Whether you are a gay parent or are the friend or relative of a child who is growing up in a same-sex family, perhaps you have wondered if a parent’s sexual orientation may affect their child. According to the 2010 Census, one quarter of same-sex couples are currently raising children.
Commonly voiced fears that same-sex parents may be less maternal or may be overly preoccupied with their romantic partners and are thus unfit parents, are completely unfounded, according to the American Psychological Association. In fact, the official policy statement from the APA concludes that same-sex parents are “as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children.”
Like Father, Like Son?
Another common misconception about children of same-sex parents is that they are more likely to be gay themselves However, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry states that there is absolutely no correlation between growing up in a same-sex family and becoming gay. Nor is there an increased likelihood of gender identity confusion.
Social stress can be a source of personal stress for those growing up in same-sex families. The Association for Marriage and Family Therapy points out that if a parent is suffering from discrimination in housing or employment, then the lost income or the need to move affects her child. Rejection from extended family members or friends hurts a child’s self-esteem. In addition, kids at school may tease or bully the child of same-sex parents.
Well-prepared same-sex parents can reduce their child’s stress by being prepared. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends helping your child make a plan to handle any teasing she may encounter. Help her find support from other children in her same situation by getting together with other same-sex families. Seek out books and movies that feature same-sex parents. And keep the lines of communication open so that she will come to you when she needs help. In some cases, you may even decide to move to a community that is more welcoming of diversity.