According to a recent study, children of lesbian parents may be better off than kids raised by straights. Does this mean gays make better moms? A Christian women's group has come back with a resounding hell no.
The study is the first ever to track children raised by lesbian parents from birth into adolescence. It is also the first to indicate that children of gay parents may actually benefit from their nontraditional family structure. In a report published today in the journal Pediatrics, researchers reveal that teens in lesbian homes scored higher on certain psychological measures of self-esteem and confidence, did better academically, and were less likely to exhibit behavioral problems than many of their peers.
Nanette Gartrell, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, and a lead researcher on the study, says she was surprised by the findings:
"We simply expected to find no difference in psychological adjustment between adolescents reared in lesbian families and the normative sample of age-matched controls... I was surprised to find that on some measures we found higher levels of [psychological] competency and lower levels of behavioral problems. It wasn't something I anticipated."
And it certainly wasn't what Wendy Wright, president of the Concerned Women for America, expected. Wright believes that the study was flawed, rigged in order to support gays. "You have to be a little suspicious of any study that says children being raised by same-sex couples do better or have superior outcomes to children raised with a mother and father," she said. "It just defies common sense and reality."
Yet there is an element of "common sense" in the idea that children born into planned families, to parents who both actively want kids, tend to have better experiences than kids who happen unexpectedly. The study states that the mothers' "commitment even before their offspring were born to be fully engaged in the process of parenting" may be a key factor in explaining the unique benefits of having two moms. They also found that same-sex mothers tend to be more involved in their children's lives, and more likely to communicate with their kids. Through these traits are not tied to their sexuality, lesbian parents do face unique challenges, which could actually help make them better parents. Since many kids in same-sex households face teasing at a young age, the parents are more likely to initiate discussions about sexuality, diversity, and tolerance.
Unlike Gartrell and Wright, Joseph F. Hagan from the University of Vermont is "not surprised" by the study, mainly because it states something he intuitively knew: Love trumps all. Not to get all Dumbledore on you, but Hagan's argument is rather sweet - not to mention filled with "common sense." He writes, "our experience tells of the resilience of children who are loved and know that love. Our learning tells us of the boundless ability of children to respond to that love despite the absence of a traditional parenting relationship." Breaking: good parenting has far more to do with love and communication than sexuality.
Children Of Lesbians May Do Better Than Their Peers [Time]
Few Psychological Problems For Children Of Lesbian Mothers [Medpage Today]
Kids Of Lesbians Have Fewer Behavioral Problems, Study Suggests [CNN]