Smarter than a 4th Grader?

In a previous post I introduced my Swedish immigrant ancestors the Andersons, who came here in search of the American dream.  The Andersons had two children, Wallace and Pearl.

My great-great grandmother and her children Wallace and Pearl.

Pearl was my great grandmother and Wallace grew up to have a family of his own, with a wife and three children.  But Wallace and his wife Jenny had a problem.  You see they were both deaf, and although Wallace had a job and could support his family, deaf people were not allowed to raise children.

Rather than subject their children to the hazards of being raised by deaf parents who loved them, the authorities told Wallace and his wife that they must send their children to live with relatives or the children would live in an institution.

My great-great grandmother raised her son’s children

In today’s world this seems tragic and brutal.  We feel the heartbreak those families must have endured.  We can feel sorrow for the damage caused to those three children who were led to believe their parents were less than good enough to care for them.  We also know that damage caused by introducing that kind of instability in a family can last for generations.

I wish that I could say that over the last 100 years we have learned not to make children the victims of our fear and ignorance, but of course that is not the case.  During this heated political season there have been a flurry of letters to the editor stating that same sex marriage should be banned because children of parents in same sex relationships can be harmed.  Some of those letters go so far as to say that children would be better off in an institution than raised in a loving home with same sex parents.  They have produced shoddy research to support their claims, and of course, who doesn’t want to protect children?  I agree with Minnesota Vikings Punter and outspoken marriage amendment opponent Chris Kluwe’s response to the opinion piece attached above:

“Frankly, sir, your blatant attempt to sway people by using the “OH MAH GAWD THINK OF THE CHILDREN” argument is tiresome, bothersome, and insulting to anyone who cares to take the slightest interest in pulling aside your curtain of self satisfied drivel to expose the ugliness underneath.”  

But what do the children think?

It is interesting to me to see the response of my children to the marriage amendment, because I have learned that they are paying attention!

First of all, my children have friends with many different family types, including friends with two moms or two dads, friends who are adopted, friends who live with their grandparents or who live part time with one parent.  They are completely unfazed by these arrangements, which is great!

Unfortunately they have also been exposed to children in risky situations, without enough to eat, a safe place to live or a responsible adult to teach them to make good choices.  My 4th grade son is particularly bothered by those situations.  You see, he can tell the difference between a child who is at risk and a child in a safe home.  He knows that we are not doing enough to help those kids in risky environments and he sees the real impact of kids at risk in his own life.  Maybe they act out in school, bully other kids, or in one particularly sad circumstance, they come by the house every day at lunchtime during summer vacation because there isn’t any food at their own house.  His question to me is “why doesn’t somebody help?”

My son’s question to me about the same sex marriage amendment supporters is “It isn’t their life or their body, why do they care?”  A difficult question to answer without also demonizing others, and particularly difficult since I don’t really know why they care either.  I haven’t introduced the idea  that some people want to take children away from their parents because they disagree with them.   That would cause weeks of nightmares.

And it should.  We have learned too much to use children as a bogus argument to support our political views.   I also think we should listen to children, especially since we say we are building the future for them!  Simple solutions from my 4th grader:  Help people who need a hand, leave people alone who aren’t doing anything to hurt you.  I think he is pretty smart!


34 thoughts on “Smarter than a 4th Grader?

  1. I wouldn’t say that if it’s not my life or my body, I shouldn’t care — that argument can be used a lot of times to justify not caring about harm to someone. But in the end, what this whole thing is about is that there are people in this world who think that there are situations in which people ought not to love one another.

    That, without a doubt, is absolutely sick. Love is rare enough already. No need to put a fence around it.

    1. Yes, you are right that “live and let live” can go too far. I am sure that the opponents of same sex marriage believe that they are being harmed although I disagree (and my son does too)!

      1. I think that’s just where you have to look at the real world and say, “Okay, so I claim that this does damage to things. Well, let’s take a look: does it?” If the answer is no then … well, it’s up to me to stop thinking it. A little too scientific for most, though. 😦

  2. I was raised by my mom and her life partner for several years, switching between her house and my dad’s every week for several years. I can say without a doubt it didn’t screw me up in any way (I was screwed up well before then). I think politicians should look at the things that really cause harm to children–lack of education, abuse, malnurtrition, neglect, etc.–and stop worrying about stuff that doesn’t really cause any harm.

  3. Spot on. Opposition to gay adoption and parenting is not merely hostile, but harmful to society. I was lucky enough to get adopted as an infant, but many children are not so lucky. Kids as young as five are considered almost impossible to place – most couples won’t risk taking on a “damaged” child (a largely inaccurate belief, based on ancient stereotypes). The few “hard placements” who do get adopted tend to go to gay couples (along with older couples and individuals) who are not trusted with “normal” kids.

    If you want to see how awful this can get, look up the Tom Roe case. A gay couple from Florida fosters a pair of siblings who had been severely neglected (making them “damaged”), and after four years they try to adopt them. The state fought them, alleging that now that the children were healthy and well-adjusted, they needed to go to “good homes.” The state of Florida eventually gave in, but to this day they insist that a child is better off in their notoriously bad foster system than with gay parents.

  4. I understand, on a purely academic level, that some people have religious/moral objections to homosexuality. Okay, that’s fine. I don’t agree, but it’s their right to hold their beliefs.

    What I don’t understand is the people who claim that a child needs both a mother and father and thus would be harmed in a two-parent household of same sex parents but does not in any way advocate to remove children from single parent households, despite the lack of either a mother or father in these situations.

    If a single parent house – by definition therefore single sex – can be a loving and nurturing place for a child, how can a two-parent house be a detriment based solely on the apparent lack of an opposite gendered parent?!

    It is absolutely a blatant case of trying to enforce their beliefs on others, not based on fact but on bias.

  5. I agree, No one sould be able to judge another person if they are law abiding, love abiding people. I am a Devout follower of Jesus Christ and I never saw Him in the scriptures judge gays or condemn people. He wants us to be responsible as people, to care for those in need, to be compassionate of others situatutions. God is Love and has great compassion and I must be like Jesus. I would gladly raise my childrens children but what does the government have to do with conditions that don”t involve them. Abused, malnurished unloved, drug and alcohol may be another story. What the world needs now is Love sweet Love…….mdj

  6. I think both sides have valid views, in regards about same sex marriage, etc.

    If people are in opposition of same sex marriage, then let them oppose it. If people are pro same sex marriage, let them support it. We live in a world where everybody has different views.

    As a child, I never once thought of same sex relationships as being normal because I was never exposed to homosexuality where I grew up. A man was with a girl, always.

    But for those children that do grow up around homosexuality, obviously they’ll think that it’s normal because they’ve been exposed to it.

    At the end of the day, people are just people, but people’s opinions are going to be determined by their surroundings.

    I think both adults and children never have the right answer, even though children seem to have a more straightforward answer at least.

  7. Great post, I think we can learn a lot from children in situations like these, when they seem to be more open-minded than many adults!
    The notion that a family needs a mother and a father to be considered “whole” or fully functioning is ridiculous and archaic. Having 2 mommy’s or 2 daddy’s isn’t damaging, sustained exposure to ignorance is damaging.

  8. I know of many people who grew-up in a home with a mom and a dad and still didn’t feel loved or cared for. Children deserve parent(s) who love them and care for them. Personally, if they are good to the kids and allow them to seek the life that they want; loving them unconditionally, that is what matters the most.

  9. 1st, he is definitely smart! When it comes to this topic and it becomes controversial, the best thing to say (which usually cools the heat a little) is that if straight people have such a problem with homosexuals, tell them to stop having gay children!

    I think our society will hopefully overcome these types of issues…it is unfortunate that in the U.S. where people come to find the “American Dream” and “freedom”, others’ opinions and religions affect their ability to pursue their dreams, goals, and aspirations. It’s unfortunate that even in California Prop 8 overturned a decision that is so personal and quite frankly, shouldn’t need government intervention! Things will come around though, I have faith 🙂

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  10. What a smart little boy! I completely agree with this post. The world needs more love no matter what sex the lovers are…and children need loving homes. Any argument about the children being hurt is total BS.

  11. I add my voice to the chorus of the baffled; if a person in loco parentis loves the child, expresses that love appropriately, and can provide for the needs of life, gender and sexuality really don’t strike me as an issue. Frankly, given how very little any of us know about parenting when we’re not yet about it, one could more easily make a case to remove children from ALL parents because they’re apt to come to harm at the hands of the amateur care-givers (and after four years as parent, I still occasionally expect someone to burst in and shout, “You’re not doing it right! Relinquish the child!”).

  12. Well said. I’ve had many conversations with my children about this topic, as we know many kinds of families as well. I’m offended by those who say that children need a mother and father and those who have 2 of the same gender aren’t getting a good enough family experience. Hate and ignorance breed fear. Nobody starts out hateful. They learn it. 😦

  13. Great post on a controversial topic! My cousin and his partner were married about a year ago and are having a baby through a surrogate this year. We are so excited for them and we know that child will be truly loved and cherished.

  14. One can understand those in saying children should be
    with parents considered the norm / as in man + woman
    + a nice home + lots of money to provide the best care.

    However life is not a smooth road as people are not all
    of the same genetic nature / thus male + male as being
    female + female relationships / are a part of the drama.

    Man + Woman relationships marriages be considered
    by many as the only true family structure for the child
    this attitude concerns many whom mainly be raised in
    a religious nature / where bible teaching or their such
    interpretation of bible teaching portraying / regarding
    same sex marriages // same sex relationships as evil
    thus causing great heartache for many many people.

    The situation is down to the growing understanding
    of the people at large in coming to terms where one
    need take the middle road / and not see from a very
    closed religious viewpoint // but to be open in one’s
    understanding where all protected by the law as be
    all have equal rights that their inbuilt genetic nature
    where one’s skin colour or one’s sexual preference
    differs yet still be respected as part of human norm.

    Humanity be on a journey of self discovery / not of
    the human as material / but in knowing that power
    which having created the universe as in giving life.

    The ultimate of the human journey is one turning
    via meditation the senses inward thus bringing a
    unfolding of the spiritual self not ideas not beliefs
    not of an heaven beyond the clouds / but of very
    practical spiritual experience /which grants one a
    clarity of understanding of the creation & creator.

    There always spiritual teachers amongs all be the
    teacher of teachers whom guiding aids one upon
    the path of meditation. At the present the teacher
    of teachers is Prem Rawat. / Prem has dedicated
    his life to aid those in having reached such stage
    where meditation be a need in their development.

    On PC search put (words of peace) or (words of
    peace global) on site a selection of videos which
    Prem explains meditation / as a invitation to all in
    wishing to take such a path / that he will guide as
    aid in their learning / in their practical experience
    of not believing / but in their knowing the creator.

  15. Live, love and let everyone else do the same. Our societal concern should be whether or not our children are happy and healthy, not who their parents are or share their lives with. Real lessons to learn from this post and your son. Well put!

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