Last spring, while I was watching my son play baseball from the sidelines, one of the other mothers I was sitting with admitted she sometimes felt jealous of the many lesbian parents raising children in our neighborhood. "Imagine raising your children with another mom," she said, eyes wide with wonder and envy. "How great would that be?" We all knew what she meant. Most of us thought our husbands were great dads, but the idea of sharing parenting duties 50-50 with another mom? That sounded like parenting nirvana.
A new study proves my baseball-mom pal may have been onto something: Kids raised by lesbian parents are not only as happy and well adjusted as those raised by heterosexual parents of opposite genders, they also fare better in certain situations, such as in the case of the parents' separation or divorce.
So do lesbians make the best parents? I think you could make a pretty compelling case for it. Here are five reasons that may well be true:
1. Their children are wanted: It's not like lesbians generally get pregnant accidentally -- or even without a great deal of forethought. The children of lesbians are wanted and prepared for. That counts for a lot, in terms of parenting commitment.
2. Their children learn tolerance, open-mindedness, and gender-parity early: Kids who are raised in lesbian households are exposed right away to the idea that all families don't look the same, that people sometimes make judgments that are not right and not fair, and that tasks and behaviors sometimes thought to be gender-specific or gender-determined often are not.
3. Their children may learn early to stand up for what is right: Although it may be hard to see a bright side of children being teased for having families that are "different," it may help them learn to take a stand for what they believe in and what they know to be true and just.
4. Their marriages were hard-won: Let's face it, many of us straight parents take marriage -- and the benefits that it can provide -- for granted. Gay couples have worked hard for the right to marry in some states. Though the research shows that heterosexual and same-sex marriages don't fundamentally differ in terms of commitment and satisfaction, I would contend that having two parents who are keenly aware of the benefits of marriage and commitment can only work to a family's benefit.
5. They can share the worry and mom-guilt equally: I can't speak for you, but in my household, although my husband and I share parenting duties pretty equally, I carry darn near 100 percent of the worry and guilt load. It is me -- the mother -- who wakes bolt upright in the middle of the night in a fit of panic for forgetting the school field trip or afterschool registration or birthday-party RSVP, while my husband blissfully sleeps through the night. Imagine waking up in the middle of the night and finding your fellow mom also awake and concerned -- and taking action. Yeah, see what my baseball-mom friend meant?
Do you think lesbians may well make the best parents?
Image via xtopher1974/Flickr