“Ye tender arms, the same dear mould have ye
As his; how from the shoulder loose ye drop
And weak! And dear proud lips, so full of hope
And closed for ever! What false words ye said
At daybreak, when he crept into my bed,
Called me kind names, and promised: ‘Grandmother,
When thou art dead, I will cut close my hair
And lead out all the captains to ride by
Thy tomb.’ Why didst thou cheat me so? ‘Tis I,
Old, homeless, childless, that for thee must shed
Cold tears, so young, so miserably dead.”
-Hecuba, Queen of Troy, over the body of her murdered grandson.
“The Trojan Women” by Euripides
By now, everybody who pays attention to football and a great many people who don’t, know about the tragedy of Adrian Lewis Peterson, running back for the Minnesota Vikings.
Peterson’s two-year-old son died on Oct. 11, in a Sioux Falls hospital from head injuries. One Joseph Robert Patterson, 27, has been charged with aggravated battery of an infant and aggravated assault. Charges will most likely be upgraded after the death of the child.
Patterson, who was identified as the boyfriend of the child’s mother, reportedly has a criminal record for other assaults, including on his own biological child.
Peterson sent a Twitter message thanking all of his fans for their outpouring of support and the “fraternity of brothers” in the NFL.
“God bless everyone and thank u so much,” he wrote.
There isn’t anything I could find so far about the child’s mother, though evidently Peterson has never been married. He has a daughter Adela with his high school sweetheart.
ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols stated on the show E:60 that Peterson has at least two children. “At least” because the news reports have confirmed the dead child is not Adrian Peterson Jr. but another child whose name is “being withheld out of respect for the family and to give them time to make notification,” according to Sioux Falls police.
Having a child die is the worst thing in the world. Having a child murdered is the worst of the worst.
When the death of a child strikes close to me, I pray to a God I’m not always sure I believe in, “Lord, do anything else you like to me and I won’t complain. But please, not that. Anything but that.”
Which will make what I’m about to say sound utterly heartless.
Peterson describes his daughter as the most important thing in his life.
Guys, if your children are important to you, could you consider marrying their mothers?
Ladies, if you love your children could you devote a little thought to the importance of a father in their lives? I don’t mean a visiting baby daddy, I mean a guy who’s there 24/7.
And would everybody stop for a minute and consider some ugly facts we’re all too polite to talk about?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau as of 2009, there are approximately 13.7 single parents raising 21.8 million children in the U.S. That’s 26 percent of children under 21.
It’s a career-wrecking move to point out the figures are astronomically higher in some ethnic groups than others, but never fear WASPS are catching up.
Nor is it a phenomenon confined to the kind of people we see in Wallmart Internet jokes. Peterson is making a seven-figure salary and dates stunningly beautiful, classy-looking ladies.
The fact is, physical and sexual child abuse is ten times more likely to be committed by a live-in boyfriend than a biological father*, or even a respectably married step-father.
Rates of every social pathology you care to imagine: poor performance in school, crime, drug addiction, relationship problems later in life are so much higher among children raised in single-parent households.
This was my generation’s contribution to the American dream. We rejected stigmatizing unmarried mothers and illegitimate children, “shotgun weddings” and “staying together for the sake of the children.”
And this is what we got.
I am NOT condemning a lot of single parents doing a heroic job in a difficult situation. I am one of them, or at least I like to think I am. (The heroic part I mean.) But there’s not a one of us who doesn’t think it’s a rotten break for our kids.
I am NOT saying there aren’t some step-dads and moms out there doing one of the noblest jobs a human being can do, giving a chance at life to a child not their own.
I am NOT saying there aren’t intolerable or abusive marriages it is best for children to be out of.
I’m asking if anybody doubts we’re sitting on top of a demographic disaster that’s rumbling under our feet like a volcano about to blow?
There’s nothing, literally nothing that can be done about the present situation. You can’t undo a baby.
But you can try not to make the situation worse. Don’t make children you don’t intend to stick around for damn it!
*According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
UPDATE: The child’s name is Ty Doohen, the son of Ann “Ashley” Doohen. And Peterson by the latest reports didn’t even know the boy was his until called to his deathbed. Sweet.