Standard Deviants - Ep 48 - How Life Works

In today's episode, Mike (@MikeKatsimrbis) and Brett (@SherwoodBrett) discuss how coupling/parenting could work in the future. But, first, Brett consoles Mike as to how he'll never be cool. (Recorded February 3, 2015)

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(Recorded February 3, 2015)


Sibajou said…
Why don't comments on here work
Sibajou said…
Okay, so I previously had written a response to this that was not successfully published. Let's see if I can paraphrase my original thoughts:

The last 20 minutes of this podcast made me a little sick to my stomach ...

The idea that someone would bring a child into the world with the pre-conceived plan to later find another "co-parent" who is better suited to raising them with you is completely selfish. While it may be successful for some who already find themselves in that situation, marriage is certainly a damned institution if we were to readily accept this practice. This notion should not even come into play, if we would first look at the real reasons why marriage does not seem to work. We could just throw our hands up in surrender that the statistics do not lie, however, we should instead find more value in the idea that marriage is meant to be everlasting. Of course there are situations where a marriage should end, but too much lenience is given as a society since "well, more than half end in divorce." In some cases this is seen as acceptable and some may decide to "cop-out" instead of at least trying to make it work.

My thoughts above may be scattered, however, the conclusion is thus:

If we were to first attempt to mend societal views on marriage and divorce, which most people agree should come before having children, then the rest of the equation should fall into place. Fewer children would be confused, caught in the middle of custody battles, emotionally distraught, among other longer lasting consequences. Consequences of what you ask? The selfishness of their parents who should have taken the time to think before bringing them into a less than ideal situation.

Or, on the flip-side perhaps marriage is not supposed to work being that humans seem to be the only creature who attempts to practice monogamy. And in that case, it's everyone for themselves. Do as you please!
While you and I are on the same side of the argument, I must admit I'm intrigued at the route you've taken with such vigor.

Firstly, "should," is always a strong word to use. However, you're right in your context to use it. That context though seems to be defending the construct of marriage. I, frankly, do not give a damn about marriage no further than I love my wife. To wit, I care about her, and marriage is something we did, but I don't care that she and I are married as long as I'm with Mandi.

My example to counter Brett, and I doubt I laid it out like this in the podcast, is that there is rejection here to be had regarding Brett's theory. At least for me. In this scenario, I'm either rejected because I won't be seen as a fit parent. Or, (and more likely if this kind of scenario ever played out) I would be rejected physically/genetically by being seen as ONLY a good parent. Brett's theory I feel provides an immediate dichotomy of "this is how I see you, and what you're good for in terms of parenting."

In regards to the outcome of the children themselves, I wish you were there in episode 37. I find this sentence of yours peculiar though, "The selfishness of their parents who should have taken the time to think before bringing them into a less than ideal situation." Because Brett's theory still takes the child outcomes into account. It would seem as though your view is "Who cares if people don't find Mike attractive, HE'S the one who would be a good parent." If only the world worked that way.

I think Brett correctly sees that the world works in an attraction-first manner (attraction that is about developing a strong child, not a child with that's going to have a "great" dad; although other studies show it's not a clear win ONLY for attractiveness). Brett's theory, as much as even I dislike it, does take this dynamic into account, whether he meant to, or not. His theory creates a solution (with rejection as I mentioned; part of my rebuttal to it) between how human/parent bonding happens BEFORE a child is conceived and AFTER.
Unknown said…
It's going to be a multi-installment response thanks to character limits....

I really should apologize if my theory indeed made you sick to your stomach. I hope you understand that was never my intention. What I said was not for shock value or to begin an argument on the way marriage "should" be seen. I was genuinely thinking out loud about if there is a problem with the current arrangement of partnering/procreating and, if so, is there a different way to look at it. That's something Mike and I try to base the show on. I think you can clearly see in this case, how my theory was not a researched topic for an episode, but rather a thought experiment that popped up in the course of our conversation. I agree with Mike's assessment that marriage is only as valuable as two people choose to make it in regards to their love for one another. If we're to value marriage any higher, as an institution, then I think we have to ask the difficult questions about why we do that. So in this case, why is our current standard of marriage the optimal institution for partnering and making children? I'm not saying it's not the best way; I'm just curious to explore that.

First though, I should establish some background. Mike and I have a lot of conversations and they're not always recorded. So sometimes I'm spinning off of something he and I already discussed with no regard for whether the audience is privy to the context. It's a bit cavalier I suppose, so my apologies. In this instance, I was actually thinking about a conversation Mike and I had, literally years ago. We were talking about the difference in marriage as a religious sacrament vs. marriage as a legal contract. I won't go into depth on that conversation, but the pertinent part here is that we both wondered if the best thing to do would be to just accept that some people get married purely as a contractual partnership. I mean, we already do basically accept it when you think about it. Celebrity marriages seem like this sort of arrangement sometimes. Now, I'm sure you'll argue that you don't like that either, and I would really agree with you. But I've made peace that it's just not the same sort of marriage as what I would want. And once I realized I'm OK with that different kind of marriage as its own construct, it opened the discussion to another idea - one that I would consider a stepping stone to the thoughts I shared in this episode.

Mike and I began talking about young people who have not yet met the person they want to marry (assuming they want to find someone they love and marry), but they want to enjoy the state incentives of marriage. Should they be allowed to enter into a marriage with a friend? Perhaps someone who is basically a good business partner? Obviously, people have the right to do this, whether fans of more traditional marriages like it or not. So then the question becomes, if this is perfectly legal, is there a market for it? Not that we were looking to make it crude or anything, but is there enough incentive in being married (not just tax incentives, but things like splitting of household duties, sharing of resources, emotional support, each partner having the chance to specialize in their responsibilities, etc.) to forgo the opportunity of a more traditional marriage built on love? I agree that the traditional marriage construct most of us were raised with is the one we would all prefer, but let's be honest, there's not much that's "traditional" about it. When you look at the history of marriage, the ideal of two people falling in love and choosing to spend their lives together is still in its infancy. Women even being treated enough as equals to enter into that sort of partnership of their own accord is fairly new. So it's not exactly crazy to think of two people forming a marital partnership that benefits both of them but is not built on what has become the commonly accepted perception of marriage.
Unknown said…
As I said, that was the stepping stone for me. If not all marriages are part of a religious sacrament, then could a different sort of acceptable marriage be the answer to a developing shift in our culture? The shift I'm talking about is mainly the result of people remaining in school longer. We tell kids the most important thing is their education and career and they should focus on that. But then they are supposed to finish school and find a spouse and have kids, and the time frame they're given is shrinking. Something has to give in the equation. So perhaps people get married while they're still finishing school. Perhaps they focus on finding a spouse more than a career. Or perhaps they relax their standards when finding a partner. And that's really where this thought experiment comes into play.

If young people relax their standards on finding a partner, they can choose someone that fits into their life, be it school or work or whatever, and have a baby with them during the time they are at their peak age for making said baby. But that person may not fit into their life down the road in the same way. So would it be best to accept that some people get married for the purpose of procreating and remove the stigma of their later divorce? Would removing the stigma give them better incentive to make babies when biology is telling them to do so rather than waiting to find the partner that meets all their needs, present and future, and having those children later in life when there's a larger risk of complication? I'm genuinely asking these questions. I'm not saying this theory is going to solve anything, let alone everything. I just wondered if it would be best to remove some of the stigma about divorces in cases where the couple mostly got married because there was attraction at the time and reason enough to make babies.

Ultimately, you're right to bring up the question of what is best for the children. I agree that there are cases where the parents are selfish about WANTING a baby rather than believing they are bringing one into the best environment possible. I don't know how to solve that problem, but I don't believe you do it by forcing couples who are bad partners, bad co-parents, and had a baby for selfish reasons in the first place to then stay together for the good of the kids. I have, however, seen parents that were better co-parents when they no longer had to be married to each other; when they accepted that they didn't work as spouses, but could work together as parents still, they discovered genuine purpose to their lives and justification for why they were ever together in the first place. So again, I'm not positing an answer, but genuinely asking would it be better to go one step further and say this is a "thing". Would we all benefit by accepting that some people just got together to have kids and now they need to find different relationships that are more fulfilling to them and cause less strife in the lives of their children?
Unknown said…
It comes down to this question: Why do people get married? Is it to satisfy their needs for the life they want or is it to create the right structure for child-rearing to perpetuate our species? I don't know and I assume it's different for everyone. My theory suggested that different kinds of marriages could provide different results. Just as we accept some marriages are business partnerships while others are modern day fairy tales and others still are solid bonds of love that take hard work, we COULD also accept that some marriages are there to create the best offspring while others are there to best raise said offspring and others still are attempting to do both. Actually, let me clarify something on that: you call this "my theory" but I don't see it that way. A theory is something I'm championing as fact but still collecting evidence for. I don't have a bias on this enough to call it my theory. It's at best a hypothesis. I'm sure there are better ways to solve the cultural shift we are in and continue to procreate and raise children to be fit adults. I was just asking a question to see if it led the conversation towards less radical and more effective theories.

As far as Mike's reaction to the theory, it's exactly why I'm glad I brought it up. In the three seconds I thought about the question before I asked it, I did not consider his theory that it would make people feel rejected. They're either going to feel like the attractive, unfit parent or the ugly dad of the year. I wouldn't want that, and going from memory, I think I looked for ways around it in the episode. As someone who is about to get married to someone else who already has a child, I would have to pull from my own bias here, but I think this might explain my belief: I do not feel as attractive as I felt when I was younger, but I also know I am much better equipped to help raise a child now than when I was younger, so overall I actually feel more attractive today. I know Mike is speaking purely in terms of physical attraction and maybe it's difficult for me to differentiate, but as someone who falls on the "ugly father of the year" end of his spectrum, I don't feel that way one bit. I feel like the right person for the right person at the right time. Ideally, even the guy on the "attractive, unfit parent" end of the spectrum is able to feel like the right person, for the right person, at the right time in exactly the same way.

But to finish with more of a response to the original post, I understand that you likely agree that bad marriages shouldn't continue just for the sake of the kids, but that you don't want to institute a notion that people can walk into marriages with that idea in mind in the first place. You also don't want those kinds of people being selfish when it comes to their reasons for having kids. I guess the response is simple though: they already do. Whether you like it or not, plenty of people go into marriage with the understanding that it might not be forever and plenty of people have kids for no other reason than they want to and never give a thought for what will actually be best for those kids. So I'm just asking if we can do anything about that? If it's going to happen even when there is stigma over it, then maybe the stigma isn't working. Maybe the stigma is actually doing more harm than good by keeping bad marriages together (and possibly hurting kids in the process). Perhaps removing the stigma gives people a way to save face in divorce and reason to believe they can be better co-parents to their kids and find more fulfilling relationships with new partners?

Like I said, just a thought.

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