A. Bernstein and wanted to share it with you:
BARBARA WARNER, FORMER president of Metro DC PFLAG, is a longtime
supporter and activist for gay equality. Still, when her son,
Andrew, and his partner, Jay Edmundson, decided to adopt two
Guatemalan boys, she had her doubts.
“Children need mothers,” she thought. But now, as the beloved
“Nana” of Tomas, 8, and David, 6, Warner calls her earlier
fears a form of sexism: “These two little boys couldn’t be
loved or cared for more than they are.”
I have long been convinced that same-sex parents — on average —
tend to do a better job of parenting. As I wrote in my book
“Families of Value,” early studies firmly supported that view
for a variety of fairly obvious reasons. Unlike heterosexuals,
same-sex couples don’t become parents by accident, or because of
parental or cultural pressures. For them, those same pressures are
barriers rather than incentives. So they become parents solely
because their nurturing instincts are sufficiently strong to fuel
the courage to overcome the societal barriers.
Newer studies — though not directly related to parenting —
further explain same-sex parental success. As simply put in a
recent New York Times report: A “growing body of evidence shows
that same-sex couples have a great deal to teach everyone else
about marriage and relationships.” Most basically, gay and
lesbian couples are “far more egalitarian” than their
heterosexual counterparts in how they share responsibilities and
Left unsaid, but what would seem quite obvious, is that children
benefit when their parents are more skilled at dividing up the
familial tasks and resolving their inevitable differences.
Same-sex couples don’t have less to argue about. But they’re
more constructive in how they handle their conflicts. Says Cathy
Tuerk, a psychotherapist and another past president of Metro DC
“I think the bottom line is that same-sex couples tend to divide
up their tasks based on their interests and their skills rather
than on their gender or convention.”
SO, NO SURPRISE, the fly in the heterosexual ointment once again
turns out to be addiction to cultural norms. It’s the attitude
behind the question so often posed to parents of gay children in
committed relationships: “Who’s the man and who’s the
Tuerk cites a heterosexual couple who came to her because of
marital difficulties and whose conflict turned out in large part to
be the woman’s insistence on making all the decisions regarding
their home. In fact, “The husband was artistic and just as much
interested in the china and furniture as she was.”
By definition, on the other hand, gender plays no role in same-sex
couples’ division of child-care duties. So the children are far
more apt to benefit from the natural strengths and interests of
their two parents.
Or, in some cases, of a multitude of parents.
Danielle and Avi Naparsteck Silber, now adults who grew up in
Takoma Park, say they have “four amazing parents:” their two
lesbian mothers, their gay biological father and the father’s
former partner. Their biological mother is Sue Silber, who with a
private law practice and role as Takoma Park city attorney, has
always worked full time. So their adoptive mother, Dana Napersteck,
became a full-time stay-at-home parent for five years, then
abandoned her earlier career as a community organizer in order to
take a job with more flexibility to continue to be on call as the
kids grew up.
THE CHILDREN’S BIOLOGICAL father, D.C. educator and businessman
Chris Hennin, is their “Papa” who has developed their cultural
interests and takes them on frequent vacation travel, often to such
distant locations as France and Australia. But the man they call
“Dad,” and thought of as more their “day-to-day father”
during their growing-up years, is Chris’s former domestic partner
Art Thomas, a longtime web manager at World Bank.
Don’t get me wrong. For children of same-sex parents, growing
up is hardly all honey and roses.
They face a variety of real and difficult challenges never dreamed
of by children of heterosexuals. But for the most part, by all
available evidence, they turn out just fine, thanks.