from Parenting & Family
A. Dean Byrd, Ph.D., Chairman of NARTH's Scientific Advisory Committee co-presented a research paper on "Dual Parenting" at the 12th World Conference of the International Society of Family Law, July 19-23, 2005.
August 12, 2005 - University of Utah School of Medicine Professor A. Dean Byrd and Kristen M. Byrd, with the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, presented "Dual-Parenting: A Social Science Perspective For Optimal Child Rearing," at the World Conference of the International Society of Family Law in Salt Lake City in late July.
In the paper, the authors outlined the importance of both a mother and a father in the healthful development of children. They observe: "...there is no fact that has been established by social science literature more convincingly than the following: children ordinarily develop best and develop most fully when they are reared by both a mother and a father and are able to experience regular family interaction with both genders' parenting techniques during their childhood."
They note that fathers and mothers bring different strengths to child rearing. Mothers and fathers discipline differently; contribute differently to a child's linguistic development; and have different impacts on a child's cognitive development and academic skills. An involved father, for example, increases "a child's likelihood of developing a healthy body image, self-esteem, moral strength, and social competence."
In addition, say the authors, "Children have the best chance of developing healthy sexual identities when they are raised by both a same-sex and an opposite-sex parent. Boys and girls form their notions of their sex roles from their associations with both genders." Girls, for example, learn from their fathers how to relate to men. Boys learn about male responsibility, assertiveness, and self-sufficiency.
Boys with fathers also commit fewer crimes than fatherless boys. The increase in delinquent behavior among teenage boys is attributable in large measure to the lack of a father in the home.
Changing the definition or make-up of the traditional family will create negative outcomes for children, say the authors. "Supplanting the traditional family structure and replacing it with a family structured according to individual desires wherein the role of one or more of the biological parents in the child's life is intentionally reduced or eliminated portends negative consequences in the development of the child and his or her likelihood of living a satisfying life."
Family Law Conference Attendees Respond
Bill Duncan, Director of the Marriage Law Foundation and Chair of the NARTH Legal Committee has noted of the world conference on family law and Dr. Byrd's speech:
On July 19-23,2005, the 12th World Conference of the International Society of Family Law was held in Salt Lake City, Utah. The conference involved 164 presentations by hundreds of law professors, lawyers and other professionals from 34 countries. This important conference was also addressed by the Governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman, as well as Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.According to Ave Maria School of Law Professor Jane Adolphe:
The second day of the conference featured a presentation from Dr. Dean Byrd, past vice-president of NARTH. Dr. Byrd's paper was an exhaustive summary of the scientific literature on the unique contributions fathers and mothers make to the well-being of their children. The sheer weight of the evidence Dr. Byrd presented ensured the paper would have to be taken seriously by the the attendees. This is all the more remarkable given the fact that the majority of conference participants strongly object to the implications of the research and support alternative family arrangements.
During the question and answer period, Dr. Byrd was able to contrast the strong body of literature on the importance of mothers and fathers with the lack of research on the effect of children of being raised by same-sex couples. Dr. Byrd's presentation could not have been stronger or more effective. The key lesson of the experience seems to be that even activists find themselves required to grapple with the scientific evidence that shows the value of mothers and fathers for children when it is presented to them. Thus, it underscores the importance of making this research widely available.
Dr. Dean Byrd stood out among the 170 presenters from 34 countries. Many presenters were promoting the reconstitution of family law based on the wants and desire of adults as informed by the gay experience. In other words, the party line at this conference was the promotion of legal changes to accommodate homosexual unions even marriage, and their parenting styles including the possibility of multiple parenthood (e.g. two to six legal parents).
Only a handful of presenters like Dr. Byrd dared to offer another perspective supporting the traditional or natural family. Of these few, he was the lone expert in his field. He commenced his paper by provocatively suggesting that Aldous Huxley's Brave New World had a keen glimpse into the future. In 1934 when the book was written, Huxley depicted a deplorable futuristic society in which babies were created in fertilization laboratories and raised by experts in facilities.
At the conference, Dr. Byrd emphasized how close our society has come to Huxley's vision. "Gametes for sale. Assisted reproduction technology (ART) children. Sperm Banks. In vitro fertilization. Surrogacy and other contractual arrangements. High-tech baby making. The traditional family is seen as outmoded, unimportant, and even oppressive." His article resurrected the traditional or natural family and in particular its importance for dual-gender parenting. To this end, he provided a review of the findings of the robust empirical data which support gender differences, gender complementarity in parenting and how it leads to healthy child development. He also highlighted the central importance of fathers and their unique contributions to children, especially as regards their gender identity.
To the chagrin of many, he summed up the hard facts saying: "social research supports the conclusion that mothers and fathers provide the optimal development for children. The placement of children in settings where there is not a mother and father begins a slippery slope, one filled with risks that neither the children nor society can afford to take."
We really are in Huxley's world when what we have always known by common sense about the traditional or natural family is now also supported by research but nonetheless remains a minority position at a world family law conference. Needless to say, for those of us that were part of the minority, Dr. Byrd's contribution was greatly appreciated.