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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Debunking the Anti-Gay Parenting Myth

Recently I did a little reading about the opposition to gay parenting online out of morbid curiosity, I suppose. I read an article by Glenn Stanton, “Why Children Need Father-Love and Mother Love”. Mr. Stanton stated, “Much of the value mothers and fathers bring to their children is due to the fact that mothers and fathers are different. And by cooperating together and complementing each other in their differences, they provide these good things that same-sex caregivers cannot.”

The article goes on to quote Dr. Kyle Pruett of Yale Medical School who has written a book, “Fatherneed: Why Father Care is as Essential as Mother Care For Your Child”. Dr. Pruett states that, “fathers do not mother” and that a father brings unique contributions to parenting that a mother cannot, and then the opposite for mothers. Some of the other claims I found in this article were:

  • Fathers Push Limits; Mothers Encourage Security
  • Mothers and Fathers Communicate Differently
  • Mothers and Fathers Play Differently
  • Mothers and Fathers Parent Differently
  • Mothers and Fathers Discipline Differently
  • Fathers and Mothers Prepare Children for Life Differently
  • Fathers Provide A Look at the World of Men; Mothers, the World of Women
  • Fathers and Mothers Teach Respect for the Opposite Sex
  • Fathers Connect Children with Job Markets

    The article concluded that children need access to the different and complementary ways that mothers and fathers parent. It also claimed that children of same-sex parents will suffer from a lack of confidence, security, and independence, among other preposterous assumptions.

    I agree that two heterosexual men with the personalities and characteristics of my own father raising a child would not be a good thing. The child would live in squalor, eat nothing but fast food and junk food, be poorly clothed and probably grow up to be an insensitive sportsaholic!

    But these “studies” are completely off base because they assume that homosexual parents have strictly heterosexual characteristics and personalities. It seems that gay men and lesbians are stereotyped as sissies and bull dikes by the anti-gay crowd, but for this argument, we suddenly all take on the characteristics of heterosexuals. So which is it?

    If they would have examined gay and lesbian couples, they would have seen that masculine and feminine elements provided by heterosexual parents are present in gay relationships. They’re just not defined in the traditional, heterosexual way and may not be limited to one partner or the other. One partner doesn’t necessarily play the feminine mother role while the other plays a masculine father role, but feminine and masculine elements are represented just as well as in the average heterosexual couple.

    I also didn’t see in this article any mention of heterosexual parents who don’t play traditional parenting roles. I know a couple where the mother is the aggressive and competitive primary wage earner for the family and the father stays home with the children, cooks, cleans, and does the laundry.

    In our relationship, for instance, Nick is athletic and will teach our children sports. He’s also highly competitive and successful in the business world. He’s a great cook and a nurturer. I’m creative, keep a clean, well-organized home, and am likely to play more of a typical heterosexual father’s role with nurturing.

    As far as teaching respect for the opposite sex, I don’t understand where this claim came from. I assume that this relates to the stereotype of man-hating lesbians and woman-hating gay men, but there were no facts to back up the claim that gay parents cannot or will not teach their children to respect the opposite sex. I’ve personally never encountered a disrespect of the opposite sex in the gay community and certainly wouldn’t teach it to my children.

    Nick and I are not two identical personalities who will be two-dimensional parents. Our personalities complement each other and I have no doubt that we’re well-equipped as a couple to provide our children with a well-rounded childhood that exposes them to a healthy dose of femininity and masculinity. If neither of us had nurturing tendencies, we wouldn’t want to have children. Both of us will mother and father our children, as is fitting with our unique personalities. Anti-gay parenting claims are based on flawed thinking, prejudice, and fear. Only time and demonstration that we are capable parents will cause people to think for themselves, challenge prejudice and bigoted teachings, and eventually change negative attitudes toward gay parenting!


glenn t. stanton said...

Dear Gay Dad:

Your article showed up in my "in-box" thanks to the wonderful google search tool that sends my a notice anytime my name appears on anywhere on the web. Keeps me up on how I am being praised or excoriated in cyberspace! :-)

I was impressed with your careful summary of my article, save for the conclusion. Rest easy. I am NOT motivated by hate and fear, but by concern that children, as much as possible, should raised by their own mothers and fathers. Call me a radical!

If you read my article carefully, you would have also seen my explanatory reference to a USA Today article that interestingly addresses the very concern you brought up, that gay men are unlikely to follow stereotypical male parenting patterns and therefore can be more like moms.

The article highlights a family consisting of a lesbian couple, their artificially-inseminated child, the male sperm donor dad and his partner...whew!....a configuration not uncommon in some lesbian homes.

The journalist asked the four-way parented family if they ever had trouble negotiating parenting roles in their little nouveau family confab. The donor-dad spoke up and said that they did.

He explained that every time the little boy got stuck in a situation such as with his toys or a puzzle or something, the moms he said, were always right there to solve it for him. The gay biological father/ man said he wants the boy to learn on his own that he can work out the problem for himself.

As I explain in the article, this is typical for moms and dads. Moms way of going right to the aid of the child teaches a sense of security and comfort for the child and dad's way teaches confidence and independence by telling the child he has what it takes to figure out and solve the problem for him or herself. Both are critical for the development of the child.

So even these "enlightened parents" who have supposedly broken free from the so-called the false and socially constucted confines of gender stereo-types actually confirm what the child-development scholars that I quote.

Anthropology shows us that human nature and gender roles are far less socially constructed than we have been lead to imagine by the "dreamers" who run our university's "gender studies" departments.

Biology in parenting is like gum on the tip of your finger. It is hard thing to get rid of, not matter how hard you try to flick it away.


glenn t. stanton

GayDad said...

Not sure if anyone's interested, but I'll post my response to Glenn. While I disagree with his conclusions on this topic, I respect that he took the time to post his thoughts in a friendly manner.


Thank you for taking the time to comment in depth on my comments. Your article actually was a help to me and has caused me to evaluate my and my partner's parenting methods, and I completely agree that children need both masculine and femenine styles of parenting. If anything, I'll be more aware of how we're interacting with our children and adjust when needed.

"If all parents put as much time and thought into their methods of parenting as I'm doing, I think the world would be a better place."

Louie said...

WOW! Excellent observations! Which I have also been pondering myself, just never sat myself down and wrote them out.

And I would have to agree with your observations 100% Because in my eleven year relationship with my partner, we share almost exactly the same male/female type of dynamics in both of our psyches as if we were of the opposite sex.

How else can I put this, other than "We encompass the best of both worlds!" And worst sometimes, I'm sure! :-)

Also, some of these parenting "skills" where females are more apt to solve the puzzle/problem for the child and males are more aloof is not necessarily set in stone. I'm currently reading P.E.T. - Parent Effectiveness Training and I already read that some parenting styles are indeed that of solving problems for the kids instead of letting them come up with their own solutions. But this is a "skills" deficit and not a hetero/homo, male/female genetic instinct that is set in stone. Both males and females can learn proper parenting skills, I.E. allow the child to solve their own problems.


GayDad said...

Sounds like an interesting book Louie.

One thing that I believe will help me is simply my age. 20 year olds who become parents probably don't put that much thought into parenting techniques. When you're older and wiser, you tend to have a better understanding of how your interactions with children effect them down the road.

I doubt if there are many young gay couples having babies though. I doubt they could afford it!

Anonymous said...

Glenn -

Deep in my heart
I do believe
That We shall overcome some day.


Liftoff Lady said...

I'm actually an anthropologist, and I'm shocked by the number of things that are attributed to us by people like Glenn Stanton who want to claim some academic authority to back up their notions.

Cultural anthropologists, like myself, certainly do NOT believe that gender roles are not socially constructed. Of course they are socially constructed, and ethnographic research illustrates wide variability from society to society.

If you'd like an accurate idea of how anthropologists regard families and gender roles, check out the statement on same-sex marriage issued by the American Anthropological Association here:

The main text is:

"The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.

The Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association strongly opposes a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples."

GayDad said...

Thanks liftofflady! Interesting research I hadn't discovered.

Louie said...

Update on this topic!!! A recent article was written on some studies being performed to look into these types of family dynamics!!!

Check it out:
Richard A. Lippa. (08 Apr 08). The Gay-Straight Divide. American Sexuality magazine. 16 Apr 08. Retrieved from

GayDad said...

Thanks Louie! This study seems to back up what I thought - gay men do have more feminine qualities on average than straight men.