Episode 207: Report!

News Parents Can Use:
RECALL: Mattel Recalls Polly Pocket
Two Moms on Baby's Birth Certificate in NJ,
Electronic Toys: Are They Necessary?
Top Ten Tech Toys for 2006
Rules About Ads Targeting Kids Reviewed

Dad talks to Evan's Principal about playground safety, and banning tag and recess.

Featured Artists:
Phil Ayoub, "River To Ocean"
The Nadas, "Coming Home"
Spaghetti Cake, "Farm Boy"

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!


Anonymous said...

You had me until the homophobia.
I've been listening for over a year. I don't always agree with you but usually think you make a good point. This time, however, you resorted to immature and uninformed comments about lesbian mothers. Pathetic. I hope you don't make those jokes in front of your son. He may have classmates with two mommies.
I'll keep listening for now, but won't stick around if you repeat these kind of comments.
A straight mommy in Chicago

Dennis said...


Thanks very much for your loyal listenership and your comment. I do not agree with it in the least, but nonetheless I respect your opinion. I ask that you respect mine and keep the discussion civil.

I wish to point out that I am NOT homophobic, and I would appreciate in future posts that you refrain from name-calling. Homophobia means that I have some sort of irrational fear of homosexuality. I in fact do not fear homosexuality. I find it offensive when displayed in public with the expectation that I somehow endorse or support it. I do not wear my sexuality like a badge and parade about, as the couple attempting to have both names appear on a birth certificate are doing.

My concern is and always will be for the CHILD the lesbian couple has brought into the world, through artifical means, at great expense and effort, who will never know a FATHER.

There are numerous studies about nuclear families and non-nuclear families that time and again assert that the BEST family structure for a child is one with a mom AND a dad. Period. This child newly born into a lesbian family unit - two 'mommies' - will not have that mother-father structure - ever - and therefore the child is at a deficit before even learning to walk.

Teen pregnancy, teen drug abuse, dropout rate, and juvenile crime rate all skyrocket when a dad is absent from the equation at home.

I wish to enlighten you: There are some things that a woman cannot do. She cannot be a FATHER.

And for the record, there's another trend that I am not in favor of: Single women who elect to become single mothers by choice. If a family without a dad can be avoided, it SHOULD BE AVOIDED for the reasons I cited above...FOR THE CHILD'S SAKE. CHILDREN ARE NOT PETS!

I am not homophobic or anti-woman, or anti-gay. I am dad-centric and pro-child. Homosexual relationships do not promote dads or children, since children cannot result from these relationships through natural means.

As for how I raise my son is concerned, he is the reason I do this podcast, the reason I research each and every topic I report, and the reason I find it so patently insulting being called pathetic, a homophobe, and above all, uninformed.

Here is just one link of many for you to read:


I welcome your response, but please do me the courtesy of giving at least a first name...and please refrain from name-calling.

A daddy in California.
Gay or straight is irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dennis,

I maintain that what is best is that any caring adult who chooses to do so should be given the opportunity to provide stable, consistent, loving care to a child; therefore, legally staking out parental status protects an individual’s right to do so. Defining one’s parentage is not “wearing sexuality like a badge.” Legally defining a family provides a means of strengthening it, and stronger families should be a goal of our society.

I was under the impression that your intent was to provide information that would be helpful to parents as they decide what is best in providing for and raising their children--an aide in strengthening families. However, maybe you don't intend your podcast to be for anyone who doesn't fit your idea of a parent?

I used the words homophobia and pathetic to describe your comments—not you. I did not intend name-calling. Your comments do indicate a fear of homosexuality—that you fear that homosexuality adversely affects a person’s ability to parent and that it harms children. It was specifically your joke about who would respond in the middle of the night when a baby with lesbian mommies cries out “mommy” that I felt was an immature attack on that kind of a family—every loving parent wants to respond when their baby cries out. That’s what’s at the heart of this matter: a parent’s love for their child.

I’ll say it again: ANYONE who chooses to be a parent should be afforded the right & the respect of doing so. Families come in many forms and sizes—many different arrangements can work if everyone is committed. It is unfair to dismiss anything other than the contemporary nuclear family.

Regarding the study that you have cited: the link is tenuous. It is an entirely different situation to have a father leave a family—a traumatic event that no doubt effects the children and the mother’s future parenting—than to have a stable, committed adults, though not a father per se, care for a child without disruption through his/her childhood & adolescence. Please provide links to studies that specifically investigate the effect of long-term, loving care provided by individuals other than a father.

All this having been said—I whole-heartedly agree that the decision to parent should not be taken lightly. I believe that once someone has made that choice they have the responsibility to provide for their child for life. I think they should prioritize that responsibility and be held accountable for it (which, by the way, is accomplished by putting one’s name on the birth certificate).

One last thing, please say more about how you feel about “artificial means” of conception. I’m sure your listeners who’ve struggled with fertility issues will appreciate knowing how you feel.

As for sharing my name—I choose not to.

A responsible parent in Chicago

Dennis said...

Dear Anonymous-

I will address your points one at a time;

1) You may maintain that “what is best is that any caring adult who chooses to do so should be given the opportunity to provide care to a child”, but sadly this is neither true nor best for the CHILD. Example: Children are routinely separated from one parent – 85% of the time it’s the father who loses contact – and one parent is prevented from exercising any parental rights, aside from child support, regardless of what’s on the birth certificate. Legally defining a family does not add strength to a family, it adds regulation and taxation. Fathers are routinely denied access to their kids with no due process or recourse. Their only crime was marrying a woman who chose to leave, rather than stay and “strengthen the family.” We strengthen families in this country by not diminishing their significance, by not re-defining ‘family’ to fit our whims and desires, and by always keeping the focus on the CHILD and not ourselves.

2)Your impression that my intent is to provide information parents can use is correct. However, I will not be labeled homophobic by someone who does not have the courage to even provide a first name to the discussion. I also will not be politically correct about my opinions.

Perhaps you should listen to episode 143 featuring Dr. Hogan, where he outlined the studies where the legal system in this country has ruined families and removed dads from the home to the detriment of the children. So your point that somehow legal standing strengthens families is a non-starter.

3)In your mind, my comments are homophobic – and for the last time, I find that characterization offensive. I have stated, and maintain my position, that this lesbian family is making a mistake by raising a child without a male role model in the home. Perhaps any negative comments about lesbian relationships label one as homophobic. I do not accept that stance and will not accept that assessment of my comments. Please retract it.

I couched the comment you refer to, calling ‘mommy’ in the middle of the night as a JOKE – it was clear from my remarks that it was a joke, and late at night, my wife pokes ME out of bed when my son calls ‘mommy’! Are lesbian couples off-limits when it comes to humor? Or criticism?

4)“ANYONE who chooses to be a parent” most certainly should NOT be allowed to be one! Convicted sex offenders, peadophiles, rapists should specifically NOT be allowed to be PARENTS! A reasonable argument could be made against Michael Jackson being a parent! Once again, to reaffirm my point: The best environment for a child is one where a FATHER AND A MOTHER are both in the home! It’s really that simple. It has been shown to be the case, time and again, over and over. The lesbian couple in New Jersey had a choice to make – they chose to raise a child in a family structure that is not in the child’s best interests – IN MY OPINION, BASED ON RESEARCH. I know you disagree, and I respectfully recognize your disagreement.

5)On ‘Tenuous’: You asked for studies that investigate the affects of long-term, loving care provided by individuals other than a father. DONE! The study I gave you cites parents who no-doubt love their children. Your point about trauma when a father leaves the home was specifically mentioned in the study I cited and the researchers found that factor to be irrelevant and stated such. The study I cited clearly shows what happens when a father figure is absent from the home when the children are young. The study was conducted in the US and New Zealand, and documents through the parents own diaries what happens to the kids when there is no male role model in the house. I’m pretty sure that the moms in the studies loved their kids!

But put yourself in the shoes of an agent working for Child Protective Services and think what family unit you would place a child in, knowing these statistics. Given a choice, CPS will place a child in a home where there is a father figure and a mother figure, for the reasons cited in the study. We’re not talking about a father ‘per se’, we’re talking about a male role model.

There are very few studies of any merit involving gay couples raising children. There are, however, studies that show gay relationships are shorter, less stable, and break up more often than straight relationships – although admittedly the difference is only a few percentage points in the studies I examined. However, odds are that a gay relationship will end long before the death of either spouse, so “care for a child without disruption through his/her childhood” is statistically more unlikely.

My question is, now that both names appear on the birth certificate and parental rights have been established, how will the courts arrive at a primary custodian in the event of divorce? That judgment will be made, and will probably find in favor of the ‘mother’ of the child, that is, the woman who actually carried the child to term and gave birth. The other spouse will have no rights to care for the child afterwards – just like divorced dads. She will have to fight an unjust legal system to retain what you claim has been granted by her name printed on a birth certificate.

6)We have common ground on the responsibility side. Choosing to be a parent was not easy for me – thus the ‘reluctant father’ declaration on my blog. However, now that I am a dad, I take the job seriously, I make it a priority, and I am committed to raising my son. John Murtari of New York was equally committed to that goal, but was prohibited from being a father to his son by a vindictive ex-wife and a legal system that favors mothers, because in the eyes of the law, they are the ‘care-givers’. Is that fair? Hypothetically, if for some reason my wife decided to leave, I would have no choice but to accept it, and then I would have to FIGHT for my parental rights as John Murtari has, even though my name is on my son’s birth records.

It will be interesting to see the results of such a custody fight between lesbian couples. My point is that a name on a birth certificate does not establish parental rights at all. John Murtari’s name is on his son’s birth certificate – and John has no rights to raise his child. His ex-wife moved across the country, achieved an unjust level of child support, and sued him repeatedly. He was just released from jail for failure to pay child support that was over three times his annual salary. Is that strengthening the family? Is that parental rights?

7)On ‘artificial means’ of conception: It is not possible, to the best of my knowledge, for a lesbian couple to conceive naturally, as men and women do. You are a mom, so I would gather you are familiar with the ‘birds and the bees’ and I will not go into a biology lecture. The clinical term for inseminating a woman without sexual intercourse is called ‘artificial insemination’. The lesbian couple in New Jersey, according to news reports, arranged for the mother to be inseminated – thus my description of ‘artificial means’. I know of many couples who struggle with infertility and fail to see how that point matters in this argument. In fact, a regular listener to my podcast started a podcast of her own to deal with those very issues. As for how I ‘feel about it’, I think you’re reading too much into two words. My point was clear – the lesbian couple – names withheld as you have chosen to withhold yours – made a DECISION to be parents – through artificial means. It wasn’t an ‘accident’ as can happen with heterosexual couples, and it wasn’t natural. It was a calculated, thought out, planned and executed MEDICAL PROCEDURE to conceive a child. My entire point was, and I will close with it again – I DON’T THINK THEIR DECISION IS THE BEST FOR A CHILD, GIVEN THE FACTS ABOUT FATHER FIGURES ABSENT FROM THE HOME! Gay, straight, homosexual, heterosexual, ORANGE – I don’t care! I know that kids suffer without a mom AND a dad – maybe not every kid, maybe not this child in New Jersey, but I do know that this child will be missing something very special…this child will not know the love of a FATHER, and that is a sad thing.

A Responsible Parent – named DENNIS – who fervently disagrees with you based on facts and research, resents being labeled homophobic or pathetic, but nonetheless thanks you for sharing your comments and sincerely respects your opinion.

Anonymous said...

First, I do not think that sexual assault is equivalent to choosing to be a parent—the idea is abhorrent. Sexual assault is a crime of violence and aggression, having little to do with sexuality or procreation—ask any psychologist you know. Yes, a pregnancy can result—it also can be terminated because clearly a pregnant victim did not choose to become a parent under that condition.

I did a literature search on PubMed (the most inclusive data base for peer-reviewed research) using the terms gay and parent. It returned 110 articles. Most were about parenting gay children. The remaining articles about gay parents & child outcome all found that there is no adverse effect on children raised by stable, homosexual couples. Tasker et al. (2005, Journal of Developmental Pediatrics) is a review article citing about 30 studies that come to that conclusion.

As far as the stability of gay couples—I do not know the literature thoroughly as you do, so I’ll have to trust that gay couples break-up more. I’d agree that break-ups (and divorces) are tough on kids. The answer, though, may not be to prevent couples more likely to break-up from having kids but rather to work to prevent break-ups. Increased acceptance of gay couples will help to pave the way for access to social support systems and counseling services. Further stigmatization of them will do the opposite and turn the odds against creating strong gay-parent families.

In the event of an unpreventable break-up, there should be means to keep parents involved, which goes to your point of protecting a parent’s rights. Once again, I’m with you, parental rights should be terminated when—and only when—just cause can be established. Parents should be afforded the right to continue raising their children in cases where the parents are not together unless found to be unfit. I support parents’ rights and simply have a broader definition of parent. I think we are foolish to deny parenting to loving, caring individuals that have much to give when so many children could benefit. Limiting ‘parent’ to biological terms is archaic.

I don’t say any of this in the name of political correctness. This represents the values I hold. I will be raising my children to be respectful of the choices that others make and of their differences. I will teach them that good outcomes can be achieved by many different means. I will show them that providing support and encouragement to others will help them to succeed—even if the odds are against them. I will teach them that no one benefits from exclusionary attitudes. I will teach them that much can be learned from fostering diversity. I will teach them that their words, even when joking, can be hurtful.

I was enjoying your podcast as a way to broaden my perspective and be in touch with the parenting community. I was shocked when I heard your ‘joke.’ It was such a mean thing to say about vulnerable people. Your opinions are your own to hold, discuss, and defend; however, the bully-on-the-playground attitude revealed by your joke let me know that I may be in the wrong forum. I think I’ll turn elsewhere for ‘news parents can use.’

Once again as to my anonymity: It is my choice not to use my name in a public forum. It is your choice to do so.

A former listener

Dennis said...

Once again, anonymous, I will challenge your points one by one;

1)I did not claim that sexual assault was “choosing to be a parent.” I refuted your claim that “what is best is that any caring adult who chooses to do so should be given the opportunity to provide stable, consistent, loving care to a child” by pointing out there are people who most definitely should NOT be parents. You missed my point.

2)I also did your PubMed search, which only lists excerpts and synopses of the studies it indexes. When I conduct your search, I find three other studies you neglected to mention;
A)“Children of homosexuals and transsexuals more apt to be homosexual”, immediately followed by
B)“Predicting the suicide attempts of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth”, and
C) “Perceptions of predisposing and protective factors for perinatal depression in same-sex parents.”

First, a quote from the study you cited, Tasker et al;
“The results show that children raised in fatherless families from infancy experienced greater warmth and interaction with their mother, and were more securely attached to her, although they perceived themselves to be less cognitively and physically competent than their peers from father-present families.”

Conclusions in the 3 studies I cited: Homosexual households are under greater stress than non-homosexual households, leading to problems for the children in them.

Children residing in homosexual households have a higher suicide rate than children who are not. Children living in a household without BOTH a MOTHER and a FATHER have the same problem, which has been my point all along!

From The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families:

“Girls without a father in their life are two and a half times as likely to get pregnant and 53 percent more likely to commit suicide. Boys without a father in their life are 63 percent more likely to run away and 37 percent more likely to abuse drugs. Both girls and boys are twice as likely to drop out of high school, twice as likely to end up in jail and nearly four times as likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems.”

I maintain that my comment that the child will be at a disadvantage was based on research, not some irrational fear of the parents’ sexual orientation. Also, the study you cited relied heavily on other studies with very small sample sizes – the average was 42 families. The HHS study I excerpted above indexed over 1.7 MILLION familes.

Here’s a point I probably should’ve made earlier; If there is a male role model in the home of the lesbian couple in New Jersey (grandfather, uncle, close family friend, etc.) Then I’m a happy camper! My concern is, and always has been, for the welfare of the child.

3)I agree wholeheartedly with you that everything should be done to prevent break-ups of ANY relationship. The decision to marry should not be a trivial one, and its sanctity should be honored, repsected and preserved REGARDLESS of sexuality of the partners. I do not advocate preventing couples from having kids who are more likely to break up, as you suggest. How you misconstrued my comments to mean that is beyond me. I recommend considering the FACTS that suicide rates are high in situations where there IS NO MALE ROLE MODEL, referring to the HHS study above. Furthermore, I believe that the lesbian couple in New Jersey did what they did for political motives, and not for the child. I have illustrated why I believe this is so, by giving examples that names on a birth certificate do not guarantee or impart parental rights, at least where the FATHER is concerned. The birth certificate filing was a stunt, in my opinion, to establish a means to challenge other laws in the State of New Jersey, which is why I asked rhetorically, “who is looking out for the child?”

4)Currently, support for single fathers is laughable. If a father goes to a “battered women’s shelter” he will not receive any aid – he will receive rejection, ridicule and in some cases, arrest. The same welcome awaits a single man who seeks aid on the basis of domestic abuse. From your last post, “Increased acceptance of gay couples will help to pave the way for access to social support systems and counseling services. Further stigmatization of them will do the opposite and turn the odds against creating strong gay-parent families.” Agreed, and well stated. But how about broadening the statement to include ALL people, struggling single dads included? Currently social services exist to support woman and children. MEN are the excluded party, not lesbian parents. You assume I have a bias against gay families. You assume incorrectly. I advocate a MOTHER AND A FATHER in the home is best for children. Their sexual preference is of no concern.

5)From your post, “I support parents’ rights and simply have a broader definition of parent. I think we are foolish to deny parenting to loving, caring individuals that have much to give when so many children could benefit. Limiting ‘parent’ to biological terms is archaic.” I did not limit or attempt to redefine ‘parent’ in any of my remarks. Once again you are seeking to broaden the argument and make me out to be the bad guy. I questioned the judgment of a politically active lesbian couple in New Jersey who are bringing a child into the world who stands better than a 50% chance of attempting suicide before leaving home! This risk exists because THERE IS NO MALE ROLE MODEL IN THE HOUSE!

6)Again, from your post, referring to how you will raise your children, “I will teach them that much can be learned from fostering diversity. I will teach them that their words, even when joking, can be hurtful.”

You would be well-advised to examine your own words – four come to mind, “homophobic”, “pathetic”, “immature” and “uninformed.” And by shutting yourself out of the discussion, you are certainly not tolerant of other points of view, so just how do you intend to teach your children diversity if you won't listen to differing viewpoints?

7)Your tactics and arguments are more akin to the playground bully. First, inflammatory name-calling, which I have asked you to retract. Second, straw-dog arguments that have no bearing on what you originally objected to, merely to maintain your disdain – and dare I say misandry – of me, based on what you incorrectly perceive as ‘homophobia’. Then, when I refuse to capitulate, retract, or be shamed into silence, you declare yourself a ‘former listener’ after stating in your first post, “I'll keep listening for now, but won't stick around if you repeat these kind of comments.” That is an immature attitude, like a child who plays until things don’t go her way, and then she takes the ball and goes home. It is also an attempt to silence a viewpoint that opposes yours.

I have stated my position with civility, brought the facts pertinent to the formation of my opinion, countered your points, and tried to keep the topic centered on my original concern, that being the welfare of the child at the center of all this. My joke was harmless, and intended to be mildly humorous. When my son calls out ‘Mommy’ in the middle of the night, guess who goes to check? ME! Now, the joke: “When there are two mommies in the house, and the baby calls ‘mommy’ who goes?” I even qualified my remark by saying “OK maybe a cheap shot.” If that quip can’t be tolerated by you, so enrages you that you write “It was such a mean thing to say about vulnerable people,” I would suggest that the one with the narrow view, thin skin and intolerant viewpoint is the anonymous straight mommy in Chicago.

Why did you feel the need to qualify yourself as ‘straight’ in the first place? Is it relevant? Or is it ‘homophobic’?

I will always welcome your comments. We, as free people, do not learn by everyone agreeing with us. It is through dialogue and civil discussion that progress and understanding is gained. Be well.