Monday, 31 March 2014

The Kids Are All Right

“The quality of relationships, and not family structure, is what really counts.”
                                                --- Prof Susan Golombok

Many people have asked me whether I worry about my children being bullied or at least teased because they have two mums. My partner worries about this too. Me? Not so much. The evidence is pretty clear-cut on this one, and I am a scientist with very little imagination.

When I teach about non-traditional family forms (nice euphemism, don’t you think?), it’s hard to make it all that interesting. There is a slew of studies comparing children raised by lesbian couples with children raised in traditional mother-father families, and there are practically no differences in parenting or child outcomes

Behind that headline, of course, are all the caveats that go along with non-experimental research. A true experimental design to test whether lesbian parenting is “damaging” to children would involve randomly allocating children to couples, whether they wanted children or not. Among straight couples, there is an element of this for some. Something like a third of children are unplanned. Not unwanted, but somewhat unexpected.

All children of lesbians are planned and (usually) paid for. This is a highly motivated group of parents. Many actively work to compensate for father absence. Most are careful to live in liberal, accepting communities. But when all is said and done, the kids are all right.

What about the mothers? Yep, it's pretty great. Except on Mothers Day. That was yesterday. There is no father to do the heavy lifting. Annoying.

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