Looks like Heather’s two mommies really aren’t “all that”
A gentleman named Mark Regnerus has done a study of gay parenting that has a lot of people in a lather. You can read his Slate article about it here. He is being criticized for having an agenda, being a bigot, a homophobe, and a Christian zealot. No word on whether anyone has called his mother an astronaut yet.
His study finds that children who spend a portion of their childhood being parented by same-sex partners, a gay single parent, or a “mixed orientation” couple, are, as adults, “more apt to report being unemployed, less healthy, more depressed, more likely to have cheated on a spouse or partner, smoke more pot, had trouble with the law, report more male and female sex partners, more sexual victimization, and were more likely to reflect negatively on their childhood family life, among other things.” He adds that while the study did not attempt to determine causation, it could be due to the instability of their living situations.
I wasn’t the least bit surprised.
The article made me think of the late Allison Crews. She was one of the founders of girlmom.com, a site for teen mothers, and a mother herself of a son named Cade. Miss Crews, or Alli as she was called, died in June of 2005 at the age of 22. Cade was seven at the time. Suicide was suspected, but the coroner found the cause of death to be a seizure induced by Wellbutrin.
Alli was raising her son while cohabitating with her “partner,” Julie. Julie had also been a teenage mother, and her son was about Cade’s age. (The girlmom.com mission statement declares: “We support lesbian, queer, bi, trans, and poly mamas and feel that no one should ever have to justify or explain their sexual identity and practices.” I have always been deeply puzzled as to how so many of these teen mothers morph into lesbians. I mean, they must have liked boys enough to have sex with one at least once.)
Alli spent a lot of time ranting and raving on her now-purged Livejournal account. In the spring of 2003, she lamented that Cade came home from school one day and informed her that Heather does NOT have two mommies. She has a mommy and a daddy, because two mommies can’t make a baby. Then he said HE wanted a daddy. Alli was crushed, and did what any loving mother would do:
She shipped him off to stay with Grandma and Grandpa for a while.
So here you have a kid who was sometimes raised by a single mother, sometimes raised in a lesbian household, and sometimes raised by his grandparents, who ultimately took custody of him after his mother’s death. I don’t know how he is doing now, seven years later, and it is certainly not my business to know, but I hope he is defying the odds. The point is, that level of turmoil in a child’s life can never be the optimal situation.
The other point is that children just want to belong. They want to be like other kids. Here you had a little boy who was repeatedly exposed to Heather Has Two Mommies, and told that having two mommies was PERFECTLY NORMAL, and he knew it wasn’t so. The other kids knew it too, because the vast majority of them did not have two mommies. I don’t have the faintest idea if having two mommies or two daddies is better than being raised by a single parent. But single parenthood is certainly more common than same-sex parents, so even those kids take less static from their peers. Anyway, I’m guessing Cade’s desire for a daddy was due at least in part to what his classmates had to say about his family situation, and maybe even a little envy of theirs.
There will never be enough gay couples raising children, let alone gay couples that raise a child together for the entire 18 years of his or her childhood, for it to become as ubiquitous as heterosexual parenting. All the preaching about “tolerance” in the world isn’t going to change that, because there simply aren’t that many gay people. Straight up, the kids are going to feel different, because their situations ARE different.
What also isn’t going to change is that most of the children with gay parents are the result of a failed heterosexual relationship. That carries its own set of problems. The rest of them came to be part of the family unit by either assisted reproduction (artificial insemination or IVF for the ladies, surrogacy for the men) or via adoption. That means they are biologically related to only one, or none, of the people who are raising them. Step-parented children and adopted children can have issues as well.
Granted, children raised by two married biological parents can be royally screwed up too. It is, however, less likely than with any other familial situation. Study after study backs me up on this.
I don’t know what anyone else took away from this study and the accompanying article. I concluded that once you have children, you should suck it up and do your best to stay married, at least until they have left the nest. You can become a self-actualized lesbian radical feminist, or a member of the Village People, after the kids head off to college. If you dissolve the marriage, you’ve just increased the odds that your offspring will be living in your house until they are 35. That’s something to think about when you’re ruminating on whether you want to make your marriage work or not.
My other conclusion was that I’m glad *I* didn’t have Heather’s two mommies. That would have just been… weird. Growing up, I consciously chose a pretty low level of conformity. I might have deeply resented it if the adults in my life decided to pile an unheard-of family situation on top of that.