Ignorance, bliss and all that.

A case of the Dreaded Lurgi hasn’t prevented me from reading the papers, as per usual.

As I was wiping snot off the monitor, I came across this article, describing the controversy about these ‘do it yourself’ DNA kits. It is not quite at the ‘do it yourself’ stage, but it is well within the reach of nearly everyone now to have a DNA test, and any questions parents might have about the paternity of their children can be solved.

It is rare that this is an issue, mostly done in the wake of marriage breakups. The fact that it can be done, however, does not mean that it should be done. An old and wise rhyme tells us, “Mother’s baby, Father’s Maybe…” and sometimes it really is better to not know, as Tony Abbott is finding out.

Consider this fellow:

John, from NSW, was one of Muir’s clients. In his case, the test showed he was the biological father of all of his children. He asks to remain anonymous, but explains why he wanted the test.

“My wife has had numerous affairs,” he says. “She admitted to one in particular [that] occurred about the time she fell pregnant with our first child. I love my children with everything I have. I am their father irrespective of who the biological father is. I am the one who loves them, cares for them and the one who would lay down my life without a split second’s hesitation to protect them.”

The question, then, is: Why have the test done?

John says he wanted it done for peace of mind; because of his right to know, the argument commonly advanced by men’s groups; for the wellbeing of his children, who might one day need the correct biological information to enable them to have a lifesaving transplant; and to ensure that the biological father lived up to his responsibilities.

“Every one of the men my wife had affairs with knew she was married. Every one chose not to practise safe sex. I cannot express my disgust at their actions. They made their choices and were going to live with the financial consequences of their actions, just as I have to live with the emotional consequences of their actions.”


Now, John here found that he was indeed the father of his kids. Lucky fellow. What, perchance, would have happened if he had found out otherwise? He says he would continue to be the father figure to his kids. But could he be sure his feelings for his kids would continue as before?

We do not know how old his kids are, but I suspect they are of an age that they would notice the difference in John’s attitudes. It may well have been an emotional trial for them that they really should never have had to endure. Their mother has clearly made some very bad choices (or not) but the kids shouldn’t be made to pay for it.

Infidelity is a killer in any relationship; precious few relationships can survive it. It is bad enough for kids to have their parents seperate without this sort of speculation; with 80% of the tests coming out as ‘positive’ (i.e, the father is actually the husband), it does not seem to be worth the immense stress it would cause to the parent child relationship if the test actually came out negative.

I’m not suggesting that this technology should be banned, or anything like that. There are cases, often involving adoption, but also in medical situations, where these tests are very helpful. However, I would suggest extreme caution should be exercised before taking this step. Sometimes, I would suggest, it really is better not to know.

This entry was posted in Life. Bookmark the permalink.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
19 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
MrLefty
2022 years ago

The dreaded Lurgi! Supristi Nuckoes! You should take up a brass band instrument.

Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

I’ve been nibbling on a euphonium all afternoon…

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

Not a slice of the Great International Christmas Pudding?

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

DNA testing should be available to any father. It’s his right to know whether or not a child is really his.

In a society where a woman can use a child to extort money from a man via the Child Support Agency, it becomes vital. Many men have been forced to pay women for chidren that are not theirs. As the law stands, they have no remedy.

I hope that Tony Abbott’s experience may inspire the government to reform the law to prevent paternity fraud.

Various studies indicate that the rate of paternity fraud amongst the general population could range from 9% to 30%.

http://www.childsupportanalysis.co.uk/analysis_and_opinion/choices_and_behaviours/misattributed_paternity.htm

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

Here’s an example of a case in which ignorance was not bliss:

Thursday, March 17, 2005. 12:40pm (AEDT)
Court reverses child support damages decision

A Victorian court has reversed a decision, which awarded damages to a man who paid child support for two children that a paternity test revealed were not his.

In 2002 the County Court ordered the wife of 52-year-old Liam Magill pay him $70,000 for general damages and economic loss for child support he paid for two children he did not father.

It found the law of deceit applied because Mr Magill was falsely led to believe he was the father of the woman’s two younger children.

The court heard Meredith Magill had been having an affair when her second and third children were conceived.

Today the Victorian Supreme Court upheld her appeal against damages.

Justice Geoffrey Eames found Mrs Magill did not wholly set out to deceive her husband despite an admission she suspected one of the children might not be his when she nominated him as the father on an application for child support.

Diogenes
2022 years ago

It’s interesting how “John from NSW” expresses himself.

He doesn’t say “my wife chose to have sex with every one of those men even though she was married”.

He doesn’t say “she chose not to practice safe sex with those men.”

He doesn’t say “I cannot express my disgust at her actions.”

He doesn’t say “She made her choices and was going to live with the financial consequences of her actions”.

He doesn’t say “I have to live with the emotional consequences of her actions”.

Oh no, he doesn’t say any of that. It’s like his wife was not co-responsible for all of those actions and consequesnce. He shifts all responsibility to the men she, even though she is a married woman, chose to have sex with. I wonder what sort of agreements exist within that marriage…

I think she’s got him utterly hypnotised.

Mary
2022 years ago

Diogenes,

Bizarre isn’t it? The other side of it is people I’ve heard talking about what punishment they’d visit on a third party who had sex with their partner. Again, it’s as if the partner is either expected to be innocent of any actual agency in their infidelity; or that their impulses are so badly controlled that it’s better to directly intimidate the third party than to trust the partner. That seems to not always be hypnosis though: sometimes it’s a weird kind of possessiveness that strips the partner of actually being a moral actor. But in all cases, the lack of focus on the partner as being the culprit is strange.

John Morhall
John Morhall
2022 years ago

I wonder if the partner in these circumstances is viewed in a possessory sense and the offence is not something which occurred consensually between the partner and the third party, but was viewed as being an offence by the third party against a possession, the partner. It is weird in any event, John clearly has more commitment to his relationship than I would have had in similar circumstances. His partner appears to have been a serial infidel! He’s definitely walking backwards to Christmas across the Irish Sea.

Tiny Tyrant
2022 years ago

How odd, I agree with EP (first_time_ever).

To put it glibly, the truth hurts and life is tough.

I see little argument, in not taking action to settle the mind, for fear of the potential reaction.

harry
harry
2022 years ago

Good point John Morhall – you wrote exactly what I was thinking.

I would even go a step further and say that the value of the possession was worth more because it is desired by others.

Alternately, the idea of a custody battle and then raising kids by himself is too horrible a prospect to entertain.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

John M’s point may have some force in some cases, but I think it ignores the psychological realities of maintaining an intimate marital relationship in the face of past infidelity. Almost inevitably, a desire to maintain the relationship is going to manifest itself in a need on the part of the non-offending partner to cast most of the blame on the third party, because otherwise the relationship is probably doomed. In many cases it eventually blows apart anyway, of course, and one suspects that the non-offending partner then belatedly acquires a more balanced and less forgiving attitude towards the ex-partner’s infidelity. I suspect that’s the main explanation for displacement of blame, rather than believing that the partner is a mere “possession”.

James Farrell
James Farrell
2022 years ago

Getting back to Scott’s arguement: I think it’s a good point but it needs to be framed as an insurance problem. Scott thinks that a father will love his children less (for illustrative purposes, let’s say not all) if he becomes aware that he is not their biological father. If this is so, then he will also love them less (say, twenty percent less) if he believes there is a certain probability (twenty percent) that he isn’t their real father. Now, suppose he takes the DNA test. If it establishes that he is the real father, he will now be able for the first time to give them total love. On the other hand, if it proves he isn’t the father, he will cease to love them with one hundred percent probability. So it boils down to whether he’d rather give the children a guaranteed eighty percent of the love they deserve, or expose them to an uncertain outcome – total love with eighty percent probability or zero love with twenty percent probability.

Gerry
2022 years ago

Ahhh… The old conditional love thingie…

Anyway, I think if there is any doubt or uncertainty a DNA test would settle the matter. I would actually go so far as to say that they should be made mandatory prerequisites to any claim for child support against an alleged father. No worries there at all. Ditto in divorces prior to property settlements are decided. Let’s cut through the crap, eh?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

On Scott’s core point, I don’t think I’d argue that fathers ought not to be able to access DNA information. But as Scott says, maybe it’s better not to know in some situations.

But better still, maybe it’s even more important to work out what fatherhood and love of child means, before you go seeking DNA information. I’m the father of an adopted child, and I couldn’t possibly love her any more if she was mine biologically. I’m not saying biology is utterly unimportant, because it’s no doubt easier to bond with your child if you can see they look like you and have some other really obvious inherited traits. But once you’re completely bonded, it can’t possibly make any difference unless you’re an incredibly shallow and insincere person to start with. It’s still your child and you still love them and you’re still responsible for them because parenthood is a joy and burden you undertook willingly, and a duty you owe to the child irrespective of any breach of duty by the mother. If you can’t put aside your feelings of hurt and betrayal and keep loving your child just the same (albeit after a short interval of shock, no doubt), then there’s something badly wrong with you.

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

There is a difference, Ken, between voluntarily adopting someone else’s child, and having someone else’s child forced on you through deceit. This difference becomes especially nasty when the law forces a man to pay for the support of another man’s child after divorce — as it often does.

I think the best solution is to make DNA testing of each child at birth compulsory. Then the parents can decide what course to take before any emotional bond is formed.

Tiny Tyrant
2022 years ago

Compulsory DNA testing?

errrt, put the brakes on!

That’s a little extreme and heads in an unnecessary direction.

Mothers, fathers and children should have the right and choice, sure, but compulsory, no.

David Gahan
David Gahan
2022 years ago

Tiny, as much as I am in most things a libertarian and do not believe in government intervention and cumpulsion on social issues, this is one case where changes in societal values weigh heavily in favour of it. With DNA testing, a test with only the father and child’s DNA – the only method of obtaining a test without the mothers knowledge – can either absolutely exclude the father or leave the result still uncertain. Why do men seek tests without the mother’s knowledge? Because most women are highly sensitive to even inferred accusations of infidelity. The prime advantage of making proper (both partners + child) testing compulsory at birth is that it distances the man from accusations of distrusting the woman and eliminates the harm that any hint of distrust would otherwise cause the relationship. Sure, if the compulsory test at birth shows the presumed father isn’t the actual father, it will cause immediate harm to the relationship. But isn’t it fairer to the child that this be discovered at birth than years later, with all the emotional distress for all concerned (especially the chid) that accompanies delayed discovery?

i.e. In 70-80% of cases (on current statistics), compulsory paternity testing at birth will do no harm. In the remaining cases, it prevents the harm from being delayed and eliminates the suffering of children who only find out years later that their assumed parentage is wrong. Discovery that the presumed father is not the biological father gives the presumed father the option at the proper time (i.e. at birth) of deciding whether they will take on the responsibility of fathering the child. This would then dramatically simplify the current mess in the child support arena, as paternal responsibility becomes a matter of either biology or “accepted through informed consent” unlike the current situation where paternal responsibility is imposed as a result of deception.

Mindy
Mindy
2022 years ago

I don’t think directly after birth is really the best time to be DNA testing. Its an extremely emotional time for all involved and despite whose child the baby is, that baby still deserves to have a happy loving family and to come into a stable environment as far as possible.

I think that adults just have to cop it. Not that men should pay child support for children that they haven’t fathered. IMO DNA testing should be undertaken in the event of a marriage breakdown and the right father taken to task to pay child support. Whose to say that fathers, won’t decide that even though the child isn’t theirs that they still want to keep contact with the child who calls them Dad?

Cheryl King
2022 years ago

You can research paternity fraud cases by visiting http://www.AustralianPaternityFraud.org

I am Liam Magill’s partner and this anti paternity fraud activity has become my full time job these past few years.It was never planned that way…but when the man you care about so much, is so badly hurt & effected by such a terrible deception, you have to do something to help. I made his ex wife a promise that I would fight to vindicate him…so matter how long it took. We are now in our 7th year in this fight for justice. I would welcome any feedback from other men effected. Cheryl King kingcems@alphalink.com.au