A new study by a researcher in the University of Montreal has found that gay dads make great parents.
Éric Feugé observed 46 families, including 92 gay fathers and 46 children aged between one and nine, over the course of seven years for his doctoral thesis.
Feugé told the Montreal Gazette that he wanted to study the engagement of gay fathers and see how they distribute parental work in their households.
He found that gay parents are very involved in their children’s lives and that gay dads tend to share the workload of parenting in an equitable way.
“There was a high degree of engagement in all types of parental roles,” Feugé told the Motreal Gazette.
Division of parental labour
His study found that gay dads tended to assume different roles in child-rearing, although the differences were “minor.”
“There was always one dad who did a bit more. That brought us to categorize fathers as principal and secondary caregivers,” he said.
Feugé’s study also found that gay fathers were able to have many different roles within the home as they were less constrained by conventional notions of masculinity. He said that gay dads could be playmates, caregivers, protectors, role models and morality guides.
“They were able to redefine and propose new models of cultural notions of paternity and masculinity,” he said.
“It shows it’s not a question of sex, even less so of sexual orientation,” Feugé said. “It’s a question of the roles occupied when caring for a child, and the time spent with the child. That’s what predicts the attachment of a child.”
Research into same-sex parenting
A number of studies have been conducted around same-sex parenting in recent years.
Recent research from the Netherlands found that children raised by same-sex couples achieved better test results at school.
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For the study, researchers compared academic achievements of 1,200 children raised by same sex couples to results of a million children raised by opposite sex couples.
“Our findings indicate that children particularly benefit from same-sex couples compared to opposite-sex couples if the couple is cohabiting rather than married,” researchers wrote in the paper, titled “School Outcomes of Children Raised by Same-Sex Couples: Evidence from Administrative Panel Data.”
They added: “Further, we also find that children from same-sex couples continue to outperform children from opposite-sex couples in secondary education. Our results suggest that children from same-sex couples are 6.7 percent more likely to graduate than children from opposite-sex couples.”
Gay dads face stigma
However, just last month, a survey found that two thirds of gay dads had faced stigma in raising their children.
The survey, which was conducted by researchers at the American Academy of Pediatrics – found that 63.5 percent of gay dads had experienced stigma.
Half of those who responded to the survey had avoided certain situations “for fear of stigma” in the past year.
About a quarter of the gay dads surveyed said they had faced discrimination from family members, neighbours, waiters, and even from gay friends.
“Respondents reported barriers to becoming a father and stigma associated with fatherhood in multiple social contexts, most often in religious institutions,” the abstract for the survey reads.
“Fewer barriers and less stigma were experienced by fathers living in states with more legal protections.”