Straight Men Make Bad Dads?

April 11th, 2010 by

In January of this year, the Journal of Marriage and Family published a study that concluded that it was unnecessary for children to be raised by both a mother and a father. USA today sums up the study here:

Sociologists Stacey and Timothy Biblarz of the University of Southern California, spent five years reviewing 81 studies of one- and two-parent families, including gay, lesbian and heterosexual couples. “No research supports the widely held conviction that the gender of parents matters for child well-being,” they conclude.

However, Stacey and Biblarz do come to a conclusion that the gender of parents matters!  They seem to believe that straight men are inferior to women and gay men when it comes to parenting!   One of the results of the study found that the gender identity of children raised by same-sex parents was more ambiguous, and Stacey and Biblarz actually come to the conclusion that this is a positive effect, rather than a negative effect.  Dr. Jennifer Morse has consolidated several statements directly from this study which expound on their views:

“Women parenting without men scored higher on warmth and quality of interactions with their children than not only fathers, but also mothers who coparent with husbands.”

“If contemporary mothering and fathering seem to be converging,… research shows that sizable average differences remain that consistently favor women, inside or outside of marriage.”…

“12 year old boys in mother only families (whether lesbian or heterosexual) did not differ from sons raised by a mother and a father on masculinity scales but scored over a standard deviation higher on femininity scales. Thus growing up without a father did not impede masculine development but enabled boys to achieve greater gender flexibility.”

“If, as we expect, future research replicates the finding that fatherless parenting fosters greater gender flexibility in boys, this represents a potential benefit. Research implies that adults with androgynous gender traits may enjoy social psychological advantages over more gender traditional peers.”…

“Thus, it may not be fatherlessness that expands gender capacities in sons but heterosexual fatherlessness. When gay men, lesbians or heterosexual women parent apart from the influence of heterosexual masculinity, they all seem to do so in comparatively gender-flexible ways that may enable their sons to break free from gender constraints as well.”

“Parenting by gay men more closely resembles that by mothers than by most married, heterosexual fathers.”

Are we to come to the conclusion that a child having a loving father in the home is not in the child’s best interest? Is it really a positive thing for the child to potentially have confusion about their gender? That may be the statement these researchers are making, since it is clear that their study showed same-sex or fatherless parenting does have a significant effect on childhood development in this area. However, they are setting aside one of the most important questions of all:  what are the actual experiences and thoughts of a child growing up in a home without a father?  Should we not be asking what is really best for the child?  Following is a Mercator study cited in a previous article here on VOR that specifically takes into account the child’s perspective:

Lesbians raising boys think they can fully compensate for the absence of a father — that fatherlessness is not a problem unless an oppressive society makes it one. But the children do not see it that way:

Parents reported a number of instances where children age four and older would ask about their father. Children would ask someone to be their daddy, ask where their father was, or express the wish to have a father. They would make up their own answers, such as their father was dead, or someone was in fact their father. (10)

Can the “second mommy” compensate for the absence of a father? There is substantial evidence that children benefit from having a second sex represented in the home — not just a second person. Developmental psychologist Norma Radin and her colleagues studied the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren born to adolescent unwed mothers living with their parents. The young children who had positively involved grandfathers displayed more competence than those with an absent or uninvolved grandfather. The presence of the grandmother, on the other hand, did not have a clear-cut impact, suggesting a redundancy between the two forms of maternal influence.(11) Children, especially boys with involved grandfathers, showed less fear, anger, and distress.(12)

Even gay-affirming therapists are noting the problem. In an article entitled, “A Boy and Two Mothers”, Toni Heineman reports that in spite of the pretence that two “mothers” were the same as a mother and father, families had to cope with the reality of an absent father.(13)

Men and women grow up with certain natural expectations about what it means to be a man or a woman. Although activists may claim that these feelings are mere social constructions which they can overcome, in practice nature will always have its way.

The needs and desires that children have for an involved father or father figure are not going to go away.  Children naturally do not want to miss out on either the love of a mother, or the love of a father, in their different expressions!  An excellent quote from Glenn Stanton’s article Fathers Matter sums up some of these differences:

Erik Erikson, a pioneer in the world of child psychology, asserts that a father’s love and a mother’s love are qualitatively different. Fathers “love more dangerously” because their love is more “expectant, more instrumental” than a mother’s love.2 A father brings unique contributions to the job of parenting a child that no one else can replicate.

When we are looking at the family, there is no way to get around the fact that fathers are important.  Heterosexual marriage is important.  Children want their parents to live together and love them in their own unique ways, whether that is politically correct or not!

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