"auntlori" weighs in on PL's Response to "Suzanne"

Here's "auntlori":

"I have a few thoughts on Sue's entry and your reaction to it.

Firstly, I don't find Sue's response to be angry but rather straightforward with no sugar coating.

Secondly, I would have to agree with her in that you need to be straightforward in what your role is/was as a "father" in the children's lives you have been involved in because it IS misleading to refer to yourself as having "fathered" three children. As you slam parents for various reasons, you often cite yourself as a source of reference; however, you never acknowledge that your experience is very different than others. This does not make less of your experience or your role less important. It simply makes it different, and I feel it unfair to negatively hold others against your experience. Being a full time parent to a newborn or toddler IS different than being a part time step-parent to a 4, 5, 7, 10, or 15 year old. There is no better or worse, but there most certainly is a difference that I think should be clarified. I am a biological mother to a 15 month old and was a full-time step-child to a woman from when I was 9-33 years old. It's not the same.

Thirdly, I don't think Sue missed the gist of your post; I think for those who know you, it is hard to sometimes get past the things that seem skewed to make a point. In addition, as a former English professor, I can tell you that one of my first lessons in teaching writing, particularly persuasive writing, was that you never want to offend/turn off the reader simply because they will stop reading and your point will be completely lost. The most persuasive writing is that which considers all, or at the very least, opposing points of view in a non-confrontational manner. When you give credit to other points of view or experiences, you do not cause the reader's defenses to go up and enable your point to be heard and considered. I find Sue's comments to be far less angry than your blog often sounds. So, just as you pose the question to Sue as to why she was angry about your entry, why was your initial entry so angry?

Fourthly, you often make negative comments regarding "traditional" marriage. Why, then, would you make reference to your partner as "your wife"? Again, to those who know you, it would appear that you are only using that word to make a point, which, for some of us, then renders your point ineffective. It seems hypocritical to knock "traditional" marriage, yet then use it, falsely, to suit your purpose. As I told my students, just as important as being non-confrontational in trying to make a point in writing, you must also be a reliable writer. If there are non-truths or "holes" in your writing, the reader no longer believes what it is you have to say because you have become unreliable. I believe Sue may have been making this point.

Fifthly, if there are typos or grammatical errors in my email, please feel free to correct, as it is Monday morning, I had a super-bowl party yesterday and my 15 month old is hanging on my leg."


Mostly, auntlori, I responded to much of what you wrote above in my response to "Anonymous." But I have a question - if my children were adopted, and let's say I adopted them when they were 3 years old, would I be qualified to speak on the subject of parenting as authoritatively as biological parents? If I were gay and not able to be legally married to my partner, would it be illegitimate of me to say I was married? Should I always qualify and say, "This is my adopted daughter," or "This is my non-legally binding partner?"

1 comment:

loff56 said...

Interesting back and forth.

I think I'd actually like to answer the questions you posed to Lori.

1. Yes you would be able to speak as authoritatively about parenting as an adopter as you would a biological parent. With the simple caveat (and this is the critical point) that your experience specifically may or may not reflect that of everyone's experience. Lori's point and Sue's (I think) is not that you don't have a valid point, but that you have one point among many. As Lori said, it's just "different" that's all.

Having never been a parent, adoptive or otherwise, I can't speak from personal experience, but I can make a pretty good educated guess that the emotional trauma (whether it's good trauma or bad trauma) involved with the process of giving birth, whether for the mother or the father, probably has a profound psychological effect on the parent. Again, for good or for bad. From your perspective, having not been through that trauma, your view HAS to be different. Again, for better or for worse. It could be that not having been through it, your perspective is not cluttered by the effects of that emotional experience and therefore may be more lucid. But irregardless, it IS different and for the sake of making your case about parenting, your specific perspective should be included in the argument.

(Now I know you're going to argue that somewhere along the line in making a decision to become an adoptive parent there was an equally traumatic decision to be made. Maybe so, but it's still a different trauma.)

2. If you were gay, I don't think it would be illegitimate for you to consider yourself "married".

However, for gay couples they don't have the option (in most states) of being legally married. So it's a little like comparing apples and oranges.

But I get the vernacular. And I think the use of the word "married" when not referring to the legally sanctioned version can be confusing unless you're familiar with your more modern interpretation of the institution. I do get Lori's point about knocking traditional marriage while using "married" to suit your point. But I think it's a question of semantics in the end. It could be helpful to your readers (and for your arguments) to clarify that your marriage is not a traditional marriage as defined by the law, but as defined by your interpretation of what marriage should be. (Actually it could be worth a blog subject for you to go into detail about that. (Or has there been one in the past that I missed?))

There's definitely something to be said about this modern type of "marriage" versus a traditional marriage. For one, traditional (legal) marriage is very restrictive and has a lot of serious consequences (both legally and financially, not to mention religiously if you're into that) for both individuals involved that drive people to fear the retribution involved in making difficult decisions about their spouses. (I should add that there are also benefits on all those fronts as well). Again with this in mind, your arguments about marriage has to have perspective because your type of marriage eliminates all of that fear. (Again, perspective - for good or for bad.)

In conclusion, I get the frustration expressed by others who have a different experience than you do in that you seem to be speaking for them as well as yourself by glossing over what your experience actually is. I don't necessarily share their frustration, because I'm not a parent, but I do see their point. But I say instead of trying to resolve that conflict of perspective, you should actually embrace that difference in perspective and use it to the advantage of the argument. Don't say "I know what it's like because I'm exactly like you", you should say, "Listen to this, because I have this different perspective, you should consider this point."

Another 2 cents, by Loff56.


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