The same sex-marriage court case continues to bring out great points that the public needs to be more educated about.  On Jan 15, the focus was on the gay/lesbian parent issue. Many of us already know that gay and lesbians make just as good parents as heterosexuals. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Michael Lamb, chairman of the Dept of Social and Developmental Psychology at Cambridge University England testified that more than 100 studies have found that… “children who are raised by gay and lesbian parents are just as likely to be well-adjusted.”  Lamb also quoted the American Psychological Association’s policy statement that gays and lesbians are “as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children.”  He also testified that seven other nationwide professional organizations have taken similar positions.

The discussion got me thinking about parenting in general. What does predict someone will be a good parent?

Research cited in Freakonomics tells us it makes a big difference if the kids are wanted.  But what about other important factors–emotional, psychological, and financial readiness? Our society lives by the assumption that as long as you are biologically capable, anyone should be able to have kids. Policies give financial incentives (thus rewards) for parenthood without consideration of readiness. Our society does not do a good job of helping people assess their readiness before they have kids. Result: so many people have them before they are ready (well as ready as anyone can be) and our society suffers as a result.

What would it look like if we operated from a different assumption–that parenthood is a privilege that not just anyone can have?  What services could we provide, even require wanna-be parents, whether same-sex or not, to go through to better ensure they are going to be good parents?  What kind of policy could there be that provides different incentives to wanna be-moms and dads to better ensure they will raise healthy and well-adusted kids?

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