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New study on children of same-sex couples

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New study on children of same-sex couples

I'm interested in how far this study will go for. One of my sons is part of a long-term study of Australian children, and they're intending to continue that study into the adulthood of the (currently) children. I'd like to see this new study do the same - get short term AND long term results.

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Although I believe this to be important work I am always a bit uneasy when the subject of such studies are very young children, or even adolescents. Researchers in their zeal have been known to overreach.

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Studies like this are important. If the results show what I expect will happen, from information gleaned from more general demographic data, these kids will do just fine, thank-you very much. It will go a long way to shutting up some of the same-sex marriage haters who insist that only kids from two-parent families, one parent of each gender, can do well.

However, Merkin's concerns are valid. Studies such as this must be conducted carefully to remove researcher bias and over-generalized conclusions. More importantly (and this is an issue today), the study must be peer-reviewed and repeated. A problem these days is that many young scientists do not want to do the more boring work of repeating previous studies, they'd rather do new and groundbreaking work. Understandable, but the very fabric of science hinges on repeatability so this is absolutely necessary. Fortunately, several organizations have been established by concerned people with the goal to do exactly this -- to carefully repeat earlier studies and find new ways to garner the same data to ascertain the validity of the original conclusion.

One study does not make good science, and never has. Many studies, done in the same way and in different ways, all of which end up leading to the same clear conclusion, and none of which show data conflicting with the proposed theory, that is science. This is why global warming is a solid evidence-based theory, but other things, like string theory, are highly speculative.

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It's important to know who is funding the study, because it has been known to happen that the bias of the funding agency somehow gets voiced in the study's results.

And something that should be considered, but can't be, qualitatively: there is no way to measure how these kids thrive versus how they'd have done with alternative upbringings. If the question is, which is better, being raised by two loving dads or in a group home, which might well be the alternative for many kids, there's no question of what the answer is.

Yes, I know that isn't the point of the study. But the results of this may well be distorted by those kind folks who are so against gay parenting, or gay anything else for that matter, so it's good to keep that in focus.


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A difficulty of a study like that is, there are so many factors in whether a child thrives through childhood and adolescence into a productive and healthy adulthood, that it would be hard to single out having a gay/bi parent or two as the primary determiner. As long as a person's physical basic needs are met to a sufficient degree, then the deciding factors become, I would think, psychological, both within the young person and in his/her social surroundings: peers, family, people in authority positions, etc.

Is it a good idea to do a long-term study to gather data? Sure! Study a large group of subjects with one or more gay/bi parents. See how they do from childhooed into adulthood. Do they go on to be about as well adjusted as kids from straight couples or singles? It's worth asking and trying to find out.

I suspect they'll find that it either made little or no difference, or else the kids from alternative families might have a slightly better chance, because they will have grown up knowing there are other ways of being in this world, besides what is the usual, expected, socially more approved pattern. But then my supposition might be hogwash.

I see another variable too. What about the kids themselves? Some will be straight, bi, or gay, and they are not likely to know that for sure when they are young, say elementary age. Or if they do, they may not feel OK saying so. (Thought if they're going to be in a study like that, you'd think they would.) Over time, some of those kids, whatever the orientation of their parents, will discover their own orientation, straight, bi, or gay, and that could change as they move through adolescence and into adulthood.

I personally have come to feel that sexual "orientation" may not be the right way to look at it anyway. We're demonstrably capable of having friendships and family relationships with both sexes. (Right, that's not sex or sexual attraction.) But it's a type of relationship, same-sex or opposite-sex. Those best friends and those get-togethers with just the guys or just the girls happen, and are needed, whether we're gay, bi, straight, diagonal, or curvilinear. (Hah.) That much, we can probably all agree on. (Except for that one guy over there. Unlike Mikey, he really does hate everything.) So if that's so, why can't we, as human beings, possibly have affection, attraction, and sexual feelings as a latent possibility, toward males and females? Sure, some are on the straighter end of the scale and some are on the gayer end and some are more in the middle. OK, fine. If some kind of affection or attraction is a latent possibility within even a large portion of the population, then why couldn't it be that the expression, the actual development and action on those feelings, might *vary* throughout life? We know kids tend to play, to experiment, earlier on, even in early puberty, sometimes with the same or the opposite sex or both. We know they tend to settle into one or the other, unless they're bi. (Or we think we know this, more accurately.) Throughout life, do these feelings vary? Could people in general be more "capable of being bisexual" than we want to admit, if they were in a more accepting society? That one, I'd really like to know the answer to.

I'd also like to know, if boys and girls are raised more fairly, without such strong gender-role biases (e.g., boys are aggressive and not affectionate and good at technical skills and not artistic, girls are passive and affectionate and expected to be not good at technical but more artistic) then do we end up with better adjusted boys and girls, men and women? If a boy can be affectionate towards his male friends without being a sissy, for instance, or a girl can be assertive and being a tomboy is OK, do they grow into well adjusted adults, or perhaps better adjusted than in our own culture? I would strongly suspect so, but most of society seems to think that's not so.

Anyway -- A study to see the outcome for children of same-sex parents (single, one of a pair, both of a pair) seems like a welcome, needed project.

While they're at it, what about gay or bi kids of one or two straight parents? I'd think that might be one of about four groups the above study might consider, if it's a fully realized x-y axis. (Parents' orientation on one axis, Children's orientation on the other.)

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Ben I appreciate you are telling us to allow for all variables, but I'm not at all sure what your main message is up above. When you propose the view that '...why couldn't it be that the expression, the actual development and action on those feelings, might *vary* throughout life?' do you mean to be saying that relationships cannot be expected to become stable and that we should not count on famiies to remain intact for any length of time because partners cannot be expected to stay united?

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I hadn't thought of that in relation to the point I was writing about, but that certainly needs an answer, now that you've pointed out that's a big hole in my argument. Heh. Good catch, Merkin, and ouch, why didn't I see that when I wrote it?

My intent there was to suggest people, perhaps not just (mostly) bi people, may express feelings for males or for females, at different points in their lives, perhaps during the same period. So that, say, someone who's primarily straight might have strong feelings for another guy or girl as a teen or young adult, but might marry someone and settle down, if that earlier relationship ends. Or, say, a primarily gay person might fall in love and marry someone of the opposite sex and have a successful marriage and children. Whether that person then continues or they separate would depend on the couple's continued feelings and commitment, and the gay person's ability to remain faithful too. Later on in life, someone might have a relationship other than what they'd expected, whether they had already recognized they had such feelings or not. I mean that people can have feelings for both sexes, not just one, although I think most people are more at home in either or, some feel better off with both. I suspect we are equipped for both, if we could get beyond social conditioning / upbringing, but yes, I also say people have that gay to straight range from the Kinsey scale. In other words, I'm saying I think we all may be latent, potentially capable, of either relationship, but we tend to gravitate to a point along the scale. I hope that makes that expresses that point clearly enough.

But what Merkin asked was, am I saying people are not capable of long-term, faithful relationships, stable, lasting relationships with families not broken apart by breakups in couples?

My mom and dad married a little later, Mom was 28, Dad was 31. They had a stable, faithful marriage, mostly happy, for 37 years until my mother's death. My dad died two years later. I know there were some disagreements, but I don't think there was ever anything that seriously threatened their separation. They were best friends and knew to give each other a little room, as well as to solve arguments or agree to disagree, quickly. Few things stayed bones of contention. They could both be stubborn and strong-willed, but they loved each other and liked each other.

I've seen other examples of long marriages, people who stayed together, had stable and healthy families and partnerships/couples relationships. So I know it's possible. It is also what I want, that long-term, reliable, deep love and friendship.

I have also seen that many, many people form a couple, stay together a few months, a few years, perhaps have kids and a good family life with relatives...but then somehow they lose the spark, don't keep working at it, and they either break up or "stay together for the children" (or the business or other rationales). Then the next thing you know, they are in another relationship. That one might last permanently or it might be temporary.

I have seen four examples with family and family friends where a second (or later) marriage was the one that "took," that lasted, that gave them real happiness, love, and stability. For these folks, their true love was not their first love (and marriage). In at least, oh, two or three cases, I know of couples who had happy, lasting marriages but the age difference was more than 10 years, maybe nearer to 20. It was who and what they needed, and people who knew them knew they were the ones for them.

Although my own life has had real ups and downs with friendships lasting several years, and then time or distance or other factors (friend's temper or actions or mine, simply growing apart) intervening to separate us, I believe in (and want and crave) those long-term, lasting relationships, and yet the last several years have left nearly all those relationships broken apart -- usually not at all what I wanted or expected. In many cases, the friends were fair weather friends who'd say they were there, but the minute things happened, vamoose, outta there. (I am still feeling very touchy about that, and probably will for a long time.)

Despite that, what I want and need are long-term relationships. I know they are possible. I've seen them. I think many, many people go for that "serial relationship" or "serial monogamy" thing. I think many friendships go like that too. I think it is unfortunately rare to find a relationship that stays for years or for a lifetime. It takes work. It takes the ability of both sides to stay committed, to work at it, and to forgive, to set things aside, and to go on with things. Many people today don't put that kind of effort in, and life conspires besides, with moving across country to a new job, and so on.

Yes, many individual people and many families and groups are broken up, damaged, when a couple or a pair of friends break up. -- But by the same token, many people, families, and groups are blended and heal and are strengthened, when a new, better, more lasting (or permanent) relationship is formed.

So, though that's mostly by examples and much more an emotional appeal, does that explain my thinking?

I would hate to think (or claim) that long-term, lasting relationships were impossible.

As a note of comparison, I believe Des and his boyfriend (partner) have been together as long or longer than my parents, and they (Des and BF) still live in that same, er, ...treehouse...sharing the same appealing bananas....

One of my qualifiers? -- Can you still talk to each other over breakfast, when you're both sleepy, wrinkly, a bit smelly, and not at your sweetest, and still have a meaningful conversation, and can you still want to be together (or if a couple, make love) in, say, five, ten, twenty, or more years, when those wrinkles are permanent? -- In my case, this is a real test, because I'm not a morning person. I've learned to function after a shower and tea/coffee and during breakfast, but it's not exactly my natural, preferred state. Anyway, to me, I claim that test of "can you still see being able to talk to each other at your worst and still love each other," that's a determiner of if it'll last.

Um, I know, people also can have a quick fling and have fun with it. Or people can have a friendship with occasional "benefits" which are fun and may sweeten and strengthen the friendship. (I am really trying to avoid the pun of "cementing" the relationship. Oh well.) -- At this point in life, what the heck, why should I knock that? Maybe if I hadn't been so standoffish about that as a younger guy, it might've led to more, I don't know. Or at least it might've been enjoyable while it lasted. -- So, not gonna fuss about that. If it makes 'em happy and doesn't impinge on being faithful to, say, a partner, then why not? -- And yes, some people would argue about open relationships and it works for them. It isn't my preference, but if it really does work for them (and for some, it apparently does) then...I don't know. I was raised that monogamy is the way to go, and that's my own choice.

I am at the point in life where I have seen too much that is too damn negative, and too many people who seem to think they know what's good for somebody else who don't know better than to meddle or don't know what they're talking about. I've seen that just because I was raised a certain way or believe a thing, that does not make it true, demonstrably workable in real life, and it does not mean I or someone else will be happy that way. I hold to certain beliefs and think they're core values not to give up on, on principle, morals to live by. There are some things I will not do, period. (And there are things people have said of me before that are patently, provably, not true, too, if they only knew.) But...I have seen that other things may work for other people, except, generally, those core principles I try to follow. (The ones I hope I live up to.)

Being gay was one of those. Where and when I grew up, being gay was not exactly the thing to be. I am not sure how much was my own personality and reacting because I was gay (even before I saw the clues of it and then began to know it) or how much was the surrounding people, home and family, friends and school and church, general population, all the media. -- I grew up more able to accept that friends might be gay than to accept that Ben might be gay, despite, well, increasing evidence. (LOL, if there had been "mounting" evidence, either party, um, it might've helped clarify.... Sorry, I thought a laugh might be in order.) -- It took a long time to admit to myself, "Hey, Ben, you're gay," and longer to accept it, then longer to tell anyone. ...Good thing about the internet, which helped with understanding and acceptance.

Anyway, I wasn't trying to contend that lasting, stable relationships are impossible. I was definitely not trying to claim being gay (or bi or straight) equates to promiscuity or infidelity or other things like that. I think promiscuity and infidelity, or relationship problems and breakups generally, are just as much a common human weakness to be overcome in any person, and it doesn't mean it's more frequent or endemic or indicative of gayness, bi-ness, or straightness. People who use that as a claim against gay or bi folks need to clean their own kitchens first, or quit throwing rocks at glass houses, or other aphorisms to that effect. ;)

Whew, longer answer, even for my long replies! Maybe that answers the question?

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