I'm about to be a father for an unplanned child. What should I expect?
September 19, 2004 4:14 PM   Subscribe

What should an unprepared father of an unplanned child be expecting? [more inside]

A few days ago I found out that my partner is pregnant. She wants to carry the kid to term, and I'm not entirely opposed to the idea. My questions for the unprepared fathers of unplanned kids out there: what kind of a life change should I be expecting? How expensive are newborns? Is it feasible to share custody from the start, since we have no desire to live together and certainly will never get married or even stay together for more than another year? What are the chances I'll end up resenting the kid (through no fault of it's own) for forcing an underemployed, irresponsible 23 year old into adulthood?
posted by cmonkey to Human Relations (42 answers total)
*lowers head, covers face in hands*
posted by quonsar at 5:14 PM on September 19, 2004

Resenting the kid? Probably not; it's not his fault.

Resenting the mother? I'd say your odds are about even, depending on how you and she work it out and how responsible you both are.

As to how expensive newborns are, well, how much you got? The cost of children tends to expand to consume all available income.
posted by kindall at 5:21 PM on September 19, 2004

Holy shit dude.

I was 19 when I found out I was gonna be a dad, and though I never said it out loud, I had the same kind of fears that you are talking about.

My situation was a bit different, it was my girlfriend whom I was terribly in love with (am terribly in love with), and we went old skool and get married.

When my son was born (six years ago last Friday), my life changed dramatically - I was a touring musician. I was uneducated, and was fairly immature in financial matters, but something clicked. Something changed when I saw my son. It was like instant growing up.

When my son was born, I started working at a bank, went back to school, and settled down. I could have taken the easy way out (and almost did - my wife and I seperated for a few months a few years ago), but at the end of the day, I realized that there is nothing more important.

I wont lie, it was really hard when my son was an infant, and I was up all night, working, going to school, but right now, I couldn't be happier. When my wife and I seperated, it was hard not seing my son every day, and we did everything we could to work things out (lots of counceling), and against the odds, have worked them out. We have a great relationship, I am almost done grad school, and my son is a bright, funny (and musical!) joy. Life is beautiful man.

My advice: even if you can't make it work with this girl, try. At least try everything you can to be a part of your son's life. Because even though it might be a little "hard" once in a while, you will regret nothing more when you finally mature than not being a part of this kids life.

Secondly, as far as finances go, kids are as expensive as you make them. We are lower class financially, we don't have a lot of extras for him, but somehow we just do it. There is a lot of pressure to buy lots of toys, expensive "stuff" that, as a baby, the kids couldn't give two shits about. Get everything you can (clothes, crib etc. from second hand stores and garage sales). The main weekly expenses are formula/baby food and diapers, which if I remember, was about 250 per month (which is high, because my son needed special formula)
posted by Quartermass at 5:38 PM on September 19, 2004

I honestly don't mean this to sound rude -- but it is now officially time to GROW UP and assume as much responsibility as you can. You can not resent the baby - period. And whatever your feelings towards the mother, you must do your level best to be absolutely respectful, considerate, and civil. A human life is at stake -- your actions as a father will literally have life-long repercussions for this tyke.

Best wishes to all three of you - hope everything turns out well.
posted by davidmsc at 5:40 PM on September 19, 2004

Since you'll be out of the house, I don't know if it will apply to you, but this journal from a first time father is really funny, and worth a read.

Whatever you do, don't boil the baby.
posted by willnot at 6:18 PM on September 19, 2004

I'm the significant male figure in three childrens' lives, each with a father that has buggered off. All of them WANT THEIR FATHERS. There is an emotional need there that is not satisfied by my involvement, nor the involvement of any of their mothers' year+ term partners.

Please, please, please: remain involved regularly and face-to-face with your child. Your child needs you.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:34 PM on September 19, 2004

You have a choice about how much responsibility you want to assume. You both do. If she didn't want to take on the responsibility, she could consider aborting or adopting the baby out. It's unlikely you could force her to have the baby if you wanted it and she didn't. And it's equally unlikely that she could force you to be a good father if you don't want to be. You will simply have to decide which way you want to go based on the price you're going to have to pay. If you decide to participate in the responsibility of raising the kid, you will give up time, money, flexibility. You will have to put yourself second to a screaming ball of flesh more often than you'll be able to stand. And you'll have to do whatever it takes to navigate your relationship with the child's mother and keep that functioning as well. If you decide to bail on the entire venture, you're going to have to give up any relationship with him or her (not completely but in large part - esp. if you sign away custody), you're likely going to have to part with some money. You may have some guilt to deal with, and some disapproval from others, especially if your family is interested in the kid. And you will always have this child out there, which will come to bear on any future romantic relationships you have. That last part is true either way, I guess, though it will probably be a good influence if the kid is a functional and active part of your life as opposed to some dark remnant of your past out there somewhere if you bail now.

In any case, the choice is absolutely yours, and you won't have to resent the kid at all (which is really just resenting yourself for the choice you're making) as long as you realize that it IS your choice to make. Perhaps you feel deep wells of disapproval from other people on one side or the other of this choice, but make no mistake about who's got the power to decide the future here. The rewards of having a child are many and widely-reported. You don't need to go far to hear people gush about how great it is to have offspring. You will likely be completely surprised by how wonderful it can be, and if you sign on as a parent, there will be times you will thank your lucky stars you did (as certainly as there would be times you'd be grateful for the independence of *not* signing on).

Whatever you do, don't be fooled into thinking that she's "giving you your freedom" by asking you to sign away custody rights. Your freedom is yours to do with as you wish, and when you sign those away, you're giving something up. What you get in return for those rights is whatever immunity from suit you two agree on.

Good luck making the decision. If it weren't this, it would be something else. Life is like that. And your life is going to go on. By the time the kid is 5 and actually a person, as opposed to a screaming ball of needs, you will barely be 28, a very young age, with your whole life ahead of you, and one of life's most rewarding experiences already behind you. That might actually liberate you to find your true bliss in life more than you can even imagine right now.
posted by scarabic at 6:35 PM on September 19, 2004

My ex had a kid when I was 23. I'm 28 now, and he's about to turn six. I've had full custody the whole time, and the mom pretty much abandoned him.

Stay there for him. Trust me.
posted by adampsyche at 7:27 PM on September 19, 2004

To clarify: That last question of mine was quite glib, I'm going to happily parent/raise the kid.

I'm more looking for pointers as to what to expect, since this caught me entirely off guard.
posted by cmonkey at 7:30 PM on September 19, 2004

Ok, your entire life will change. And no amount of preparation will make up for that. Sure, you can be told this and cognitively know it, but you won't realize the extent of it until your kid is born.

Expect that every decision that you make from now on will have consequences for your kid. Plan accordingly.
posted by adampsyche at 7:46 PM on September 19, 2004

Adampsyche is correct in my experience. You simply have no idea how much you have structured your life around meeting your own needs until you start to have a relationship with an infant, who has no interest in or awareness of your needs. It's kind of like when you have chronic pain, like when I broke a rib. On a regular day to day basis, you have you have no idea how much having unbroken ribs gives you, until you can no longer breath without pain, bend over without pain, sneeze, yawn, etc. Understand, a baby is not like chronic pain, but you *will* have a constant, ongoing (and I mean *really* ongoing) different relationship with the world.

Intellectually, this is so obvious. In real time, however, it's just that the baby's needs have to come first, and that means that you can't do all kinds of things that you're used to being able to do on an impulse.

I don't want to be gloomy - you also will get a lot out of having a kid. There's no other relationship that even comes close in terms of its intimacy and profound signficance. I feel like I'm a much better person for having kids. But many people I know who have kids have had moments where they are amazed that we were able to survive as a species, as the little ones can really force you to stretch yourself in some difficult and painful ways.
posted by jasper411 at 8:38 PM on September 19, 2004

Does any parent *not* have this experience of baby hijacking your life? I used to know someone who talked about his parents traveling with him and continuing their lives as they did before he was there, just with him around. Does any parent NOT have this "baby fundamentally changed structure and focus of our lives" experience, such that they adapted to the baby but then continued on with their lives, but with an additional member of the family? (Maybe gets easier after baby starts school?) Don't mean to hijack this thread, but am curious whether this experience is universal.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:45 PM on September 19, 2004

Adampsyche hit it out of the ball park. This is nothing you can prepare for.

Practical advice? Get your shit together. You are gonna have to probably find a better job than the one you have now (you said you were underemployed). Do whatever you can to start making money.

And even if you don't want the responsibility, or you don't really want to grow up, that choice has already been made for you. That doesn't mean you have to give up your lifestyle (hey - I still play in a punk band), it does mean that you are gonna have to alter it.

My supervisor at work (early thirties) has a 12 year old boy, and he and his baby-momma are estranged, and he is a party guy, likes to go out to the bars, get wasted all the time, has a new girl every week, and his parents raise his child. He is the biggest f'n loser I have ever known - mainly for this reason alone. He is the text book case of the guy who made the exact opposite choices in the same matter as I did - he choose irresponsibility over responsibility. And now, he can't figure out why his kid acts out at school and disrespects him. Trust me, you don't wanna be this guy.

By posting this, it says alot about you. You care, you are worried. You are supporting your baby-momma. Trust me, it takes care of itself.
posted by Quartermass at 8:49 PM on September 19, 2004

3 things: be there for your child. Be there for your gal. Be there for yourself. You have just made an investment in life itself, the most precious investment there is. Everything folks above have said is true, but the magical moment when you hold your child in your arms for the first time will be something you will cherish forever, trust me. And it's not all pain, the joy really does outweigh it. Have fun with your new family and good luck!
posted by Lynsey at 9:11 PM on September 19, 2004

one thing i can say as a newish dad (she is 15 months old today).
sleep while you can!
trust me on this.
posted by ShawnString at 9:24 PM on September 19, 2004

wow, fantastique question and post. All of the people i know who grew up with estranged fathers always resented them and had a hard time if they attempted to enter thier lives. I got nothin useful to add but good luck and stick to it as the pay off is VERY long term.
posted by NGnerd at 10:32 PM on September 19, 2004

Give this child up for adoption. Seriously. You are obviously nowhere close to being ready to handle any of this, and this poor kid is going to have to pay the price for the rest of its life. Do you have any idea what the odds are like against kids from single-parent families? The way it screws up their relationships all throughout their lives? Their greatly increased risk of going to prison? That they have twice as likely a chance of mental illness? Twice as likely to commit suicide? Three or four times as likely to be drug addicts? That girls in single parent families are three times as likely to have eating disorders? That almost 50% of children in single-parent homes live in poverty? That their risk for being physically abused or neglected is 77% and 87% (respectively) higher than kids in two-parent households? Hell, they're even more likely to be obese.

In almost every way possible, this kid is going to have the deck stacked against it because you couldn't be bothered to wear a condom before and can't be bothered to marry (or at least live in the same house with) its mother afterwards. Oh, I'm sorry, is that too old-fashioned a concept? Tell it to my friends, who had a lovely shotgun wedding this spring and have a son due any day now. No, but please, go back to being half-joking about resenting the kid and the mother for shit you made happen.

There are 195 wannabe parents on this website who would love to raise this child. And I bet not one of them would half-jokingly bitch that now they, y'know, actually have to do something as drastic as work for a living.

what kind of a life change should I be expecting?

Holy fuck.

Either marry the mother and suck it up, or give the kid up for adoption to some responsible people. And don't ever let your dick out of your pants without a wrapper again. Stop being a stupid, irresponsible schmuck and be a fucking man.
posted by Asparagirl at 11:00 PM on September 19, 2004

Asparagirl, unnecessarily harsh, I think. Remember that it takes two to tango. We don't know the exact circumstances surrounding conception other than that it was unplanned. The mother is as responsible for her reproductive abilities as the father and most couples have some sort of arrangement about who is in charge of the birth control. Insulting cmonkey won't help him or the child and the fact that he is concerned and seeking advice on how to change his life to better another potential life, the creation of which he had a 50% stake in, shows promise.

Nor do you have any evidence that he didn't wear a condom. They do break. Not often, it is true, but once is enough.

I don't have all the statistics (and I note you haven't backed up yours) but I do know that adoption is frequently a very bad thing for a child that can lead to just as many psychological problems down the road as being raised in a single parent home.

Get off your high horse and see the human being behind the nickname, don't assume the worst of a person just because he is at an unenviable and theoretically preventable crossroad in his life.

What kind of a life change should I be expecting? is a reasonable question. As someone who is the same age as cmonkey, does not have children and who has no plans to have children I am capable of imagining what types of changes I might have to make in my life---AND I KNOW that my imaginings must fall miserably short of the reality. Cmonkey is asking advice from people who have had similar experiences; he is not asking to be abused by a stranger who has nothing meaningful or constructive to contribute.

My own two cents, I've only known 1 adopted person who was happy. The many other adopted people I've known have been miserable wrecks with the same types of problems Asparagirl attributes to children of single parent homes. Conversely, I've know many well adjusted and people who come from single parent homes. It all depends on the parents and the relationship they have with each other and the child.
posted by Grod at 12:15 AM on September 20, 2004 [1 favorite]

Asparagirl, cut it out. You don't know cmonkey and certainly are in no position to be making judgmental assertions about anything about him, including the efficacy of his methods of birth control. (WTF?) In addition you'll probably find that many of your (uncited) "stats" on single parenthood have as much or more to do with financial status than parental status (and presumably say nothing about joint custody arrangements). Plenty of kids from single parent households -- many of them members of this site -- have turned out just fine, but will undoubtedly thank you for writing them and their relationships off so easily as "screw[ed] up . . . all throughout their lives" with "the deck stacked against" them. And will marriage really help if cmonkey and the mom don't love each other?

I take it you've never made this sort of mistake yourself, which is nice for you but hardly puts you in the position to judge cmonkey. This sort of moralizing and finger pointing is not helpful, and your old school methods of teaching by employing shame and condescention seem both mean-spirited and unhelpful. I think you are young and you think you have everything figured out, and I wonder what you will make of things after life has shot you a few more curves. (See how annoying it is when people make assumptions about you?) I'm sorry this comment is so wholly negative, but I just can't believe you could think your own comment, and its tone, is helpful or appropriate.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:19 AM on September 20, 2004 [1 favorite]

(Or what Grod said. Didn't see that.)
posted by onlyconnect at 12:21 AM on September 20, 2004

And will marriage really help if cmonkey and the mom don't love each other?

Besides that, talk about resentment! Trapping yourself in a loveless marriage is not the way to be a good, involved parent, nor is it a way to demonstrate how relationships should work to the kid, and I'd warrant that a kid's far better off with caring, involved, happy parents, regardless of where they live, than parents manacled together in misery for all of eternity because of the kid. A primary risk factor for abuse is stressed, unhappy parents.

Geez. I mean, I do think that cmonkey needs to think carefully about what he wants to do here, I also think that getting a mediator involved is a good idea, and I think that he could benefit from some counselling. But abusing the guy because he's brave enough to ask for some help with a tough issue, and quoting some suspicious-sounding stats at him with no backup is WAY more harsh than is warranted. Shotgun weddings are a fucking bad and thankfully mostly-outdated idea, I hope your friends' one works out, but marriage is not the key to good parenting you're making it out to be, especially not that kind of marriage.
posted by biscotti at 1:16 AM on September 20, 2004

Support the kid. Support the mother. A lot will depend on what you and her decide to make of your relationship. If you do live together or get married, *don't* just do it for the child. You can be an enormous support for her (and therefore, in the first few months, for the child) just by being around as much as possible and helping.

You know how you think about sex every few minutes? (Hey, you're a guy, of course you do). When your kid arrives, every other of those thoughts will now be about him/her. There will be an overwhelming desire on your part to ensure that everything is the best it possibly can be for him/her. That doesn't mean expensive toys and the like: it means care, attention, love, and *time* spent with them. Not spoiling them, but attending to them.

Just be prepared to be there for the child, and to *want* to be there for the child. The main problem I think you have in the immediate future is deciding how you and the mother will handle things between the two of you.
posted by humuhumu at 3:15 AM on September 20, 2004

Jeebus Asparagirl - project much? Fucking flip out a bit too easily over shit that doesn't affect you much? Number 1 says "Wisecracks don't help people find answers" to which I would add "Neither do insults, nor screeds".

Anyhow, on to the question. Other people have said it, but I will say it again: yes, babies are/can be expensive. They will take up a large portion of what you earn, however much or little that may be. But, the time is more important than the money. Remember that. Nobody ever said "Man, I wish my dad would have just gone to the fucking office. We needed the cash more than we needed the picnics, tickle-time, stories and all that mushy shit."
posted by Irontom at 5:33 AM on September 20, 2004 [1 favorite]

Beautifully put, Irontom.
posted by taz at 6:36 AM on September 20, 2004

Get a lawyer-written agreement between you and the mother.
Say goodbye to 20% of your income for the next 18 years.
posted by mischief at 7:35 AM on September 20, 2004

Be there for the birth, if you can. It will probably change your life, and the way that you feel about your child. Another money saving tip - encourage the mother to breastfeed. Formula is expensive and unnecessary in most cases.
posted by grateful at 7:55 AM on September 20, 2004

Get a lawyer-written agreement between you and the mother.

Absolutely. Especially since you (cmonkey) say:-

we have no desire to live together and certainly will never get married or even stay together for more than another year

This means you either need to agree LEGAL joint custody, or have sole custody awarded to yourself or the mother. If you do agree that one person has sole custody, you must bear in mind that the non-custodial parent will have no realistic enforcement of visitation orders. In plain English, you guys had better have an adult, mature understanding between each other. I'm just saying this because your relationship doesn't sound the most rock-solid at the moment (I would love you to prove me otherwise with a follow-up post in a year's time - seriously).

Asparagirl, I agree with your sentiments regarding single-parent families, and the detrimental effect this has on children raised in one, but you shout out your opinion in a very non-helpful way. This isn't the thread to judge people on.
posted by SpaceCadet at 8:31 AM on September 20, 2004

cmonkey - the two of you might want to look into an open adoption. In an open adoption, the birth parents maintain a relationship with the child and the adoptive parents. Sounds like this could be a good compromise for you, especially since it doesn't sound like either one of you are really ready for this.
posted by lilboo at 8:31 AM on September 20, 2004

I will second everything Quartermass has said, his experience nearly mirrors my own (dude, I'd like to buy you a beer some time). Becoming a parent made me an adult: I don't even consider the changes I've made on his behalf to be "sacrifices". I'm proud to say that he's the happiest child I've ever known (also, if you'll excuse a bit of fatherly bragging, the smartest)... the fact that he's surrounded by people who love and care about him probably has a lot to do with that.

Ignore Aspargirl: her comments are neither correct nor appropriate. There's absolutely no reason two loving parents can't raise a happy, well-adjusted kid, as long as both are willing to make their child their top priority.
posted by Eamon at 8:32 AM on September 20, 2004

Oh my God, what a bitch! Quick, Magenta, flip the switch!
posted by scarabic at 8:53 AM on September 20, 2004

Well I see you have had the philosophical advice, now let me give you some practical, solid ideas on how your life will change.

1. The sleep thing was mentioned above, but until you have lived through it you have no idea how hard sleep deprivation makes the rest of your life. At times you will feel foggy, crazed, and incapable of coherent thought. You may have trouble with your memory.

2. You know that high school experiment with the kids forced to carry around a sack of flour? If you are the primary care giver, that is your life. The baby must be watched, carried, fed, changed, bathed, and so forth 24 hours a day. Need to run to the store for milk? Want to catch that new movie? Want to go for a quick jog? Make arrangements. And take note how much easier this part is when there are two of you to switch off.

3. Get ready to change diapers. Get ready for the horrifying smell and the outrageous expense. Get ready to do this in public. Get ready for 12 to 20 changes a day. Get ready for the day when you put on a clean diaper only to have them poop in it immediately.

4. Transportation is so much easier in the womb. Developing back pain from carrying them around in a baby sling, you will dream of the day when they can go in the stroller. Wrestling with the evil stroller and the toddler who no longer wants to ride you will dream of the day when the child can walk on his/her own two feet. Firmly grasping the wrist of the three year old who drags her/ his feet or wants to run away you will remember fondly back to the days of the newborn snuggled up in the baby carrier.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:15 AM on September 20, 2004 [1 favorite]

"Developing back pain from carrying them around in a baby sling, you will dream of the day when they can go in the stroller."

I thought babies could always be put in a stroller.
posted by agregoli at 11:41 AM on September 20, 2004

Okay, on reflection, my previous comment was indeed callous and out of line. cmonkey, I owe you an apology. You came to Ask.MeFi looking for advice about a sensitive topic and you got Snarky McBitchface over here. I'm sorry.

But please, please, consider marrying the child's mother, or choosing to place the baby with adoptive parents. Single parenthood has extremely serious repercussions for the child's life, and yours, and the child's mother. You should talk with a counselor, or a priest/minister/rabbi if you're at all religious. This is a Big Deal, and I know I shouldn't condescend to say that to a man approaching fatherhood, but reading questions on Ask.MeFi that amount to "baby on the way, now what?" is pretty shocking.

And to touch on some other subjects...

"adoption is frequently a very bad thing for a child that can lead to just as many psychological problems down the road as being raised in a single parent home."

I haven't been able to find a single study that says this, save for reports about developmentally-delayed kids rescued at toddler-age from Romanian orphanages, and the like.

"In addition you'll probably find that many of your (uncited) "stats" on single parenthood have as much or more to do with financial status than parental status"

A whopping five minutes of Googling on "single parent risK" (sans quotes) could give you those same stats (sans quotes), and more. As for the poverty issue, one recent study of one million children over ten years in the Swedish medical journal The Lancet shows that many of the detrimental attributes of single-parenting are independent of the family's financial conditions:
"Lead author Gunilla Ringback Weitoft, from Sweden's National Board for Health and Welfare, said the health of children from single-parent homes suffered because they were usually poorer.

"Growing up in a single-parent family is associated with increased risks of a variety of severe health outcomes," she said. "Lack of household resources plays a major part."

However, their findings stood even when they adjusted for socio-economic status and other confounding factors such as parental addiction or mental illness."
And other studies back that up. Four decades of research from countries from Sweden to Australia to the US, and from the Census Bureau to medical journals, it all says the same thing: kids in single-parent homes are at a lifelong disadvantage compared to their two-parent-household peers. It doesn't even matter what gender(s) the parents are; the children of two gay parents turn out pretty much the same as the children of two straight parents. It's the two part that matters, in a big way.

"And will [shotgun] marriage really help if cmonkey and the mom don't love each other?"

Help who, the child? Yes, absolutely. Help the probability that the mother won't sink below the poverty line? Yes, that too. Or, as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services puts it:
"Lerman also presents a variety of multivariate results on the relationship of initial family status to subsequent family status, controlling for numerous related factors. Mothers who marry early (any time prior to one year following the child’s birth.) are notably less likely to spend time later as single parents compared to mothers who cohabit. Further analyses show marriages that occur after pregnancy but prior to birth (shotgun marriages) are only marginally less beneficial compared to conventional marriages (marriages occurring prior to pregnancy) in terms of reducing time spent as a single parent...Among women who experienced their first pregnancy outside of marriage, those who married prior to the birth (shotgun marriage) were about 38 percent better off than women who did not marry."
I strongly suggest reading the whole paper. Shotgun marriages may suck--but they're also the right thing to do, from whatever angle you want to look at the long-term results (moral? economic? physical health? mental health? academic success? likelihood of the child being able to have a stable relationship/marriage in later life?) My friends, to take the anecdotal example, are pretty scared, especially with the due date just days away. The guy is only a year older than cmonkey and has six more years of intensive schooling ahead of him. And yet the simple but painful choice to get hitched ensures that their son is not going to be exposed to a hugely increased risk of poverty and neglect--nevermind abuse, alcoholism, academic problems and even asthma, just to start with the A's here.

I'm glad that there are single parents here whose kids have turned out well. Maybe people who read MetaFilter are just more likely to have healthy, well-adjusted kids. But in the real world, the vast majority of the time, this simply isn't the case, and it's irresponsible (though tactless) not to point that out.
posted by Asparagirl at 11:49 AM on September 20, 2004

Correction: the million-child study in The Lancet was conducted over eight and nine years, not ten. (PubMed abstract)
posted by Asparagirl at 11:58 AM on September 20, 2004

cmonkey, you say you don't want to live with your partner, so I'd suggest a compromise - that you live as close as you can stand it. That might mean that you live with her until the baby's a year old, in separate bedrooms if you like. It might mean you rent a house together and that you set up a separate apartment for yourself in the basement. It might mean that you live next door. Or on the next block. You'll just have to decide what level of physical proximity you and your partner can handle.

The idea is to be physically present in your child's life for as much time as possible without making you and your partner unhappy enough to negatively affect the child.
posted by orange swan at 12:16 PM on September 20, 2004

Asparagirl, well I think you've redeemed yourself on this thread, which is a good thing, because I believe your point of view is valid.

Children growing up in a single parent family are at a general disadvantage. There is no substitute for a mother. There is no substitute for a father. Nowadays it is possible to use the government as a surrogate parent; the government is the "enabler", as are the socialist liberals who prefer government nanny states over strong families. Perhaps that allows for an easier environment in which to socially engineer their warped ideas of utopia.
posted by SpaceCadet at 12:25 PM on September 20, 2004

My own two cents, I've only known 1 adopted person who was happy.

Thanks Grod (I think).
posted by shepd at 12:34 PM on September 20, 2004

My one bit of advice: Be a man of your word.

I mean this - If you say you are coming over on Saturday to take cmonkey jr. out to the park, Show Up!
Don't make promises you can't / won't keep.

You would be surprised how early children start to remember things and how much unreliability will affect your child's relationship with you and how in turn it will affect their relationships with other people.

Never underestimate your impact on your child because it will be massive, it is up to you whether it will be positive or negative.
posted by Julnyes at 1:10 PM on September 20, 2004

Asparagirl re adoption risks: I haven't been able to find a single study that says this, save for reports about developmentally-delayed kids rescued at toddler-age from Romanian orphanages, and the like.

Really? I put in "adoption studies risks" and came up with something linked from the first google page. I won't quote it here because I don't want to go all negative on adoption, but it does indicate that it is well known and long researched that adoption is not without its risks.

A whopping five minutes of Googling on "single parent risK" (sans quotes) could give you those same stats (sans quotes), and more. As for the poverty issue, one recent study of one million children over ten years in the Swedish medical journal The Lancet shows that many of the detrimental attributes of single-parenting are independent of the family's financial conditions

Funny, though, the very first result of your google search does put most of the focus on poverty, not single parenthood: However, recent reviews criticize the methodology of many of these studies which support the "deviant" model of single-family structures. Confounding variables, such as income and social class, explain a large portion of the negative findings. When income is considered, substantially fewer differences arise between the intellectual development, academic achievement, and behavior of children in single-parent and two-parent families. Lack of income has been identified as the single most important factor in accounting for the differences in children from various family forms (Casion, 1982; Lindblad-Goldberg, 1989; Amato & Keith, 1991). This result also involves a study of children in the United States (where cmonkey lives), not Sweden. Single parenthood may come with its problems, but they are almost completely subsumed by the bigger problem of poverty, and the poverty factor is really the locus of most of the negative effects you are reporting. And I *still* am not sure what any of these studies says about joint custody.

These two facts suggest to me you're cherrypicking your statistics.

Not that it's not good to come from a loving two parent family. Perhaps cmonkey and his SO are in love, or can fall in love through this experience. But barring love, perhaps a joint custody agreement and a real commitment to stay involved is not such a poor option.

I like orange swan's idea about living very nearby if you decide you can't live together. Logistically, you won't be able to help each other easily if you are miles away from each other. But I don't have kids and can't really advise on this except in analyzing the sociological evidence.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:28 PM on September 20, 2004

Not that it's not good to come from a loving two parent family.

onlyconnect, in general, do you agree that have two loving parents is better than having one loving parent? I'm sure people can show exceptions to this general rule, but the general rule is still true. To me it's seems bleedin' obvious.

Two arguing parents that so obviously can't live under the same roof are still parents. The problem today is that divorce/sole custody awards can so easily lead to the non-custodial parent being permanently removed from his/her children.

But barring love, perhaps a joint custody agreement and a real commitment to stay involved is not such a poor option.

Absolutely. Custody should not be a black and white thing, such as one parent winning sole custody and the other is pushed out of the child's life. In that situation, the problems that await children that Asparagirl speaks of are more of a likelihood.

I don't want to divert this thread on giving cmonkey advice, but I think it's good to discuss the potential problems of visitation and access to his child in the event that his partner wins sole custody. Bottom line: cmonkey, if you are not going to live together with your partner, joint custody would seem to be the best option for you, your partner.....and your child.
posted by SpaceCadet at 1:39 AM on September 21, 2004

As you can see, cmonkey, you are going to get a lot of social-pressure, moralistic theatre pieces that may or may not apply to your situation. I gather from your asking about resentment that this emotion has already emerged. Only you can evaluate what is best for you and your relationship with this child (are you sure it's yours?).

You may decide that the best path is the exact opposite of what many here recommend: that is, paying your 20%, moving as far away as possible, and developing yourself to the best of your ability without distraction so that you can be ready when the kid needs something more. Don't listen to society's outrage if you decide to buck the system and maintain your responsibility in a manner that works best for you.
posted by mischief at 7:56 AM on September 21, 2004

I think it's also worth noting that cmonkey has made it clear that both he and his partner will be sharing responsibility for the child. I don't think many of the typical problems associated with single-parent homes would apply in this situation, though I'd be surprised if any studies were done toward this end. If this kid has two loving parents, it probably won't matter much if they live together.
posted by Eamon at 9:50 AM on September 21, 2004

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