I stumbled into the controversy over Pamela Paul's article, "Are Fathers Necessary?" when I visited First Things a few minutes ago and read Carter's Article, "Dads, Don't Go."
I wholeheartedly agree with Carter - (what's new, it's First Things after all?). I won't summarize their arguments here, they are are both short enough to give a quick read to.
It was interesting, I was sitting here just now thinking, how to I add my two cents to this big and important topic, when Anne-Marie called me into the other room: the dryer isn't working she tells me. How ironic.
Now, I'm not going to answer Ms. Paul's question with: "to fix dryers," because, well, I couldn't fix it. But I could pull it out from the wall, get a screw driver and do an initial inspection, and I can call one of my man friends and ask him to have a quick look. Nevertheless, it got me thinking.
I guess I'm not all that surprised that lesbian couples are good at raising kids. It's a woman talent. It's not my talent, at least the emotional rearing part. Maybe I'm being a little modest, here. Anyone who has watched me in church with my little ones knows that I'm a big suck. But it's sprinting, not marathoning. And Anne-Marie does the marathoning. My rule is, come 7 pm (now 8 that the kids are getting older) I neither want to see nor hear kids. Anne-Marie has a much greater talent for enduring the slow emotional leeching that kids do to their parents.
Yeah, women, raise them babies! But I wonder whether the study upon which Paul's article is based is providing little other than a snap-shot of successful rearing. Am I going to sit here and believe that two women could better raise my Isaiah and my Stephen to become good husbands and fathers than Anne-Marie and I could? I'm not going to say that this study is wholly worthless. Incomplete? Yes.
Perhaps we might draw a lesson from the witness of most of human history, although that seems like an obscene idea. Through most of human history women provided the majority of the care-giving to both the boys and the girls, until a certain age, at which point the father took over with the boys. Nature cries out that women are particularly fit for taking care of children. Why quibble over that?
The question is, what do men bring to the table? That depends upon how you define success. I'm quite certain that Christians and others would not define this in the same way.
This is how the study and Ms. Paul define it:
On average, lesbian parents spend more time with their children than fathers do. They rate disputes with their children as less frequent than do hetero couples, and describe co-parenting more compatibly and with greater satisfaction. Their kids perceive their parents to be more available and dependable than do the children of heteros. They also discuss more emotional issues with their parents. They have fewer behavioral problems, and show more interest in and try harder at school.
So, laying the groundwork for your children's emotional expressiveness and success in school is how they define successful parenting. I do not agree that in those two things do we find the best criteria set out.
No one should say that those two things are irrelevant, but, as I've always said, homosexuality is an urban, decadent phenomenon. Urbanites who engage in or 'believe in' homosexuality are on average wealthier and better educated than heterosexuals. This means that success in school will be a higher priority with them than with other demographics. And the emotional thing - that's awesome, and a solid argument against male homosexual couples adopting. Ha ha.
Another however. this passage speaks of children of school age. What age? The reference to behavioral issues makes one think that they are referring to prepubescence only. You can see how gender identification would not be nearly as crucial before the onset of puberty than after it, and that a failure to connect with the virtues of both sexes at that stage would then be apparent if the data were to be more comprehensively collected.
A final however. Have you seen the key phrase employed they rate? Who rates? The lesbian rates herself, I guess. It's not like she is trying to prove anything in this study, though, and that for some reason would be inclined to put her best foot forward regardless of accuracy? Perhaps this study shows not so much the lesbian couple's finesse at parenting prepubescent children, than does it show their desire to have their parenting considered successful by others, or, at the very least, their greater optimism or hubris?
One more thing on success at school. I'm a prof. I love academics. But because I'm also a Christian I really don't care if my children become great in the eyes of the world. I would love my children to follow in my footsteps because I enjoy it and would enjoy discussing my interests with them as they age. But you know what, I would rather them become holy, become good wives and husbands and parents, than financially successful. Liberalism is generally Marxist (dialectical materialist), on the other hand. And, as Marxists, all that matters to liberals (and homosexualists are liberals) is material success. I love truth because it unites me to God. Liberals love truth only insofar as it brings them success, because to a Marxist power alone is the good. The homosexual is driven to prove the truth of his/her life on the basis of its affluence. The Christian looks to God for his vindication, not to men. A liberal believes that you can change truth with enough persistence. They are Marxists. To them power is truth, truth is not power. Thus are they driven to success, success in the sense of attainment of power. And they don't mind reconfiguring standards of 'success' in order to attain power.
Dads Today. Once more.
I was really touched by Carter's article. Please read it. He is not attempting to 'solve' the problem of marriage today. It's impossible to solve as it is. You know my thoughts on marriage by now. I have spent a lot of time wondering about the dad's headship of the family. I've always felt that things would go more smoothly in families if the father were really in charge. I might be mistaken in the sense that if it is the case that our culture is so charged with ideas antithetical to this, that would make it effectively impossible to have this work in the minds of husbands and wives, no matter how counter-cultural they consider themselves.
Added to this problem, the law. But of course, law is a matter of interpretation. You can interpret a document like the Declaration of Independence that decrees that all men are created equal to yet permit slavery, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms such that people who speak their minds re. homosexualism or Nazism should be imprisoned. I've always wondered how it actually came about that according to the law women own the children. Male judges and legislators thought to themselves, "Man, I wouldn't want the kids! Let's make them the woman's property." Is that how it came about? Ceteris paribus, women get to keep the kids, no matter how irrational and difficult she is, no matter how much the husband wants the marriage to work. He has to play according to her rules or he will not see the children. For most of history the opposite has been the case. Now, I know that abuses could work the other way too, that is, if husband owned the kids. Something seems widely out of whack here, though, and I don't know how one would fix it. Marriage, marriage, so many problems, why even bother!
Just kidding. Kind of. One in a million, a good marriage.
It just seems to me that this law of ownership completely upsets the traditional structure of the family. As soon as a husband gets out of line the wife just has to say, do what I want or I'm leaving and taking the kids away. He might not care if such an absurdly irrational person like her leaves, but his kids have never treated him so cruelly, and he fears to loose them, so he obeys her. Is there not something unnatural in this? Why has this come about, really? Because men don't really care about their kids, because people just take it for granted that mothers are better with kids than fathers, or because women's jobs have been traditionally to look after the children? I suppose the second and third are more likely, but why does this have such force in law? It certainly biases the system in favour of the women, and makes it such that she has little obligation to try harder to make the marriage work. I have heard it said many times that children should be with their mothers. I reply, with Mr. Carter, no, they should be with their parents, and I find it antithetical to this the way the law considers the children hers. Many complain about the no-fault divorce. I haven't really thought that much about it, but I guess what I'm speaking of here is part and parcel of it.