Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gay Families More Accepted than Single Moms

This story caught me by surprise. From MSNBC:

"When Steve Pougnet was sworn in as mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., in 2007, his husband, Christopher Green, was at his side. In Pougnet's arms was his then 2-year-old son, Beckham, while Green held the other twin, Julia. 
It was a moment neither man could have imagined possible when they met 19 years ago. Even then, they knew they someday wanted to have children, but they didn’t know if it would be possible and couldn’t be sure how their family would be viewed if they did.

When the couple eventually found an organization that would link them up with a surrogate, they jumped at the opportunity — and the twins, now age 5, were born soon after.

... Highly visible gay families like Pougnet’s may be changing the way Americans view the world. And a new report by the Pew Research Center seems to bear this out. Its nationally representative survey of 2,691 people found that Americans are more accepting of families led by gay and lesbian parents than of single moms.

The survey found that when it comes to opinions overall on non-traditional families, such as those with gay and lesbian parents, single mothers, and unmarried parents, the country is split three ways: a third of Americans (dubbed Acceptors by Pew) are comfortable with a wide variety of family situations, a third (Rejectors) consider non-traditional arrangements to be damaging to the country’s social fabric, while the final third (Skeptics) are mixed in their views — approving of some arrangements, but not others.

When it comes to families like Pougnet’s, the news is all good. The vast majority of Acceptors and Skeptics believe gay and lesbian families are at least OK — and might even bring something positive to society.
But single mothers are less accepted, the poll found. That’s where Acceptors and Skeptics differ the most, says Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center.
“If you took out the question about single mothers, there would be only two groups: Acceptors and Rejectors,” Taylor says.

While 98 percent of Acceptors think there’s nothing wrong with women raising their children alone, 99 percent of Skeptics and 98 percent of Rejectors believe that’s bad for society. (The survey only asked about single mothers, not single fathers.)

... Experts say the survey results didn't surprise them.

Studies have shown that kids raised by a single parent don’t do quite as well as those from two parent families, says Margaret Crosbie-Burnett, a professor emerita at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. But the effect isn’t huge, she said. Crosbie-Burnett blamed the level of negativity found in the report on the fact that the survey asked about single mothers rather than single parents." 

Read the whole story here


Red Cardigan said...

My comment's long, so I'll break it in two parts:

The sad thing about this to me is that a single parent could be in that situation for a variety of reasons: unwed motherhood, divorce/abandonment by her spouse, widowed, etc. Whether she was partly at fault for the first two she certainly isn't at fault for the third! And even if she has made mistakes in her life, she can do her utmost to mitigate the effects of these mistakes on her children's lives--and society can, and should, help. Further, the loss of a mother or father (again, by death, divorce, abandonment, etc.) doesn't create a fiction in which one parent simply never existed, or existed only as a means of "manufacturing" the child.

The child who is being raised by a gay couple, on the other hand, is being intentionally and permanently deprived of his or her natural right to have a father and a mother. The little girl in the photo you show will not only never know what it is like to have a mother in her life--she will be told, when she expresses a natural longing for a mother, that her desire is hurtful to her "dads" and that it is wrong for her to want a mom. When she goes through puberty or starts dating or gets married or begins raising children of her own, she will be deprived of the experience of sharing these things with a woman to whom she is deeply and personally related.

Red Cardigan said...

n other circumstances, if a child is growing up without a mother (or a father, for that matter) society sees this as the deprivation it is. We call children "motherless" or "fatherless," in these situations, and we try to understand that their various dysfunctions may stem from this primal wound, this deprivation of a close relationship with one or the other of their parents. Adoptive families deal with these things all the time--and they don't deal with them by telling children their desire to know more about their birth parents is unnatural or hurtful (the wise ones, anyway).

What do gay couples tell the kids they are raising? "You don't have a mother--we paid some woman to provide her egg cells and womb rental, but that doesn't make her your mom. You don't have one and you don't need one." (Or, for a child raised by two women, "Why do you care about the sperm donor? He's not really your dad--you don't have one and you don't need one.")

I think it's the height of selfishness to manufacture children and deprive them forever of a parent of one or the other genders.

Alisha De Freitas said...

This story is both sad and shocking to me. As you noted, many women are single parents, not because they chose it, but because of the hand dealt. While I know there are more and more women who are choosing to raise kids sans daddy, I have yet to know a single one personally. Instead, they were like my mother, who after 25 years of marriage, had to deal with being divorced. Or my cousin, who was cheated on, beaten and finally abandoned by her husband. Or like a friend's father, passed tragically in an accident.

But I believe the poll results are true. Just looking through some of the comments, I could see MANY people feel single mothers are somehow so detrimental, they are deserving of all kinds of scorn.

Erin, Have you heard of that movie, "The Kids Are Alright" that came out last year? It starred Annette Benning (who was nominated for an Oscar in February) as one half of a lesbian couple. Anyway, she and her partner, played by Julianne Moore, had two kids by IVF, a boy and a girl. Fast forward to their teen years, and the moms are shocked when their kids want to find their bio dad, aka, the sperm donor. They all meet up and hilarity ensues... okay, I don't know what ensued cause I haven't seen the movie, but that's basically the premise.

Anyway, I remember thinking, there are going to be soooo many kids who feel the same way as those fictional teens, and they should not be ostracized. You mentioned adopted kids, and this hits home. Something I've never discussed on this blog, but plan to, is my mother's adoption. At over sixty years old, she desires, more than ever, to know her birth mother, to find out about her father. She wants to know if siblings and nieces and nephews exist. She wants to know... who she truly is.

This isn't just for adopted folks, either. Look at the popularity of websites like we all want that connection to the past. I hope that pretty little girl is never made to feel ashamed when the questions begin, as they invariably will.

Red Cardigan said...

Alisha, I'd heard of the movie, but haven't seen it--I think it sounds like a pretty "glib" way of dealing with what for some donor kids is pretty much an existential crisis.

We all ask, "Who am I, really?" We all want to pour over family photo albums and histories (verbal and written) for clues to those answers. Most gay couples raising kids, especially the ones resorting to IVF, go into parenthood thinking that one-half of that child's history just doesn't matter. It's so sad, and so wrong.

I know some single moms go out of their way to keep Dad involved. And widowed moms usually make a point of saying "Your Dad always, you remind me of Dad when he, I think your Dad would feel," etc. to keep Dad included in a healthy, positive way after tragedy.

I'll keep your mom in my prayers--I hope she has some success, God willing! It would be amazing to connect with family after so much time. But I've heard from adopted children that that longing, just to *know,* doesn't go away.

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