Okay, I figured this was coming, and I did say I was going to ruffle feathers.

Someone who knows some of the details of my personal life sent me the pissed-off e-mail below, challenging my credibility on the subject of parenting because the children I am raising currently, and have raised in a previous marriage, were not my biological children.

Yes, the child I raised in the past from age 3 to adulthood, did indeed have an involved biological father, as do the two children I am currently raising. Does that make me less of a "real" father? (And yes, each of the kids I'm raising and have raised, relate and related to me as a father.) And furthermore, does it disqualify me from evaluating the dynamics of parenting objectively?

Freud once used a famous quote to explain the dynamics of transference between a biological father and son: "Child is father to the man." What the creator of psychoanalysis was describing was how a parent will often relate to their child as if that child was the parent's parent. In other words, a parent might attempt to please or placate their child in order to gain their love and respect in a way they didn't gain it from their own parent; or a parent might compete with their child, acting out their own frustrations and feelings of incompetence in comparison to their own parents of childhood. Etc. Very often, the reason that grandparents and grandchildren seem to have less conflict-ridden relationships than parents and their children have is because the element of transference isn't so strong. Likewise, step-parents have a similar advantage, potentially, in that regard, being able to relate to their step-children with less transference, and perhaps more objectivity.

So, am I more or less qualified to comment on parenting because I am a "step-parent," Suzanne?

On the subject of "marriage," my partner and I consider ourselves to be quite married, more "married" than some married people we know. We haven't had a ceremony to that effect, it's true, and our monogamy is "spontaneous," rather than contractual, but does that make us less married? Or more? Or at least, differently married?

Finally, besides challenging my credibility, Suzanne, your e-mail didn't really address at all what the gist of my posting was and why it made you so angry.

Anyway, here's "Suzanne:"

[NOTE: The e-mail is edited for typos, grammar and a few things that were wrong factually, or would infringe on the privacy of certain others if I printed them]

"I have held my tongue until now. I think you must clarify your role in
your family to your blog readers. A bit back you referred to yourself as
a father three times over; I have an open view of what defines a father,
but you seem to refer to your fatherhood as a way of giving credence to
your argument. If you are going to do that than you must define your
role. Since I've known you over the last 25 years of so, you have been
in love with two women who have had children. The first woman had a child that you
helped parent until you and that woman split. That child had a
biological father that was very involved in his life. I think fathers would agree that
this is a unique kind of fatherhood.

You make reference to your wife now. I did not realize you are married. As far as I know, you are not married to your partner. You have played a part
in HER children's lives. They have a father. If you play a fatherly role in their
lives that is wonderful, but your readers should know that those
children have a biological father who they are connected to. You may
play an important role in their lives but if you asked them, would they
say you were their dad?

You defined yourself as father and husband; you should define that. I
think some of your readers may be particularly interested in your role
as "Father." From what I know, you have never "fathered" a baby or even
a toddler. Hmmmm. You are certainly entitled to opinions about
parenthood, but I'm not sure you can refer to your experience to give
value to your argument especially when the experience you refer to is
misleading. I think your opinions are interesting and thought provoking;
I wonder why you must create this false identity to validate them. Hmmm.
Will you post this email on your blog? I hope so."


Anonymous said...

Interesting. I'm wondering what she's REALLY angry about. Surely it's not that you're in a committed relationship without benefit of the state's approval, and that you haven't contributed sperm to the children you've raised...

Nicole Staley-Sheridan said...

I must agree with that Sue lady, about defining your role as a father. I would think the author, (you) Peter would need to explain in more detail your roles on fathering within your (2) marriages.

Perhaps a more authentic (honest) account of your experiences.

It would seem to me that it is easier to judge or interpret without the facts or background knowledge someone who has known you for several years has.... Hence, the anonymous comment posted.

There are (2) sides- Your perception and Sue's perception- she does have the advantage of knowing you.

And you have certainly walked in your own shoes....

There is the webster's version of fatherhood and then an individual perspective on what it means to be a father which varies from individual to individual.

By all means, we are allowed to feel any way we want as humans and individuals. And I respect Sue's comments and understand what she is driving at (because I know who both of you are)...

And I respect your post and feelings because you are allowed to feel or think any way you want. Freedom of Speech, Blah, Blah, The beauty of living in the U.S.

But we must remember, In life there is more than meets the eye or posted on a blog.

Best to you both....And one more question, Why are you editing her text in her response? Unwise....on so many levels Full Permission Living.


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