How we parent our kids is one of the biggest topics ever debated, probably dating back to when Cain killed Able and Adam and Eve looked at each other and said simultaneously, “Well this is obviously your fault.”
We’ve talked about stay-at-home moms, work-at-home moms, and work-outside-the-home moms. We’ve discussed single parents. We’ve pondered dads and their importance in children’s lives. To spank or not to spank? That is the controversial question.
In recent years, we’ve been able to add the gay parents versus the straight parents debate to our list of You Probably Suck Parenting Woes.
It is a statistical fact that children born into a family with traditional mother and father parental units do correlationally better than children with gay parents. Of course it’s not causation, gay parents don’t turn out bad kids, but studies consistently show that children raised with a married mother and father fare better as adults than those that don’t.
The New Family Structures Study (NFSS) of the University of Texas has conducted one of the largest and possibly the most comprehensive reviews of children raised with lesbian mothers or gay fathers. This study is unique in that the researchers focused on children who had grown up with gay parents, and are now between the ages of 18-39.
Results showed that young adults raised by gay parents were more likely to be involved in crime, have sexually transmitted diseases, have suffered physical abuse, and they reported significantly higher rates of depression.
I think it’s crap. These children were not conceived and born into a family with committed gay parents that stayed together throughout their childhoods. From the 15,000 young adults screened for the NFSS, only two spent 18 years with the same two mothers. The vast majority of these kids were born into traditional families, and become children of divorce when mom or dad came out of the closet. So you have kids dealing with parents splitting up, and then put another $20 into their therapy jars, because they all of a sudden had a gay parent in a culture where homosexuality was still considered taboo.
It’s not fair to compare these kids with those born in recent years to loving, committed gay couples through adoption, donors, or surrogacy. One of my favorite lesbian mom stories is Cat Cora’s, who carried her partner’s baby while her partner carried Cat’s. How sweet is that?
It’s important for kids to have both male and female positive role models, but there’s nothing that says a grandfather, grandmother, aunt, uncle, or dear friend can’t fill that role. We all face challenges as parents; the important thing is that we recognize them and address them accordingly, not pretend they don’t exist. I have a feeling that today’s kids of gay couples are going to be just fine.
Image via DeepBluC/Flickr