NOM BLOG

Growing Up With Two Moms: The Untold Children's View

 

Over at Public Discourse, Robert Lopez shares his personal story of growing up with two moms and relates it to the recent study by Mark Regnerus:

The children of same-sex couples have a tough road ahead of them--I know, because I have been there. The last thing we should do is make them feel guilty if the strain gets to them and they feel strange.

Between 1973 and 1990, when my beloved mother passed away, she and her female romantic partner raised me. They had separate houses but spent nearly all their weekends together, with me, in a trailer tucked discreetly in an RV park 50 minutes away from the town where we lived. As the youngest of my mother's biological children, I was the only child who experienced childhood without my father being around.

After my mother's partner's children had left for college, she moved into our house in town. I lived with both of them for the brief time before my mother died at the age of 53. I was 19. In other words, I was the only child who experienced life under "gay parenting" as that term is understood today.

Quite simply, growing up with gay parents was very difficult, and not because of prejudice from neighbors. People in our community didn't really know what was going on in the house. To most outside observers, I was a well-raised, high-achieving child, finishing high school with straight A's.

26 Comments

  1. Ash
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Wow...what a powerful piece. Robert's prose is honest, but down-to-earth and calm; he's not hateful.

    He makes such an interesting point about the same-sex parenting demographics. Indeed, there is the "forgotten B" in the LGBT equation, which is sort of a thorn in the LG side.

    Bisexuals make up a slight majority of the population who identifies as LGB, and the majority of them are women. The idea that the same-sex parenting data is likely to change as same-sex couples form stable unions seems shaky to me, because we are forgetting the B: Women who have children with men, and then go on to live with women. That's far more common than invitro and gay surrogacy, and I believe it will continue to be more common. We have the reverse have as well: women "having children with" women and going on to be with men. The case that prompted lawmakers to create a way for "three parents" in CA is sort of in the middle: one where a woman had a child by a man while "married" to a woman. (She had sex with the man, I should note, because every woman who has a child has one by a man.)

    Beautiful piece. We have the personal side of the issue told by a "bisexual Latino intellectual, raised by a lesbian, who experienced poverty in the Bronx as a young adult." I wonder how the LGBT lobby will respond as more people say that growing up with a same-sex couple is not as beautiful as popular culture depicts? Will they respond in the same way as people respond to young adults who question artificial reproduction after being conceived in an unusual manner? Robert is right: we should not only hear out stories like his, but we shouldn't expect children to not feel *any* negativity from being deprived of a natural family, biological connection, and gender integration (a mother and father), especially when so many other children have it.

    Robert's description of himself is actually consistent with some of the findings of the past same-sex parenting research: children in lesbian households tend to be rather androgynous, with the boys possessing greater levels of feminity. And, of course, the children are more inclined towards same-sex relationships than the general population. He's spot on when he theorizes that children in such households are more open to bisexuality. His self-described eccentricity makes me think of the one study of same-sex parenting the APA chose not to cite which showed that children of married couples did better than homosexual couples in a number of areas, including socially (at school, etc.).

    We are gaining a diverse social perspective by hearing from all adults raised in LGBT homes as children. Now we need more research.

    Here's a nice summary of what happened with the journal "audit" of Regnerus's study. It's good in pointing out some of the issues, including the fact that Sherkat was annoyed by Regnerus's study long before the audit, and that the "findings" of the audit are not as dramatic as SSMers are purporting. We need more analysis, however, of the audit. For instance, Sherkat misclassifies Dr. Marks's article as a "meta-analysis," and levels criticisms against Regnerus that were noted by him in his study. I was reading a news article and the writer reported Sherkat's criticisms, but said "Regnerus stated this [the study's shortcomings shouted by Sherkat as "news"] in the article."

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/313108/regnerus-audit-robert-verbruggen

  2. M. Jones
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Why do this to a helpless child? Child abuse plain and simple.

  3. Ruth
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    There needs to be more to the story, what made it difficult. Please help us understand. This leaves us hanging.

  4. Joseph Benning
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    You can find the full story here: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/08/6065

  5. Joe
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    It's just an excerpt. Here, Ruth. http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/08/6065

  6. Darin Southam
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Awesome!

  7. Chairm
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I've discussed this general theme here, in the comment sections of the NOM blogsite.

    SSMers pretend that the mom-dad parenting duos of the children in same-sex households are invisible or irrelevant; they do so as the price they'd pay for making the second same-sex adult in the same-sex household more visible than the children -- and supposedly more relevant than the children, as well.

    The vast majority of children residing in same-sex households were not attained by adoption nor by third party procreation. They migrated, with either mom or dad, from the previously procreative relationships of the two adults who pro-created them into existence. These children have the protections of divorced children and of children of otherwise estranged parents. SSM does not add but rather, as an idea imposed on society, would subtract from the child's life.

    SSM cannot do what adoption, for example, would do directly. In fact, its imposition would do damage to the provision for responsible procreation that is best served and best protected within the marriage law and within the social institution of marriage itself. SSM, it is the antithesis of that.

  8. Jacqueline Beavers
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I know of so many children who haven't even told their story about growing up or living with same-sex couples. This is a terrible situation to put a child or children in. It's not normal and the children suffer. Many of them don't like what they are being subjected to. This is shameful and it carries a heavy price/burden to pay!

  9. Fitz
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Both the Regnerus study & Lopez’s article commenting on it reveal a problematic aspect of gay identity politics that presents difficulties in studying this phenomena. These problems are one of identity and fluidity.

    I remember back in the early 1990′s having a discussion with a philosophy professor about some of the dogma’s of the sexual revolution. He speculated that homosexuality would be sold to the American people as fixed and genetic for no other reason than anti-discrimination laws required an “immutable characteristic”.. His suspicion was of coarse confirmed by near history. The truth however is much more varied and the real world much more inconvenient.

    Approaching the topic with a greater willingness to view the phenomena of homosexuality outside of the narrow confines of sexual liberationist dogma – allows one to understand that gay parenting as a subject will always be plagued by these problems of categorization.

    The immutable characteristic language is only one prong of a multi prong "legal test" that is part of established Constitutional jurisprudence. Religion is also included because it is specifically singled out for protection by the U.S. Constitution; being it the first of our first freedoms mentioned in the bill of rights.

    If a class of people is not specifically enumerated in our constitution than the legislature has to create a "protected class" who will be treated narrowly as the legislation is drafted. Regardless of how a individual state or piece of federal legislation treat a certain group, to be a "protected class" and subject to "strict scrutiny" it is always the courts themselves that need to run through an analysis were the "immutable" characteristic is only one prong.

    These other categories, are included based on criteria that are thought to justify extending special protection:(a.) immutable characteristics, (b.)economic deprivation, (c.)political powerlessness, and (d.) a history of pervasive discrimination against the group.

    (continued)

  10. Fitz
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    (continued)

    Even African Americans needed to go through this test even though they were the subject of the 14th Amendment themselves and therefore its original intent to give them specifically "equal protection" under the law.

    The idea was that due to the combination of these criteria the class in question was incapable of winning at the ballot box and therefore justified judicial intervention on there behalf.

    Heretofore most courts agree now simply ignoring this test and it precedents when it comes to homosexuals as a class. One of the more laughable aspects of the Romer decision was its insistence that homosexuals were "politically powerless" - and were incapable of combating the state legislatures specific prohibitions of treating them as a protected class.

    #2. Perhaps this helps explain my professors prediction about how homosexuality was now to be presented to the public. In era's just past homosexual activists often portrayed homosexuality as a choice that they embraced, in part to overcome the stigma they felt when psychology had it listed as a mental disorder & they wished to highlight the idea that they embraced this as a positive identity based in their autonomous individuality and sexual self expression so popular in literature of the period of the early sexual revolution.

    It was also a comment received as not simply a legal strategy but a public relations approach.. the activists understanding that they had to downplay the fluidity experienced by many who could fit under the homosexual label; much better to have it understood as an inborn trait (like race) were any attempt at change was impossible. Indeed many homosexual activists present this question as they deciding criteria ...(i.e.) If homosexuals are "born that way" than its "not their fault" and all demands for what they call "equality" must be meet because they cannot "change". Its an overly simplistic mantra but that's part of its utility...it (paradoxically) plays on the emotions most people experience when considering homosexuality as an infliction that people suffer under.

    Both the legal and P. R. dimensions of this drive are confounded and challenged buy the lived experience of so many who identified as homosexual for certain periods of their life, by bi-sexual's and there larger numbers, and by the general fluidity and multiple rational's real people have for engaging in homosexual behavior. This is what I understand the controversy surrounding Mark Regnerus’s gay parenting study's critics to be exploiting as a "fatal flaw" problems of categorization that homosexuality itself lends itself to by its very nature. Likewise; Robert Oscar Lopez plea centers on this demension. It is why it resonates with many people's deeper understanding of the complexity of this issue outside activists narrow and self-serving framing. Terms he uses like the "forgotten B" and the insistence of his peer's in college that he was "really gay" represent for many intellects a transparent attempt to downplay the problems of "immutability" (As I say above - a necessary component for inclusion in a "protected class") and create a solidarity amongst the rank and file that plays into both the legal & public relations aspects of the campaign for "gay rights"

    If you would compare the approach of homosexual discussion in the early 1960's with that of today; you would see the irony of the "conservative" side of the debate being more like those early pioneers. It is us who bot appreciate and are willing to discuss the complexity and diversity within homosexuality; its degree's, fluidity, and transience throughout life. By contrast the self proclaimed sexual sophisticates are now the rigid, inflexible and agenda driven group that insists on some labels and discounts others completely.

  11. Paul Mc
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    I know a young man broughtup by LBGT parents. He is not strange.

    So that cancels out this guy and we are back to the zero sum status. Because, as everyone here would agree, one single hard case can be extrapolated to the general case for everyone else. It's common sense.

  12. Barb Chamberlan
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Interesting that Mr. Lopez seems OK from the outside, with good grades, high achievement, etc. but in fact feels like a social outcast and suffers " in ways that are difficult for sociologists to index."

    I'm guessing the majority of children in the Regnerus study with parents who had same-sex romantic relationships also suffer from much of the same anxiety and alienation that Mr. Lopez experiences, in addition to the measurable deficiencies that were noted in the study.

    I'm glad to hear Mr. Lopez's story and am sorry that he was the victim of this terrible upbringing.

  13. Bex
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    OK, let's work to outlaw every 'strange' home from marriage and childbearing. The consequences are just too great.

    That means no more children should be born to interracial marriages, because their quite different than most other marriages. No minority families should move to predominantly white areas, cause then they'd be too different and it'd make growing up strange and difficult. Also, families from other religions should all be around only people who share their cultural and religious beliefs, and we shouldn't mix that either, because if one feels like an outcast due to their religious beliefs, that'd be too hard on the kid as well.

    the point here is this...if this man felt 'weird' as a kid, and didn't resolve that 'weirdness' himself, his mom and 'step-mom' so to speak, should have helped him with that in any way they could, there should have been parental protection for him, and if their wasn't, its NOT the fault of gay...it's the fault of that INDIVIDUAL parent.

    It's like if a Jewish family grew up in a predominantly Catholic culture, and the child of that family felt strange his whole life...so then we try and outlaw Jewish marriage and procreation.....it doesn't make sense...

  14. elle
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Lopez,

    Thank you for sharing your story. It takes a very brave soul to openly and honestly engage discussion on this topic. I am moved by your story, and I know that you will help so many unheard voices, as there are countless others who can relate to your experiences. For me, I gained insight from the perspective that you shared, and I believe this will help me to connect and understand others with similar experiences. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you!

  15. Chairm
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    Paul Mc the issue is family structure so your sardonic remark missed the mark.

    Bex the issue issue is family structure so you, also, have missed the mark.

    But both of you have just left comments that negate the anecdotes of every commenter who tries to hyperpersonalize discussions. Your standards are double edged.

  16. Andy King
    Posted August 8, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    "In other words, I was the only child who experienced life under "gay parenting" as that term is understood today."

    ... Is that how the term is understood? Two women who don't live in the same house who commute nearly an hour every weekend to spend time primarily with each other, rather than jointly raising a child?

    Explain to me how this child wouldn't have the same issues if these "parents" were heterosexual.

    Now explain to me how this in -any way- relates to same-sex couples who want to get married, share a home together, raise a child together, and become a family, -together-. Robert Lopez is not a victim of same-sex parenting; he's a victim of -bad- parenting, and to conflate the two as one and the same is extraordinarily suspect, both factually and morally.

    Researchers Nanette Gartrell and Henry Bos' findings espouse as much, and don't rely on anecdotes of children raised by a "commuter relationship", whatever the above might be called, but actually document families headed by lesbian parents.

  17. Ash
    Posted August 8, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    @Andy, notwithstanding the various limitations of the US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study, Gartrell and Bos also found that half of lesbian couples in their sample had split before the children were age six. The splits allegedly had no effect on the children, as those raised by separated lesbian parents did just as well as those raised by intact lesbian couples.

    Sounds like a "commuter relationship" to me. ;)

    But your attitude was already addressed by Robert in his article. People like you don't want to consider the diversity of experiences for children if they don't fit a narrative that pleases you.

    And I really don't get this whole obsession with sexual orientation. SSMers seem to rank sexual orientation above family structure in terms of child well-being.

    "...if these 'parents' were heterosexual..." Do you mean if he was raised by two heterosexual women in a platonic relationship?

  18. leehawks
    Posted August 8, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    I found this article profound...... even a revelation that lgbt practicing people should not be parents or barring that, should never get custody.
    " Once I was a father, I put aside my own homosexual past and vowed never to divorce my wife or take up with another person, male or female, before I died. I chose that commitment in order to protect my children from dealing with harmful drama, even as they grow up to be adults. When you are a parent, ethical questions revolve around your children and you put away your self-interest . . . forever. "
    YES! YES! YES! That is exactly right. Mr. Lopez has triumphed over the self-serving, conceited parenting he experienced. Add to that the young lady a few blogs back talking about growing up with a gay dad and a disinterested mother, and you can see it: collossal self-involved narcissism or....... debilitating immaturity. "We want it, you can't stop us" You're a mean bigot" , etc. etc. Wah, Wah, Wah.
    So Paul Mc @7: Of course he doesn't seem strange to you, you're gay and you can't see it. But then how could you, his own mother didn't see it.
    And No Bex @9, it makes perfect sense since none of your examples are differences based on sexual deviancy. Yes people can feel strange when they are different in some way but it doesn't mean their are going to question their sexual orientation their whole lives. Race is not sex. Race is not gender. Race is not a deviant sexual act. Race is not a sin.

  19. Daughter of Eve
    Posted August 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    SSM promotes government endorsed child abandonment.

  20. leehawks
    Posted August 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    OvercameSSA: I already thought you were great but I have a new appreciation of the personal strength and discipline you must have drawn on to make such a loving commitment to your family and the courage you have to speak out about your opinion and experiences. Shine on, sir, shine on...

  21. Lefty
    Posted August 8, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I'd never trust someone who could betray his mother's privacy like this.

  22. Andy King
    Posted August 8, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    @Ash

    "commuter relationship" is what I described to be the parents of Mr. Lopez, in that their relationship seemed to be more about themselves than about their child. As for the separated lesbian couples in the Gartrell and Bos study, there's no indication that their separations were any more contentious than an average divorced couple, so your suggestion that they match the relationship depicted in Mr. Lopez's upbringing is wishful thinking on your part. It's worth noting that that Gartrell and Bos both take from their study that lesbian parents are at least as fit to raise children as their heterosexual peers.

    "People like you don't want to consider the diversity of experiences for children if they don't fit a narrative that pleases you."
    That certainly sounds like the pot calling the kettle black. I'm pleased when a child is raised by two parents that love it and each other. I'm apparently not as sure as you are that what's in their pants has anything to do with proper parenting.

    Regarding our "obsession" with sexual orientation: Yes, it's such a shame that gays and lesbians want to raise a child with someone that they love instead of merely fornicating with a member of the opposite sex so they can have a child without a loving spouse. Your way sounds much better.

    "Do you mean if he was raised by two heterosexual women in a platonic relationship?"

    Since when is that what a heterosexual couple is? If you can't figure out what I meant, I honestly don't know what to say to you.

    All in all, Mr. Lopez's article is fine as an expression of his own personal life. It's when he, without basis, expounds that his personal experience must apply to the majority of children in same-sex relationships that it becomes distasteful.

    His upbringing was difficult, and his parents were lesbians. Correlation has never implied causation, and it never will.

  23. Ash
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    @Andy,

    “As for the separated lesbian couples in the Gartrell and Bos study, there's no indication that their separations were any more contentious than an average divorced couple, so your suggestion that they match the relationship depicted in Mr. Lopez's upbringing is wishful thinking on your part.”

    If their separations were no more contentious than the average divorced couple, then it doesn’t make sense that children of lesbians have such great performance *even if* their parents “divorce.” That’s my point. Why describe the parenting of Mr. Lopez as a “commuter relationship” in an effort to point out how subpar it is to stable lesbian families, and then cite a study which shows that family instability doesn’t harm children? Your favored study deems a crucial factor (stability) as inconsequential to the well-being of children; so it doesn’t matter that Lopez spent most of his childhood together with both women only on the weekends before living with them in one home for a few years.

    “It's worth noting that that Gartrell and Bos both take from their study that lesbian parents are at least as fit to raise children as their heterosexual peers.”

    “Heterosexual peers” can mean anything. It can mean a heterosexual single mother, divorcee, cohabitating/unmarried couple, step-family, adoptive family, kinship arrangement (aunt raising children), etc. Most people, even those raising children in broken homes, *are* heterosexual. So what matters is if lesbian families (two women in a sexual relationship raising children) measure up to the “gold-standard,” i.e. the married-intact family. Gartrell and Bos didn’t do a direct comparison between the two family structures.

    “Regarding our ‘obsession’ with sexual orientation: Yes, it's such a shame that gays and lesbians want to raise a child with someone that they love instead of merely fornicating with a member of the opposite sex so they can have a child without a loving spouse. Your way sounds much better.”

    Strawman.

    But anyway, the reason I said that you are obsessed with sexual orientation is because it appears that sexual orientation is the number one factor in your mind that determines child well-being, or that is even important to consider. For instance:

    a) The children of lesbian parents do better than everyone else even if their parents separate. Why? Because the parents are lesbian; divorce/separation doesn’t harm children of lesbians.

    b) Although step-families and cohabitating families present difficulties, unmarried same-sex families—which have a combination of deficits, and maybe more—allegedly do just as well as the married-intact family. Why? Because the parents are lesbian or gay.

    c) Two women in a sexual relationship constitute an optimal family structure because they are lesbian, but you don’t necessarily consider two sisters raising children as a top-notch arrangement. Again, because of the sexualized nature of the lesbian family.

    The concept of sexual orientation has enslaved you.

    I said: “Do you mean if he was raised by two heterosexual women in a platonic relationship?" You responded: “Since when is that what a heterosexual couple is?”

    You didn’t say “heterosexual couple.” You said that Mr. Lopez wouldn’t have turned out better if his parents were heterosexual, i.e. if the two women who raised him were heterosexual. If you meant to say that he wouldn’t have turned out better if he were raised by a man and a woman, by his biological parents in a married-intact family, then you should have said that. It’s further proof that you are obsessed with sexual orientation. You consider that one factor over and above family structure, genetic relation, and gendered parenting because the latter two factors are lacking in your ideal same-sex family, wherein which the adults are in a romantic relationship.

    “It's when he, without basis, expounds that his personal experience must apply to the majority of children in same-sex relationships that it becomes distasteful.”

    He’s doing the same thing Zach Wahls is doing; he’s advising society based on his experience. Furthermore, I don’t think he’s saying that his experience applies to a majority of children of same-sex couples. He’s just saying that all children should be heard--not just the ones with rosy stories.

    “His upbringing was difficult, and his parents were lesbians. Correlation has never implied causation, and it never will.”

    Maybe it was difficult because he was raised fatherless and outside of the bonds of an intact family. To redirect the conversation, yet again, from your obsession with sexual orientation ;)

  24. Chairm
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Andy said, mistakenly, that "Correlation has never implied causation, and it never will."

    His mistaken is twofold. He said "has never" and he said "never will". But it can, it has, and it will again in many social scientific scenarios ... including parenting and family structure.

  25. Posted August 10, 2012 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    This is a subject that I have long said we don't yet have all the information to make a hard decision on at this time. Truth is it will take at least two generations before the "doctors" will be able to put together all the info and say what exact impact children of same sex parents has on them. I, speaking only for myself here, children of same sex parents will have many problems before them as they mature and become adults. This is not saying that all children of same sex parents will grow up and have problems, some will lead normal lives - just because one of a childs parents is a murderer and the other a drug dealer doesn't mean the child will become a banker, etc. The same will hold true for the children of same sex parents. But the child will notice and feel a difference and it will put a strain on these children making them more likely to have severe problems in their adolescent and adult years.

  26. Chairm
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    In the meantime, what I await is the explanation from the gay advocates of the social scientific narrative whereby same-sex sexual behavior makes all the difference in the outcomes for children who are raised without either a mom or a dad and with a substitute of the same sex as either mom or dad.

    There are millions of parenting scenarios in which either mom or dad are not present. The vast majority of such families are not comprised of persons who identify as gay or engage in same-sex sexual behavior.

    So what makes the same-sex sexual scenario superior to the rest of the same-sex category? If it is the sexual behavior or the sexual attraction, then, the advocates need to step-up and explain their proposed social-scientific narrative on that score.

    Otherwise, the wait is just a delay tactic as the advocates attempt to hurry society to adopt something for non-scientific reasons.