Friday, October 24, 2008

Social Experiment?

Judith Wallerstein, a University of California–Berkeley professor, has studied children of divorce for 30 years. Looking back on her life’s work and the no-fault divorce experiment, she laments:

“In our rush to improve the lives of adults … we made radical changes in the family without realizing how it would change the experience of growing up. We embarked on a gigantic social experiment without any idea of how the next generation would be affected. If the truth be told, and if we are able to face it, the history of divorce in our society is replete with unwarranted assumptions that adults have made about children simply because such assumptions are congenial to adult needs and wishes.”

The same-sex marriage experiment follows this same path. It asks us to redefine marriage based on huge, unproven assumptions driven largely by the wishes of adults rather than the needs of children.

And, like the no-fault divorce advocates of the ’60s and ’70s, same-sex marriage advocates are telling us that parental gender does not matter for the family and for children.

Does Gender Matter?

But we don’t have to wonder how a one-gender family will impact children. We know from 40 years of experience with the explosive growth of “intentionally fatherless families.”

Thousands of conclusive social science, medical, and psychological investigations published in hundreds of professional journals have shown that: children without fathers are half as likely to do well in and graduate from school; they are more likely to require professional attention for physical or emotional problems; they are at an elevated risk for physical abuse or death; they are less likely to develop empathy for others; they are less confident; and they are more likely to spend time in jail and have children out of wedlock.

All things being equal, children raised apart from their fathers—even if that father is replaced by another loving parent figure—suffer serious declines in every important measure of well-being.

Let us be clear: A good, compassionate and just society always comes to the aid of fatherless or motherless children. But a good, compassionate, and just society never intentionally creates fatherless and motherless children.

Fathers matter as male parents, not just as a second set of unisex hands to chip in with the housework and childrearing.

Child psychologists for 40 years have been telling us how mothers and fathers parent differently, and how healthy child development demands this difference.

• Fathering scholar Dr. Kyle Pruett of Yale Medical School says dads matter simply because “fathers do not mother.”

• Psychology Today explains, “Fatherhood turns out to be a complex and unique phenomenon with huge consequences for the emotional and intellectual growth of children.”

• A scientific review of more than 100 published studies on the benefits of child-parent relationships found that “overall, father love appears to be as heavily implicated as mother love in offspring’s psychological well-being and health.”

Very simply, the same-sex family is problematic because same-sex families intentionally deprive a child of either a mother or a father just because adults want it that way.

But this is not about the value of homosexuals as human beings. Indeed, their value is beyond dispute. They are loved by God as we all are.

But if we go the route of same-sex marriage, it means we will be subjecting our children to another state-sanctioned social experiment on the family, fueled largely by adult wishes.

The public purpose of marriage is primarily to take children from childhood to healthy adulthood. Its purpose is legitimate. It is tied to human well-being and the common good … and it thrives when men and women join together to parent children.

Any time we intentionally remove an essential part of humanity from the family—be it male or female—we have a family that will fail to function as society and children need it to. If we allow this shift to occur, we will fail our children and coming generations.


Carla said...

Thanks for the thoughtful post... Somewhere in this debate we have lost sight of our vulnerable children. I've spoken with several homosexuals who have absolutely rejected the argument that children need a Mother/Father team in the home. It's pretty sad that concern for children is so easily dismissed out of hand.

Michelle said...

Yet even with prop eight, gay couples can still adopt children?

So how is it about the "vulnerable children" again?