January 23rd, 2010 by M. French

Did you know that having both a child’s mother and father involved in their life is of no real significance? That is the conclusion of sociologists quoted in a USA Today article published recently:

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.

“Children being raised by same-gender parents, on most all of the measures that we care about, self-esteem, school performance, social adjustment and so on, seem to be doing just fine and, in most cases, are statistically indistinguishable from kids raised by married moms and dads on these measures,” Biblarz says.

Did you catch that? “Children being raised by same-gender parents, on most all of the measures that we care about … are statistically indistinguishable from kids raised by married moms and dads on these measures.” Rather than determining that there is no difference between children raised by same-sex couples and those raised by their mother and father, Stacey and Biblarz have decided that according to the measurements they “care about,” there is no discernible difference. What are some of the differences that it would seem these sociologists find unimportant? The following is a section from Dr. Brown’s forthcoming book A Queer Thing Happened to America:

According to Prof. A. Dean Byrd, the meta-analytical study of gay researchers Judith Stacey and Timothy J. Biblarz found that lesbian mothers had a feminizing effect on their sons and a masculinizing effect on their daughters. They report: “…the adolescent and young adult girls raised by lesbian mothers appear to have been more sexually adventurous and less chaste…in other words, once again, children (especially girls) raised by lesbians appear to depart from traditional gender-based norms, while children raised by heterosexual mothers appear to conform to them.”

Yet for Stacey and Biblarz, this was not a negative, and they even suggested that same-sex parenting might be superior. As noted by Dale O’Leary:

Paula Ettelbrick of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force admitted that Stacey and Biblarz had “burst the bubble of one of the best-kept secrets” of the gay community – namely, that the studies it had been using didn’t actually support the claims it was making. Not all gay activists saw this as a problem. Kate Kendall, head of the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights, who raises two children with her partner, took the Stacey-Biblarz article as good news: “There’s only one response to a study that children raised by lesbian and gay parents may be somewhat more likely to reject notions of rigid sexual orientation – that response has to be elation.”

Originally, the goal with this kind of research was to determine what gay activists already “knew”… that children raised by same-sex couples were identical to those raised by their mother and father. The target has now changed to only include statistical measurements that those behind the research decide they “care about” (which evidently does not include promiscuity, sexual orientation, and gender identity), resulting in the opportunity to issue soundbites to mass publications that whether a child is raised by both their mother and father or not does not “matter.”

These are complex issues, and we certainly hope that children raised by same-sex couples grow up to live healthy productive lives, but issuing statements that having a mother and father in the life of a child doesn’t matter, and backing it with data that is laden with presuppositions that many (if not most) would not hold to, is irresponsible. We’ll dig deeper into this subject over the coming weeks, looking at studies that have been done over the years, but a brief excerpt from a Mercator article should suffice in bringing home the reality of what all this means in real life. What happens when a father is replaced with a second mother in a child’s life (which we are being led to believe should not matter)?

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.

I can’t believe we’re living in an era that would make what I’m about to say a controversial statement, but here we are… we were designed to be raised by our mother and father.

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