“The New Normal” is anything but

A new show on NBC this fall is called “The New Normal.”

NBC explains that “these days, families come in all forms – single dads, double moms, sperm donors, egg donors, one-night-stand donors… It’s 2012 and anything goes. Bryan and David are a Los Angeles couple, and they have it all. Well, almost. With successful careers and a committed, loving partnership, there is one thing that this couple is missing: a baby. And just when they think the stars will never align, enter Goldie, an extraordinary young woman with a checkered past. A Midwestern waitress and single mother looking to escape her dead-end life and small-minded grandmother, Goldie decides to change everything and move to L.A. with her precocious eight-year-old daughter. Desperate and broke – but also fertile – Goldie quickly becomes the guys’ surrogate and quite possibly the girl of their dreams. Surrogate mother, surrogate family. (Emphasis added)

So, is NBC right? Is parenthood or family in any form really “the new normal”?

No, certainly not.

Simply because it is 2012 does not mean that “anything goes.” That’s a really immature and dangerous perspective on sexual relationships, through which children are often conceived.  But these producers know that showing babies born to “one-night-stand donors” isn’t going to tug on the heartstrings of America. And so we learn that these men are in a “committed, loving relationship,” as if this is the key to gay parenthood. And these guys have it all, except for “one” thing that’s “missing” – a baby. Now, most things aren’t missing until they are lost and it’s important to recognize that two people of the same sex never lost the ability to have a baby, because they never had it in the first place.

Might this seem sad? Certainly. It is also sad when a married couple wants a baby and they’re infertile, or a single woman really wants to be a mom but never marries or has kids. It is sad when someone desires a child and can’t conceive… but children are gifts and not privileges.

Kids deserve a mom and a dad as nature guarantees them. Adults taking up the “right” to having children however they choose does not trump the right of a child to have a mom and a dad – a mom and a dad who provide maternal and paternal gifts that cannot be interchanged or replaced.

So, to get that child they want, the men turn to an “extraordinary woman.” Who, in the trailer is described as “an easy-bake oven with no legal rights to the cupcake.” Is that the kind of “extraordinary” that women should strive to become? Of course, the reason that all is well is that she wants to make money as a surrogate to provide a better life for her 8-year-old daughter. Recently, I read about a woman who prostituted herself when she was broke and 6 months pregnant to save up money to support her baby. Is she “extraordinary” too?

Simultaneously, this character is escaping her “dead-end life” and her “small-minded” grandmother. No doubt, the woman is small minded. She is racist, crude, and of course, seems to hate homosexual people. And speaking of her own child, in the first seconds of the show’s trailer, she says, “I thought [my baby] was a fibroid tumor. By the time I figured it out, she had a face and I was screwed.” I’m not so blind as not to see that these producers are portraying people like me (who believe in natural marriage and family) as this woman: hateful, aggressive and “small-minded.” How sad.

In reality, the small minds we ought to be desperately concerned about are ones like Shania’s, the 8-year-old daughter. She is an 8-year-old who will have a half-sibling conceived as a commodity. She is an 8-year-old who is more likely to drop out of school and become a single mom herself because she doesn’t have a father in her life. She is an 8-year-old who won’t understand real love, because her mom can’t even define it. “Love is love,” as she says in the trailer.

Shows like this fog up the truth about love, marriage and family, painting a picture of what could be. But the truth is that… this can’t be.


17 thoughts on ““The New Normal” is anything but

  1. “And so we learn that these men are in a “committed, loving relationship,” as if this is the key to gay parenthood.” Why not? I think that’s the key to any parenthood. If the couple is described as such, its likely to assume they will raise their child in a loving home, teaching them right from wrong, appreciation of others and ones own personal value. You say that a mother and father cannot be matched in quality. I think that’s a little bit of blind optimism. What about children who have fathers who abuse them or molest them? I’d choose a gay couple with wholesome morals over an abusive straight couple any day.

    I understand your viewpoints on most of what you’re saying. I don’t necessarily agree but I can see where you’re coming from. But those two points just bothered me.

    • @Katy – I appreciate that you pointed up the equivocation of “missing”. So often our heartstrings are pulled when a passionate orator equivocates and we miss the sleight of hand (whether deliberate or inadvertent).

      @Shannon – It could be the much greater equivocation relates to “committed” in the phrase you highlighted. What does that word conjure up, but feelings of stability and permanence? Yet relationships between gay partners are characterized and known for their impermanence and transitory nature. It is no stretch to say that it is one of the most predictable traits of such relationships and is an inescapable part of larger gay culture. What does the word “committed” truly mean within such a context? It seems the word is being borrowed from another context and the author is trying to give it a home in a context which would otherwise be foreign to it (“The New Committed”?). Knowing that, it seems a fair observation (above) that in a relationship between a bloke and a lass, there is a biological commitment (“Kids deserve a mom and a dad as nature guarantees them”) that is lacking in “the new normal”.

      I don’t live there now, but I was raised in California. I find the legal side of changing marriage laws in California most intriguing:

      – A 30-year forecast for the new parenting laws in Oakland, California

      – “Why California’s Three-Parent Law Was Inevitable” (http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/09/6197)

      Thank you for writing on this topic,


    • I’d choose a gay couple with wholesome morals over an abusive straight couple any day.

      Of course, we are presented in this scenario with the “ideal” gay couple. What is the “average” gay couple? And how can they teach “right from wrong” when in a very profound sense, they are wrong from the get go – treating a child as a commodity, a consumer good, the latest accoutrement (note, there are many straight couples that do the same thing). You say you’d take the best of A over the worst of B, but would you take the “normal” of A over the “normal” of B?

  2. Pingback: Sacred Music Marriage Tolerance Jesus Wife The New Normal | Big Pulpit

  3. I think [a loving committed relationship is] the key to any parenthood

    It is helpful, but not the key. The key is complete sacrificial love for the other, in this case, the child (in other words, wanting the child for the child’s sake, not as some self-fulfillment wish). It is certainly not unheard of for one spouse to agree to have children not because he or she wants children for their own sake, but only because the other spouse wants them and he/she is “loving and committed” to that spouse. Not the best “key” to parenthood.

  4. I don’t agree with the shows premise that it’s ok for a woman to sell her child to another couple of any sexual orientation. In fact, I think it is her morals that should be in question more than any couple who would consider adopting that child from her.
    @David – Why does a gay relationship automatically mean impermanence? I’ve known of many, many gay couples who were together for decades upon decades despite not being allowed to legally marry. I’ve also seen just as many straight couples marry and divorce in less time.
    @Matt – I was raised like many: with a mother and a father. Followed by a mother & stepfather after my father passed. So, I have that natural inclination to imagine a family to be made up of a father & mother (male and female) and their children. And I see the benefits of such a scenario. But no one is perfect, so I do not think that I have the right to say that a gay couple cannot raise a child as well as a “normal” straight couple.
    I think the general issue is easy to judge in small samples. However, we live in a world where there are children all over the world who need to be adopted and loved, and not nearly enough parents seeking them out. My mother runs a group home in AZ and she is constantly getting calls asking if she can take another child to take care of, that has been legally been separated from their parents. She already has five. I’m not saying that everyone is fit for parenthood, but is it really the worst thing if a loving, law-abiding gay couple helped a child find a home in this world?

  5. This post sounds like flat out prejudice against homosexuals. I am continuously confused when arguments like this are made with a religious twist since the core beliefs that many if not all religions operate by is “Love thy neighbor.” According to this post, it sounds like love thy neighbor, unless they are gay and then they should not be allowed basic human happiness and rights.

    It also confuses me that Catholics will fight tooth and nail for the rights of an unborn fetus but when it comes to an actual human (gay humans), all that goes out the window. Gay couples can provide stable homes for babies who were given up for adoption by a mother who may have chosen adoption over abortion. Gay couples can have stable loving homes that are willing to take in those babies that have been wantonly given up by irresponsible women who should not have had a baby in the first place. Furthermore, for every story about a child who grew up in a gay home and had a hard time, there are hundreds of stories where gay couples took in children who were beaten and sexually abused by their straight parents and the gay couple was able to make the child feel normal and loved for the first time in their ENTIRE lives. Also, I am honestly curious what you think about the topic of single parenting. How is having a single mom who chooses not to get remarried different than having two moms? I honestly don’t get it. A link posted further up tells of a kid who had some experience growing up in a lesbian household who just didn’t feel like she had appropriate life cues because she had 2 moms. But seriously, how is this any different than a single mom raising her child alone?

    Furthermore, a comment posted further up says that gay relationships are marked my impermanence and thus they are clearly unfit to be parents. Again, this is flat out prejudice and assumption. First of all, I agree that the young gay male community does have a culture that can be described in such a way, however the lesbian community does not follow this same cultural trend no matter the age. Thus, that was a very one sided and narrow comment based on no actual experience. Secondly, you seriously think that young gay males who are partying and having fun are the ones who are looking to adopt a baby?? This is so ignorant. The majority of male gay couples who wish to adopt are older couples who have been together a lot longer than many straight couples who get pregnant on purpose or accidently. So again, much of this post and the comments just seem like blatant prejudice and flat out hate.

    • Thanks for your comment, Lori. Contrary to hating people who struggle with homosexuality – and no doubt, it’s a struggle whether a person embraces their same sex attraction or fights against it – I choose to love them by showing concern for their eternal souls, for their precious dignity as children of God.

      You said you are often confused by such arguments with a religious perspective since religion calls for loving one’s neighbor. I recommend reading http://www.catholic.com/documents/gay-marriage#.UHTM-xU72Ag to bring some clarity to what you might be misunderstanding about the balance between the religious obligation to love everyone & our call to hate sin, specifically as it relates to homosexual marriage and family.

      In regards to single women raising kids and children in need of adoption – neither of these are ideals. Adopting a child out to a homosexual couple is also not ideal. The statistics you shared specifically called out “qualified” adoptive parents. Clearly the adoption system has standards for parents for the sake of children’s interests. I would certainly argue that it is in not the best, or ideal interest of the child to be raised by homosexual parents. Just the same, a don’t think children should be adopted into single parent households.

      I hope this answers some of your questions & that you continue to thoughtfully seek understanding about this issue.

      • But why would it not be ideal for a gay couple to raise a child? If they do everything as good as or better than straight couples in some instances then why deny homeless children a loving home? Again, Catholics are so concerned with abortion and saving the life of an unborn fetus, but won’t fight for the rights of homeless children to be cared for every chance they could get. This is the argument against abortion, correct. A mother with child should seek every other option except abortion to save the baby, but many of those babies are given up for adoption and do not have the opportunity to be in a loving household. People keep saying that gay couples are not fit parents, but seriously, what are they doing differently than straight couples when it comes to loving and raising a child? I would like to hear an un-prejudiced answer. Not a theoretical one, but really think about an actual example where a child is happy and loved in a gay family. How could you deny a child this family if you met him or her? You would tell the child that he or she would have to go back to the orphanage or stay with potentially abusive foster parents instead of going into a safe and loving home just because of the parent’s sexual orientation? All your talk sounds theoretical, but if you had to make the decision yourself for a child looking into your face it seems completely cruel and illogical to deny that child a loving, safe, and hate free home just because religion says so.

      • Can I ask if you read through the article I linked? That really does answer your first question – why gay parents are not ideal. I’m going to assume, in frustration, that you did not. It’s laid out very simply in Q&A format and you’ll find your exact question answered: “What about situations in which homosexuals adopt children or use artificial insemination?”

        You are right saying that Catholics are concerned about children from the moment they are conceived. You are wrong saying that they do not care about children after birth simply because adoption agencies don’t place children in same-sex-couples’ homes. I recommend exploring what the Catholic Church in America alone does for babies, pregnant women & families in need of support.

        You requested I step away from the theoretical. If I were, as you said, looked directly in the face by a homeless child in need of loving parents & his or her only alternative was being adopted by a gay couple, I would protect that child from being transferred from one bad environment to another & I would work to pursue an ideal home for that child, because I know a child is better off in a home with a mom & a dad.

      • I think it’s pretty strong language to automatically dub a gay couple as “a bad environment.” I don’t understand why you can’t separate your personal faith/beliefs that being gay is not the holy, “natural” way (which is your right to believe), from the notion that a gay person can still be a good human being. They can still be loving, kind, helpful people in this world. They still have value. Therefore, how can you say that they couldn’t be helpful in clearing this epidemic of orphans. They are not people that you need to “protect” children from.

  6. Oh and to support some of Shannon’s posting above here are some great statistcs: “Right now there is a critical shortage of adoptive and foster parents in the United States. As a result, many children have no permanent homes, while others are forced to survive in an endless series of substandard foster homes. It is estimated that there are 500,000 children in foster care nationally, and 100,000 need to be adopted. But last year there were qualified adoptive parents available for only 20,000 of these children.”

  7. Shannon – In response to your struggle in understanding why I “can’t separate my personal faith/beliefs… from the notion that a gay person can still be a good human being,” I must iterate that every person is inherently good – because we are all created in God’s image. And you are right, gay people do have just as much value in any straight person. People do not lose value because of their sin.

    I think what you are trying to communicate is that I’m devaluing their ability as parents. I don’t have an ability to give or take away value from any person or role (e.g. parenting). But what I can do is recognize what value is already present or existent. In this situation, the value of a homosexual couple as parents is less than the value of a heterosexual couple as parents – because a mom and a dad offer uniquely irreplaceable gifts in a parent/child relationship. I cannot devalue a mother for her inability to give her children what only a father can, because she does not have the ability in the first place. I can only *recognize* her value in this regard. I am not prejudice against gay persons’ ability to parent; I am only recognizing the value which they lack as parents to give adoptive children the equal balance of male/female parenthood they deserve by nature.

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