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June 15, 2010 Print

Mom and Dad: Kids Need Both

by Jenny Tyree

Married mothers and fathers contribute uniquely to their children.

Focus on the Family opposes same-sex marriage and parenting because the family structure created by these relationships always deprives a child of either a mother or a father.  A same-sex couple, by definition, is unable to give a child both a mother and a father.  More than thirty years of social science studies tell us that children do best with a married mother and father, so we know that the intentional deprivation of either is detrimental to a child’s development.

Same-sex parenting fails to adequately meet the parenting needs of children

Different is good.
Much of the value mothers and fathers bring to their children is due to the fact that female and male are different. The cooperative relationship of male and female in marriage blends their differences to provide a child with good things that same-sex caregivers cannot.

Balance is key.
Fathers tend to encourage children to take chances and push limits, and mothers tend to be protective and more cautious, and each approach is essential for a child’s healthy development.  When either parenting style is extreme it can have an unhealthy effect on children, but together the different approaches of a mother and father are balanced to nurture the child, expand his experiences and give him confidence.

Opposite-sex parents contribute uniquely to child development.
Dr. David Popenoe says, “We should disavow the notion that ‘mommies can make good daddies,’ just as we should disavow the popular notion of radical feminists that ‘daddies can make good mommies.’ …The two sexes are different to the core, and each is necessary – culturally and biologically – for the optimal development of a human being.”1

Female same-sex parenting deprives children of their much-needed fathers

Fathers should not be optional.
The father, as the male parent, brings unique contributions to the job of parenting that a mother cannot.  Psychology Today explains, “Fatherhood turns out to be a complex and unique phenomenon with huge consequences for the emotional and intellectual growth of children.”2

Fathers prepare their sons for life.
Boys who grow up with dads have their masculinity affirmed and learn from their fathers how to channel their strength in positive ways. Fathers help children understand proper male sexuality, hygiene, and behavior in age appropriate ways.  Fathers help connect their children, (especially boys) to job markets as they enter adulthood. This is because fathers, more than mothers, are likely to have the kinds of diverse community connections needed to help young adults get their first jobs. They are also more likely to have the motivation to make sure their children make these connections.

Fathers protect their daughters from predatory males.
Girls with involved, married fathers are more likely to have healthier relationships with boys in adolescence and men in adulthood because they learn from their fathers how proper men act toward women. They have a healthy familiarity with the world of men, and know which behaviors are inappropriate. This knowledge builds emotional security, and helps to safeguard them from the exploitation of predatory males.

Fathers keep children out of jail.
Studies have shown that the presence of a father strongly correlates to children avoiding incarceration.  The absence of the father as an authority figure can contribute to a child’s disregarding laws and rules.  “70% of juveniles in state reform institutions grew up in single or no-parent situations.”3

There is no substitute for the biological connection

Biology is important.
Children do best when raised by opposite-sex parents who gave them their DNA.  One study indicates that “it is not simply the presence of two parents, as some have assumed, but the presence of two biological parents that seems to support child development.”4

Other family structures are inferior to a married, biological mother and father.
A convincing body of research shows us that children do not do as well when their mothers or fathers marry other people.  And since it is biologically impossible for a child living in a same-sex home to be living with both natural parents, all same-sex homes are either literally step-families or step-like, in that only one parent has a biological connection to the child.  Unfortunately, studies also show that living with a non-biological adult parent often makes abuse more likely.  While having a step-parent doesn’t automatically indicate abuse will occur, it does increase the chances for tragic circumstances.  Martin Daly and Margo Wilson conclude that “step-parenthood per se remains the single most powerful risk factor for child abuse that has yet been identified.”5

Ideas have consequences.
Anthropology tells us no human society, ancient or modern, primitive or civilized, has ever sustained itself with a buffet-like family model of ‘just pick what suits you.’  We cannot escape that male and female matter.  Our humanity is diminished by those who say that we are only generic persons randomly equipped with either sperm or eggs. Deconstruction of the biological family structure will not be without profound and painful consequences.

Many of the above facts and statements are summarized from “Why Children Need Father-Love and Mother-Love,” “Are Same-Sex Families Good for Children?” and “The Human Case Against Same-Sex Marriage” by Glenn T. Stanton, the director of Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family.

Jenny Tyree is a marriage analyst for CitizenLink, an affiliate of Focus on the Family.

1 David Popenoe, Life Without Father: Compelling New Evidence That Fatherhood and Marriage are Indispensable of the Good of Children and Society, (New York: The Free Press, 1996), p. 197.

2 “Shuttle Diplomacy,” Psychology Today, July/August 1993, p. 15.

3 Beck, Allen, Survey of Youth in Custody 1987.

4 Kristin Anderson Moore et al., “Marriage From a Child’s Perspective:  How Does Family Structure Affect Children, and What Can We Do About It?”  Child Trends Research Brief, June 2002, p. 1.

5 Martin Daly and Margo Wilson, Homicide, (New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1988), p. 87-88.