An article in the local paper this weekend reminded me of an issue I've noticed seems to becoming more and more common. Here is the article about another infant allegedly killed by a significant other. Not by a parent, but by the parent's boyfriend (in this case, I've seen a couple where it was a girlfriend who was the perpetrator) It's a very sad byproduct of the growing trend of single parenthood, easy come, easy go relationships, and a general tearing down of the ideal of family. The simple fact of the matter is that children, especially infants, can be very frustrating. They can't communicate very specifically, every day is a new experience that can be both good and bad, and they have difficulty understanding what's going on around them. The end result can be extended periods of fussing and crying and screaming when a baby want something or is hurting or uncomfortable or in any of a dozen other states.
Now, for a biological parent, or a non-biological significant other who is seriously committed to their partner and the baby, the frustration can be overcome. Not always easily, and sometimes even natural parents and committed significant others can slip up, but when there is that real, intentional bond between adult and child, the likelihood of losing one's temper to that degree drops significantly. But when there is no commitment beyond one person having a roof over their head, when there isn't any real intention of maintaining a parental relationship with the child, when the child is just an inconvenience that comes with this month's source of whatever is being looked for in a relationship, there isn't always that trigger to hold back.
Obviously, it is very possible for a person who isn't a biological parent to step up to the role, that is not the point of this rant. The point is the difference between those who successfully rise to the challenge and people like this guy and the others who keep popping up in similar stories. That difference is primarily a respect, a belief in committed relationships, usually with an outward symbol of that commitment like a wedding ring. But, as we keep being reminded, the value of marriage keeps going down. More and more people are shacking up for various amounts of time, both short term and long term, the divorce rate among those who do get married remains a 50/50 shot at staying together, even in the Church, babies becoming accessories instead of responsibilities, all of these things are leading to more and more of these cases. We could throw in abortion on demand as a factor as well, but that will get things on a completely different track, so we'll leave that one off for now.
These cases used to be very rare, but as the foundational attitudes that I just mentioned get changed and undermined, they've gotten more common. As these foundations keep eroding, it's going to get worse. Both Christians and conservatives talk about how American society keeps going downhill, but we still haven't bottomed out yet. I talked awhile back about how our current levels of depravity don't touch those reached by ancient empires like Rome. We have to get people to take off their blinders and see the ripple effects of these things. It's bad enough that this infant and the others (this blog from 2008 comes up with 5, it's not hard to find more and more recent ones), think about the wave effect if these foundational trends continue.