Children naturally have a father and a mother, and they have a natural right to be raised by both parents. This natural state of affairs is not altered by the fact that some children lose one or both parents through death or divorce and some children never get the chance to know their father.
Many parents (and grandparents) in these situations work heroically to give their children the best possible chance to grow through the difficulties they face.
However, fifty years of research worldwide in the social sciences has overwhelmingly demonstrated that the best environment for children growing up is with their married, biological parents.
Similar research demonstrates that it is also the best environment for the parents. One has to be wilfully blind to claim that the strength of the natural family and society’s preference for it “does not stand up to analysis”, as Professor Alastair Nicholson would have us believe. That is why the Catholic Church puts so much effort into persuading and helping men and women to take their marital and parental responsibilities seriously for their own good, the good of their children, and the good of society.
Over the last 40 years or so, our society has been less than fully supportive of marriage and family, and the consequences of this ambivalence are clear.
Those consequences of our weaknesses and failures are not a justification to create even more difficult situations for children.