But research on families headed by gays and lesbians doesn't back up these dire assertions. In fact, in some ways, gay parents may bring talents to the table that straight parents don't.
Gerald P. Mallon
Gay parents "tend to be more motivated, more committed than heterosexual parents on average, because they chose to be parents," said Abbie Goldberg, a psychologist at Clark University in Massachusetts who researches gay and lesbian parenting. Gays and lesbians rarely become parents by accident, compared with an almost 50 percent accidental pregnancy rate among heterosexuals, Goldberg said.
And while research indicates that kids of gay parents show few differences in achievement, mental health, social functioning and other measures, these kids may have the advantage of open-mindedness, tolerance and role models for equitable relationships, according to some research. Not only that, but gays and lesbians are likely to provide homes for difficult-to-place children in the foster system, studies show. Of course, this isn't to say that heterosexual parents can't bring these same qualities to the parenting table.
Gay adoption recently caused controversy in Illinois, where Catholic Charities adoption services decided in November to cease offering services because the state refused funding unless the groups agreed not to discriminate against gays and lesbians.
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Rather than comply, Catholic Charities closed up shop. Catholic opposition aside, research suggests that gay and lesbian parents are actually a powerful resource for kids in need of adoption. According to a report by the Williams Institute and the Urban Institute, 65, kids were living with adoptive gay parents between and , with another 14, in foster homes headed by gays and lesbians. There are currently more than , kids in foster care in the U. An October report by Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute found that, of gay and lesbian adoptions at more than agencies, 10 percent of the kids placed were older than 6 — typically a very difficult age to adopt out.
About 25 percent were older than 3. Sixty percent of gay and lesbian couples adopted across races, which is important given that minority children in the foster system tend to linger. More than half of the kids adopted by gays and lesbians had special needs. The report didn't compare the adoption preferences of gay couples directly with those of heterosexual couples, said author David Brodzinsky, research director at the Institute and co-editor of "Adoption By Lesbians and Gay Men: A New Dimension of Family Diversity" Oxford University Press, Skip to search form Skip to main content.
It begins by discussing some of the social, theoretical, and legal implications of studying this population, and critiques a number of the assumptions guiding this research. The review then proceeds to include studies on children of divorced lesbian and gay parents, as well as studies conducted on children of gay and lesbian families that are planned. View via Publisher. Alternate Sources. Save to Library. Create Alert. Share This Paper. Citations Publications citing this paper.
Exploring parenting styles in lesbian headed households with young children Elisa Levy Tacher. Claims that children need both a mother and father presume that women and men parent differently in ways crucial to development but generally rely on studies that conflate gender with other family structure variables.
The Research on Same-Sex Parenting: “No Differences” No More | The Heritage Foundation
We analyze findings from studies with designs that mitigate these problems by comparing two-parent families with same or different sex coparents and single-mother and single-father families. Strengths typically associated with married mother-father families appear to the same extent in families with 2 mothers and potentially in those with 2 fathers. Average differences favor women over men, but parenting skills are not dichotomous or exclusive.
Visit Source Website Bos, H. Planned gay father families in kinship arrangements. The gay fathers in this study all became parents while in same-sex relationships. They donated sperm to lesbian couples and then shared the child-rearing with them in kinship arrangements. It was also examined whether aspects that are related specifically to gay fathers i. Data were collected by means of questionnaires filled in by the fathers. However, gay fathers felt less competent in their child-rearing role than heterosexual fathers. We assessed whether associations among family relationships, parenting stress, and child outcomes were different in the 2 household types.
Methods: Parental and child characteristics were matched for 95 female same-sex parent and 95 different-sex parent households with children 6 to 17 years old. One parent per household was interviewed by telephone. Multivariate analyses of variance and multiple linear regressions were conducted. Results: No differences were observed between household types on family relationships or any child outcomes. No significant interactions between household type and family relationships or household type and parenting stress were found for any child outcomes. Conclusion: Children with female same-sex parents and different-sex parents demonstrated no differences in outcomes, despite female same-sex parents reporting more parenting stress.
Future studies may reveal the sources of this parenting stress. Sex Roles, 62 , This study compared gender identity, anticipated future heterosexual romantic involvement, and psychosocial adjustment of children in lesbian and heterosexual families; it was furthermore assessed whether associations between these aspects differed between family types.
Data were obtained in the Netherlands from children in 63 lesbian families and 68 heterosexual families. All children were between 8 and 12 years old. Children in lesbian families felt less parental pressure to conform to gender stereotypes, were less likely to experience their own gender as superior and were more likely to be uncertain about future heterosexual romantic involvement.
No differences were found on psychosocial adjustment. Gender typicality, gender contentedness and anticipated future heterosexual romantic involvement were significant predictors of psychosocial adjustment in both family types. Lesbian families and family functioning: an overview. Patient Education and Counseling, 59 3 , In the research on lesbian families two phases were identified.
To begin with, systematic studies on lesbian families focused on lesbian families with children who were born in a previous heterosexual relationship. More recently, studies included lesbian families whose children were born to the lesbian couple planned lesbian families. This paper presents and discusses major finding of the reviewed articles.
However, it is the stigma of lesbianism that makes the family situation of lesbian families different. Child adjustment and parenting in planned lesbian-parent families. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77 1 , One hundred planned lesbian-parent families i. Questionnaires, observations, and a diary of activities were used to collect the data.
The results show that especially lesbian social mothers i. Child adjustment is not associated with family type lesbian-parent families vs. Adolescents in lesbian families: DSM-oriented scale scores and stigmatization. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study. In comparison with the scores of an age-matched normative sample, no significant differences in scores were found.
Within the NLLFS sample, adolescents who reported stigmatization scored higher on affective, anxiety, and conduct problems. Although overall psychological functioning of the NLLFS adolescents fell within the healthy range, stigmatization had a negative impact on the well-being of some adolescents. Lesbian and heterosexual two-parent families: adolescent-parent relationship quality and adolescent well-being.
Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23 2 , The adolescents average age 16 years were matched on demographic characteristics age, gender, educational level, country of birth, parental birth country with a sample from a large school-based survey, and data were collected by means of adolescent self-reports. Analyses indicated that adolescents in both family types had positive relationships with their parents, which were favorably associated with psychological well-being.
On the assessments of psychological adjustment and substance use, family type was significantly associated only with self-esteem and conduct problems: Adolescents with lesbian mothers had higher levels of self-esteem and lower levels of conduct problems than their counterparts in heterosexual-parent families.
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Overall, the findings indicate that adolescents from intact two-mother lesbian families are comparable to those in a matched comparison group with intact mother—father families. The few differences found on psychological well-being favored the adolescents in lesbian two-mother families. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 12 4 , The study assessed the influence of protective factors on the psychological adjustment of children who had experienced homophobia and whose mothers were participants in a longitudinal study of planned lesbian families.
Data were collected as part of the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study by interviewing the children and having the mothers complete questionnaires. No significant differences were found in the psychological adjustment of children in the present study and their age-matched peers in a U. Homophobia had a negative impact on the well-being of children who experienced it.
K, van Gelderen, L. Adolescents of the U.
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National longitudinal lesbian family study: male role models, gender role traits and psychological adjustment. Half of the adolescents had male role models; those with and those without male role models had similar scores on the feminine and masculine scales of the Bem Sex Role Inventory, as well as on the trait subscales of the State-Trait Personality Inventory anxiety, anger, depression, and curiosity and the Child Behavior Checklist internalizing, externalizing, and total problem behavior.
A positive association was found between feminine gender role traits and curiosity, and a negative correlation between this trait and internalizing problem behavior; these associations were independent of the gender of the adolescents and the presence of male role models.
In sum, the absence of male role models did not adversely affect the psychological adjustment of adolescents reared by lesbian mothers. Visit Source Website Brewaeys, A. Donor insemination: child development and family functioning in lesbian mother families. Human Reproduction, 12 6 , Findings are presented of a comparative study investigating the family relationships and the emotional and gender development of children raised in lesbian mother families. A total of 30 lesbian mother families with year old children created as a result of donor insemination DI were compared with 38 heterosexual families with a DI child and with 30 heterosexual families who had a naturally conceived child.
A variety of assessment measures, including a standardized interview and questionnaires from the parents and psychological testing of the child were used to collect the data. The quality of the interaction between the social mother and the child in lesbian families was superior to that between the father and the child in both groups of heterosexual families. These results indicate that child and family development in lesbian mother families is similar to that of heterosexual families.
Lesbian motherhood: the impact on child development and family functioning. The wide variety of lesbian families who became visible during the past 20 years gave rise to important practical and theoretical questions. Up to now society has treated lesbian mothers differently with regard to a number of child-issues.
Negative findings for children of gay parents don't hold up to scrutiny
In the past, divorcing lesbian mothers were often denied child custody because of their sexual orientation and the majority of fertility centers still refuse lesbian couples in their donor insemination programs. The present article reviews whether there is any theoretical and empirical evidence for the most widespread assumptions on which such decisions have been based.
A number of psychological theories, such as psychoanalytic theory, social and cognitive learning theory and attachment theory are discussed with regard to the two most salient features of lesbian families; the absence of a father and the homosexual orientation of the mother. Most of these studies involved children of divorced lesbian mothers who spent their early years in a heterosexual household.
More recently, however, studies were sporadically carried out among children who were raised from birth in a lesbian relationship.