While many see that one of the next big things for the lgbt movement to tackle will be adoption rights, they might not have to worry about dissenters commenting on same-sex parents and their ability to raise children.
Two recent studies, one in Australia and one in the U.S., point to children raised by same-sex parents not differing from, though perhaps even doing better than, children raised by opposite-sex families.
Melbourne University conducted the “Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families,” which is touted as the world’s largest study to date looking at the impact of gay and lesbian parents on their children. The study collected data on 500 children around Australia up to the age of 17, and interviewed 315 gay, lesbian, and bisexual parents by having them complete the world recognized “Child Health Questionnaire.”
Preliminary results in the study indicate no differences between children raised in same-sex and opposite-sex families in terms of physical and mental health, as well as in their social interactions among peers and adults.
A major difference though was that researchers found a higher degree of family cohesion and general health and happiness in children raised in same-sex families. A drawback to this is that children are more likely to experience discrimination because of their parents’ sexual orientation, which, lead researcher of the study, Dr. Simon Crouch, does think matters. “One of our hypotheses is that this experience of discrimination does have an impact on child health and well-being.”
However, as Dr. Crouch points out, this may be the reason why family cohesion was greater in families of gay and lesbian parents: “Because of the situation that same-sex families find themselves in, they are more willing to communicate and approach the issues that any child may face at school, like teasing or bullying. This fosters openness and means children tend to be more resilient. That would be our hypothesis.”
The other study, published in the July/August edition of Child Development, studied 104 families all across the United States: 50 headed by heterosexual couples, 25 by lesbian parents, and 29 by gay male partners. The children were all adopted at birth or within the first few weeks of life, and at the time of the study all were around three years old.
Researchers Dr. Rachel H. Farr, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Dr. Charlotte J. Patterson, University of Virginia, found that ultimately, regardless of the gender of the parents, the children with positive child behavior lived with parents who had supportive co-parenting interactions, including greater pleasure, engagement, and communication between parents. The children with behavioral problems lived in homes with competition between the parents and dissatisfaction with divisions in child care. Dr. Farr and Dr. Patterson commented, “it was the parents who were the most satisfied with their arrangements with each other who had children with fewer behavior problems, such as acting out or showing aggressive behavior.”
The researchers noticed that gay and lesbian parents were more likely to share equally in childcare tasks, while heterosexual parents would specialize in their chores. Even with this division, researchers concluded that it didn’t matter: “It appears that while children are not affected by how parents divide childcare tasks, it definitely does matter how harmonious the parents’ relationships are with each other.”
While the number is unclear, there are reported millions of children living with same-sex parents. With these two important studies, it gives great support to advocates of same-sex parents, showing that it really is the love of the parents and a supportive atmosphere that raises the best and most well-adjusted children.