I offer congratulations to Mary Cheney and Heather Poe on the birth of their son, Samuel David Cheney. Mary and Heather are lucky to have such a beautiful boy. Have a look at his picture with his lucky grandparents. Is it me or don't these pictures typically include the parents? Hmmm. Perhaps I digress. He's a healthy, beautiful and lucky boy. As Mary said back in February, Samuel is a blessing from God.
Like all new parents, Heather and Mary are no doubt a bit insecure about their parenting skills. Now, I certainly can't allay all of their fears and in fact as parents of three kids, my partner and I have worrying down to a science. But there is some solid research out there that should comfort them. A study done a few years back by Dr. Ellen Perrin, professor of pediatrics at Tufts, tells us that we gay and lesbian parents are not doing such a bad job. In fact, the headline of the study reads: "Kids of Same-Sex Parents Do Fine."
There's only one problem at our house: my children did not get this memo.
Dr. Perrin concludes that my kids "actually have some advantages over other family structures." The study found no differences in intelligence, type and prevalence of psychiatric disorders, self-esteem, well-being and peer relationships and that children of gay and lesbian parents "did better in discipline, self-esteem and had less psychosocial difficulties at home and at school." What great news! I can't wait to tell my kids.
I'll start with my teenager. "Scout," I'll say, "you are just fine!" We can now look back fondly on the time that Sarah thought we were so poorly equipped to be parents that she called 911 on us. Back then we thought that was very bad. But thanks to Dr. Perrin, the three of us can remember that day and smile, knowing that this was the action of an especially well adjusted teenager.
After we finish rejoicing in Scout's well being, we can move on to her younger sister Kit. When she was two, Kit spent a great deal of time in our Grand Caravan. Not because we drove a lot. She just liked being in the car. She especially liked packing things into it. Anything. Everything. All in huge plastic garbage bags. She used her stroller as a wheelbarrow to transport everything from dolls to dice to plastic silverware in these bags. She'd push this stroller, piled twice as high as she was, through the garage and out to the car where she would spend hours packing it up. Back then this behavior troubled us. She's unhappy here, we thought. It's so obvious that she wants to leave. But now, thanks to Dr. Perrin, we know differently. She must have been nesting!
Next, we'll turn our attention to Kit's twin brother Ben. For years, Ben has had a large brown stuffed bear in his room. It's big, a bit chubby and adorable. Not unlike Ben. Ben racked his brain for a name and landed on the imaginative "Bearie." Several years ago, Ben started to introduce Bearie to people as his brother. Recently, Bearie has taken on more and more human qualities. He needs naps and hugs. He has favorite foods (currently, meatballs and lasagne are his favorites). Eileen and I have worried that Ben has gone overboard with his meatball-eating stuffed animal. Is it time for therapy? Nope. Dr. Perrin has set our mind at ease.
Last but not least, we'll turn our attention to our own skills as parents. Dr. Perrin says we rock. I can't wait to tell Eileen that lesbian couples share household responsibilities and chores more equitably. I now know that it is completely acceptable that Eileen can't name the assistant teacher in Ben and Kit's classroom. I won't feel bad that I have no clue what size shoe any of my kids wear. It's all good. We are exceptional role models for our kids. And the other night, when I let loose on Eileen over the phone because she had to work late and I had made a really nice dinner, will not make me despair that we are falling into the stereotypes we supposedly defy. I'll just remember that we are people that share chores equitably.
Mary, you have nothing to worry about. Actually I take that back. You both have lots to worry about. Heather will need to worry about how she can be legally connected to her son. You'll need to worry about providing the support he'll need to deal with people who are ignorant and people who should know better. (Note to Mary: your dad works for one of those people) There will be lots to worry about.
But when it comes to whether you are fit to be parents because of your sexual orientation, you should go ahead and cross that off the list. Just like our kids: some days he will make you proud, some days he will give you great joy, some days he will give you great big headaches. Some days he will mean well, some days he will just simply be mean. And the two of you will love him madly and without condition. Because that's what good parents do.
OK, enough writing. Time to go be a great parent. And besides, it's nearly dinnertime. I think I'll make those meatballs Bearie likes so much.
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