Do you ever wish you had a wife? I do. A wife would be nice. A proper one. Not like the kind of wife I am. Anyway, this isn’t a post about wives it’s a post about mothers. Gay mothers.
According to a recent study, children of lesbian parents may actually fare better than children raised by a straight mum and dad in traditional roles.
The study inspired an article in Time which read in part:
The teen years are never the easiest for any family to navigate. But could they be even more challenging for children and parents in households headed by gay parents?
That is the question researchers explored in the first study ever to track children raised by lesbian parents, from birth to adolescence. Although previous studies have indicated that children with same-sex parents show no significant differences compared with children in heterosexual homes when it comes to social development and adjustment, many of those investigations involved children who were born to women in heterosexual marriages, who later divorced and came out as lesbians.
The authors found that children raised by lesbian mothers — whether the mother was partnered or single — scored very similarly to children raised by heterosexual parents on measures of development and social behavior. These findings were expected, the authors said; however, they were surprised to discover that children in lesbian homes scored higher than kids in straight families on some psychological measures of self-esteem and confidence, did better academically and were less likely to have behavioral problems, such as rule-breaking and aggression.
The article goes on to explain some of the theories that researchers (Nanette Gatrell and Henry Bos) have come up with to explain their survey results.
It’s not clear exactly why children of lesbian mothers tend to do better than those in heterosexual families on certain measures. But after studying gay and lesbian families for 24 years, Gartrell has some theories. “They are very involved in their children’s lives,” she says of the lesbian parents. “And that is a great recipe for healthy outcomes for children. Being present, having good communication, being there in their schools, finding out what is going on in their schools and various aspects of the children’s lives is very, very important.”
Although active involvement isn’t unique to lesbian households, Gartrell notes that same-sex mothers tend to make that kind of parenting more of a priority. Because their children are more likely to experience discrimination and stigmatization as a result of their family circumstances, these mothers can be more likely to broach complicated topics, such as sexuality and diversity and tolerance, with their children early on. Having such a foundation may help to give these children more confidence and maturity in dealing with social differences and prejudices as they get older.
What are your thoughts? Mine are that gender is immaterial when it comes to parenting. Two straight married parents and a white picket fence is no guarantee of anything. Good parents come in a wide variety of configurations….
What’s your experience…?
If you require support or information on same sex parenting please contact Rainbow Families Council, a Victorian-based volunteer organisation working for equality for same-sex parented families.