Teenagers Of Same-Sex Parents Developing Normally, Study Finds
November 17, 2004 --
Teenagers of same-sex female parents are developing as well as the children of opposite-sex parents, and good quality family relationships are more important contributors to successful development than family type, according to a new study published in the November/December issue of the journal Child Development.
The study also indicates that teenage offspring of same-sex couples have similar dating and romantic relationship behaviors as children of opposite-sex couples.
“The best predictor of teens’ adjustment is the quality of their relationship with parents,” said Charlotte J. Patterson, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. “If parents are supportive and maintain close relationships with them, teenagers are more likely to be successful and happy at home and at school.”
Patterson and her colleagues based their research on a sample of 12- to 18-year-old adolescents from 88 families. The sample was drawn from a large national survey of American adolescents, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Forty-four of the study participants were parented by same-sex female couples and 44 were parented by opposite-sex couples. The two groups were matched by demographic characteristics.
On measures of their psychosocial adjustment and school results, such as grades and test scores, both groups had similar outcomes, and their adjustment was not affected by the type of family – whether same sex or opposite sex parents.
The researchers matched participants by age, income levels, social situations and other factors — with the exception of family type — to ensure that the two groups were comparable.
Because data for this study was drawn from those collected for a large national survey, researchers encountered important advantages. First, participating families came from various parts of the United States, instead of from a single geographical area, as in most previous research. Second, the sample included participants from different racial and socioeconomic groups, and was more diverse than samples in most previous studies. Finally, because the data were originally collected for other reasons, any possibility of bias has been minimized. These strengths add to confidence in the main findings that the quality of relationships within families are more important for adolescent development than whether parents have same-sex or opposite-sex partners.
Patterson’s co-authors are Jennifer Wainright, a doctoral student at the University of Virginia, and Stephen T. Russell, a professor of human development at the University of Arizona.
Contact: Dr. Charlotte Patterson, (434) 924-0664