Menu

Major long-term study: Kids with lesbian parents grow up to be happy adults

Having two moms or two dads doesn't impact children negatively. Families are families and love is love.

Major long-term study: Kids with lesbian parents grow up to be happy adults

It's no secret that children need loving parents, but for decades, same-sex couples raising families have faced opposition from those who claim that growing up with two moms or two fathers might be bad for kids. It's unfortunate that this fight still needs to be fought, but research may be the key to helping everyone understand that having loving parents is more important for a child's development than who those parents love.

Studies confirm kids raised in lesbian and gay families grow up to be just fine, and basically the same as people who were raise in heteronormative households.

According to the researchers behind the longest-running study of same-sex couples raising kids, The National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS), concluded that 25-year-olds who grew up with two moms have "no significant differences in measures of mental health" compared peers raised by heterosexual parents.

"When I began this study in 1986, there was considerable speculation about the future mental health of children conceived through donor insemination and raised by sexual minority parents," says the study's lead author, Dr. Nanette Gartrell. "We have followed these families since the mothers were inseminating or pregnant and now find that their 25-year-old daughters and sons score as well on mental health as other adults of the same age."

This follows another study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics which followed three groups of families in Italy: 70 gay fathers who had children through surrogacy, 125 lesbian mothers who had children through donor insemination, and 195 heterosexual couples who had children through spontaneous conception.

"Our findings suggested that children with same-sex parents fare well, both in terms of psychological adjustment and prosocial behavior," said Prof. Roberto Baiocco, PhD, of Sapienza University of Rome.

The scores psychological adjustment for the children were within the normal range for all three groups, with no major differences. The researchers note that the kids in same-sex homes actually reported fewer difficulties than those born to heterosexual couples.

Parenting confidence impacts kids more than a parent's sexual preference.

What matters isn't the parents sexual orientation, but rather how confident they feel as a parent. In all three types of families, parents who didn't feel competent in their own parenting reported more problems with their kids, and less satisfaction in their relationship with their partner.

"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," Baiocco adds.

These studies, which build on others and add to the growing pile of scientific evidence that same-sex families are just families like everyone else, may seem unremarkable to some, but to families struggling to be seen as such, they're powerful tools.

In Italy, where Baiocco's study took place, access to fertility treatments is only available to couples who meet a set of conditions, including being heterosexual, and only this year were same-sex couples allowed to register their children to both parents.

Stateside, about 114,000 same-sex couples are raising children in America right now, according to UCLA, but Alabama, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, do allow state-licensed child welfare agencies to refuse to place and provide services to children and families if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.

The ACLU of Michigan is asking a federal judge there to let it sue the state for discrimination against same-sex couples, alleging faith-based adoption agencies that receive state funding have been turning away same-sex couples who would like to adopt.

These studies may not impact rulings in Michigan or Italy, but they do prove one thing: Having two moms or two dads doesn't impact children negatively. Families are families and love is love.

You might also like:

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

Keep reading Show less
Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less
Shop

The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

Keep reading Show less
Life