A study by Bos et al (2016) has allowed more psychological research to enhance what us open-minded and LGBT+ supporters already believed and knew – it is the quality of a parents relationship with each other and their child(ren) which really matters, not the sexuality of the parents.
A group of researchers (full reference at the end of the article) used the 2011-2012 National Survery of Children’s Health to look at the difference between lesbian parents and heterosexual parents parenting stress and the children’s general health, emotional difficulties, coping behaviour and learning behaviour.
No gay parents? Well the researchers backed up this rather large flaw. In the 1980s sperm banks opened their doors to lesbian couples for the first time resulting in what was called the “lesbian baby boom”. 20 years later same-sex marriage was legalised with proceeded the “gay baby boom”. Therefore the generation of the lesbian baby boom is 20 years ahead of the gay baby boom, meaning more families of lesbian parents were available for study. Hopefully a future study involving gay parents and their children will be in the making!
By analysing the results of the survey it was found that the only significant difference between lesbian parents and heterosexual parents were the levels of reported parenting stress, with lesbian parents reporting significantly higher levels of stress.
However, despite this, their children showed no difference in general health, emotional difficulties or coping/learning behaviours when compared to heterosexual couple’s children.
So despite reporting more stress, lesbian parent’s children are just as healthy as heterosexual parent’s children!
Other significant results included children reporting fewer emotional difficulties when their parents (lesbian or heterosexual, no significant difference between them!) reported a positive relationship with one another and also a positive relationship with the child. Coping and learning behaviour in the child was also positively associated with the parent-child relationship.
Nonetheless, let’s jump back to the lesbian parents reporting significantly more parenting stress. Reasons for this? Well it may include the stigmatisation surrounding LGBT in general, or stigmatisation surrounding being lesbian parents. Also, the stress of having to raise children in a homophobic society may also contribute- imagine being in a lesbian relationship and having your child ask why they have two mummy’s when Freddy down the street only has one and also has a daddy? The researchers claimed that the lesbian parents may feel more pressure to prove their worth as parents and to be seen as equal to heterosexual parents.
Well this study certainly helps to prove their worth, and also helps to prove what so many of the LGBT community are fighting for. The children of lesbian parents are just as healthy and emotionally well as the children of heterosexual parents – it is the quality of the relationship between the parents and between the parents and the child that matters rather than whether both parents own differing genitalia or not. Very happy with the results of this research.
Bos, H.M.W., Knox, J.R., van Rijn-van Gelderen, L., & Gartrell, N. (2016). Same-sex and different-sex parent households and child health outcomes: Findings from the national survey of children’s health. Journal of developmental & behavioural paediatrics, 37(3), 179-187.