A study looking at the psychological adjustment of children with homosexual parents compared to heterosexual parents was recently undertaken in Italy. The findings are published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
The study included three groups of Italian parents: 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. The children were 3 to 11 years old; the groups were matched for child characteristics.
Parents completed questionnaires that assessed their own ability to act successfully as parents, their level of agreement/adjustment between themselves, family functioning, and the child’s psychological adjustment – with a focus on their strengths and difficulties.
The outcomes of the questionnaires were compared for lesbian, gay or heterosexual parents, with adjustment for other factors.
Overall, the study reports:
• Children of same-sex parents reported fewer difficulties than children of different-sex parents
• With respect to parental dimensions, gay fathers described themselves as more competent and satisfied with their couple relationship than did heterosexual parents
• Gay fathers also reported higher levels of family cohesion and flexibility than did lesbian mothers and heterosexual parents
• For all three types of families, girls were reported as being "more prosocial" and having fewer externalizing problems (such as aggressive behavior), compared to boys
• Across the groups parents who felt less competent as parents and were less satisfied in their relationship, reported more problems in their children
Lead author Prof. Roberto Baiocco, PhD, explains:
"Our findings suggested that children with same-sex parents fare well, both in terms of psychological adjustment and prosocial behavior,"
Based on the evidence of their findings the authors warn policy makers against making assumptions about parenting suitability on the basis of sexual orientation, and also against discriminating who should be allowed access to fertility treatments.