Sunday, June 27, 2010

love is what's important (random thoughts on gay parenting)

There was a recent study (with 25 years of research) that suggests that children with lesbian parents are well-adjusted and have fewer behavioral problems than their peers with heterosexual parents. My response to this is a resounding: DUH!

I'm not saying that there is anything inherently better about lesbian or gay parents than heterosexual parents. Good parents are good parents, no matter their sexual orientation. The thing is, to me it seems obvious that if you take a random sampling of the overall population of children with hetero parents and a random sampling of children with gay parents, you are going to have a much higher percentage of the latter in loving and nurturing homes (and being in a loving and nurturing home environment, in my humble opinion, is directly related to how socially and behaviorally well-adjusted a child is).

The unfortunate fact is, there are lots and lots of kids out there whose parents didn't mean to have them, whose parents weren't "together" when they got pregnant, and/or whose parents don't give the responsibility of parenting too much thought.

Lesbian or gay couples, however, don't have the luxury of ambivalence or the ability to take parenting for granted. You don't "accidentally" get pregnant if you are a lesbian. Rather, it takes people who are planning for a child so diligently that they have to really go out of their way to have one. If you try that hard to bring a child into your home, chances are you're going to continue to go out of your way to raise your child well and make good decisions and choices to help your child succeed.

Throughout college, I did a lot of babysitting to make extra money. I cared for tons of great kids, but the two who stick out in my mind as particularly amazing little people were a brother-and-sister pair whose two mommies were incredibly attentive, warm, and nurturing parents. These kids were startlingly smart (the little boy was two when I started caring for him and he would do addition, subtraction, and basic multiplication with the food on his plate at dinner) and sweet-sweet-sweet! The fact that their parents were lesbians was irrelevant; instead, what mattered was that they got all of the love and attention that they needed. Every day, their moms played games with them, sang songs with them, read books to them, talked with them, cuddled them, etc. If every child in this country was lucky enough to have parents just half as great as those two moms, imagine how much better off we would be!

Jude and I try our best to be good parents to Ruby by loving each other and loving her and showering her with attention and affection. This has nothing to do with the fact that we are heterosexual, but everything to do with how much we love our family and how badly we want to do right by our daughter. Love is what connects a family, not the constructions of the law.

1 comment:

  1. My daughter has a father who is in a homosexual relationship. I am now remarried, so my daughter has three daddies and a Mommy. I have been losing sleep, worried sick over what this lifestyle could do to affect her social relationships as I send her off to Kindergarten this year. I accept the lifestyle, more than anyone, having had many gay friends over the years and a gay brother. BUT, I still worry about bullying and the hurt it could cause her. Mommy has cried many tears of worry. But thank you Annie, for giving me clarity and reminding me that it is not about how people view her, but about the love and attention she will get form the people who love and care for her. Ultimately, that will make her who she is - and I think so far - we've done a pretty great job! K.RATHE