Study: Kids of Same‑Sex Couples Are Just as Well‑Adjusted as Kids of Hetero Couples
“Our findings suggested that children with same-sex parents fare well, both in terms of psychological adjustment and prosocial behavior,” says study author Roberto Baiocco, PhD, and his colleagues of Sapienza University of Rome.
The team studied three groups of Italian parents and children – 70 gay fathers with children via surrogacy, 125 lesbian mothers with children from artificial insemination, and 195 heterosexual couples with children from spontaneous conception. Their children ranged from 3 to 11 years of age.
Parents were asked to take self-assessing surveys about how successful they felt they were at parenting, how much they and their partner agreed or disagreed with each other, family functioning, and their child’s skills and difficulties. Results for all parents – gay, lesbian or heterosexual — were then compared, after adjusting for other factors.
Across all types of families, kids’ prosocial skills and psychological adjustment were more or less the same. If anything, kids with same-sex parents seemed to experience fewer problems than those of heterosexual couples, though not by a significant margin. This was particularly true for the children of gay fathers, which, researchers suggest, may be reflective of the high degree of commitment required for gay men to become parents via surrogacy. It also may be reflective of other factors; the gay fathers in the study were usually older, more financially well off, better educated and had more stable relationships compared to the lesbian and heterosexual participants.
Per parents’ reports, girls from all three groups were more pro-social, with fewer behavioral problems (such as aggression), in comparison to boys. This finding is in line with typical child development. Researchers also found, across all groups, that parents who were dissatisfied with their parenting, were also unsatisfied with their relationship and felt they had lower family flexibility. Such parents often reported more problems in their children. It’s almost like good parenting is the same regardless of whom you love.
“Family structure is not predictive of child health outcomes once family process variables are taken into account,” write the researchers. “The present study warns policy-makers against making assumptions on the basis of sexual orientation about people who are more suited than others to be parents or about people who should or should not be denied access to fertility treatments.”
India, take note.