Rx: Gay Marriage Is Good for Kids’ Health?

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By Dr. Nicole Dubus

The American Academy of Pediatricians has stated that gay marriage is good for kids. The supreme court is hearing cases about gay marriage that may change how our federal laws define marriage. What does marriage have to do with the health of children? Why should pediatricians weigh in on who gets to marry and what constitutes a marriage?

"It's Wrong to Vote on Rights" via flickr user thegreengirl
“It’s Wrong to Vote on Rights” via flickr user thegreengirl

As any parent knows, and many studies tell us, raising children takes a lot out of you. You must be selfless, have economic means, be flexible to care for them when they are sick or their school decides that the two inches of snow constitutes a federal emergency warranting you to leave work to pick them up, causing you to ponder  if you should leave them unsupervised at home or to make your boss wonder if it’s time to look for a more dedicated worker. Parenting also requires health insurance. Kids, as it turns out, get sick and have things break. In addition to health insurance, they need to eat healthy foods that don’t come out a window and handed to you while you are in the car. They need fresh things that often cost a lot more than that bag from the window did. All these things are easier when there is more than one parent. And why a parent and not just another adult? Well, it turns out that if the adult loves that kid so much that s/he would run in front of a bus to save that child, that the child feels loved and, generally speaking, turns out healthier.

So, while you might have thought the pediatrician wasn’t really listening to you when you rambled on at that last check-up, the doc really was. In fact, pediatricians have been listening, and watching, and have noticed that having more committed and loving adults who have legal rights to care for a child make a big difference in a child’s well-being. An adult who has the legal right to make medical decisions, carry insurance, pick the child up from school, is recognized by school officials, doctors, your boss as a lawfully committed parent makes a difference. When you run in front of the bus to push your child aside, it helps to know that not only did you do the right thing to save your child, but that society did the right thing to acknowledge your love. It’s good for kids to be raised in a loving marriage? Who knew? Any parent.

Learn more: “Gay Marriage Around the World” in The Economist

Dr. Nicole Dubus is Assistant Professor of Social Work at Wheelock College. Nicole Dubus has been active in the field since the mid-1980s, working in northern California and Massachusetts in public and private settings. Her research interests are in community-based research, home-visitation programs, early parenthood, culturally-sensitive clinical skills, and the experiences of refugees throughout the life course.