The importance of mothers and fathers

Foto di Gerd Altmann da Pixabay

Every child has a biological mother and father. But the importance of mothers and fathers goes far beyond reproduction. Men and women bring unique gifts to the shared task of raising their children. Mothering and fathering are distinctly different. Only a woman can be a mother; only a man can be a father.

A mother and a father each contributes in a distinct way to the upbringing of a child. Respecting a child’s dignity means affirming his or her need and natural right to a mother and a father. And there are countless reliable studies that suggest that mothers and fathers enhance – and their absences impede – child development in different ways.

The Church acknowledges the difficulties faced by single parents and seeks to support them in their often heroic response to the needs of their children. There is a big difference, however, between dealing with the unintended reality of single parenthood and planning from the beginning artificially to create an ‘alternative family’ that deliberately deprives a child of a father or a mother.

Sometimes people claim that children do just fine with two mums or two dads and that there is “no difference” between households with same-sex parents and heterosexual parents. But sociological research, as well as the long experience of Church and society, attests to the importance for children of having, as far as possible, both a mother and father.

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‘Messing with marriage’, therefore, is also ‘messing with kids’. It is gravely unjust to them. We know that marriages and families are already under very considerable pressure today and that there is already much confusion about what they mean and how best to live marital and family life. The Church devotes much of her pastoral energy to supporting people to live married and family life well and to assisting the victims of marital and family breakdown. This convinces us that a further tearing away at the traditional understanding of marriage and family will only hurt more people – and especially more young people who, because of their vulnerability, demand particular care.

  1. See references at the end of the document.
  2. See references at the end of the document.

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