Families went through many transformations over the centuries. In the last decades, in the United States and in other countries in the world, same sex partners gained the opportunity to legally constitute a family, by marrying each other and raising children. An ample body of research highlights that children raised by same sex parents fare just as well as children raised by heterosexual parents, despite the discrimination they may experience. In other words, parents’ sexual orientation in no way hinders children’s healthy emotional wellbeing. This website created by Cornell University offers a thorough review on the studies on the topic.
Here are some considerations related to my experience working as a clinician with same sex parents and their children.
- Children of same sex parents are brought to therapy for the same reasons children of heterosexual parents are brought to therapy: because of problems with behaviors, strong emotions, difficult experiences, etc. There is no unique issue that I found children of same sex parents struggle with because they are raised by same sex parents.
- Same sex parents have the same difficulties with their children as heterosexual parents. At times they may feel overwhelmed by their children’s issues and they may not know how to address them; they may not be on the same page with their partner about the way they should raise their children; they may feel exhausted and need some time to self-care, and so on. There is nothing inherently different that I notice when I work with same sex parents. As a clinician, I feel I am dealing with parents and their struggles, regardless of their sexual orientation.
- Children of same-sex parents behave just like children of heterosexual parents. When they are in the therapy room, children raised by same sex parents play with toys just like any little girl or boy would do. The fact that both parents are female does not make a boy more likely to have a feminine aspect or to choose toys more traditionally associated with girls. In the same way, a little girl raised by two dads will not look more masculine or play any different from any other little girl her age.
- If same sex parents are actively involved in their children’s school life, this helps their children not feel different in their school environment. At the same time, it may help heterosexual parents in the school appreciate how similar parents’ journey is, regardless of sexual orientation.
- For some these considerations may seem obvious, but as a clinician I believe it is important to share my experience and hopefully contribute to fight prejudice towards same sex parents and their children.