The birds and the tie the knot.....and offspring....

Something has been bothering me and I haven't been to keen on asking this question because, seems a bit taboo...maybe?

So as many of you know I was a Christian for over a decade and yada yada....became and atheist. The entire mindset around marriage, commitment, love, family, raising kids, having kids, having sex....everything is or seems somewhat different. It's as if the idea of having a family, getting married, and sharing your life with someone is not as central to having a happy and fulfilled life from the atheist perspective. This may be a wrong impression, (and I may be WAY off base here so please correct me if I'm wrong) so I'm going to just ask my question. Honestly and sincerely:

Do atheists want to get married and have kids?

What do you say?

I suppose we're talking generalities and everyone is different. I understand that, but it seems that atheists as a group are far less interested than theists. I'm wondering if that is true, why? If it's not true, then why does it seem that way?

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Honestly, Unseen, I don't have a problem with warm caring intelligent parents, one of each gender, being held up as the paragon of efficacious child upbringing.

I think I'd have made an appalling mother, for a whole load of reasons.  I can't possibly comment on what it takes to be the perfect parent.  I just think that there's nothing magical in the reasons why parents fail or succeed.  There must be logical reasons, though, and logical ways to tackle it.

Other than that, to all you parents out there, well done and kudos to you for undertaking the task.

Marriage... I don't like the way it is done, but I do not feel the entire concept is irredeemable or useless. I don't consider it a necessity in life. If it never happens, no worries.

Children, on the other hand, is a different matter. I would very much like to have a child, and now is a decent time to do so. I don't feel entitled to it, however. If I am to be responsible, I have to consider the kind of life I could provide for that child, and the reality is, I cannot do it on my income or lifestyle alone. Vancouver appears to have ranked as the most expensive city in which to live in North America again, so even though my income is decent, my child would pay for my desire to raise a child. Sadly, it seems almost all of the people I meet are not interested in having children by any means, and I'm not going to be with someone solely for the sake of rearing a child. Perhaps it isn't in the cards. Such is life.

So, want? Yes.
Will it happen? I cannot say. If I had a child, that child would be my life. Still, it's not my life's ambition to have a child.

If you want to provide the best life for y9ur child, you should provide him/her with a mother (I'm assuming you're male). Kids do better with two parents and even better with heterosexual parents. That's statistically speaking, of course. And the very best situation, of course, is where the child has a parent to come home to after school. 

I've never seen compelling evidence to that effect outside of sociological issues with non-acceptance of homosexuality or unconventional lifestyles. This, where I live, is a marginal issue. The same can be said for patterning behaviour and gender concepts off of a parent of each gender -- in a society fixated on norms, that might be advantageous to some extent if it is actually true; however, in a society which values diversity, it may be disadvantageous.

Granted, I am male, so there are some things which which I would not deprive a baby of if it was at al possible. Breast feeding and physical contact with the mother fit into that category.

But really, I don't believe in optimized parenting. No family will ever be perfect, and I have seen an overzealous pursuit of normalized ideals cause harm in itself.

I wasn't talking about anything other than the fact that a healthy, intact, hetero family structure has proven to be the best in terms of the overall health and well being of children. 

No family will ever be perfect, granted. However, some family forms start out with problems. Single parents. Step families. Single mother households tend to be the worst for a variety of reasons, one of the chief ones being that a large number of children in single-mother households live near or below the poverty line.

What's worse, a home where mom is unemployed and is thus not providing an example of getting up at 5;30 am to earn a living, or a mom who's never there because she has to work 60 hours a week just to keep a roof over their head?

Children raised by single fathers tend to be impoverished to a markedly lower extent, but that may be due to two obvious factors: men tend to make more than women on average and the fact that women often prefer, in divorce, to get property (the house) rather than liquid and interest-producing wealth in the property division.

I understand that, but here we hit a point (starting from the top of this comment chain) once more where we are now discussing individual circumstances and not statistical trends.

That said, I am not actually certain which data you are referring to in the case of same-sex parenting couples. 

I'm not sure I've specifically mentioned same sex parents.

Kids do better with two parents and even better with heterosexual parents. That's statistically speaking, of course.

It's implicit here, though I suppose there are other alternative two parent couples if we factor in that not all parents fit within binary gender identities. Not sure how much statistical data there would be there. I'm just curious which statistics. I've only seen very limited data on the subject matter thus far.

Well, there's a lot of pop stuff out there supporting the idea that there's little difference in outcomes between hetero and gay parenting couples. Most of it written, one suspects, by people who want that to be true. On the other hand, here is an actual professional in-depth study. It's huge, so even the abstract and conclusion sections I quote here will take up quite a bit of space:


The New Family Structures Study (NFSS) is a social-science data-collection project that fielded a survey to a large, random sample of American young adults (ages 18–39) who were raised in different types of family arrangements. In this debut article of the NFSS, I compare how the young-adult children of a parent who has had a same-sex romantic relationship fare on 40 different social, emotional, and relational outcome variables when compared with six other family-of-origin types. The results reveal numerous, consistent differences, especially between the children of women who have had a lesbian relationship and those with still-married (heterosexual) biological parents. The results are typically robust in multivariate contexts as well, suggesting far greater diversity in lesbian-parent household experiences than convenience-sample studies of lesbian families have revealed. The NFSS proves to be an illuminating, versatile dataset that can assist family scholars in understanding the long reach of family structure and transitions.


As scholars of same-sex parenting aptly note, same-sex couples have and will continue to raise children. American courts are finding arguments against gay marriage decreasingly persuasive (Rosenfeld, 2007). This study is intended to neither undermine nor affirm any legal rights concerning such. The tenor of the last 10 years of academic discourse about gay and lesbian parents suggests that there is little to nothing about them that might be negatively associated with child development, and a variety of things that might be uniquely positive. The results of analyzing a rare large probability sample reported herein, however, document numerous, consistent differences among young adults who reported maternal lesbian behavior (and to a lesser extent, paternal gay behavior) prior to age 18. While previous studies suggest that children in planned GLB families seem to fare comparatively well, their actual representativeness among all GLB families in the US may be more modest than research based on convenience samples has presumed.

Although the findings reported herein may be explicable in part by a variety of forces uniquely problematic for child development in lesbian and gay families—including a lack of social support for parents, stress exposure resulting from persistent stigma, and modest or absent legal security for their parental and romantic relationship statuses—the empirical claim that no notable differences exist must go. While it is certainly accurate to affirm that sexual orientation or parental sexual behavior need have nothing to do with the ability to be a good, effective parent, the data evaluated herein using population-based estimates drawn from a large, nationally-representative sample of young Americans suggest that it may affect the reality of family experiences among a significant number.

Do children need a married mother and father to turn out well as adults? No, if we observe the many anecdotal accounts with which all Americans are familiar. Moreover, there are many cases in the NFSS where respondents have proven resilient and prevailed as adults in spite of numerous transitions, be they death, divorce, additional or diverse romantic partners, or remarriage. But the NFSS also clearly reveals that children appear most apt to succeed well as adults—on multiple counts and across a variety of domains—when they spend their entire childhood with their married mother and father, and especially when the parents remain married to the present day. Insofar as the share of intact, biological mother/father families continues to shrink in the United States, as it has, this portends growing challenges within families, but also heightened dependence on public health organizations, federal and state public assistance, psychotherapeutic resources, substance use programs, and the criminal justice system.

Is there any similar study that reflects other countries where parenting by gay couples has been wider and for a longer term than in the USA?

I hadn't read that one yet. I mostly get curious how researchers deal with the problem of accurate representation in this scenario as access to long term same-sex parentage situations is limited. Add on top of that the political aspect of the issue, and you get a good show:

RE: "Children raised by single fathers tend to be impoverished to a markedly lower extent"

I raised a son, followed by four daughters as a single father, and in both cases, did an excellent job. In Mexico, I was told I was an angel - not entirely true, but close.


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