New Studies Show: It Is Not About Whether the Parents Are Gay, It’s About Whether They Are Happy

ImageMy 10-year-old son Jason just bounded out of bed, excited to meet this Saturday morning. He crawled onto my lap as I was trying to type and we reviewed all the great things we have lined up this weekend. Snuggles and kisses ensued. This is his birthday month and he has a lot on his mind, all good stuff.

My two sons were adopted through foster care. Jason has been with me since birth, my younger son, Jesse, came to me at a year old. Anti-gay pundits like to quote “studies” that claim that our kind of family is bad and can’t work. The funny thing is, from our vantage point on this Saturday morning, everything seems to be working just fine.

The anti-gays actually quote only one study, one done by Mark Regnerus. In that study, please guess how many families like mine—families where children were raised long term by two male parents—were studied. Guess.

Zero. That’s right. Not one. Two, only two, of the respondents in hundreds were raised by lesbian mothers, but none by gay fathers. The only “gay fathers” in the study were parents who, after leaving the families in question, had some sort of gay encounter. The study, while pretending to indict families like mine, actually studied long-term intact families as compared with fragmented and dysfunctional families. Even Regnerus could not tie factors to gender.

So, real studies that compare like families to like families are somewhat welcome, if no other reason than for clarity. What are the real factors that affect families?

“Be inspired” says a new public service announcement from the ABC Family show The Fosters and the LGBT-family-oriented RaiseAChild.US organization. The ad targets prospective LGBT parents, and others, as potential foster parents. While inspiration to parent is absolutely an arguable point, according to new studies on adoptive parenting and child-rearing, the comment “be happy” might also be a key and appropriate goal.

One study, “Predictors of Psychological Adjustment in Early Placed Adopted Children With Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Parents,” was published in the Journal of Family Psychology, and is co-authored by Williams Institute Visiting Scholar Abbie E. Goldberg and JuliAnna Z. Smith of the University of Massachusetts. The study found that factors leading to the greatest success in healthy children included parent preparedness before having the child, depressive tendencies of the parents, and lack of parental conflict in raising the child. In other words, how happy the parents are makes a difference.

What does not make a difference? “The emotional and behavioral outcomes of children adopted and raised by same-sex couples do not differ from those of children adopted and raised by different-sex couples,” said Goldberg. “Our findings lend support for arguments that prospective adopters should not be discriminated against, in policy or practice, based on sexual orientation.”

A study conducted by Cambridge University in March of this year reported similar findings. “Overall we found markedly more similarities than differences in experiences between family types,” said Professor Susan Golombok, director of the Centre for Family Research and co-author of the Cambridge report.

Optimistic attitudes did emerge in that study as well. “The differences that did emerge relate to levels of depressive symptoms in parents, which are especially low for gay fathers,” Golombok concluded.

My family, more by happenstance than by design, falls into the characteristics described in the studies for healthy families. My sons were planned for years before they arrived. They have never been cared for by a parent who was disgruntled about the role he had to undertake and the duties he was called on to perform. Our home has always been vibrant and vital. Depression is not a factor.

We did not need a study to tell us to be this way. None of the LGBT families I know, and that number ranges in the dozens, has had to be told to be affirming. We do not operate in the world of the accidental pregnancy. We are not subject to gender assigned roles, but contribute to our families in ways that match our individual talents and abilities. We did not become parents because we had to or were expected to, or by accident; we became parents because we wanted to.

So, I don’t measure the success of my family by studies. If I need documented confirmation that things are okay, I turn to other sources, like the cards my sons gave me for Mother’s Day.

Jesse’s said, “Dear Daddy, I love you when you hold me in your arms and when I get hurt and you give me a hug.” Jason’s said, “I love you more than video games, movies, my Mario Cart 7 and anything else in the whole wide world. I love you more than all the fish sticks in the world.”

Take that, Mark Regnerus.

Today, my sons are going to meet with their tutor. We are going to go see their grandparents, where they will go swimming. We may catch a movie. What we won’t be doing is diving under some sociologist’s microscope. We are simply going to go on with our lives and love one another. A lot.

And we are going to be happy.

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 Follow us on Twitter @JandJDad

Special thanks to Rachel Hockett for editing help on this article.

 

 

 

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About robw77

A single gay dad who cares. His story can be read here: http://www.imagaysingleparent.com/2013/02/02/rob/ and here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/31/rob-watson-gay-family_n_4689661.html
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14 Responses to New Studies Show: It Is Not About Whether the Parents Are Gay, It’s About Whether They Are Happy

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  6. NMW23 says:

    Love this!! My wife is currently really struggling with being “gay parents”. I’m going to share this with her. Thanks for sharing such a positive happy perspective.

  7. David says:

    This was so happy and positive. I love it.

  8. Scott Rose says:

    The Regnerus study was only published because “Social Science Research” journal editor Dr. James Wright of the University of Central Florida was willing to subvert the ethics of peer review in order to benefit from right wing gay-bashers stampeding to his journal site.

    Many leading academics are calling for the Regnerus paper to be retracted and for Wright to be removed from his position because of his documented gross editorial misconduct. The story actually is more complicated than just the Regnerus paper. Wright simultaneously published a paper from Loren Marks, another gay basher; he had recently been forced to withdraw as an expert witness in the Prop 8 trial after cross-examination in which he confessed that he had not read the studies he quoted from and did not know anything about gay parenting sciences. He had intended to submit to the court, the same paper that Wright published for him without benefit of valid peer review.

    Wright additionally published gay-bashing non-peer-reviewed junk science in his November, 2012 issue. These two Regnerus packages are being used around the world to demonize gay people. In Russia, just prior to the recent implementation of draconian anti-gay rights laws there, the Regnerus paper and its associated papers published by Wright were used heavily to hate-monger against all gay people.

    One of Wright’s editorial board member, W. Bradford Wilcox, was an official with Regnerus’s main funder, the Witherspoon Institute. In his published papers, Regnerus lies by saying that his funders weren’t involved with the study design. To show you how depraved these anti-gay bigots are, in August, 2011 — before data collection for the study occurred — Wilcox and Regnerus traveled on Witherspoon’s dime to Colorado, where, for a full day that discussed study promotions with the anti-gay-rights Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton. Before data collection occurred, they were discussing how to promote the study in anti-gay-rights contexts. And, there is documentation showing that Wright permitted Wilcox to peer review the Regnerus paper;

    The publisher, Elsevier, still has Wright assigned as editor of its upcoming International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences. If he is not held accountable for his publication of the Regnerus hoax, any quantity of anti-gay junk science could wind up in that encyclopedia.

    • robw77 says:

      Thanks for providing all that detail Scott. The study and how it was promoted was a scandal and a travesty. We need to keep the spotlight on its complete lack of credibility or…sanity.

  9. rosie154 says:

    I really like this post and found myself agreeing with almost every point. Working in child protection for part of my career children just need 1 person who loves them, 2 if they are to feel like the luckiest and happiest kid in the world. It shouldn’t matter what sex or relationship status a person has- just love them and support them as parents should.

  10. Love is what raises up a child right, good and true. That’s what I believe and I’m sticking to it!

  11. Dr. Rex says:

    Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Happy parents = happy kids!!! :-)

  12. Dr. Rex says:

    I really like this post!! Great job, very well done!! Re-blog: http://hrexach.wordpress.com/ :-)

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