Two moms: Are two-mom families good enough?

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The number of two-mother families is steadily increasing around the world. Lesbian and bisexual mothers are also slowly becoming a more vocal part of many societies. All around the world, these mothers are stepping out of the closet and into the spotlight in order to provide their families with the opportunity to be respected and treated with dignity. People’s understanding about the benefits of having a single lesbian or bisexual mother or two moms has evolved over time. This understanding has been aided by evidence that shows that families involving two moms do just as well as their heterosexual counterparts. Pink Families shares some of the research that shows that two-mom families are indeed good enough.

What do we know about families with two moms?

Research in the 70s

The research into whether or not lesbians make good-enough moms dates back to the 1970s. This research largely involved families where the children were originally born into straight-couple households. But with time, these straight relationships either broke down or dissolved for whatever reason. Then later, one mom started a relationship with another woman. Her children became part of their new family, which led to the creation of a family with two moms.

These early studies failed to find that these children were any less well off with two moms as compared to children who had a mom and dad.

Ongoing research into families with two mothers

After these initial studies, the research then started to focus on how same-sex families did over time. These studies are referred to as longitudinal studies.

The longitudinal research also showed that children with two moms were not negatively impacted upon psychologically.

Gender orientation and sexual orientation

Studies have also shown that children with two moms are not any different in terms of their masculinity or sexuality. For example, findings have shown that children of lesbians are no more likely to turn out to be lesbian, gay or bisexual than those with heterosexual parents.

Reproductive technologies

More recently, the research has moved into investigating the consequences of lesbians having access to assisted reproductive technology. These studies have started to examine how children from two-mom families fare when they are born through the use of artificial insemination, for example.

Despite this change in the focus of the research, the evidence still shows that children with two moms are psychologically no worse off than children with heterosexual parents.

Parenting style

Recently, research has begun to investigate whether there are any differences in the parenting styles of two-mom parents, two-dad parents and different-sex parents. This research has begun to highlight some differences in parenting styles.

This includes the finding that female same-sex parents may have more of an egalitarian approach to dividing tasks amongst themselves, as compared to different-sex couples. Heterosexual couples may specialize more in their approach to parenting. This means, for example, that in straight families, the mother may do more of the childcare tasks as compared to the father, who may spend more time earning money to support the family.

The studies that have examined parenting style don’t reveal any negative outcomes in relation to this different style of parenting. It simply shows that two-mom families are the same – just as good – but also different.

Limitations

Unfortunately, far less research has involved MTF transgender moms who parent with another female or a male. Intersex individuals are also less represented in studies. It is possible that some of studies that involved “lesbians” may have involved MTF individuals, intersex individuals and bisexual females but that the researchers didn’t know it or didn’t recognize this at the time.

Another limitation of the work so far is that the studies that have been completed have been relatively small in size. This means that the people involved in the study are not necessarily representative of society.

Nevertheless, this growing body of research is very encouraging. It provides a strong platform for female same-sex parents to defend their rights and to continue to have families that involve two moms.

Special mention

As with any field of research, many researchers have worked to advance research into families with two mothers.

Professor Susan Golombok, from the University of Cambridge’s Centre For Family Research, has delivered some outstanding research that has helped improve the rights of many lesbian and bisexual mothers, and mothers to be. In fact, this post is based on one of her published articles in the British Medical Journal.

Pink Families thanks and congratulates Professor Golombok, and also all of the researchers that have contributed to our knowledge about families with two moms.

References

Far RH. Patterson CJ. Coparenting Among Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Couples: Associations With Adopted Children’s Outcomes Child Development 2013. DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12046.

Goldberg AE. Lesbian and Gay Parents and Their Children: Research on the Family Life Cycle. 2010. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Golombok S. Adoption by Lesbian Couples. BMJ 2002. 324(7351):1407–1408.

In this video Zach Wahls says that his two-mom family is just as valid as any other American family.

Have you had a similar experience? Want to share your story? Please get in contact with us if you do, as we’d love to hear your stories of positive two-mom families.

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