Before we get into this, I must qualify my comments by stating I am a straight white male who raised three children to adulthood while going through a divorce from an emotionally abuse women and a subsequent 8 year relationship. Through that I have suffered both physical and mental health issues. Despite that, my children are now all well adjusted adults.
Proponents of same-sex marriage believe the only thing children really need is love. Based on that supposition, they conclude it’s just as good for children to be raised by loving parents of the same sex, as it is to be raised by loving parents of the opposite sex. Unfortunately, that basic assumption—and all that flows from it—is false. Because love isn’t enough!
Proponents of same sex marriage, or indeed modern parenting, believe that love is an integral part of raising children. Undoubtedly, some believe that love is all it takes, others are aware that love must be tempered with discipline and presenting a moral example for the children to follow.
All else being equal, children do best when raised by a married mother and father. It’s within this environment that children are most likely to be exposed to the emotional and psychological experiences they need in order to thrive.
Men and women bring diversity to parenting; each makes unique contributions to the rearing of children that can’t be replicated by the other. Mothers and fathers simply are not interchangeable. Two women can both be good mothers, but neither can be a good father.
We quickly jump into the arguments that children require parenting by two people, one male and one female if they are to thrive—do we get a definition for thriving? How are the two parents not interchangeable? We are about to find out. We are about to get 5 reasons why the Catholic Church believes that gender specific parents are required for proper childhood development. These reasons are all just dumped out there with no research or psychological theories to back these pronouncements. I’ll take them on one by one.
So here are five reasons why it’s in the best interest of children to be raised by both a mother and a father:
1. First, mother-love and father-love—though equally important—are qualitatively different and produce distinct parent-child attachments. Specifically, it’s the combination of the unconditional-leaning love of a mother and the conditional-leaning love of a father that’s essential to a child’s development. Either of these forms of love without the other can be problematic. Because what a child needs is the complementary balance the two types of parental love and attachment provide.
Only heterosexual parents offer children the opportunity to develop relationships with a parent of the same, as well as the opposite sex. Relationships with both sexes early in life make it easier for a child to relate to both sexes later in life. For a girl, that means she’ll better understand and appropriately interact with the world of men and be more comfortable in the world of women. And for a boy, the converse will hold true. Having a relationship with “the other”—an opposite sexed parent—also increases the likelihood that a child will be more empathetic and less narcissistic.
First of all, as a father, I am extremely insulted at any suggestion that the love I feel for my children is in any way conditional. Although unsourced, much of these two paragraphs seem taken from, or built upon, the discredited research of Mark Regnerus. Rather than go into details here, you can read what his critics say about the flaws in his methodology, the process, and the interpretation. More here, here, and here. 2. Secondly, children progress through predictable and necessary developmental stages. Some stages require more from a mother, while others require more from a father. For example, during infancy, babies of both sexes tend to do better in the care of their mother. Mothers are more attuned to the subtle needs of their infants and thus are more appropriately responsive. However, at some point, if a young boy is to become a competent man, he must detach from his mother and instead identify with his father. A fatherless boy doesn’t have a man with whom to identify and is more likely to have trouble forming a healthy masculine identity. A father teaches a boy how to properly channel his aggressive and sexual drives. A mother can’t show a son how to control his impulses because she’s not a man and doesn’t have the same urges as one. A father also commands a form of respect from a boy that a mother doesn’t––a respect more likely to keep the boy in line. And those are the two primary reasons why boys without fathers are more likely to become delinquent and end up incarcerated. Father-need is also built into the psyche of girls. There are times in a girl’s life when only a father will do. For instance, a father offers a daughter a safe, non-sexual place to experience her first male-female relationship and have her femininity affirmed. When a girl doesn’t have a father to fill that role she’s more likely to become promiscuous in a misguided attempt to satisfy her inborn hunger for male attention and validation. Overall, fathers play a restraining role in the lives of their children. They restrain sons from acting out antisocially, and daughters from acting out sexually. When there’s no father to perform this function, dire consequences often result both for the fatherless children and for the society in which these children act out their losses.
This reads like a handbook on child development from the 1950s, or even earlier. Perhaps from the days of Freud.
The research I was able to discover on raising fatherless children was focused on children raised by single mothers where the father was absent by choice or incarceration. In some of these studies, there were long term negative impacts on children, but the impact was unrelated to the sexual orientation of the mother. In other studies, the outcomes for children were the same in fatherless homes, as in two parent homes.
3. Third, boys and girls need an opposite-sexed parent to help them moderate their own gender-linked inclinations. As example, boys generally embrace reason over emotion, rules over relationships, risk-taking over caution, and standards over compassion, while girls generally embrace the reverse. An opposite-sexed parent helps a child keep his or her own natural proclivities in check by teaching—verbally and nonverbally—the worth of the opposing tendencies. That teaching not only facilitates moderation, but it also expands the child’s world—helping the child see beyond his or her own limited vantage point.
Again, the writer describes gender differences that are often explained by reinforcing the stereotypes throughout development. In other words, aspiring to raise children with gender specific traits will result in children demonstrating gender specific traits. For those who view the world through a feminist lens, these differences are overcome by treating all children with the same expectations and giving them equal opportunities. Perhaps the writer should read some psychology from the 21st century
Fourth, same-sex marriage will increase sexual confusion and sexual experimentation by young people. The implicit and explicit message of same-sex marriage is that all choices are equally acceptable and desirable. So, even children from traditional homes—influenced by the all-sexual-options-are-equal message—will grow up thinking it doesn’t matter whom one relates to sexually or marries. Holding such a belief will lead some—if not many—impressionable young people to consider sexual and marital arrangements they never would have contemplated previously. And children from homosexual families, who are already more likely to experiment sexually, would do so to an even greater extent, because not only was non-traditional sexuality role-modeled by their parents, it was also approved by their society.
There is no question that human sexuality is pliant. Think of ancient or—among many other early civilizations—where male homosexuality and bisexuality were nearly ubiquitous. This was not so because most of those men were born with a “gay gene,” rather it was because homosexuality was condoned by those societies. That which a society sanctions, it gets more of.
Here, the assumption is made that sexuality is only to be experienced within the bounds of a heterosexual marriage. Others are quite accepting of sexuality being expressed in appropriately aged teens with concomitant education and safe practices. Young people who are empowered to accept their own choices in relationships should be commended, not condemned.
We would expect, children exposed to varying forms of relationships are more likely to be accepting of those forms. This can be assumed of all non-traditional pairings, mixed race, mixed religion, or other mixes that are not found in a specific society.
What is ultimately important is that psychologists have found no difference in the mental health of children of homosexual or heterosexual couples.
5. And fifth, if society permits same-sex marriage, it also will have to allow other types of marriage. The legal logic is simple: If prohibiting same-sex marriage is discriminatory, then disallowing polygamous marriage, polyamorous marriage, or any other marital grouping will also be deemed discriminatory. The emotional and psychological ramifications of these assorted arrangements on the developing psyches and sexuality of children would be disastrous. And what happens to the children of these alternative marriages if the union dissolves and each parent then “remarries”? Those children could end up with four fathers, or two fathers and four mothers, or, you fill in the blank.
There are many legal ramifications of legitimizing relationships of more than 2 people, but if those difficulties can be resolved, why make the assumption they are necessarily harmful. The primary consideration should be the parties’ ability to be fully cognisant of the consequences of the contract they are entering into. Of course, I am referring to the recognition of these relationships by the state. Churches have always been, and will continue to be, able to choose the parameters of the relationships they wish to endorse.
I have been unable to find research on children of polyamorous relationships, or equality based polyandrous or polygamous relationships, but I suspect that the primary determination for the mental health would be the emotional health of their parents.
Certainly homosexual couples can be just as loving as heterosexual couples, but children require more than love. They need the distinctive qualities and the complementary natures of a male and female parent.
Again with the heteronormativity. All of this presupposes that gender based roles are the ideal and what society should strive towards. Feminism, since the days of Mary Woolstonecraft has been fighting against this type of sexism. In Canada, StatsCan reports that in almost 30% of heterosexual households, women are the primary earners. In the US, the number has climbed to 37%. These stats in themselves indicate that the heteronormative ideal expressed in this article is already being supplanted by a new equality based society, although much work is still to be done in the area of gender equality.
The accumulated wisdom of over 2,000 years has concluded that the ideal marital and parental configuration is composed of one man and one woman. Arrogantly disregarding such time-tested wisdom, and using children as guinea pigs in a radical experiment, is risky at best, and cataclysmic at worst.
This is known as an Appeal to Antiquity , a logical fallacy that pre-supposes that traditional ideas are necessarily better. This argument is often used to oppose many forms of equality, and in the case of one-women-one-man marriage, isn’t even true. While there are instances of two person monogamy in the Bible, polygamy is not condemned.
Same-sex marriage definitely isn’t in the best interest of children. And although we empathize with those homosexuals who long to be married and parent children, we mustn’t allow our compassion for them to trump our compassion for children. In a contest between the desires of some homosexuals and the needs of all children, we can’t allow the children to lose.
Modern psychologists largely agree that children raised in same sex households are not disadvantaged in any way, thus compassion for homosexual couples is directly linked to compassion for their children. The negative impacts of bullying on children are well known, and having the leadership of one of the world’s major religion declare their parents sexuality to be ‘inherently disordered’ could be seen as a form of bullying. In addition, the forces opposing homosexuals lend support to direct bullying and harassment.
If your goal is to raise adults who fit into the stereotypical roles of men as hunters and breadwinners and women as stay at home mothers; adults who do not accept the differences expressed in our society; and adults who refuse to accept that a changing society is a healthy society, then these five point are written for you.