The family, which is basically a mother and child with a father at some distance (though important enough to be involved in the upbringing of young children), constitutes the fundament of society, socially, economically and politically. Any criticism of the human world must in the end come down to the family. By its fruits we can recognize the tree.The family has until recently been the more or less accidental result of the female’s reproductive urge in combination with the male’s sexual appetite.
As women emancipate themselves from the burden of child bearing, and the health and quality of offspring becomes a prime target, the question arises what sort of family-life will evolve. If children are born outside the female’s body, who will be bothered with the upbringing of children? The biologists tell us that child care depends on the certainty of parenthood. Women want their own baby, and many care little about other babies, even reject them. This fundamental assumption pervades society, because even though there are millions of hungry and deprivated children in the world, the possibilities for adoption by well-suited couples elsewhere are extremely limited. Persuasive, too, is the idea and experience of a natural inclination to exult in one’s own baby, to form strong bonds with it, and to experience more happiness within the family than in the outside world. Especially in a world that is becoming more and more overpopulated, complex and technological, human-unfriendly, fragmented, unsafe and frightening, the family as always seems the only possible haven of peace, care, genuine human interaction and loving communication.|
This mythology, which finds its origin in the procreative imperative of the species, has so far dominated social thought at all levels. However, increased understanding of what really is the case will help us in setting up a new paradigm.
The willingness, for instance, to take care of babies and children is not restricted to mothers and their own offspring. The lack of interest or even dislike of other children is only typically prevalent among women who are concerned with their own reproduction. Otherwise most people from a certain age feel naturally attracted to the young, will help and stimulate their development, take care of them while enjoying their company. Thus there will be no problem finding enough people to bring up the children that are born outside the female body. In fact, this kind of adoption differs little from the practice today, when, for instance, the natural mother has died in childbirth or has given up the baby without seeing it.
As the new reproductive technology evolves and grows in size and popularity, the old question will be raised as to what is the best social environment for children. Only now the question will become really urgent and critically testable. It will be relatively easy to formulate general principles on which good upbringing rests. For instance, so much is known now about attachment behaviour (see Attachment, lust and care), that it will be considered essential for every new-born to have at least one good attachment figure. The natural mother now fills that function, but she is hardly ever good enough. Young mothers are still children themselves with unsolved attachment problems, who are problematically involved with the father of the child or another sexual partner, who have other children to take care of, and who are also programmed to make the child fit to survive in a particular society, to train it in obedience to social and cultural rituals. In other words, the natural mother is hardly ever an unreserved attachment figure, which is one of the reasons why every new generation continues the imperfections of the preceding one. To have one positive attachment figure is a blessing which will wipe out the anxiety and anger that now generally accompany attachment relationships.
Next, a child needs a rich learning environment, with a variety of people of different ages, challenges and experiences that will enrich all its physical, mental, and social abilities. For the majority of children today this is a pipedream. A program for education, based on the best possible practices, can be formulated and implemented along with changes in the other aspects of the sexual system, viz. population and reproductive control, and will be a vast improvement compared with the situation as we have it. The primitive home and school education we now have will be replaced by individual learning routes, more opportunity, variety and challenge, better relational and social behaviour.
The question may be put if education is to be so perfect as to remove all unpleasantness from the young person’s life. The answer is no. Nature will provide enough minor and major catastrophes to frustrate human ideas and plans, so that education must of necessity teach young people to face real difficulties. A new education as here envisaged will promote healthy, efficient and satisfactory lifestyles. It will not impair the ability to feel passionately. On the contrary, it will liberate future generations from the shackles of emotional impotence, relational confusion and economic misery that now thwart so many lives.
No blueprint can be given of the kinds of upbringing that will be realized when the present natural family system has been replaced by new and more truly human microstructures of social life. This is as it should be. Life will remain an adventure and a challenge, even as we gain far more control over the reproductive and educational processes that shape our lives. Apart from at least one perfect attachment figure, every human will, from birth, be a socially accepted and appreciated person with full human rights and responsibilities, and will associate with a variety of other individuals in loving relationships. Depending on a large variety of conditions, such relations will vary in intensity and duration, but they will be a vast improvement compared with the superficial, covertly hostile, jealous and neurotic bonds that we now know under the name of ‘relationships’.