Recently, at nytimes.com Lisa Belkin of the blog Motherlode, wrote on the effects of gay parenting on children and how factors present in same-sex families can help make all parents better parents. Being a gay parent, I couldn't resist. Sorry this is so quote heavy, but so much of this was relevent and needed to be emphasized.
"Protect the children from the Homosexuals!" is the rallying cry of those that wish to deny gays there rights as American citizens. You can hear it in any anti-gay rights campaign, from marriage equality to employment protections. The same tired argument is always made that gay="bad for kids"....On the subject, Belkin had this to say...
It is striking, then, how comparatively rarely children are mentioned as an argument in favor of gay marriage. The issue is framed as a debate over equality and justice, of personal freedom and the relation of church and state, not about what is good for kids.
That’s partly because, until relatively recently, we didn’t know much about the children of same-sex couples. The earliest studies, dating to the 1970s, were based on small samples and could include only families who stepped forward to be counted.
Wow the 1970's....I'm truly surprised that ANYBODY stepped forward to be studied at that time in history. The gay community, at that time, was just coming out of the closet itself as a community. Most people just wanted to meet someone and/or have sex, date, fall in love...oh...and not get beaten up or jailed. Families had to be a real rarity then.
Fast forward in time and now not only is there better data on the gay community in general, there are also more children of gay families to study. So, after having put our families under a microscope all these long years, what did they find out?
“These children do just fine,” says Abbie E. Goldberg, an assistant professor in the department of psychology at Clark University, who concedes there are some who will continue to believe that gay parents are a danger to their children, in spite of a growing web of psychological and sociological evidence to the contrary.
In most ways, the accumulated research shows, children of same-sex parents are not markedly different from those of heterosexual parents. They show no increased incidence of psychiatric disorders, are just as popular at school and have just as many friends. While girls raised by lesbian mothers seem slightly more likely to have more sexual partners, and boys slightly more likely to have fewer, than those raised by heterosexual mothers, neither sex is more likely to suffer from gender confusion nor to identify themselves as gay.
There are data that show, for instance, that daughters of lesbian mothers are more likely to aspire to professions that are traditionally considered male, like doctors or lawyers — 52 percent in one study said that was their goal, compared with 21 percent of daughters of heterosexual mothers, who are still more likely to say they want to be nurses or teachers when they grow up.
Yes ...California and Maine voters, the kids, in fact, are all right. Being raised by same-sex parents will not make you gay anymore then shaking hands with a gay person will. Its not taught...and it doesn't creep in by osmosis.
That girls raised by lesbian women have sexual partners and boys fewer ones is for obvious reasons. Clearly these mothers are not telling their daughters that sexual gratification is a thing to be ashamed of...nor are they hypocritacally encouraging their sons to womanize. My guess is that they are holding their children to the same non-shaming standards. Wow...maybe the world has changed.
This is not to imply that same-sex families are better than different-sex ones. This is only meant to point out the difference in how kids were "traditionally" raised in a heterosexual family and how things are changing. I know many awsome heterosexual parents who are not only great parents who let their kids be who they are...they are also awsome human beings. After all we, as gay people, rarely come from gay families (it could happen), Nor do we grow from pods. We come from the very same heterosexual families.
Same-sex couples, it seems, are less likely to impose certain gender-based expectations on their children, says M. V. Lee Badgett, director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and author of “When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage.”
They are also, by definition, less likely to impose gender-based expectations on themselves.
"Less likely" is the key word here. We are not immune to passing on the same parenting strategies that were applied to us. All parents know that moment when they channel the spirit of there mother/father and wonder what the hell just came out of their mouth. Its a shocking moment of self realization for ALL parents.
Also, what some child care experts don't take into account is that sometimes, kids just come wired a certain way. I never stop Daniel from playing with his sisters things, yet he hardly ever does and Selena would rather eat a bowlfull of mushrooms (true child torture) then leave the house in an outfit that: A) is't pink and b)isnt color coordinated.
Some of the kids other differences are: Selena loves shoes, Daniel lives to DESTROY shoes. Also, Daniel is content to continue to wear his clothes until I force him to change them or they develop sentient consciousness...whichever comes first. Selena has one "Ken" doll in her doll collection and he is the loneliest doll EVER. He also still has all his clothes and his hair is not messed up a bit...which speaks volumes right there. Most of her dolls look like the spend their free time chasing tornadoes on motorcycles while not wearing a helmet.
Jay and I did not want to gender program our kids. We just wanted them to be kids, whatever that means to them. Likewise, we try not to stereotype our roles as dads. Life does a pretty good job of determining who does what anyway. Jay makes more money than I ever did in my 9-5 retail job...so he works. I stay at home with the kids until Selena starts kindergarten. I do most of the cooking and cleaning...Jay helps out as crisis warrents...which is all too often.
One thing being a stay at home dad has taught me is respect for my mother...who, for many years, did this job alone for my brother and me. My hats are off to all stay at home parents.
So are our kids going to grow up to be screwed up sociopaths?...NO...and by the way..DUH! Our kids may be able to fault us, as parents, for a variety of reasons but being gay won't be one of them. I believe our children will grow up just like every one elses. While I, on the other hand, may walk away with a few more gray hairs, but I wouldn't trade them for a twenty year olds body and a fat bank account.
I only hope that I can teach them everything they will need to face life. Its a big, scary world out there and I hope we can prepare them for it. I hope we can help them grow up to be people of empathy and kindness, who don't see differences. Wondering if we've done a good job teaching these things keeps me up at night as I believe it does for ALL parents.