How Important Is The Nuclear Family?
    By News Staff | January 21st 2010 12:00 AM | 6 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    The presumption that children need both a mother and a father may be readily accepted by many people today, but there is little evidence to support the idea, say sociologists from USC and NYU. In a new Journal of Marriage and Family study, the team argues that "fatherless" children are not necessarily at a disadvantage and that men do not provide a different set of parenting skills than women.

    Extending their prior work on gender and family, Timothy Biblarz and Judith Stacey analyzed relevant studies about parenting, including available research on single-mother and single-father households, gay male parents and lesbian parents.

    In their analysis, the researchers found no evidence of gender-based parenting abilities, with the "partial exception of lactation," noting that very little about the gender of the parent has significance for children's psychological adjustment and social success.

     "The social science research that is routinely cited does not actually speak to the questions of whether or not children need both a mother and a father at home. Instead proponents generally cite research that compares [heterosexual two-parent] families with single parents, thus conflating the number with the gender of parents," the authors write.

    Indeed, there are far more similarities than differences among children of lesbian and heterosexual parents, according to the study. On average, two mothers tended to play with their children more, were less likely to use physical discipline, and were less likely to raise children with chauvinistic attitudes. Studies of gay male families are still limited.

    However, like two heterosexual parents, new parenthood among lesbians increased stress and conflict, exacerbated by general lack of legal recognition of commitment. Also, lesbian biological mothers typically assumed greater caregiving responsibility than their partners, reflecting inequities among heterosexual couples.

    "The bottom line is that the science shows that children raised by two same-gender parents do as well on average as children raised by two different-gender parents. This is obviously inconsistent with the widespread claim that children must be raised by a mother and a father to do well," Biblarz said.

    Stacey concluded: "The family type that is best for children is one that has responsible, committed, stable parenting. Two parents are, on average, better than one, but one really good parent is better than two not-so-good ones. The gender of parents only matters in ways that don't matter."

    Citation: Timothy J. Biblarz, Judith Stacey, 'How Does the Gender of Parents Matter?', Journal of Marriage and Family, January 2010, 72 (1), 3-22; doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2009.00678.x


    Given that the creationists will not let go of the "came from monkeys", all the studies showing that gays and lesbians are just as capable as opposite-gender parents will continue to fall on deaf ears.

    Gays and lesbians who are inclined to have kids or who have them from previous hetero-relationships, will continue to raise their kids.

    Having a gay or lesbian parent doesn't harm the child, but families that lack the legal protection and benefit do suffer from being denied marriage.

    Even without kids, adults who are married tend to live longer and prosper more than single or divorced people - so denying marriage is really an attack on our very lives.

    Gay people are not going to stop being gay, so why not promote marriage and monogamy? It reduces crime, spread of diseases and contributes to the economy.

    How can anyone object to that?

    Gerhard Adam
    My problem with this article, is that it fails to address gender related issues because it is directed towards the gay/lesbian issue.

    In particular, the most important question which is still unanswered, is whether or not the various genders provide a role model to help "teach" adult behaviors.  In other words, are men important to help boys learn how to behave as men, just as women would do for girls.  Note that this has nothing to do with sexual orientation, but rather the means by which each gender prepares the younger generation for adulthood.  There is little doubt that at an intellectual level these ideas can be taught, but as role models for actual behavior, there doesn't seem to be any explanation.  It seems as if this question is being intentionally avoided.

    In particular, I will go so far as to suggest that this study is bogus because there are clearly gender issues that cannot be crossed.  An adult male cannot adequately deal with a young female's sexuality (or vice versa).  Once again, at an intellectual level there may be plenty of discussions, but it is impossible for a man to ever understand sexuality from the perspective of a woman (or vice versa).  Similarly there are numerous other areas where there are clear differences in how the genders approach issues, so it is important to understand the role that genders play in raising young.  Simply dealing with the traditional nuclear family or gay/lesbian couples completely misses the point.

    What is surprising is that more attention isn't being devoted to this issue.  Consider that even elephants need gender role models to learn how to behave.  Why should it be considered exceptional that humans may require something similar?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    I would also like to know what the basis of social success and psychological well-being is.  Are we that knowledgeable that we know what a well-adjusted male or female is?  Is there a scientific basis for such an assessment, or is it merely what we perceive?

    Overall, I'm not dazzled by the lack of precise information when formulating such results given how sparse our knowledge actually is.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I won't add to Gerhard's well-taken points, except to say that this "analysis" reeks of agenda. A few months ago we were told that homosexual couples were better parents than straights.

    Many more "studies" like these are coming down the pike -- count on it.

    I'm suprised by the fact that there are still people, like Adam Gerhard, who ignore the the scientific (proven) facts! That there are people who search and search, for reasons why the facts could be wrong. Everybody who wants to know the details of the study can ask for the whole article (not just the abstract). Instead of fantasize about possible things that maybe were wrong in the study, it would be better if they relied on the facts (read the full article!), even if these facts are not like you hoped they would be.
    What I want to see of these people who claim the superiority of their own opinion, above the proven facts, is scientific prove for their opinion. But the problem is, even if they look for it, they can't find it and that hurts the pride and the feelings of superiority of some people...

    Gerhard Adam
    ...who ignore the the scientific (proven) facts.
    What "facts" would those be? 
    Everybody who wants to know the details of the study can ask for the whole article (not just the abstract)
    If you have it, by all means post the link.

    The truth is that the vast majority of these studies are intended to address the issue of parents and stereotypes.   In many cases, these are clearly conducted with a particular social agenda in mind.  The real question should be what, if any, role does the gender play in setting the conditions for adulthood.  I'm not talking about prejudices and stereotypes, I'm talking about the essence of what a particular gender represents as an adult.

    Now, it would be a legitimate argument to say that we haven't actually defined what a gender is beyond our social perceptions and bias'.  That would be fine and then we could stop wasting time pretending as if there are no differences.  It is clear that sex is determined in the brain and after horrific failures in gender reassignment fiasco's many in the medical community are finally starting to realize that males and females are not psychologically interchangeable. 

    This is not an endorsement of stupid stereotypes.  This has nothing to do with what boys or girls can excel at.  Obviously as human beings, they have the same potential that any two random people would have.  Normal variation is not the issue here.

    It would be useful to know what the authors even mean by a "parenting skill" (in the scientific sense). 
    Mundus vult decipi