Monday, July 31, 2023

The Evolving Definition of Parent. . .

By now you have all heard the furor created by California Bill AB957 that would effectively make the rightful and legal parent obligated to affirm the transgender confusion of his or her own child.  Failure to do so means risking being convicted of an offense for which that very same parent could/would lose custody of his or her own child or children.  It was amended to more clearly be inclusive of those who are or week guardianship of a minor child.  It means that this refusal to affirm would also be considered in the awarding of assigning custody or determination of visitation in the event of divorce.

While all of this is shocking, under it all has been the slowly evolving definition of the very word parent.  It was not that long ago that the definition of parent was not a functional one but a biological one.  Now the biology has taken second place to the function and the whole idea of parent almost ignores the whole matter of biology.  The Oxford Dictionary lists “parent” as a verb rarely used in the 1500s-1900s but now in the twentieth it has become one of the most prominent usages of the term.  A parent, at least as we see it today, is something you do but not something you are.  Therefore, anyone and even institutions can do parenting even it they could never be one in the biological sense of that term.

Today it is so common to use to use parent in the functional sense that we do not even presume that parent means a biological connection.  Indeed, that connection is often derided as not even a real parent -- the whole baby daddy idea.  Now with conception being one of the lesser purposes or functions of sex and sex being something not always connected to marriage or even commitment and reproductive technology aiding or replacing the sexual part of it, being a parent and parenting are almost completely different ideas and the primary one is definitely not being the parent.

California is only one step ahead of the rest of the progressive states and perhaps just a few strides ahead of the not so progressive ones.  It has made the great leap that the state (government) has not only the right to decide how you parent but to step in and parent in your place if you do not live up to their expectations.  The courts have already done this for a while, intervening with their authority into the home for various purposes -- even granting children emancipation from their family where the child desires and the state agrees.  In short, we have had agencies and governments stepping in loco parentis for some time now.  All of this proceeds from the diminishing of the biological aspect of that definition to a purely functional one -- one granted by the state not by actual fatherhood or motherhood and therefore one that can be taken away by the same state.

Of course there have always been parents who did not have a biological relationship to their children but these were exceptions which have now become normative while the biological connection has become exceptional.  This is not about any disdain for step parents or those who have a solid functional connection to a child without a legal or biological one.  This is about how the term parent is being redefined and accepted in such a way that its original meaning is obscured.  To parent has become the norm while being a parent (as natural father or mother) becomes the exception.  As we all should know by now, it is the solidifying of a definition that fits the culture or convenience of the moment.  This is a sad day for the family.

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