1. Mechcatie, Elizabeth MA, BSN
  2. Rosenberg, Karen


According to this study:


* Children with same-sex parents did as well as or better than children with heterosexual parents in terms of psychological and social adjustment.



Article Content

Over the past 15 years, studies comparing children of same-sex parents with children of heterosexual parents have not found differences in psychological adjustment or in parenting quality or relationships, with a few exceptions, say the authors of a new study. They conducted an online survey of 125 lesbian mothers with children born through donor insemination, 70 gay fathers with children born through surrogacy, and 195 heterosexual parents. Participants were matched according to demographic characteristics of the children. Measures studied were parental self-agency (the parent's confidence regarding her or his success as a parent); dyadic adjustment (the quality of the parents' relationship); family functioning (including cohesion and flexibility, the latter being the ability to "change leadership" regarding parenting roles); and the children's psychological adjustment, measured by assessing prosocial behavior (actions taken with the intention of helping others) and a combination of four other dimensions (emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity or inattention, and peer problems), reported as "total difficulties."


Gay and lesbian parents scored higher with regard to parental self-agency and dyadic adjustment than different-sex parents, and families with gay fathers reported greater flexibility than the other two groups (no differences in flexibility were found between lesbian and heterosexual parents). Likewise, family cohesion was greatest among families with gay fathers, followed by families with lesbian mothers.


Some of these aspects of family structure were associated with outcomes in children. For example, higher levels of parental self-agency and dyadic adjustment were significant predictors of children having a greater degree of prosocial behavior, and the children of gay and lesbian parents had lower (better) total difficulties scores, although scores in all three groups were within normal ranges. These results, the authors note, indicate that parents' sexual orientation did not have a direct effect on a child's psychosocial well-being.


Although the study had limitations, such as the use of a convenience sample of urban, white, middle-class, European parents and the use of reporting by parents to assess their children's health, the authors conclude their results "add weight" to previous studies. They also conclude, based on these findings, that policymakers should not make assumptions about parents' suitability based on sexual orientation.-EM




Baiocco R, et al J Dev Behav Pediatr 2018 39 7 555-63