It isn’t often that the same bill produces two “Fools of the Week,” but that is what happened with SB 570 in Wisconsin. Last week, Glenn Grothman got the jester’s cap for sponsoring a bill that equates unmarried parents with child abuse. Essentially, Grothman argued that if only the parents were married, then child abuse and neglect would go away. It is a fanciful vision that marriage solves all domestic problems.
Grothman is not alone in failing to realize that the bad parenting in these situations comes from the same poor relationship skills that lead to these parents not being able to establish a committed relationship between themselves.
One of the supporters of Grothman’s bill, Assemblyman Don Pridemore has taken Grothman’s thinking to the next level. Instead of merely seeking to have unmarried parents get married, Pridemore believes that those in abusive relationships should stay married.
“If they can refind those reasons and get back to why they got married in the first place it might help,” said Pridemore.
Oftentimes, these are life and death situations. Spousal abuse, like child abuse, is not a rational thing where recalling the “reasons” for getting married wipes away the troubles. Pridemore has such an aversion to divorce that he doesn’t even want to see it when a spouse is abused.
Pridemore also has an explanation for why children have problems when they live with only one parent. He believes that the father’s are the disciplinarians. Without them, the children go “astray.”
Couples sticking with bad marriages leave plenty of opportunities for more of that same discipline. That “discipline” is the physical and emotional abuse that is not going to stop as long as one spouse feels trapped in a bad marriage.
If child and spousal abuse could only be cured by marriage and simply recalling the good times in a relationship, then it would make for a great solution. Nevertheless, the problem is far more complicated than that. Too bad Grothman and Pridemore can’t grasp that human relationships and their problems are more complex than a marriage vow.