Mormon Therapist on “Are two parents better for kids?”

John Dehlin Mormon 37 Comments

I’d like to see your reply to this:

http://www.cupblog.org/?p=742  Are two parents better for kids?

I completely agree that stability is a pivotal part of providing a positive upbringing for children. There are many single parents doing a wonderful job of this. There are also many two-parent families in which stability lacks due to a variety of issues (i.e. marital conflict, violence, child abuse, tension, etc…). Obviously the ideal, is a two-parent stable family. But when this is not a possibility, it is helpful to know that single parents can also excel in their parenting roles.

Things that I think are important to note as far as the specifics of this research (make sure you take the time to listen to the actual researcher on the video) are the following:
  • The study was done comparing children who grew up in a single-parent household from day one, to children who grew up in a two-parent household from day one. The main point is that there is no major change in the structure of the family as the child grows up (i.e. divorce, remarriage, or the introduction of other significant and/or co-habitating relationships).
  • She is not trying to imply that a two-parent household isn’t still the most advantageous to have. However, she is trying to give kudos to the many single parents out there who do an incredible job providing a stable environment and rearing wonderful children who excel in our society.
  • I think her advice for single mothers (or fathers) to not begin to co-habitate or bring in multiple relationships to the family structure is incredibly wise. And even when there is a commitment to remarry, there needs to be an awareness that this structure change (albeit a good one for the adults) will more than likely affect the children in non-predictable ways.
MM readers:
After reading the article and watching the video regarding the research: what is your opinion on this question?
For those of you who are raising children in single-parent households, what does this research mean to you?
How do you manage dating with the concerns of your introducing your romantic interests to your children?
What are the stigmas, challenges, and concerns single parents face in our church culture?  What about blended families?
From the perspective of a parent or child (one who grew up in a single parent home, in a less than ideal two-parent home, in a home with a step-parent, etc.), are any of you comfortable sharing personal experiences that would speak to the issues mentioned above?
What advice do those of you who have gone through these types of experiences have for others?
Natasha Helfer Parker is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist and a member of the Church with 13 years of experience working with LDS members. Here she shares with us representative cases from her practice and insights she has gained from her work as a therapist.  She blogs at mormontherapist.blogspot.com.

Comments

comments

Comments 37

  1. Great topic, and I look forward to experiences. Agree that the researcher’s focus is on stability, and that stability seems to be the key to success. In our own family, I believe periods of instability (for us, moving at key times in my children’s development) had a huge impact on some of my kids and affected them quite negatively.

    On the question of blended families, I have known two cases quite well. In both, Dad remarried after the death of his wife (cancer in both cases) largely “for the sake of the children”. In both cases, the new wife brought at least one child to the family. In both cases, at least some of the children were terribly adversely affected, and problems centered on kids from the original family not “blending” with the new mom. Very sad in both cases.

    I had one close friend growing up who was in a single parent family — a child of divorced parents. I knew him from grade school through high school, and he was as well adjusted as any of us; he did well in school and graduated to go on to college like most of us. His mother had moved back with her parents who provided a stable home. She maintained a friendly relationship with my friend’s father who was at least occasionally in the home. And, as my friend grew older, he also had the support of a stable network of friends.

  2. Natasha,

    One key ingredient is missing in this equation and that is omniscient parents assigned us to our families in the pre-existence – Heavenly parents that can see the end from the beginning. Those that have served as a Mission President, HP Group Leader, EQP or even one of their assistants or counselors have seen this in practice. Some companionships are assigned to areas or families to strengthen that area or family; while, others are assigned to a family or area to be strengthened. As an AP and EQP I saw this first hand.

    More importantly, we understand through modern day prophets and scriptures two things that are relevant in this discussion. 1) We are not equal. Some of us progressed further in the pre-existence primarily through our choices. 2) Children are allocated based on a Matricidal order by Heavenly Parents who can see the end from the beginning. This knowledge sheds new light on the Proclamation on the Family and the significance of the respective roles. With these factors in mind, it is impossible for a researcher to come to any reliable conclusions. I would say, however, that a dual parent relationship would be best based on information gleaned from the Proclamation on the Family.

  3. HUGE CORRECTION, Matriarchal not matricidal. That is embarrassing and has to be one of the worst typos (auto correct in Word) ever posted on this site. Sorry.

  4. #2 Will — I don’t understand the doctrine you quote in your second paragraph. I get the first paragraph’s suggestion that family “assignments” (in whatever circumstance) will (to coin a phrase) work together for the good of those who are in them. But the suggestion that we might see some linkage between earthly assignment and pre-mortal performance? Source?

  5. #2 Will, I cannot agree with anything you just wrote. Belief in family placement based on pre-mortal merit is very self congratulatory. I assure you that no one “deserves” to be born into slavery or abject poverty. Not only would this “doctrine” be disturbing if it was real, it says a lot about the people who believe it (and nothing good).

    I have read at least one study that showed no poorer outcomes for children of single mothers when adjusting for household income. It is not mentioned by this researcher whether or not her studies took into account this variable, since it would appear to have a huge impact, especially in African American populations. But generally, this has been the consensus in the scientific community for a while. You can see the same type of debate reflected in the gay community. Studies consistently show that having two mothers or two fathers is as advantageous as having a parent of each sex. In both cases (single parents and homosexual parents) the “common wisdom” appears to be totally wrong.

  6. Children born into and raised in stable families are more fortunate.
    Children from loving homes are more fortunate.
    Children who are wanted are more fortunate.
    Children who have two parents are more fortunate.
    Children that are born into abundance (at least enough to cover all personal and familial needs) are more fortunate.
    Children who are born to more educated parents and/or parents with more options in life are more fortunate.
    Children who are born in industrialized societies are more fortunate.
    Children who are born with mental and physical attributes intact are more fortunate.
    Children who are taller and more physically attractive are more fortunate.
    Children who never lose a parent or sib are more fortunate.
    Children who never experience war are more fortunate.
    Children who are never bullied are more fortunate.
    Children who never experience natural catastrophes are more fortunate.
    Children who are born into the majority demographic or who never experience bigotry are more fortunate.

    Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out that way. Most of us cope. And children, blessedly, are remarkably resilient.

  7. This is all reasonably sound, and actually quite obvious, but the question is whether a child born to a single parent or married parents is more likly to have issues with stability (Divorce, remarriage, or the introduction of other significant and/or co-habitating relationships (including siblings!), financial instability, home loss, rule change, lack of supervision/familial connection) I don’t know, but I’d say that is the next important thing to be studies on this topic. My guess is that the two-parent, four grand parent, lots of cousins, uncles, aunts, etc model has it hands down, but I’m not so sure what the results would be after you normalized for what the cultural/financial situation of the parents in question were before they became pregnant. I’m pretty sure financially stable single parents have advantages over financially unstable married parents.

  8. “Children are allocated based on a Matriarchal order by Heavenly Parents who can see the end from the beginning. This knowledge sheds new light on the Proclamation on the Family…”

    Will, where in the world did you get this? If some new revelation on Matriarchal disbursement of children has been proclaimed which sheds new light on the PoF, I seemed to have missed it.

    “I assure you that no one “deserves” to be born into slavery or abject poverty. Not only would this “doctrine” be disturbing if it was real, it says a lot about the people who believe it (and nothing good).”

    Justin, this argument sounds as nonsensical as Will’s. How can YOU “assure” that no-one deserves what they got? It’s fair to say that believing such a thing can be counterproductive (which is why I don’t believe it), but if our actions in this life affect our status in the next, it wouldn’t seem illogical that our actions before this life affect our status here.

    The way you guys talk, it sounds like you’ve each received a lot more revelation than I have, and contradictory to boot.

  9. One would THINK that if it takes a father and a mother to produce a child, a loving God would deem it necessary that they both be involved in the upbringing of said child. So, yes, under “normal” circumstances (and just WHO of all of us is “normal”, certainly not I!!!), having both parents rearing the child in a loving, stable marriage is what’s best.
    Unfortunately, sometimes one is “taken”, or, worse yet, one or both prove to be so deficient in their qualities as a parent (and typically as a person overall) that their presence is a detriment. It’s a tough situation, one that the “innocent” parent didn’t ask for. THIS IS WHERE THE PRIESTHOOD NEEDS TO STEP UP, even for fathers who must shoulder the entire burden due to the mother’s absence or failures (been there, done that, and, unfortunately, to some extent am STILL doing “that”).
    Where my patience ends is with single motherhood deliberately chosen (not an unplanned pregnancy), or gay parenthood. IMO, both are selfish, placing the child(ren) needs second to personal fulfillment. Of course, I feel the same way to some extent about an interracial marriage and producing interracial children (selfishness, IMO, plays a part), BUT, conversely, I’ll staunchly defend not only the right of the interracial couple to get married and procreate but also defend them against bigotry, especially the children. Not so with gay people producing children in a gay relationship (I don’t see an issue with a gay father who had children from a marriage being involved in their lives).

  10. #9:
    Where my patience ends is with single motherhood deliberately chosen (not an unplanned pregnancy), or gay parenthood. IMO, both are selfish, placing the child(ren) needs second to personal fulfillment.

    Really, Doug? Kindly explain how it is “selfish” for a gay couple to become parents, particularly the many gay couples who adopt one of the millions of children currently denied a stable family environment with loving parents. The fact that you consider gays and lesbians “sinners” is irrelevant–there are plenty of heterosexual parental couples who are rampant sinners, and many have abused their children severely. I know of at least one set of heterosexual parents who supplemented their income on a regular basis by providing their five year old child for “use” by adult customers at a local house of prostitution.

    Of course, I feel the same way to some extent about an interracial marriage and producing interracial children (selfishness, IMO, plays a part),

    So, only opposite-sex parents of the same racial background pass your test for proper parenting, and everyone else is “selfish,” eh? Don’t you feel the slightest embarassment in publicly espousing blatant racism?

    BUT, conversely, I’ll staunchly defend not only the right of the interracial couple to get married and procreate but also defend them against bigotry, especially the children.

    So your “saving grace” is that you’ll defend their rights and defend the parents and children against precisely the same bigotry you’ve already exhibited?

    Not so with gay people producing children in a gay relationship.

    Okay, so your gracious defense against bigotry only goes so far. What a shame that you’re so committed to the exercise of your religious condemnation, that you’ll even abandon your “defend the children against bigotry” act if those children happen to have gay parents. How noble of you!

  11. What are the stigmas, challenges, and concerns single parents face in our church culture? What about blended families?

    I think a big challenge can be the pressure on single parents to be re-matched. Some people just do better when they have a partner, but others outwardly appear to capably manage single parenting, only to end up in a difficult second marriage because they didn’t wait to re-marry the right person. Our church culture may add to this pressure. Nobody wants to have to rely on a Home Teacher significantly. The right partner and timing will also aid with the difficult task of blending families.

  12. I don’t know – I’ve known lots of single parent families in the church due to divorce or death of the spouse, and I didn’t really see anyone trying to pair them up. It’s just church, not a dating service. Maybe I’ve just known fewer buttinskies. I was in a ward a few years ago in which every member of the RS presidency was divorced. I think the harder issue is those who remain single past a certain age (no kids, just never married). Those are the ones who probably feel most left out.

  13. #10 (Nick..) It’s PRECISELY that judgementalism that causes me to speak out. You, sir, have no idea what motivates me to feel the way I do about gay so-called “families” and interracial marriage. To paint opposition to either in and of itself at bigotry is intellectually vacuous and shows how little ammunition you as a gay man have for your arguments. It’s a matter of what’s best for children, for pity’s sake! To even use the “et tu” argument (I can’t speak in any defense of a heterosexual couple that would whore out their five-year old, the Savior already spoke of such awful cretins as being better off drowned in the sea with a heavy stone tied about their necks) further demonstrates how little defense their is for raising children in a “gay” household. (Again, were I a family court judge I wouldn’t deny the visitation and shared-custody rights of a gay father, even with the digust I feel towards that lifestyle it’d be more important for such a man to be a part of his children’s lives if he is disposed to do so).
    It is NOT bigotry to point out that biracial children will suffer both difficulties with their identies and outright hostility (if not at least insensitivity) from both their constituent races, it is REALITY. I’ve seen this happen with my own biracial stepchildren and I’d never wish upon any child the grief they’ve had to endure at times. That’s why I don’t activity support interracial marriage and recommend to my own children to not get romantically involved with others outside their races and religion. However, IMO, it’s worse to extend that proscription to others who don’t need my approval to live their lives as they see fit.
    As for homosexuals attempting to assert that they can form families, I will always say, no, what they could possibly form is a counterfeit and it will cheat the children who are unfortunate enough to be spawned and/or adopted by gays/lesbians who are unwilling to accept the nature of their pervision. That is what it really boils down to. Homosexuality is a perverted, degenerate lifestyle, and its evils are what prophets both ancient and modern have severely decried. In spite of a gay persons intentions, however in good faith, they have an emotional and spiritual sickness that highly contriadicts the type of familial love that is needed to raise children.
    And Nick, as you well pointed out, many heterosexual couples fall way short too. I don’t look past their shortcomings any more than I do my own.

  14. Doug, quite frankly, it’s attitudes like yours that make interracial relationships so difficult. In “defending children against prejudice” you create prejudice in yourself. Furthermore, you speak as if this prejudice will never go away when in many, many communities, it has. People with your attitude are the ones who are preventing progress.

    Also, you say you would never want your children to date outside their race, but what about your biracial stepchildren? Anyone they were interested in would make their relationship of mixed race.

    In many Southern American countries, there are as many if not more mestizos (people of mixed blood) than those who are not racially mixed and no one has a problem with it.

  15. I think what is most interesting about these discussions is that for every opinion stated- there are hundreds more out there which are similar. Seeing how polarized many of the opinions on this venue are, helps me realize why so many members feel either left out, misunderstood, that they don’t fit in, etc. I see this as our biggest cultural challenge.

  16. For the record, I just want the folks reading this thread to understand that “Doug” is not me! I have always posted under “Doug G.” and will continue to do so. The only thing similar about Doug and I is the name. I wasn’t worried about folks getting us confused until I read this thread.

    Ok, back to your discussion…

  17. Paul/Martin:

    Paul, you asked for a source; and, Martin, you simply demonized what I said. Here is the supporting documentation from a Prophet of God; and, from the Savior himself:

    “You are now born into a family to which you have come, into the nations through which you have come, as a reward for the kind of lives you lived before you came here and at a time in the World’s history, as the Apostle Paul taught the men of Athens and as the Lord reveled to Moses, determined by the faithfulness of each of those who lived before the world was created” President Harold B. Lee, General Conference, October 5, 1973”

    He then goes on to talk about how families were organized before the world was; and, connects this to the children of Israel and the associated blessings.

    As for the comment regarding the Matriarchal Order; this goes to my lack of explanation, not your understanding–Matriarchal Order, Matriarchal Process, Matriarchal Destiny or the Giver of Life –the process by which God brings children into the world. Nothing else was meant or implied; and, yes I do believe it is the essence of the Proclamation on the family.

    The mother is the core of the family as taught by numerous prophets and demonstrated in the children of Israel. Jacob had four wives – Leah, Rachael, Bilhah and Zilpah; the first two were sisters and the latter two were their respective servants. If you remember the story, Jacob wanted and desired to marry Rachael and was forced into marrying Leah by her father Laban. He then took their servants in what seems to be out of obligation. If you review the blessings given to the children of Israel, by far the most significant blessings were given to the children of Rachael, or Joseph and Benjamin. Almost all of the scattering and gathering are associated with these tribes; and, they are by far the most fruitful of all the tribes. Benjamin was absorbed into the tribe of Judah and inherited most of the aggregate area around Jerusalem.

    As for Leah’s son, Rueben lost his inheritance; and, Levi and Simeon were severely reprimanded for what they did in defense of their sister Dinah. Zebulun and Issacar received moderate blessings. Judah was the lawgiver until the savior came, however, this is mitigated by the fact his “hand would be in the neck of thy enemies” . How true this is and how horrible it would be almost always be at war—hardly a blessing. Bilhah’s son’s, Dan and Naphtali; and, Zilpah’s sons Gad and Asher also received moderate blessings. Correlate this with missionary work and almost all of it is through and to the descendant’s of Joseph. In short, almost ALL the blessings passed through Rachael (two of the 12 sons) suggesting the significant role of the mother as it relates to the children.

  18. # 13 Doug,

    Wow is right? Is not the President of the United States, a man who received almost 50 million votes, the by-product of a bi-racial marriage? Hardly proves discrimination. In fact, I think it quite shows acceptance.

  19. #8 Martin, this goes a little far back, but I wanted to clarify something. I wasn’t making an argument. I didn’t present any way of knowing what I think, I was just stating my opinion. I could philosophize about a just god, suffering, etc. but it’s a little much. I’ll just say that I refuse to believe in a God that thinks children starving to death is just desserts.

  20. As a widowed mother of five; three of the children (ages 13, 11 and 6)are still at home. None of the older two are married and both are full-time students at a university. I offer very little insight, except that each situation can be vastly different, so it is difficult to ascertain outcomes. We can all recall antidotal evidences of stellar parenting in a wide variety of circumstances and horror stories in others.

    Having said all that, of-course my children were better off with a mother and a father living in the home. Since life is not perfect and I am left to manage on my own, I have to admit this situation (widowhood) sucks and I am tired of it and I am very tired 🙂

    However, our family is better off than many divorced persons where there is hostility between parents or abandonment by either mother or father. As a widow, I have financial support that many divorced and/or abandoned mothers and their children do not receive. Because I am not forced to work outside of the home, this helps our circumstances enormously. Consequently I am free to give my children the attention they require. Is financial well being equal to having a Dad? No,it is not enough, but it is better than if I was forced to work and/or go to school. My hat is off to those of you who find yourselves in a difficult divorced or single situation. You do a fantastic job with raising a family under great duress.

    I think in the case of widowhood, as a general rule, men tend to remarry and quickly. I have seen cases where the blended family works splendidly and other situations where it is an incredible disaster. Anyone contemplating remarriage should take it extra slow and receive premarital counseling and consider the needs, gender, ages and temperament of the children involved. Often seemly two well matched individuals can not make a marriage work because of too much emotional baggage and blended family conflicts. Generally speaking, widowers (men) do not consider the impact of a blended family on their children much to their detriment. Most importantly, it is paramount not to judge as you do not know what you’ll do in a situation such as this, until you are faced with it. Those that are, be careful not to jump from the frying pan into the fire.

    Most children are resilient and are made stronger by having a strong parent. If you find yourself in a single, divorced, or widowed situation it is imperative to show your children how tough and resilient you are. In doing so, you teach them the skills to endure and overcome challenges.

    After my husband died, I realized quickly the sun still comes up in the morning and life goes on. The bills have to be paid and food needed to be put on the table. A semblance of normalcy can not be achieved with the surviving spouse laying face down in the bed. Well meaning individuals tell me that I am tough, which I reply, “what choice to I have”.

    I do not think our family has much stigma attached to it except I think some people automatically assume stereotypical Dad dies-mom and kids fall apart. They end up living in an apartment on welfare. We do not fit this bill and it perplexes some people. Since outwardly we appear OK we are not pitiful enough. Many women assume my burden is lighter without caring for a husband. Instead, they do not realize the enormous emotional burden and worry that sits on my shoulders. The job of raising a family and managing a household is easier with two adults.

    As the thread-jack on biracial families. This is an common enough family type found in America today and so I do not believe an excessive amount of racism exists for these families. My youngest daughter is Chinese-American. It is possible she may grow up to marry a Chinese man, but also likely she could marry a white, hispanic or black man ( as could any of my other kids). SO far, racism has been minimal, but then she is only a cute six year old.

    As for people being mean. At some point in everyone’s life someone is mean or discriminatory to us. Rude jerky kids and adults like to point out flaws and differences in others. How many of us have been picked on for being too large or short or tall; having glasses or a handicap or red hair or curly hair or stringy hair or shyness or sports ineptitude, dumb at math or spelling or too smart or …? The list could go one forever. Children need to know to disregard the ill behavior of others. We call it at our house the “Jerk Litnus Test” and to not give the bully the power by letting them hurt us.

    As for hard to place adoptive kids. It is better for orphans to be raised by one loving parent than to not have one at all. There are many gay parents who have done this and do a commendable job raising their children. Until straight parents take seriously the admonition of the scriptures to provide care for orphans/abandoned children, we cannot complain if some of these fatherless and motherless children are raised by gay parents.

  21. As a child raised in a single parent Mormon household for much of my childhood I have a pretty good perspective on the topic. My mother had very involved and supportive parents who had a big role in my life and I can honestly say that I had an incredibly stable and loving upbringing. It was when my mother remarried that things got sticky. That part of my childhood was troubled and difficult. And while I now love my blended family beyond words, it took years before that settled to the comfortable (if still slightly awkward) state it now is – after some decades have passed!

    And my family love me – despite the fact that I’m gay and according to Doug live a perverted, degenerate lifestyle.

    Way to go, Doug.

  22. To Will and anyone else who was discussing his points, please read the *entire* article by Harold B. Lee, published in the January 1974 Ensign, which can be found here: http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=2334d2b9ae76b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD
    Simply assuming that being born into a loving and stable home is the reward for a righteous pre-mortal life is making judgments and assumptions that lack much of the bigger picture and put words into the mouths of the prophets that were not originally there. How do we know those are the specific rewards for this nobility? President Lee never specifies what those rewards are; he simply says “You are now born into a family to which you have come, into the nations through which you have come, as a reward for the kind of lives you lived before you came here and at a time in the world’s history…” He doesn’t say “stable family”, he doesn’t say “loving family”, and he doesn’t even say “Latter-day Saint family”. There are many “rewards” available to us in earth life and simply assuming that things like stability and love in the home are THE rewards makes some huge assumptions and opens the door to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others by assuming they “earned it” because of the alleged life they lived in the pre-mortal realm. The point of his talk was to help people in the church understand who they are so that they make better choices, not to make assumptions and judgments about why people are born into bad circumstances. “My beloved brothers and sisters and friends who are listening by radio and television, may I now for a few moments make some comments about a condition which is of great concern to all of us today. I speak of the shocking lack of self-respect by so many individuals, as is evidenced by their dress, their manner, and engulfing waves of permissiveness which seem to be moving over the world like an avalanche.”

  23. It’s comments like some of the ones I have just read above make me shake my head. The self-righteous crazies have come out for this post. It makes my stomach turn.

    alice, your list resonates with me and points out the flaws with the study. The study doesn’t account for the many variables in family life. In fact, many studies are useless except as discussion points. When people cling to them as the gospel truth, they get in trouble because invariably will come along and conclude the opposite.

    Bottom line: take the mote out of your own family before you try to judge another person’s. There are millions of wonderful, horrible, and simply average family combinations in the world. People who pride themselves on being a two parent family or coming from a two-parent family may just find themselves shocked at the normalcy of the single parent and gay families around them.

  24. #13:
    You, sir, have no idea what motivates me to feel the way I do about gay so-called “families” and interracial marriage. To paint opposition to either in and of itself at bigotry is intellectually vacuous and shows how little ammunition you as a gay man have for your arguments. It’s a matter of what’s best for children, for pity’s sake!

    Yet the only reason you’ve given for your disapproval of child-rearing by interracial or gay parents is the stigma you (and you assume, others) attach to the same. You’ve given no evidence to back your bald assertion that either circumstance violates what is “best for the children.” The “pity,” sir, should be for you.

    To even use the “et tu” argument (I can’t speak in any defense of a heterosexual couple that would whore out their five-year old, the Savior already spoke of such awful cretins as being better off drowned in the sea with a heavy stone tied about their necks) further demonstrates how little defense their is for raising children in a “gay” household.

    To the contrary, I merely pointed out the silliness of your evident opinion that gays shouldn’t be parents because they are “sinners.” If you want to exclude “sinners” from parenting children (after all, it’s what’s best for the children, for pity sake!), then you will quickly find yourself with no parents at all.

    (Again, were I a family court judge I wouldn’t deny the visitation and shared-custody rights of a gay father, even with the digust I feel towards that lifestyle it’d be more important for such a man to be a part of his children’s lives if he is disposed to do so).

    Gosh, no bigotry there, just “disgust,” eh? What on earth do you mean by “that lifestyle,” anyway? As an openly gay man, my “lifestyle” is probably much more similar to yours than different. Both of us likely work to provide for ourselves and our families. Both of us likely volunteer our time and means in an effort to relieve the suffering of others and make the world a better place. I could go on and on with the likely similarities in our respective “lifestyles.”

    It is NOT bigotry to point out that biracial children will suffer both difficulties with their identies and outright hostility (if not at least insensitivity) from both their constituent races, it is REALITY.

    If you’re so concerned about these children, what are you doing to change the attitudes and behavior of those who would inflict such suffering? Why do you default to a position of condemning interracial parents, when they’ve done nothing “sinful?” Why not focus your attention on encouraging those who judge interracial couples to repent of the bigotry that motivates their “outright hostility?”

    As for homosexuals attempting to assert that they can form families, I will always say, no, what they could possibly form is a counterfeit and it will cheat the children who are unfortunate enough to be spawned and/or adopted by gays/lesbians who are unwilling to accept the nature of their pervision.

    Whew! It’s a good thing that I, as an openly gay man, am willing to “accept the nature of [my] perversion!” After all, since none of us is perfect, we all suffer from perversion.

    Homosexuality is a perverted, degenerate lifestyle, and its evils are what prophets both ancient and modern have severely decried.

    This, of course, is a religiously-based opinion, which you are fully entitled to hold. Fortunately for all of us, we have a Constitution which protects us against the state establishment of a church, whereby one religion’s opinions may become legislatively binding upon all. While I recognize that some would very much prefer to have their own religious opinions enshrined in civil law, those same individuals would be quite incensed if a different set of religious opinions was imposed upon them.

    In spite of a gay persons intentions, however in good faith, they have an emotional and spiritual sickness

    Before you endeavor to diagnose anyone with a “sickness,” I suggest you provide us with your education and professional background which qualifies you to do so. I would be foolish, after all, to allow the local gas station attendant to diagnose me with schizophrenia or kidney disease! 🙂

  25. Jrid,

    Now, hold on, I’m not putting words in anyone’s mouth. Furthermore, you need to go back to my original comment to see why I quoted President Lee. It is I that said, some are sent to families to strengthen them; while, others are sent to be strengthened. I was not playing the “we are better so we get more privileges card”. Rather, I was quoting President Lee as documentation for Martin and Paul that we are not on equal footing when we come to this earth. We are not equal. We do not all start out at 0; some are at 1 and some are at a 9 prior to this earth. We are all at different levels. In addition to President Lee’s quote, I would also add the scripture in Abraham 3:22-25 that says the “great and noble” were assigned before the world was; and, Revelation 12:4 indicates a third of the stars were cast out. These scriptures support the notion of progression before this life – some excelled, some failed and I would add the rest are somewhere in between.

  26. #14,15 – It’s precisely for the difficulties that I’ve seen come out of interracial relationships that I’ve counseled my children not to do them. Of course, as all but one are now adults, they are free to choose for themselves. That doesn’t mean that if they go against my advice that I’d turn my back on them or their spouse. That sort of attitude is mean and un-Christlike. And for the bi-racial stepkids (who are also grown), indeed, what DO they do? (besides whatever they want). Well, one married a white man, the other is involved with a black woman. The interesting thing is my delightfully angelic 3-yr old granddaughter looks “too white” (the mother could pass for Polynesian rather than mixed black/white, in fact, her moniker was the “Polynesian Princess” 🙂 ). The granddaughter, like the singer Carly Simon (same racial composition), has looks that belie her heritage. And I’m actually “complaining” that she doesn’t look enough like her mother. Go figure. BTW, my unbiased opinion is that the biracial stepkids are extremely good-looking.
    #19 – Pres. Obama is ‘passed’ for black when he is, in fact, bi-racial. It’s a case of having it both ways. In days gone by, when his Negro heritage would have been handled like it was some sort of contamination, he would have been considered a light-skinned Negro. So is Barrack Obama, in fact, truly, the first “black” president? It’s debatable. Oh well, I wouldn’t have voted for him due to his politics and not whom he “chose” to have as ancestors. Had Larry Elder, Alan Keyes, or J.C. Watts been on the Presidential ticket (all “blacker” than Barrack Hussein Obama) last election, I would have voted for any of them with great enthusiasm.
    #6,7, and 21 – Agreed wholeheartedly. The “traditional” two-parent family is best, but it’s not always in the cards. Rather than judge, we who are blessed with an “ideal” upbringing need to lend a hand to those that need it. And kids are resilient, thank goodness.
    And lastly, yes, homosexuality is a degenerate and perverted choice, and no amount of political correctness will sway that view. Quoth the Apostle Paul: Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? My advice to all thus involved is to get the hell out of it ASAP.

  27. #18, Will thanks for the reference, and #23 JRid, thanks for citing the whole address. Will, your other comments highlight the issue with a simple statement on premortal progression, namely how we judge if we are being “rewarded” or not, or — and more to the point — how one could judge that someone is NOT being rewarded.

    To wit: is being born in an active LDS family a reward for pre-mortal progression? Or is the reward being born into a family that will one day enjoy the blessing of conversion? Or is the reward being born in an era and a place where the gospel does not exist because one has progressed so far in the pre-mortal existence that he does not need to know it in this life? I don’t know the answers to these question, and Elder Lee’s talk does not provide specific enough answers to allow us to judge.

    Will, it is clear there is scriptural evidence for pre-mortal progression as you cite. What is not clear to me (since I, like you, am victim to the veil of forgetfulness) is how to judge where I stood in the premortal existence compared with others. After all, I think I’m to be judged HERE for what I’ve done HERE.

    I dispute your suggestion that just because there are divine forces at work that researchers could not learn anything by studying family dymamics (as you suggest in #2). There were divine forces at work in the creation of our bodies, yet study of those bodies has allowed medical science to do a great deal of good.

    I appreciated Alice’s (#6) list. I don’t think the researcher’s findings eliminate or even ignore that list; they just don’t test each one. My own children would add to your list that children who are born to experienced parents are more fortunate (meaning that my youngest children have fared better than my oldest ones because I’ve grown up a lot as a parent over time).

  28. And lastly, yes, homosexuality is a degenerate and perverted choice, and no amount of political correctness will sway that view. Quoth the Apostle Paul: Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? My advice to all thus involved is to get the hell out of it ASAP.

    Thank you for your religious opinion, Doug. I’m sure it is of great significance to those few million who happen to hold the same religious opinion. I would readily fight to protect your right to hold the religious opinions of your choice.

    At the same time, I would encourage you to broaden your perspective by looking into the scientific research regarding the origins of homosexuality, committed homosexual relationships, and parenting by gay/lesbian couples. While there are biased writings on these subjects from all perspectives, you can protect yourself from such misinformation by carefully examining the study protocols, the affiliations or sponsorship of the study authors, etc. While these readings may not change your religious opinion (which is, after all, essentially a matter of faith), they will at least prepare you to discuss the subject intelligently with an understanding of various perspectives.

  29. Paul,

    “To wit: is being born in an active LDS family a reward for pre-mortal progression? Or is the reward being born into a family that will one day enjoy the blessing of conversion? Or is the reward being born in an era and a place where the gospel does not exist because one has progressed so far in the pre-mortal existence that he does not need to know it in this life? I don’t know the answers to these question, and Elder Lee’s talk does not provide specific enough answers to allow us to judge.”

    Great questions and I fully agree. For example, I (my opinion only) believe that being born to a poor, humble, active member in Bolivia; is far better that being born to a wealthily celebrity family in Beverly Hills. I don’t know the answers these questions either and don’t have enough information to judge, which is precisely my point about the research project. Those doing the research do not have enough salient information about the preexistence to conduct a far test on parenting skills. That was my point.

    “After all, I think I’m to be judged HERE for what I’ve done HERE .”

    Agree, but I would add “unto him who much is given, much is required and he who sins against the greater light will receive greater condemnation”.

    I dispute your suggestion…

    I am an advocate for this type of research. I think it is good. I think it helps parents make better decisions. However, we need to keep in mind there are extremely good parents who love their children and will do anything and everything to help them progress; and, they may have just received a bad apple. God, in his infinite love and wisdom may have sent that bad apple to the best parents possible to try and help them progress and grow. With this in mind, it is important parents understand the progression prior to this earth so they are not laden with unnecessary guilt over the failings of a child. Use these reports, sure; but, with the understanding of eternal progression.

  30. #29 – thanks for at least presenting a more objective counter. On this subject, we can reason together. Actually, I have looked into arguments about whether or not the INCLINATION (as opposed to the practice) of homosexuality is a “choice”. For some, it definitely is. For others, not necessarily so. If one were to regard it as a form of mental illness rather than a normal (in the clinical sense) prediliction, then we could apply Christ-like principles of compassion to those that are involved, as I assume the Savior would. I speak from personal experience. Example:I know a lady that herself struggled since her early teens with bisexuality. Though she felt that she wanted to marry and have children in the traditional sense, she did engage in lesbian affairs as a teen and young adult with her coach(es) and peers (she was a gymnast who was an alternate for the ’84 and ’88 Olympic teams). She has told me that even though she does not want to live as a lesbian that she still on occasion feels attracted to women. Does she, or any gay or lesbian person, truly have a choice as far as the inclination goes? Maybe not! But certainly she has a choice as to what she does. Now, would you withold a temple recommend from such a woman because she still has friendships with lesbians (though not anything physical or romantic) as her SP has? That’s a good question… (I don’t agree that her worthiness is compromised by such friendships but I’m not her bishop or SP).
    Nick, I’m more harsh on the PRACTICE of homosexuality but in fact do feel great compassion for those that struggle with it…IF they desire to repent. If they don’t feel that they need to repent, then there’s nothing I can do for them. Still, please don’t ask me to revise Church doctrine or practice (or the legal defintion of marriage) to accomodate that pervision. Not “no” but “hell no”!

  31. #31:
    Still, please don’t ask me to revise Church doctrine or practice (or the legal defintion of marriage) to accomodate . . .

    Doug, let me assure you that I have no interest in trying to revise the doctrine or religious practices of the LDS church. I may disagree or criticize their doctrine or religious practices, but at the same time, I absolutely support their right to make those determinations without interference. I would never ask a representative of the LDS church to provide an ecclesiastical marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple.

    On the other hand, if an LDS person held a government position which had the responsibility of conducting lawfully recognized civil marriage ceremonies, I would expect them to uphold that civil responsibility, regardless of whether they religiously approved of the marriage. Last year, a justice of the peace in Louisiana took it upon himself to refuse a civil marriage ceremony to a duly licensed heterosexual couple, who happened to be of different racial backgrounds from one another. He knew the law, but he opposed interracial marriage for religious reasons. His refusal to carry out his lawful duties as a government official was unconscionable. In the end, he resigned before facing almost certain expulsion from the bench.

  32. I think the most important thing children need is a parent who loves them, listens to them and is there for them as often as they can be. I think two parent are optimal, but I definitely believe a single parent can raise a child to be healthy and stable just as well as two parents. It is just a much harder job to do when you have to do it alone.

  33. #32 – And I would agree. If,for example, California were to codify same-sex marriages (it’s still going thru the legal processes), and I were a magistrate, regardless of my personal feelings on the matter I would have to perform the marriage if so requested as part of my duties. The only alternative would be to resign. The behavior of the Louisiana (my home state) was shocking…he ought to have known better and I don’t see where he felt that he should continue to act as a Justice of the Peace if he would not officiate in a marriage that his state allows. I would have more respect for him if he’d immediately resigned if he felt that strongly about not performing the ceremony for an IR couple. Else, he needed to keep his opinions to himself and do his duty.

  34. 30 Will: In the case of “unto whom much is given…” I guess I’ve assumed those were gifts given to us in this life. After all, I have no idea what gifts were given to me in the pre-earth life, so it’s difficult to know how I would be accountable for them.

    As for the study of parenting, it seems odd to suggest that because we do not know the eternal nature of the children involved that we cannot evaulate the impact of good (or bad) parenting or good (or bad) situations for parenting. I would assume that researchers seek to study a signifcant enough sample under sufficient controls to isolate one variable for study. I don’t pretend to be fluent in the social sciences.

    I don’t deny that some children may come to this world with greater gifts than others. I have known incredible young people (bright, well-spoken, faithful and moral) who have come out of very difficult economic circumstances (here in the US and abroad). At the same time I know children who are born into privilege with two parents who love them and provide well for them who have ended up in dire straits. Some of that may be the innate pre-mortal nature. Some of it may be good or bad parenting despite difficult or positive circumstances. Some of it may have nothing to do with parenting at all, but rather with the choices the children themselves make at critical crossroads in their lives.

    That there are exceptions to broad observations does not mean there is no value in the broad observations. Nor does it suggest that the broad observations come with a guarantee of successful parenting. In the end, each of us — parents and children — will do the best we can.

    I do not see this type of research as a source of guilt. Especially those with an understanding of the plan of salvation know that they cannot control the outcome for their children.

  35. Paul,

    I think we generally agree with one another. I know numerous parents who feel incredible guilt because of the bad decisions of their children. We must remember the most evil of us all is a son of the father of us all. Even a perfect parent produced bad fruit. Sometime, bad is just bad and will never change.

  36. Raising a family is hard enough with two parents. I can’t even imagine that work that goes into raising children when only one parent is in the home.

    I think God designs each person’s life as a customized test that pushes them to the very limits. Often, the “family” portion of that test (as a parent or a child) is the most difficult. (Sorry, no links to general conference talks. This is personal speculation…)

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