– “Doctor…It’s tough living under the same roof sometimes—we’re doing it for the kids.”
Kim X. is a very nice middle-aged nurse that has been separated from her husband for a few months already; they decided to stop their relationship because they weren’t in love anymore. They did it on good financial terms and decided to stay in separate rooms of the same house; considering that their two children are only 5 and 10 years old, they are threading carefully. For the time being they have reached an “entente cordiale” where they discreetly pursue their loving affairs outside the house but inside it they both emotionally support their young ones every day.
She confided that fact to me because she knew that I have been separated from “the mother of my children” since the beginning of the millennia but we have stayed very close all the time, with some ups and downs of course. Our two children were very small then and we made the conscious decision to relegate our personal lives a little in order to keep a watchful eye on them. I recently saw “Wind River”, an action film where the main character suffered because his daughter had been assassinated by a straggler when he had been fulfilling his duties as an Alaska park ranger. He admonished the female FBI agent that was helping him: “when you have kids, you can’t even blink. Not once.”
A few days ago, I listened to a panel discussion in “France Inter”, the leading private radio operator in France, where they discussed precisely this cohabitation arrangement. In general, the French have been quite permissive in their sexual and loving relationships, never doubting to change their spouses and or companions at the slightest hint of marital malfunction. However, the recent experience of thousands of young women, many of them working poor and members of Minority groups, has rekindled this perennial question: “do women need men to raise kids?”
Of course, they don’t, all the panelists agreed. But the presence of “the father figure” is needed. Most of the ladies confessed that raising a male child with a lot of love and dedication sometimes produced uncontrollable brats that felt entitled to anything. “Mom will give it to me” they said. The limits set by the vigilant presence of “the father” helped the youngster learn some basic civic virtues like respect and tolerance of the others, so necessary in our convulsed modern times. They even suggested that the rising crime rate of the “quartiers peripheriques” full of immigrants from Northern Africa and Eastern Europe could be countenanced by more social services. The present configuration of Paris entails the creation of a peripheral circumvoluting road that keeps those “undesirables” out of the more sanitized, clean and touristy “centre de la ville.”
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.