Homosexual Parenting Essay
The Retrospective of the Researches on Homosexual Parenting
The impact of homosexual parenting on the children has been studied for about twenty-five years. This phenomenon started to be discussed openly not so much time ago so not all its effects have been researched. In addition, sometimes it is hard to discover the couples having same-sex family as they still suffer from great number of social prejudice or do not show their orientation even to their families, created before these people discovered their sex preferences. The point is that certain percent of all homosexuals, who admit their difference in orientation, are willing to have children and/or take significant part in their growth. Though many researchers and scientists held different investigations on the theme of homosexual parenting during the last decades, their opinions differ in this field and all the works enlighten opposite sides of the explored question. The development of the views and the appearance of new features are explored in this work.
Parental identification is one of the most important parts in gender identification of children. When children are at junior school or even younger, they are ready and eager to accept their parents’ system of values about the surrounding world. The system of beliefs concerning the couple’s behavior forms mostly in childhood when children observe the roles of their parents. They follow their parents’ examples and decide how to behave with the representatives of the same and opposite sex. It does not mean that in homosexual couples the children also grow being homosexuals. Children observe the kind of behavior relating to the man’s role and the one relating to the woman’s and try to follow it. Mainly in childhood people are open to gender transgressions if they have enough knowledge of moral and socials norms. Regarding the differences children can realize that there is also gender dysphoria in the world , when children think that it is better to be the representative of the opposite sex, but such children rarely become homosexuals as in the modern time they can have an operation and become transgender (Newman & Newman, 2012, p. 245-248).
The homosexuality itself it has been referred to as an aspect of psychopathic, paranoid or schizoid personality disorder by many psychoanalysts. Mental health professionals have the most responsibility of the state lesbians and gays have in the society. Therefore, constant researches are done to clarify all the possible identities of the phenomenon of having non-traditional orientation. Thirty years ago people having different sexual preferences hid this fact as they were believed to have some mental disorders. With the development of the society during these last decades, homosexuals attempted to get the equal rights in society in general and in parenting in particular. The widespread beliefs very often do not reveal true facts. In the situation with sexual minorities these stereotypes are the source of serious obstacles for leading normal life. People believe that gays are not real couples and that they date for a short period of time until they satisfy their unusual sexual needs. It cannot be determined as a true fact as Barbara Okun, the author of Understanding Diverse Families: What Practitioners Need to Know (1996) shares her own experience of dealing with gay couples who had long-termed relationship. She stresses the similarity of men’s behavior in gay and heterosexual couples and admits moral intimate connection between gays, not only sexual desires. One more stereotype causing problems to lesbians having children is the opinion that they do not feel as much involvement with the child as the heterosexual mothers do. This peculiar fact was proven to be unrealistic on the basis of researches which compared mothers representing different groups. The results of researches are represented below.
Concerning the similarities of the problems all parents have, these are psychological issues relating to the differences that the parenting can bring into relations, economical issues and others. Barbara Okun (1996) presented the results of researches concerning the number of homosexual parents in her book. She considered the Patterson’s research in 1992. According to it there were from six to fourteen million children raised in the families with lesbians or gays. Patterson’s opinion was that from one to five million children are parented by lesbians and from one to three million children are raised in the families with gay parents. But these data were obtained at that time, when the gay and lesbian movements only started and the their representatives began to fight for the equal rights with heterosexual parents. The baby-boom in these couples is growing to these days and increasing number of lesbians and gays want to become parents and grow children together.
Though gay and lesbian parenting has the number of differences with heterosexual parenting, they have internal differences too. One of the differences is that homosexual couples also face social prejudice as they belong to the sex minorities. Very often this factor becomes the main obstacle for successful parenting and further relationship with the grown-up children. The spheres of education, health care and employment are the main fields where people being the members of homosexual families face disapproval and open disdain (Lamb, 2014, p.200-201).
Covering all the issues of the existence of homosexual couples and, what is more, the parenting of such couples a lot of questions has always appeared. What pushes lesbians or gays to step on the ways of ordinary families and get children? It is necessary to find out how such parents conduct their roles and what organizations can provide support to such families. Social acceptance or non-acceptance also has its results but how they influence the same-sex families and the consequences are also the point for accurate research. These above mentioned issues are only some of the questions which make scientists working in different fields pay attention and investigate the given phenomenon.
The difficulty in holding researches is that many couples hide the fact of their specific gender preferences and not all of them agree to participate in any kind of investigations. The empirical research is the main ones relating to the nature of the phenomenon under discussion. Many lesbians and gays still cannot openly admit their inner state about the representatives of the same sex. Many people even face disdain and prejudice from the representatives of their own families. The main features homosexuals should obtain are patience and devotion. The reaction of the society is the main challenge they confront. On the basis of the researches conducted by Okun (1996), the representatives of sexual minorities want to be recognized as equal members of the society and do not want to be accepted as some specific human-beings. They want to attend all public places without the fear of being judged or underestimated, so the needs seem to be quiet adequate and normal, the same other people have.
In his book Parenting and Child Development in Nontraditional Families, Michael Lamb (2014) represents the researches by Hand, Osterweil, Patterson and others and provides the results of their investigation. Hand’s findings were that homosexual partners share their duties in parenting more equally than heterosexual ones. Another conclusion was that lesbian non-biological mothers feel more responsibility about their children than heterosexual biological fathers. One more significant fact discovered on the basis of Hand’s research was that lesbian biological mothers are more involved in parenting and care about their children than all other mothers including heterosexual ones.
Another study was made by Osterweil, who explored thirty lesbian couples with children. The author acknowledged the characteristics considered by Hand. Biological mothers in lesbian couples appeared to obtain the most significant and salient maternal role and have more influence in making decisions and taking part in parenting. Hence, the two researches represent the arguments about more equal sharing of the duties on household and raising children in homosexual couples than in heterosexual ones (as cited in Lamb, 2014).
The conclusions made on the basis of Patterson’s research are not too different. The results represented in the same book give higher scores to the same-sex families. The couples under investigation have got children from four to nine years old. Nevertheless the lesbian parents turned to be more satisfied with the sharing of the duties as it was stated in earlier studies and at the same time the situation with biological mothers remained the same. The investigated ones appeared to be more involved in decision making and care about their children than non-biological. The heterosexual couples got lower score as they were not satisfied as much as the opposite couples. Further researches represented by Flaks and his colleagues, Chan and his colleagues and Mitchell compared the differences between lesbian and traditional families. The researches involved couples with children of different age but the result remained the same anyway. The homosexual parents understood the duties concerning their children better and participated in children’s lives more than heterosexual couples. The significant feature discovered was the particular difference between heterosexual fathers and non-biological lesbian mothers. The latter were more eager to assume responsibility and care for children. It is very important to perform childcare tasks properly and as lesbian couples proved, they can do it better than heterosexual ones even though non-biological lesbian mothers tend to work more than their counterparts (as cited in Lamb, 2014, p.200-204)
European studies dedicated to comparing lesbians with heterosexuals are also considered in Lamb’s book. Brewaeys and Golombok with colleagues carried the research and assured the public once more about the capability of lesbian couples to have and raise children without great problems inside the family. The couples in Europe and the United States were compared with heterosexual ones and it is obvious that lesbian biological mothers care about their children even better than heterosexual single mothers. Comparing heterosexual fathers and non-biological lesbian mothers the investigations show greater consciousness and readiness to share all the responsibility by the latter (as cited in Lamb, 2014).
The researches on gay couples with or without children were also conducted at the end of the twentieth century. The book by Lamb represents the results of McPherson’s, Sbordone’s and other researches which compared gay fathers and gay non-fathers and heterosexual fathers. The results appeared to be mainly the same as with the lesbians and proved the willingness of gay fathers to share duties and tasks concerning childcare. The satisfaction with the sharing appeared to be greater as well. As a matter of fact, there was no significant difference in the attitude towards children depending on whether the gay representative was biological father or not. The couples appeared to be more involved in doing family duties and spending time together with the child than heterosexual couples. The satisfaction with the characteristics of relationships between gay fathers appeared to be greater than in traditional couples.
The researches are still being conducted and one of the reasons is the judicial concern about the psychological state of children raised by homosexual couples. The three main areas for concern are gender identity, which was already mentioned, different aspects of children’s personal development and their social development and relationships with the representatives of society on different stages of life. The researches made on the basis of these concerns discuss the item of self-identification (Lamb, 2014, p.204-205). In many cases, homosexual families and particularly children were compared with the children from single-parent families or traditional stepfamilies and very often the results showed that problems could appear in various situations and it did not depend on the existence of homosexual families directly. On the other hand, children grown up in the same-sex families confront the number of challenges which are not typical for the children grown in traditional families with the mother and the father.
One more issue that must be estimated is that the same-sex couples mostly appear after divorcing the heterosexual partner. It happens because many representatives of sex minorities understand their gender preferences when they are adults. Sometimes the reason is that they try to conceal these preferences and want to have traditional family life, but they cannot do it for a long time. As a conclusion, children have to face the truth and in most cases they get serious psychological traumas. The greater problem appears when the child starts to be parented by the single-sex parent representative. It can cause serious damage in child’s view and behavior and cause the changes which will not lead to success in life. Many children can have effects or symptoms of homophobia. It means they can be afraid they are the same as their parents though most of these children are not same-sex oriented. Children of different ages can face different problems fearing to be expelled from schools or fearing to lose friends, to be judged or bullied by the representatives of the society and particularly other children. Most grown-up children having lesbian mothers or gay fathers try to hide the fact about their family organization, but when children are of early school age they can share this fact openly. It is usual for this period that they confront the growing number of teasing, harmful remarks and as a result they are afraid of admitting the truth about parents.
The researches show that gay parents usually face greater social prejudice because people mix the notions of pedophilia and gay orientation. On the other hand, gay fathers seem to be a different part of gay community.
The view on the right of the same-sex couples to adopt children differs a lot. Some psychologists and law representatives assume that such couples should not have the right to raise children, but the others do not admit that a child growing in the same-sex family suffers from negative influence. For example, Mathew Staver in his book Same Sex Marriage (2004) develops the idea that adoption by the same-sex family must not occur as children face too high gradient of challenges. He claims that if such couples have the right to adopt children than there should be no difference between lesbian couples and gay couples, bisexual couples or transsexuals. He says “Adoption is all or nothing. There are a lot of reasons same-sex couples cannot adopt the children” (Staver, 2004, p.42).
The issue is that in a number of countries like the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Canada and the UK the adoption by the same-sex couples is permitted but in France, Germany, and Italy it is restricted by law. The states of the USA also represent different policy concerning such adoptions. Some states do not permit the adoptions, others are favorable to such phenomena and in some states the situation is not definite, as the procedure of adoption by homosexual parents differs from the ordinary one too much and there are a lot of moments law representatives are not experienced in as they are not used to working with the representatives of sexual minorities. The researches made by Goldberg and Allen were directed to discover the difficulties that homosexuals usually face while passing through the procedure of adoption. The number of obstacles appearing is greater than in the case of the adoption by the heterosexual couple and their nature is not even argumentative (Goldberg & Allen, 2013, p.44).
An Australian sociologist compared the school results of children living in homosexual families, heterosexual married couples and heterosexual cohabitating couples. It appeared that the results of the children from traditional married couples are the best and the results of the children living in homosexual families were the worst. The categories of language, mathematics, sports, sociability, learning, attitude to school and parents’ interest in the school life were the ones the children were bad at. The categories of social studies, personal autonomy of the child, and household tasks were the areas were the children from homosexual families got much higher scores though. (Staver, p.45) It shows that children face some problems being the part of the same-sex family but the degree of these problems is not discussed completely. Very often the problems appear on the basis of social attitude towards such families and therefore the self-identification of these children can be very poor and they can stay aside from other people. If the child feels surer about the status of his/her family then he or she can represent himself/herself.
As a conclusion it should be said that homosexual couples may have the right for existence and the researches reveal that they cope with their duties even better that the heterosexual couples and are more satisfied with their relationship than heterosexuals. The raising of children is a completely different issue as children can face a lot of problems and challenges which they could avoid being raised in traditional families. The researches on the given topic are still being conducted. Many aspects of raising children by homosexuals are very arguable. On the one hand lesbian or gay parents are often ready to adopt not only absolutely healthy children and children are supposed to obtain the family. The issue is whether this family is better and can provoke even worse reaction and development of the children. Many mental health professionals work in the sphere of this research as the number of people recognizing themselves as the representatives of sexual minorities is continuously growing. All the affects the same-sex family can have over the children have not been investigated yet that is why the question is very arguable and still open. The researches that were already made represent rather arguable results. On the one hand lesbian and gay couples appeared to cope with the household chores and sharing of all the responsibilities better than heterosexuals. Lesbian mothers proved to have enough feeling and comprehension of maternal responsibilities and biological lesbians even appeared to have the strongest attachment to their children. Gay fathers also assured the researchers that they are satisfied with family life and the sharing of responsibilities concerning their children. The greatest problem though remained. The consequences of raising children having same-sex parents are very arguable as such children often get some mental problems on the basis of disdain, teasing, or conflicts with their friends.
The psychology of children was also proved to be more flexible concerning the perception of gender roles and that is why the researches show that homosexual families face greater problems when their children grow and become teenagers. Small children even seem to be excited about having two mothers or two fathers. When they grow they face the main challenge in the face of society. The fact is that couples themselves manage to provide rather successful life-style, but there are a number of problems concerning the raising of children; and these problems have not been solved by any of the researchers. Psychologists themselves play a very important role stereotyping the relationships between people.
Hence, on the basis of the material researched and all the books read I would propose to concentrate on deeper research of the problems that children face. It would be very workable if the children could attend the professional dealing with mental health problems and maintain the conversations, thus giving the researcher possibilities to watch the development of the child's feelings and control the raising of the child by homosexual parents providing constant help and advice.