Darrell Berkheimer: What if parenting roles were reversed?
What if we lived in a nation where two-thirds to three-quarters of our state legislators and Congress members were women instead of men?
Don’t be too quick to smirk or chuckle with disdain at that idea — situations are changing, and it is a possibility. Women across our country are organizing, and they make up 54 percent of eligible voters.
As a result of the 2018 mid-term election, for the first time in our history we saw women take over control of a state legislature – in Nevada. In that state, 33 members of the 63-member legislature are now women.
So for a brief period — at least for the time it takes to read this commentary — just suppose that women did gain dominating control of our legislatures and Congress.
Then suppose those women passed federal and state laws mandating that men have sole responsibility for raising children, beginning with a requirement that they attend pre-natal classes with the expectant mother.
And suppose, in the case of an unwed expectant mother, police departments were required to determine who the father-to-be is.
In some cases, that would be easy after the expectant mother identifies who the father will be, which police would quickly verify by questioning friends, relatives and a few of her peers.
In other cases, when she refuses to identify the father-to-be, or is unsure, police could be faced with a broader investigation that might not be resolved until after birth and DNA testing.
But with the law assigning sole responsibility of raising the child to the father, it then would be possible for the mother, after birth, to walk away from any responsibility for the child — the way some fathers do today.
Just imagine what changes could result from such laws.
Do you think such laws would lower the rates of incest and rape?
How many new fathers would like the choice of either assuming the responsibility of raising the infant up to adulthood — or going to prison for years while the infant was put up for adoption?
Do you think salacious males might then form crowds in the cities to call for a woman’s choice and legal abortions — so they’re not stuck with raising a child?
And can you imagine how many men would be protesting such laws that diminish the control they have over their own lives?
Isn’t that similar to what many young women face today when laws are passed to deny them control over their own bodies?
Perhaps, with laws assigning total responsibility to fathers, we might see parents having some very serious discussions with their sons about exercising control of their sexual activities.
Would we still have fathers chuckling as they chat with their sons about the “sowing of wild oats?”
And we might even have stock exchange investors speculating on condom futures.
I was prompted to think of such imaginary situations as the result of a few brief comments I received from a reader a little more than two years ago. That was after she read my column of Feb. 4, 2017, titled “Are abortion foes ignoring ramifications?”
That column observed that too often young mothers are faced with raising children in poverty — and sometimes with defects and complications caused by addiction and malnourishment.
Children born in those situations usually require more services and resources than the parents have available — especially when it’s a single mother. Frequently, the costs involved are an enormous drain on federal, state and charitable services, and sometimes grandparents.
So if we make legal abortions so rare, then we must be willing to allocate substantial funds to government services, and increase contributions to charitable agencies — to lessen the mother’s burden and help pay for the tremendous costs that can result.
But those issues get little or no attention in the abortion debates.
When my ramifications commentary appeared two years ago, our “First Lady of Grass Valley” at the time — Peggy Levine — responded with these comments:
“Darrell. Thank you so much for your comments. On my mind all the time — those ramifications! And, none of them (anti-abortion advocates) ever talk about the other half of conception — the male. They don’t ask them to take more responsibility. Abortion is not a solution but many of our citizens are not willing to take care of the results of many of these pregnancies.”
Since Peggy’s death from cancer, I’m sure many folks here continue to think of her often with fond memories.
It was her response to what I wrote that prompted me to create the imaginary situations listed in this commentary. In keeping with her suggestion, I see the necessity to draw more attention to “the other half of conception — the male.”
Obviously, there are no single answers or solutions to unwanted pregnancies. I’m merely striving to do what I believe journalists should be doing. I think our objective should be to promote critical thinking and potential compromises — by presenting more food for thought on the various needs, options and views involved.
Darrell Berkheimer, who lives in Grass Valley, is a frequent contributor to The Union. He is the author of six books available through Amazon. His latest, Essays from The Golden Throne, also is available at Book Seller in Grass Valley. Contact him at email@example.com.
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