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.