Children of Adultery: Not Your Proudest Parental Moment

Posted on August 23, 2013


Simon Cowell and Kim Kardashian have something in common, and it’s not pretty.

A-dul-ter-ate, v.t. [<L. adulteratus, pp of adulterare, to falsify <adulter, an adulterer <ad-, to, + alter, other, another], to make inferior, impure, not genuine, etc., by adding a poor or improper substance.  adj., 1. Guilty of adultery; adulterous.  2.  Illegitimate through adultery.  3.  Adulterated; not genuine.

Granted, we no longer live in an age of calling children “illegitimate,” but even if the definition of adulteration no longer applies to the children themselves, it absolutely does still apply to the violation of a marriage.  So I’m pretty tired of celebrities acting like conceiving children with someone else’s spouse is a cause for celebration.  It is not.

I suspect that Simon Cowell would despise the mention of his name in the same breath with Kim Kardashian’s, but in one way at least, they are two peas in a pod:  they are the proud, adulterous parents of children conceived in violation of existing marriage vows.  In Kardashian’s case, it was her own marriage she violated; in Cowell’s, it was his friend’s marriage. The adulterers trumpet and crow.  The public celebrates along with them.  Scarcely a whiff is mentioned of the cuckolded husbands in these cases, how they might feel, the shambles their lives are made into, their embarrassment, their loss.

If this is how we treat our marriage vows, why even bother?  Just do away with marriage entirely.

Call me a traditionalist, but it doesn’t even matter much to me if someone is separated from their spouse or has filed for divorce.  If, in that situation, someone meets their “true love,” (wait – then why did they marry that other person?), I will concede that, well, two adults might do what adults do.  But please, can we at least maintain that last shred of decency – the veil of deniability?  Discretion?  Can we use contraception, which is so easy and inexpensive to obtain in so many forms today?  No.  No, it seems that increasingly, we want to make babies willy-nilly with either no forethought or only selfish forethought, and having done that, we want to trumpet our sleazy achievement to the world.

To be clear:  it’s not the children who are sleazy.  It is the action of the adulterers.  It is good that children no longer carry the stigma of illegitimacy, the stain of their parents’ transgressions.  However, I think it is just a bit indecent for the adulterous parents to publicly proclaim themselves “proud” of something that would have been best avoided, put off until later, until after the dissolution of the marriage that they were so eagerly violating.  The proper sentiment is not, “Yay!  Look at me, everyone!  I am so proud that my adultery has resulted in pregnancy!”  The proper sentiment, should one have been so careless in one’s private conduct, would be to say nothing, publicly, but if asked, give a more toned-down statement like, “I welcome this child in my life and will be the best parent I can be.”  If pressed about the circumstances, it would be more gracious to admit that the timing was not the best, but the child is welcomed nonetheless.  The word “proud” should never be uttered.

We all know that marriages are not necessarily permanent, but they are intended to be.  We take our vows in the sight of God “until death do us part,” and spend huge sums of money to celebrate and cement  the occasion.  Do relationships go bad?  Yes, especially in today’s throwaway society where we can’t be bothered to fix much of anything, where it’s all about instant gratification, where there is little self-discipline, where everything is OK so long as there is no law against it, where we are not supposed to “judge” others.

So maybe I’m old-school.  Until that divorce decree is actually granted, a little circumspection is in order.  To do less means the marriage vows were never worth anything to start with, the wedding was just a showy waste of money, and we can throw away the people in our lives as easily as we throw out an old t-shirt.