Do children need a mother and a father? asks Darragh Roche – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views

Do children need a mother and a father? asks Darragh Roche




The same-sex marriage referendum is fast approaching. The government is also about to introduce a bill that would allow same-sex couples to adopt. The debate about the nature of marriage and children is coming to a head and the next few months will see both sides laying out there arguments. Whatever you think now, it is worth taking a look at the arguments we’ll be seeing between now and May.

The traditional family is a venerable institution – that’s the opinion of those who are opposed to same-sex marriage. The husband and wife dynamic is certainly an ancient one and has been the method of raising children for centuries. On this side of the debate, the idea is simple: the best family model is a successful, loving couple raising children together and providing both male and female role models for their children. Traditional marriage, as it is understood by many, provides stability and a good example of how to live. It means that boys have male role models to emulate (the father) while also seeing the importance of female role models (the mother), and conversely for girls.

Those who support same-sex marriage and adoption see things differently. The gender of your parents is irrelevant. As long as two loving parents provide a child with a stable home, there is no reason that child can’t be happy. Of course, gay and lesbian couples will be more likely to adopt and use surrogates, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Straight couples also avail of adoption and surrogates. Everyone recognises the importance of love for raising children and same-sex parents can provide that just as well as straight couples. There are no gay or straight parents, there are just parents.

The debate centres on whether a child loses out by not having a father or mother. Does a girl who is raised by two male parents lose out because she doesn’t have a mother? Or is that fact irrelevant because she has two fathers who love and care for her? This is the issue that will dominate the discussion about same-sex adoption and surrogacy rights and has already emerged as an issue in the marriage referendum.

Both sides are able to produce anecdotal evidence to support their cause. There are plenty of people who were raised by same-sex couples and cannot speak highly enough about their upbringing. There are also people who have found it very difficult to cope with not knowing one or more of their biological parents, some of them conceived by surrogates for same-sex couples. But anecdote will only get us so far. Neither side has yet delved into the psychology of child rearing. It would be fascinating if they did.

The debate will be impassioned and long but the arguments will remain the same. It comes down to one question: Do children need a mother and a father? The answer may be a matter of opinion. Both sides think their argument is simple and obvious, but they can’t both be right.

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