Those of us who take parenting seriously, agonizing over whether or not to feed on demand, hold those with late birthdays back for a year, monitor their TV and computer time and eliminate trans-fats from their diets find it incomprehensible that of the fifty-three teenage girls taken from a polygamist compound in west Texas, thirty-one either are pregnant or have already had children.
No less incredulous and horrifying is the account of the seventy-three-year-old Austrian father who just confessed to imprisonment, sexual abuse and incest after it was discovered that he’d kept one of his daughters imprisoned in the basement for twenty-four years, where she gave birth to seven of his children, some of whom had never been out of the dungeon. This took place with him and his wife living upstairs. Did they never hear a crying baby below? Living in a New York apartment building, I’m curious where they got such effective sound insulation. And how was their trash carted out?
The debates over whether or not spankings are ever justified or if teenagers should be permitted a glass of wine at the family dinner table seem laughable in the face of parents who enable or are involved in sexual encounters with their children. I have questions about the moms, both the Austrian one and the polygamist ladies. Even if they never read Dr. Spock or Penelope Leach and didn’t have the benefit of Mommy & Me classes, where was the maternal instinct? Elephants and other wild animals display more caring and nurturing. Our first responsibility is to protect our children. How can this be happening?