Post Hill Press, 2021.
Yes children DO need their own mother and father:
A major choice that we face in the West is rather stark: either we put the desires and wants of adults ahead of everything else, or we recognise that children and their wellbeing should be our first concern. But when it comes to nearly all public policy, legislation, and social and political agendas, the former almost always wins.
Children are usually an afterthought – they have been marginalised, commodified, and depersonalised. Adults run roughshod over children as they pursue their own pleasures and desires. This must stop, or we will all continue to suffer. If we want a flourishing society, we must have flourishing children.
That is the theme of this very important new book. In one sense it simply reiterates the wisdom and common sense of the ages: every child needs his or her biological mother and father. And the social science research which affirms this reality has now been around for well over a half century.
Those who have followed this mountain of evidence and have sought to get it out to a wider audience will find much that is familiar in this volume. But we always need new voices to keep repeating old truths. Faust and Manning do a terrific job of assembling and sharing the information, and of making the case with plenty of moving stories.
The book’s many stories and its wealth of documentation and evidence make it overwhelmingly clear that children want and need mum and dad, and anything that deprives them of this is anti-child – a form of child neglect, if not abuse. Katy Faust knows all about this from first-hand experience. Her parents divorced when she was just ten. While her father eventually remarried, her mother decided to partner with another woman. That is the world she grew up in.
Her story, along with the other stories found in this book, fully back up what the empirical evidence tells us. Children without their own mother and father suffer – and suffer greatly. Sure, some children from such situations claim to feel no loss, and they are celebrated and promoted in the media, and become the poster children for various activist causes.
But the great majority of children DO know the pain and the grief of their position, and “problems lurk amidst the silent supermajority that desperately needs a voice in the conversation. The ones who are penalized for speaking up. The ones who may lose everything if they are honest. As our story bank grows, it has become apparent that many children don’t process their loss until midlife.”
This book, along with the Them Before US website, features so many of these heart-wrenching stories – stories that desperately need a hearing. As the authors write:
We are inundated by tales of what adults want in family matters. It’s time we listen to kids, the true victims created when we arrive at the wrong answers to questions about marriage and family. If we do, we will create a path forward for healthy children, healthy families, and a healthy society. If we refuse to hear their voices, children will continue to be mere constituents of adult fulfillment, starved of the emotional staples they require to really thrive. Our collective investment in future generations is imperative if society is to be presided over by adults who, as children, were provided the necessary socioemotional diet they require to flourish in adulthood.
In this volume a number of well-documented chapters look at the various ways children are being ignored and hurt by adults. They look carefully and in detail at things like marriage, divorce, gender, same-sex parenting, donor conception, surrogacy and adoption.
In the introduction Faust offers us these words of explanation as to why this book came about:
When I began writing, I didn’t know much. What I did know was that children who grow up without their mother or father suffer, struggle in life, and often blame themselves as a result. I knew that men and women parent differently, but I didn’t understand those differences are actually the socioemotional food that kids need for healthy development. I knew redefining marriage would radically alter parenthood, but I was ignorant of how third-party reproduction had already been doing so. I knew that marriage matters but had yet to understand how grave a threat divorce, cohabitation, and surrogacy pose to children. I knew all children longed to be known and loved by their mother and father, but I didn’t realize they actually have a right to these things.
Consider the chapter on homosexual ‘families’ and some of the tragic stories found there. One woman, the daughter of two lesbians, said this:
The pain in my life did not stem from the state not recognizing the relationship between my “two moms.” It stemmed from the turmoil of desperately wanting a father. I love my mom deeply, fiercely, and unconditionally. She is an incredible woman, but I also love my absent father. I love a man whom I don’t even know. A man who, by all accounts, is a lousy father. I don’t know why I love him, I just do. I ached for my father to love me. I ached for the father I knew I would never have.
Or consider this touching story:
Father’s Day sucks, and my mom thinks it’s society when really it’s just her. I love her but yeesh. She talks about genders like they don’t matter when raising kids. If they don’t why does she want me to spend so much time with her guy friends so I can have a father-figure? (JK as if her guy friends love me or relate to me as much as they love and relate with their actual children. Yeah right)…. I want to know who my dad is, and a donor and some basic layout isn’t going to cut it. I need to KNOW him. I need to bond with him and do daddy-daughter things. He’s half of who I am…. We’re flesh and blood. He’s literally IN my DNA. Why don’t people get that? If he and my mom were a couple, he’d be my dad. But when my mom is gay and asked him not to be there, he’s just my ‘donor’? Really? Where is my say in this?
Say the authors:
Whenever you see a picture of a kid with same-sex parents, you’re looking at a picture of a child missing a parent. No matter how well-heeled, educated, or exceptional at mothering or fathering the moms or dads may be, they’re incapable of providing the gender-specific parenting and biological identity exclusive to the parent missing from the picture. No matter how loving her two dads may be, the pictured child wonders about this absent woman after her dads tuck her in for the night because that woman, her mother, is a woman to whom she has a natural right.
Things are just as bad in transgender households. Here is just one sad testimony from Joshua whose dad left the family and ‘became’ a woman’:
[T]he person that sits here today is entirely different to the person that I grew up with. They are not the same people. I don’t have a father anymore. The day that she said, “I want to live the rest of my life as a woman,” she exploded an enormous bomb, and the carnage from that will exist forever. It will go on. It won’t stop.
And Elizabeth speaks about her trans horror story: “My dad made the change to Stephanie and in doing so destroyed his family…. The feelings I felt were loss. To me, my father had died, and there was no changing that. I was looking at a shell of the man I once knew. It was hard seeing him, because, to me, he passed away, and it brought up those same feelings every time. I could no longer relate to him the same way.”
Also consider children who are the product of donor sperm. Ellie tells what it was like for her:
My world fell apart. I spent several days under a blanket in bed, crying hysterically. When I was able to regain my composure, as I was going about my morning routine I caught sight of myself in the mirror and came to the realization that I had no idea who I was anymore. The nose I thought had come from my dad wasn’t his. That round nose that I thought connected me to family was suddenly hideous. The shape of my fingers, so similar to my dad’s, now looked alien and terrifying. There were several years in my midtwenties when I couldn’t look at myself in a mirror without bursting into tears, so I avoided mirrors.
However, it is not just these moving stories and the reams of evidence that need to be proclaimed far and wide. Many – including myself – have been doing this for decades now. What the authors especially seek, as their subtitle indicates, is ‘the need for a children’s rights movement.’
The final chapter of the book looks at this in detail. As the authors state:
Those of us who support Them Before Us are on a mission to transform the political narrative around marriage and parenthood; we aspire to impact public policy by refocusing the debate over family structure on the rights of children. Good public policy will naturally follow if the rights of children are front and center in parenting matters. We see the disastrous results of adult-centric policies everywhere. Children become commodities, manufactured, shuffled here and there, aborted, sex-selected, starved of maternal or paternal love, robbed of stability, and intentionally created to be motherless and fatherless with no regard for their needs. The violation of children’s rights consigns a child to the status of object….
Our goal is to decrease the need for organizations working with kids who’ve escaped trafficking, who are teenage mothers, and who are juvenile delinquents by remedying the parental factors that lead to a child’s requiring their services in the first place.
Pro-family and pro-children activists have been around for a long time now. But it is great to see newcomers to the field. And we hope that many more will join the movement. As Faust said on a social media post recently: “I was not born to be a culture warrior. I would much rather have kept quiet and kept all my friends. But the Left radicalized me. When they started calling people ‘bigots’ for the high crime of believing that kids need a mom and dad, I had to speak up. I’m not the only one. The Left is radicalizing more and more ordinary people every day.”
I am glad she was radicalised. And I am glad that this vitally important book is the result.