"Research shows that children with gay and lesbian parents do not differ from children with heterosexual parents in their emotional development or their relationships with their peers or adults."
Millions of children in the United States of America have lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT) parents. Some children of LGBT parents were conceived in heterosexual relationships or marriages. An increasing number of LGBT parents have conceived children or raised them from birth, either as single parents, or in committed relationships. Many LGBT parents pursue adoption, alternative insemination, foster or surrogate parenting. A few states in America have laws which are supportive of LGBT couple adoption.
At times, some people are concerned that children who are being raised by a gay parent will require additional emotional support, or face unique social stressors. Research shows; however, that children with gay and lesbian parents do not differ from children with heterosexual parents in their emotional development or their relationships with their peers or adults. It is important for parents to understand that it is the quality of the parent-child relationship and not the parent's sexual orientation that has an effect on the development of a child. Research has shown that in contrast to the beliefs of some in society, children of gay, lesbian or transgender parents:
While research shows that children with lesbian and gay parents are as well adjusted as children with heterosexual parents, they may face some additional challenges. Some LGBT families face discrimination in their own communities and children might be teased or bullied by others. Parents can help their children to cope with these pressures in some different ways:
Like all children, the majority of children with LGBT parents will experience both good and bad times. They are not more likely than children of heterosexual parents to develop behavioral or emotional issues. Studies have shown that children with gay or lesbian parents are ultimately just as happy with themselves and their own gender as their friends with heterosexual parents are. Children whose parents are homosexual show no difference in their choice of activities, friends, or interests compared to children of heterosexual parents. As adults, their career choices and lifestyles are similar to those of children raised by heterosexual parents.
Research comparing children raised by homosexual parents to children raised by heterosexual parents found no developmental differences in intelligence, social adjustment, psychological adjustment or popularity between them. Children raised by homosexual parents can and indeed do have fulfilling relationship with their friends, as well as romantic relationships as they mature.
Your child will most likely have different questions and concerns depending on their age, personality and your family's decisions. For example; all children whose parents have separated or divorced need to know that the separation was not their fault and that both parents will continue to care for them and love them. Children and teenagers might be interested in the implications for them of whether their same-sex parents are married or united in a civil union.
Children are interested in and affected by their parent's feelings, thoughts and decisions. It is important for a parent to answer their children's questions as honestly as possible, as well as to be sensitive to their developmental needs at different stages of their lives. Preschool-aged children are often curious about their family background and might as several questions about a mother or father whom they do not know or who is not always around. It is best to answer their questions simply and honestly. You can expect more questions as new ideas cross your child's mind.
School-aged children will become more aware that their family is not like a heterosexual one and might think of questions as they meet other children from different family backgrounds. Young and older teenagers who did not care about their family background before may become self-conscious or even embarrassed about their parents. Some teenagers may become concerned about their own sexual orientation, yet may be reluctant to discuss it with others out of fear of being criticized or teased. If this occurs, it may be a good time to talk more about your sexual orientation and life choices.
There are several ways for you to show support for your children. Show unconditional love and reassure your children that no matter what – you will always love them. Have fun together, find activities that you all enjoy and be sure to save time for your children.
Work with your children's schools to make sure that family diversity is valued and talked about. Suggest books that should be available in the library that describe families like your own.
Use web sites, books and other materials to help your children learn that there are other families like your family. Encourage your children to tell you if they are left out or teased because of your sexual identity. Use these experiences to teach your children about understanding and valuing differences among people and about how to cope with those who might not approve.
Be open and honest with your children, it is the most important thing. Let them know that even though your family may be different from other families in some ways, there are many ways your family is similar to others. Remind them that all families have issues and disagreements. One way to strengthen your family bond is to find positive ways to talk to each other and work together to deal with issues that arise.
Your children can benefit from meeting other children who have lesbian or gay parents. You might find a local group of families, or your children may be interested in joining an e-mail list, or finding a pen pal. Support civil marriage for all parents, as well as adoption.
Gay Parents As Good As Straight Ones - www.bu.edu/today/2013/gay-parents-as-good-as-straight-ones/
Why Gay Parents May Be the Best Parents - www.livescience.com/17913-advantages-gay-parents.html
Gay Parent Magazine - www.gayparentmag.com
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