Same-sex families face the same challenges when it comes to raising children

Special to The TribuneJuly 9, 2013 

DETROIT FREE PRESS

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling has put the spotlight on same-sex families. Many question whether children of such households fare as well as kids from unions between one man and one woman.

Research indicates that they’re doing just fine.

The Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families in progress at Melbourne University (ACHESS) is gathering data on 500 children from across the country younger than 17. The preliminary findings show that youngsters from same-sex parents scored higher than the national average for overall health and family cohesion. There was no statistical difference between them and children from heterosexual parents in such areas as emotional behavior, self-esteem and time spent with parents.

The study also reported that other factors, such as parental relationship, family income, parental education and socioeconomic status had more influence on children’s success than the gender orientations of their folks.

An extensive review of research conducted by Judith Stacey of New York University showed that teens from both same-sex and opposite-sex households performed equally well in school and engaged in similar amounts of delinquent activities.

Stacey noted that kids from same-sex families get teased about the same amount as their peers. But when they are teased, “the target is the nontraditional household rather than some other aspect of their life or identity.”

In fact, parental relationship matters more than parental gender in determining children’s ultimate success. Charlotte Patterson and Jennifer Wainright of the University of Virginia found that adolescents who had close bonds with their parents, regardless of the adults’ gender, did best in school, were less likely to use drugs, and felt liked by their peers

Children from same-sex households may even have an advantage. According to Dr. Ellen Perrin, professor of pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine, “children of lesbian couples are less aggressive, more nurturing to their peers, more tolerant to diversity and more likely to play with boys’ and girls’ toys.”

The question isn’t whether same-gender couples can be good parents. The answer is unequivocal that they are. Let’s put our energies toward promoting the environments that help all kids thrive, regardless of the chromosomes of the adults who raise them.

WHAT KIDS REALLY NEED FROM THEIR FOLKS

Love. Love is the feeling of absolute adoration that a parent feels for a child. It may be present at birth or develop over time. Love is the foundation of a child’s self-esteem, instilling the message, “I am inherently good.”

Stability. Stability is the day-to-day consistency and routine that a child depends on. It diminishes stress. It also aids in the development of self-control.

Acceptance. Accepting parents are at peace with each age, stage, skill and ability their child exhibits. It doesn’t mean they don’t discipline and direct behaviors during those times. Instead, they say, “I take you as you are, and I’m OK with that.” Lack of acceptance implies that a child is bad and can only be loved through a new behavior.

Respect. Respect means having regard for a child’s being. Parents demonstrate respect when they choose considerate words and refrain from name-calling, putdowns, yelling and hitting. Boys and girls who are treated respectfully develop healthy selfesteem and are less likely to become victims of abuse.

Time. Time is the sharing of activities or thoughts in close proximity of each other. It’s the most important indication of a healthy, strong relationship. Parents can spend time listening to their kids’ concerns, working on projects, doing chores or driving in the car. Time together strengthens family bonds, improves communication and creates lasting memories.

Boundaries. Boundaries are the limits placed on a child’s world. They consist of an ongoing series of instructions about how we want kids to behave. Boundaries are most effective when they are clear, respectful and consistent.

Pleasant environment. Children deserve a peaceful home in which adults are kind and cordial to each other. Unchecked rancor creates high levels of stress and is emotionally destabilizing to all subjected to it.

Coping strategies. Coping strategies are the skills needed to negotiate everyday life. They include managing anger, resolving conflicts, minimizing stress and controlling impulses.

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