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Study: Lesbian Parents Raise Better-Behaved Kids
June 7, 2010 10:06 AM   Subscribe

A nearly 25-year study has concluded that children raised in lesbian households were psychologically well-adjusted and had fewer behavioral problems than their peers. Results were published this month in Pediatrics: the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. (Abstract. Free PDF. Scribd).

Time Magazine: Study: Children of Lesbians May Do Better Than Their Peers

FoxNews: Children of Lesbian Couples Do Well in School, Life

Gawker: The Secret to Having a Perfect Child: Be A Lesbian

Background on the issue from Religious Tolerance.org: Same Sex Parenting / Results of Studies / Beliefs of Conservative Christians / Conclusions
posted by zarq (98 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Children raised in lesbian households represent!
posted by sudama at 10:10 AM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Children who wish they were raised in lesbian households represent!
posted by Madamina at 10:11 AM on June 7, 2010 [42 favorites]


"Goodnight moon, goodnight stars, goodnight po-pos, goodnight fiends, goodnight hoppers, goodnight scammers, goodnight everyone, goodnight one and all."
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:12 AM on June 7, 2010 [18 favorites]


Well, not that this will stop nutjobs from lying about how terrible it is for gays to be parents, but I'm glad the study was done.
posted by rtha at 10:12 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is obviously propaganda from the Gay Mafia who want our children to grow up healthy and well-adjusted.

Such children would be less amenable to being brainwashed into our apocalyptic death cult.

Unless children have strong male role models to teach them how to pee upright and heckle women, the very fabric of our society shall be torn asunder.

Stop the madness!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:14 AM on June 7, 2010 [34 favorites]


God just made all of those studies come out that way in order to challenge believers to even greater leaps of faith and logic. Kinda like dinosaurs.
posted by Danf at 10:14 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, not that this will stop nutjobs from lying about how terrible it is for gays to be parents, but I'm glad the study was done.

I always think of studies like these as another bit of persuasive ammunition for those smart enough to pay attention and keep open mind.

That said, Conservative Christians are already trying to paint this study as biased.
posted by zarq at 10:15 AM on June 7, 2010


Well obviously the concepts of "well-adjusted" and "behavioral problems" these studies use must be wrong. Stupid liberal bias.
posted by kipmanley at 10:15 AM on June 7, 2010


I like that really nice chicken and lemon dish they do.
posted by Artw at 10:15 AM on June 7, 2010


Portland-filter: My house is literally surrounded by lesbian moms with chickens.
posted by wcfields at 10:16 AM on June 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


God, it really is the new Seattle, isn't it?
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


...and it follows then that straight people ought not be allowed to have children so there will be far fewer screwed up kids in the world.
Now if this study tells us this about lesbians, do two gay guys raising kids also have children that are more nearly well adjusted than straights ? If not, why? If so, what does this tell us about the traditional family that we are led to believe is so important?
posted by Postroad at 10:18 AM on June 7, 2010


My anecdata seem to back this up as well. Except for my upstairs neighbors, that is. *shudder*
posted by brundlefly at 10:18 AM on June 7, 2010


Portland-filter: My house is literally surrounded by lesbian moms with chickens.

Are the chickens healthy and well-adjusted?
posted by The Bellman at 10:20 AM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Portland-filter: My house is literally surrounded by lesbian moms with chickens.

I may be misreading the study, but I don't think it says anything about the success rates of chickens raised by lesbians....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:21 AM on June 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Portland-filter: My house is literally surrounded by lesbian moms with chickens.

Takes a tough woman, to raise a tender chicken, I hear.
posted by Skygazer at 10:22 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


The new findings are based on 77 families of both girls and boys. The researchers interviewed the lesbian mothers about their kids and then rated the teenagers on the Child Behavior Checklist, a standardized assessment that has been used for decades. Each teenager also filled out an internet-based psychological questionnaire.

When comparing the results to how mothers living in conventional families rated their teenagers, children of same-sex couples were more competent in school, had fewer social problems, broke fewer rules and were less aggressive.


Please don't let this be the methodology.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:24 AM on June 7, 2010 [14 favorites]


the chickens probably have a bad outcome, most of the time. Now, chickens raised by vegan lesbians, on the other hand...
posted by randomkeystrike at 10:24 AM on June 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Between 1986 and 1992, 154 prospective lesbian mothers volunteered for a study that was designed to follow planned lesbian families from the index children's conception until they reached adulthood. Data for the current report were gathered through interviews and questionnaires that were completed by 78 index offspring when they were 10 and 17 years old and through interviews and Child Behavior Checklists that were completed by their mothers at corresponding times. The study is ongoing, with a 93% retention rate to date.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:25 AM on June 7, 2010


Are the chickens healthy and well-adjusted?

It may be conjecture on my part, but lesbian moms in my neighborhood that partake in backyard farming do have healthy and well-adjusted chickens.

But, that could more be the socio-economic status of the upper-middle-class than two people with XX chromosomes.
posted by wcfields at 10:26 AM on June 7, 2010


I just know my mum's going to take this as a personal criticism of her parenting. It's going to be a variation on her angst about putting me to sleep on my front as a baby - "But I thought I was doing the best for you, raising you as part of a heterosexual family unit! That's what we thought was right at the time!"
posted by Coobeastie at 10:26 AM on June 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


...and it follows then that straight people ought not be allowed to have children so there will be far fewer screwed up kids in the world.

Personally, I'd prefer that no one have their rights to have children taken away based on their gender preference.

Now if this study tells us this about lesbians, do two gay guys raising kids also have children that are more nearly well adjusted than straights ? If not, why? If so, what does this tell us about the traditional family that we are led to believe is so important?

Perhaps it merely tells us that parenthood is best attempted by folks who have gained maturity and some measure of financial wherewithal. The linked CNN article explains several theories about the results: lesbian parents tend to wait until later in life to have children. Perhaps as a result they are more likely to have some maturity and financial independence. They also may interact with them differently than other types of parents.
posted by zarq at 10:27 AM on June 7, 2010


Huh. I went to the CNN article from a Reddit link a few hours ago. At that time, it had a photo of two women and a baby. I wonder what happened to that. Some other people referencing it in the comments.
posted by Perplexity at 10:27 AM on June 7, 2010


This will surely become some weird evidence for essentialism of mothering.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:27 AM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Somewhere past all the snark, politics and jokes I'd believe this.

All of the first hand anecdotal evidence I have indicates that lesbian couples are more stable and more willing to sit down and talk out problems.

My wife works for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, so I have some exposure to out lesbians beyond the naturally high diversity of friends one has in San Francisco.

Many of the experiences that make a person less well adjusted equate with character building in the eyes of even the best straight dads.

I do worry that an increase in well adjusted people might cause a notable decrease in the twisted, tortured genius types I so love.
posted by poe at 10:29 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Portland-filter: My house is literally surrounded by lesbian moms with chickens.

How dare you suggest my straight neighbors are bad parents to their chickens.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:33 AM on June 7, 2010


Considering that about half of all pregnancies are accidental, and many of these result in children (who would then be raised by either the mother, the father, or both, usually), the results of this study are hardly surprising, considering 100% of the children in the study were non-accidents.

This would be one of the reasons that Planned Parenthood (the idea and the organization) is a good thing.
posted by kozad at 10:33 AM on June 7, 2010 [22 favorites]


Portland-filter: My house is literally surrounded by lesbian moms with chickens.

I was hoping we could avoid a discussing about how great life is without cocks.
posted by GuyZero at 10:34 AM on June 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


I can think of one obvious flaw in this study, and that's lesbian moms are the ones that are far more likely to self-select for child-rearing than straight moms.

In other words, lesbian moms that want to be moms really, really wanted to be moms (and God bless 'em for that).

Just as one example, if you're not having sex with guys, there's no "whoops, I'm pregnant" moments.

And the non-childbearing lesbian moms in a couple really want to be in that status, too, seeing all of their challenges, too (e.g. if you're in one of those relationships, you're on the hook for the same level of dedication and support required of men seeking IVF treatment for their wives).

So, the study should be, "For the set of all women that are more dedicated than usual to having children, lesbian moms perform as good as, if not better than, straight moms."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:35 AM on June 7, 2010 [18 favorites]


States where gay adoption is legal.
posted by zarq at 10:35 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe the kids get better parenting because there are 2 mommies "competing" for the role? Seems like the effect could be the same in a house with 2 daddies. Whereas in a house with one mother and one father the pair (might) tend to slouch into stereotypical roles ("Dad" and "Mom") and thus not be as effective, overall? Not in all cases, obviously -- but then not all kids turn out maladjusted. I'm not asserting anything here, just trying to think about this. The most interesting data point to me is that the results hold true for kids whose lesbian mothers split up -- in this case the competition continues, but is likely consistent (rather than the bizarre competition that so often arises between divorced parents, each trying to "out-parent" the other).
posted by chavenet at 10:36 AM on June 7, 2010


Well, unlike male gay couples, lesbian couples are at least biologically capable of having their own kids. The one lesbian couple in my old neighbourhood was raising the children of one of the two moms. Not that it matters, but adoption isn't strictly necessary.
posted by GuyZero at 10:37 AM on June 7, 2010


This should come as a surprise to precisely nobody. Fifteen minutes of non-hierarchical, mutually-respectful, lesbian-feminist-style conflict resolution would be enough to make any normal child positively grovel and beg to be sent to military school.
posted by wreckingball at 10:40 AM on June 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


twisted, tortured genius types

This is the most annoying destructive myth in the art world. Functional people are more productive, period. Perfectly well adjusted people can make dark demonic art.

Also Cool Papa Bell is on the money. So, the study should be, "For the set of all women that are more dedicated than usual to having children, lesbian moms perform as good as, if not better than, straight moms."

But this is still a nice arrow in the quiver against the family values dribble.
posted by edbles at 10:40 AM on June 7, 2010


Aha, here is the photo that was originally with the CNN article:

Photo

Note the watermark indicating it's a stock photo. Somebody decided to use that for this story.
posted by Perplexity at 10:40 AM on June 7, 2010


Chickens raised by lesbians are 37% more plump (p < 0.01), produce 15% more eggs (p < 0.001), and cluck at an earlier age than their peers (p < 0.5).
posted by benzenedream at 10:40 AM on June 7, 2010


Chickens raised by lesbians are 37% more plump (p <>

Lesbians raise more desirable chicks?

posted by zarq at 10:42 AM on June 7, 2010


Note the watermark indicating it's a stock photo. Somebody decided to use that for this story.

I'm a little confused; is that offensive?
posted by Think_Long at 10:43 AM on June 7, 2010


As a parent, I want the best for my children.

So how do I become a lesbian?
posted by mazola at 10:46 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Probably a big part of this is that there are no 'oops' children in lesbian couples. When each and every child is a huge expense and your family a battle hard won, you are more likely to care for your kids better than someone who had a child thrust upon them.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 10:47 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


No it's just dumb.
posted by Mister_A at 10:47 AM on June 7, 2010


That was to Think_Long, sorry.
posted by Mister_A at 10:47 AM on June 7, 2010


Part of me is delighted, as I know so many great lesbian moms with great kids. But I do wonder how the study group would compare with a peer group limited to adoptive parents, because I agree that it seems feasible that the lesbian parents in the study may have waited longer to have kids, were more mature, and had more resources than the average heterosexual couple who has kids. Adoptive parents also seem to wait longer, be more mature, and have more resources. I am also hoping to see a long term study like this about gay male parenting.

It is most refreshing to talk about actual outcomes instead of homophobic rhetoric.
posted by bearwife at 10:48 AM on June 7, 2010


This is the most annoying destructive myth in the art world. Functional people are more productive, period. Perfectly well adjusted people can make dark demonic art.

I'm sure this is true, but I'm betting those folks are way less fascinatingly self destructive.

Spend some time reading the bios in the American Museum of Visionary Art.

The bios are as interesting as the art, sometimes.
posted by poe at 10:50 AM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I always wondered why social conservatives want to stop gay people from getting married, having children, joining the military, and leading a church -- especially when you consider that getting married, having children, joining the military, and leading a church are THE MOST SOCIALLY CONSERVATIVE THINGS THAT A PERSON CAN POSSIBLY DO.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:54 AM on June 7, 2010 [25 favorites]


Probably a big part of this is that there are no 'oops' children in lesbian couples. When each and every child is a huge expense and your family a battle hard won, you are more likely to care for your kids better than someone who had a child thrust upon them.

Wow, way to rationalize. You really think most children are accidents and continue to be perceived as such?
posted by tybeet at 10:56 AM on June 7, 2010


Chickens raised by lesbians are 37% more plump (p <>

Foster Farms plumpers take that.

posted by y2karl at 10:58 AM on June 7, 2010


That's only when a heterosexual does them, Afroblanco. When a gay person does those things, it's transgressive.
posted by clockzero at 10:59 AM on June 7, 2010


Erm, Chickens raised by lesbians are 37% more plump ( p <>

Foster Farms plumpers take that!

posted by y2karl at 11:00 AM on June 7, 2010


OK, I learned something new today, I guess.
posted by y2karl at 11:01 AM on June 7, 2010


I'm 41, my wife is 43, we have 5 degrees between us and are financially and emotionally about as stable as you can be in this day and age. Our daughter is 3. So far she's pretty awesome.

The other day she said, "Timmy has a mom and a dad. I only have two moms." Her chin was quivering. I said, "Yeah, you have two moms." I was just about to launch into a long explanation/justification when she started to cry and said, "I wish I had THREE moms!"
posted by pomegranate at 11:08 AM on June 7, 2010 [116 favorites]


The bios are as interesting as the art, sometimes.

Fair enough, if that works for you. But for me people being hamstrung by their brain chemisty/fucked up childhood just makes me sad.

Wow, way to rationalize. You really think most children are accidents and continue to be perceived as such?

All heterosexual couple babies are accidents is an extreme position. But I would imagine that the time delay between "Okay let's make some babies," for a straight couple that needs to just have unprotected sex a few times and then wait 9 months is statistically lower than a lesbian couple. The lesbian couple has to say "Okay let's make some babies." "What is best way to form babby?" Adoption or artificial? Let's assume an artificial insemination. Then the couple needs to pick donors. The couple then needs to research how all that works, deal with legal entanglements to get both partners recognized. All of this is a much steeper entrance path and presumably takes more time and attention than "bone and wait."
posted by edbles at 11:09 AM on June 7, 2010


The results of the study are pretty unsurprising but, sadly, the people who really need to learn from this study have already made up their minds. To them, this is just another piece of propaganda from liberal, atheistic scientists who hate God and America and want to destroy Christianity so they can continue to live sinful lives without guilt.
posted by Avenger at 11:15 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


The authors' discussion of the results has a few fairly plausible-sounding hypotheses about what might've caused the differences. As I understand them, their key suggestion seems to be that these parents formed themselves into support and research groups before their children's births, and were unusually committed to the ideas of "being engaged in the process of parenting" and "aspired to remain close to them". Presuming that they achieved this, the better outcomes for the children is unsurprising given that "having a satisfying relationship with one’s parents is associated with a more favorable adolescent adjustment".

I wonder how much of this is unique to lesbian couples, and how much might be seen in any family type that had to work hard and/or defy convention to have children. The circumstances of the time were basically pre-selecting for couples who _really_ wanted to have kids, and had the resources to arrange it. As lesbian couples find it progressively easier to have kids (I dearly hope that this is, and continues to be, true), I wonder if we'll see the gap closing between lesbians' kids and the mainstream population? It probably won't go all the way (I'd assume that unplanned pregnancies are pretty rare in lesbian couples), but I bet the average outcome will come most of the way back down, following the bar to entry.

Of course, the authors also suggest that the lack of a male parent may be an advantage, on the grounds that "Other studies have found that lesbian mothers use less corporal punishment and less power assertion than heterosexual fathers. Growing up in households with less power assertion and more parental involvement has been shown to be associated with healthier psychological adjustment". So maybe the gap won't close after all. It'd be interesting to know how much of a contributor that is to the effect.


Question for social scientists: The authors carefully avoided selection bias but, as far as I can see, never addressed the possibility that lesbian parents may be more likely to lie in the questionnaire than the control families (e.g. out of a stronger feeling that they have something to prove). I've seen the same omission in the few other social science papers that I've read: the assumption always seems to be that no-one lies or exaggerates on questionnaires, or at least that the control and test group lie to exactly the same extent. I find it hard to believe that social scientists aren't controlling for this -- whether deliberate lies or unconcious distortions of memory -- somehow, but I can't imagine how.

Is lying in questionnaires somehow controlled for but never mentioned? Is questionnaire design so developed as a science that the assumption of honesty is a totally safe one to make?
posted by metaBugs at 11:15 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


You really think most children are accidents

Just based on the divorce rate alone, whatever the real number is, I bet it's way, way higher than most people think...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:16 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just based on the divorce rate alone, whatever the real number is, I bet it's way, way higher than most people think...

This is a false dichotomy. People divorce for many reasons that are unrelated to whether their children are or aren't expected or wanted.
posted by zarq at 11:18 AM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


It also reminds me: the closest that anyone on FreeRepublic ever came to criticizing Dick Cheney was when he refused to disown his daughter after she had an IVF baby. They were literally demanding that he publicly cut ties with his daughter for bringing a child into the world, and many of them lost all respect for him when he didn't.
posted by Avenger at 11:19 AM on June 7, 2010


All heterosexual couple babies are accidents is an extreme position. But I would imagine that the time delay between "Okay let's make some babies," for a straight couple that needs to just have unprotected sex a few times and then wait 9 months is statistically lower than a lesbian couple. The lesbian couple has to say "Okay let's make some babies." "What is best way to form babby?" Adoption or artificial? Let's assume an artificial insemination.

And yet for every lesbian couple that has a hard road with the legal process or pre-baby decisions (because not all will), I would wager there's a heterosexual couple that does more than impulsively fucks, and finds the process of of insemination itself to be time-consuming and effortful.

I think this has very little to do with time.
posted by tybeet at 11:20 AM on June 7, 2010


This is a false dichotomy.

You're reading wayyyy too much into this.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:22 AM on June 7, 2010


Anectdotally, I've observed that lesbians' dogs are usually well-adjusted and well-behaved, too.
posted by longsleeves at 11:36 AM on June 7, 2010


Anectdotally, I've observed that lesbians' dogs are usually well-adjusted and well-behaved, too.

"Don't be gay, Sparky! Don't be gay!"
posted by tzikeh at 12:32 PM on June 7, 2010


While I have no doubt that non-traditional families can and do produce healthy adjusted children, this particular study is ridiculously flawed. From the method of mothers subjectively rating their own children to the small sample size to the bias red flags from the funding sources, this is about as bad a study as they come.
If this study had the opposite result and was paid for and performed by fundies we'd be all over it.
posted by rocket88 at 12:37 PM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Just based on the divorce rate alone, whatever the real number is, I bet it's way, way higher than most people think...

Well, there's "Accidents" as in "OMG, What the hell are we going to do now!?"
and there's "accidents" as in "Well, we weren't planning on that for another few years".

One probably has a better outcome than the other.
posted by madajb at 12:40 PM on June 7, 2010


My SO says, it's due to the fact that two mother's are more likely to share the work of child rearing more equally.

She may be trying to tell me something...
posted by Skygazer at 12:43 PM on June 7, 2010


mothers subjectively rating their own children

That's not entirely uncommon in these kinds of studies.

small sample size

It's also a longitudinal study, which makes large sample sizes very difficult and costly.
posted by tybeet at 12:46 PM on June 7, 2010


Well, unlike male gay couples, lesbian couples are at least biologically capable of having their own kids.

My sex ed teacher from 8th grade may have been wrong, but I'm pretty confident that they are going to run into the same sort of biological barriers here.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:51 PM on June 7, 2010


Probably a big part of this is that there are no 'oops' children in lesbian couples.

All the children in this study were planned. However, LGBT parents sometimes have custody as a result of a prior heterosexual relationship, and it's not entirely unheard of for people to have heterosexual sex on occasion in spite of clear preferences otherwise.

to the small sample size

Whether a sample size of 53 is "small" depends entirely on the effect size of the claims being made. It's entirely reasonable sample for some things, and might be too puny for other things.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:54 PM on June 7, 2010


Ftr: with regard to the batman-style prepared ubermom lesbians in the article, the similar studies run in Sweden have shown similarly adjusted sprogs. Those studies weren't based specifically on pre-planned babbys, but included all of the myriad of other ways lesbian and bi women can have come by their children, including having them from previous hetro relationships, or yes indeed, accidents. Or worse.
posted by Iteki at 12:58 PM on June 7, 2010


I'm no statistician, so tell me what level of improved self-reported results from a sample size of 53 is statistically significant enough to qualitatively state that lesbian raised kids are "better"?
posted by rocket88 at 1:21 PM on June 7, 2010


Excuse me, brb. Need to put a few bucks in hummus futures.
posted by Danf at 1:31 PM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


rocket88: I'm no statistician,

That's obvious. But you don't need to be a statistician. This is something that should be theoretically a high-school competency, or at least, a basic college on in my opinion.

... so tell me what level of improved self-reported results from a sample size of 53 is statistically significant enough to qualitatively state that lesbian raised kids are "better"?

P < 0.05 in most cases. The study authors report P < 0.01 for the parts of their instrument where results were significant. If there's any hocus pocus going on, it's that they don't report a lack of significance on multiple measures. (P here is the product of a mathematical function.)

Now whether that's a matter of "qualitative difference" is a matter of opinion depending on what you happen to think about the instrument used for this study.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:39 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Which, if you really want to beanplate it, the relevant tables can be found here. Increasing the sample size beyond 20 for this kind of test offers substantially diminishing returns in terms of assessing P.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:45 PM on June 7, 2010


I can't wait to hear what the Family Research Council has to say about this.
posted by hwestiii at 1:47 PM on June 7, 2010


You know, with all this negative chatter about "accidental" babies (which I kinda started) I wonder if there have been any studies about whether unplanned births produce humans any better or worse off than planned births. Maybe not. You'd think so, but we all know a hell of a lot of exceptions, those of us privy to intimate secrets...
posted by kozad at 1:47 PM on June 7, 2010


I'd just feel much better about this if the study had confirmed my initial belief that sexual preference has ZERO effect on parenting skills, or indeed on anything other than sexual preference. As soon as you claim that sexual preference makes your kids better adjusted, you've opened up the argument that there are effects beyond simply preference, and that gives ammunition to the haters. After all, if it makes you better at some things, it stands to reason that it can potentially make you worse at others.
posted by rocket88 at 2:08 PM on June 7, 2010


On this, I'd say the claim that children of lesbian parents are qualitatively better off is weak. But this study fails to find support for the claim that children of lesbian parents are clearly harmed.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:11 PM on June 7, 2010


There's also this big summational study-of-studies by the Department of Justice Canada: Children's Development of Social Competence Across Family Types, with the same conclusion. The government up there tried to bury it; one of the guys who authored the study had to use a Freedom-of-Information-Act-type legal process to get a copy of it when he needed to reference it for some other work.
posted by XMLicious at 2:27 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't shake the feeling that this boils down to "all parents are more or less equal, but in heterosexual relationships you have a subset that involve children conceived accidentally by people who don't want to be parents and children raised by people who felt being a parent was something they're 'supposed' to do, whereas the number of homosexual relationships in either category is quite low, so the real answer is that parents who don't want to be parents or who become parents for the wrong reasons sometimes don't do as good a job of parenting."

side note: some parents who conceive children by accident are still amazing parents, and I don't want to hear from them in Memail, hence this disclaimer
posted by davejay at 3:14 PM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: I'd feel much better about this if the study had confirmed my initial belief
posted by jtron at 3:59 PM on June 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Y'know, as much as I am 100% on board with the general principle -- that homos and lesbians can't be any worse at raising the next generation than us breeders -- if I* had peer reviewed this study I would not have accepted it for publication:

1. To conclude that "higher levels of social, school/academic and total competence" were observed among the analytic sample, the researchers compared them to "gender-matched normative samples of American teenagers." This is wrong. To properly observe an effect, the case group must differ from the control group only by the intervention assessed. I would bet any money that the case group (i.e., the families headed by lesbians) have higher socioeconomic and educational levels than a "normative sample" of American families. Thus, the superior functioning observed could be the result of confounding. Which brings me:

2. The statistical analysis is, to put it generously, crude. It's not the appropriate way to analyse this sort of longitudinal data as it fails to account for the correlated nature of repeated measures among the same individuals. Second, it fails to include any sort of measures which could rightly be confounding the alleged association between parenting conducted by lesbians and the control group.

In my opinion, this study is fatally flawed.


* I'm a quantitative epidemiologist so know somewhat of what I speak.
posted by docgonzo at 4:00 PM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey, honest question after skimming the study - are they comparing the children of lesbian couples against children in general or children from households with the same ethnicity and income with heterosexual parents?
posted by falameufilho at 4:09 PM on June 7, 2010


Yet another thing to blame my mom for. She should have come out much earlier.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:19 PM on June 7, 2010


In my opinion, this study is fatally flawed

Also: nothing about who moves the couch.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:19 PM on June 7, 2010


nothing about who moves the couch.

Is this a gay sex euphemism, or am I over-thinking?
posted by davejay at 4:52 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Shirley this...
posted by Hardcore Poser at 5:19 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


this correlation study was just what I needed to stroke my straight guilt back to sleep for another day. thank you, scientists!
posted by herbplarfegan at 5:37 PM on June 7, 2010


If you want to argue family values... groups of women, all part of a larger, extended family, have been raising our children for ages. The men have been off doing other things. (Not to be terribly sexist, but look through history for groups of men left to raising the children...)

Probably a big part of this is that there are no 'oops' children in lesbian couples.

This sounds like a logical cop-out, to tell you the truth. So do you really mean to cut out the "want to" parents when it has just been shown that they do better?
posted by Avelwood at 5:47 PM on June 7, 2010


My own empirical study of reproductive heterosexual marriage indicates that 2 out of 3 children are unplanned.
posted by Xoebe at 11:14 PM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I dunno ... If, instead of sexual orientation, your metric was hair-color would that mean that brunettes (by a statistical flip of the coin) are better parents?

I'm comfortable with the conclusion, but the premises make me wince a bit.
posted by RavinDave at 12:21 AM on June 8, 2010


"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."

Ah, the rigorous voice of science.


Maybe the kids get better parenting because there are 2 mommies "competing" for the role?

Um - isn't that a little essentialist? There's more than one way to be a mommy, after all. Two different mothers will have two different personalities, and most likely different parenting strengths; each of them trying to be the same person doesn't sound very likely.

Plus, y'know, the idea that two women will naturally compete with each other, even if they're in a romantic relationship and engaged on a cooperative venture, just because they're both women? Not so comfortable with that.


But I would imagine that the time delay between "Okay let's make some babies," for a straight couple that needs to just have unprotected sex a few times and then wait 9 months is statistically lower than a lesbian couple. The lesbian couple has to say "Okay let's make some babies." "What is best way to form babby?" Adoption or artificial? Let's assume an artificial insemination. Then the couple needs to pick donors. The couple then needs to research how all that works, deal with legal entanglements to get both partners recognized. All of this is a much steeper entrance path and presumably takes more time and attention than "bone and wait."

To test that, you'd probably want to look at hetero couples who had to use IVF. Or who just took a long time to conceive, because up to two years is still considered normal.
posted by Kit W at 2:15 AM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


mothers subjectively rating their own children

That's not entirely uncommon in these kinds of studies.


I've been waiting to hear more about this, because it doesn't make much sense to me. The lesbian mothers knew they were part of the study and surely knew their answers would have wide social implications. Under those conditions, it would be only natural that they would put the best possible spin on their answers; not lying, but perhaps being less open about problems with their children's behavior.

Meanwhile, it's not clear how aware the straight parents were of the nature of the study (Achenbach's normative sample of American youth?), and even if they were aware, they would have less motivation to fudge their answers.

I don't doubt that lesbians make perfectly fine parents, and I suspect the study controlled for this in some manner. But, I wish I knew more about how, beyond it being "not entirely uncommon".
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 4:52 AM on June 8, 2010


Many of the experiences that make a person less well adjusted equate with character building in the eyes of even the best straight dads.

I've got the mug that proves I am The World's Best Dad, and as such, I hereby kindly ask you to step the fuck off, punk.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 4:57 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


lesbian moms with chickens.

I guess I'll have to think of a new name for my band now.
posted by kenaldo at 10:00 AM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I guess I'll have to think of a new name for my band now.

Chick on Chick Action?
posted by zarq at 11:05 AM on June 8, 2010


Ha!
posted by kenaldo at 1:01 PM on June 8, 2010


Here's a charming editorial in the official paper of the Archdiocese of Boston arguing in defense of barring the children of same-sex married couples from Catholic schools.
posted by homunculus at 10:20 AM on June 10, 2010


Yes, because the Archdiocese of Boston is an expert on how to keep kids safe. Thanks, archdiocese!
posted by rtha at 4:08 PM on June 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


An old article from an alternative weekly -- Family Values: Gay Charlotte parents and their children speak OUT Link
posted by Jennifer S. at 3:08 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


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