With the recent publicity surrounding the legalisation of same-sex marriage in both the USA and Ireland, many social commentators are predicting changes to the Australian Marriage Act in the not-too-distant future.
One of the key points that is often raised when discussing the issue, both by supporters and those who are against the changes, is whether having same-sex parents will have a detrimental impact on any children of the marriage.
More than 100 research studies have been conducted comparing the outcomes for children of same-sex parents and heterosexual parents. Interestingly, all of the studies have shown that there was no significant impact on the children of same-sex partners and that their levels of self-esteem, anxiety and depression were equivalent to the children of opposite-sex parents.
In 2010, a United States review by sociologists from two leading universities looked at 33 different studies published since 1990 and concluded that “at this point, no research supports the widely held conviction that the gender of parents matters for child well-being”.
This outcome was echoed in a 2007 review conducted by the Australian Psychological Society which confirmed that the children’s wellbeing was affected by the quality of parenting and family relationships, rather than the number of parents, or parental gender. In other words, healthy family relationships, supportive parenting and minimising conflict is the key to raising happy, healthy children, whether you are single parent, a heterosexual couple or a same-sex couple.