Child Behavior Shaped by Parents’ Relationship, Not Sexual Orientation


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I have long said — when coaching parents 1-on-1, when speaking to groups, and in my book Parenting for Peace — that the words and parenting techniques we deploy with our children have far less shaping power on them than what’s going on in our own inner lives. While certain parenting words and actions are more effective than others, ultimately, who we ARE is of greater impact on child behavior and wellbeing than what we DO.


And now there is yet more breaking research that supports this. Scientists at U. Mass actually set out to study the impact of parents’ sexual orientation on behavior in adopted children, but what they found should be of great interest to ALL parents! In short, what they found was this: “whether parents are gay, lesbian or straight, how well they work together as a couple and support each other in parenting is linked to fewer behavior problems among their adopted children and is more important than their sexual orientation.” Further,


Parents’ dissatisfaction with division of childcare labor, not the actual division of these tasks, was significantly associated with increased child behavior problems. As the researchers had expected, supportive co-parenting interactions, such as greater pleasure and engagement between parents, were associated with positive child behavior for all three types of parents.


(I am grateful for David Durovy at the Post Institute for sending out cyber-flares about the “serendipitous” findings from this study. He shares his own struggles with this reality here.)


So what do you know?? In this momentous age of Modern Family and the overdue demise of DOMA, it turns out that the power of parents trumps the power of sex.


Now THAT, my friends, is news worth shouting about!!



hopeandmegan, under a Creative Commons license



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About Marcy Axness

I’m the author of Parenting for Peace: Raising the Next Generation of Peacemakers, and also the adoption expert on Mothering’s expert panel. I write and speak on prenatal, child and parent development and I have a private practice coaching parents-in-progress. I raised two humans, earned a doctorate, and lived to report back. On the wings of my book I’ve been visiting many wonderful groups and conferences around the world, and I’m happy to be sharing dispatches and inside glimpses with you here on! As well as good old parenting stuff. As a special gift to Mothering readers I’m offering “A Unique 7-Step Parenting Tool.”


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