Why same-sex parents have healthier and happier kids

image via http://myfertilitychoices.com/2012/09/same-sex-parenting-is-on-the-rise/

(Image via fertility choices)

Sorry, bitter homophobes. It turns out having two mommies or two daddies doesn’t make you a sick and unhappy child. A new study not only debunks this claim but suggests that kids raised by lesbian or gay parents score better when it comes to measures like family cohesion and general health. And the potential reason may — or may not — surprise you. 

The study from the University of Melbourne, Australia surveyed 315 same-sex parents and 500 children and found that, overall, the kids were just as happy and healthy as the kids of the general population. The only difference was that, “children from same-sex families scored, on average, 6% better on two key measures, general health and family cohesion, even when controlling for a number of sociodemographic factors such as parent education and household income.”

Not surprisingly, the study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, showed that same-sex families do face stigma which has a negative effect on the mental health of children. But families of all backgrounds, sexual orientations and gender identities can be stigmatized for several things. So how does one explain the fact that children from same-sex families are doing so well?

According to Simon Crouch, MD, a public health doctor and the lead researcher in the study, it may well derive from the lack of conformity to gender stereotypes when it comes to splitting household responsibilities:

Interestingly, there is growing evidence to suggest that the structure of same-sex parent families, particularly in relation to work and home duties, plays an important part in how well families get along. Same-sex parents, for instance, are more likely to share child care and work responsibilities more equitably than heterosexual-parent families.

This freedom from traditional and confining roles means that parents can divide their labor according to strengths and what makes them happy:

So what this means is that people take on roles that are suited to their skill sets rather than falling into those gender stereotypes, which is mum staying home and looking after the kids and dad going out to earn money.

What this leads to is a more harmonious family unit and therefore feeding on to better health and wellbeing.

Of course, these lessons can apply to all kinds of families and relationships. If only the people who insist on pathologizing same-sex child-rearing knew about this. Maybe if they were happier in their own lives they wouldn’t spread lies about the non-existent dangers of having gay or lesbian parents.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 11.13.50 PM Katie Halper is a writer, comedian and film-maker. 

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Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/aought/ Audrey Knight

    Another point may be that same sex parents really have to want a child enough to put in the extra effort to get one, no “accidents” for them.

  • http://feministing.com/members/cheeseburgers/ Katy

    This study is highly flawed

    http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2014/07/13451/

    Also, I’m curious as to why saying heterosexuals are worse parents than homosexuals is okay, yet when a study comes out saying the opposite the researchers are attacked.