A couple of years ago I was at a birthday party for one of C’s friends. As the various kids played downstairs, all the parents at the party sat around snacking and talking about parenting stuff. I was a bit chagrined when other families started talking about family mealtimes. Inwardly, I lamented our long, staggered commutes that made family dinners impossible. Then I chuckled to myself when I thought how tweaked some gay-marriage opponents would be if they heard the conversation. See, all the wholesome-eat-dinner-together families were same-sex pairs. It was only my hetero family that was failing the traditional family values test.
In five years of hanging out with parents off all sexual preferences, I can say with some certainty that there’s no major difference in how we raise our kids, apart from the usual personal idiosyncrasies that differentiate all parents. We all love our kids insensibly and we all struggle with things like potty training, bedtime routines, teaching empathy and compassion, juggling the logistics of multiple kids, and balancing work and home lives. It doesn’t matter how many moms or dads a family has; getting everyone to every sport, class, job, playdate and appointment is still a pain in the ass. Everything about parenting is easier if you’re doing it with a good partner, no matter what gender you and your partner happen to be.
Now the American Academy of Pediatrics has released a report based on fours years of reviewing studies of same- and opposite-sex parenting pairs that reaches the conclusion that marriage is beneficial to kids. It does not matter what genders the married pair is and, therefore, the APA supports legalizing same sex marriage. According to the New York Times:
The academy cited research finding that a child’s well-being is much more affected by the strength of relationships among family members and a family’s social and economic resources than by the sexual orientation of the parents. “There is an emerging consensus, based on extensive review of the scientific literature, that children growing up in households headed by gay men or lesbians are not disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents,” the academy said.
The report goes on to say that marriage benefits children by conferring legal and social benefits to the whole family and by making the family eligible for the legal protections afforded by divorce if the adults need to separate. I hadn’t thought of this until talking about it with a lesbian couple I know, who said that gay parents who split up in states where their marriage isn’t legal have to muddle through the process without the guidance of laws and judges to halt acrimony and unfair practices. Weird as it sounds, divorce laws can protect kids from parents who have lost their sense of fair play during a rough split.
This report is just one more indicator that the tide is well and truly turning on the issue of same sex marriage. As more and more states, organizations, and powerful individuals throw their support into the mix, I’m hopeful that we’ll see national legalization of same sex marriage before my kids reach adulthood.
Photo credit: photo stock
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