What is slow parenting

One child - two parents? Diversity of parenting

Cultural change of familial realities with new knowledge and new techniques of reproduction

Bernd Eggen

For almost 200 years, the reality of parenthood has changed fundamentally due to turning points in knowledge. The new normality of parenting includes (1) the simultaneous and sequential pluralization of parenting, (2) the dissolution of the biological reproductive triad, consisting of two different sex mating partners and their offspring, through the use of reproductive medicine, and (3) the drifting apart of biological reproductive triads and social parenting. Parents do not limit themselves in their relationship to one another to certain natural genders or to a certain number, and they are not arbitrarily responsible for the upbringing of the child.

How we think about parenting, what meanings we ascribe to it, how we as a society deal with it - all of these things differ considerably depending on the time and place. In our time and in places shaped by the European Enlightenment, it is a matter of course: the distinction between sexuality as intimate action and procreation as a biological process and increasingly more natural: the self-determined creation of families regardless of the biological sex of the parents involved. Until well into the 17th century, a Christian culture that had gained in importance since the early Middle Ages determined attitudes towards sexuality and parenting. Sexuality was solely used for procreation; parenting was only legitimate for a man and a woman, and only if they were married. As science gained in importance, it has contradicted previous ideas with new knowledge and new techniques, expanded them and thus contributed to the enlightenment.1

The approach to reality is always connected with turning points in the knowledge of people and society about people and society. The history of procreation is one evidence of this development, that of sex is another.2

For millennia, procreation was considered a divine mystery, a natural process that could not be influenced. Even in the 18th century, attempts were made to prove the presence of tiny, fully trained people in the sperm or in the ovary.3 In the middle of the 19th century, not even 200 years ago, people slowly began to understand: Not man and woman, not the whole person, but semen and egg, two cells, microscopic structures that today are injected with the pipette can be combined extracorporeally in the Petri dish, are the two exactly determinable and extractable organic materials for the genuine creation of a living being.

The knowledge about semen, egg and biological reproduction has also changed our understanding of biological sex (see also point i "How new knowledge does understanding ..."). The historical handling of the biological sex and its variants ranges from veneration to contempt to destruction, depending on the time and place. The fact that there was something else besides Adam and Eve was seldom ignored (see also point i "How Marie suddenly became Germaine"). The story was often religiously based, but devoid of scientific knowledge for thousands of years. Our current knowledge of the biological basis of life and its possible effects on our behavior is also rather unclear than it has been clarified. But it allows a different view of parenting and upbringing. A sign of this change is not only the now visible, factual exercise of same-sex parenthood, but also its social recognition, for example by the highest courts, that same-sex couples can promote the growing up of children just as much as couples of different sexes.4 The parenting role is dependent on biological gender, but not based on a binary gender of woman and man. It is not the difference between the seed and the egg that makes the difference in a child's upbringing. This biological bisexuality does not explain the social variants in motherhood and fatherhood, in masculinity and femininity, does not explain the different parenting styles of parents and the continued existence of traditional role models in families with homosexual couples. In addition, genetic and hormonal variants in the spectrum of gender diversity do little to explain human behavior. As a disposition, the biological material is likely to have an indirect effect through the parents' own childhood experiences. Their socialization and the social context in which the family lives and the parents raise their child, on the other hand, are decisive for the upbringing of the child (see also point i "Like the culture of a society ..."). In short: nature is always also cultural.

In the last few decades the cultural change of family realities has advanced, perhaps at an accelerated rate.5 In addition to the biological and social unity of mother, father and child, other structures of parenthood emerge more often than ever. Three developments in parenting should be emphasized:

A simultaneous and sequential pluralization of parenthood changes the social relationship between mother-father-child. Different-sex parenting is simultaneously expanded by same-sex parenting and by parenting that is not limited to two people. As a result of separations, divorces and remarries, temporary, sequential parenting in step- and blended families is normal for those involved.

The application of reproductive medicine leads to a dissolution of the biological reproductive triad, consisting of two different sex mating partners and their offspring. A child can now have more than two biological parents.

The biological reproductive triad and the parent-child relationship as a social relationship are drifting apart. Through the application of new options of reproductive medicine in its different variants of conception and reproduction without sexuality, egg donors, sperm donors and surrogacy are the biological parents without the obligation and responsibility of later social parenthood.

The change in familial realities of life contains the »potential of existential irritation« of cultural habits.6 In addition, especially in the area of ​​the family, according to Andreas Gestrich in the foreword to the "History of the Family", "the naturalization of cultural contexts is particularly frequent, and social behavior is explained particularly quickly with alleged biological determinants."7 Such naturalizations can go hand in hand with the exclusion of other people. They then deny their self-determination and participation in parenting.8 Culturally more significant than the sequential pluralization of parenthood in the biographies of the adults and children involved is therefore likely to be: the open and natural coexistence of same-sex parents with their children or the deliberate drifting apart of biological and social parenthood while at the same time increasing variations in biological parenthood. Politics and law react to the changing realities of family life.9 Your decisions help to re-measure the space of what is socially acceptable as parenting. A basis for their decisions are, on the one hand, precise distinctions and concepts of parenthood and, on the other hand, knowledge of the empirical frequency of the various forms of parenthood.

Parenthood is always a problem of belonging in the "we" of a family: who belongs to the family and who does not?10 In the following, unlike in family research, a distinction is made between biological, psychological and social parenting, and beyond: in biological parenting between genetic and non-genetic and in social parenting between familial and legal (see overview).

Biological parenting describes a relationship of biological descent. Biological parenthood comes about through conception and birth. In the case of genetic parenthood, there is a blood relationship. The man who supplies the semen for procreation is the genetic father. In women, a distinction can be made between genetic and non-genetic parenthood. The woman who delivers the egg cell or parts of an egg cell is the genetic mother, regardless of whether she carries and gives birth to the child. A woman who did not conceive but carried and gave birth to the child is the biological but not the genetic mother (for example surrogacy).11 There is no blood relationship to the child.

In the first case, the child would have two biological parents who are also the genetic parents. In the second case, the child would have three biological parents, two of whom are the genetic parents and one of whom is the non-genetic parent. In the meantime, a child can have three genetic parents, regardless of which woman carries the child (see also point i "How a child comes to three genetic parents"). In addition, there is the notion in the world that, in short and long after, the number of genetic parents can in principle also be unlimited.12 On the other hand, biological parenthood that is not genetically based is likely to remain limited to one uterus.

Psychological parenting arises from thoughts and feelings. Feelings can be understood as psychological observations and descriptions of physical states. Depending on his body, his hormonal equipment, his feelings and his biography, including his own child socialization, the individual develops his psychological parenthood. Before giving birth, a woman who is going through a pregnancy first of all develops a conscious psychological relationship with the child. Your feelings should be fundamentally different from those of the genetic mother who delivered an egg cell for conception. The feelings do not contradict rationality. Thinking, feeling and evaluating belong together. For an outsider, regardless of their sociological, psychological or pedagogical training, the individual consciousness remains a black box that cannot be seen by others. What can be seen is only the interaction between parents and children, i.e. family communication among those present. In principle, psychological parenting is possible if there are more than two parents.

Social parenting describes a social role and means, on the one hand, taking on certain tasks in bringing up the child, and on the other hand, the responsibility as the expectation of successfully fulfilling these tasks. In society, it is primarily the parents as persons, but also the state, with its legal norms, that take on tasks and responsibility in bringing up the child. A distinction must therefore be made between familial and legal parenting. In contrast, the common distinction between social and legal parenting is imprecise. It is based on a concept of "social" that is oriented towards everyday life and implies ideas such as "warmth", "closeness" or "affection". The real possible relationships in the family, however, range from warmth to cold, from closeness to distant, from affection to dislike; and only very rarely is this broad social spectrum legally relevant. At the same time, it locates legal expectations and decisions outside of the "social". This distinction is incompatible with a scientific understanding of society. According to this, family and law, but also politics, economy, religion and science are not physical or psychological, but social issues that are only possible within society and not in opposition to society. In short: what happens in the family and in law is at the same time the fulfillment of society.

Family parenthood arises from the fact that a person actually takes on parental responsibility for a child through self-commitment. As a decision, familial parenting is never arbitrary, but always specified semantically, i.e. culturally meaningful.13 It is an expression of a historically radical social restructuring of the family. The family is less often than ever as an institution based on its legal, political or religious references, but primarily on the production and self-descriptions of the people involved. This internal orientation is neutral towards biological requirements.14 A preference can be empirically observed that the persons in the couple relationship are the same who also justify parenthood biologically. But beyond bisexuality and two-parenthood, family parenting is structurally more diverse. Under the conditions of increased self-referentiality and inner orientation of the family in modern society, it is the adults involved who decide on parenthood and the number of parents. In the sense of responsibility, they commit themselves to take responsibility for the upbringing of one or more children. Family parenting then ranges from the single parent to the couple relationship to a trio, quattro and X relationship. This is the case with multiple parenting in so-called queer families, where more than two people take on family parenting (see also i-point "How a child comes to four social parents: queer family"). Multiple parenthood is also comparatively common in the diverse constellations of stepfamilies and blended families, because parents separate and connect with new people. The persons involved in the intimate relationships involved can also be partially or completely different from those who make up the parenthood. In principle, any structural variation in familial parenting is possible beyond the constellations that are often statistically recorded. Family parenting is an expression of the structural openness of social parenting. Familial parenthood can be perceived in its updated constellation permanently or temporarily, continuously or discontinuously. Family parenting can change in the biography of parents and children through the exclusion of previous parents and inclusion of other people as parents. At the same time, family parenting is not arbitrary. What is decisive are the contexts in which parenting is culturally based today. They can be observed when parents look after their children, how they handle their responsibility and authority in bringing up them, and how they differ semantically from education through the social environment. The responsibility is extensive and includes the assumption that responsible persons, in this case the parents as responsible persons, should be able to develop problems of upbringing that others are unable to develop. Of course, this includes failure of familial parenting, dysfunctional parenting.

Legal parenting arises from the legal assignment of a child to a person. This assignment results in general and specific duties and rights of the person towards the child. It is less comprehensive than family parenting and it is fuzzy in relation to the content of family upbringing. It is characteristic of legal parenting that it only becomes an issue in the family when extreme crises or conflicts irritate the everyday life of the family. Legal parenting is then regulated not in the family, but only within the legal system, between lawyers and in front of the courts. In Germany, the number of legal parents has so far been limited to a maximum of two people. A distinction must be made between this so-called “full parenthood” and “subsidiary parenthood” if individual rights and obligations are assigned to other people, for example in custody and access rights.

In addition to the parents, a child can also have close relationships with other people. Vaskovics suggests calling them "social-family relationships" in these cases.15 Such personal relationships are semantically and structurally similar in many ways to family parenting. However, such relationships with relatives, friends, acquaintances, neighbors or professional educators are less structural than semantic. Compared to familial parenting, they are less exclusive and close, less continuous and permanent, less comprehensive. To a large extent, they are arbitrary, selective, informal and ambiguous in terms of normative obligations and services.16

Multiple parenthood arises from the disintegration of biological, familial and legal parenthood, on the one hand through decoupling from one another, on the other hand through the splitting of the respective parenthood. Multiple parenting is historically not a new phenomenon. Today, however, it should be lived more openly and naturally, and thus more visible and more frequently. The empirical observations on multiple parenting are limited to social parenting. They only provide imprecise information about the actual spread of familial and legal parenting and only allow conclusions to be drawn about biological parenting. In Germany, the microcensus in particular provides empirical information about parents and children.It contains an extensive catalog of characteristics for over 800,000 minors and adults, making it the largest representative sample of the population in Europe. It is carried out every year. Data on same-sex couples and children living with them have also been available since 1996. Since 2006, the microcensus has also provided information about registered partnerships with children.

First we consider the parents who live with underage children. In 2017, around 2.9 million parents lived in Baden-Württemberg (see table). Of these, 92% lived in a different-sex couple community, around 0.1% lived in a same-sex couple community. Another 8% lived alone with their children. In most cases, it is likely to be a matter of familial parenting, the number of which would have to be supplemented by parents who live separately from their underage children and who nevertheless actually exercise parenthood. Regarding the possible legal status of cohabiting parents: 91% of parents are married, a further 7% are single and 2% are married separately, divorced or widowed. Most of the married cohabiting parents are also likely to have legal parenting. However, this should not apply to this extent to those parents who are not married and form a couple. This is also indicated by the following observation: If two parents live together, this does not always mean that the children living with them are also their children. Stepfamilies can arise as a result of separation, divorce, but also death and remarriage. They are families in which children from previous partnerships live in the current household. In this household, children only live with one partner in addition to possible common children. The share of children who are not together is 1% for married parents, 18% for single parents and 51% for separated, divorced or widowed parents. It can be assumed that parents who are not married together are the most likely to diverge between family and legal parenting.

If the parents with children who are not together are included, then at least 3% of the parents living in a couple should not be the biological parents of children living with them. Other studies come to the conclusion that around 7% to 13% of families in Germany are stepfamilies.17 The respective share of non-biological parenthood should, however, always only form a lower limit, since the information is missing here as to how many of the common, but also of the non-common children, have been adopted or taken into care. If you put the number of adoptions of minors and live births in a year in relation to each other, then 0.5% (2017) of underage children in Germany were adopted. In addition, around 2.6% (2016) of births are the result of artificial conception. The proportions are comparatively small, but in absolute terms that is 3,888 adopted underage children and 20,754 children who were artificially conceived. In addition, there are no live births who were born outside of Germany after artificial conception.18

Family reality and parenting are subject to cultural change. The parenthood actually exercised, the factual, i.e. doing and making, i.e. familial parenting is increasingly understood without being able to be traced back to the biological dependencies of life. In addition to the biological and social unity of mother, father and child, new parenting structures emerge. Parents in their social, that is, in their cultural meaning, do not limit their position to one another either to certain natural genders or to a certain number, and: they are not arbitrarily responsible for the upbringing of the child.

1 For the implementation of a modern scientific system and the emergence of the modern university in the 19th century, see Osterhammel, Jürgen (2013): Die Verwaltung der Welt. Munich, especially pp. 1105 - 1171.

2 For information about procreation, see Bernard, Andreas (2014): Kindermachen. New reproductive technologies and the order of the family. Frankfurt / Main, especially pp. 25 - 74 and on biological sex Sapolsky, Robert M. (2018): Violence and Compassion. The biology of human behavior. Munich.

3 On the theory of preexistence and nesting and on the arguments of the animalkulists and ovists, which seem adventurous from today's point of view, see Bernard (2014), pp. 35-44.

4 BVerfG, judgment of the First Senate of February 19, 2013 - 1 BvL 1/11 - Rn. (1–110); http://www.bverfg.de/e/ls20130219_1bvl000111.html (accessed: February 27, 2019) and BGH, decision of April 20, 2016 - XII ZB 15/15, www.bundesgerichtshof.de.

5 See with detailed references: Eggen, Bernd (2018): Multiple Parenthood - On the New Normality of Parenthood, in: Rechtsspsychologie - RPsych, Vol. 4 (2), pp. 181 - 207.

6 Gross, Peter / Honer, Anne (1990): Multiple Parents: New Reproductive Technologies, Individualization Processes and Changes in Family Constellations, in: Soziale Welt, 41, pp. 97-116.

7 Gestrich, Andreas / Krause, Jens-Uwe / Mitterauer, Michael (2003): History of the family. Stuttgart, p. 1.

8 On the possible social consequences of “naturalizations” see Schimanski, Johan / Wolfe Stephen F. (Edts.) (2017): Border Aesthetics. Concepts and intersections. New York.

9 For example: BGBL (2017). Law introducing the right to marry for persons of the same sex. Federal Law Gazette Part I 2017 No. 52 of July 28, 2017; Federal Ministry for Justice and Consumer Protection (Ed.) (2017): Abammungsrecht final report. Berlin: Federal Gazette; BGH, decision of September 6, 2017 - XII ZB 660/14; BGH, decision of November 29, 2017 - XII ZB 459/16; BVerfG, decision of the First Senate of 10.10.2017 - 1 BvR 2019/16 - Rn. (1–69).

10 Or: How are separations and boundaries carried out in the family, how are people included and excluded? See, for example, Bailey, Sandra. J. (2007): Unraveling the Meaning of Family. Marriage & Family Review, 42 (1), 81-102.

11 It is also common to distinguish between genetic and gestational motherhood; see German Bundestag (2018): Gender as an allocation factor for parenthood and questions about multiple parents. WD 7 - 3000 - 125/18. The surrogate mother can also be the genetic mother when giving birth to her grandchild, whose father is the surrogate mother's son; https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/30/us/woman-gives-birth-to-granddaughter/index.html (accessed: April 19, 2019).

12 For possible genetic modifications of the germ cells before conception and of the embryo in vitro, see Reardon, Sara (2017): US science advisers outline path to genetically modified babies. Nature, February 17, 2017 and US National Academies of Sciences (2017): Engineering, and Medicine: Human Genome Editing - Science, Ethics, and Governance. The National Academies Press.

13 The semantics denote socially significant and preservable guiding principles of a society that have resulted from standardizations of feeling, thinking, acting and speaking.

14 Willekens, Harry (2016): All parenting is social, in: Recht der Jugend und des Bildungswesens, 64, pp. 130-135.

15 Vaskovics, Laszlo. A. (2016): Segmentation and Multiplication of Parenthood and Childhood: A Dilemma for Legal Regulations? In: Law of Youth and Education, 64, pp. 194-209.

16 See for example Neidhardt, Friedhelm (1975): Die Familie in Deutschland. Social position, structure and function. (4th, revised edition). Opladen.

17 Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth (Ed.) (2017): Step- and blended families in Germany, in: Monitor Familienforschung - Issue 31.

18 For information on artificial procreation see German IV Register (2018): Jahrbuch 2017. Modified reprint from J Reproduktionsmed Endokrinol 2018; 15 (5-6). The information is based on a voluntary collection of selected reproductive medicine procedures; see Kuhnt, Anne-Kristin / Depenbrock, Eva / Unkelbach, Sabrina (2018): Reproductive Medicine and Starting a Family - Potentials of Social Science Datasets in Germany, in: Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 30 (2), pp. 194-215; https://doi.org/10.3224/zff.v30i2.04 (accessed: March 14, 2019). All other statistics are based on www.destatis.de and our own special evaluations.

»The awareness of the inadequacy of either / or of» bisexuality «enables (...) the field of the lived gender, be it as a whole person or in specific behaviors, to rediscover and redefine. The integral of femininity and masculinity creates a very individual dimension «. 1

1 German Society for Urology (DGU) e.V., German Society for Pediatric Surgery (DGKCH) e.V., German Society for Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetology (DGKED) e.V. (Ed.): S2k guideline variants of gender development, status 07/2016; https://www.awmf.org/uploads/tx_szleitlinien/174-001l_S2k_Geschlechtsentwicklung-Varianten_2016-08_01.pdf (accessed: February 19, 2019).

The "humanist and seeker of knowledge" Michel de Montaigne was a keen observer. On his trip from France via Switzerland and Germany to Italy in 1580 he heard of the following "memorable": It "concerns a man of low origin, who is still alive and whose name is Germain. (…) Up to the age of twenty-two he was a girl and as such was respected and known by all the inhabitants of the city; the only thing that was striking was that it had a little more hair around its chin than the other girls, which is why it was called Marie with the beard. One day this Marie suddenly had male genitals popping out from the tension of a jump, and Cardinal de Lenoncourt, then Bishop of Châlons, gave her the name Germain. (…) The girls of this city can often be heard singing a song in which they warn each other not to take too far-reaching steps so that they do not become men - like Marie Germain «.2

1 Montaigne, Michel de (2002): Diary of the trip to Italy via Switzerland and Germany from 1580 to 1581. Frankfurt am Main, p. 25.

The primatologist and neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky uses numerous studies to prove the complicated relationship between biological material and social context and the enormous importance of the respective culture for human behavior: The social gender differences among parents and in the upbringing of their children, for example in Iceland (largely no differences) and Afghanistan (very large differences); or the social variants of parenthood across the board from motherhood and fatherhood: from compassion to neglect to the extreme variants of domestic violence or initiated honor killing, primarily of the daughter, for example because she is attending school or university.3

1 Sapolsky, Robert M. (2018): Violence and Compassion. The biology of human behavior. Munich, for example pp. 349 - 352, 376 - 379.

The so-called mitochondria transfer is a new method of artificial procreation. It was first used in the treatment of a hereditary disease called Leigh syndrome. The syndrome is one of the hereditary mitochondriopathies, which are based on genetic defects in the mitochondria. In the process, the matured but still unfertilized nucleus with the crucial part of the genetic material is removed from an egg cell with defective mitochondria. This is then inserted into an enucleated second egg cell with healthy mitochondria. This egg cell is then fertilized with the man's genes by means of intracytoplasmic sperm injection. The born child thus has the genes of three parents: two women and one man.4

At the end of 2018, John Zhang (New Hope Fertility Center in New York) not only spoke again about the health of the now 3-year-old boy (“No news is good news”), but also about future opportunities in reproductive medicine: “I think it is totally possible to have two sperm make a baby, and two eggs make babies. (...) Basically you are creating artificial gametes or converting with gametes from sperm to become egg or egg to become a sperm. Which may not necessarily be very difficult. The key is to be able to do nuclear reprogramming. (...) So why can two sperm not make offspring now? You get exactly half of your genes from each parent. The genes have their own imprinting that say "made in mom," "made in dad." The two sperm would say "made in dad," "made in dad." If I can erase the "made in dad," and say "Made in mom," then these sperm can make offspring. (...) It's very hard to say until we accomplish it. It could be very quick. It could be it takes a long time ".5

1 See Zhang, J./Liu, H./Luo, S./Chavez-Badiola, A./Liu, Z./Yang, M./Munne, S./Konstantinidis, M./Wells, D./Huang , T. (2016): First live birth using human oocytes reconstituted by spindle nuclear transfer for mitochondrial DNA mutation causing Leigh syndrome. Fertility and Sterility, 106, pp. E375 – e376 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.08.004 (accessed: March 14, 2019). For the results of the hitherto unique treatment and the boy's health, see Zhang, J. et al. (2017): Live birth derived from oocyte spindle transfer to prevent mitochondrial disease. Reproductive Biomedicine Online 34 (4): 361– 368, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rbmo.2017.01.013 (accessed: 14.03.2019).

2 https://leapsmag.com/top-fertility-doctor-artificially-created-sperm-and-eggs-will-become-normal-one-day/ (accessed: March 14, 2019).

In the »queer family«, lesbian women and gay men take on joint parenthood. Three- or four-parent families emerge, such as a lesbian couple and a gay man or a gay and a lesbian couple. The children know both birth parents and grow up in regular contact with them.