Cyber Monday 50% OFF SITE WIDE! Check it out now | Free Shipping + Financing Available!

Effective Parenting is Not About Whether You are Gay, It’s About Whether You are Happy

by Rob Watson July 19, 2013

Slide1My 10-year-old son Jason just bounded out of bed, excited to meet this Saturday morning. He crawled onto my lap as I was trying to type and we reviewed all the great things we have lined up this weekend. Snuggles and kisses ensued. This is his birthday month and he has a lot on his mind, all good stuff.

My two sons were adopted through foster care. Jason has been with me since birth, my younger son, Jesse, came to me at a year old. Anti-gay pundits like to quote “studies” that claim that our kind of family is bad and can’t work. The funny thing is, from our vantage point on this Saturday morning, everything seems to be working just fine.

The anti-gays actually quote only one study, one done by Mark Regnerus. In that study, please guess how many families like mine—families where children were raised long term by two male parents—were studied. Guess.

Zero. That’s right. Not one. Two, only two, of the respondents in hundreds were raised by lesbian mothers, but none by gay fathers. The only “gay fathers” in the study were parents who, after leaving the families in question, had some sort of gay encounter. The study, while pretending to indict families like mine, actually studied long-term intact families as compared with fragmented and dysfunctional families. Even Regnerus could not tie factors to gender.

So, real studies that compare like families to like families are somewhat welcome, if no other reason than for clarity. What are the real factors that affect families?

“Be inspired” says a new public service announcement from the ABC Family show The Fosters and the LGBT-family-oriented RaiseAChild.US organization. The ad targets prospective LGBT parents, and others, as potential foster parents. While inspiration to parent is absolutely an arguable point, according to new studies on adoptive parenting and child-rearing, the comment “be happy” might also be a key and appropriate goal.

One study, “Predictors of Psychological Adjustment in Early Placed Adopted Children With Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Parents,” was published in the Journal of Family Psychology, and is co-authored by Williams Institute Visiting Scholar Abbie E. Goldberg and JuliAnna Z. Smith of the University of Massachusetts. The study found that factors leading to the greatest success in healthy children included parent preparedness before having the child, depressive tendencies of the parents, and lack of parental conflict in raising the child. In other words, how happy the parents are makes a difference.

What does not make a difference? “The emotional and behavioral outcomes of children adopted and raised by same-sex couples do not differ from those of children adopted and raised by different-sex couples,” said Goldberg. “Our findings lend support for arguments that prospective adopters should not be discriminated against, in policy or practice, based on sexual orientation.”

A study conducted by Cambridge University in March of this year reported similar findings. “Overall we found markedly more similarities than differences in experiences between family types,” said Professor Susan Golombok, director of the Centre for Family Research and co-author of the Cambridge report.

Optimistic attitudes did emerge in that study as well. “The differences that did emerge relate to levels of depressive symptoms in parents, which are especially low for gay fathers,” Golombok concluded.

My family, more by happenstance than by design, falls into the characteristics described in the studies for healthy families. My sons were planned for years before they arrived. They have never been cared for by a parent who was disgruntled about the role he had to undertake and the duties he was called on to perform. Our home has always been vibrant and vital. Depression is not a factor.

We did not need a study to tell us to be this way. None of the LGBT families I know, and that number ranges in the dozens, has had to be told to be affirming. We do not operate in the world of the accidental pregnancy. We are not subject to gender assigned roles, but contribute to our families in ways that match our individual talents and abilities. We did not become parents because we had to or were expected to, or by accident; we became parents because we wanted to.

So, I don’t measure the success of my family by studies. If I need documented confirmation that things are okay, I turn to other sources, like the cards my sons gave me for Mother’s Day.

Jesse’s said, “Dear Daddy, I love you when you hold me in your arms and when I get hurt and you give me a hug.” Jason’s said, “I love you more than video games, movies, my Mario Cart 7 and anything else in the whole wide world. I love you more than all the fish sticks in the world.”

Take that, Mark Regnerus.

Today, my sons are going to meet with their tutor. We are going to go see their grandparents, where they will go swimming. We may catch a movie. What we won’t be doing is diving under some sociologist’s microscope. We are simply going to go on with our lives and love one another. A lot.

And we are going to be happy.

The post Effective Parenting is Not About Whether You are Gay, It’s About Whether You are Happy appeared first on The Next Family.




Rob Watson
Rob Watson

Author


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Parenting

Modern Fitness For the Modern Parent

by The Next Family March 25, 2016

e13db90f29f21c3e81584d04ee44408be273e7d61cb710479cf7_640_fitness-300x214@2x

Originally published on The Seattle Lesbian

By Laura King

Life can get busy. With work, kids, family commitments, friends, chores, and the general chaos of everyday life, it can be near impossible at times to sit down for a cup of tea, let alone squeeze in an hour of exercise regularly. However, all things are possible if you set your mind to them. Those that prioritize their fitness nearly...

Continue Reading →

Estate Planning: The Basics For LGBT Families

by The Next Family March 25, 2016

With the passage of marriage equality last year, laws have been quickly changing across the United States. LGBT couples with or without children weren’t just given the right of marriage, they were provided new protections and benefits within their families. All of a sudden, LGBT couples and families had to figure out how to file jointly when it came to taxes, how to add...

Continue Reading →

Representation of Modern Families in Kid-Friendly Entertainment

by The Next Family March 24, 2016 1 Comment

SidsFamily

By Alex Temblador

I recently wrote an article for The Next Family called, “Family-Friendly Films That Feature Adoption and Foster Care,” that shared wonderful family films with adoption or foster care story lines. My reasoning behind doing so was because every family deserves a chance to see similar families like theirs represented in various forms of entertainment.

The same can be said of other...

Continue Reading →