Friday, December 02, 2005

The "Ideal" Home for Kids

Shaunti Feldhahn, a Harvard educated conservative Christian columnist writing for the Chicago Tribune(see here) had this to say recently about parenting studies:

We've all heard the discomforting facts. Even after controlling for variables such as poverty, kids outside mother-father families are twice as likely to end up abused, poor, sick, on drugs, in jail, and with poor reading and math skills.

By contrast, children who live with a married mother and father are more likely to excel in school, have good self-esteem, seek healthy friendships and avoid self-destructive behaviors. Those contrasts are devastating in an era when one-third of all babies (and two-thirds of all African-American babies) are born to single moms. Those contrasts should also raise great caution about choosing to deny kids either a mother or a father via even the most loving same-sex parenting

Diane Glass, another Harvard grad answers her claims in the same column. I liked Diane's response, but here is what I wrote back to Shaunti:

Dear Ms. Feldhahn,

I have not heard these "facts" you mention. You fail to cite even one of your sources so it is impossible for me to examine them for myself. But did you really mean to equate the home environment of committed, monogamous same-sex couples with that of "broken homes"? I suspect that was not the position articulated in the studies you mention.

What constitutes an "ideal" environment in which to raise a child? Having been raised in the rural South, it was impossible for many people I knew to believe that a child should be raised by a mixed-race couple--they didn't believe it was "best" for the child. Though their position was perhaps defensible from a Biblical standpoint, kids of such arrangements seem to turn out just fine (ideally even) when the couple are well-equipped and the surrounding environment is not excessively hostile (let me know if there is a study on this).

I do not believe the form of something matters as much as its substance. Jesus sort of made that point to the Pharisees when he described them as white-washed sepulchers. If we indeed are going to define who should parent based on an "ideal", I would suggest the two prospective parents demonstrate high level psycho-social and emotional skills and an ability to love deeply and discipline effectively and responsibly. A marriage license and differing reproductive organs hardly qualify a couple for parenthood. The protections that come with legal marriage, however, certainly do seem to make things safer for families. Denying these protections to same-sex couples and their kids seems to be anything but Christ-like to me. Those are actions many will have to provide an account for later I suppose.


Troy Smythe
Indianapolis, Indiana


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