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Jun 06 2013

My poor children didn’t reap the benefits of gay marriage

An Australian survey of the children of same-sex couples has some shocking news: gay marriage may be better for children.

An interim report found there was no statistical difference between children of same-sex couples and the rest of the population on indicators including self-esteem, emotional behaviour and the amount of time spent with parents.

However, children of same-sex couples scored higher than the national average for overall health and family cohesion, measuring how well the family members get along.

But actually, the current hypothesis isn’t that gay marriage is better for you, it’s that people open to gay marriage are more tolerant and make for better parents.

”Because of the situation that same-sex families find themselves in, they are generally more willing to communicate and approach the issues that any child may face at school, like teasing or bullying,” lead researcher Dr Simon Crouch said.

”This fosters openness and means children tend to be more resilient. That would be our hypothesis.”

Mother of three Kate Coghlan concurred. ”We talk about everything: from how they were conceived to the different relationships that people have,” the 39-year-old said. ”They are very accepting and more tolerating of diversity.”

So don’t weep, heterosexual couples, there’s nothing wrong with your relationship, and your children have every hope of being just as happy as children of gay parents. There are these things even we straight people can do, like talking and sharing and helping our children. So do it more.

52 comments

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  1. 1
    Sastra

    However, children of same-sex couples scored higher than the national average for overall health and family cohesion, measuring how well the family members get along.

    Ah, but how well do the children get along with God? Not the false, distorted God(s) of the liberals, but the real, one True God?

    Not well, not well at all. Any measure of “health” would surely have to include spiritual health — the most important life factor of all.

    Evidence like this will not be sufficient to convince people who work using different definitions; it will simply roll off their backs like water on an impregnable surface. I think we have to chip away at the unquestioned assumptions they start out with.

  2. 2
    Steve LaBonne

    And this comes on top of a widely publicized recent study that suggests same-sex marriages may be more satisfying and more durable than straight marriages.

    Gay marriage is destroying the institution of marriage, all right- or rather, destroying the bad, old patriarchal hangovers that still afflict that institution. Oh, wait, that’s exactly what the wingnuts have a problem with, isn’t it.

  3. 3
    timmyson

    I wonder if it has to do with being wanted; that homosexual couples need to go to special effort to have kids. I’ll bet you could test this by comparing to heterosexual couples with fertility issues. (Thoughts highly influenced by this.

  4. 4
    DaveL

    I’m sure it helps that gay couples are unlikely to get married because of an unplanned pregnancy. It shouldn’t surprise us that people who parent by choice make better parents.

  5. 5
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    Saw this on another site and someone made a good point:

    In order to have a child of a same-sex marriage (barring any children from previous marriages), the couple has to adopt, go through IVF, or choose a surrogate.

    This is a situation where the married couple is ready, financially and emotionally and in any other way that’s necessary, to have a kid. They want the kid. They’re able to care for the kid. They’re not surprised by it.

  6. 6
    Inaji

    timmyson:

    I wonder if it has to do with being wanted; that homosexual couples need to go to special effort to have kids.

    Do you seriously have to ponder that question? A child being wanted and planned for makes all the difference in the world. Too many people give little to no thought at all to pregnancy, birth and the consequent raising of a child. Many people put more thought and planning into buying a car.

  7. 7
    Gregory in Seattle

    As others have said, I suspect that wanting/planning for children is the essential difference, regardless of the gender of the parents involved.

  8. 8
    barbyau

    Never underestimate the difference it makes in parenting to be parents by choice versus parents by accident. Because of the massive societal obstacle course gays have to forming families, we are very often together by choice (whether with or without kids).

    How many straight people simply get married because that’s what you do at a certain point? Stay together because their God tells them that’s what they should do? Have children after a drunken tryst? All of those things will show up in how the family interacts and relates.

    We tend to see these same sorts of differences in child rearing results between blue states and red states. People who support Planned Parenthood and believe in family planning do better as parents as well.

  9. 9
    Azuma Hazuki

    Yeah, I think this is more down to these couples actually giving a damn about the kids, planning ahead and wanting them. Straight couples can do this too; I would guess if they were able to stratify by something like income or (*shudder*) self-reported metrics of readiness for children, these couples would fall into the same bracket as the straight ones who planned ahead and really wanted children.

    That said, might there be some “natural” tendency for better parenting among lesbian couples? I know I’m not anyone’s idea of any standard USDA Acme lesbian, but I’ve always been really really maternal (there are pictures of 2-year-old me bottlefeeding her little sister, which looks like a bigger baby feeding a smaller one) and have only ever fallen in love with women who feel similarly. It seems like, among women who have these urges, sexual orientation doesn’t matter; I’d love to adopt a child and raise her, or him, with my girlfriend. And having “two mommies” can’t hurt when both of them are super into childcare, right?

  10. 10
    magistramarla

    Azuma,
    Please adopt a child or two. You and your girlfriend would make absolutely wonderful parents.

  11. 11
    Inaji

    Azuma Hazuki:

    That said, might there be some “natural” tendency for better parenting among lesbian couples? I know I’m not anyone’s idea of any standard USDA Acme lesbian, but I’ve always been really really maternal

    Please, do not even go there. Not one step further. The only women partners I’ve ever been interested in are like me in respect to children: Do. Not. Want. It’s great if you’re all fuzzy maternal*, but don’t project that onto women in general. A lot of women don’t want sprogs or like them. A lot women like them well enough, but have reasons for not wanting any of their own. Same goes for men.

    Also, just because someone gets the parental warm fuzzies, doesn’t mean they are good parent material.
     
    *I really dislike the use of maternal in discussions of parenting. Some of the best parents I know are men. I prefer using parental in place of maternal.

  12. 12
    Draken

    I wouldn’t be surprised if more than 20% of the earth’s current population isn’t carefully planned and concipiated, but the incidental consequence of lack of contraceptives (possibly in combination with drunkenness) or social pressure.

  13. 13
    The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical

    I’ve always been really really maternal (there are pictures of 2-year-old me bottlefeeding her little sister, which looks like a bigger baby feeding a smaller one) and have only ever fallen in love with women who feel similarly.

    Good for you. There are quite a few lesbians and bisexual women who are actively repulsed by the idea of having children. Like Caine, I’ve had women partners who were happily and firmly childfree. It’s only when I got a male identified partner that I got to hear all about how awesome and necessary babbies are and how we need to get a sperm donor ASAP.

    Gender has little to do with how much a person desires kids, but gender programming in our society does have quite a bit to do with shaming people for having the wrong desires. I’ve known some very parental men who were insulted by other men for being so “girly” in their desires. And the shit childfree women get is horrifying.

  14. 14
    timmyson

    Caine:

    >I wonder if it has to do with being wanted; that homosexual couples need to go to special effort to have kids.

    Do you seriously have to ponder that question? A child being wanted and planned for makes all the difference in the world. Too many people give little to no thought at all to pregnancy, birth and the consequent raising of a child. Many people put more thought and planning into buying a car.

    Yes, I do have to ponder that question, because while I love the idea and I think it’s theoretically sound as a contributing factor, I would wager that there are lots of other influences as well, like what PZ mentioned about open-mindedness, so I am not going to assume this is a significant factor without some evidence behind it.

    Draken:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if more than 20% of the earth’s current population isn’t carefully planned and concipiated

    My mother-in-law (Registered Nurse at a maternal health clinic) said around 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, which blew me away, but Wikipedia and the CDC give various numbers in the 35% to 50% range.

  15. 15
    Azuma Hazuki

    @10/MagistraMarla

    :) :) :)

    Thanks for saying so, but at this point in my life, no, we wouldn’t. I have barely any money (new job starts today!) and my girlfriend lives, literally, on the other side of the world. She’s also not much interested in children, and given her upbringing I can’t blame her. Heck, given what my siblings and i went through i shouldn’t be either, but it’s there…

    And yes, I realize that may have touched a nerve. Only on TV do “all lesbians want children;” I’m well aware that there are plenty of people who don’t, and that’s just fine. If anything, remaining childless may be the smart thing to do given what’s coming down the pipeline in terms of history and economics. My entire generation is lost; if the economy every recovers it won’t be until I’m in my 40s (am not quite 28 now). The childfree types have the right idea; in this horrible world, where worse is coming, I couldn’t conscionably raise a child.

  16. 16
    Steve LaBonne

    Caine:

    I really dislike the use of maternal in discussions of parenting. Some of the best parents I know are men. I prefer using parental in place of maternal.

    As one who was the custodial parent after my divorce- with my ex, with whom I was and am on good terms, being all for it- thank you for this.

  17. 17
    Inaji

    magistratamarla:

    Azuma,
    Please adopt a child or two. You and your girlfriend would make absolutely wonderful parents.

    Please, don’t do this. Just because someone waxes enthusiastic over children is not any sort of “good parent material” seal of approval. You have no idea of that person’s stability (mental, emotional, physical, financial), environment, or the state of their relationship with their partner. It’s this sort of cavalier attitude which lands so many children into unsuitable homes with unsuitable parents.

    I cannot even count the amount of people who have told me, over the years, that I’d make a great parent. “Oh, you love animals! Look how good you are with them, you’d be a great mom!” Well, here’s the thing: I wouldn’t be. I’m well aware of that, but someone outside, looking in, isn’t aware of that. Why in the hell anyone would think I’m good parent material because I take good care of my animals is beyond me, but that sort of extrapolation simply isn’t helpful, and neither is the snap judgment of “good parent material” because someone loves the babies. Parenting is seriously hard work, it comes with a great deal of stress and frustration, and it’s responsibility beyond measure. Everyone needs to be more thoughtful and aware when it comes to the whole “oh, you should have children!” or “you should adopt!” business.

  18. 18
    Inaji

    Steve:

    As one who was the custodial parent after my divorce- with my ex, with whom I was and am on good terms, being all for it- thank you for this.

    You’re welcome. :) Thanks for letting me know it makes a difference.

    Azuma Hazuki:

    The childfree types have the right idea; in this horrible world, where worse is coming, I couldn’t conscionably raise a child.

    Excuse me, this “childfree type” (I’m a person, in case you have trouble figuring that out, and so are other childfree people) didn’t have children because she didn’t want them. It had nothing at all to do with the world at large and it had nothing to do with population. While some people may make the decision not to breed for those reasons, don’t go assigning such motives to all childfree people. By the way, if I was ever going to have children, I would have been breeding back in the ’70s – things were a tad different then, you know. FFS.

  19. 19
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Many people put more thought and planning into buying a car.

    Yeah. I had to fill out a bunch of forms and applications and get several approvals from experienced professionals to buy a car.

  20. 20
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    in this horrible world, where worse is coming

    *rolls his eyes*

  21. 21
    David Marjanović

    Just for the sake of completeness…

    in this horrible world, where worse is coming, I couldn’t conscionably raise a child

    The idea of adoption is that the child already exists, and needs to be raised by somebody. Adoption doesn’t contribute to increasing the world population.

    I’m not trying to say you should or shouldn’t adopt; I don’t know enough to form an opinion on that.

  22. 22
    David Marjanović

    (…yeah, except you just told us about your current financial situation.)

  23. 23
    Rip Steakface

    I get truly sick of everyone telling me I’ll change my mind on whether I want children in the future. I don’t. Ever. Nope. I don’t want to marry, I don’t want to have kids, and I don’t want any of that crap that goes with those things. That said, I’ve never been told I’d make a great dad, but it’s still annoying as hell when people say, “you’ll change your mind about it eventually.”

  24. 24
    Pteryxx

    McEwan’s been posting lately on choosing not to parent and, just today, on cultural reproductive coercion: shaming and pushing women (mainly) into having kids.

    From the first:

    “I wish,” said a female coworker of mine once, after a particularly rough day with her three kids, “that I had heard anyone say, even once, that happiness without kids was possible.”

    She is a great mom—the kind of mom that we should all be so lucky to have. She loves her kids, and she likes them, too, most days. And she wishes she’d never had them.

    I’m with Rip. Some regular or other (maybe Caine?) had the best comeback to those people who say “you’ll change your mind about wanting kids eventually!” Tell them, “You have kids, right? What if you change YOUR mind?”

  25. 25
    Inaji

    Rip:

    I get truly sick of everyone telling me I’ll change my mind on whether I want children in the future.

    Get used to it. As young as you are, you’ll be hearing it for many decades to come. Formulate your best responses (a one liner is best), and practice delivering it with a sharp edge.

    Pteryxx:

    Some regular or other (maybe Caine?) had the best comeback to those people who say “you’ll change your mind about wanting kids eventually!” Tell them, “You have kids, right? What if you change YOUR mind?”

    It’s me, and it goes thusly:

    Nosy Asshole [Upon finding out I've had myself fixed]: “What if you change your mind?”

    Me: [waits a three beat]: “What if you change yours?”

  26. 26
    Pteryxx

    It’s Caine! Thanks for the correction.

    oh wow, the comments on McEwan’s articles.

    It NEVER occurred to me that someone like me (I’m childfree and living a life of pursuing my hobbies, occasional activism, and getting by) might be a worthwhile role model for a child. After all, I don’t want children so I’m broken and I guess I kind of bought it. Now that I think about it, it might have been nice to see someone, especially a woman, with my life growing up. Thanks for making me rethink that.

  27. 27
    louisemar

    [You aren't fooling anyone, "andywatson". Fuck off permanently, please. --pzm]

  28. 28
    Inaji

    Pteryxx @ 26, in regard to that comment – I’ve mentioned before that I’m one of those people who is a sprog magnet, in spite of my not liking them. I’ve had all manner of sprogs over the years ask me if I have kids. I always answer “no” and am always asked “why not?” I explain that I never wanted them, and I’m very happy with this, that, this and the other. I’ve gotten a lot of thoughtful responses to that, including more than one kid who asked “did you like kids when you were one?” and told them “nope, sure didn’t” only to find that there are a lot of sproggen out there who feel the same way.

  29. 29
    Pteryxx

    #27: interesting that you assume “communicate and approach the issues [teasing or bullying]” and “fosters openness” should mean “shut up and grow a thick skin”. You really think gay parents teach their kids to hide in the closet, and that’s how gay marriage became a thing?

    Bless your heart.

  30. 30
    Inaji

    louisemar:

    We can’t go shouting “harassment!” at every slight or insult, and certainly Amy Roth and Opheila Benson could definitely learn a great deal from the point about resilience raised in this blog post.

    Amazing! The post and thread are about having and raising children, and you manage to drag in some slime covered shit about two women. Nice try, but no cookie. Non-traditional parents spend a fair amount of time discussing harassment, bigotry and bullying with their children. It’s on the necessary side, you see.

  31. 31
    Pteryxx

    Caine: it’s something for me to think about, definitely. When I volunteer with kids, I’ve always assumed that not having any makes me an outright threat in the eyes of the other adults or teachers. Especially down here in the Bible belt, and especially for guys, having children is assumed to be proof that an adult’s not a freaky gay predator. (Which is total bullshit in both directions, no less.) I like kids fine, especially for mentoring, but that’s a far cry from being responsible for them 24/7/365/18.

    Besides, if all the adults are busy with their OWN kids, who’s free to do the daycare, coaching and tutoring? There’s another comment at McEwan’s regarding Girl Scouts:

    From what I have seen, people’s experience with Girl Scouts varies dramatically, depending on who the troop leader(s) were. And most often, troop leaders are the parent of a girl in the troop. So when she ages out of that level, the troop leader moves on with her, and the whole tenor of the troop can change.

    The troop I was part of in high school was so excellent, in large part because our leader had been in charge of the troop for years, and continued leading the troop until just a couple years ago. It meant that planning major trips – the kind that took two years of fund-raising to accomplish – was possible. It meant that our leaders were really experienced and so had learned a whole lot of what worked and what didn’t.

    And most importantly, because our leaders didn’t have any of their own kids in the troop, it meant they didn’t get over-invested in this activity or that project because it was something their own child wanted, or something they wanted for their own child (whether that child wanted it or not). It gave us a marvelous opportunity for self-determination as a troop, and for working together and just…. honestly, it was one of the greatest experiences of my childhood. And it was possible precisely because our leaders did NOT have children.

  32. 32
    louisemar

    [You aren't fooling anyone, "andywatson". Fuck off permanently, please. --pzm]

  33. 33
    oaksterdam

    louisemar, nobody misread what you said. It’s right there at 27, we can all read it. You showed up here to drop some slime covered shit on the carpet. The topic you brought up has fuck-all to do with the OP, is surrounded by well known context and stinks exactly like slime covered shit.

    You weren’t really sitting there thinking you were making a cogent point in good faith that would find traction here, were you?

  34. 34
    Rey Fox

    Sustained campaign of harrassment = “slight or insult”, got it.

    Actually, that was more a response than you deserved. So let me shorten that to: Fuck off.

  35. 35
    louisemar

    [You aren't fooling anyone, "andywatson". Fuck off permanently, please. --pzm]

  36. 36
    louisemar

    [You aren't fooling anyone, "andywatson". Fuck off permanently, please. --pzm]

  37. 37
    Inaji

    That’s enough. Alert sent.

  38. 38
    ck

    So, a “fuck off” = the worst thing ever, but a sustained campaign to drag someone’s name through the mud is something Ophelia should just shrug off. Interesting…. Well, not really.

  39. 39
    Rey Fox

    Hi Rey Fox, obviously that pretty evil and dumb for no reason on your part which is quite interesting.

    Hi Louise, obviously string sentence together hard you.

    I’d explain the different between a sustained campaign of harassment such as the one chronicled in exhaustive and depressing detail on Ophelia’s blog and your cute little example, but clearly I’d need a presentation with a lot of bright colors and hand puppets.

  40. 40
    ck

    So, louisemar, any sympathy for gay kids who kill themselves rather than deal with the constant harassment? Or should they grow thicker skin, and become more resilient, too? What about that girl who was raped, and then bullied; was her problem that she just wasn’t tolerant enough of the cruel things people said to her? How about every fucking child who has ever killed themselves or thought about it because the pain they suffered at the hands of their peers was so great? Any sympathy at all for them, or are they to blame for their own problems?

  41. 41
    louisemar

    [You aren't fooling anyone, "andywatson". Fuck off permanently, please. --pzm]

  42. 42
    louisemar

    I think the main problem is people who are intellectually dishonest

    [Right. Like a persistent sockpuppet and lying spammer, "andy". --pzm]

  43. 43
    oaksterdam

    This bullshit is meant as advice? You think we could help her build resilience? You have either not been paying attention to what’s been going on for the last 2 years (yet trying to sound like an authority) or you’ve got an axe to grind.

    Resilience would help Ophelia a lot I think,

    You’re actually trying to make people feel stabby with this condescending fuckwittery, aren’t you? Please fuck right off.

  44. 44
    oaksterdam

    Tone trolling now? You are a nasty piece of work.

  45. 45
    PZ Myers

    Louisemar is a known troll who has a whole drawer full of sockpuppets. Cleaned up now, and banned.

  46. 46
    Inaji

    Thank you, PZ. Hopefully this thread can get back on track, as it was a good one.

  47. 47
    vaiyt

    Louisemar, I’ll be as gentle as I can with this. Being overly literal in order to stall a conversation (but I didn’t mention slime!) is a trick that stops working by the time one moves out of kindergarten. Nobody’s gonna buy your shit, the only thing you’re doing is clogging the thread with worthless posts.

    That said, your “point” is no more than the same tired shit dressed in mealy-mouthed language. Saying that “playing the victim card” is just as bad as being harassed is not going to take us anywhere until you tell us how you separate one from the other. We know some people like to play victim, usually entitled assholes like you when people confront them on their bullshit, so don’t start crying that we’re not open to the subject.

  48. 48
    Rey Fox

    Yes, and I apologize for egging him on.

  49. 49
    fourtytwo

    Nice article. I often come across otherwise liberal-minded people who say they are happy for gay people to marry, but feel uneasy about them bringing children into their relationship, e.g. for concern over how society’s reaction might affect the child’s well-being. Nice to have evidence to show that their concerns are unfounded.

  50. 50
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Hmmm…
    And now this thread has me pondering WHY I want children. Or rather, what is my motivation? I’ve wanted children for more than a decade. It hasn’t happened yet and maybe it never will, but I think the question is reasonable.

  51. 51
    jamessweet

    They got negatives on enough variables that it could very well be the green jelly bean effect, too. I find both hypotheses pretty plausible.

    Still awesome though :)

  52. 52
    mikee

    I don’t want children for several reasons – I am a gay man which makes it so much more difficult and I have a very involved and satisfying career, so I don’t feel I could give a child the attention he or she deserves, even if my partner did most of the child rearing.
    Finally I don’t feel I have the temperament to enjoy it. I love my niece and nephews to bits but having to look after the little terrors (and I mean that with love :-) ) would drive me nuts.
    To those who want children and will raise them well I think that is brilliant. But those who have them as some sort of accessory ( a charge I have heard aimed at gay mean but I have only ever experienced with heterosexual couples) disturb me a lot.

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