Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On being or not being better than the rest

Stephen Scott, the research director of the UK-based National Academy for Parenting Practitioners, recently announced that lesbians make better parents than a man and a woman. Scott was speaking at the launch of a new report into factors influencing the development of character written by independent think tank Demos.

Media reports indicate that Scott’s rationale for this argument was that children with two female parents tend to be more aspirational than those with opposite-sex parents, although there are few details on what he really means by this.

Not surprisingly these comments sent the UK media and Christian Right into a spin. There was confusion around whether Scott was speaking about new research or just speaking about what he has learned from previous research or personal practice. As it turns out, the report he was actually launching has very little to do with lesbian parents. I am not sure they are mentioned at all.

Still, the whole palaver begs the question, is it ever useful for researchers to proclaim one ‘type’ of parent is better than another? Is it a good thing that a respected family researcher has publicly ‘outed’ the idea that lesbians could be seen as better parents than heterosexual couples? Or does this just turn parenting into a competition?

I don’t really have answers to these questions, but would be interested to hear what others think.


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