Changing family

Changing family

The Schulte-Wayser family is like the Jetsons: a blend of mid-century traditional and postmodern cool.

The Schulte-Wayser family is like the Jetsons: a blend of mid-century traditional and postmodern cool.

One parent is the breadwinner,a corporate lawyer who is Type A when it comes to schoolwork,bedtime and the importance of rules. The other parent is the self-described “baby whisperer”,staying home to care for the couple’s two daughters and four sons,who dash through their days as if wearing jetpacks.

Both parents know when rules and roles are made for subverting.

“Each of us is very maternal in our own way,” said Joshua Wayser,50,the lawyer. “I take my girls shopping,and I’m in charge of beauty and hair care.”


Wayser glanced at Richard Schulte,61,his homemaker-artist husband,who was sitting nearby. “Of course,” Wayser added dryly,“he doesn’t think I do a good job.”

Wayser,Schulte and their six adopted children are part of one of the more emphatic reinventions of the standard family flow chart. A growing number of gay men and lesbians are pursuing parenthood any way they can: adoption,surrogacy,donor sperm.

“There’s a gayby boom,that’s for sure,” Wayser said. “So many of our friends are having kids.”

Some critics have expressed concern that the children of gay parents may suffer from social stigma and the lack of conventional adult role models,or that same-sex couples are not suited to the monotonous rigours of family life.

Earlier studies,often invoked in the culture wars over same-sex marriage,suggested that children who lived with gay parents were prone to lower grades,conduct disorders and a heightened risk of drug and alcohol problems. But new research suggests that such fears are misplaced.

Through a preliminary analysis of census data and other sources,Michael J Rosenfeld of Stanford University has found that whatever problems their children may display are more likely to stem from other factors.

Once these factors are taken into account,said Rosenfeld,author of The Age of Independence: Interracial Unions,Same-sex Unions,and the Changing American Family,the children of same-sex parents are academically and emotionally indistinguishable from those of heterosexual parents.

And two-father couples,in defiance of stereotype,turn out to be exemplars of domesticity. In her long-term studies of unconventional families,Judith Stacey,a professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University,found that the most stable of all were those headed by gay men who had their children together.

Over 14 years,she said,“I was shocked to find that none of the male couples with children had broken up,not one.”

According to the Williams Institute at the University of California,Los Angeles,the number of gay couples with children has doubled in the past decade,and today well more than 100,000 same-sex couples are raising children. Other estimates put the number of children living with gay parents — couples and singletons combined — at close to 2 million,or one out of 37 children under age 18.