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What is marriage?

by eurogreen Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 04:10:26 AM EST

I read an article in Le Monde this morning which rather irritated me. His Eminence Twenty-Three (yes, that's his name), cardinal-archbishop of Paris, indignantly opposes the Government's proposal to extend the possibility of civil marriage to same-sex couples :

« Mariage pour tous »: à Lourdes, Mgr Vingt-Trois dénonce « une supercherie » et les « lobbies » | Digne de foi" Marriage for all" : in Lourdes, Mgr Vingt-Trois warns of a "hoax" and "lobbies"
Ce projet n'est pas seulement une ouverture généreuse du mariage à de nouvelles catégories de concitoyens, c'est une transformation du mariage. Ce serait le mariage de quelques uns imposé à tous ». Pour l'Eglise, « la question fondamentale est celle du respect de la réalité sexuée de l'existence humaine. Imposer dans le mariage et la famille une vision de l'être humain sans reconnaitre la différence sexuelle serait une supercherie qui ébranlerait un des fondements de notre société et instaurerait une discrimination entre les enfants». Il a une nouvelle fois regretté l'absence de débat national, qui aurait permis d'aller au-delà « de sondages aléatoires ou de la pression ostentatoire de quelques lobbies ». "This project is not merely a generous opening up of marriage to new categories of citizens, it is a transformation of marriage. This would be the wedding of a few, imposed on all". For the Church the fundamental question is that of respect for the sexual reality of human existence. To impose in marriage and on the family a vision of the human being without recognizing the sexual difference is a deception that would shake a cornerstone of our society and introduce discrimination between children" . He again regretted the absence of a national debate, which would have enabled us to go beyond "random opinion polls or the heavy-handed pressure of a few lobbies".

My impression is that his eminence is mistaken, or is trying to mislead us, as to the nature of marriage.

front-paged by afew


In thinking about what marriage is, and what the French think about it, I thought it would be useful to examine how they make use of the various forms at their disposal, including the PACS (civil solidarity pact, instituted in 1999).

We can note that the creation of the PACS was, among other things, a means of sidestepping religious opposition to gay marriage; but was nevertheless denounced as the EOTWAWKI by the right.

So I looked up some numbers, and compiled this graph :

Sources : INSEE, Catholic Church

It's an interesting graph. Here are some of the things that strike me about it :

  1. The Catholic Church's definition of marriage is no longer accepted by the majority of couples who marry. The last time that a majority of civil marriages were also celebrated in a Catholic church was 1993 (50.3%); the decline is rapid (30.9% in 2010).

  2. The institution of the PACS has probably caused a modest decrease in the number of marriages; but has caused a large increase in the number of officialy-sanctioned relationships.

  3. The number of same-sex PACS per year is slowly increasing, but still fairly small (9143 in 2010), and is a decreasing proportion of total PACS(4.5% in 2010).

  4. The "demand" for same-sex marriage might be inferred from the "stock" of current same-sex PACS : about 60 000 in 2010, this might attain 80 000 at end 2012. If same-sex marriage is enacted in 2013, and, for example, half get married that year, that would make a bit of a bump in the marriage statistics. What would be the ongoing rate of same-sex marriage? If it were more than 5000 a year, it might be enough to arrest the decline in the marriage rate.

All this gives some perspective to the Church's rearguard action. There are a number of important differences between the Church's definition of marriage and the common understanding of it in French society. This starts with the question of divorce : one might presume that most people marry with the intention, but not necessarily the expectation of staying together until death.

So, the attempt to claim ownership of marriage falls pretty flat. It follows that the Church's attempt to mobilise civil society to lobby their MP and to demonstrate in the streets will be of limited effect.

The Church is in a quandary, because insofar as they have attempted to identify civil marriage with Church marriage, they will be stuck with a new definition that they don't want to live with.

I suggest they recognise the divorce between the two definitions : they could proclaim a "marriage strike", and recommend to those who marry in the Church that they should not register their union as a civil marriage; thus avoiding pollution by homosexuality. It would be interesting to see the statistical result of that.

Display:
It is great that the state extends the right for civil marriage, but what I find really interesting is the increase in same-sex PACS. What niche does it fill that marriage does not?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Sat Nov 3rd, 2012 at 01:46:56 PM EST
It addresses the vast number of couples who have no intention of getting married. It confers all the (substantial) tax advantages of marriage, without the fuss and expense of marriage... this is perhaps a symptom of modern anomie and social alienation.

It can also be dissolved by administrative declaration by either party.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sat Nov 3rd, 2012 at 02:25:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A symptom of anomie and social alienation? LOL.

Does Twenty-Three elaborate in which way same sex marriage introduces discrimination between children? I am curious.

by Katrin on Sat Nov 3rd, 2012 at 02:41:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
anomie and social alienation : what I mean is that the choice of a PACS rather than a marriage is a sign that the couple does not need or desire social recognition of their union : a PACS is "invisible". This can be seen as a positive sign of individual emancipation, or as a negative sign of social dislocation. I see it as both.

What Drei-und-Zwanzig seems to be talking about is that children of a same-sex couple are necessarily being lied to/living a lie, because children must live with both their biological parents. This simply doesn't work in modern society, because everyone knows so many counter-examples.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sat Nov 3rd, 2012 at 03:02:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, anomie is the breakdown of norms, but what we see here is changing norms. Marriage no longer has far-reaching economic consequences, that's why the Catholic ideal of it no longer needs to be the norm. Instead people choose marriage lite, easier to divorce, or to live together without marriage. The ritual didn't follow changed social norms: that's bad for the ritual, not for the norms.

Not only modern families aren't necessarily biological father plus biological mother plus children. There have always been families with a stepparent, grandparents raising their grandchildren, foster families, and the like. About time to recognise that. And this has nothing to do with the form of partnership/marriage of the parents.

by Katrin on Sat Nov 3rd, 2012 at 03:42:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There have always been families with a stepparent, grandparents raising their grandchildren, foster families, and the like. About time to recognise that.

 Yes but not in these numbers...it is epidemic...
by vbo on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 10:40:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
citation needed

Good luck with that.

by Katrin on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 10:58:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just ONE:

http://www.stepfamily.org/statistics.html

The Statistics are Staggering:

Stepfamilies are not addressed, assessed and counted---further catapulting those who live in and lead our society into the quagmire of ignorance. The numbers tell the story: The US Bureau of Census relates:

    1300 new stepfamilies are forming every day.
    Over 50% of US families are remarried or re-coupled.
    The average marriage in America lasts only seven years.
    One out of two marriages ends in divorce.
    75% remarry
    66% of those living together or remarried break up, when children are involved.
    80% of remarried, or re-coupled, partners with children both have careers.
    50% of the 60 million children under the age of 13 are currently living with one biological parent and that parent's current partner.
    The 1990 US Census stated there will be more stepfamilies than original families by the year 2000
    The 2000 US Census did not mention stepfamilies. According to the Stepfamily Foundation's estimates more than 50% of divorced fathers children visit their children. These children do not legally "reside" with their fathers. So, neither government nor academic research include these fathers and their children as stepfamilies. They are completely ignored and uncounted. Thus, boosting the numbers to well over 50% of US families. o 2 out 3 marriages under taking place under 30 years of age end in divorce.(US Census)
    75% complain of "not having access to resources as a stepfamily," according to a recent Stepfamily Foundation survey of 2000 web questionnaires.
    It is generally considered by researchers that couples today have a deficit of skills with which to make partnerships last. Explanations abound.
    80% of married women have careers and women are less dependent on the support of the male partner.
    Over 80% of women who enter into stepfamilies are career women. These women do not have to endure the unexpected rigors of remarriage.
    Men who choose to end a marriage also know that career women cost less to divorce.
    A Boston University psychologist researcher reported that of the career women who had married men with children over 75% said that, "if they had do it again they would NOT marry a man with children."
    50% of all women, not just mothers, are likely to live in a stepfamily relationship, when we include living-together families in our definition of the stepfamily." states Professor of Sociology Larry L. Bumpass of the University of Wisconsin.
 

And we are in year 2012

http://www.smartstepfamilies.com/view/statistics

Serial transitions in and out of marriage/divorce/cohabitation is now typical of family life in the US but has significant consequences for children (Cherlin, 2009).

and soooo on...

by vbo on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 11:11:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I find it hard to reconcile this:

"The average marriage in America lasts only seven years."

With this:

"One out of two marriages ends in divorce."

Does that mean that NO marriage breaks up after seven years? I know that some marriages end in death before seven years, but that must be very marginal.
And the distribution is skewed to the right, so you'd expect a bigger average than median. Yet we are being told that the median is marriage to death. So 7 years???

Similarly, if 50% of women are living in a stepfamily, it should be many, many more than 50% of families that are re-coupled.

Some of the numbers MUST be wrong.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 11:33:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know that some marriages end in death before seven years, but that must be very marginal.

Who knows, maybe marriage between old people or between old and young people is more common in the USA.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 12:10:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"75% remarry"

i.e. it's the serial marriers who skew the average towards the left.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 12:14:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did not miss it and it does not. The minimum a marriage can last is just over 0 while it can last a lot longer than 14 years (and does in a great many case if 50% end by death), and there cannot be such a huge proportion of serial marriers anyway if only 50% end in divorce.

The only possibility, indeed, would be that a huge proportion of marriages end by death within 10 years. I find that somewhat improbable.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 12:26:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK let's say there is some loose terminology involved. Let's look at the US stats
 :
FASTSTATS - Marriage and Divorce
  • Marriage rate: 6.8 per 1,000 total population
  • Divorce rate: 3.4 per 1,000 population (44 reporting States and D.C.)

This leads to the simple (but probably false) takeaway that one out of two marriages ends in divorce... depends on your endpoints! There is no obvious way of calculating an intuitively correct ratio.

Likewise, the average duration of marriage. The US census bureau won't give a straight answer, which is perfectly normal.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 12:40:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm beginning to suspect that seven years is the average of the length of marriage for divorces only.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 12:50:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How long do marriages last and how quickly do people remarry? Table 8, profiling the marital experience of the population as of 2009, shows that first marriages which ended in divorce lasted a median of 8 years for men and women overall. The median time from marriage to separation was shorter--about 7 years.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 12:55:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seven years is the average length of divorce.

No?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 01:10:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
7 years is average for the first marriage. Second is even shorter...
by vbo on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 07:09:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Serial divorcers and remarriers skew the distribution towards short durations.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 01:43:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not really, as long as only 50% or marriages end in divorce (maybe false, but stated), you clearly have a distribution skewed to the right even if most of the 50% were of the serial variety. As serial as they might be (and I doubt that most of divorces are of the kind), they can't have a negative duration, whereas you can go way over 14 years.

It's 50% of marriages, remember, not of married people. So if someone were to get married and divorced 10 times within a year, you'd need 10 couples staying together until death to compensate just for him.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 02:57:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Precisely, if you stay married for 40 years until death and I marry 10 times for a duration of 4 years each...

80% of marriages end in divorce.
The average length of a marriage is 7 years.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 03:03:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a fat tail in the long duration. The median in your example is 4 years, the average 7. The point is that under the assumption that 50 % of marriages are not dissolved by divorce, the median is "'til death do us part."

But as pointed out upthread, the "50 % of marriages end in divorce" figure is a misunderstanding of demographic statistics so basic that a first-year economics undergrad would flunk his first exam if he made it.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 03:11:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The 7 years figure is even more wrong.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 04:03:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
VBO, this is advertisement! It doesn't prove your point, either: it just laments today's stepfamilies. How many children lived with a stepparent, relatives other than parents, foster parents, or other persons not the biological parents in 2012, 1992, 1972, 1952, and so on?

Do you want more fun looking for non-existent stats, or will you believe me that the numbers are not increasing (they are probably falling). Divorce is easier, but fewer parents die young. Fostering (both "official" and in the extended family) and adoption is decreasing.  

by Katrin on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 11:45:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would add that it is much, much better to be brought up by separated parents than by parents continuing a marriage that really does not work.

Make divorce very easy and not castigated at all. Actually, that should greatly reduce the occurence of failed marriage. Once you don't feel trapped in it, it's amazing how much more positively you'll see any situation in life.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 12:12:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The worst thing you can teach your children is that a dysfunctional relationship is normal. They will tend to reproduce that.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 12:45:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you show them that one parent family is normal are they going to reproduce that too? I believe statistics will say : yes. Or if you show them that multiple marriages are normal...or that gay marriage is a norm  ...
by vbo on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 04:15:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's one thing to show something is "normal" or "the norm" and a very different thing is to remove the stigma from it.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 04:22:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
for children is to see their parents in a happy, stable relationship. Second-best is to see their parents happy, in short-term relationships or on their own. Worst thing is to see their parents in an unhappy, stable relationship.

It's important for children to have a good relationship with both their parents. This is often much easier after a divorce.

The question of step-parents often leads to conflict, but I don't see where it's harmful to children, unless there are problems of fairness (Cinderella style). Character-forming, certainly.

And if children see a parent in a gay relationship, they may be more likely to see gay marriage as a norm, for sure. (Got a problem with that?) But generally, young people are way ahead of their parents on that question, they are much more likely to see gay marriage as normal.

If your implicit question is : if they have gay parents, are they more likely to be gay? : then my opinion is no, and I think the science tends to support this. But if your question is : if a child turns out to be gay, and they see examples of happily-married gay people, are they more likely to form stable relationships? I think the answer is likely to be yes. And that's great.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 05:09:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All true, but something that I feel you miss is that children will find it immensely difficult to feel able to be loved as well.

They see what they think they call love as something painful, so that you live it only because you have to (they will probably like romantic period litterature best -I know I used to).
Then, their parents, constantly bitching at each other or outright fighting (even if just morally) will simply not show them much love, if any. The idea of being loved can become so foreign to them that they may not notice a hint dropped with a ton of bricks when their turn comes.

When parents get divorced they then break that cycle. Which might not mean they give up entirely: I know of several couples who got back together after a couple of decades. But then the children did not face the inferno for very long at all, and at the age when they were ready to start a serious relationship, they had a much more hopeful message.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 05:39:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That contains some very valuable insights for me.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 06:48:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They see what they think they call love as something painful, so that you live it only because you have to (they will probably like romantic period litterature best -I know I used to).
Then, their parents, constantly bitching at each other or outright fighting (even if just morally) will simply not show them much love, if any. The idea of being loved can become so foreign to them that they may not notice a hint dropped with a ton of bricks when their turn comes.  

I can say I agree with this...
But I do not agree with
When parents get divorced they then break that cycle.

They do break cycle but what is alternative? What's there for children to be HAPPY about? Normally even if one parent finds ( or usually already found while being in marriage) someone to form new relationship and feel happy ( at least for a while) the other parent is 100% unhappy and depressed. So there is no chance that child will avoid to see one parent heartbroken. Usually even if that one parent is happy, that parent will be accused for unhappiness of another parent and unhappiness of child. Child will hardly really accept new, third person , partner of a happy parent , even when child is small and can't really understand what's going on. Still child can feel.With older kids it is practically the rule.
I do not say that there are not exceptions but I can say that I haven't seen them.

I know of several couples who got back together after a couple of decades.
 

Again good for them but at that point there is no more benefit for their child.Damage has been already done. Honestly I think that I would hate my parents if they do that to me.
by vbo on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 07:50:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow, my experiences and observations have been directly opposite of yours, vbo. My friends whose unhappy parents stayed together were really messed up by it. I know far too many people who were children of divorce and who had good relationships with their parents and their parents' new partners to think that the divorce was harmful.

I think your one large mistake your making is in thinking that ONE of the divorced parents is unhappy. Even when this is so, unhappiness is something a healthy person get over. Personally, my first husband and I were both happier to separate than to stay together and my daughter (who was just a toddler) had and has always had a great relationship with both of us.

Children who are exposed to unhappiness and fighting get damaged. Children who are spared that are much better off. I've seen it too often not to believe it, and as someone who was once in charge of enforcing child support orders for the District Attorney's office, I've seen LOTS of children of divorce.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher

by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Mon Nov 19th, 2012 at 05:35:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would add that it is much, much better to be brought up by separated parents than by parents continuing a marriage that really does not work.

Make divorce very easy and not castigated at all. Actually, that should greatly reduce the occurence of failed marriage. Once you don't feel trapped in it, it's amazing how much more positively you'll see any situation in life.  

NOP...If it's so there wouldn't be even higher rate of divorces in second marriage...WHERE YOU WILL FEEL TRAPPED TOO.
And CHILDREN ARE SUFFERING when parents divorce...but hah yes people do not give a shit about children when THEY are not happy in marriage.
I can agree that divorce is better solution in marriage where there are violence and drug and alcohol abuse.
Not being happy in marriage is not an excuse to divorce if you have children. If you don;t have children feel free to divorce million times if you are masochist...

by vbo on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 07:38:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not being happy in marriage is not an excuse to divorce if you have children.

Having known people who chose both those alternatives, I must recommend divorce in the strongest possible terms, especially if you have children.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 01:40:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes.
I thought the way I put it made it clear that I was speaking from personal experience, too.
Not as a parent, no.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 02:37:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not as a parent, no.
----------------
As I said if you do not have children it is perfectly OK to divorce as many times as you wish.
by vbo on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 03:45:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Er... As mot people on this site know, I am a father of two.
And I am not divorced, either.

I was referring to a personal experience between parents and children and said my experience was not as a parent. Maybe that was about my parents and I then?

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 05:32:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK. I misunderstood. There are different situations and I do not know yours. You believe that you were happier after divorce which may easily be the case but I am curious what was your relationship with both your parents ( and their new partners) and thoughts after the divorce? If it is to personal I  apologize and you don't need to answer.
I had "near to divorce" experience with my parents when I was age 12. My mum left my father taking my brother and me with her. I will never forget that suffering. It did not matter that I was on my mum side and I blamed my father...I still missed him a lot.Later  when they reconcile there was no one on Earth happier then me.
It was a long ago and at that time my mum wouldn't even think of remarrying because of social stigma.Let alone bring a new man in to the children's life.My mum died young due to uremia.She was 39. My father was young and he entered de facto relationships staying with that women to the end of his life. It took me 6 years to even agree to meet that woman (I was already married with children). Never had any sympathy for that woman and never been close. In the end I was only grateful to her that she took care of my father when he was sick.But she also benefited of that relationship financially so I suppose it was OK that she took care of him. That's my experience.
Unfortunately it was nothing comparing to a suffering of my granddaughter today because my daughter is divorced.
Also I am seeing many more children around me today , suffering greatly because of divorce/separation. I am not just talking generally but from the experience.  
by vbo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 10:11:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks vbo, your post explains a lot. You tell about the hurt you felt as a child when your parents separated, and how relieved you were when they got back together. This helps to explain why you are so passionate in your beliefs. Sometimes we are so shaped by our own experiences and perspective, that it makes it hard to see other points of view.

While you don't go into detail, the circumstances surrounding your parents' separation must have been quite serious for you to have decided to "side" with your mother, and "blame" your father, whatever the reason. It's sad that a child age 12 feels the need to choose sides when it comes to their parents.

I am also sorry to learn that your mother died at such a young age. Losing one's mother is never an easy thing. I fail to see, however, how that would have affected your wanting to meet, or soured your feelings towards, your father's new partner. Referring to her as "that woman" makes it clear that for one reason or another you didn't care much for her from the beginning, and I am left wondering why. Did you not feel your father deserved happiness after your mother passed away?

It's also clear that you are disappointed about your own daughter's divorce, and that too is sad, but understandable. Without knowing the reasons involved here either, other than the fact that your granddaughter is suffering, I suspect that you feel that matters would be much better if your daughter had just stuck with it, tried harder, and kept the marriage together whatever the cost, for the benefit of your daughter. Is that right?

by sgr2 on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 05:12:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I meant to say, kept the marriage together for the sake of your "granddaughter."
by sgr2 on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 05:39:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Children are always in position to choose when parents separate/divorce...if not directly (to decide with whom they are going to live) then by having to take side (even if nobody ask them to). Yes you need two "for tango" so it's usually not the case that you can blame just one person for divorce but looking on the surface (and for children it is obvious even if they do not see it clearly) being unhappy in marriage one side usually enter an affair to help them leave the marriage not always the case but in most cases). The other side suffers and in front of children's eyes.So it's hard for children not to take side. Even tho children do not stop to love blamed parent.
"That women"(my fathers partner) entered relationship with my father while my mum being very sick was still alive. That made me even hate her at first stage when my mum died , but I wonder if that would be different even if she came to my fathers life after mum died. Did I want my father to be happy? I do not know if he was happy but fact that he stayed with her to the rest of his life tells me that he was comfortable in that relationship and after 6 years of rejection I started to accept that fact.I can't understand how anyone would expect child to be happy about parent's happiness with new partner having in mind that parents ruined that child's happiness...I was 18 at the time my mother die and fortunately did not have to deal with "that women" in my life , but younger children and especially adolescents are in for a more and less something like war...
I suspect that you feel that matters would be much better if your daughter had just stuck with it, tried harder, and kept the marriage together whatever the cost, for the benefit of your daughter. Is that right?  

Yes.Especially because almost 5 years after divorce I don't see that ANYONE is happy , not my daughter or her ex husband let alone my granddaughter. When they divorced my daughter told me that same sentence that you repeat here " Child can not be happy if parents are not happy". Now my daughter and her ex deserve what they have now but my granddaughter does not.
   
by vbo on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 09:23:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sometimes life sucks. In the end we're all left to do the best we can with the situation at hand.

On the positive side, here's a chance for you to fill in the gap. I mean, that's what grandmothers are for after all. To fill the voids. To find the problem spots, and fill the need. There's lot of ways a loving grandmother can help to ease the suffering felt by a child going through a parents' split. Offering plenty of love. Lending a listening ear whenever she wants to talk about things. Showing empathy and concern for her feelings without putting either parent in a bad light.

I have no statistics to provide you, but I've often heard that children suffer because in their mind they blame themselves for the separation, wrongly thinking that it was something they did that caused it.

Children need to know that grownups have lots of issues between them that are hard to explain and difficult to understand. If you haven't done so already, I hope you can make this clear. The most important thing is for her to know that she is loved by both parents and that their separation had absolutely nothing to do with her. If you can do that, I'm betting with a little time she'll adjust just fine. Good luck to all concerned.

by sgr2 on Sat Nov 10th, 2012 at 08:51:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you!
by vbo on Sat Nov 10th, 2012 at 08:58:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... do NOT emit judgements about one or the other of the child's parents, in front of the child. Use your influence to stop parents bad-mouthing each other in front of the child.

In my own experience, manipulating children to take revenge on the ex-partner is one of the most harmful things you can do to a child. It seems to be very widespread, and not always done deliberately. Personally I don't like saying bad things about people, so I found it fairy easy to avoid this trap, but I was on the receiving end for quite a while (perhaps I still am, but the children are mature enough to discount it now)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Nov 12th, 2012 at 10:07:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"You believe that you were happier after divorce"

My parents did not get divorced, so I can't quite say that.
I also know that it was a conversation that I had with my father at age 6 that made them interrupt the process. I vividly remember this conversation -and also remember coming to regret having been so convincing later.
Both brothers were to have tremendous difficulties later on (and the third one, who was born later, also would when my parents tried to overcompensate, so he had the opposite problems in a way), which did include fully fledged depression with suicidal intent. In particular, my parents being in a failed relationship for far too long, we were never given any love (the only person to have shown any towards me as a child was my violin teacher -which actually is not ideal for learning sometimes).
So I could not even notice when a girl I was crazily in love with dropped a hint with a ton of bricks that she'd like to go out with me (though it did strike me as odd that she'd asked me to teach her chess when I had not noticed any interest in that from her before). Even as an adult I remain incapable of seducing (deliberaty, I mean). Not only in romantic situations by the way, also socially, professionally...

They're fine now (though that took many, many more years even after they decided against the divorce -at least 15 more), but they wrecked us. It would have been far better if they had got divorced, then probably got back together later on, after maturing.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sun Nov 11th, 2012 at 04:48:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for sharing your personal story. I'm sorry you and your brothers had such a difficult time of it, but am pleased to hear everybody is doing fine now. It's probably not much of a consolation, but I suspect the unhappiness you endured back then has helped to make you a better husband and father now.
by sgr2 on Sun Nov 11th, 2012 at 02:37:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The story of the conversation with your father is very moving.

Without wanting to be unfair to your parents, it illustrates to me the major difficulty of modern parenthood : parents are too willing to demonstrate their love for their children by ceding to their childlike desires, rather than making the tough decisions required for their welfare.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Nov 12th, 2012 at 10:17:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What? What childlike desires did they cede to repeatedly? Where did they try to demonstrate too much love when they never showed any -and my father acknowledged that he had not loved us as kids.
As for my mother, she could sometimes fail to speak (after a big argument) for what I remember as a whole week, but was probably only 2-3 days.

I don't see that they were too willing to demonstrate their love to their first two sons, no.

Or are you saying that many parents err in the opposite direction?

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 12:15:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If  read your account correctly (and eurogreen probably read it the same way), your parents ceded to your desires as a 6-year-old when interrupting the divorce.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 01:45:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, no, I did not show clear personal desires to which they ceded.
We talked about what he was going through. And I told my father that before he made a decision he should think about whether he would not miss us (mostly my brother and I, although also to an extent my mother, as I would have mentioned some things that went well) too much, whether that would not be worse than the problems they had.
And shortly afterwards, when his girlfriend looked a little less perfect than before, he reckoned that he would have some difficulties as well, and that if no couple was perfect, he might as well be in the one with his children.

My mother was not present at the discussion and it did not have a direct effect on her. She simply accepted when my father came back, having split with his girlfriend.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 02:58:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, I guess I over-interpreted the very small amount of information you gave the first time around. Now, you make it sound like the roles were reversed : you were the adult, weighing the interests of everyone, and he was the child following his impulses.

I probably jumped the gun because I have lived that situation myself, and have no regrets about divorcing in spite of the fact that my children were very sad about it.

That doesn't change my two-bit pop psychology judgement a bit : parents need to make the decisions, preferably in the best interests of all, but certainly without offloading the responsibility onto their children! I find it appalling that your father should lead you to believe (whether it was true or not) that you were responsible for your parents not divorcing. That's an intolerable burden for a child to carry.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 11:57:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think one of the problems is the mythology of perfect parents and perfectly happy marriages.

While I know a few people who married one of the first people they met at college and have stayed (more or less) happy with them for a couple of decades, the reality is that most people go through emotional carnage with their relationships sooner or later.

A surprising number seem to stay there permanently.

The idea that relationship problems are somehow exceptional and evidence of personal failure is immensely poisonous - as is the Cult of Marriage which suggests that adult relationships are always fluffy and largely friction-free, and anything else is a shameful disaster.

It would be far more useful for kids to see examples of unromanticised but functional adult relationships than it is for them to be pressured into expecting perfection from themselves or from their parents.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 12:34:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow, that's at least two no sequiturs.

If they feel trapped too, we can't infer anything from the .
Clearly, there is a composition bias. Those who would divorce under no circumstances are never part of the second sample, for instance.

But anyway, divorce numbers are irrelevant there. I spoke of reducing the instance of failed marriages. Hint: a marriage does not need to end in a divorce to have failed...

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 02:54:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"from the progression". A word was missing.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 02:55:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hint: a marriage does not need to end in a divorce to have failed...  

Truth...

by vbo on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 03:47:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not being happy in marriage is not an excuse to divorce if you have children.

It appears that you don't know how children in unhappy marriages feel. Unhappy parents make unhappy children.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 04:21:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Children have an astounding capacity for adaptation, and for being happy in the most appalling of circumstances. Unhappy parents can raise happy children, if they both take care to protect them from the fallout. It is even possible that children may suffer more, in the short term, from the separation of their parents than from living with unhappy parents.

The long term is a whole nother story. Like the catholics say, you shouldn't lie to children; unless you want them to grow up as hypocrites.

There is a whole spectrum of choices between running away at the first sign of trouble and sticking together no matter what. The choice is rarely obvious or easy to make. Economic circumstances rear their ugly head, in general.


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 05:45:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unhappy parents can raise happy children, if they both take care to protect them from the fallout.

Yes, that's possible (and I suspect it was even the norm in times when arranged marriages were the norm), but parents often assume that children don't notice when they do.

Like the catholics say, you shouldn't lie to children; unless you want them to grow up as hypocrites.

Another possibility is for the child to 'rebel' at an earlier age and protect itself by creating an emotional distance from the parents. Whether that's good or bad on the long term, I don't know.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 06:01:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another possibility is for the child to 'rebel' at an earlier age and protect itself by creating an emotional distance from the parents.  

I agree.
But observing the world ( and probably looking at the statistics that I have no will to do now) most of the rebels are children from those divorced families...
by vbo on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 10:02:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All children who manage to grow up 'rebel' at one time. Those who 'rebel' at an earlier age are most likely associated with one or another form of losing family relations. I doubt suitable statistics even exist for this, but your impression that the most correlated factor is divorce of marriages doesn't match mine. Even in divorces, you seem to be assuming that the problem for the child is the divorce itself, rather than the time before the divorce or the lack of support from society for a divorced parent who has to struggle to make ends meet.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 01:09:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I do not see "rebellion" ( and we are talking serious stuff here like when they ruin their lives going in to the crime, drugs. alcohol etc.) as a matter of economics. It doesn't matter that parent is poor...but it does matter if parent is changing multiple partners after divorce which is usually case...or even if the parent remarry and they have to deal with stepparent specially in adolescence,  or if the parent is depressed which is usually case, or if they lose one parent from their lives which is usually case after some time...Those are complications that will leave deep scars and lower or ruin their self-esteem. Not that self esteem can't be ruined in a bad marriage but or that one parent ( or both) even being divorced can't build child's self esteem but I am talking about majority of the cases.
by vbo on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:30:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My experience has been that the kids I had to worry about my daughter "running" with (and she DIDN'T duplicate their behavior, thank goodness) were the rich ones with married parents; those are the kids who gave the parties where liquor and drugs were prevalent and risky behavior was worshiped.

My daughter also has a WONDERFUL stepmother, and my second husband and myself have a lovely relationship with my ex and with her, visiting in each other's homes.

It took years for my second husband, because of resistance by his ex (he left after years of castigation and her telling him she never loved him) but I worked hard at it and finally achieved relationships for him and myself with his children AND WITH HIS EX that are kind and loving and supportive. I am NOT a fan of people who can't admit their mistakes and move past them to a place of love, but I'll work like an immigrant to get them there.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher

by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Tue Nov 20th, 2012 at 01:26:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.divorcerate.org/divorce-rates-in-canada.html

One year after separation or divorce, 50% of children of divorced or separated families never see their fathers again.  

This makes me cry...

by vbo on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 04:10:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Those divorcerate sites you are referring to are not serious sources. Stop crying.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 04:56:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WHY you consider them not serious?
by vbo on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 07:53:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because they are run by (or at least get their supposed data from) the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostalist ie extreme religious movement.

See the reply I gave to your question below.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 08:07:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Think about the words "one year" and "never" in that sentence.

Yes, the period immediately after a divorce can be tough, economically in particular. But I would be very surprised if 50% of divorced Canadian men never see their children again.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 05:13:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a whole spectrum of choices between running away at the first sign of trouble and sticking together no matter what.

I agree.
I would even consider that, having in mind that "Children have an astounding capacity for adaptation", children can be happy at least in a long run after divorce of parents if I saw enough parents that are happy after divorce.  
by vbo on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 09:59:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Being in a marriage for 37 years I can tell you from my personal experience that there are periods in every marriage when one of the spouses or even both feel unhappy. It is life.But in most cases things can change and improve if spouses do not give up. One can't expect to be constantly happy in anything let alone the marriage/relationship. I do not want to generalize because as I said there are marriages where there is violence , drug and alcohol abuse , where children are safer if people divorce. But they are not that many , I assume...Unfortunately I can tell first hand how children are suffering when parents separate or divorce...and kids take consequences for all their life. It is selfish to simply give up. In many of those cases in next relationship after initial honeymoon same unhappiness will occur...manly because person is not mature enough to understand how this works. They may repeat their struggle for "eternal happiness" many times and they can feel free to do so as far as I am concerned. Some of them may even find it but one person that will definitely be unhappy all trough his youth and bare scars for all his life is a child. That's how I see it based on my own and my life experience.      
by vbo on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 09:49:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but not "statistically significant".

It's fine to tell people not to give up. Even the most successful marriages have rough patches. But once one or both of the spouses has given up, then it's time to move on. Otherwise you're locking in the unhappiness for everyone concerned.

And often, the "maturity" question works differently : you can find yourself in a marriage based on an "immature" choice of partner, then find that one or both partners have grown up and need to move on. Many many examples of friends who were unhappy in a first marriage and find true lasting happiness with a second partner.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 10:34:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can tell you from my personal experience that there are periods in every marriage when one of the spouses or even both feel unhappy.It is life.But in most cases things can change and improve if spouses do not give up. One can't expect to be constantly happy in anything

Please don't 'debate' strawmen and don't patronise: no one on this board is an inexperienced and blind 14-year-old who'd have that illusion about relationships. If we disagree, then on the frequency of cases when the recipe of not giving up won't improve affairs, and when it is even relevant.

I said there are marriages where there is violence , drug and alcohol abuse , where children are safer if people divorce. But they are not that many , I assume

First, why do you assume so? Second, don't just think of physical abuse: psychological abuse can be more frequent and just as bad if not worse. Third, there are the cases when one partner has "given up", and there is nothing to be saved by the other's "not giving up". Fourth, there are the cases when one partner still wants to continue but won't cooperate in seeking any improvement (typically, when s/he wants to dominate).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 01:29:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not patronizing and I do not think you people are immature, I am just talking about my own experience.
I agree that things are complicated and various examples are at the field so I am not trying to put everyone in the same basket.
But I can not stand when people in self defense deny that there are serious consequences of divorce for children.
People are asking for their rights to divorce and to continue looking for their happiness...
Who is protecting children's right to have family, to have their parents in their lives ?
All I do is trying to do that...
by vbo on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:43:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My professional experience in dealing on a daily basis for years with divorcing couples with children compels me to tell you that the easy cases are the ones where one of the parents are violent, drunkards or druggies. The children can easily see what the big problem is and are happy to get away from it.

When the problem is less visible, such as: terrible immaturity, one partner being denied a fulfilling life, partners realizing the awful truth of their lack of common purposes and beliefs about what life is about, etc. -- the children tend to blame themselves. That is my experience. And immaturity or selfishness can cause parents to use the children to hurt each other, whether they remain married or not. This is terrible for the kids.  

But my main problem with your posts is the length of time you attribute to the pain, especially that of the adults. IF the adults are so bitter and self-centered that they choose (and I believe it IS a choice) to wallow in their pain and to hold a grudge and to cling to their bitterness like a life raft, then they need professional help, because this is a mental illness. One can recover from the death of a spouse with more dignity. My parents' divorce was horribly painful for me, and I was already out of law school when it happened, and I had never seen them have an argument in my life. But it was for the best, for both of them. Their goals were too dissimilar after decades of growing and changing. Were I to think that one's youthful decisions were uncorrectable (the choice of a life partner at age 20, for instance) I would imagine a hell with no escape. One isn't stuck with one's choice of residence, career, or even hobbies for life, and it makes no more sense to me to be kept in a prison of a bad choice in a partner. Love and guiding attention keep children safe and happy, not intact marriages, in my personal and professional opinion.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher

by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Tue Nov 20th, 2012 at 01:50:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But my main problem with your posts is the length of time you attribute to the pain, especially that of the adults.

I don't remember attributing a length of time to the pain, so is this perhaps directed at vbo rather than me? (Though I'm not sure where vbo attributed a length of time, either.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Nov 20th, 2012 at 10:12:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought I'd write up the (anonymised) stories of divorces of people I knew well enough (among relatives, friends, colleagues). All six of them involved children, all of them involved a period when one or both parents stuck on still hoping for things to improve, in most cases thinking for the children, and in all cases the only result was that the divorce only got uglier for both the parents and the children.

  1. A man already divorced with two (then) small children married a woman half a generation younger. The relationship turned bad by the time the children were about 10, but the couple maintained a cold marriage for the children: the husband would return home late, go on separate holidays and not come to family get-togethers. Five years later, the husband's first wife died and her two children temporarily moved in. The new wife felt that the husband leaves her alone taking care for all four of his children, and one day threw him out. She was definitely happier thereafter, but even before the divorce, one of her own children developed a coldness in both family and love relationships similar to his father's. The other child was momma's boy and became a cheerful grown-up.

  2. A husband of a dominant wife and father of two young children started an affair with a woman (herself married with children). Pressed by the wife to make a choice, he decided to move away with the entire family to escape his lover. The desperate lover, however, had her own entire family move to the same place. The first family then moved a second time, but the father immediately returned to his lover, married her (after the divorce of both), adopted her children and had more children, and this couple has been happily together as those children grew up. The abandoned first wife, however, has an unabated hate for her ex-husband, which she tried to instil into her children, who had it hard in school. Those children in turn made a secret pact to not hate their father, but once grown up, one of them (who was a troubled teen) broke off contact with the father after a conflict with one of the children in the father's new marriage.

  3. The wife of a husband who travels a lot felt neglected and became a serious alcoholic. By the time the children were in their teens, the alcoholism became so bad that she turned a danger to herself and her children, and the husband divorced her and got custody of the children. The father later married a woman only 5-10 years older than his children, but they have a good relationship. The children were in their twenties when the mother had a deadly accident when drunk. One of the children, a heavy drinker, then got off alcohol but got on religion, and in the process got the idea that his own father's drinking habits were the root cause of both his and his mother's misfortune and broke off all contact with him. The other child kept contact with both of them.

  4. Both the husband and the wife made careers, but the husband grew envious of the wife's success. By the time the children were in their teens, the husband developed paranoid theories and constantly castigated the mother in front of the children. The mother developed beaten wife syndrome. This escalated into who blinks first and takes the blame for divorce, the husband did, but then the – by then adult – children convinced them to try again. It was soon worse than before, however, with the husband stopping to talk to the wife and the wife losing her job. After a few years of this, the husband again blinked first and divorced, marrying a divorced woman shortly after. Both parents largely recovered, but it took years for the mother and the father still creeps her out. The children tried to shut off during the two run-ups to divorce, since then maintain contact with both parents separately, and try to avoid the parents' fate in relationships at all costs in their own special ways.

  5. The wife is extremely ambitious and exploitative, the husband is extremely unambitious and lazy. These characteristics led to nasty conflicts in the wider family that hit back at their children, but in the marriage, the father's nature prevented an escalation until the children were in their early teens. Then the wife finally lost patience and threw out the husband, and kept most of the family's belongings. One of the children stayed with the father who re-married, the second followed too after a fight with the mother, the third meets them in secret more than the mother would allow. The parents' character faults blossom further, while the children mix the two.

  6. Pampered sole son of rich parents married the highschool beauty after the relationship lasted through college too. After the children have been born, the husband grew unsatisfied with his simple job and with his home where for the mother the children are first rather than him. He quit his job, tried to become politician or writer but failed, got his parents to blame the wife for everything, and disappeared for long periods of time and then returned expecting an apology from the wife. The image-conscious wife kept up outward appearances, also for the children, and maintained the family and paid a high debt as the sole earner. The children still weren't school-age when the still jobless husband's erratic behaviour spiralled out of control to the point that he threw the wife and children out of the family home, while his parents tried to get the children's custody.

So I say kids suffer most before the parents separate or divorce, especially when a parent doesn't 'give up' when it is too late and falsely believes that this is the children's best interest, and children can (but don't always) take consequences of this for all their life. Furthermore, when children are impacted by what happens after a divorce, it's often inseparable from the cause of the divorce (maintaining the broken marriage wouldn't necessarily have prevented the same result).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 01:43:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All I can say is :Thank you for these stories...
They are actually proving my point. Irresponsible parents and kids suffering...
Here is just one forum have some stories...

http://www.dailystrength.org/c/Children-Of-Divorced-Parents/forum

by vbo on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 07:43:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you think all the children mentioned above would have been better off if their parents had stayed together?

You're entitled to your opinion of course. But it's a strange opinion.

But if you just mean "parents should strive to be better people for the sake of the children", well fine, but that has nothing to do with divorcing or not.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 07:49:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you think all the children mentioned above would have been better off if their parents had stayed together?

No , I don't think so and I think I made my point earlier. Not every marriage is better then divorce.
I am talking about responsibilities. When people marry they make commitment to try their best to make relationship work. Nowadays that commitment I would say does not mean much. If they have no children they may decide more easily to brake that commitment. It's OK.
But when they DECIDE to have children they made commitment to these children too. Again people put their own un/happiness as a priority not really taking their children happiness in to the " math". Higher divorce rate for me is a sign that people today generally speaking do not try hard enough to save their marriages/ or de facto relationships.Again not all of them. I am not saying this because I was a perfect spouse or parent so I am preaching now to others. Not at all. I did face same dilemmas as everybody else. I was selfish at some points as everybody else...but being older now I really do see children as a priority and big reason for people to do their best ( at some personal cost usually) to make those children happy.Because those children did not ask to be born...it was our decision and with that decision comes responsibility.
There is no bloody way that children will no suffer greatly when parents divorce/separate...and I feel for them.
There are definitely cases where children are better of with divorce from the point of society . Measuring pain and degree of suffer is not our business. It may be a business of psychologists and psychiatrists...Maybe...    
by vbo on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 06:51:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They are actually proving my point.

No, they don't prove your point that it is divorce that damages children, nor does it prove your point that trying to stay together and hoping for things to improve is advisable in all cases except physical abuse. The claim "Irresponsible parents make kids suffer" is a platitude: people are fallible, so this is bound to happen; the real question is, which is the best way to deal with the problem when it comes up. When you say "irresponsible parent", you don't think it through: you probably only think of the irresponsibility of the abusive or otherwise problematic partner, but your "hope for things to improve" maxim applies to the otherpartner. And marrying an incompatible partner, not getting away from an abusive or otherwise dangerous partner, not getting away before standing on one's foot becomes difficult can all be considered irresponsible. To be specific, here is my take on the six cases:

  1. The wife should have accepted divorce when her children were about 10. Then even a re-marriage would have been in the cards, with the stepfather possibly serving as the father figure for the first child the real father wasn't.

  2. The first couple should have divorced after the adultery instead of moving. That way, the mother wouldn't have to look for a new job in a new place, and the children would have been spared the pressures of having to fit in in a new peer group and facing discrimination, keeping their old friends in their old school.

  3. The mother should have filed for divorce instead of drowning her sorrows in alcohol. That way, she would have kept both her health and her children.

  4. The mother should have filed for divorce when the father's paranoia started, not as a choice of career above family but for lack of respect. That way, the children would have been spared of the psychological effects.

  5. This one is a hard call: IMO the main problem was clearly the mother, whose exploitativeness was bound to mean trouble for the children, whether divorced or not. The point where the father could have prevented all this by acting differently is the very start of the marriage.

  6. Here the mother should have told the father to get a job or else before the more erratic behaviour started. If that didn't work, divorce as fast a possible, whatever friends & family think.

BTW, I left out a perhaps key detail from case no. 2, the one involving adultery, which I am reminded of by the incest discussion downthread. The original deterioration of the lover's first marriage and her desperation was related to the terminal illness of one of her children due to genetic incompatibility with her first husband. That child was still among the ones adopted in the re-marriage. Had there been no divorce and re-coupling, other tragedies would have been in store.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 12:14:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, your link reminds me to stress another point of yours contradicted by my case studies: by far not all children of divorced parents (or orphaned children for that matter) take consequences for all their life. But your link self-selects the problem cases.

With that said, have a look at some of the posts. You'll find more stories supporting my contention that the biggest problem for children is often not what came after the divorce but what preceded it. Like the girl who can't stand her father for reasons she discovers made her mother leave without her. Or the adult daughter of a loveless marriage in which the father ruined wife and older sister. Or the one who says flat-out that his parents should have divorced earlier.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 08:22:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well not all children feel this way vbo. I remember once asking my father, in all earnest, if he couldn't just get rid of the mommy we had and get us a new one. He replied gently, but firmly, that no that wasn't going to happen. Shortly thereafter, my life spun out of control. So there's another perspective for you.
by sgr2 on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 01:04:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I do not know your circumstances and as I said I am not putting everyone in the same basket. Maybe your life was better after divorce. Truth is that hectic situation in one dysfunctional family will do the damage equal as divorce if it continues for prolonged period, for child. So in these cases it is a choice between two bad situations. Children do need peace in their lives but they usually do not get it after divorce...    
by vbo on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 07:53:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Children do need peace in their lives but they usually do not get it after divorce...

Again, what do you base this claim on, other than church propaganda? And more to the point, what makes you think that a child that doesn't get peace in his/her life after divorce would have gotten it in a continued broken marriage?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 01:53:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. And is a 'natural' childlike desire for homeostasis the best learning situation for future survival?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 01:57:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess we need to rewrite the fairy tales.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 02:43:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or is homeostasis imposed by the parents and thus essentially totalitarian? :-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 03:08:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the best learning situations for future survival is spending time in solitary confinement. But I wouldn't recommend it for everybody.
by sgr2 on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 01:00:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh stop it with "church" stuff. I am hardly that religious to even know and be interested in church dogma...I explained this before about my religious feelings and church as institution . It has nothing to do with church or otherwise I would be against de facto relationships which I am not.
I base my claims on my experience and observation of the world around me.
by vbo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 10:31:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As others have said, children are resilient. They are adaptable and can thrive under the most adverse of circumstances. Whether it's one parent, two parents, adoptive parents, step-parents, gay parents, whatever, what children need most is unconditional love.

And BTW to clarify, my parents never did divorce. Their marriage was solid as a rock. It was only me the child that was miserable. When  I commented that as a child I had ask my father if he couldn't get me another mother because I didn't like the one I had, it was because I was exasperated by my mother's constant raging. Had someone explained to me that she she couldn't control her actions because of some type of mental illness she suffered from, I most likely wouldn't have spent so many years blaming her, nor would I chosen to rebel. I think my rebellion resulted from a combination of feeling unwanted by my mother and a total lack of understanding of her condition.

So yes, I agree with you that life is complicated and divorce is not always the answer. OTOH if the parents can't get along for whatever reason, it's much better for them to split and get on with their lives rather than making life miserable for the children.

by sgr2 on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 04:38:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I understand.
What you do not understand is that not only that there are not guaranties that child will not be miserable after parents divorce and " get on with their lives" but just opposite...in most cases it means that they will be even more miserable. At the time of my childhood divorce was rear thing (at least in Serbia but also elsewhere at least to some point). Those mums who divorced would rarely even introduce another man in to their children's lives let alone remarry in fear that it will  damage their children.Now it's not the case.Chances are that today children will face multiple partners of BOTH their parents being introduced to them.I remember I read somewhere how one girl said that after the divorce , the thing that had most negative impact on her was just this...mum introducing multiple partners. She lived with mum. It is usually convenient for dads that their children usually live with mums ( all tho this is changing too)so they did not have to show all their partners to kids and they look better in the eyes of kids.  
by vbo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 10:46:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The more people one has an opportunity to meet, the broader their horizons can become. I would think this would be true for children too. So I really don't see your point.
by sgr2 on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 05:26:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are sooo wrong on this one.Sooo wrong when it comes to children. As for mum I believe it's also not the case because failing in more relationships/de facto relationships just give more pain...
This is not about "meeting" people and broadening horizons ( it is tru when it comes to friends)...these are sexual relationships that affect children hard...
by vbo on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 09:30:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Look here, I wasn't suggesting that it was a good idea to have sexual relations in front of children with every bozo you meet. If that's what a person is interested in, and they have children, there are always backseats or motels.

OTOH if you are planning to enter into a meaningful relationship with someone, I should think that your selection of a partner would be based on qualities and characteristics that you would find admirable, and because of your high standards for a mate, you would have no problem introducing this person to your children. That's what I meant.

by sgr2 on Sat Nov 10th, 2012 at 07:31:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes that would be OK but in reality it's a little bit different. Lonely women tend to try hard to find right one after divorce/separation. Even if they find someone who would fit those standard, that man may not be ready to commit having in mind that there are children involved.
I am not saying that they would have sex in front of their children but usually they will introduce the man thinking that that is the ONE, they tend to start to live together pretty soon, children may even like him and then he goes away. Children would emotionally attach themselves and then they suffer all over again. That's from what I have read on this forums where they explain their pain being a children of divorced/separated parents.
Your scenario would be perfect one. Reality usually is not perfect. And even with a perfect stepfather/stepmother children would still miss their original family.
When I ask my now 11 year old granddaughter how she is going with stepmother ( partner of her father) she said : I avoid her.And that women is really not bad toward my granddaughter...
by vbo on Sat Nov 10th, 2012 at 08:53:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Keep this in mind about such forums: they CAN be gathering places for whiners. I don't say this in a mean-spirited way, but as an honest caution.

Naturally, people who did just fine following their parents' divorce (me, my daughter, my siblings, friends of mine, children of friends of mine) don't go to these forums, so you see ONLY those who feel short-changed by life and think of themselves as victims.

It bothers me how often you refer to families no longer having full contact, but I have seen MANY situations in which divorce did not mean a loss of family, but rather an increase in family. A stepparent often means additional siblings, grandparents, etc. My step-grandson thinks of my husband and myself as grandparents just as fully as any other grandparent he has, and my daughter's favorite grandparent was the mother of her step-mother, a woman I loved as well. My dad explained to me once, when I expressed just a bit of jealousy at how much my daughter loved her step-grandmother, that love is not a pie. You don't have just so many pieces to serve. Love is infinite and you can love as many people as there are to love and love them hugely without running out of love to give. This made beautiful sense to me, so I loved the step-grandmother even more for the love and time she gave to my daughter.

I think your most important point is that adults need to act responsibly. Don't parade your "auditioning" partners to your children, don't have your serious arguments in the presence of the kids, explain things to children and encourage their questions, etc. Love and nourish your children, treat them with respect. Behave with maturity and kindness. Everything else is extraneous (what job you have, whether you're divorced, where you live...). Your concern for children is admirable whether I agree with your feelings about divorce or not.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher

by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Tue Nov 20th, 2012 at 02:13:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Over 50% of US families are remarried or re-coupled.

vs.

One out of two marriages ends in divorce.
    75% remarry

Now this is a clear contradiction.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 12:14:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not if re-coupled dwarf remarried.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 12:23:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hint : not all families contain a married couple.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 12:28:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I realise I'm not sure what meaning of "re-coupled" and "family" the linked site uses... though this seems to be the main factor I didn't account for:

-1/3 of all children entering stepfamilies were born to an unmarried mother rather than having divorced parents(National Survey of Families and Households)


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 12:41:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
75% of those who divorce remarry.
About 75 % of those in second marriage divorce again.Third marriage even worse...
by vbo on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 06:56:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now where have you found those stats?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 07:19:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I found it on Internet...It is not exact number here but ...:
The divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%
    The divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%
    The divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%  

   

by vbo on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 07:46:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by vbo on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 07:58:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The numbers cited by that webpage aren't sourced to some official statistics but to the magazine of The General Council of the Assemblies of God, and even that without a specific reference (e.g. page/isssue); hardly a source I trust. In the official Census source found by eurogreen upthread, you'll find that 42.5/67.0 = 63.4% of men who married are still in their first marriage, 9.0/(11.6+3.1) = 61% of men who married twice or more are still in their second marriage, and 2.3/3.1 = 74% have married three times or more and are still maried; the same numbers for women are 55.8%, 52% and 59% (Table 6, page 16). Although these numbers include not just the divorced but the widowed, too, the trend claimed by source is not at all visible. Divorce rates are actually declining in the newer generations (compare numbers according to age cohorts in Table 2, page 6). Also, the average duration of the second marriage of twice-divorced is the same (for women) or a little longer (for men) than the durtion of first marriage for the at least once divorced (Table 8, page 18).

The origin of the notion that second and third marriages fail more frequently seems to be a crude mis-reading of statistics (see for example here): divorce and marriage rates per 1000 people per year are divided, ignoring changes in time. (The key change here is the decline in the marriage rate.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 05:23:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The article The Myth of the High Rate of Divorce by marital affairs psychologist Kalman M. Heller, Ph.D., has some further interesting details. He emphasizes the role of the parents' economic situation (poor women divorce more), the mothers' education level (less for more educated women) and the age at marriage (the divorce rate is the higher the younger one marries, whether it's first or second marriage).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 05:31:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I never had a particularly high opinion of Dr. Heller's trade, but, the amount of web pages in Google searches in which his colleagues quote the 50-60-73% figures without checking a proper source and then offering explanations and possible remedies is sobering.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 05:53:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The numbers cited by that webpage aren't sourced to some official statistics but to the magazine of The General Council of the Assemblies of God,

Where did you find this? Please direct me.
by vbo on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 04:00:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Information on Divorce Rate and Statistics

According to enrichment journal on the divorce rate in America:

  • The divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%
  • The divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%
  • The divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%

They certainly don't make "enrichment journal" stand out, and they don't offer a link to it (only to other sites run by the same set-up).

If you Google "enrichment journal" you will find (here) that it is a publication of the Assemblies of God, a Christian Fundamentalist Pentecostal movement.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 04:53:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/19/health/19divo.html
I do not really see the big difference if divorce rate is 41 % or 51%. It's too much. Not to mention that there is decline in marriages because more and more people decide to be de facto  and that do not stop them to have kids. As I said before I do not care if they are married or de facto ... if they stay together and raise kids together.
by vbo on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 08:17:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You may not see a difference, and your point of view is that it's "too much". Other people differ.

But at least you could try to avoid backing your ideas up using religious propaganda sites.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 09:13:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I had no idea it has any connection with religious sites...but that's why I have you people to detect anything religious and discard it as false :)
by vbo on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 09:56:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that it is religious propaganda only explains the practical deficiency: it is an assembly of badly sourced data (and we showed upthread how some of it is a clear mis-interpretation of actual data). The lesson from this for you should be to not rely on and to not trust at face value radom data you find somewhere on the web, but seek sources as close to the origin as possible. Data copy-and-pasted or (worse) paraphrased all across the web is not different from rumours spreading via barber shops and marketplaces, and then anyone can collect such "sources" supporting their preconceptions. It shouldn't be our job to check your sources.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 02:01:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On de facto relationships

http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/shacking-up-for-the-future-20100721-10khn.html

https:/www.cis.org.au/media-information/opinion-pieces/article/56-rarely-a-case-of-happy-ever-after

https:/www.cis.org.au/media-information/opinion-pieces/article/56-rarely-a-case-of-happy-ever-after

We know from surveys (in the absence of official statistics) that de facto relationships break up much more frequently than formal marriages. But because these break-ups are not officially registered as divorces, the rate of break-up of the `socially married' is not represented in the ABS figures. If they were, the rate of separation of the socially married would be higher than the formal divorce statistics.
by vbo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 11:13:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You surely noticed that both these are opinion pieces from writers with a conservative point of view?

You may agree with that point of view, but other people have theirs.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 02:58:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Conservative views based on reality does not have to necessary be wrong...
by vbo on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 03:37:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not saying they're necessarily wrong.

But to what extent they are "based on reality" is at question. For example, the quote you posted from the second piece sounds very "science-based" but isn't really if you look at it. There are no references to the "surveys" or to who carried them out. And there's no explanation of what definitions of "de facto" relationships are being used.

In fact there's a whole range of types of relationship where unmarried couples live together, from casual to confirmed to preparation for marriage to pre-marriage with children to long-term commitment without marriage. Attempting to compare break-ups across such a wide range of relationships with marital break-ups is unlikely to give dependable results.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 04:23:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yes de-facto relationships probably do break up more often then formal marriages. After all de-facto relationships tends to come first, and only if it looks like it will work people marry.

But if we limit our interest to couples with children, the Swedish study I previously linked gives about the same rate of sticking together ten years afer birth of first common child those that married first and then lived together and those that first had a de-facto relationship - 70%. Highest sticking together rate was found among those that first lived together, then got a child and then got married - 88%, narrowly beating those that first lived together, then married and then got a child - 83%. This indicates that those that do marry in a social context where de-facto relationships are acceptable are among those with stabler relationships in the first place. So it is not the marriage that increases the sticking together rate, but the sticking together likelihood that determines marriages.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 06:20:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, here are some figures for the percentage of illegitimate births out of all births near the end of the 19th century. I hope nobody will suspect The Catholic Encylopedia of overstating the figures, at least in Catholic countries. Among these, you have 14.6% in Austria, 14% in Bavaria, 10% in Würtemburg and 12% in Portugal. But these are probably underestimates. As they say
These figures are sufficiently disturbing, and yet they do not exhibit the full extent of the evil. Many illegitimate births are registered as legitimate, while many others escape registration entirely. This happens in all countries; probably it is particularly true of Greece and Serbia.
(They are not picking on Greece and Serbia, just referring to the suspiciously low figure of 1%)
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 11:03:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Illegitimacy
Ignorance, in the sense of illiteracy, is sometimes numbered among the factors, but this contention receives no satisfactory support from statistics. The countries with a high standard of elementary education have not a better record than the others. Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Prussia, and Saxony, where the rate of illiteracy is very low, do not show a lower rate of illegitimacy than Ireland, Italy, or Spain. Different sections of the same country, where other conditions are the same, furnish no evidence that education reduces the proportion of illegitimate births. In France, outside of Paris, illegitimacy is least where illiteracy is greatest. In general, it may be said that education, except in the principles and practice of morality, is a negligible factor in relation to the phenomenon of illegitimacy.

Mealy-mouthed much? The statistics show a strong tendency to the opposite : higher education = higher rate of illegitimacy.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 11:26:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the 19th century? I don't think so. But, this issue came up in an earlier discussion, and the following further down the page is a more convincing economic explanation:

[...] Until the year 1868, a man could not get a license to marry in Bavaria unless he possessed an amount of economic advantages that was beyond the reach of a large proportion of the population. Soon after the modification of this legal restriction, the birth rate of illegitimates dropped from twenty per cent to twelve per cent. The rate in Bavaria is still the highest in Europe, with the exception of Austria, but this is undoubtedly due in some measure to the unfavourable legal restrictions which yet remain, and to the surviving influence of the bad customs and the indulgent public opinion which were produced by the older regulations. That the large proportion of illegitimacy in Bavaria is not, as some have assumed, to be attributed to the Catholic religion, clearly appears from the fact that the evil is greater in the Protestant than in the Catholic sections of the country. [...]


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 12:47:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That prompted me to look up the "illegitimacy" rate in France.

I regret to report that, since 2006, a majority of little French citizens are born outside the bonds of matrimony.... 56% in 2011 and climbing.

It must be said that the example comes from the very top : our normal president himself.

How's the rest of Europe in this respect?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 11:29:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In my experience getting kids is in Sweden often the reason for couples to get married and get the legal package, so first kid would be born (or at least conceived) out of wedlock. I don't know if there are any statistics on illegitimacy anymore.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 12:21:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The statistics certainly exist, at least for Sweden, Denmark and other places with comprehensive central citizen databases. The government keeps track of who are married, and the government keeps track of who gives birth. And the statistical service usually has fairly wide latitude to integrate disparate databases.

Whether such statistics are considered sufficiently relevant to routinely publish, that I don't know.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 10:40:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True that, so I went looking for the parents instead (the different legal cathegories for children depending on parental status was abolished mid-20th century).

Found a big study!

They have looked at couples getting their first common kids born the year 2000 and followed if the parents live at the same adress before and after birth. Also if and when parents marry.

So the typical case in Sweden (55%) are first kid born to un-married parents living together. Then comes kids born to married parents that was living together before they married (30%), kids born to parents that are not married and not living together (10%) and kids born to parents that are married but have not lived together (5%).

Follow-up in 2010 showed about 70% of the same parents lived together (married or unmarried), with slightly above 70% in all groups except kids born to parents that were neither married nor lived together where about half now lived together (married or unmarried). About 50% of the total was living together and being married.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 07:02:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WOW!
by vbo on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 07:11:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Around that turn of the century I think marriage was in a bit of a crisis. At least among the recently urban working class in Sweden many chose not to marry. Without the social pressure of rural life and the need to establish inheritance rights to the farm it does not appear to have been much need for marriages. Living together in sin even became known as "Stockholm-marriage".

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 12:28:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As usual, you beggars invented all the best demographic trends...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 12:29:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Honestly even being kind of religious person I don't really mind if people marry or not if they stay together as a family raising kids together. That's most important for kids ( and me :) ).
by vbo on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 07:15:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Disturbing"... "full extent of the evil"  -- Jeebus! Even the word "illegitimate" is horrifying.

I'd love to see a world-wide movement to banish the terms "illegitimate" and "bastard" as they apply to children. It's surely even more antiquated than original sin.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher

by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Tue Nov 20th, 2012 at 02:23:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, in France, only the civil marriage has any value. In order to be allowed to marry in church, you actually need to have gotten married at the town hall before.

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 04:54:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's why the marriage strike I suggest for Catholics is radical and courageous. Civil disobedience.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 01:33:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not sure but i think that it is the same in Serbia...
by vbo on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 07:19:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Same in Germany.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher
by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Tue Nov 20th, 2012 at 02:25:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe that PACS are just more convenient...like de facto relationships ( that are on rise too). You have your rights but not obligations...
by vbo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 09:42:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The good news: 58% in favour of same-sex marriage.

The bad news : that's 5% less than last year.

This is strongly tied to political opinion. On the left, approval continues to increase; on the right, there has been a sharp drop, from 51% to 31%, since last year. This appears to be directly related to the fact that the leaders of the right have come out against, and are preparing to do battle.

To me, this demonstrates how "tolerance" is skin-deep, and easily reversed.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sat Nov 3rd, 2012 at 03:17:47 PM EST
Marriage is the delusion that happiness in a relationship can be conserved by recording a vow on a piece of paper. Churches and states tend to endorse it. Which is no reason to deny that delusion to certain forms of relationship.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Nov 3rd, 2012 at 03:18:12 PM EST
There are some legal points people who live together need to consider: who decides on your medical treatment when you are unconscious and unable to do so? Can your partner stay in the flat you rented alone, but you both lived in? That sort of thing. Marriage or other forms of recognised partnerships set norms on these questions.
by Katrin on Sat Nov 3rd, 2012 at 03:46:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the absence of alternatives (no more the case), marriage might provide norms to settle such issues, but that's not what marriage is (as per the question in the diary title). Also, these norms need to be complemented with norms on what happens with jointly owned or used property and children in case of a separation (divorce law). The way the norms are set up in most religions or legal codes, they usually erect ideological obstacles to separation, designed to conserve relationships whether they are happy or not. (Well in fact my original definition wasn't all-encompassing, because until recently, in most cultures, marriage had not much to do with conserving any pre-existing happiness, but much more to do with a notion of women as property.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 11:47:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
delusion that happiness in a relationship can be conserved

There is no such a thing as constant happiness and I do not understand how people can expect it, with piece of paper or without. You have to go trough " blood, sweat and tears" going trough your life. You can choose to go trough it alone or with partner or with many partners (even more pain)...If you can't cling to those little moments of happiness that you had with your partner and especially when you have children ( and you don't give a shit about their happiness) then you deserve what will happen with you and that's mostly that you will end up alone.OK I understand that sometimes it's not your fault because partner decided to leave. It's not simple.

by vbo on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 10:51:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are quoting me out of context. I am not saying that happiness in a relationship cannot be conserved, I'm saying that expecting the signing of a paper to increase your chances is futile. I add that that piece of paper can conserve your relationship but without the happiness: if you feel the legal or financial or public image aspects of a divorce would be too bad for you.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 11:33:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To more than a few people, other than the obvious increased legal protection and, in some jurisdiction, tax rebates, it is the pretext for a nice party that will have rather more numerous guests than if the invitation was merely to celebrate that "hey, we believe we'll find each other sexually attractive for a while longer yet".

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 11:36:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Marriage is a way to entitle a man to assassinate his female sexual partner is she has sexual contact with other men (and the other men, too). Just read the Code of Hammurabi.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 03:32:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've just come away from Monseigneur XXIII and the assembled Catholic notables assembled at Lourdes (Unflooded, thanks be rendered unto Mary™ Mother™ of God™). Several major reactionary assholes shown, accompanied by a "simple believer" who smiles and says that the foundation of society is a man, a woman, and a child. And a crumpled old bag who says "We Catholics usually remain silent on public issues..."

No you fucking don't! Traditional Catholics have been shooting their mouths off for years now. And this, on public TV, did not (even for he said, she said's sake) offer an opposing or even contrasting view.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 3rd, 2012 at 03:42:37 PM EST
Same here. That's why Germany hasn't got same sex marriage, only a "registered partnership" with all the duties of marriage, but few rights. The Constitutional Court is altering that now slowly.
by Katrin on Sat Nov 3rd, 2012 at 03:50:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"And this, on public TV, did not (even for he said, she said's sake) offer an opposing or even contrasting view. "

Ah, well, this is not always the case. On one of very few occasions when I did watch French TV news (definitely in single figures in a whole year), there was something about marriage and adoptiion for gays, and they said there were contrasting views.
I was about to be annoyed. But then the "for" was represented by a sociologist, who cited lots of studies and how it went perfectly well in other countries, the "against" by a priest. Who came up with only bigoted prejudice and citing the bible. Wearing his full attire. In the most secular country in the world.

I thought it was a very nice way of hinting which of the two positions was the more sensible one ;-)

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 07:34:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where's the down side of that?

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 07:47:25 AM EST
That photo was a sensational, spontaneous, opportunistic piece of propaganda. It generated a considerable buzz.

The back story : the two young women, who aren't even gay (sorry to disappoint, twankie) just happened on an anti-marriage demonstration :

(organised by conservative catholics)
The slogan is "One daddy, one mummy. Don't lie to children". (Yeah. Complete non-sequitur.)

and were offended by it, and decided to freak them out a bit.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 08:28:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
rather funny that hey use pink.
by IM on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 08:41:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, gay ... not gay ... who gives a damn.

I repeat (with typo correction) ..,

 Ooooooo ... 2 hot chicks smooching ... where's the down side?

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 09:47:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Look at the expressions on the guys in the lower left-hand corner of the picture ... they're lovin' it.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 10:16:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, they first tried to talk to the demonstrators, and found them so bigoted that they decided talk was useless. Then they heard homophobic remarks and decided to make their point visually.

Good on them. Nice to see teenagers with the right attitude. I find it even better that they weren't gay themselves -it makes their stand more altruistic.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 11:24:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This has to be one of the most astonishingly successful examples of social engineering I have ever seen. France appears to have succeeded in dramatically reducing the number of singles and single parents in the nation. Family values put into practice by having more families! This should crash the crime rate in about 16 years.

It would be impressive as hell statecraft, except for the part where it is the completely accidental result of an compromise between bigots and progressives.

by Thomas on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 03:32:42 PM EST
I hadn't really thought of the PACS like that. Couples staying together for tax reasons? A marginal effect, at a guess.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 07:06:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A non-negligible amount of PACSes are about two state employees (teachers... or any other) "getting together" in the hope of bettering their odds to go back to their hometown after their first posting near Paris... Those PACSes have no reason to remain.

Of course, you'd be amazed at how much faster (loving) couples made of a foreigner and a French person marry compared to French-only couples. Sorting out the papers is a big motivation for getting the couple recognised by the state.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 08:55:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, really, who cares what the catholic church thinks about anything ? Gay marriage is coming, sometime in the next 10 or 20 years it'll be here.

Just like with inter-racial marriage, or the hundred other "lines drawn in the sand about defining marriage utterly and absolutely" which got walked over and ignored as society wrote its own rules based on reality and practicality, the world will not end and the bigots will find another thing to froth over.

These are people who took 400 years to admit that Galileo was right. they've been on the wrong side of every scientific and social development in the last 2000 years. Like with Dick Morris' predictions I think I'd be more concerned if they were in favour.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 03:55:03 PM EST
Postscript, in the form of a dirty little secret.

A large and increasing proportion (30%?) of French marriages involve at least one foreigner.

(The absolute number is not increasing, but the proportion is, with the decline of French-only marriages)

This is a legitimate and necessary mechanism of social integration, notably becaus it helps in getting ones papers in order. I married for immigration reasons - that is, I was in a stable relationship, and we later had children, but we wouldn't have married if it hadn't been necessary.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 07:13:56 PM EST
"One daddy, one mummy. Don't lie to children"

Does this mean that they will stop telling lies at catechism, about Mary who had a baby with no daddy?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 09:46:49 AM EST
The Right have pledged to repeal same-sex marriage. Some of them even claim that same-sex couples would lose their married status, which would be transformed into a new statute of civil union.

This is nonsense: you don't mess with the French civil register. Changing people's status retrospectively from "married" to something else on the basis of sexual orientation would be clearly unconstitutional.

So what you would get is a "stranded" population of (probably) a few tens of thousand of same-sex married couples.

Fun and games in prospect.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 03:58:09 PM EST
And possibly no mechanism for divorce, a problem that has already arisen in Israel, where out-of-country marriages are recognized (and are on their way to becoming the norm), while out-of-country divorces are not.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Tue Nov 6th, 2012 at 01:49:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now we are going "forward" here to a new "free" world.

Unfortunately not in English but I am sure someone will direct us to English article

http://www.mondo.rs/s265858/Info/Svet/U_Danskoj_traze_dekriminalizaciju_incesta.htmldubo

To make long story short in Denmark , parliamentary party of "Red - Green coalition" ( or whatever the name is) wants to decriminalize incest between brother and sister. They are claiming that it is not up to state and government to decide who wants to have children with whom, they say it is old fashion way to look at sex and different kinds of families.
Social-democrats ( in power) are against this (Thank you guys)but other two parties (in government) are waiting for legal advice to decide what to do.
OMG...

by vbo on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 07:55:47 AM EST
Meh, so what?
Can be summarised as "Consenting Adults" surely?

-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 08:01:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't believe what you people are talking...
If there are more of you with this opinion I will truly leave this place...I assume you will cheer...
by vbo on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 09:07:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be a pity, I've enjoyed your diaries.

Values differ. One test here

The scale is a measure of your reliance on and endorsement of five psychological foundations of morality that seem to be found across cultures. Each of the two parts of the scale contained three questions related to each foundation: 1) harm/care, 2) fairness/reciprocity (including issues of rights), 3) ingroup/loyalty, 4) authority/respect, and 5) purity/sanctity.

The idea behind the scale is that human morality is the result of biological and cultural evolutionary processes that made human beings very sensitive to many different (and often competing) issues. Some of these issues are about treating other individuals well (the first two foundations - harm and fairness). Other issues are about how to be a good member of a group or supporter of social order and tradition (the last three foundations).
[...] The big difference between liberals and conservatives seems to be that conservatives score slightly higher on the ingroup/loyalty foundation, and much higher on the authority/respect and purity/sanctity foundations.

This issue seems to be #5 "purity". I suspect non-religious, left-of-center people will generally rate this measure lower than others.

-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 10:33:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely not case of "purity" in my case.
by vbo on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 05:49:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I would deplore that.
by Katrin on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 10:46:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I don't think, deep down, that I'd have a problem with genuinely consensual protected sex between adult brother and sister.

However, ensuring that it's truly consensual may well be next to impossible. There are endless possibilities of emotional pressure. True, they exist outside a family as well, but the childhood years spent together probably magnify them. So there may be a need for some protection from the law.

Then, there is the problem of unprotected sex. They may be consenting adults, but if they were to have children, they may (I have to go with may -there probably aren't enough cases to make a study population) find it difficult to find their place in the genealogy. Especially, they'll find it hard to cope with being born from an act that would be considered an abomination if they were to do it themselves, simply because they aren't 18 yet.

So, while the act itself between consenting adults would not necessarily be any of my business, I can see a case for society to decide to ban it. Probably not criminalise it, though.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 10:24:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
True about the children ... but how about non-related people with heritable genetic disorders?


-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 10:36:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Did you notice that I did not mention genetic disorders, simply the risks to mental stability?

Risks of genetic disorders in unions between relatives, though not inexistent, tend to be overplayed indeed. It's the emotional ones that I feel are underplayed.

Now to answer your question is difficult. If you have a known severe disorder, should your partner test for it before marrying? I would hope that he would, but am not sure that the law should interfere.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 10:48:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am sure the law should NOT interfere. Must people be under the obligation to save our public services the expense or what? How would you enforce that, by the way?
by Katrin on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 10:58:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Must people be under the obligation to save our public services the expense or what?"

No. But if the disease is bad enough that having the child could be considered an act of cruelty to him, it might at least deserve some thought before stating that the law should not interfere.
Which is my inclination, as I wrote. That doesn't mean that no case can ever be made (and then probably nevertheless rejected) for some restrictions.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 11:13:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cyrille:
But if the disease is bad enough that having the child could be considered an act of cruelty to him,...

Considered by whom? Is a disabled child necessarily unhappy? Do you believe disabled people regret they were born?

by Katrin on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 11:31:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't venture to judge on their behalf, but I suggest there may be a range of answers to your question.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 11:55:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Judging on somebody else's behalf was the starting point of this discussion, though.
by Katrin on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 12:27:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's certainly implied in your question.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 12:31:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Do you believe disabled people regret they were born? "

Some have sued their parents for letting them be born, yes.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 12:16:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For letting them be born, or to get the parents' insurance companies to pay out? Do you have details?
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 12:25:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For letting them be born with the disease, to be precise.
Regrettably, I don't have the details of the case I have in mind at hand. I remember it for a different reason actually: that the court agreed to hear it (it was in France) showed that they took the parental project to create the child's identity, rather than the genes.

The defendants (from memory the defendants were the parents -but I might be wrong and it might have been the doctors) had argued that they could not ask for damages as, if they'd had their wish (abortion), they wouldn't have even existed. The court considered that if there had been an abortion followed by a pregnancy without the disease, it would have been essentially the same child, but free from the disease.

I'm explaining it poorly and have forgotten much of the details, but it is actually an inevitable logical implication of a system that accepts abortion following a medical test. The reason why it was a landmark case was that it was the first time that the implicit logical conclusion was made explicit, namely that it is the parental project that creates the child's identity.
Which is also implicit everytime parents say something like: "if you had been a girl, you would have been named Anja".

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 02:10:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The court considered that if there had been an abortion followed by a pregnancy without the disease, it would have been essentially the same child, but free from the disease.

What nonsense! How do they get the idea that siblings are identical? The second child would have been genetically different, and it would have made different experiences. The child who sued exists, and can only exist being born with the disease. The alternative would have been that it had never existed (and sued). And the decision is not the child's, but the parents'.

it is actually an inevitable logical implication of a system that accepts abortion following a medical test.

The logical implication is to accept every pregnant woman's decision. She is entitled to help, support, and to respect for her choice, whatever that choice is.

by Katrin on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 02:41:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"What nonsense! How do they get the idea that siblings are identical?"

They never said anything like that.
Again, it's the same logic as the sentence I gave, "If you had been a girl".
Not "if we'd had a girl".

There is the identity of the parental project, and this was considered as more significantly defining the child than his genetic material.

The child who sued reckoned that, in the most important sense, it would still have been him -even though with different looks and possibly even gender. And the court agreed.

So do I, by the way. Genes have no importance, and I would not care one bit to learn that my sons don't carry mine.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 05:13:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your sons probably would care, but that's not my point. Personal identity is only partly shaped by what you call "the parental project". The child makes experiences that can only partly be influenced by the parents. And the (genetically determined) physical side has an influence on the personality too. You downplay two of these factors: genes and environment other than parents.

Cyrille:

Again, it's the same logic as the sentence I gave, "If you had been a girl".
Not "if we'd had a girl".

Well, you aren't a girl. So what? Same as in "if you had been born without the disease" or "if you had been born with green eyes". It strengthens my point that "the parental project" has very limited influence, and that the child has to take life as it is. The only alternative is no life.

by Katrin on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 03:49:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Your sons probably would care"
Why?

"Personal identity is only partly shaped by what you call "the parental project"."
OK -partly, but mainly. That doesn't mean their personality would have been identical if they had been born from a later pregnancy, it means that when the child(ren? I think there were two) said "They could have aborted and had another pregnancy and I would have been born without the disease", the court recognised their right to use "I".
And I certainly don't downplay the environment which is far more related to the parental project than to the genes.

"It strengthens(!) my point that "the parental project" has very limited influence, and that the child has to take life as it is. The only alternative is no life."

Well, you do realise that it was the case they tried to make, and failed? So just stating it is unlikely to count as obvious evidence.

And obviously my example does not strengthen your point: the parent uses "you". If you'd been a girl, it would have been you, a different you of course. But you.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 04:49:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cyrille:
And obviously my example does not strengthen your point: the parent uses "you". If you'd been a girl, it would have been you, a different you of course. But you.

It's an amazing, bizarre case, the more I think about it. The parent can't simply declare using these words that it would be you. It is short for "if this pregnancy had turned out to result in..." What if the child is unhappy about, say, its gender? Can it sue because the parents didn't make sure it's a girl? Why not?

Am I obliged to feel identical or something with the embryo that my mother aborted after having Rubella? I refuse. It's not me. What power has this embryo to force me? I can't imagine it will sue.

Cyrille:

"Your sons probably would care"
Why?

Children need to know who their biological parents are, and during adolescence they need to transform the role of both sets of parents if there are social parents as well. It's one of these psychological needs of every human being that can't be avoided. They would never forgive you, if you lied to them about that. I am a foster mother of two, btw.
by Katrin on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 06:20:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Am I obliged to feel identical"

Why do you keep bringing that strawman to which I replied already? No one is talking about feeling identical.
They were not -precisely, they felt that it would have been them, but different (as in disease-free). Not identical at all.

"They would never forgive you, if you lied to them about that. I am a foster mother of two, btw."

Who's talking about lying, something I never do, much less to my sons?
As far as I know, I am the biological father. It's also not something I'd ever go and test as I find it completely irrelevant.
Hell, in our case it's even possible that the elder one has a different biological mother than we think -he is an IVF child and there is a possibility of mixing-up the embryos. If we learnt that it was the case, we wouldn't hide it. But it certainly would make no difference to me, as it would make absolutely no difference to me to learn that my father was not biological.

There is a chasm between not mentioning and adoption (in which case you are certain, by the way) and not mentioning an affair. If the fertility problem was solved because my wife had fun while I was away on business, well all I can say is I hope that she made sure he was HIV negative and that the earth moved for her, but I don't see that it would be any of my business. He's my son, period.

As to never forgiving, well, I happen to know someone who learnt at 30 that she had been adopted. Now, she certainly did not like not having been told earlier, but I saw her with her mother (her father is now dead, alas) and it's clear that forgiving did not take long at all.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 06:52:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why do you keep bringing that strawman to which I replied already? No one is talking about feeling identical.
They were not -precisely, they felt that it would have been them, but different (as in disease-free). Not identical at all

Not a strawman. I am trying to grasp the implications of this (I am really trying!):

it would have been you, a different you of course. But you.

If it's a "different me", it's not me at all. There is only one see-the-trademark me, and that's me.

My mother told me if I had been a boy (God forbid), I would be Wilhelm (God forbid again), after my father. That's only lazy-speak for: if I had been a totally different person that has nothing to do with my identity, a male...

The claimant in your case apparently could fantasise themselves into being (reincarnated?) a totally hypothetical second child that might (or might not) have been born after s/he (or rather the embryo that developed into being s/he) was aborted. Bizarre. What if there hadn't been another child? (S/he would have sued to compel the parents to... really!) The judge must have been drunk. Was there an appeal?

You say you agree. (Now I probably should edit out "drunk" and so ;-) ) Can you tell me what that means for a hypothetical connection between that rubella embryo and me, because I think that ought to be the same, right?

Cyrille:

Who's talking about lying, something I never do, much less to my sons?

Or hiding the truth (that you know). It backfires, definitely. You are right, "never forgive" is too strong. I know a few cases though, and the extent of trust has never been fully restored, although there was some forgiveness. This is completely tangential, though.

by Katrin on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 08:32:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Can you tell me what that means for a hypothetical connection between that rubella embryo and me, because I think that ought to be the same, right?"

Well, you could say that thanks to the abortion you were born without a malformation.
Besides, the court never claimed that every child had to feel that way, just that this or those were entitled to say "I would have been born different".

I don't know whether there was an appeal, or even the result of the case. The crucial thing (and one that is a necessary conclusion of accepting abortion after medical tests) was that it was heard.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 09:16:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cyrille:
Well, you could say that thanks to the abortion you were born without a malformation

It's not true. Thanks to my mother having had rubella at any time before she was pregnant with me, I was born without that malformation. No nexus with the abortion. (The abortion makes me child no. 6, not no. 7, and my parents must have been fed up with getting more children after they had six. So probably without that abortion I would not have been born at all. I wouldn't have been in a position to mind or to sue, though.)

Cyrille:

The crucial thing (and one that is a necessary conclusion of accepting abortion after medical tests) was that it was heard.

???  I accept abortion whenever a pregnant woman decides it is the right thing for her. I equally accept if she decides to have the child, no matter if it is healthy or not.

by Katrin on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 10:11:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The judge's ruling reveals a somewhat mystical but not incoherent narrative interpretation of human nature, which as Cyrille is arguing is in fact consistent with a lot of ordinary expressions used by ordinary people (such as your Mother saying "if you had been a boy you would have been Wilhelm").

That doesn't mean any of it is "scientific" but that is rather beside the point. We're talking law here. Which is about the social construction of social reality.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 09:23:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
We're talking law here. Which is about the social construction of social reality.

Thank you. Beautifully put.

by Katrin on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 10:13:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... but you've got to wonder what he'd been smoking.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 10:39:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nothing too potent, given that lots of people reason in the frame in which they can tell their son "if you had been a girl we would have called you victoria" without blinking.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 10:49:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
which summarises my thinking on the matter :

"Si ma tante en avait, on l'appelerait Tonton"

(If my aunt had balls, we'd call her Uncle)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 11:17:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But he'd have had to be smoking something to not tell them to go talk with a psychologist about their issues and stop wasting the court's time.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 03:36:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the dictator clones himself to get loyal army scenario also fits in this narrative. It also depends on the ability for the identity to span more then one body. Also the upload yourself and live forever thing.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 01:00:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a friend who wrote up a scenario on the premise that there had been a "clone yourself to cheat the ballot box" scare. After which clones were disenfranchised and required to be genetically engineered with distinguishing features like tusks and green-tinted skin, so people could tell who were clones and who were not.

(The scenario took it as read that "cloning copies the person" is a bogus trope.)

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 03:52:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If it's a "different me", it's not me at all.

Mmmm, I'm not so certain. If you were to install a synthetic memory bank in the back of your head, you would be a "different you," but there would be sufficient continuity of identity, of what cyberpunk author Shirō Masamune called "ghost," that most people would still argue - rightly, in my view - that you would still be "you."

Given appropriate technology, you could progressively replace every part of your brain with enhanced, synthetic substitutes, and still retain sufficient continuity to qualify as "you," even though there would be nothing left of the original wetware. On the other hand, simply copying your brain architecture into an advanced neural net computer and then shooting you would kill "you," at least in most people's view.

What this suggests is that the relevant distinction is in terms of the degree of continuity, or the rate of change and the fraction of the body replaced in each step.

Under that convention, the children's argument in this case is wrong, because you have a 100 % discontinuity when you flush the embryo and plug in a new one. But it is not a completely silly argument that you could in principle replace the zygote with a different one, if only you could do it one cell at a time.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 03:36:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin - I agree with you that children should not be lied to and if you do lie to them they may never forgive you. I also had the privilege of being a foster mother (three kids from foster care, two of my own) so I know a little something about the challenges and rewards involved with that.

However, I was adopted and found out about it quite by accident when I was 16 and had been sent away to reformatory and read it in my psychological records. I'm sure my adoptive parents thought keeping it from me was the right thing to do, and secrecy about such matters was also probably the norm at the time. Be that as it may, my disagreement with you is your statement that "all children need to know who their biological parents are ..." Perhaps most children do, but personally I have never had any interest whatsoever in knowing who my biological parents were. I am sure they had their reasons for putting me up for adoption, and that's that. My adoptive parents were plenty okay for me, warts and all.

by sgr2 on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 10:50:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it is the parental project that creates the child's identity.

That idea bothers me. There is immense hubris in it.

A child creates its own identity, from a heap of factors, starting with its genetic heritage and its environment.

Some children have parents; others don't. Some parents have a parental project; others don't. Neither the existence nor the identity of the child are determined by the existence of a parental project. Sure, it's generally (but not always) better for the child if there is a parental project (making plans for Nigel?)

If it were the parental project that creates the child's identity, there would be an awful lot of people walking around without an identity. (Zombie invasion?)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 10:38:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
there would be an awful lot of people walking around without an identity.

There are an awful lot with a most uncertain identity.

Some of them, though, got that way through being subjected to an over-affirmed "parental project".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 10:41:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it should bother you because I can't see how it can possibly be correct.

Even pets have distinct personalities. The idea that children wouldn't, from birth, seems nonsensical.

There is a certain left-academic belief in personality as a blank slate that can be shaped wholly by society, culture, family and so on.

But I've never been even remotely convinced by it. The links between genetics and behaviour in animals are too obvious and too strong to ignore. And there are interesting things happening on the borderlands between biochemistry and psychology.

Parents can of course influence and I think most people go through a maturation where they keep some elements of family conditioning and attempt to replace or redefine others.

But I see absolutely no reason to believe that parents can ever define personality absolutely, or that genes don't play a part.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 10:53:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's more the ontology that bothers me, it borders on the theological.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 11:20:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or teleological.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 11:23:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is a disabled child necessarily unhappy? Do you believe disabled people regret they were born?  

Many of them can't even grasp to say how they feel being severely mentally retarded, so who is going to judge how happy they are? Or if they regret being born? You?
You don't know what you are talking about.
Responsible people take all care possible not to have disabled child...And with siblings it is a great possibility. So no excuses.

by vbo on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 06:13:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Responsible people take all care possible not to have disabled child...And with siblings it is a great possibility. So no excuses."

No, it's a slightly less highly unlikely possibility. But still much less likely than for someone who simply has one case in his family and marries a stranger.

So if that's the argument against sex between siblings, the same logic would exclude all relatives of someone who has a genetic disorder to be barred from having children.

Incest is in the mind rather than in the genes. The risks are overwhelmingly psychological, which is why adopted children don't tend to make couples, and actually the law prohibits it. Whereas most cultures accept marriage between double cousins (but ban the more distant uncle/niece or aunt/nephew), who are genetically exactly as close as siblings.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 03:16:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not underestimating psychological risks at all.You are right about it. But genetic risk is also reality.
In my culture this is simply NO-NO. We tend to make our children know even very far relatives so if they meet each other later in life they are aware who they are. I know that not every culture is against it...some even has it as desirable in order to save family wealth.  
by vbo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 04:05:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the perception of risks comes from a time with smaller societies and worse communications. It then made sense to try to get together with one of those you were least related to.

Long time ago I read an historical study on a small finnish society that in the 19th century started their own school for children with mental disorders. In the 20th century enrollment suddenly drops and eventually the school is closed. About ten years earlier mopeds had been introduced on a large scale, widening the radius for connections. Genetical factor strongly suspected.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 05:28:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Must people be under the obligation to save our public services the expense or what?  

Yes, as much as possible but that is not main issue.
Society has its right to prevent people making bad decision that will cost that society. That's why we have laws at all. Otherwise it would be anarchy (some people would love it). As much as I am for more freedom and less interference of government in to a people's life, freedom has its limits. In my eyes that limit is where one hurt others enjoying his freedom.  

by vbo on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 06:24:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
vbo:
Yes, as much as possible but that is not main issue

For me it is, and I would like to hear how far you would go! I am trying hard not to mention, oh darn, historical examples of the same.

by Katrin on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 03:33:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can mention historical examples as much as you want...there are a lot...especially on your side.
by vbo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 03:53:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"On my side" Interesting. I suspect you are not talking about my argument. Care to elaborate?
by Katrin on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 06:22:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No.
by vbo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 06:53:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Half-baked insinuations aren't particularly classy in the first place. Failing to make your reasoning explicit when asked a direct question is not an improvement.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 04:22:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin needs to explain first her INSINUATIONS about historical examples that she OH tries so hard not to mention...
by vbo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 09:13:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The WestTM has a long history of more or less forcible eugenics, although mainly in the form of sterilization of the poor or mentally impaired, as opposed to forcing termination of their pregnancies. It sort of got a bad name after Nürnberg, but that doesn't mean that the tradition died out in 1945.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 09:53:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wasn't plain for me...
by vbo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 11:25:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and by the way:
No laws (or norms) = anomie
No domination = anarchy

Is it very difficult to get the difference? Why?

by Katrin on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 03:36:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh thank you for lecturing me . I am so dumb.
by vbo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 09:19:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am glad that I've made the meaning of this post plain enough to be understood.
by Katrin on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 03:34:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heat-to-light threshold exceeded!

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 04:22:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Risks of genetic disorders in unions between relatives, though not inexistent, tend to be overplayed indeed.

The risks are not trivial for single siblings, but possibly tolerable as a one-off event if the original genetic mix has no obvious nasty recessives to worry about.

But if you set a precedent for allowing reproduction between siblings, it doesn't take more than a few generations for the probability of genetic disorders to trend towards certainty. There were many parts of the UK where travel wasn't common until the last century and the genetic mix wasn't as wide as it might be - and even without incest, that was all it took to make disorders more prevalent than they are today.

And if you allow sibling relationships you may as well allow father-daughter relationships, which creates both psychological issues and genetic issues.

Generally it's safer and simpler to consider incest a very bad thing.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 11:04:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand, let me throw into the discussion another thing from the original article on the Danish situation: the spread of non-damaging genetic mutations that are recessive (their phenotypical effect only shows if the gene is inherited from both parents) is only possible if there is incest at an early stage. In other words, there are blue-eyed people today only because there has been considerable incest among close descendants of the first person with the mutated gene.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 12:28:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why? Can not simply the regressive gene spread through the descendants until it is spread wide enough for distant relatives that carry the same gene to meat and get kids that turn out blue-eyed?

I am not saying there was not incest in ancient Denmark, just don't see why it is a necessary condition.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 01:10:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can not simply the regressive gene spread through the descendants until it is spread wide enough for distant relatives that carry the same gene to meat and get kids that turn out blue-eyed?

For a high frequency of distant relatives carrying the same gene, spreading wide is not enough, an increase in frequency is needed, too. (If the frequency doesn't increase, then on average one person will carry the mutated recessive gene in every generation.) That is: the mutated gene variant should reproduce at a higher rate than the non-mutated one. In small populations, this can happen by pure accident (one form of genetic drift). Some form of selection (for blue eyes: probably sexual selection) can increase frequency, too, but for that, you need the trait expressed, so you need to increase the frequency first by some other means.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 07:40:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If it is a point (or other relatively simple) mutation, it could have arisen independently in several places and at several times at once. Also, what askod said about genetic drift of non-selected alleles.

(Which is not to say that there wasn't substantial consanguinity in pairings in pre- and early modern societies - there must have been, if only due to the geographic isolation of sedentary societies with poor transportation infrastructure.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 04:37:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
genetic drift of non-selected alleles

...has something to do with incest, doesn't it? Small sub-populations and everything.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 07:49:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh thank you...
by vbo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 09:21:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly. Does anyone here seriously want to ban people with a higher risk of having disabled children from having any children? Really? Sure that that's what you want?

(That's the point where I am speechless.)

by Katrin on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 10:48:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to Wikipedia adult incest (though not always marriage) is legal in China, India, and Russia. So it sounds like Denmark is just joing the vast majority of the world.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 08:09:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am speechless...
by vbo on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 09:14:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't sound very speechless, though.

The topic is a bit more complicated than most people think, though. If you consider this case, can you really say criminalising the behaviour is a very intelligent thing? http://edition.cnn.com/2012/04/13/world/europe/germany-incest-court/index.html

by Katrin on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 10:50:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And ... just because they did not know each other during childhood it is OK somehow? He knew that she is his sister when he started sexual relationship ( I would have more understanding if he did not know) ...she was a minor and with personality disorder so in my eyes he took advantage of her.
Their two children are disabled , which could be expected, so he did not only ruin her sister's life but also lives of his children. He should be in jail.
Here in Australia there was a case where father and his daughter had a child ( or children, can't remember) they were prosecuted...and ordered not to live together or something like that , it did not help. I know prosecution can't stop it but it can prevent it in many cases.
It simply is not right. And it is not about "purity".
by vbo on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 05:48:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Westerfeld effect - the incest avoidance mechanism in our brains works by remembering who we spent our childhoods with and killing all sexual interest in that set of people. It probably works by remembering pheromone complexes. (for obvious reasons.. not a lot of research into how this works, exactly)
 This has a bunch of knock on effects -most notably, almost all incest that does not involve damaged people happens because the kids were raised apart. More commonly, unrelated kids raised together from infancy do not usually knock boots, ever. It is probably also why small tribes almost always practice(d) exogamy or strictly segregated child rearing. Those tribes that did not do at least one of them failed to reproduce.
by Thomas on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 02:13:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If this was always the case, we wouldn't need laws, would we?
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 02:22:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sexual laws in Europe are largely inherited from a medieval church that did not have modern ideas about when laws are needed. If it is a sin the bible and there is no over-riding reason to allow, then ban.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 05:34:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought the Bible sort of approved of polygamy?
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 05:41:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If it's the case that people are not attracted to those they spend their first 6 or so years with, most instances of incest will involve older relatives coercing younger relatives. Incest is easier to prove than statutory rape.

At least that's one possible rationale for such laws.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 06:01:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you give us a link to that "Westerfeld effect"? Sorry, Google hasn't heard of it.

And can you assure us there is an identified brain mechanism that functions in that way?

As to exogamy: how, without endogamy including at least first-cousin marriages, did we get to be here?

Given that each individual has two parents, they in their turn two each, and so on in a geometric progression: in 30 or so generations back (Middle Ages), the ancestors of each of us would number more than the entire world population at the time. So it cannot be assumed that there is an exogamous geometric progression. We are necessarily the descendents of far more endogamous unions, in number and in closeness of degree, than we would generally like to admit.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 02:54:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Couples had much more then two children in the past...
And he was talking about SMALL tribes...
by vbo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 04:20:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Couples had much more then two children in the past..."

So?
Plus, they did not have on average much more than 2 that made it to reproductive age, otherwise the population would have risen much faster.

Anyway, populations in the past had phenomenally high consanguinity. Brittany for several centuries was isolated enough that marriages had of necessity a degree of consanguinity that was similar to first cousins -and indeed marriage between cousins was pretty much the norm. Nevertheless, the rise in genetic disorder, while statistically significant, was too small to be practically detectable (a tiny effect can be significant when the sample population is huge).

It's actually an interesting case because the increase should have been higher based on mere genetic proximity. The most likely explanation was that there were more early miscarriages (ie, before the woman knows she's pregnant), and that they would be more likely when the embryo has a genetic disorder. I don't have a link to the study but I have it in a book -in French, though- Histoire de la notion de gène.

Even today, there are huge pockets of genetic proximities. Laos, which I know well enough, is a clear example. Most of my in-laws married cousins (not necessarily first cousins), some even double cousins (yes, genetic proximity equal to siblings in that case). Yet, despite the pretty big sample population (BIG families), the only disorder I've clearly noticed is a stronger tendency to vote UMP than one would like.

Incest is in the mind -and by that I don't mean to diminish it at all. I don't like, for example, the recent tendency of parents to kiss their children on the lips -and indeed, I've seen adult siblings doing it here in London. I wouldn't mind in Russia, but here it means something else and I don't reckon it's a good idea.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 04:59:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More childbirth, no doubt, but not more surviving children reaching reproductive age. Population only rose very slowly until recent times:

Anyway, the number of children per couple has nothing to do with it. Each individual child necessarily has one biological mother and one biological father. Going back over the generations, it is numerically impossible to suppose that the parental couple in every case was exogamous. Only endogamy (and polygamy in cultures where it was practised) can reduce the number of ancestors (for example, first cousins have the same grandparents, two instead of four). We are all the descendents of, at least, cousin marriage.

As for Thomas's point about isolated small tribes, it's true that there are often rules to enforce or encourage exogamy, or channel endogamy by a clan system, for example. But

Thomas:

Those tribes that did not do at least one of them failed to reproduce.

is a supposition. It would be interesting to see some hard evidence for it.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 04:59:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More childbirth, no doubt, but not more surviving children reaching reproductive age.

True that many would die...but they would have 10 or more children and at least half would survive...so still more...more variety...
by vbo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 07:35:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is because I should have checked my memory first.
Try westermarck <,<
by Thomas on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 08:07:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, you give us a link.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 08:14:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This isn't something completely obscure.

Westermarck effect - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Westermarck effect, or reverse sexual imprinting, is a hypothetical psychological effect through which people who live in close domestic proximity during the first few years of their lives become desensitized to later sexual attraction. This phenomenon, one explanation for the incest taboo, was first hypothesized by Finnish anthropologist Edvard Westermarck in his book The History of Human Marriage (1891). Observations interpreted as evidence for the Westermarck effect have since been made in many places and cultures, including in the Israeli kibbutz system, and the Chinese Shim-pua marriage customs, as well as in biological-related families.

In the case of the Israeli kibbutzim (collective farms), children were reared somewhat communally in peer groups, based on age, not biological relation. A study of the marriage patterns of these children later in life revealed that out of the nearly 3,000 marriages that occurred across the kibbutz system, only fourteen were between children from the same peer group. Of those fourteen, none had been reared together during the first six years of life. This result suggests that the Westermarck effect operates during the period from birth to the age of six.[1]

But:

Sociologists and anthropologists have criticized the validity of research presented in support of the Westermarck effect and the contention that it serves as an ultimate demonstration for the viability of natural selection theory in explaining human behaviour. For example, a 2009 study by Eran Shor and Dalit Simchai demonstrated that although most peers who grew up closely together in the Israeli kibbutzim did not marry one another, they did report substantial attraction to co-reared peers. The authors conclude that the case of the kibbutzim actually provides little support for the Westermarck Effect and that childhood proximity cannot in itself produce sexual avoidance without the the existence of social pressures and norms.[3]

However, while not mentioned in the Wikipedia article, incest avoidance by at least mothers has been observed in primates (this is where I read of Westermarck before). See for example here.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 11:09:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it was up to Thomas to offer the reference, but...

It's hypothetical. The empirical evidence offered is shaky. There seems to be no evidence for brain structures dedicated to this, or of the involvement of pheromones, as Thomas suggests. I think it's fair to call the whole thing conjecture.

A pity kcurie isn't here to talk to us about myth structures concerning incest.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 12:18:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't doing Thomas a service but wrote about it because I heard of it too (I think it was via something on Jane Goodall's research). I don't think the evidence from other primates can be called mere conjecture or shaky. The observed incest avoidance isn't deterministic, but a strong trend. I can't find where Thomas mentioned brain structures dedicated to this (nor do I think it necessary that such will be found – this sounds like excessive reductionism of brain functions), but the pheromones speculation (if it isn't Thomas's own) certainly needs sourcing.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 12:45:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas:
the incest avoidance mechanism in our brains works by remembering who we spent our childhoods with and killing all sexual interest in that set of people. It probably works by remembering pheromone complexes. (for obvious reasons.. not a lot of research into how this works, exactly)

As to incest avoidance in primates, it may be that there are observable behaviours. In mammals in general, there is no incest avoidance afaik. Probably the most important point is that males move around, favourising gene distribution. I suspect this may explain, in humans, the difference between isolated endogamous communities, where genetic defects become apparent after several generations, and communities with sufficient contact with "mobile" males for intermixing.

I insist, however, that it is not materially possible that all our ancestors coupled exogamically. We are the children of endogamy.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 02:18:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it is mine, and it is purely speculative. Well, I base it on the bit where most people do not actually look anything like their 1-6 year old selves when grown, and the fact that scent has been proven to have a heck of a lot of sway over who we find attractive. .. Actually, this theory is testable, without doing anything overly morally questionable. Just apply "scent of partners sibling" to one half of a couple and see if it murders their sex life. >,)
A positive result would also prove the original hypothetical. Somewhat .. cumbersome experimental protocol, tough.
by Thomas on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 02:31:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
myth structures concerning incest

On this note, I found the critique of Freud's critique of the Westermarck effect, quoted on the Wikipedia article from a book by Steven Pinker (where I find he himself references one John Tooby) funny:

The idea that boys want to sleep with their mothers strikes most men as the silliest thing they have ever heard. Obviously, it did not seem so to Freud, who wrote that as a boy he once had an erotic reaction to watching his mother dressing. But Freud had a wet-nurse, and may not have experienced the early intimacy that would have tipped off his perceptual system that Mrs. Freud was his mother. The Westermarck theory has out-Freuded Freud.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 12:53:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and ties in nicely with Michel Onfray's fisking of Freud.

I sort of wondered if it was a Jewish thing, or what. Ick.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 01:43:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure kcurie would go along with the reference to Freud re myth structures...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 02:02:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I cited the case for a different reason: Keep socially defined family roles and biological relations apart. There are psychological reasons to keep the relations between siblings asexual (to place a taboo on incest), otherwise families would become dysfunctional. This concerns the social roles in the family though, not the biological side. Socially and emotionally this couple are not siblings, though. It's one of the flaws of incognito adoption.

I have an issue with your assumptions. Close relatives who have a hereditary condition that is recessive have an increased risk to pass this on. If these preconditions are not met, there is no heightened risk. There is absolutely no evidence that this is the case here. Additionally (and I know I am repeating myself), no siciety has the right to ban people from having children. Where would you stop? Forced sterilisations and abortions anyone? Interrogations of pregnant women is they show behaviour that might damage the embryo? Would you perhaps lock them up if they show signs that they might smoke? That could be efficient prevention, you know.

By the way, a minor (as the girl in this case) can consent, even if she suffers from a markedly low IQ (which is the "disorder" she suffers from).

by Katrin on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 03:28:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know of a couple in which the mother is Rh-negative and the father is Rh-positive, which became known after the natural abortion of the wife's first pregnacy. However, the couple were deeply religious Catholics, and wouldn't use contraceptives or any other medical help, instead preferring prayer. They first had a healthy Rh-negative son, then an Rh-positive daughter with damaged central nervous system (causing constant twitching and various secondary health problems). I'm not saying such cases should be prevented with prohibitions, but this was definitely a stronger case of parental "playing dice with genetic defects" irresponsibility than the average sibling incest.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 11:20:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agree. I find such cases horrifying too. The decision must be the parents' though, even if they take a decision that most people find wrong.
by Katrin on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 11:34:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"...she was a minor and with personality disorder so in my eyes he took advantage"

That indeed is my take on it, and note that it has nothing to do with their being siblings.

"Their two children are disabled , which could be expected"

No, that could not, unless there was a history of the similar disability in the family. Yes, it increases the chances, but they remain very small if there was no such history.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 04:41:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, that could not, unless there was a history of the similar disability in the family. Yes, it increases the chances, but they remain very small if there was no such history.  

Are you sure?

Looking around I found these:

http://healthland.time.com/2011/02/11/dna-tests-of-disabled-kids-uncovers-evidence-of-incest/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incest#Genetics

Studies suggest that 20-36% of these children will die or have major disability due to the inbreeding.[13] A study of 29 offspring resulting from brother-sister or father-daughter incest found that 20 had congenital abnormalities, including four directly attributable to autosomal recessive alleles.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1355898/New-gene-based-tests-explain-childrens-disabilities- -highlight-cases-incest.html

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2011/02/11/genetic-testing-brings-up-a-surprising-topic-in cest/

http://au.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100226034839AALYYUH

http://www.gtplanet.net/forum/showthread.php?t=250350

I hope they are not religious ( can't see anywhere) or you'll dismiss it...

And then different opinion...I suppose that's where you are coming from...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/15/law-against-incest
 And so on...

by vbo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 08:45:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Le projet de loi du "mariage pour tous" adopté en conseil des ministres Bill of "marriage for all" adopted by the Council of Ministers
Le gouvernement socialiste français emboîte le pas à onze autres pays, dont la Belgique, le Canada et l'Espagne, et passe outre aux oppositions de la droite et des Eglises en présentant mercredi 7 novembre son projet de loi sur l'ouverture du mariage aux couples homosexuels. Ce dernier a désormais franchi l'étape du conseil des ministres, ce qui ouvre le chemin vers son examen par le Parlement à partir du mois de janvier.The French Socialist government followed the example of eleven other countries, including Belgium, Canada and Spain, and overruled the opposition of the Right and of churches, by putting forward on Wednesday, November 7 a bill opening marriage to same-sex couples. This has now passed the stage of the Council of Ministers, which opens the way to its consideration by Parliament from January.
Pendant le conseil, François Hollande a jugé que la loi représentait "un progrès pas seulement pour quelques-uns mais pour toute la société", a ensuite relaté la porte-parole du gouvernement, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem. Jugeant le débat autour de ce texte "légitime", le président a souhaité aussi qu'il soit "maîtrisé" et "respectueux des opinions comme des croyances" en laissant "la place à une large concertation", a-t-elle précisé.During the Cabinet meeting, François Hollande ruled that the law represented "progress not just for some but for the whole of society" , reported the spokesperson of the government, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem. Judging the debate around this text "legitimate" , the president also wanted it "polite" and "respectful of opinions and of beliefs" leaving "room for broad consultation" , she said.


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 07:57:47 AM EST

shows, unlike the once cited above, no weakening of majority support for same-sex marriage.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 08:00:13 AM EST
Will the media make as much fuss about this one as about the 58% one?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 11:57:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Espagne : le tribunal constitutionnel valide le mariage homosexuel Spain: Constitutional Court validates gay marriage
Le tribunal constitutionnel espagnol a validé, mardi 6 novembre, la loi de 2005 sur le mariage et l'adoption pour les couples homosexuels, rejetant un recours de la droite au pouvoir qui envisage toujours de modifier cette loi votée sous les socialistes, selon une source judiciaire.The Spanish Constitutional Court has validated, Tuesday, November 6, the 2005 law on marriage and adoption for homosexual couples, dismissing an appeal of the Right, who still plan to change this law passed under the socialists, according to a judicial source.
Cette loi a fait de l'Espagne l'un des premiers pays du monde à avoir autorisé le mariage entre personnes du même sexe et l'adoption, avec la Suède, pionnière en la matière, les Pays-Bas, la Belgique, l'Afrique du Sud et la Norvège.This law made Spain one of the first countries in the world to authorize marriage between persons of the same sex and adoption, with Sweden, a pioneer in the field, the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa and Norway.
Cette décision intervient au moment où le gouvernement socialiste français est sur le point de déposer au Parlement un projet de loi en ce sens, combattu, comme en Espagne, par l'Eglise et la droite.The decision comes at a time when the French socialist government is about to introduce in Parliament a bill to this effect, fought, as in Spain, by the Church and the right.
RECOURS DE LA DROITE EN 2005 APEAL BY THE RIGHT IN 2005
Le Parti populaire avait introduit un recours trois mois après l'entrée en vigueur de la loi, le 3 juillet 2005, contestant l'utilisation du mot "mariage" pour une union entre deux personnes du même sexe, contraire selon eux à la définition du mot dans la Constitution. Le tribunal constitutionnel, qui publiera les motifs de sa décision dans les prochains jours, a validé la loi et rejeté cet argument, selon une source judiciaire.The People's Party had appealed three months after the entry into force of the Act, 3 July 2005, challenging the use of the word "marriage" for a union between two persons of the same sex as contrary to the definition of the word in the Constitution. The Constitutional Court, which will publish the reasons for its decision in the coming days, has validated the law and rejected this argument, according to a judicial source.
Entre 2005 et 2011, plus de 20 000 mariages homosexuels ont été célébrés, soit 1,8 % des mariages en Espagne, selon les chiffres de l'institut national de la statistique.La fédération nationale des lesbiennes, gays, transexuels et bisexuels estime que quelque 30 000 mariages ont eu lieu jusqu'à aujourd'hui, en raison d'une recrudescence des unions en 2011 avant l'élection attendue de la droite.Between 2005 and 2011, more than 20,000 same-sex marriages were celebrated, or 1.8% of marriages in Spain, according to figures from the National Institute of statistique. The National Federation of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals estimated some 30,000 marriages took place until today due to a resurgence of unions in 2011 before the expected election of the Right.


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 08:39:42 AM EST
Selon Serge Dassault, l'homosexualité participe de "la décadence de la Grèce"According Serge Dassault, homosexuality is part of "the decadence of Greece"
Alors que le gouvernement s'apprêtait, quelques heures plus tard, à adopter en conseil des ministres le projet de loi sur le "mariage pour tous", Serge Dassault a manifesté avec virulence, mercredi 7 novembre, son opposition. Interrogé par France Culture, le sénateur UMP de l'Essonne, PDG éponyme du groupe d'aviation et propriétaire du Figaro affirme que le mariage et l'adoption autorisés aux homosexuels mettra en péril le renouvellement générationnel :
"Il n'y a plus de renouvellement de la population, à quoi ça rime ? On veut un pays d'homos ? Eh bien alors dans dix ans il n'y aura plus personne, c'est stupide."
While the government was preparing a few hours later to adopt Cabinet the bill "marriage for all," Serge Dassault expressed with virulence, Wednesday, November 7, opposition. Asked by France Culture UMP Senator of the Essonne , CEO of the eponymous group of aviation and owner of Figaro says that marriage and adoption for homosexuals would jeopardize generational renewal:
"There would be no more renewal of the population, what's the point? They want a country of gays? Well then in ten years there will be no one, it's stupid."
Et M. Dassault de prendre en exemple la Grèce :
"Regardez dans l'histoire, la Grèce, c'est une des raisons de sa décadence. C'est l'arrêt de la famille, c'est l'arrêt du développement des enfants, c'est l'arrêt de l'éducation, c'est un danger énorme pour l'ensemble de la nation, énorme."
And Mr. Dassault take the example of Greece :
"Look at history, for Greece it's one of the reasons for its decline. It is the end of the family, it's the end of the development of children, it is the end of education, it is a huge danger to the entire nation, huge. "

This bozo is head of the fighter-plane manufacturer of the same name; owner of France's largest-circulation daily newspaper; and UMP senator.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 10:16:24 AM EST
If he is talking about ancient Greece, so no. Homosexuality was accepted and sometimes praised during the classical era in both Greece and Rome. So there is no casuality here unless teh gay causes both the rise and fall of civilizations that we claim as intellectual forefathers because the arabs copied their texts.

If anything it goes the other way, after accepting Christianity with its Mosaic sexual mores, Rome falls!

(No, I don't think there is a casuality there either.)

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 05:12:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, you're taking causality rather casually ;-)

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 05:29:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I do think there was a casuality: it's little remembered that the takeover of Athanasian Christianity ( = God is father-and-son; it turned into a Trinity later) in the 4th century went along with anti-Hellenic iconoclasm that extended to the destruction of baths (with effects on public hygiene) and libraries (with effects on technological prowess and the economy) and included insanely long fastenings. This peaked under the rule of the fanatic emperors Gratian and Theodosius I, after which both halves of the Empire were economically weakened and easy pickings for the invading barbarians. (By the time of Attila, the western half was de-facto ruled by Germanic kings and generals and the eastern half paid tributes.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 10:39:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the economic decline started earlier, during the Crisis of the Third Century. So I would rather say that the economic decline triggered reforms to shore up state power and the economic interests of the nobility at the expense of the general population. Diocletian's reforms tied the farmer to the soil and the craftsman to his craft as well as make the state more autocratic. He also made the hitherto most serious attempt at religious persecution to favor of his promotion of the Olympic pantheon across the Empire.

Constantine appears to have had a slightly different power base and replaced Olympic gods with Christianity as the dominant and domineering religion. Yes, Christianity had a special affection for dirtyness and hatred for libraries, but I suspect those meeting-places would have had to be dealt with in some way. Can't have uncontroled meetings taking place when you are establishing control to suck the masses dry.

So I would place Christianity as a consequence (with additional feedback) of the long economic decline that toppled the Roman Empire.

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by A swedish kind of death on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 02:41:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The claim that the economic problems of the Crisis of the Third Century were the start of a long economic decline are in the entirely unsourced bulk of the English Wikipedia article. The much better sourced German version, or example, says that serious economic and trade problems were limited to certain regions, and financial problems (inflation and taxation) kicked in late. And there was recovery later:

Cornell Chronicle: Roman Empire's collapse has lessons for today

"The idea that you have people on the ground for the government to run efficiently is Diocletian's idea," Bowes said.

As the states grew, so did tax collection, which became an industry itself. Tax collecting was highly desirable as those involved skimmed off the top. People were encouraged to pay their taxes, because they hoped to be employed by the tax officials one day, according to Bowes.

As the government and the tax collectors became richer, so did the entire population, said Bowes, who was part of the Roman Peasant Project in Cinigiano, Tuscany, in collaboration with the Universita di Siena, which revealed that in the fourth century, the rural poor had far more consumer goods than in previous centuries.

"Somehow, even in a landscape not important to the empire, the money [was] trickling down," Bowes said.

She said her pick for the No. 2 Roman leader of all time is Diocletian's successor, Constantine: "He introduced the first gold standard," Bowes said. Previously, the values of the silver and gold coins in circulation played off each other, resulting in constant confusion over the worth of money.

"People had faith in money again," Bowes said, which led to the creation of the commodities market. "People [could] now produce agricultural surpluses whose value could be determined and be traded off of," she said. The end result was that "the fourth century was rich, rich, rich," Bowes said.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 07:29:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... that everything he lists as parts of the recovery are things that everybody else always lists as parts of the decline.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 10:06:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Like Eurozone economic news for the past 3 years?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 02:58:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am having a hard time finding decent online sources as most Google hits ends on sites that unsourced pushes their version. The topic is to wide to be covered by a phd thesis (which often can be found online) and the books I think we want - like Rich's The city in late antiquity and Rostovtzeff's The Economic and Social History of the Roman Empire - are found behind (sometimes dubious) paywalls.

On the limited topic of coin inflation I at least found this review of a scholarly work:

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 95.09.07

Finally, Duncan-Jones demonstrates clearly the process of debasement of the metal content of the coins, a process that went on in a virtually uniform trajectory from the later years of Nero's reign to the third century (see especially 230-231 tables 15.7 and 15.80. At the same time, due weight is given to variations in weight and quality that resulted entirely from technical limitations of ancient mensuration and quality control (238-247).

The Roman Peasant Project is interesting but appears (from tehir website) to be a rather limited ground to reject the standard historical narrative. If and when they have excavated more villages and can demonstrate patterns more clearly an interesting discussion will follow.

My impression of the standard historical narrative is that Diocletian's was a recovery of the Roman state, at the expense of its citizenry. The nobility (being the merging patrician and equestrian classes) got payed of from their formal loss of power by continued tax excemption, access to new positions in the state and improved relative position compared with the commoners. So the taxes landed heavily on cities and peasants. To prevent people running away the freedom of movement for labor was abolished.

The problems was more marked in the west as the it was the west that had suffered most from the invasions of the third century. So its cities and countryside was already poor, making Diocletian's taxes (in kind to avoid the consequences of inflation, which also means less transportable and thus more local power) harder to bear. Thus further de-urbanisation and expanse of estates as people escaped the unbearable taxes of the state for the slightly less unbearable fees of noble estates, also leading to more local power. In the end the Germanic invasions lessened the constraints on the commoners while taking over an already medieval social structure. And thus western Rome fell.

But back to topic, for eastern Rome Christianity appears a poor cause. Islam would fit better. Of course if you extend it to Third Rome you can say that socialism toppled it. And socialists being gay probably fits Serge Dassault's narrative.

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by A swedish kind of death on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 05:40:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I forgot to include a link to these graphics from the university of Oregon. For those that prefer images in presentation of the standard narrative.

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by A swedish kind of death on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 07:16:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
inflation

This should be an interesting point for ET. On one hand, does inflation equate economic decline? On the other hand, does the standard monetarist reading of Roman inflation add up? (Here is a critical analysis.)

The nobility (being the merging patrician and equestrian classes) got payed of from their formal loss of power by continued tax excemption

Do you have a source on this? From what I could find, Diocletian's tax reform actually reduced exemptions, privileges came later, and problems arose from another rule of his which the rich tried to escape:

  • The reform replaced ad-hoc requisition by marching armies with a regular system using tax collectors.
  • Italy was no more tax-exempt, only Rome.
  • The appointed tax collectors were local wealthy men, who were liable for tax not collected (see details here). So, I find, the theory goes, the depopulation of cities is connected to wealthy people's attempt to evade being appointed by moving to rural estates. (I wonder though how much the city exodus picture is based on the example of Rome itself, which also suffered decline due to the moving away of the imperial administration to new capitals in the East.)
  • The tax exemptions I could find evidence of were those for the Church, granted by Constantine I. Apparently, appointment as Church official became a popular way to evade appointment as tax collector, making Constantine to retract the exemptions.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 03:34:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
inflation

This should be an interesting point for ET. On one hand, does inflation equate economic decline? On the other hand, does the standard monetarist reading of Roman inflation add up? (Here is a critical analysis.)

Good questions. And good paper.

But in the standard historical narrative (as within the subject of history) the Roman inflation through debasement is mostly relevant as a sign (rather then a cuase) of an economic and political crisis. And it is not the only sign, for example from the paper you quoted, page 10, note 11: "For instance, the maintenance of the principal road network that was necessary to hold the empire together defensively and economically, was by and large left to lapse; and sea-born inter-regional trade seems to have experienced a downturn (Hopkins, 1980; Starr, 1982; Butcher, 1996)."

Also page 16, note 32: "32 On the basis of numismatic evidence, Hopkins (1980) suggests that at the time, the monetary unity of the Empire nearly disintegrated. In fact, he points to comparisons in the weight and fineness of first and second century coins from the city of Rome and the provinces, which reveal that provincial silver coins were cheapened roughly to the same extent as, and sometimes before, silver coins minted in the city of Rome, as is the case in a coordinated monetary policy. However, this is not the case with several series of the third century coins. Harl (1996) suggests that attempts were made to maintain uniformity in the 250s and 260s."

DoDo:

Do you have a source on this?

Checking old textbooks I started to wonder if I had added that myself (it is alluded to, but not mentioned). But I at least found an online-lecture, suggesting I can have picked it up on a lecture:

The Later Roman Empire | Lectures in Medieval History | Dr. Lynn Harry Nelson, Emeritus Professor of Medieval History, KU

3. Exempted senatorial class from taxation. The descendants of anyone who had served in the Roman Senate (a body that was restricted to the noble and wealthy) continued to hold hereditary senatorial status. Immune from taxation and many other expenses, the senatorial class held vast estates and were the richest class in Roman society. This meant that the full weight of the property tax fell on the small farmers and middle-class businessmen and artisans. The farmers who could not pay their taxes could be enslaved (along with their wives and children) and so gave their lands and their persons to local members of the senatorial class. In this way, they avoided taxes but lost their freedom, becoming tenant-farmers (coloni).

But otherwise, if the nobility reasserted itself in that aspect after Diocletian, that works too. Also Diocletian's edicts were not always followed through in a consistent manner. Anyway it is not like the nobility went poor or anything:

Roman equestrian order - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the late 4th and in the 5th century, therefore, the senatorial class at Rome and Byzantium became the closest equivalent to the equo publico equestrian class of the early Principate. It contained many ancient and illustrious families, some of whom claimed descent from the aristocracy of the Republic, but had, as described, lost almost all political and military power.[85] Nevertheless, senators retained great influence due to their enormous inherited wealth and their role as the guardians of Roman tradition and culture.[86]

Centuries of capital accumulation, in the form of vast landed estates (latifundia) across many provinces resulted in enormous wealth for most senators. Many received annual rents in cash and in kind of over 5,000 lbs of gold, equivalent to 360,000 solidi (or 5 million Augustan-era denarii), at a time when a miles (common soldier) would earn no more than 4 solidi a year in cash. Even senators of middling wealth could expect an income 1,000-1,500 lbs of gold.[87]

The 4th century historian Ammianus Marcellinus, a former high-ranking military staff-officer who spent his retirement years in Rome, bitterly attacks the Italian aristocracy, denouncing their extravagant palaces, clothes, games and banquets and above all their lives of total idleness and frivolity.[88] In his words can be heard the contempt for the senatorial class of a career-soldier who had spent his lifetime defending the empire, a view clearly shared by Diocletian and his Illyrian successors. But it is the latter who reduced the aristocracy to that state, by displacing them from their traditional role of governing the empire and leading the army.[89]

(Sources unfortunately offline, so I can't check them. Except Ammianus Marcellinus)

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by A swedish kind of death on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 05:13:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If and when they have excavated more villages and can demonstrate patterns more clearly an interesting discussion will follow.

Agreed, on the other hand, I wonder what evidence the standard narrative has. I mean, as it is in the Wikipedia article, language like the following is pure narrative:

These changes were not restricted to the third century, but took place slowly over a long period, and were punctuated with many temporary reversals. However, in spite of extensive reforms by later emperors, the Roman trade network was never able to fully recover to what it had been during the Pax Romana (27 B.C.--A.D. 180) of the first century A.D.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 03:43:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aye, there is the rub.

I still suspect finding Rostovtzeff's The Economic and Social History of the Roman Empire is the key. It is often referenced, and appears to be a cornerstone in the understanding of the time. Like in the review I mentioned:

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 95.09.07

The economy of the Roman empire remains endlessly fascinating, not least because of the broad range of evidence that can be summoned to testify. We are still very far from the day when someone will be able to write the book to replace Michael Rostovtzeff's classic but long outdated The Economic and Social History of the Roman Empire, but whoever does will owe a great debt to the work of Richard Duncan-Jones, to which Money and Government is a fitting new contribution.


A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 05:38:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the subject of coin debasement, debasement of the metal content of coins is not necessarily indicative of inflation. It could also be indicative of price stability in a growing economy with fixed metal supplies, or a monetization of the economy under fixed metal supplies. Inflation is price increases measured in the unit of account. If the unit of account is "weight of silver" then debasement of the currency would be associated with inflation. But if the unit of account is "coin of the realm," then the silver content of those coins matters not at all to the question of inflation.

Typically, there would be three levels of economic activity in pre-modern times: Local rural activity, which was almost purely barter and credit based, with no monetary transactions to speak of. Urban production and long distance trade within the same jurisdiction, where the coin of the realm is used, and international trade, where precious metals was frequently used. Computing the rate of inflation under such a diverse mix of units of account is a decidedly non-trivial (and highly political) exercise even with access to modern comprehensive trade and price data. You can fuggetabout doing it for the Roman empire.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Nov 10th, 2012 at 01:39:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We don't need the rate of inflation to have an inkling that inflation during the third century looked little like inflation during the first and second.

The paper DoDo linked uses soldier wages to get some grasp. The annual wage for a legionaire during different emperors (table 1, page 13)

Augustus (27 B.C. - A.D. 14) 150 → 225
Commodus (180-92) 300, 375
Septimius Severus (193-211) 400, 450, 500, 600
Caracalla (211-17) 600, 675, 750, 900
Maximinus Thrax (235-38) 1200, 1350, 1800
Diocletian (284-305) 7500, 12400

Using Egyptian wheat prices (table 2) they estimate annual price increases of wheat at 8-9% during the last half of the third century compared to around 1% in the two preceeding centuries.

JakeS:

On the subject of coin debasement, debasement of the metal content of coins is not necessarily indicative of inflation. It could also be indicative of price stability in a growing economy with fixed metal supplies, or a monetization of the economy under fixed metal supplies.

Which is probably what we see during a large period of the debasement (this is also argued by the authors of said paper, in contrast with the common view of a prolonged inflation), while the radical debasement in the second half of the third century was connected with inflation. That inflation presented a problem to the Roman state as its taxes were collected in fixed sums. The inflation was also a symptom of larger political problems that were probably driving down the amount of goods.

Same paper (p29):

It would appear that at the time, devastations caused by civil wars and foreign in-vasions (which led to loss of production, infrastructure, and the decline in inter-regional trade), along with a rise in barter practices, adversely affected the physical volume of transactions, T. This development would have certainly stimulated price increases, within the Equation of Exchange framework. Other factors that could have further boosted price increases are (a) an increase in the velocity of circulation, a slight or modest rise of which is conceivable; and/or (b) an influx of currency (by the Government or rival governments), which has to be explained in terms of (i) pay-rises, (ii) pay-compensations for equal reductions in provisions in kind, (iii) an expan-sion in the numbers of administrative staff, (iv) an expansion in the size of the army. Of these, item (i) is unattested, (ii) and (iii) seem unlikely during the climax of political instability/anarchy, and (iv) is plausible (even somewhat attractive) in that it allows for Diocletian to have found a larger-than- usual standing army instead of nearly doubling it (alluded in footnote 38). In short, we propose that the price increase that transpired a few decades prior to the reign of Diocletian ought to be attributed to a decline in T, and, perhaps (unmeasured, though conceivable) rises in V and M.

They also argue that Diocletian might have triggered 100% inflation in a year by doubling the value of the coins. This being the grounds for his largely failed price edict.

By and large, I think treating Roman inflation as an economic issue misses the political side. The realm was being torn asunder, this had effects on the coins of the realm.

Also to add to my theory about Christianity (which is btw not a part of the standard historical narrative) some link I followed noted that Constantine and his successors got a lot of the silver and gold they minted from the pagan temples they closed. So maybe Christianity was a good religion to embrace partly because of its relative lack of precious metals?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Nov 10th, 2012 at 04:10:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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