New research: Same-sex couples raise well-adjusted kids
New research strengthens previous findings that children of same-sex couples fare just as well as children of different-sex couples, as long as the parents are in a stable relationship.
The study, published in the April issue of Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, matched and compared 95 same-sex parent households with 95 different-sex parent households in which all children were biological offspring of at least one of the parents raising them. The results indicated that children of same-sex parents “showed no differences in general health, emotional difficulties, coping or learning behavior compared to children of heterosexual parents,” according to a study news release.
“Although, there are now more options available to help same-sex couples have children, the journey to becoming parents can be a challenging one, and these parents have often been wanting children for a long time,” says Dr. Brittany Lakin-Starr, a psychologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “A same-sex couple providing love and support allows children the same emotional stability and developmental advantages that a child of a heterosexual couple might have. It is the quality of the parent-child relationship that is important in any family.”
Researchers concluded that the relationships between partners and between parents and children were similar in both types of households, but same-sex couples were found to have a higher level of “parenting stress.”
“Gay and lesbian couples have historically faced adversity when starting a family and, while society is becoming more supportive, the law does not always provide the same rights and protections for same-sex parents as it does for heterosexual parents,” adds Dr. Lakin-Starr. “When this is combined with the negative impact of discriminatory words and actions that some of these families unfortunately encounter, it adds another layer of stress that heterosexual parents never have to experience.”
About 19 percent of the estimated 690,000 same-sex couples living in the United States are raising children under age 18, according to 2013 national figures cited by the study authors.
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy points out that some research studies have yielded results indicating that children of same-sex parents have felt more connected at school, been more likely to talk about emotionally difficult topics and are sometimes more resilient, compassionate and tolerant.
“Every family structure and dynamic is unique, whether the parents are of the same or different sexes,” says Dr. Lakin-Starr. “The most important consideration is if the parents are providing for the children’s physical and emotional needs, as well as the needs of their parenting partner. Children need love, structure and consistency from parents who care about their well-being; the sex of these parents is not a factor.”
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