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Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Long Lost Family - heartwarming or horrendous ?

Last week I saw a greetings card with the words 'To My Girlfriend on the Birth of our Baby' on the front. Last night I watched a programme about a woman who had an illegitimate child in the 1950s, was thrown out by her parents, forced into a mother and baby home and had her daughter taken from her when she was barely six weeks old.

Long Lost Family on ITV peered into the past of a 68-year-old woman and the daughter she'd yearned for all her adult life.  The mother was heartbroken, but the daughter just seemed to take the whole thing in her stride. Moving as it was - I confess I shed a tear - it showcased the vast change in social attitudes between the fifties and the present day.  Of course women should not have been treated like pariahs, or had their children snatched from them. In some extreme cases 'fallen' women were consigned to mental homes and never seen again.   But are our attitudes today any better? Aren't we just guilty of yet more double standards?

I would never criticise a woman who had a baby outside marriage.  No-one can account for individual circumstances, and it's a choice deliberately made by many co-habiting couples.  But whilst it may be perfectly acceptable these days, I wonder if there might be a backlash in the future?

Marriage used to be regarded as the next step to starting a family.  It prepared you for the earth-shattering changes that a baby can make to a loving relationship.

I don't want to go back to the fifties.  But I'm not sure this apparent casual attitude to the future generation is right either.  Can you picture the scene in a few years' time: This is my daughter, the one I had with my ex-girlfriend...'

What do you think?


Linda Mitchelmore said...

In my class at Grammar School, there were no less than five girls in the 5th/6th form who had illegitimate babies they were forced to give up for adoption. It scared the living daylights out of me and I was - wait for it - a virgin on my wedding night on the strength of it.
One only has to see how many 'find your ancestors' sites there are to know how important background is to people. If not in their teens, 20's and 30's but certainly as they age. Product of a one night stand is going to hurt soooooo much,I think.
Very thought-provoking post.

Guernsey Girl said...

That's a very good point, Linda. I can't imagine 'product of a one night stand' on a greetings card...The thought of having a baby before marriage terrified me too. The best 'contraceptive' ever!