Tuesday, April 15, 2008

This and That

I am trying to follow what is happening in this massive Texas Child Protective Services fiasco. While I am disturbed by the fact that the FLDS sect forces underage girls into marriage, and by the obvious pedophilia involved, I have to admit to also feeling extremely sorry for the way these women and children have been treated by the authorities. The talk of these woman being stripped of their parental rights frightens me. The foster care system is wrought with problems, and these children may fare no better, and possibly worse, going from foster home to foster home. Chances are if the children end up with attachment disorder, which is very common in foster children, few people will be coming forward to adopt them. Most adoptive parents are looking for a child they can bond with. Once attachment disorder sets in, it is very difficult to cure.

At the same time, I understand that pressure has to be put on such groups, so that they will eventually drop practices that are illegal. Laws exist to protect, and if we make exceptions in this case, where do we draw the line as a society? The sad truth is that one in five girls are sexually abused in America. Sad statistic. If these sect girls are put in the foster system, they may suffer sexual abuse anyway, and possibly at a higher rate than the usual 20% societal rate.

I listened to and read a few excerpts from people who have escaped these sects, and they talk about sect women just being property, forced to follow directions and not think for themselves. This is disturbing, yes. There's no question.

But I am also disturbed by the feeling in our society that if a girl just wants to "get married and be a mom" then she's surely just stupid, or there's something else wrong with her. She must be the victim of brainwashing, society surmises. From my perspective, being married and raising children is a wonderful thing. Some women don't need, or desire, outside pursuits to complete them. Marriage/motherhood is rich, and there is nothing wrong with it being all that a girl or woman is interested in.

I want my children to have minds of their own - to think for themselves - but I also want them to be mindful that the Bible does not exalt individual rights, the way society does. Individuality has become the god of our world. It is partly to blame for moral relativism, which is robbing our nation of emotional and spiritual health. Society has no standards - no absolutes - with which to ground its children and give them a foundation they can build upon. Children are left to find their own way, with disastrous results.

Child Protective Services feels like it is doing these children an invaluable service, obviously. But I can't support taking the children away from their mothers, especially given that it is apparently the men of the sect who are guilty of crimes, rather than the women. Can we really say these women are unfit mothers? After all, when a girl in the general society is abused by her father, do we take away the parental rights of her mother?

Separating these women and children will not accomplish the disbanding of this particular polygamist sect. The women will go back and just have more children. I don't know that we can conceivably rid our nation of polygamists, anymore than we can rid it of pedophiles or prostitutes or adulterers. Despite similar raids on polygamists three other times in this century, the practice continues; scholars say it only gets stronger and more stringent in its control of members, as a result of such raids.

I don't know what the answers are. I don't think the court system will know either, when it is faced with making decisions about the lives of each of these children. It seems like such a lose-lose situation, especially if the children are not offered on-going counseling, which is most assuredly going to be necessary to successfully transition and thrive outside of cult life. And even if that is offered across the board, will their hearts ever mend over losing their mothers? Mothers who were, in most cases, probably loving, even if brainwashed?

This post is all over the place, I know. It's late and I'm tired. The whole thing just brings up so many societal issues, and so little in the way of answers.


Evenspor said...

That was an amazing post, Pam! Thanks for all of the things to think about.

DebinCA said...

Ok...so I decided to actually get an identity since I have left a couple of comments anonymously. I was just lazy before and did not want to take the time to get a username. I enjoy your blog and have been faithly reading.

Your post regarding these women and children are definitely the same thoughts running through my head. Why does the state feel they can do a better job (then their mothers) raising these children? I just don't agree with tearing the children from their moms.

Also, The 1 in 5 abuse statistic scares me as I have two daughters!