Children of Lesbian Mothers Fare Quite Well

Researchers Nanette Gartrell and Henry Bos published a study in the journal Pediatrics which has gotten a lot of attention recently. Their study is the longest longitudinal study of children raised by lesbian parents. The study followed the children for 25 years, during which they and their mothers provided information about their development and psychological functioning. The subjects of the study were found to fare very well – as well as or better than their peers!

Check out a summary of this research published in Time Magazine:,8599,1994480,00.html

There are a number of factors which were likely to have contributed to the study’s findings. Researchers knew that these children were highly desired by their parents, and the pregnancies were obviously planned. These mothers were cautioned that their children may be affected adversely by being raised in a non traditional family, therefore, these mothers may have been more apt to protecting their children from prejudice and investing themselves in being good parents. These mothers may also have been more comfortable discussing issues of sexual orientation and discrimination with their children.

Many children experience some teasing as a part of childhood, and the participants in this study were no exception. However, their mothers may have been invaluable in modeling how to cope with being treated as ‘different,’ thus allowing the children to be more resilient.

The researchers speculate that if children of gay male parents were studied the results would be similar. It is likely not to be long before researchers study the dynamics and parenting of gay male families. Also, this study implicated that children of lesbian mothers who were separated seemed not to display the types of problems that children of heterosexual parents face when they divorce. This will be important terrain for future researchers to cover.

The most important finding from Gartrell & Bos’ study is confirmation that children simply need loving parents to thrive. Children benefit from having involved, attuned parents who desire them and strive to care for them throughout their childhood and teenage years.  This article is likely to inspire many parents, regardless of their sexual orientation. How empowering to know that you already embody the most essential ingredient for your child’s growth and development – love.

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