Parental Instincts

September 30, 2012

All parents love their children, right? All parents want what’s best for their children, right? All parents would do anything to protect and help their children, correct?

You really believe that?

I mean, I’m sure that truly does describe a lot of parents. It’s certainly a cute sentiment. But when you look hard enough, it’s far from universal, and assuming it is leads to a lot of ridiculous assumptions.

If unconditional parental love were truly so universal, why are so many children killed because they did not meet some standard?

Why are infants in some societies killed or left for dead because they happened to be female, an act to be found anywhere from the ancient Greek myth of Atalanta to some modern-day Asian societies, and plenty of times and places in between?

Why are many children and teenagers throughout the world killed by their parents or other relatives because they “dishonored” their families in some way, such as having sex out of wedlock, being gay, disavowing the family’s religion, or some other stupid reason?

Even in modern-day USA, you find this behavior. When Nebraska had a loophole in their safe-haven law (which allows for newborn babies to be left at hospitals or other places to be put into foster care) in that it did not specify an upper age limit, parents were traveling in droves to Nebraska to abandon their children, some of them in their upper teens!

You get the accidental deaths of small children that one might wonder just how “accidental” it truly was. I mean, these theoretically could have been accidental. Hanlon’s razor and all. But if it were intentional, would it look any different?

Look at all the kids and teens in foster care because their parents were abusive or negligent. Look at all the homeless teens, a disproportionate number of whom are LGBT, left without a home or family because that family shunned them.

Look at the teens sent off to behavior modification facilities to be tortured. While many parents who do so do it without knowing the place is abusive, well, bullshit. What, you don’t learn what you can about a place before sending your kid there? Many places with plain as day allegations of severe abuse are still getting kids sent there. The parents either are stupid and didn’t bother to properly research the place. Or… the torture is exactly what they sought. They not only wanted their child sent away; they wanted their child to suffer.

With all this and so so so much more, how is it possible for anyone to continue to entertain any notion that unconditional parental love is a natural universal thing? Clearly it isn’t, because societal and cultural expectations keep taking priority. Or even just plain selfishness, instability, or whatever else. Or some bizarre sense of doing the kids a favor.

I’m not saying unconditional parental love doesn’t exist. Of course it does. It is widespread. But it is not universal or guaranteed. And requires a lot of rechecking the definitions of “unconditional” and “love”.