A child needs more than just a mum and a dad as an ideal paradigm

The following comment (excerpt) was posted on the Jewish web site Galus Australis recently:

Geoff Bloch says:

Lest I be called a bigot and various other similar epithets, may I hasten to add that I acknowledge the difficulty in maintaining a secular argument against homosexuality (although they do exist) and I don’t believe we should pry into people’s bedrooms (only two weeks ago we read hanistarot ladonai eloheinu – hidden sins are left to God, they are not our concern). I also readily concede that there is nothing unnatural about homosexuality – there would not be a clear biblical prohibition against it were it not perfectly natural (it only seems unnatural to heterosexuals who have been raised in societies which honour a rather different paradigm). Moreover, how can its universality otherwise be explained?

But by the same token, I personally think it should be more than enough for the gay lobby that the mainstream be tolerant of their preference. Regrettably, the gay lobby wants society to affirm that homosexuality is as desirable a preference as heterosexuality on which the building block of society, namely the family, should be based.

I requested a clarification from the author around his use of the word “regrettable” and received this response:

Geoff Bloch says:

I have been asked by a reader to clarify a comment I made in a previous post that although the mainstream should be tolerant of gays’ sexual preference, it was regrettable that the gay lobby wants society to affirm that homosexuality is as desirable a preference as heterosexuality on which the family should be based.

I affirm that comment because, amongst other things, it is my opinion that children are entitled to a mother and a father as an ideal paradigm. I should not, however, be taken to imply that a mother and a father would necessarily do a better job raising a child than would a same sex couple in all cases. Stating such a general principle would be absurd.

I’m not entirely comfortable with the language used in these comments.  They show a person who does not appear to have any close connections with gay men or women, and perhaps a person who does not see gay people simply as people.  However, that is an aside to what I am writing about.

The author makes the statement: “it is my opinion that children are entitled to a mother and a father as an ideal paradigm”.  Presumably the author is referring to the biological parents of a child, namely the woman and man whose genetic material formed the child.

I find myself trying to understand what exactly an “ideal paradigm” is.  Superficially, it probably means “if everything was perfect”.  One might ask the question “what is perfect?” and then go on to ask “by whose standards?”  We might all have our own interpretation of these concepts.  Some may even defer to a higher authority, if that’s what they believe in.

I need to prefix the following statement by saying that I am not a student of biology, so I hope to be corrected if what I am about to write is incorrect.  A lesson in evolutionary biology would reveal that all living things have arrived at where they are because of mutations that occur during genetic reproduction.  Given these mutations, which occur naturally and effectively uncontrollably, one could say that it is because of the imperfections in nature that we have arrived where we are today, as decendents of primitive cellular organisms, via way of the apes, over many millions of years.

It is that there are imperfections in nature that are so vital to our existence that I wish to challenge the notion of an “ideal paradigm”.  In nature, there is nothing “ideal”.  There are simply life-forms that adapt to their environment successfully and others less so.  The life-forms that adapt best become prolific, and the ones that don’t adapt so well are prone to extinction.

With this in mind I put it that “ideal paradigms” are contrary to the way nature works and that there is no “ideal”; only successful and unsuccessful.

I would like to explore the notion of it being ideal that a child have both a mother and a father.  This does sound good, and why wouldn’t anyone want a child to have a mum and a dad?  It is after all what nature gave us.

So here we have a child with a mum and a dad.  It’s ideal, and presumably best, according to the author.  The child has a lot of needs, in order to grow up healthy and well adjusted.  Let’s assume the parents are both capable of supplying the child with all that it requires, namely a safe home, clothing, bedding, food, education, entertainment, love, constant and abundant care, financial stability, a happy household, and so on.  This child is really lucky because it’s mum and dad provide it everything it needs, and maybe more.

But wait a minute.  Not everyone’s household is quite like this.  Sure, plenty of kids have a mum and a dad, but do they all have the rest?  Lots of parents are unemployed, or cannot provide a decent meal, or are unwell, or are abusive, or cannot afford to rent a nice home, or are just not capable of providing everything the child needs.  Yet the child has a mother and father, and this is good, because that’s ideal, according to the author.

Let’s consider a different scenario.  A child has two dads or two mums, simply due to circumstances.  One of the parents will most likely be biological, the other not.  Now take the scenerio of this child’s parents being able to provide an identical, ideal family scenario as I described above.  The only difference being that both parents are the same gender.

Compare the “ideal” situation of the child having a mum and a dad, who can only provide a scant, bare-bones existence, with the less preferred situation of the child with two dads or mums, who can provide a delightfully abundant existence.

I don’t think it takes a genius to see that the child coming from the impoverished household is more likely to suffer in their development, either physically, emotionally or both, whilst the child from the plentiful environment will probably thrive in most areas.

The point I am making here is that when the author writes “it is my opinion that children are entitled to a mother and a father as an ideal paradigm” he should actually be saying “it is my opinion that children are entitled to a mother and a father, who are healthy, happy, intelligent, employed, financially stable, and love each other, as an ideal paradigm”.

That would be great, in an ideal world.  However we live in a real word, one that mostly doesn’t conform to ideals, and we have to make do.  So if a child has two loving mums or two loving dads I’d say that’s a pretty ideal situation to be in and be satisfied with that.  Anyone wanting more is being unrealistic and unfair.

Advertisements

5 Responses to A child needs more than just a mum and a dad as an ideal paradigm

  1. Shira says:

    Hi Michael,
    I’ve seen this discussion between you and my dad (the author of the article you quote) on Galus. I think you’re taking his words out of context. In fact, the examples you give showing how a same sex couple may do a better job raising a child than a mum and dad are precisely what my dad is referring to in the caveat he provided to the statement you found so objectionable.

    Note that my dad said: “I should not, however, be taken to imply that a mother and a father would necessarily do a better job raising a child than would a same sex couple in all cases. Stating such a general principle would be absurd.”

    Saying that a child is entitled to a mum and a dad as an ideal paradigm does NOT mean that it is better for a child to have a mum and a dad than to have a safe home, food, education, love, financial stability, etc etc; it simply means that it is more ideal for a child to have a mum and a dad than to have 2 mums or 2 dads. Meaning – all other things being equal, with the only difference between two families being the genders of the parents, the one with a mum and a dad is more ideal. Comparing parental gender to safety, education, love etc is precisely what my dad is referring to as absurd.

    You may well disagree with the sentiment that the “mum and dad” paradigm is more ideal than 2 same-sex parents, in isolation from all other factors, and you have every right to do so; but a more relevant way to approach this discussion would be to ask my dad for his reasons as to why he believes this is so, and for you to present your reasons why it is not.

    Like

    • My point precisely is that you cannot look at this as a theoretical discussion “in isolation from all other factors”. These are real situations with real children and real parents. Some may wish or pretend it were otherwise but that is ignoring reality.

      Like

  2. Gregory says:

    It takes an incredible amount of arrogance to use a phrase like “mum and dad paradigm is more ideal then 2 same-sex parents”. It is this very attitude that perpetuates the continued victimisation of parents of the same gender and their children. There is no ideal and Michael has rightly highlighted the many things actually wrong with the concept of a mum and a dad as being ideal.

    The world needs to change it’s attitude in the best interest of the children. Children don’t care who their parents are as long as they are fed and sheltered and protected. That’s what parenting is fundamentally about. It’s the other members of society that project their own fears and misgivings on this family unit.

    When a gay couple decides to have children, they make a decision to do so, it’s not an accident nor just an expectation. This to me sounds a whole lot better than the ‘ideal’ concept of getting married and breeding.

    Like

  3. Gina says:

    It is a western thing of recent invention that the best thing for kids is a mum and a dad. History is repleat with other cultural paradigms for families. During the pre medicine days there must have been frequent family situations where neither parent was the natural parent or was a step parent or other reletive , friend or even stranger.

    How do we supose families survived the European black death, the industrial revolution, and so on. The biblical family is more like a tribe than the thing we cleave to.
    It is arrogant to suggest that humans can only manage children and families based on a ninteen fifties version of american telivision idealisation. we have managed well using other ways , if survival and current civilisation is the measure , with every conceivable blend of “family” .
    the current push for mom and dad families reeks of american bradyism and the globalisation of acceptable paridigms for not only families but everything from barbisiation of female aperance to macdonaldisation of the humble hamburger.
    We managed Ok for thousands of years without this rubbish being imposed on us.

    Like

  4. Eric Glare says:

    I think so far you are all arguing about the wrong thing: ” it was regrettable that the gay lobby wants society to affirm that homosexuality is as desirable a preference as heterosexuality on which the family should be based.”

    Forget the family angle. What about “desirable preference”? The only people who have real choice of sexual preference are bisexuals. Even then Bloch seems to be suggesting that if someone is remotely heterosexual (eg 5:95%) then they should desire not to be same-sex involved but should get married and have kids. This is a recipe for disaster for entire families. If Bloch thinks homosexuality is a choice then perhaps he is one of the few who could chose which sexuality he acts on.

    The insinuation that I should have been born different is the greatest insult. I had and have no real choice and my sexual preference should be just as good as anyone else’s.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: