Real dads don’t suck

Inspired by this post over at Blogs are Stupid.


            It seems our friend Jon has wanted to be a parent since before I met him, which was long enough ago that I was still perky in places that now respond to gravity’s call and he still thought he dated women.  He is destined to be one of the world’s greatest fathers, possessing the perfect mixture of nurturing, fun, pragmatism, and idealism.  Big heart, contained ego, and fantastic sense of humor – just about all anyone could ask for in a father. 

            So, we were all thrilled when he met a partner who brought to the table the additional attributes of a bit more reserve and wryness that inadequately covers for a remarkable good nature.  Good.  One more friend taken care of. 

            They got married the month before I had Zachary, because people really like to get married someplace far away just before or just after I have babies.  Other than the fact that J and I missed the wedding, the only thing to mar the day was that, well, legally they weren’t getting married.  They held their wedding a stone’s throw from the White House, perhaps to show George Bush just what they thought of the restrictions on their civil liberties.

Religiously they were, however, married, although they did have a hard time finding a rabbi to perform the ceremony.  No one objected to the fact that they were both male, but they took umbrage with the fact that Jon’s husband isn’t Jewish.  They finally found an officiate when Jon promised he would raise the children Jewish and would cover their ears every time his husband spouted off about atheism and the like.

Now, of course, the concern became adopting those children they were going to raise Jewish, given that the marriage had no wombs to speak of.  For a time, Jon thought that perhaps they should seek to adopt twins, under the theory that “At least when they are running around reaching for the knives, we won’t have a newborn to contend with.”  No, just two toddlers with sharp objects.

To me, this smacked of insanity.  Here we were with a newborn who declined to ever be put down, thank you very much, and our friend was thinking that two of them at the same time sounded like a good idea.  I nodded encouragement while trying to sneak a peak to see if he had sprouted a few more sets of arms.

I do understand that parents of twins say in some ways it is easier, and if that is the card a family is dealt, it is wonderful in all sorts of ways.  However, the idea of actively seeking out such an arrangement…?

A few weeks later, we were visited by the only relatives still speaking to me, distant cousins who were in town to visit their son, Kevin, who is our age.  As I watched Kevin’s twin seven-year-olds run into the other room, I mentioned the story of Jon and his moronic heroic irrational naïve belief that raising twins would be easier.  Kevin laughed.  His mother paused, pondering for a minute.

            “Do you really think it’s fair, though?” she began.  “Don’t you think children should have a father and a mother?”

            Fortunately, Zachary even at this tender age was able to cling to his parents like some sort of baby tree sloth, or I might actually have dropped him at that moment.  It’s not that I was surprised at her sentiment; despite my time in college theater, I have crossed paths with one or two homophobes in my time.  Nor was I particularly surprised to hear it coming from one of my relatives, since I was only too aware that sometimes my relations can be a bit insensitive.  She was of a certain age when perhaps her conservatism got the better of her.

            I was, however, floored that she would decide to express her sentiments that particular way.  To me.  I mean, given that she remembers my mother before she died, a luxury I do not have.  Given that she knows what a fantastic replacement my father found.  Given that she knows the extent to which my father gave three shits about how I was being raised. 

            It just seems that, talking to me, perhaps she might consider that her lovely sentiments about family structure do not always translate into reality.  Should all children have a mother and a father?  Hell, I’d have settled for just one.

            And so, to Jon and his husband, who will (God willing and the crick don’t rise) be bringing home a baby sometime in the not-so-distant future, and who will probably warp that child with the erroneous notion that all children are raised with two loving parents, I just want to say this: If I had my druthers, I’d have traded in the whole bunch of ‘em for even one of you.

            And to my distant cousin and anyone else who says otherwise?  Well, I’m a lady and I don’t use that kind of language.

45 responses to “Real dads don’t suck

  1. Yay for your friend – I hope he and his husband find absolute happiness in adoption 🙂

    And you, you deserve absolute happiness too – for surviving.

  2. I read one post and I love what I’ve read. ‘Emily’ helps, of course. Must bookmark for a more sober evening review. . .

  3. This is the common, naive, and occasionally harmful presumptive error: that a nuclear family is a happy, loving family and as long as one has a woman in mom role, a man in dad role, and 2.34 kids all is well and good.

    What children deserve is a loving, stable, supportive family that will provide them the best start in life.

    How that happens varies GREATLY, but I can assure you that woman in mom role and man in dad role is not a required fundamental ingredient.

  4. Great post. With all the problems that children face growing up in America today; poverty, hunger, inadequate education, lack of health care….there are a lot of things to get up in arms about. But gay people parenting is certainly not one of them.

    I wish your friends all the best in their quest to become parents.

  5. How deep is our denial in this country that anything could be amiss in the lovely mom+dad=marriage equation the bumper stickers tout. Love, respect, responsibility count for nothing as long as there’s one stick figure in a skirt and one in pants. I can only hope that every story like yours that is told can help clear up that myth.

    But this: “I do understand that parents of twins say in some ways it is easier,”? Ha ha! Ha! Did you mean to say, “…easier than triplets…or quadruplets”? That’s what you meant to say, right?

  6. Really great post! My son’s godfather is a single gay man who is faithful, loving, and would make one fantastic father. Hubs and I and Godfather are all Catholic and faithful members of our parish. We love this godfather we have chosen and he’s great with our son. Our godfather would make a far better dad than A WHOLE LOT of men I can think of right now who have wives.

    Your friends sound wonderful and I wish them every happiness!

  7. Ah-men. I have a friend trying to foster a lovely, loving, terribly wounded little girl and the damn state keeps trying to send her back to her drug-abusing mother simply because there’s some sort of weird assumption that genetics=good parenting. Nope, gender doesn’t do it, genetics doesn’t do it, even all the good wishes in the world doesn’t do it. It comes down to love, commitment, and the ability to keep trying every single day no matter how many times the little darlings have kicked you in the shins. Bless them.

  8. Love this post & I can’t agree with the sentiments more. It’s been a weird time for our family, coming ‘out’ as religious folks, Christians at that , when P told every one he was heading to divinity school/Episcopal seminary. We are of the lefty, intellectual-types & this did not seem to gel with our general culture’s sense that Christianity equals conservatism: religiously, politically, socially, etc. With that said, we wear out beliefs on our sleeves, OK, actually on our bumper: “Love All Families. Support ALL Marriage.” I hate, hate, hate the rhetoric anti-gay-marriage groups try to use when talking about “family values.” My family has values & love & inclusion are at the top of our list.

    Good luck to Jon & his spouse on their path to becoming fathers. We all know sperm doesn’t make a father. It entails a WHOLE lot more.

    BTW, I love reading Todd Parr books to my kids & always give them as presents as he so beautifully & simply explains about different kinds of families, etc.

  9. I had a brother-in-law like this. I divorced the in-laws (satisfied sigh here) so I don’t need to deal with him anymore, but he was not only heterosexist but openly, blatantly so. I wanted to punch him in the nose.

    I would absolutely love for all children to have af ather and a mother. Maybe two fathers and two mothers, on the assumption that more loving adults are always better. Also, a warm bed to sleep in, lots of clothes, good schools, great friends, a peaceful and stable country, no illness, no bullies, exactly the right number of loving siblings, timely access to necessary medical services, good roads, sewers, running water, plenty of great books sitting around, a Bratz-free environment, and playgrounds. And four grandparents. And a couple of loving aunts and uncles, and cousins to liven up family get-togethers. And maybe a pony.

  10. As to the less substantive part of your post… I’m a twin who is married to a twin. I always find it strange when people tell me they “want twins.” Twins are people too… except us identical twins come with the baggage of a childhood where no one, even your grandmother, can tell you apart. Not that I would ever want to give up being a twin! I know my parents had a rough go of it with us as little ones though!

    As for the more substantive point, I couldn’t agree more. Let’s jump out of fantasy land. Every kid deserves at least one adult caretaker who cherishes them beyond anything else. When we get that down, then we can talk about setting the bar higher. In the mean time, if a kid can have two such adults — in any way, shape or form — how cruel is it to deny them that?

  11. I wonder how many kids who were abused or unwanted said, “Well, gee… at least I was raised by a man and a woman.”

    This whole thing just strikes me as more absurdity… that it should ever matter who parents, as long as they are loving parents.

  12. Any child who has two loving parents has hit the jackpot.

    Fingers crossed that their child comes to them soon. Glad you posted this.

  13. Such an excellent post. I have goosebumps. I actually want to shout out for joy.

    You hit the nail right on the head.

    At the risk of sounding terribly offensive, heterosexuals have done such a great job with marriage and child rearing. Yeah right. Why not let the gay community have a shot? I bet that they will not do any worse. And, in fact, I am sure that they might do a lot better.

  14. I can see my (insert string of expletives here) in-laws expressing similar sentiments as your cousin. I can’t talk about that on my own blog (The Daver reads it), but it’s true. And I can’t say I care for them (and their stupid assed views) any more than they care for me.


    Can’t wait to hear if they have twins!

  15. Wow. You mean a happy childhood is a simple as having two parents? One male? One female? MY GOD WOMAN! Nobody told me this. Perhaps that’s been my problem all along. I had two parents and nobody told me that this equals a beautiful childhood. All that therapy, and the answer was as easy as this. I feel so ripped off. I need to go call my parents now and tell them how much they meant to me.

  16. I’m dying to know what you said to her in response….

  17. This post made me want to give a little cheer. Congratulations to your friend and his husband on their impending parenthood. How exciting that your friend will be a father. He sounds like he’ll be a great one.

    I agree that it’s ridiculous to assume that the best family structure consists of the proper inventory of males and females. Good parenting is based neither on genetics or, um, genetalia.

    As for the twin bit, I have the same reaction as you. I had a rough time when my daughter was a newborn. We had a lot of feeding problems, and even with the help of my husband and mother, I could only manage about 2 hours of sleep a day. Those first 4 weeks were the longest 6 months of my life. And I said, on more than one occasion, “I would never wish twins on anyone!”

  18. Beautiful.

    I have several same sex couple friends, who are raising children to be conscientious contributors to our world. I think maybe they know something we don’t – like, that having children is a gift, not just something that happens sometimes even if all you really wanted was the sex.

  19. When my bother and his partner were discussing adoption – I was all for it and I am a conservative.

    Many adoption agencies, frown upon two gay men or a single man adopting but will gladly hand the children over to a single or gay woman. What it that about?

  20. i so love good fathers.

  21. Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing.

  22. good fathers are a beautiful thing, and every child should be so lucky as to have two of them. i wish Jon and his husband luck and godspeed…or non-godspeed, as the husband might prefer. 😉

    i have a stepmother who is apparently a little like your relatives. her baby girl, who is in and of herself a nice kid but overprotected by mama and young for 23, has gotten herself knocked up by a guy she’d been dating for a month. my stepmother keeps thinking i’m the person she should vent all her “he needs to stick by her and do right by her” conversations on, and when i said i thought sister would do okay by herself given the chance, she said “but a baby needs both parents”. this is the same stepmother who ran off with my (willing) father when i was six months old, leaving my mother destitute and completely alone and stigmatized. they took twenty-five years moving back. i wish they’d stayed away. or at least left the stupid and the double standards behind.

  23. I am always amazed at how insensitive some people can be. Or is it clueless?

  24. Lovely post. I wish the best of luck to them in their quest to be parents. I look forward to reading an update when they (maybe?) get those potential knife-carrying kiddos.

  25. Yes!

    I hope your friends have a smooth road through the adoption process.

  26. With you all the way until the “I don’t use that kind of language” part 🙂

  27. I think the issue is not about whether gays make good parents or not but it’s more about what message we want to impart to the next generation, such as is it right and natural to be gay? Personally, I’m not a religious person and so, I don’t really care about a person’s sexual orientation. But sometimes, when I think deeper, the question becomes, how far can we push the envelope when it comes to personal liberty and freedom when certain acts are by convention wrong and unnatural?

  28. another great post!

  29. Brave I think is the word you are looking to describe those who seek out twins. 🙂 And what a gift if they can adopt twins. That’s two more babies with a loving home!! Best of luck to your friends!

  30. Pingback: Curious George has four « Wheels on the bus

  31. Maybe he thinks it pragmatic to avoid the adoption process a second time?

    I was all set to say that wisdom is borne by experience, and that I think anyone who has known a gay person (doesn’t even have to be a “couple”) would change their preconceived ideas about what constitutes a marriage or a family, but then I thought, who among us does not have a family member who is gay? And still, change and progress is heartbreakingly slow. Is it because people are only champions for their most personal causes, and don’t care enough about the good of all to support something they think does not affect them personally?

    (I’m confused by Tot’s Mom’s comment. It seems to be going in one direction, then makes a u-turn.)

  32. What a wonderful, wonderful post. I hope your friend and his husband are able to fulfill their desire to be parents because it seems obvious they would be great ones. I’m confused by Tot’s Mom’s comment as well – I don’t believe homosexualty by convention is wrong or unnatural…?

  33. loving parents of any gender or sexual orientation are what children need. Great post.

  34. The schtick about “children need a mother and a father in order to be happy, healthy, and productive members of society” is foolish and hysterical propaganda, in my opinion. A mother+father equation is no more likely to automatically produce happiness than any other parenting outcome, as you are, sadly, already aware of, Emily.

    Parenting is work. What it takes to succeed is not some perfect formula or one
    person/group/religion’s notion of the best way to parent, but the ability to try your best, provide a safe and nurturing environment, and to love your children, every single day, despite the steep learning curve, the ugly moments you’d like to forget, the mistakes. The tantrums. And everything the kids do, too. 😉 You soldier on.

    Gay people are 100% capable of this just like any other person who desires to parent. The continued debate mystifies me.

    I think your friend will be a great dad. If he’d like to explore some online communities about adoption that are welcoming to gay parents, please direct him my way.

  35. Like lawyer mama, I’d love to know what you said. Or, how you handled the awkward silence and subject change!

    Reminds me of this favorite from indexed: Which, of course doesn’t cover *all* the variations of family there can be, but is still nice.

  36. Love, is love, is love. It doesn’t matter who gives the love, as long as the child is loved.
    Great post!

  37. My BIL is gay, and should my husband and I ever get hit by a bus, he is our first choice to raise our boys. Because he is a lovely, wonderful man.

    He’s also my oldest boy’s godfather.

  38. good luck to your friends.
    i was secretly delighted when a lesbian couple turned up as parents at daycare this year.
    great post.

  39. I’m still shocked when I encounter people who think this way. I always think it’s an urban legend not only that people are homophobic, but would be impolite enough to express their opinions even if they were.

  40. You wouldn’t believe some of the things that people said to me about my recent situation and the gay men I was dealing with. Well, yes. You probably would. It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant people can be. I mean, I expect people to be ignorant, I just expect them to know enough to not let everyone else know how ignorant they are.

    Send Jon and his husband my way. I should be free again in about 6 months. 😉

  41. One caring parent is more valuable than two apathetic ones, and sexual preference doesn’t invalidate your ability to be good parent.

    May you friends experience all the joys of parenting in a committed relationship. In my eyes, their relationship is more valid than many traditional marriages I’ve attended. May society at large share my feelings one day.

  42. fabulous post, and amen.

    and…41 comments (now 42, i guess)!

    you are FAMOUS, friend.

  43. How hard it is for people to think outside the box and realise that there are more than one right way to live …

  44. It’s been said over and over, but still…loving parents are what a child needs. Even one loving parent (hey, single parents are people too! 😉 ). Who cares about the rest? Not me…

  45. what does this have anything to do with being an “ADULT SURVIVOR OF CHILD ABUSE”?
    I don’t see anthing whatsoever.