Does every child deserve a mother *and* a father?

According to this story,

So it would appear that quite a few people believe a father is an “optional accessory,” if you will. Or perhaps even an undesirable one? :frowning:

My contention is that every child deserves a mother and a father. And that it’s potentially harmful (and certainly disadvantageous) to the child for him/her to grow up without a father.

Now I understand that circumstances can arise where there is little or no choice for a child to grow up without a fulltime, live-in father (stemming from death, divorce, etc.) So please don’t respond by saying, “If the father is abusive or grossly irresponsible then it’s sometimes better for the father not to be there, yadda yadda yadda.” I understand that. My point is that I find it rather repulsive to know there are people who purposely see to it that a child grows up without a father in the first place. That’s flat out disgusting in my book.

Would you mind explaining why? I’ve seen many people advance this statement and simply let it lie as if “every child needs a mother and a father” is such a blindingly obvious truth it needs no support.

I think it is highly likely that familiies with at least two responsible adults caring for the kids are going to be more stable, emotionally and financially, but what’s the basis for requiring a complete set of genitals?

Why can’t a woman (or two women) be role models for a male child, or two men for a female? There are the physical challenges of puberty, but that’s a very short segment of their lives and it’s not like they are going to be so completely isolated from any other caring adult they can’t get another perspective. It’s not like the average kid depends on long heart-to-hearts with Mom or Dad about periods and wet-dreams anyway.

I can’t think of any other important life lesson that I would teach radically differently to my son versus my daughter. I love my husband and my kids lives would be much poorer without him, but it’s not because he’s male, it’s because of who he is as a person.

Having a child as a single woman (0r man) is more debateable. But if the person really does have adequate funds and a support network, I doubt his or her child is going to suffer horribly. I certainly would hesitate to call a person who makes such a choice “disgusting.”

So you are saying that a single woman through no particular fault of her own is to be denied the chance of a child because she has no hubby/significant male other. Or that a commited pair of lesbians cant have a child because there is no man present in the home?

Hope not, but that is what it sounds like. :confused:

Why is having no father “disgusting?” And who’s to say the child would be without a mother, perhaps?


Um, even someone with a brief exposure to modern psychology accepts this. Are you somehow suggesting that split families have no effect on a developing child?

A child needs to grow in a loving, nurturing, supportive environment. If he’s getting that, the gender of the parent(s) is irrelevant.

I guess it depends on the society you speak off and also largely depends on particular circumstances.

I grew up with no parents since both died before I was at the mature age of 9. (My father died before I was 3.)
OK… I’m a lunatic. But everyone who knows me is convinced that was inborn.


Oh, of course. In my above statement, I was (obviously, I hope) thinking about split straight families. I believe the jury is still out on same-sex families.

And so is their number. I know a little girl who is basically being raised by three people: her heavily medicated paranoid schizophrenic alcoholic father (who does love her, but who just can’t get it together enough to take care of her), and my FIL and StepMIL, who are no relation to her whatsoever but who had both her dad and her (now absent) mother in their adult foster care home for a while, and who have more or less decided to raise her. And so they are. They go and get her on Sunday afternoon, they pay for her to attend a small private (religious) school in their town during the week, and live in their home, and they return her to her dad on Friday afternoon.

She’s thriving. There are people who give a damn about her. That’s what makes the difference, not whether they come as a matched set, one “male” and one “female”, or even whether any or all of them are biologically related to her. “Caring” is what’s important.

If we can assume the child is being raised in a loving environment, I do consider it slightly “better” that the child be raised by both a man and a woman. This enables the child to grow up relating to both men and women. If the caregivers are of the same sex, then the child could grow up without the influence of the opposite sex.

What’s still most important is a loving environment. With that, it doesn’t really matter if the caregivers are all men or all women.

The OP isn’t talking about split families, but about families that start out with some kind of non-traditional configuration. My problem is with people begging the question that a male/female pair is uniquely superior for raising happy, healthy kids. I have considerably more than a brief exposure to modern psychology and I’m not buying it until I hear some concrete reasons.


We can concede that being in a loving environment is the most important, we can agree that having lots of loved ones around the child is the best thing, but still and all, having roll models of both sexes is better (all other things being equal).

I grew up around all women but one. I had no living uncles, no brothers, no living grandpas—it was aunties, grandma, and sisters. There was just one male. My dad. He (the poor soul) grew up around all women (after his dad died when my dad was 12). My poor dad. All women. Too many women. He grew up okay, don’t get me wrong, (he never was shy about buying tampons at the grocery store for us) but he desperately missed a male influence in his life. (He said that being drafted in the Army was the best thing that happened to him, because finally he had a lot of “brothers.”) His presence in my life has impacted how I related to men now. Without him, I’m sure I’d be okay, but his male influence in my life was a very good thing.

Not to say that there aren’t many wonderful families of many configurations that also are great and raise well-adjusted kids, but as generally, (all other things being equal) man + woman = good. (This combo can also be in the form of an uncle that is there very frequently or something like that too.)

A child “deserves” a loving, stable environment. Period. Everything else should be up for grabs, as long as that single condition is met.

I mean think about it: the child in question is still a human being. Would any adult human being be less of a person because they grew up in a “non-traditional” family, if that family–whatever its makeup–provided them with a solid foundation to base a life on?

Who are we to dictate how that goal–a solid foundation in childhood–is achieved, so long as it is achieved?

Only when such a goal is in danger should third parties be able to participate in the process.

sorry, meant to include this further thought:

My parents are both horrible people, but they were at their worst when they were together.

In clinging to some abstract arithemetic of parenting–One mother plus one father equals a stable family–you quite literally toss the baby out with the bathwater. It’s not the equation that matters, it’s the outcome.

All things being equal, I think it would be hard to argue that having a mom and a dad is the best situation for kids. The problem is, all things are rarely equal. I have to agree that a loving, stable environment trumps the gender issue.

The point of this thread is what’s best for the child. If it could somehow be proved that it were next to impossible for a child to grow up healthy and happy in such a situation, then yes, I wouldn’t have a problem with denying a single woman the chance of a child.

Personally, my feeling is pretty close to filmore’s. A loving (and safe, and nurturing) environment is most important. An argument I’ve heard, though, is that mothers and fathers give different kinds of love, and relate in different ways, and it’s necesary (or at least healthier) for a child to have both. There may be some truth to this, but I think differences between individuals weigh at least as heavily as gender differences between mothers and fathers.

Single women having children on their own with donated sperm does bother me, though it would bother me either less or far more, depending, if I had some hard knowledge of how much of a disadvantage their kids have. But a lot of other things people do bother me too, like having kids with a partner (of either sex) who’s abusive, unbalanced, or self-centered.

For those who really think a child doesn’t miss much by not having both a mother and a father, did you grow up in such a household? I’ve never known a child that didn’t dream or yearn for both a mom and dad if they lost one of their parents.

Contrary to today’s popular belief, men and women are not “equal”, they are different from one another in more ways than just the physical.

It seems to me that the OP is complaining that there are people who purposely see to it that a particular child (theirs) is born without a father. I guess I am hung up on his implication that depriving a child of a father is the reason they are having a child, or at least a large part of the reason. I do not think it works that way. I suspect that nearly all of the couples who have children in fatherless families do so because they are not sexually attracted to men, but still want to have children. Having a father in the family is not an option for them. That being the case, I think they should be subject to the same standards anyone should be held to–

Are they able to provide for the child?

Will they rear the child to be a productive member of society?

Will they commit to the relationship long enough to see the child through maturity?

So many “traditional” parents today fail this test that I feel it is foolish to dismiss out of hand any couple that attempts to do the right thing.

What really gets me is the tacit assumption that, because a child is raised by a same-sex couple, they’ll be surrounded even most the time by people of just one sex. Any smart parent is going to try to expose their child to as many good rolemodels as possible of every gender. Since we’re talking “ideal” vs “ideal” here, a child raised ideally by a gay couple isn’t going to grow up in a vacuum. It may be a bit short of straight couples, since it’s not quite as ready-made, but then again you’ve also got the ability of the parents to try and guide towards the best rolemodels they can find instead of a “work with whatcha got” setup. I’m just typing these things out as they occur to me.

I will say that data, while not as comprehensive or perfectly implemented as would be liked, seems to indicate that children raised in same-sex households don’t seem to be very different from those raised in opposite sex households.

My two cents…

I think it’s important for children to have positive role models both male and female. I think it’s important for children to interact with responsible grown-ups of both sexes. So whether the “parents” are mom and dad, mom and mom, dad and dad, just mom or just dad, hopefully the extended family (including close family friends) includes grown-ups of both gender who can have a positive impact on the children and to whom the children can go to if they have issues they feel they can’t talk about with their parents.