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November 30, 2011

Swedish academic argues for triparenting

BioEdge

A newsletter of "bioethics news from around the world" summarizes a paper that appeared in a Swedish academic journal about whether, if two parents are better than one, three parents might be better than two.


Swedish academic argues for triparenting

By Jared Yee

One parent is good. Two parents are better. Three parents might be better still. So argues a researcher from Sweden, who published a paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics on multiparenting. Daniela Cutas, of the University of Gothenberg and the Karolinska Institute, challenged “the necessity of the max-two parents framework”. Cutas argues that while there may be drawbacks to families with more than two parents, the benefits can be significant:

“Deviations in parental numbers from the two-parent standard are tolerated in most legislatures from two to one but not from two to three or more. However, more and more children nowadays grow up not only in impoverished, but also in enriched families.”

“On both sides of the Atlantic, research undertaken on such families indicates that neither heterosexual coupledom of the parents, nor genetic ties, are an indication of family success. Instead, what seems to matter for children’s emotional well-being is family process, whatever the number of, genetic link with (or lack of it), sex and sexual orientation of, their parents.”

“Allowing parenting by more than two people might help some who struggle with competition for parenting, as well as the children involved. It might also accommodate the reality of the lives of those who practise triparenting, but cannot, so to speak, make it official. It might, in addition, make it easier for some people to include parenting in their lives. With two more adults to share parenting tasks, one might find it easier to organise one’s life as a parent. Moreover, elective triparenting might have the advantage of coming about without the drama in some of the other situations (eg, as a result of parental separations, remarriages, etc).”

“…having three committed parents may work out better than having only two, at least in some cases; and it is not clear that pushing the parental numerosity criteria upwards is more likely to have negative rather than positive consequences. There are reasons why having three parents may be better than having only two or one: such may be the increased chances of parental survival and the multiplication of resources in general, as well as, arguably, a soothing of competition for legal parenting by not always needing to choose only two.

“There are also reasons why having two parents or one may be better than having three: there is less potential for inter-parental disagreement or separation although, in some cases, choosing only two can lead to the loss of already formed close connections with the children. Moreover, the disadvantages are not inherent and may even become advantages (better likelihood of reaching reasoned decisions, exposure to different viewpoints): especially when the three parents are committed to parenting,” she wrote.


Source (Nov. 25, 2011).

Here's the abstract page of Cutas's paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics: On triparenting. Is having three committed parents better than having only two?, Aug. 9, 2011. (Full journal article requires payment.)

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