The families house
How we found a way to make same-sex parenthood work for children
On our planet we were lucky that we never forgot the great variety of human gender and of human love.
And because it was natural that families with similar reproductive organs would arrange for a donor to have offspring, it didn’t occur to us to question anything about this practice. And for centuries children of some same-sex couples suffered silently.
Kasa, a retired architect, decided to investigate how children are affected if they don’t know both their biological parents. Kasa paid particular attention to those cases where the donor had no interest in — to put it bluntly — what had happened to the donation.
The results of this research shook us to our bones. We had always considered ourselves as a wise planet, as people who thought before acting, as people who always assumed that what we thought we knew might not be all that wise after all.
But never did we expect to be this shamed in realising that we had been blind to the sufferings of generations of children.
Children and their biological roots
We have not yet found out why, but for some reason children need to know who their parents — their biological parents — are. And more embarrassingly, it makes a difference whether or not a child can look up to their parents or not.
(That led us to do rethinks on parenthood in general. These have not yet been shared with planet Earth.)
And it seems likewise important for a child to know that the biological parents care about it.
Despite the shock and shame of our discovery, inventiveness set in and we started to explore what we could do for these children. We tested hundreds of measures to find the few that seem to work. And two of those have the most astonishingly positive results.
The donation ceremony
Marla, one of the lead scientists and visionaries, invented the donation ceremony with her team.
The ceremony really consists of several, starting with ceremonies to prepare both the recipient and the donor for parenthood.
The highlight is the choosing ceremony where a donor and a recipient choose to become the biological parents of the child (to be) and sign a contract to take responsibility for the child. This includes (and that is more important than we anticipated) a clause that the child can choose to leave the recipient and stay with the donor instead.
This approach ensures three vital points: a child will always know who their biological parents are. Secondly, no one will carelessly become a donor any more, because being a donor now comes with responsibilities. And thirdly, recipients have developed an understanding that the child’s needs are at least as important as their own.
Couples on our planet choose which ceremonies to perform, and some choose to create a stronger bond between the biological parents (often including their partners) for the sake of the future of their child or children.
Kasa and their partner Ben plus their team went a step further and invented something that needs getting used to, that doesn’t always work, but that is gaining popularity among same-sex couples.
The families house
Roughly sketched, the families house consists of a centre building (usually circular) and two towers on opposite sides. The gardens reflect this design, there is a circular space and separate gardens on opposite sides. Hedges make sure that each garden has it’s private space.
The central part inside the house is often a circular room, a mix of a sitting room and a children’s playroom with desks for the children’s studies, plus an eating area and an open kitchen. This space is used by the children and by all families.
Each tower (which can vary much in size and design) houses a couple or a single parent. The life in each tower is pretty much autonomous. It doesn’t have to be, but we have many positive reports from families houses where the inhabitants have their independent lives and have little to do with the people in the other tower. We also have reports from other families who have a very active life together at the centre of the house and enjoy each other’s company while likewise enjoying the privacy of their tower.
Children, depending on their age and inclination, can have rooms in the central part of the house and/or in the towers. The one important thing we found is not to shower the children with possessions. And the families house works better with three or more children.
Children are astonishingly happy in their own company, and they have a great ability to learn by themselves if they are not dulled by an overuse of outside entertainment. Our research (and we are still only two decades into this) suggests that children don’t need constant supervision. In fact, to develop they seem to need opportunities and impulses, and a families house provides plenty of those: in each tower, in the gardens, in their own kingdom — the central part of the house. What is important for a child is to know that their parents will be available when they need someone to talk to, or when a fall needs digesting, or when they have a question.
Families houses can be extended to have three or more towers. We have one experiment with seven towers which seems to work, too. And of course, families houses can be used by a mix of couples, reflecting the diversity of our society, and the children don’t need to be related. There are a few trials with multi-storey families houses which appear to be promising, as well.
Overall, our children seem to develop happier, stronger and more inventive characters than before.
Kasa and their partner built a fantastic manor house. The first and second floor are given to families. On those floors each corner of the house is a family’s central space, and each corner has towers left and right of it with beautiful spiral staircases. This way the manor house gives space to eight families which can meet on the roof gardens.
The ground floor of the manor house is a place for students and artists of all walks of life, and frequently festivals are held in the courtyard, ballroom and library — and stables.
If you are wondering why we put so much effort into finding out how families can work best, the answer is simple: If you have sick families you get sick societies. If you have sick children, how can you expect them to create a healthy future for themselves?