from Parenting & Family
February 1, 2007 - In a Time magazine article published on December 2, 2006, psychologist Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, defends the traditional male- and female-headed family.
In his essay, "Two Mommies Is One Too Many," Dobson observes that 30 years of social science research shows that children do best when reared in a home where there is a mother and a father. Notes Dobson: "The traditional family, supported by more than 5,000 years of human experience, is still the foundation on which the well-being of future generations depends."
On the Focus web site, numerous responses to his essay have been reprinted. There were several responses from prominent academics and social scientists. While many detractors wrote to attack Dobson for his traditionalist stance and to defend homosexual parenting, these letters were supportive of him:
To the Editor:
It comforts me as a pediatrician when a health profession colleague of Dr. Dobson's stature presents the science of child rearing so clearly [Dec.16]. Of course children need a mother and a father, female and male, to optimally guide them through all of their developmental stages to adulthood. This is not new science. It was taught to me in every year of my education through and including medical school. I and my colleagues still teach it to our students today and encourage this optimal arrangement to the parents of our patients. Is every child raised in this environment? Increasingly no, but that does not make the alternatives normative or optimal. Some parents feed their children a fast food diet seated before the TV or video game screen and some of these children do well despite that. Should we encourage this? Of course not! Why then are some so fearful of the real and accurate science of Dr. Dobson's words about optimum family structure? The American College of Pediatricians applauds those words and adds to them on its website. There too you will find how a medical journal has sought to censor scientific accuracy on this subject. As a past American Academy of Pediatrics President, I join with Dr. Dobson and ask that we clearly support the real needs of children over the selfish wants of adults. Let's continue to encourage the optimum rearing arrangement for all our children and assist as best we can those who are not so fortunate.
Joseph Zanga, M.D., FAAP, FCPP
President, American College of Pediatricians
Professor of Pediatrics
To the Editor:
Dr. James Dobson's critics call him names ("extremist," "liar") but actually confirm his central point. Their focus is on the wants and preferences of adults, rather than the obligations adults have as a matter of basic justice to children they may conceive.
Every child has two biological parents--a mother and a father--and though death or other misfortune may remove one or both of them from a child's life, each child has a deep and abiding need to know and be loved by both his mother and father, and to be nurtured in the context of their faithful, loving and exclusive marital bond. As the anguished testimony of many children who have grown up not knowing their fathers (or even knowing who their fathers are) reveals, boys and girls alike need their paternal progenitor to be more than a mere "sperm donor." They need him to shoulder the joyful burdens of being a caring and involved husband and father. Similarly, children need the women who conceive and bear them to be mothers--not just providers of ova and wombs.
These truths are common sense to most people. But we lose our grip on them if we slip into regarding the coming to be of children as mainly a matter of fulfilling adults' desires.
Robert P. George
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence
Director, James Madison Program in American
Ideals and Institutions
To the Editor:
Ms. Chrisler [a Dobson critic] argues that recent studies show that children of gay or lesbian couples do just as well as children raised by heterosexuals. She fails to note that virtually all the studies on which she relies involve very small data sets and short time horizons. Nor do most of them control for variables like the parents' education and income level. The truth is we simply don't know how children raised by gay or lesbian couples will turn out.
We can be virtually certain, however, that their outcomes will be less desirable than those of children raised by their married biological parents. I say that because we know with great assurance that children raised in intact nuclear families have better outcomes on virtually every index than children raised in any other setting. This is demonstrated by numerous studies based on large national samples over extended time frames that control for other variables such as parents' race, education, and income level.
This fact alone demonstrates that Ms. Chrisler's overt disdain for the traditional nuclear family is entirely misplaced. It is true that our society offers many alternatives to the traditional nuclear family, but if we are concerned about the future of children that should be a cause for concern rather than for celebration.
John F. Coverdale
Professor of Law
Seton Hall University School of Law