Traditionally, Christmas is a time that has engendered images of families huddled close next to a tree, unwrapping presents and sipping on non- alcoholic eggnog. The family at the center of this traditional holiday bliss includes a mother, a father, usually two children, and perhaps a dog and/or a cat. Over the years, this picture of traditional bliss has changed to reveal a family where many of the parents are divorced, children are the product of different partners, and no one is home to take care of the dog or cat.
In an article titled “Single by Choice,” Melissa Kanes details her experience treading through the non-traditional world of artificial insemination. Like many women, Melissa dreamed of meeting “Mr. Right,” marrying and settling down in a home filled with children. By the age of 34, fearing that her biological clock was running out of steam, Melissa opted for what she called “Plan B,” artificial insemination. The home Melissa dreamed of sharing with a husband and children, were now substituted with two children conceived via artificial insemination and a nanny. Of this non-traditional choice, Melissa states that at times it has been challenging, but that she is satisfied with her choice and plans on telling her children the truth about their origins. To her eldest child, Ariana, Melissa has said “Mommy bought some seeds from a doctor to make a baby because I wanted you so much.” I wonder, will this explanation be sufficient for Ariana as she grows more into herself, developing into a distinct human being with genetic characteristics from two family branches. Will there come a time when Ariana sets out on a quest to discover how the second branch of her family tree meshes with the first branch?
Some may balk at my questioning whether this type of family construct will cause harm to the children it produces, arguing that all that is required is love, not a home where there is full knowledge of family origin. However, I think it would be remiss not to question the possible effects this type of household may have on children. For in our rush to redefine the traditional family landscape, we often ignore or belittle the effect this attempt at redesign will play in the lives of the children it houses. To say that the distinct role played by a mother or a father is inconsequential is to ignore the power of these roles in not only the lives of children but in society as well. Each role serves a function and a purpose that should not only be acknowledged, but that should also be respected. As a society, we cannot expect that a continual disintegration of the traditional family construct will not leave a footprint, nor should we close our eyes to the reality of how this disintegration has played itself out thus far in the world. While we should not be afraid to rock some traditional boats, there are some that should cause us to pause and mindfully reflect on the effect this rocking will have outside of ourselves.