What Single-Parenting Can Tell Us About Same-Sex Parenting

Jason Dulle

Studies have consistently shown that children reared in single-parent homes suffer emotionally and socially in ways unparalleled to children reared in two-parent homes (See Appendix A). If we recognize the ill effects on children reared in single parent homes-lacking either a mother or a father-why do we think that two persons of the same sex are going to make the situation any better? Are we to believe that the emotional and social difficulties witnessed in children of single-parent households are going to be alleviated merely by adding another warm body to the equation? Do we think there is something magical about the presence of two adults in a home? Why not have three or four parents if it is the mere number of parents that brings about emotional health in a child? Nobody suggests this because we intuitively recognize that it is not the number of parents in a child's life that brings emotional health and social stability to that child. What does then?

Love Isn't Everything

Homosexuals argue that love is all that's necessary to bring about this sort of stability. The homosexual mantra is that "all children really need is love?" Advocates of homosexual parenting seem oblivious to the fact that their mantra indicts many single-parents as non-loving individuals. Do advocates of homosexual parenting really want to argue that children who struggle emotionally in single-parent homes are not being loved by that single parent? This would logically follow given their premises. What would they do with all the examples in which a single parent showers their child with love and attention and yet the child still suffers emotionally and/or socially?

Of course it could be possible that advocates of homosexual parenting are making the more modest claim that the love provided by one parent is simply insufficient-that it requires the combined love of two parents to provide the necessary love to a child. If the love of any one parent is not sufficient, again, why not have three or four parents in the child's life? After all, the more parents the more complete the love, the better the child! No one is arguing for this either.

Children Need a Mom and a Dad

While there is no question that children need love, is it true that love is all they need? It does not seem that love is in itself sufficient to explain healthy child development. It seems apparent that children need something more: they need a mother and a father. Mothers and fathers bring unique contributions to a child's development, that if missing, can impair that child's optimal development. To this researchers agree.

Kyle Pruett, a child psychologist from Yale University said, "Gender plays a large role. ... We may not think these [gender] differences are politically correct but, by God, they're developmentally correct."1

Another psychologist, David Blankenhorn, head of the Institute for American Values, contrasted the roles mothers and fathers play in the life of a child when he said "If mothers are likely to devote special attention to their children's present physical and emotional needs, fathers are likely to devote special attention to their character traits necessary for the future, especially qualities such as independence, self-reliance, and the willingness to test limits and take risks."2

Speaking of the difference of the way in which children learn love from their parents Blankenhorn noted,

Compared to a mother's love, a father's love is frequently more expectant, more instrumental, and significantly less conditional. . . . For the child, from the beginning, the mother's love is an unquestioned source of comfort and the foundation of human attachment. But the father's love is almost a bit farther away, more distant and contingent. Compared to the mother's love, the father's must frequently be sought after, deserved, earned through achievement.3

Sociologist David Popenoe's highlights the different roles played by moms and dads in the areas of values and discipline:

Through their play, as well as in their other child-rearing activities, fathers tend to stress competition, challenge, initiative, risk taking and independence. Mothers in their care-taking roles, in contrast, stress emotional security and personal safety.
While mothers provide an important flexibility and sympathy in their discipline, fathers provide ultimate predictability and consistency. Both dimensions are critical for an efficient, balanced, and humane child-rearing regime.4

This is why San Francisco psychologist, Peggy Drueler, said we "know kids look for same-sex role models, and they benefit from having mothers and fathers."5

What should we conclude, then? The words of Timothy Dailey, Ph.D. sum it up quite nicely:

The complementary aspects of parenting that mothers and fathers contribute to the rearing of children are rooted in the innate differences of the two sexes, and can no more be arbitrarily substituted than can the very nature of male and female. Accusations of sexism and homophobia notwithstanding, along with attempts to deny the importance of both mothers and fathers in the rearing of children, the oldest family structure of all turns out to be the best.6

Nature Determines Families

Mothers and fathers are not interchangeable figures so that we can make any combination of family units we want and the children will turn out the same so long as they receive love (See Appendix B for data concerning the effects of same-sex parenting). No, families are something very specific. Nature designed it so that both a male and a female are required to bring a child into existence, and thus it is natural for that same male and female to raise and nurture that child to adulthood. Any departure from nature's prescription will not be without unnatural consequences.

A mere examination of biology makes it clear that it is unnatural for homosexuals to produce children, and thus it is unnatural for them to rear children as well. Two parents of the same sex cannot offer the child the unique contributions that those of the opposite sex can, thus depriving the child of something very important in its development.7

One might object that there are lots of situations in which fathers abandon their children, thus denying that child the right to two parents of the opposite sex. If we are not going to say single-parents cannot raise their children, then neither should we say that same-sex parents should not be able to raise children. While it is true that many fathers deny their children their right to two parents, what moral truth follows from this? Nothing. It is simply an observation. It observes that something horrible has happened; something that may or may not be irreparable for the child. To use this observation to argue for the neutrality of homosexual parenting is to install an unfortunate set of circumstances from the onset.

It is one thing to do one's best with the unfortunate circumstances they find themselves in, but an entirely other matter to design that situation into the picture from the beginning with same-sex parenting. If it is agreed that the best parental environment includes a mom and a dad, and anything less may be detrimental to the child's development as an individual, why would we want to design that into the family structure? Frankly there is no reason to do so other than the absence of clear thinking, and yet this is where the homosexual agenda will lead us should same-sex unions be institutionalized as marriage in this country.

Same-Sex Parenting--The Link to Same-Sex Marriage

Homosexuals recognize that children are the sole reason for the institution of marriage. To gain the social stamp of approval for their relationships-marriage-they must convince society that they can be good parents. Homosexual advocates do not dare argue that a child is better off being raised by a same-sex couple than he/she is being raised by a heterosexual couple. They know that would be too unbelievable of a claim. What they do try to argue, however, is that a child is just as well off. Dennis Prager commented on this claim, saying:

This…is dishonest. So dishonest that it leads to a certain cognitive dissonance among many of those who make it. On the one hand, they don't really believe that mothers (or fathers) are useless, and they do not wish to lie. On the other hand, they know that they have to say that a mother and father are no better for children than two same-sex parents or they will lose the public's support for same-sex marriage. Were they to admit the obvious truth -- that same-sex marriage means that society will legally and deliberately deprive increasing numbers of children of either a mother or a father -- few Americans would support the legal redefinition of marriage and family.
…Those who push for same-sex marriage base their case on something factually indefensible-that children do not benefit from having a father and a mother; and on something morally indefensible-ignoring what is best for children.8


While we should have learned from the ill effects displayed in children of single-parent homes that healthy child development requires the unique contribution of two parents of the opposite sex, we have not done so. Instead, we have blamed these ills on the lack of love, and falsely concluded that healthy child development ensues from the mere presence of two loving individuals regardless of their sex. Not only is this demeaning to many single parents, but it is logically inconsistent to argue that children develop better in the presence of love and yet at the same time argue that it is reasonable to limit the number of parents to two.

Homosexual parenting is not natural because nature has not afforded same-sex couples the ability to procreate children to rear. While this in itself does not make homosexual parenting wrong, it does make it unnatural, and a look at practical considerations reveals that it is not the optimal parenting model. Mothers and fathers bring unique contributions to a child's development. To install a same-sex parenting model into the system is to knowingly deprive a child of something that is necessary for optimal, healthy development. To ignore nature and common sense in this regard is simply inexcusable and irresponsible. But this is what is being done when we become more concerned about pacifying the demands of homosexual couples to exercise their natural desire to rear children (even though they are without a means to produce those children) than we are to protect the welfare of our nation's children. Let us stand up for children and for clear thinking on this matter.



Appendix A

How Single-Parenting Affects Children

Gunilla Ringbäck Weitoft from Sweden's National Board for Health and Welfare in Stockholm conducted the largest study ever performed on how children are affected by single-parenting. This study, released January 25, 2003 in The Lancet was conducted over the course of a decade (during the 1990s), involving 65,085 children living with a single parent, and 921,257 living with two parents.

The investigators compared death statistics and hospital admission records of their test subjects and found that children raised in single-parent homes are twice as likely as those raised in two-parent homes to develop serious psychiatric problems. Just 1% of girls, and .5% of boys in two-parent homes were hospitalized for severe psychiatric problems, compared to 2.5% of girls and 1.5% of boys in single-parent homes. Likewise, .8% of girls and .2% of boys raised in two-parent homes attempted suicide by age 26, whereas 2.2% of girls and 1% of boys raised in single-parent homes did the same.9

The study found that

children with single parents showed increased risks of psychiatric disease, suicide or suicide attempt, injury, and addiction. After adjustment for confounding factors such as socioeconomic status and parents' addiction or mental disease, children in single-parent households were twice as likely to have psychiatric disease compared with those in two-parent households; relative risks of suicide attempt and for alcohol-related disease were also doubled. The risk of childhood narcotic abuse was increased threefold among girls and fourfold among boys living in single-parent households.10

While the study documented these significant differences between children raised in single-parent homes and those raised in two-parent homes, it did not attempt to explain the reason for the difference. While many answers have been proposed, none makes as much sense as the idea that children need a mom and a dad for normal, healthy development.

Statistics are available from other sources which demonstrate how children fare in the absence of a father (which is the situation of most single-parent homes). Considering the fact that 22% of children are in fatherless households this data is quite significant:

Translating these statistics into more practical data, children from fatherless homes are:

Daughters of single parents are:

It is rather clear that children not only need two parents, but that those parents need to consist of a mom and a dad.


Appendix B:

Developmental Differences Observed in Children of Same-Sex Couples

According to Maurice Rickard studies indicate that children raised in two-parent lesbian homes tend to exhibit some of the following developmental differences from children raised with heterosexual parents. Children of lesbian parents

Even after noting such observations Rickard concluded that "the presence of a father [does not] appear crucial for normal development," adding,

None of the evidence above serves to denigrate the contribution of good father parenting. It does indicate, though, that it is the good parenting rather than the father parenting that is relevant. Developmental research consistently reports that it is the quality of family processes, rather than the nature of family structure (e.g. single, same-sex, or heterosexual couple parents) that is most important to the adjustment of the child.13

I guess Rickard considers confusion over one's sexual identity, the fear of stigmatization, negative reactions to stress, memories of being teased, and a feeling of intellectual and physical inferiority to be acceptable development for children. I would argue that these characteristics found more prominently in children of lesbian parents could be avoided to a great degree if a father was present. It is not just good parenting that brings about a healthy child, but having parents of the right sex so that each can contribute their distinct perspectives and traits to the child.

Other studies reveal the same. The LA Times reported the findings of a study published by USC sociologists Timothy Biblarz and Judith Stacey in the American Sociological Review. In this study Biblarz and Stacey examined 21 studies dating back to the 80s on how same-sex parenting affects children. The found that children raised in the homes of homosexual parents are "more likely to depart from traditional gender roles than children of heterosexual couples."14

Commenting on the differences between children raised in same-sex households versus those raised in heterosexual households Biblarz said there were some modest "but very interesting differences...as we would expect there should be.''15 One such example is sexual restraint. Boys raised in homosexual households are more sexually restrained than those raised in heterosexual households. Just the opposite is true of girls. Girls raised in heterosexual households tend to be more sexually promiscuous. Both, however, have different attitudes toward gender roles than do children of heterosexual parents.

It is deplorable that studies even have to be conducted to demonstrate what society has always recognized: moms and dads bring irreplaceable contributions to child rearing. Do we really need studies to tell us that a mom and a dad are optimal for child development? What's worse is that homosexual advocates appeal to studies whose data supposedly supports the idea that children do just as well being reared by homosexual parents as they do being reared by heterosexual parents. Apart from the fact that many in the field have demonstrated these studies to be methodologically flawed,16 why is it that anyone feels the need to appeal to studies on this issue? It is patently obvious to the average individual that a mother and father are better for children than two mothers or two fathers.


Related Articles:

Homosexuality and the Bible
The Same-Sex Marriage Debate: Who Has the Burden of Proof?
"I Now Pronounce You Man and Man?": An Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage
What is the Definition of the "Definition" of Marriage?
Marriage by Any Other Name is Still Marriage
Arguing Against Homosexuality: A Response to Challenges From a University of California Professor
Dialogue With a Homosexual
Arguing Against Homosexuality


1. Marilyn Elias, "Growing Up With Gay Parents," USA Today; Internet; found at http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2001-08-23-kids-gay-parents-usat.htm; accessed 11 May 2004.
2. David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America (New York: Basic Books, 1995), p 219, quoted in Timothy J. Dailey, "Homosexual Parenting: Placing Children at Risk," Internet; available from http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=IS01J3; accessed 14 May 2004.
3. Ibid.
4. David Popenoe, Life Without Father (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996), pp. 144, 146, quoted in Timothy J. Dailey, "Homosexual Parenting: Placing Children at Risk," Internet; available from http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=IS01J3; accessed 14 May 2004.
5. Marilyn Elias, "Growing Up With Gay Parents," USA Today; Internet; found at http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2001-08-23-kids-gay-parents-usat.htm; accessed 11 May 2004.
6. Timothy J. Dailey, "Homosexual Parenting: Placing Children at Risk," Internet; available from http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=IS01J3; accessed 14 May 2004.
7. While it is arguably better for a child to be adopted by a homosexual couple than to be raised in the orphanage system, when we are confronted with the decision to adopt a child into a homosexual or heterosexual relationship, the heterosexual couple should be given priority. It would be wrong to intentionally deprive a child of a mother and father when such is available. Even homosexual theologian, Ronald E. Long, admits as much when he writes:

I am tempted to concede that it might be best, even for incipiently homosexual children, to grow up within a heterosexual marriage-although the evidence is not yet in, and I suspect that it would be better for a child to grow up in a same-sex marriage than be lost for years in the foster system. But let us note, marriage does not in and of itself qualify a couple either for the right to adopt nor for custody. Even married heterosexual couples must prove themselves adoption-worthy in order to adopt. I see no reason why there would be any difference for same-sex couples. Indeed, depending on the evidence, we might even place the bar higher in the case of the latter. … And, depending on the evidence, I see no reason why in a case involving a homosexual couple and a heterosexual couple vying for custody, barring other evidence to the contrary, the heterosexual couple might not be construed as having on that basis alone a plus. … Thus, same-sex marriage, as a matter of practice, would not necessarily undermine societal preference-if such preference prove justifiable- for children to grow up within heterosexual marriages rather than homosexual ones. [Ronald E. Long, "In Support of Same-Sex Marriage" Philosophia Christi 7 (2005): 29-39; available from http://homepage.mac.com/francis.beckwith/same-sex.pdf; Internet; accessed 22 August 2005.]

8. Dennis Prager, "Same-Sex Marriage: Good for Gays, Bad for Children," 4 May 2004; Internet; available from http://www.townhall.com/columnists/dennisprager/dp20040504.shtml; accessed 5 May 2004.
9. Associated Press, "Single-Parent Kids More At Risk," Feb. 4, 2003; Internet; available at http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/02/04/health/main539283.shtml; accessed 10 May 2004.
10. Ibid.
11. Barbara Whitehead, "Dan Quayle was Right," Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 271, No. 4, April 1993, quoted in http://www.menweb.org/throop/nofather/dart.html; Internet, accessed 11 May 2004.
12. Maurice Rickard, "Children of Lesbian and Single Women Parents," Social Group Policy, Research Note no. 41 2001-02, June 4 2002; available at http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/rn/2001-02/02rn41.htm; Internet; accessed 10 May 2004.
13. Ibid.
14. Sarah Tippit, "Kids of Gay Parents Don't Stick to Gender Roles," Los Angeles Times; found at http://www.homestead.com/lesbiansRus/files/Gender_roles.htm; Internet; accessed 12 May 2004.
15. Ibid.
16. Don Browning, professor at the University of Chicago wrote in the NY Times, "We know next to nothing" about the effects of same-sex parenting on children. The body of sociological knowledge about same-sex parenting," he and his co-author wrote, "is scant at best. ... There are no rigorous, large-scale studies on the effect of same-sex marriage on the couples' children" "Steven Nock, a leading scholar of marriage at the University of Virginia, wrote in March 2001 after a thorough review that every study on this question 'contained at least one fatal flaw' and 'not a single one was conducted according to generally accepted standards of scientific research.' " (Dennis Prager, "Same-Sex Marriage: Good for Gays, Bad for Children," 4 May 2004; Internet; available from http://www.townhall.com/columnists/dennisprager/dp20040504.shtml; accessed 5 May 2004). In 2001, Dr. Robert Lerner issued a report based on the examination of 49 empirical studies on the issue of same-sex parenting. "He found a 'fatal flaw' in each of the studies he examined. Among them were nonexistent control groups, defective measurements and sample groups too small to draw meaningful conclusions. Most troubling perhaps is that only one of the studies Lerner examined had any kind of longitudinal aspect to it." (Adam Jones, "Gay Marriage Debate Leaves Children Behind," 20 Feb 2004, Internet; available from http://www.thehoya.com/viewpoint/022004/view2.cfm; accessed 15 May 2004.

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