldn't have a say" is a bad argument.

    I may be completely misreading, but I had an idea that underlying the OP was the question: 'Should the man get a say in whether or not a woman has an abortion?' I agree that a woman should not pressurise a man into having a child, but if the pregnancy does in fact occur, the man does not thereafter get a say, because it is not his body.

    I may be reading things into the OP though!

    @Ricardus you are absolutely wrong. This is absolutely not what I am asking. My use of the word responsibilities was (I thought) very clear.

    I would comment that in my marriage we both have a say in everything, even if one person makes the decision in the end. It's interesting that you think the ideal might be otherwise.

    @Leorning Cniht thank you for the useful distinctions you have made - particularly around the idea of 'two consents'.

    Regards

    Asher
  • Ricardus wrote: »
    I may be completely misreading, but I had an idea that underlying the OP was the question: 'Should the man get a say in whether or not a woman has an abortion?'

    I think that's only one aspect to the discussion (and it's one on which I haven't seen any disagreement here). Part of my point if that if you're a hetero couple and the first time you have a discussion about children is when one of you is pregnant, you're doing it wrong.

    There's a corollary that sometimes gets raised, which runs like this: suppose two people conceive a child between them. Suppose the woman wants to keep the child and the man doesn't. Can the man use the fact that the woman carried his child to term against his wishes as a way of evading his child support responsibilities? My answer is no, mostly on pragmatic grounds. I don't know if anyone wishes to attempt a contrary position on this?
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    asher wrote: »
    Ricardus wrote: »
    I think that means the onus on the decision is for the man to bow to the wishes of the woman. It also means, if you’re a man who really wants kids, you should think very carefully before getting romantically involved with a woman who doesn’t.

    To the first part, no.

    You shouldn't be having a child unless both parents are committed to the idea. You're right that the impact on the mother is usually greater, but children are for life, not just for Christmas. Does this mean that a man shouldn't pressure a woman into having his child? Yes, of course - but it's also true that a woman shouldn't pressure a man into having one. "I'm prepared to carry the kid, so you shouldn't have a say" is a bad argument.

    I may be completely misreading, but I had an idea that underlying the OP was the question: 'Should the man get a say in whether or not a woman has an abortion?' I agree that a woman should not pressurise a man into having a child, but if the pregnancy does in fact occur, the man does not thereafter get a say, because it is not his body.

    I may be reading things into the OP though!

    @Ricardus you are absolutely wrong. This is absolutely not what I am asking. My use of the word responsibilities was (I thought) very clear.

    In that case apologies. I was reading too much into the fact that the thread was indirectly sparked by an abortion thread.
  • asherasher Shipmate
    Ricardus wrote: »
    asher wrote: »
    Ricardus wrote: »
    I think that means the onus on the decision is for the man to bow to the wishes of the woman. It also means, if you’re a man who really wants kids, you should think very carefully before getting romantically involved with a woman who doesn’t.

    To the first part, no.

    You shouldn't be having a child unless both parents are committed to the idea. You're right that the impact on the mother is usually greater, but children are for life, not just for Christmas. Does this mean that a man shouldn't pressure a woman into having his child? Yes, of course - but it's also true that a woman shouldn't pressure a man into having one. "I'm prepared to carry the kid, so you shouldn't have a say" is a bad argument.

    I may be completely misreading, but I had an idea that underlying the OP was the question: 'Should the man get a say in whether or not a woman has an abortion?' I agree that a woman should not pressurise a man into having a child, but if the pregnancy does in fact occur, the man does not thereafter get a say, because it is not his body.

    I may be reading things into the OP though!

    @Ricardus you are absolutely wrong. This is absolutely not what I am asking. My use of the word responsibilities was (I thought) very clear.

    In that case apologies. I was reading too much into the fact that the thread was indirectly sparked by an abortion thread.

    Thank you for your gracious reply. It was indeed sparked by that thread, but more in a sense of 'what are men good for then'

    Regards

    Asher
  • Doc TorDoc Tor Admin
    Types and modes of contraceptives are unequal, and that has to be acknowledged. (Also, forgive me if my information is out of date. This hasn't been an issue for me for two decades.) The only (reliable) method of reversible contraceptive usable by men is the condom, which can only be used in the moment. If there was a male contraceptive pill, then I imagine there would be initial resistance, slow uptake, followed by complete acceptance.

    After the birth of our second, I had a vasectomy, which was really the only option for us. Another pregnancy as difficult as the first two would have probably seen Mrs Tor off, and long-term hormone contraceptive pills for women carry their own particular risks.
  • Doc Tor wrote: »
    Types and modes of contraceptives are unequal, and that has to be acknowledged. (Also, forgive me if my information is out of date. This hasn't been an issue for me for two decades.) The only (reliable) method of reversible contraceptive usable by men is the condom, which can only be used in the moment. If there was a male contraceptive pill, then I imagine there would be initial resistance, slow uptake, followed by complete acceptance.

    I have a suspicion men would be less tolerant of side effects than women have been, so a lot would depend on the quality of the pill. Plus, with the best will in the world, a women would need to have a lot of trust in her male partner to rely solely on him remembering to take a pill to prevent pregnancy.
  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    Ricardus wrote: »
    I may be completely misreading, but I had an idea that underlying the OP was the question: 'Should the man get a say in whether or not a woman has an abortion?'

    I think that's only one aspect to the discussion (and it's one on which I haven't seen any disagreement here). Part of my point if that if you're a hetero couple and the first time you have a discussion about children is when one of you is pregnant, you're doing it wrong.

    There's a corollary that sometimes gets raised, which runs like this: suppose two people conceive a child between them. Suppose the woman wants to keep the child and the man doesn't. Can the man use the fact that the woman carried his child to term against his wishes as a way of evading his child support responsibilities? My answer is no, mostly on pragmatic grounds. I don't know if anyone wishes to attempt a contrary position on this?

    I think the only way you could possibly consider some sort of "punishment" would be if you could prove one partner deliberately undermined birth control without any sign or notice to the other partner (because if s/he knew, his/her failure to either stop sleeping with the other or to handle the whole thing him/herself would invalidate the complaint). Which would be very difficult to prove (maybe written emails to a friend?), but necessary, because no one should be held accountable for an accident. And this goes for either gender.

    But suppose such a situation did happen. The "punishment", whatever it was, could not be either forced abortion (abhorrent, violates bodily autonomy and IMHO kills a child to boot) or refusal to pay child support, because that would be harming the child. Which leaves not much on the table in terms of "punishment." Removal of parental rights is likely to harm the child, particularly if the other partner doesn't pick up custody. Perhaps the child support could be more strictly monitored in some way, since the parent has proved him/herself untrustworthy. But I'm not seeing a helpful way out of this mess.

    I suppose it's a case of "choose your partner as wisely as you can."
  • asherasher Shipmate
    Ricardus wrote: »
    I may be completely misreading, but I had an idea that underlying the OP was the question: 'Should the man get a say in whether or not a woman has an abortion?'

    I think that's only one aspect to the discussion (and it's one on which I haven't seen any disagreement here). Part of my point if that if you're a hetero couple and the first time you have a discussion about children is when one of you is pregnant, you're doing it wrong.

    There's a corollary that sometimes gets raised, which runs like this: suppose two people conceive a child between them. Suppose the woman wants to keep the child and the man doesn't. Can the man use the fact that the woman carried his child to term against his wishes as a way of evading his child support responsibilities? My answer is no, mostly on pragmatic grounds. I don't know if anyone wishes to attempt a contrary position on this?

    I think the only way you could possibly consider some sort of "punishment" would be if you could prove one partner deliberately undermined birth control without any sign or notice to the other partner (because if s/he knew, his/her failure to either stop sleeping with the other or to handle the whole thing him/herself would invalidate the complaint). Which would be very difficult to prove (maybe written emails to a friend?), but necessary, because no one should be held accountable for an accident. And this goes for either gender.

    But suppose such a situation did happen. The "punishment", whatever it was, could not be either forced abortion (abhorrent, violates bodily autonomy and IMHO kills a child to boot) or refusal to pay child support, because that would be harming the child. Which leaves not much on the table in terms of "punishment." Removal of parental rights is likely to harm the child, particularly if the other partner doesn't pick up custody. Perhaps the child support could be more strictly monitored in some way, since the parent has proved him/herself untrustworthy. But I'm not seeing a helpful way out of this mess.

    I suppose it's a case of "choose your partner as wisely as you can."

    From whatever perspective we come from, there comes a point where the child's needs are front /centre. Though ignoring parental needs is likely to impact on the child too.

    It's really problematic when a couple have a child against the wishes of one of the parents, as there is a chance that the 'not wanting' will be played out through parenting (perhaps not consciously).

    In recent years there's been focus in education on anxious and avoidant attachment presentations. Being raised by a parent who never wanted the job seems a good recipe for this.

    As you rightly say, its a mess. No good answers.

    Would it ever be the right choice for a parent to leave the child rather than be a toxic influence on the child? Several of my friends are raising their grandkids with no input from either of the child's biological parents.

    Regards

    Asher

  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    As a parent of teenagers, I’m a big fan of discussing contraception in theory in general, and in specifics waaaaaay in advance of it ever being necessary*. That way I hope it is sealed into the teen brain (and the condom is in the teen wallet) long in advance of it being needed.

    My teens are girls, but I’ll hope to take a similar approach with kid C when he gets there.

    *Like, as soon as there is a relationship.

    I have daughters in their 30s. Discussed with both sexuality and how it all works at young ages. Two stories.

    #1
    There are two school systems here, public and Roman Catholic, both funded by taxation. One of my kids when in grade one asnswered the questions of the neighbour girl in kindergarten about sexuality. The neighbour girl then discussed it all with her class. Which made for an interesting conversation with the principal of a school our children did not attend "was anything inaccurate?"

    #2
    One of my mine came home from first grade 7 school daytime dance (age 12): "dad, you're right, the boys do get boners", those poor hormonal ridden creatures. Subsequent discussion their observations of boys playing "pocket pool" and having difficulty standing up in boring math classes ensued.


    Our general philosophy is to give girls control of their sexuality and they will decide when they want to have sex. never give boys any form of primary decision making power. Being horny is never reason enough to have sex. And with the rise of pornography and its influence on what is considered "normal", we're talking both penis into vagina sex and oral sex, and all the other silly ideas that derive from porno.
    Girls get horny too. Girls are well capable of deciding to have sex when they are not ready to make the decision properly.

  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    asher wrote: »
    Ricardus wrote: »
    I may be completely misreading, but I had an idea that underlying the OP was the question: 'Should the man get a say in whether or not a woman has an abortion?'

    I think that's only one aspect to the discussion (and it's one on which I haven't seen any disagreement here). Part of my point if that if you're a hetero couple and the first time you have a discussion about children is when one of you is pregnant, you're doing it wrong.

    There's a corollary that sometimes gets raised, which runs like this: suppose two people conceive a child between them. Suppose the woman wants to keep the child and the man doesn't. Can the man use the fact that the woman carried his child to term against his wishes as a way of evading his child support responsibilities? My answer is no, mostly on pragmatic grounds. I don't know if anyone wishes to attempt a contrary position on this?

    I think the only way you could possibly consider some sort of "punishment" would be if you could prove one partner deliberately undermined birth control without any sign or notice to the other partner (because if s/he knew, his/her failure to either stop sleeping with the other or to handle the whole thing him/herself would invalidate the complaint). Which would be very difficult to prove (maybe written emails to a friend?), but necessary, because no one should be held accountable for an accident. And this goes for either gender.

    But suppose such a situation did happen. The "punishment", whatever it was, could not be either forced abortion (abhorrent, violates bodily autonomy and IMHO kills a child to boot) or refusal to pay child support, because that would be harming the child. Which leaves not much on the table in terms of "punishment." Removal of parental rights is likely to harm the child, particularly if the other partner doesn't pick up custody. Perhaps the child support could be more strictly monitored in some way, since the parent has proved him/herself untrustworthy. But I'm not seeing a helpful way out of this mess.

    I suppose it's a case of "choose your partner as wisely as you can."

    From whatever perspective we come from, there comes a point where the child's needs are front /centre. Though ignoring parental needs is likely to impact on the child too.

    It's really problematic when a couple have a child against the wishes of one of the parents, as there is a chance that the 'not wanting' will be played out through parenting (perhaps not consciously).

    In recent years there's been focus in education on anxious and avoidant attachment presentations. Being raised by a parent who never wanted the job seems a good recipe for this.

    As you rightly say, its a mess. No good answers.

    Would it ever be the right choice for a parent to leave the child rather than be a toxic influence on the child? Several of my friends are raising their grandkids with no input from either of the child's biological parents.

    Regards

    Asher

    IMHO this decision should be made with the help of a clear-headed, clear-minded outsider (therapist? child's advocate?) who can see clearly what would, and what would not, be helpful.

    I did not want my Dad entirely out of my life, but it would have been helpful if he had not been permitted to drive me while drunk at 80-90 miles per hour.

    Probably supervised visitation would have been a good way to go. He wasn't up to caring for children solo, even for a few hours, but we loved him, and he us, I believe. He was simply far too damaged to show it appropriately.
  • goperryrevsgoperryrevs Shipmate
    I think that means the onus on the decision is for the man to bow to the wishes of the woman. It also means, if you’re a man who really wants kids, you should think very carefully before getting romantically involved with a woman who doesn’t.

    To the first part, no.

    You shouldn't be having a child unless both parents are committed to the idea. You're right that the impact on the mother is usually greater, but children are for life, not just for Christmas. Does this mean that a man shouldn't pressure a woman into having his child? Yes, of course - but it's also true that a woman shouldn't pressure a man into having one. "I'm prepared to carry the kid, so you shouldn't have a say" is a bad argument.

    Just to clarify, I was mostly thinking of the situation where a woman didn’t want a child, and a man did, rather than the other way round.

    And yes, you’re right of course, but I used the word ‘onus’ to try to communicate that it’s not just a decision in a vacuum for both partners. Childbirth has a much bigger impact on the woman than some men stop to think about. That’s what I’m trying to get at in terms of the inequality of the decision, that men should be sensitive about.
  • asherasher Shipmate
    Building on @Leorning Cniht point.

    My dad has Parkinson's, and involves all of us in his decision making, as what he decides impacts on those who support/care for him.

    I need my partners help in making decisions about my body/health, and some decisions will have significant impacts on her(caring for me in recovery or even life expectancy). We make better decisions together.

    Please note i understand some relationships are dysfunctional/abusive and mutually respectful discourse is not always possible.

    Respectfully

    Asher

  • goperryrevsgoperryrevs Shipmate
    I’ll just add as well, that it’s not always as simple as A wants babies, B doesn’t. We all have mixes of desires and fears, and other emotions. It’s into that dynamic that there is that onus for the man to step back a little.
  • Jemima the 9thJemima the 9th Shipmate
    edited May 13
    As a parent of teenagers, I’m a big fan of discussing contraception in theory in general, and in specifics waaaaaay in advance of it ever being necessary*. That way I hope it is sealed into the teen brain (and the condom is in the teen wallet) long in advance of it being needed.

    My teens are girls, but I’ll hope to take a similar approach with kid C when he gets there.

    *Like, as soon as there is a relationship.

    In reality you probably want to discuss it before there is a relationship, because (1) you may not know and (2) you can't rule out teenagers doing something risky with someone they're not in a relationship with, particularly in the presence of illicit alcohol.

    Good points, both. So far I’ve known about most things I hope, but yes there are always bits you miss. My worry so far on the booze front is more their drinks being spiked (neither of them go to parties yet, but when they do...) Kid A is so very anti pregnancy & childbirth that it seemed like contraception in itself.

    I’m still fairly smug that my / our approach is an improvement on my parents’ - don’t have sex before you get married, and if you do get pregnant, we’ll kick you out.
  • asherasher Shipmate
    edited May 13
    To me, stepping back has a connotation of leaving someone to face things alone.

    I'm fairly sure that's not what you meant?

    Perhaps shaping space and time together?

    Respectfully asher

    (Eta, crosspost, addressed to @goperryrevs )
  • goperryrevsgoperryrevs Shipmate
    @asher, it’s hard to communicate with the right phrasing, and I appreciate that I’ve not always picked the right words. “Bow to the wishes” was an unhelpful phrasing, that does not communicate what I’m trying to say.

    I think @Leorning Cniht, and I are very close in what we think. I think it’s that I’m more trying to talk about the process by which a couple makes the decision to try for a baby, rather than the final decision itself.

    In that process, because there is naturally a bigger impact on the woman, her feelings and thoughts should take precedence. But I’m not saying that in the final decision the woman’s opinion should take precedence. I’m saying that the man should listen first, speak second, and not dominate. I’m not saying that the man’s feelings and opinions don’t matter, or that they should disconnect - the very opposite.

    Of course, in an ideal world, everyone shares their opinions and emotions maturely and clearly, and everyone listens to each other and there is full understanding. But we’re not in an ideal world, and sharing stuff is messy.

    Perhaps it would be useful to go back to the example I gave of a lesbian couple. In that, there are two potential decisions to make together - do we want a baby? and which of us is going to bear it? In that discussion and decision, there is a kind of parity between partners.

    With a heterosexual couple, there isn’t that parity, hence the special need for sensitivity, more patience, less dominance etc. from the man. Of course, we should all be sensitive, patient and so on all the time - but, as I say, it’s not an ideal world.
  • Years ago I read a book about bringing children up as a single parent (because that was my situation at the time)*. It was a useful book in that there was a lot of practical advice, e.g. negotiating contact and maintenance, what to tell the children involved, that the children deserved a relationship with both parents and how to achieve that, interspersed by anecdotes. Most of the stories were from the woman's point of view as they mostly ended up literally holding the baby.

    Some of the anecdotes were just sad, male partners taking off just before the baby's birth because they found they couldn't deal with being a father at the last minute, mothers being left with children while the man disappeared or got involved with someone else, mothers widowed, lots of situations.

    The stories I found more challenging were of women who got pregnant without the consent of the father, on a one night stand or in a brief relationship that then dissolved leaving the woman as a single parent through pregnancy as well as after birth. In those cases, sometimes the men adamantly had not wanted children, but the woman had, so the man had left the minute they'd been told of the pregnancy. These stories continued with the tales of trying to pursue that man for maintenance and women saying "but how could they not love this little bundle?". At the time, and still, I wonder if those men really deserved to be paying out for a child they really didn't want and had made clear that they didn't want. How much were they betrayed? Should they really be paying out for 18 years for a one night stand that resulted in pregnancy?

    * I no longer have the book as I passed it on to a friend who had just split up with her husband, also a friend, and was using their kids as pawns, even though they both had new partners.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    At the time, and still, I wonder if those men really deserved to be paying out for a child they really didn't want and had made clear that they didn't want. How much were they betrayed? Should they really be paying out for 18 years for a one night stand that resulted in pregnancy?

    Unless they wore a condom and it broke, they were deciding to take a chance on pregnancy.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    edited May 14
    mousethief wrote: »
    At the time, and still, I wonder if those men really deserved to be paying out for a child they really didn't want and had made clear that they didn't want. How much were they betrayed? Should they really be paying out for 18 years for a one night stand that resulted in pregnancy?

    Unless they wore a condom and it broke, they were deciding to take a chance on pregnancy.
    Even if a condom, the pill, a patch, a vaginal ring and a diaphragm are used in combination, they are taking a chance on pregnancy. no method is 100%, breakage is a risk.
  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    Living is taking chances. Having sex is taking a chance on pregnancy, no matter how much you attempt to hedge against it. And as far as the men feeling betrayed and suckered into a position they didn't want, as soon as a child exists (go argue that one elsewhere!), the child's needs become paramount, and supersede that of a parent who wishes not to be a parent. It isn't about being fair at that point, to the man (or woman) or anybody. It's about meeting the needs of the child.

    To put it a different way, if by some far-fetched chance I became responsible for the care (and funding) of a child, even one wholly unrelated to me, it wouldn't matter what I wanted, really. The child's needs would come first. (In fact, I know of one such case in my extended family right now. There's quite a high chance the child is no relation at all, but it doesn't matter to the putative father or any other relative; the child needs support and love, and fate/God/the legal system has settled on us to give it.
  • I’m still fairly smug that my / our approach is an improvement on my parents’ - don’t have sex before you get married, and if you do get pregnant, we’ll kick you out.

    My parents never threatened or assigned consequences (either temporal or eternal), but there was a clear message that sex was for marriage, with the slight caveat that marriage could begin with consummation rather than solemnisation so long as the solemnisation was forthcoming. Of course my Dad wasn't quite ready for my then girlfriend, now wife, and I to announce our engagement aged 20 and 19 respectively. He gradually adjusted to it, particularly once I pointed out that that we were pretty much the same age as he and my Mum when they got married. Perhaps it was a little reckless of us, but we're still married almost 16 years later, and my parents celebrate their 40th this year so maybe my family knows something about stable relationships.
  • I totally agree that having sex is risking a pregnancy, which is why I teach that, and tell the young men I teach that if the woman gets pregnant and carries the foetus to term, that child will be their responsibility, whether they wanted it or not.

    But I do wonder about the situations where what had been agreed was that the couple didn't want children, or that was what the man believed, and then the woman who was on Pill stops taking it without warning or discussion, which is not unknown. Why are the men are still contractually obliged to pay for the child, when their understanding was that they had agreed no children?

    And yes, I know several children born while the mother was on the Pill, it's not 100% protection. In those cases it's often been the result of a gippy tummy while on holiday, part of a boozy sexed up holiday with neither parent paying a lot of attention. But both parents have had the conversation there and have accepted their responsibilities.

    Why is is the choice of the woman alone and the man still gets to pay when it wasn't his choice at all?

  • Why is is the choice of the woman alone and the man still gets to pay when it wasn't his choice at all?

    Because it's incredibly easy for men to lie about not being told something, and ultimately there is a still a child that needs support and that child has a father.
  • asherasher Shipmate
    I’m aware that I haven’t yet commented on the interesting posts around sex education. And I’m mindful of posts elsewhere on people feeling ignored.

    So, thank you @Curiosity killed @Barnabas @NOprophet_NØprofit @Doc Tor @Arethosemyfeet @Lamb Chopped @lilbuddha @mousethief @Jemima the 9th

    This is a live issue in my house as my son has his first long term girlfriend. The only comment I would make now, is on the importance of not passing on to our children the violence that has been done to us.

    (Caissa – I read your links to the Tremblay and Daigle case. What a horrible case, Tremblay was a real piece of work)

    I’ve been having a good long think about this thread, and two things have floated to the top of my mind. I’m not quite sure why yet:

    1. The example of St Joseph.
    2. Working in a men’s prison, I was alongside a prisoner as he had a ‘goodbye’ visit with his young daughter as contact ceased. He was a top geezer – funny and intelligent and full of rich stories – but completely useless as a father (street drinker, criminality etc).

    Regards

    Asher
  • Jemima the 9thJemima the 9th Shipmate
    edited May 14
    Your example no 2 makes me think of many things. I think there are people who really do think they’ll do ok as parents, and travel hopefully in that direction, and then just can’t do it. Male and female. Not the same as those who just don’t give a damn.
    But I also think of the child first and always. It’s not a zero sum game, your top geezer matters, but I can’t get away from the harm already done to his daughter. And I wonder about his own upbringing, and his own parents.

    One bit of my job is working in an antenatal clinic, and there is an open acknowledgment that growing up in care (either parent) may mean you need more help than others.
  • @Arethosemyfeet - even when in those anecdotes from the book the mother admitted the partner didn't want children but "thought he'd love his child when it was born", only to find that no, the male partner had meant it and would rather walk out than deal with a baby?

    I can think of good reasons why some men may really mean they don't want children, for example, that they have mental health problems that are under control, but they don't feel secure enough that they could cope with children. Or that there's a suspected inherited condition that they didn't feel prepared to face - e.g. Huntingdon's Chorea, or other condition that may or may not be in their family - they have not been tested so don't know if they are affected, and rather than discuss this, have chosen not to have children until they are ready to deal with the consequences. And that isn't now.

    So why can't those men be believed and have their wishes accepted? Or does the man have to have a vasectomy to prove he is serious?
  • @Arethosemyfeet - even when in those anecdotes from the book the mother admitted the partner didn't want children but "thought he'd love his child when it was born", only to find that no, the male partner had meant it and would rather walk out than deal with a baby?

    I can think of good reasons why some men may really mean they don't want children, for example, that they have mental health problems that are under control, but they don't feel secure enough that they could cope with children. Or that there's a suspected inherited condition that they didn't feel prepared to face - e.g. Huntingdon's Chorea, or other condition that may or may not be in their family - they have not been tested so don't know if they are affected, and rather than discuss this, have chosen not to have children until they are ready to deal with the consequences. And that isn't now.

    So why can't those men be believed and have their wishes accepted? Or does the man have to have a vasectomy to prove he is serious?

    Wearing a condom or not having sex would seem the primary solutions in that case. I struggle to see a way in which the law could intervene fairly in a way that allows the tiny minority of duped fathers an out without allowing the larger mass of deadbeats off the hook.
  • The reason I'm asking is because I was surprised how many of these stories there were in this book. The ones where I sympathised with the father even as I dealt with no maintenance, those repercussions and the father not bothering to make contact. (In my case I had requested supervised access, because she was so young and I had walked out after she'd been hit (aged just over a year) and my nose had been rearranged, but there was never a request to set this up.)
  • Doc TorDoc Tor Admin
    If our economic system wasn't so fucked up and, frankly, misogynist, then the resentment generated by having to pursue fathers for maintenance payments would be less of an issue, or not an issue at all. It's the financial hit that mothers take that forces them to do this.
  • The reason I'm asking is because I was surprised how many of these stories there were in this book. The ones where I sympathised with the father even as I dealt with no maintenance, those repercussions and the father not bothering to make contact. (In my case I had requested supervised access, because she was so young and I had walked out after she'd been hit (aged just over a year) and my nose had been rearranged, but there was never a request to set this up.)

    I'm sorry you went through that and commend your courage on leaving.

    How would you frame a law that protects duped fathers without giving a way for others to dodge their responsibilities?
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    The only individual who should have any say over whether to have an abortion is the pregnant woman in question. Anything else smacks of the worst elements of patriarchy.
  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    @Arethosemyfeet - even when in those anecdotes from the book the mother admitted the partner didn't want children but "thought he'd love his child when it was born", only to find that no, the male partner had meant it and would rather walk out than deal with a baby?

    I can think of good reasons why some men may really mean they don't want children, for example, that they have mental health problems that are under control, but they don't feel secure enough that they could cope with children. Or that there's a suspected inherited condition that they didn't feel prepared to face - e.g. Huntingdon's Chorea, or other condition that may or may not be in their family - they have not been tested so don't know if they are affected, and rather than discuss this, have chosen not to have children until they are ready to deal with the consequences. And that isn't now.

    So why can't those men be believed and have their wishes accepted? Or does the man have to have a vasectomy to prove he is serious?

    Wearing a condom or not having sex would seem the primary solutions in that case. I struggle to see a way in which the law could intervene fairly in a way that allows the tiny minority of duped fathers an out without allowing the larger mass of deadbeats off the hook.

    The problem is not just that deadbeats would walk free. The primary problem is that now there are three people, not just two, and the attempt to do justice between the two adults is going to harm the child.

    Suppose you say to the father, "Yes, we believe you, she lied and went off birth control when you had made your wishes totally clear. So you don't have to pay child support or do anything else parental.'

    (Really, IMHO, a father can get out of basically anything--such as contact--BUT child support payments.)

    So we say that to him. How, then, is the child to be financially supported?

    Someone will say, "Then it's all on the mother." Well, that's fine--except that children supported solely by a mother are apt to grow up in poverty--considerably more often than children supported by two parents. Their circumstances are going to be even more fragile, depending on a single income as they must. They have a higher risk of hunger at home, and a higher risk in the U.S. of being uninsured and receiving little to no healthcare.

    So the child suffers for the sins of the mother.

    That isn't right.

    Someone may say, "Put it on the taxpayers, then." Okay, that's a possibility, though governments being what they are, there's going to have to be an investigation to prove the facts of the case (to rule out both lying AND accidental conceptions) in order for the father to be let off the hook. Based on what I know of other government investigations (disability, etc.), this isn't going to happen. The decision will almost always (always?) be "not proven," and we are right back where we started. This is not a situation that is normally capable of proof.

    The fact is, the law is a blunt instrument, and sometimes it can't remedy the evil that was done to you (general you). The most that can be done is to salvage something for the most innocent of the three people, which is the child. Dad (or in a few rare cases, Mom) just has to suck it up and deal, because they're adults.
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