The kids are still all right, already


Guess what? It turns out that kids of queer parents are still doing just fine.

In my post this week at Today's Parent, I talk about the findings of the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families, released Monday.

In fact queerspawn aren't doing just fine — they are doing the same as or better than their straight-reared peers, a finding that is consistent with other studies on the subject showing that queer families do better in part because we're less likely to abuse our children, divide up childcare and household responsibilities more equitably, talk to our kids about how their families were created, and teach our kids about activism bullying, and standing up for the underdog. Just for example:

Specifically, children of LGBTQ parents showed no difference on factors such as temperament, mood, mental health, and self-esteem, and scored six percent higher in the areas of general health and family cohesion. Researchers collected data from 325 families with a total of 500 children. […]

What I find striking about all the studies isn’t that kids of queer parents are just fine — better than fine in fact. What I find striking are two things. First, it’s astonishing to me that we still need to study the issue at all, rather than accepting as a foregone conclusion that kids with loving and committed parents tend to do well.

Second, and more important: good parenting outcomes don’t depend on sexual orientation or gender identity. Any set of parents, gay or straight, could divide up chores equitably. No parent ever has to hit a child. We could all learn how to tell the stories of our family’s origins and what makes us strong — and we could all teach our kids to stick up for themselves and for the underdogs. We could all stand up to bullies.

Read more…

Photo Via Australian Marriage Equity

Blogger of the Month

2013-07-03 10.31.13  

Confession: I’ve never been an Employee of the Month. This may be because, with the exception of an 18-month stint working for an abusive boss at a health-policy research think tank, I’ve never really been an employee. This, of course, doesn’t count my stints in retail during high school and university: my very first job outside of babysitting was as a folder at Benetton. Remember Benetton? It still exists, although for me it’s forever locked in the 80s, those rugby shirts one of the status symbols I strove to attain. At Benetton, I was paid four dollars an hour to fold and re-fold sweaters in uniform rows. I would fold for hours, and then some customer would come along and unfold all my sweaters (and not buy a single one), and then I would grit my teeth and fold them all over again. Lather, rinse, repeat. In retrospect, this was great training for being a parent, except that at Benetton at least I got paid four dollars an hour for my efforts.

Yes, I have a point. The point is that, while I have never been an Employee of the Month, all that sweater folding and re-folding and musing about parenthood may have finally paid off. This month, I am Today’s Parent magazine’s Blogger of the Month — yes, that’s me right there on page 14 of the July issue, wonky hair and all.

I’ve been blogging for a few months now at Today’s Parent as “The Other Mother” — here's my latest, on one of big payoffs of having Rob in our lives. It’s a lovely gig, one that forces me to stretch my blogging and writing chops (is it possible to stretch one’s chops, or did I just mix a metaphor there? Don’t answer that.) and think more critically about parenting, and writing, and about writing about parenting.

But between writing here, there, and here, I sometimes feel pulled in different bloggerly directions, trying to remember which one of my very similar but slightly different blog hats I’m wearing that day. Not that I’m complaining. I love my job(s), or lack thereof, just like I love my kids. Even if there are days in both realms where, every so often, it would be lovely to simply fold sweaters all day long. Sweaters in nice neat rows, no one to mess them up at all.

Nine years

RuthiSusanAdjusted My mother died nine years ago today.

I’m not trying to be maudlin; that’s just how it is and what can you do about that? Some sentences are like that, especially when they push against the swelling wave of all the Mother’s Day messaging that starts rolling towards shore this time of year, crashing into me the second Sunday of each May and leaving me soaked in some unpalatable mixture of longing and resentment.

Each Mother’s Day, the fact that I myself am a mother, that Rowan and Isaac are going to bring home some kind of sweetly crafted double–Mother’s Day gifts, feels like an afterthought: that’s nice, dear, but where do I send my card?

Okay, that last sentence was maudlin.

But that first sentence: “My mother died nine years ago today.” It has two parts, and I am pondering the difficulties of both: the simple modifier-subject-verb of the first half and the descriptive clause (is that what we call that? I’m supposed to know those things, but today I’m not looking anything up. And is “modifier” correct?) of the second half. “Nine years ago” is just as unbelievable as the fact that she actually died — how is it that she’s been gone for nearly a quarter of my life? And yet, she shapes it, informs it, almost daily, and the memories and emotions are as clear now as they were then, unless I’m fooling myself into thinking otherwise. Am I?

That’s the most difficult thing about death — what I know today about the past nine years and what my mother doesn’t, can’t. Those two boys, of course, but all the tiny, daily things that make up a life, like what we’re having for dinner and that the roof is still leaking. I imagine daily phone calls in which we discuss these things; I imagine seeing her name pop up on the call display and sighing because I have things to do besides talk; I imagine picking up the phone anyway, every day. I console myself with the ways in which she does shape my life. I talked about it with a friend in Los Angeles last week, as she and I made up the guest bed in her home for me. “Really,” I kept protesting, “you don’t have to help. I can do this by myself.”

“Nah,” she said, stuffing a pillow into its case, “I can’t let go of the way my mother raised me.”

And we talked about that, the ways in which neither of us believe in ghosts but feel our mothers’ presence all around, live our lives according to (occasionally, or often, in defiance of) the way they would have, but always with them around us.

So she’s gone, has been for nine years now. But she’s here, too, so today, Sunday, every day, we’ll focus on that.