Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Not that well-adjusted

When that study came out not too long ago that reported that contrary to nature, human experience, and common sense lesbian couples make the bestest ever parents, I'm afraid my reaction was to yawn.

We've been through this before so many times.

A decade or so ago, the trendy agenda-driven studies came out to tell us all, breathlessly, that despite what everybody would always assume it turned out that day-care was so good for kids that those poor children being raised by stay-at-home moms were actually being deprived, and were not as well-adjusted as the kids getting on the little white day-care bus every morning, or being dropped lovingly off by two-career "quality-parenting" experts!

But then, later, some details came out, and the sample size was too small to be significant, and the stay-at-home moms may have been of lower socieoeconomic or educational status than the two-parent families, and that darned intern forgot to carry into the tens column in this one group of figures, and anyway, it turned out that the study authors' definition of "well-adjusted" meant "children who are able to name the entire cast of Barney, Sesame Street, and Caillou: Adventures in Juvenile Canadian Socialism. (Okay, okay, I know, but that's what it should be called.)

In the newest iteration of the game of "I can be even more politically-correct and daringly relevant than you!" we have a study purporting to show that a couple of lesbian parenting partners are so amazingly, incredibly good at raising well-adjusted children that they leave their heterosexual counterparts in the dust, raising questions about just why God didn't, in His infinite wisdom, foresee this and make lesbian sex acts reproductive, or select parthenogenesis as the means of human reproduction, or something. But it turns out that the study's notion of "well-adjusted" might not be everyone's, as this terrific essay points out:

“Gender nonconformity” used to be considered a negative trait, something, which if found, provided an argument against same sex parenting. But listen to Stacey and Biblarz turn “gender flexibility” into a positive trait.

  • “Twelve-year-old boys in mother only families (whether lesbian or heterosexual) did not differ from sons raised by a mother and a father on masculinity scales but scored over a standard deviation higher on femininity scales. Thus growing up without a father did not impede masculine development but enabled boys to achieve greater gender flexibility.”
  • “If, as we expect, future research replicates the finding that fatherless parenting fosters greater gender flexibility in boys, this represents a potential benefit. Research implies that adults with androgynous gender traits may enjoy social psychological advantages over more gender traditional peers.”
Gosh, remember when "gender flexibility" used to be called "gender confusion" and indicate a potential source of trouble for the little tyke displaying it? Apparently, now "gender flexibility" is a good thing for children (especially little boys), and since lesbian parenting partners are really good at sowing this sort of gender conf...oh, excuse me, "gender flexibility," why, they're just superior parenting partners, better than the child's own biological parents would be (or better, at least, than the biological lesbian mom and the sperm donor who filled the turkey baster).

And there are studies (though not the sort the pro-gay side ever accepts) which show, among other things, that children raised by homosexual parents are more likely to experiment with homosexual sex or to identify as homosexual than the general population:

Even though they attempted to argue otherwise, Golombok and Tasker's study revealed in its results section a clear connection between being raised in a lesbian family and homosexuality: "With respect to actual involvement in same-gender sexual relationships, there was a significant difference between groups...None of the children from heterosexual families had experienced a lesbian or gay relationship." By contrast, five (29 percent) of the seventeen daughters and one (13 percent) of the eight sons in homosexual families reported having at least one same-sex relationship.58

These findings have most recently been confirmed in a study appearing in the American Sociological Review. Authors Judith Stacey and Timothy J. Biblarz alluded to the "political incorrectness" of their finding of higher rates of homosexuality among children raised in homosexual households: "We recognize the political dangers of pointing out that recent studies indicate that a higher proportion of children of lesbigay parents are themselves apt to engage in homosexual activity."

Stacey and Biblarz also reported "some fascinating findings on the number of sexual partners children report," that: The adolescent and young adult girls raised by lesbian mothers appear to have been more sexually adventurous and less chaste. . . . In other words, once again, children (especially girls) raised by lesbians appear to depart from traditional gender-based norms, while children raised by heterosexual mothers appear to conform to them.59 (Footnote sources at link--E.M.)

Bear in mind that Stacey and Biblarz are the authors of the present study crowing over the superiority of lesbian parenting--so, apparently, being "well-adjusted" in 21st century America involves both gender "flexibility" (or confusion, depending on your viewpoint) and a greater willingness than one's counterparts to engage in same-sex sexual experimentation.

Since that's the case, I'm glad my children aren't so "well-adjusted" as all that. I'll keep on muddling along as a poor benighted heterosexual stay-at-home mom. But it's just as well--even when they were really little, my kids thought Caillou was an annoying little brat.

11 comments:

Mary Alice Phillips said...

Erin, the Caillou comment made me laugh out loud!!! We were never fans.

Great blog post!

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is horrible, eh? We can look forward to the folks in white lab coats insisting that there is something wrong with the traditional way of doing things. This is really, really awful.

Geoff G. said...

Nothing new here indeed. The same old "I know better than pointed-headed intellectuals who actually study this stuff" is an ages-old trope. Good thing they rarely get their way or else my daily commute might be on foot or (if I happened to be wealthy) horseback.

And there are studies (though not the sort the pro-gay side ever accepts) which show, among other things, that children raised by homosexual parents are more likely to experiment with homosexual sex or to identify as homosexual than the general population

And of course, this is only scary if you're a religious fanatic that's obsessed with how strangers live their lives.

Besides, maybe the reason so few people are comfortable with publicly identifying as gay is because they know they have busybodies in the family who will torture them with these kinds of attitudes.

(Incidentally, the quite reasonable hypothesis floating around about this article is that pretty much every gay or lesbian couple adopting kids really wants those kids. That's not true of every heterosexual couple, especially if you happen to subscribe to a certain faith that frowns on birth control)

David said...

Erin, thank you for adding sources this time. It makes it much easier to point out where the interpreters take too much liberty with the findings for their own theories.

First, I’d like to point out you’re being unequivocally unfair. I was raised by heterosexual parents. No obvious trauma (to hopefully kill that stereotype as it arises in your mind). I experimented in the heterosexual way growing up because that’s what I knew, that’s what society affirmed, that’s what all the examples were. It was wrong to my senses. I had no attraction to the females I was with, and in fact knew at the time my own dreams of the other boys that for some reason, I felt toward them the way my fellow male friends felt toward girls.

The irony here is that, while you probably wouldn’t approve of the experimentation I had with other girls in the first place, you would consider it far better or even expected than if that experimentation had been with boys. However, you wouldn’t dare find it equally wrong that even though I were gay, I experimented with girls (“How dare those heterosexual parents of mine! Influencing me to go against what clearly I am!”) in a way that these children from the studies might similarly experiment. Obviously you don’t think homosexuality is a value-neutral position, condition, whathaveyou. However, you are being, perhaps unintentionally, very inconsistent.

Another interesting thing is that the Golombok and Tasker (1996) study examined exclusively lesbians with children from previous marriages. The children were the biological progeny of at least one of the parents (a lesbian) involved in the new relationship. We should not quickly forget that these children experienced a divorce. I don’t know what camp you come from on the genesis of homosexuality (I lean more on biological causes, both genetics and intrauterine environments), but, honestly, things aren’t connecting for your position. Whatever the theory is, with those circumstances, we should expect those children would turn out to be more “gay” than the average population. However, as I pointed out before, “homosexual experimentation,” which seems to be the real conniption here, is not the same as someone who is gay or straight, just like my “heterosexual experimentation” in no way was an indicator of my being straight. I find it strange to take exception to that when the real issue for you should be they’re experimenting with anyone at all.

The femininity and masculinity issues are going to bother you regardless. It personally doesn’t rankle me if boys play with dolls or girls with trucks, if they imagine doing careers that are typical of the other gender, or if they wear clothes of the other gender while growing up (what these studies assess, by the way, when looking at femininity and masculinity). They are such superficial things that it goes into what I said before with the children I’ve worked with: they do identify gender based on very superficial things like hairstyle, makeup, clothing, pitch of voice, and so on.

I wonder that your fear with this, however, is that “gender” and what we associate with it beyond true, biological differences is more of a social construction than you want to acknowledge since it undermines the idea of transcendent properties associated with gender, pivotal to your religious outlook. If you don’t understand this point, let me clarify: if there were transcendent qualities to gender that went along with sex, it wouldn’t matter whom or what a child is raised by. It would sublimate regardless. Is it really a bad thing (as you delightedly conflate with “gender confusion”) if girls are aspiring to do more than be housewives, to be business execs and other male-typical careers? Or if boys become nurses, secretaries or even stay at home with the kids as a househusband?

I’d go through more of Dailey’s…interesting approach…but I think even my posting the above will hardly merit a reconsideration of thought on your part.

Anonymous said...

@Geoff G: "And of course, this is only scary if you're a religious fanatic that's obsessed with how strangers live their lives."

No; the problem is "experts" saying that is "better parenting" that the traditional way of parenting. They assume all of the values and then go on to "prove" it's "better".

"Besides, maybe the reason so few people are comfortable with publicly identifying as gay is because they know they have busybodies in the family who will torture them with these kinds of attitudes."

Perhaps. However, the "busybodies" were minding their own business until the "experts" here began telling them that their parenting isn't as good as lesbians, and prove it by saying lesbians raise gender-flexible children assuming, without making the case, that that is a positive thing.

@ David: "The irony here is that, while you probably wouldn’t approve of the experimentation I had with other girls in the first place, you would consider it far better or even expected than if that experimentation had been with boys."

What is your evidence that Manning approves of any out-of-wedlock sex? As you've noticed, she's Catholic in a very orthodox way of being Catholic.

"I find it strange to take exception to that when the real issue for you should be they’re experimenting with anyone at all."

The real issue of this post is that "experts" are, without any argumentation, calling "gender-flexibility" good, and then using the fact that lesbians raise gender-flexible-er children as to prove that they are better parents. Again, they have to assume, without argument, that gender-flexibility is good. That is the real issue of the post.

And again, what evidence do you have that Manning thinks boy-and-girl sexual experimentation outside of marriage is qualitatively better than boy-and-boy sexual experimentation?

@Anonymous: "Who appointed you Wednesday Manning Defender?"

Hahaha! What's wrong with it? When she's right, she's right.

David said...

Anonymous at 2:28 PM:

What is your evidence that Manning approves of any out-of-wedlock sex? As you've noticed, she's Catholic in a very orthodox way of being Catholic.

Don't be so obtuse. That has little to do with my point. Note how I said, "You probably wouldn't approve...in the first place." I know Erin's underlying presumption on this matter, that's why I pointed out the strange detail-picking she did here.

what evidence do you have that Manning thinks boy-and-girl sexual experimentation outside of marriage is qualitatively better than boy-and-boy sexual experimentation?

Much closer to my point. The fact she has a post about it is evidence enough. You notice her issue with it isn't that the children are having sex out of wedlock, period, or considering being with someone of another sex, it's the fact that they are are experimenting with someone of the same sex or contemplating being with someone of the same sex. If it were qualitatively the same, then it wouldn't even have a mention by her of the distinguishing characteristic: that the children are experimenting with people of the same sex! The comparison would become, rather, are they experimenting (same sex or opposite sex) more than children in heterosexual parenting relationships or not? Notice that's not the issue she chose to highlight in quoting from the other source.

Does this really need to be pointed out for you? The entire disagreement in the society abroad is based around heterosexual relationships being qualitatively better than homosexual relationships.

Anonymous said...

@ David: "You notice her issue with it isn't that the children are having sex out of wedlock, period, or considering being with someone of another sex, it's the fact that they are are experimenting with someone of the same sex or contemplating being with someone of the same sex."

Her issue is with experts telling us that lesbian parenting is better than traditional parenting using "gender flexibility" as a stand in for "good" parenting.

It is as if experts told everybody "Republicans make better parents" and proved it by pointing out Republicans raise children who're more likely to be Republicans as evidence that Republicans made better parents.

People would (rightly) point out that you have to assume "likely to produce more Republicans" is "good" in order to "prove" Republicans make better parents. And the experts don't "prove" that at all, they just assume that value into the argument.

The experts who claim lesbians make better parents, based on more gender flexible children, assume a value without proving it's worth, and it is a value that no good Catholic could agree with. That is what Manning's "issue" is.

"The fact she has a post about it is evidence enough."

Honestly, I don't get this. Should each one of her posts come with a disclaimer of every other behavior which is contrary to her Catholic beliefs? That this post happens to be about expert approval of one form of uncatholic behavior doesn't preclude opposing with equal vigor all sorts of other behaviors. If experts came out and said "Polygamous parents were better than monogamous parents because they produced more polygamous children", the post would be about experts not having proved, and being unable to prove, that polygamous behavior is "good".

David; we must be on totally different pages, here.

David said...

We are on different pages, Anonymous (do you have a simple, if even false name that could helpfully distinguish you from the others under that moniker?), so allow me to again try to clarify what I was referring to.

I'm not even making a reference to the gender non-conformity issue that Erin brings up, at least not with that bit you dissected from my comment. That alone should key you in to us talking past one another. I’m sorry that I chose not to engage you on that point because I already addressed it before in my first comment. I don’t think your or Erin’s criticism of “good parenting,” as you present both views, are very helpful since it would cut just as deep the opposite way. Erin’s position requires much the same reproducing of people with likeminded ideals and beliefs as indicative and proofs of good parenting. At the same time, when studies look at other objective measures like mental health and other behaviors as ways to assess parenting outcomes, I don’t hear much clamoring from Erin about how gay/lesbian parents do as well a job as heterosexual parents, rather complaints about small sample sizes when the results are positive yet ignoring those same complaints when the results are negative. I’m baffled, but I’m only human.

But to what I was perturbed about and where our earlier disagreement could take a re-examination: did you take a look at the article she linked to in context of what I was talking about? Look at how voluminous it is about gay parenting. What part did she pick out of it all to add to her post? It was a mention about children of lesbian couples, in a study that I critiqued in my earlier comment, being more prone to engage in homosexual behavior. Her nitpick was not about engaging in behavior out of wedlock (which would be the issue if experimentation toward either sex were qualitatively the same). It was engaging in homosexual behavior out of wedlock and the possibility of actually being gay.

Erin would not look at the case of my parentage, where I was a gay child of heterosexual parents, and blame them because of their heterosexuality for my experimenting heterosexually. But when it’s a lesbian couple and the opposite is the case, the gasket breaks on consistency. The presumption here is that the kids are straight and being adventurous with what they aren’t. When the reverse is the case, a young gay male adventuring with what he isn’t, you’d have me retreat to Erin’s blanket condemnation that all sex outside marriage is wrong rather than her paralleled indignation that I’d be doing something contrary to “good parenting.”

I honestly can’t believe that Erin or you believe the two are equally contentious.

David said...

(con't, addressed to Anon.)


Here’s an analogy. Imagine we have a general rule or understanding that it is better for pets to not pee indoors. Compare this to not having sex before marriage. Now, a pet could urinate anywhere in the house: on carpet, linoleum, hard wood floors, or whatever surface happens to be around. What I am reading from you is that Erin holds to the idea that “pets peeing anywhere indoors” is bad while she then decides to quote something about pets only peeing on carpets and ignore the pets that pee on the other surfaces.

Obviously, good Catholic that she is, there must be a difference between a gay relationship (else why the call to celibacy?) and a straight relationship with her theology, almost like saying a dog peeing on carpet is worse than a dog peeing on linoleum. It’s the same line of thinking that allowed Catholic Bishops to reason that gay men aren’t even suited for the priesthood not because of untrue pedophilic possibility but because their inclination toward the same sex is disordered and not a reflection of the relation Christ has with the Church.

The connection is this: the pet peeing on the linoleum is more easily cleaned up, reflecting the purpose of the rule why pets are put outside to relieve themselves rather than indoors. The pet peeing on the carpet, however, frustrates the purpose. Both are bad to the rule but in different ways.

Erin, good Catholic that she is, would not want the pet peeing anywhere indoors if it could be prevented (sex before marriage comparison, again). At the same time, however, I imagine she would prefer, if it couldn’t be prevented, that the pet peed on the more easily cleaned surface habitually than any other. It’s the same way she’d prefer that people are straight, that no person should have to live with being gay or that life and struggle from her perspective.

Hence why it is so much more scandalous to her that people might be more adventurous with same sex partners when raised by lesbians. If all things were qualitatively equal, she would be citing rates of pre-marital sex (all the peeing indoors), not the kind (or type of surface). I for one have no trouble with it, expect no different from Manning, good Catholic that she is, but you, Anonymous, have chosen a cause to defend that bewilders me. If Erin didn’t truly care about gays, about people being gay, it would be a different story…a spiteful indifference to someone’s path that will lead to separation from God, right?

"Clyde" said...

"If all things were qualitatively equal, she would be citing rates of pre-marital sex (all the peeing indoors), not the kind (or type of surface)."

I think I see what you mean: if there is no qualitative difference between gay sex and straight-sex-outside-of-marriage, then the operable statistic from a Catholic perspective, if you wanted to compare parenting, would be "total out-of-wedlock-sex". So, for instance, if you considered all sexual adventurousness immoral, parenting leading to a little gay sex would theoretically be "better" than parenting leading to a lot of out-of-wedlock straight sex. Unless you make a qualitative difference between gay and out-of-wedlock-straight-sex, there's really no reason to focus on the kind of the immoral sex, outside of perhaps anti-gay animus. Is that correct?

According to the study, though, homosexual parents were having kids (at least the girls) that not only had more homosexual experiences, but were also more "sexually adventurous" otherwise. According to the study, "the adolescent and young adult girls raised by lesbian mothers appear to have been more sexually adventurous and less chaste..."

In other words, the only information I could find in the study (and it sure is a long study) is that homosexual parents had more sexually adventurous kids without any distinction made between homosexual sex and heterosexual sex. Perhaps that is incomplete information - in fact, it definitely is incomplete information. However, it looks as if even when you don't make a distinction between types of sex, you still get more adventurous kids (girls, anyway) raised by homosexual parents.

I'll add two things: firstly, my whole problem with this, as you know, is that gender flexibility is considered "good" in these pro-gay parenting studies without proof. In fact, gender flexibility is really terrible for inflexible men and has led now to two generations of men who are simultaneously over-acquisitive and a little childish - in other words, gender flexibility makes irresponsible men. And it isn't as if they're supported much in the culture. Quite honestly, straight fathers are being "written out of the picture" with these pseudo-scientific studies and then called profligates when they subsequently aren't interested in family life. Regardless of what one thinks of "gender flexibility", though, you'd have to prove it's worth in the face of thousands of years of tradition in order to call it "good", and no studies do that.

Secondly, David, doesn't the near doubling of homosexual sexual experiences in kids of homosexual couples made the mantra that "gays don't recruit" absolutely ridiculous? Unless we're to believe homosexuality is strictly genetic, and that it is coincidental that homosexual couples just happen to have double the number of homosexual children - which is absurd - then we can only conclude homosexuals DO "recruit". And so one could easily oppose homosexual marriages, homosexual adoptions, etc. etc. not out of animus vis-a-vis the two gay people involved in the union, but rather because they're going to "flip" double the number of future kids into this type of behavior.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

As always, in any sociological study, if you define your terms carefully, you will end up with analysis which proves that the term definitions you chose are entirely justified. The same data, with a different set of term definitions, would provide the same self-justification.

Geoff seems to miss the point that internal combustion engines act consistently according to an objective set of chemical characteristics. No chemist gets to argue about whether it is beneficial that oxygen has the atomic number of 8, an atomic weight of 16, or electrons contained in two valence shells, or that it has openings in its outer shell for two more electrons to be really stable...

When it comes to human behavior, such studies can easily become utterly subjective. The most infuriating experience in modern life is to have some expert tell you what is the "right way" for you, or me, or anyone, to live, to think, to choose... What's even more infuriating is the implicit assumption that EVERYONE KNOWS these passing fads are The Truth. Geoff should know how infuriating that can be... its been done to him often enough, by a different set of pointy headed intellectuals, who don't happen to share his own biases.