When it comes to parenting, gender matters. Mothers don’t father and fathers don’t mother.

19 May

From Sociologist of family studies, Jenet Erickson:

As the Supreme Court considers whether to redefine marriage in genderless terms, scholars supporting gender-diverse parenting filed an amicus briefurging the Court not to eviscerate this fundamental norm of marriage given its crucial benefits to the development of children. If same-sex marriage is constitutionalized, the message the law will send is that the gender of parents becomes valueless, since any two adults will do.

Gender Diversity Is in Our Genes

In the late 1970s, Azim Surani tried to create new life using two sets of genes from only a mother, or a father. Everything then known about genetics suggested that with the right number of chromosomes, life would develop normally, even if all of its genetic material came only from a female or a male. But the eggs with only the mother’s genes could not survive. A similar fate met the eggs implanted with two sets of father’s genes.

As science reporter Paul Raeburn describes, Surani discovered that mothers and fathers each contributed something in their genes that was critical to sustaining life. These “paternal” and “maternal” genes appeared completely indistinguishable in every way, yet expressed themselves differently depending on whether they came from the mother or the father. And both were essential to the survival of the egg.

The essential need for both a mother and a father to provide genetic material for survival parallels what social science tells us about the importance of mothers and fathers in children’s development. Fathers and mothers bring similar, even indistinguishable, capacities that enable healthy child development. But like the complementarity of the left and right halves of the brain, they also bring distinct capacities that provide complementary, irreplaceable contributions to children’s healthy development.

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