Boys to Men Minus Dad; Author Says Single, Lesbian Mothers Can Raise Sons Just Fine
Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Single mothers can raise boys just fine - and maybe even better than families with moms and dads, psychology professor and gender scholar Peggy Drexler says in a new book.
Yes, widespread public opinion says a boy must have a father in the home in order to achieve full manhood, says Mrs. Drexler, an assistant professor of psychology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.
But according to her research on 124 parents of boys, most of whom are single mothers or lesbian couples, "I have found there is absolutely no reason to expect that single or gay moms cannot raise sons on their own," Mrs. Drexler writes in "Raising Boys Without Men: How Maverick Moms Are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men."
"Maverick mothers" throw themselves into parenting their sons and "really nurture" their sons' masculinity, she explains. As a result, mother-raised sons are emotionally strong, empathetic, independent-minded and well-rounded - even more so than sons raised in traditional mother-father families, says Mrs. Drexler.
What matters is not gender, but the quality of parenting, says Mrs. Drexler, a former gender scholar at Stanford University and the married mother of two. "Parenting is either good or deficient, not male or female."
Robert Knight, who studies families and same-sex parenting at Concerned Women for America, shakes his head at such a theory.
That sounds like "typical feminist ideology masquerading as social science," he said. It "really is the radical feminist dream" to say that boys raised in lesbian homes are the same as boys raised by mothers and fathers - or that boys raised by lesbians are actually better because they're more like girls, he said.
Fathers are absolutely crucial to boys, Mr. Knight said, citing research contained in child psychologist James Dobson's 2001 book "Bringing Up Boys."
Thousands of studies assert the importance of father involvement, as well as the risks for boys and girls who grow up without their fathers, said Roland Warren, president of the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI).
Children who live in single-parent homes have double the risk of physical, emotional or educational neglect, compared with children living with both parents, he said. Boys born to unmarried mothers are 21/2 times more likely to become incarcerated, and children who live in homes without their fathers are 32 percent more likely to smoke, drink or use drugs, according to research cited by NFI.
"The deeper, possibly unintentional, message to boys [in Mrs. Drexler's book] is that you can get as many women pregnant as you want - no need for you to be involved, responsible and committed - just make sure you're available for someone else's boy to be a 'male role model,' " Mr. Warren said.
Mrs. Drexler's book, released this month, arrives amid mounting evidence that America's families are changing.
Census Bureau data released this month show that nuclear-family homes were the most common kind of U. …