Adolescents from Intact 2-Mother Lesbian Families Score Higher on Self-Esteem and Lower on Conduct Problems than Adolescents from Intact Heterosexual-Parent Families

For Immediate Distribution
February 24, 2014

Laura Rodriguez,, (310) 956-2425
Henny Bos, PhD, H.M.W.Bos, +31 20 5251206
Loes van Gelderen, PhD,, +31 20 5251545
Nanette Gartrell, MD,, (415)346-2336

Study is the first to compare adolescent-parent relationships and adolescent well-being in continuously-coupled lesbian and heterosexual families.

LOS ANGELES — Adolescents with continuously-coupled lesbian mothers had higher self-esteem and fewer conduct problems (such as rule-breaking, vandalism, or getting into fights ) than adolescents with continuously-coupled heterosexual parents, according to a new study announced today by the Williams Institute. Across other indicators of psychological adjustment, (substance usage, and relationships with their parents) the study found that adolescents from intact two-mother lesbian families were comparable to those from intact mother-father families.

“By controlling for variables that might otherwise impact child outcomes, this study provides further evidence that raising children in families headed by same-sex couples is not a significant predictor of adolescent-parent relationships or of a child’s psychological adjustment,” said Principal Investigator Henny Bos, PhD., a former visiting international scholar at the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law and professor at the University of Amsterdam.

The study compared 51 adolescents who have been participating in the Dutch Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (DLLFS) with a matched group of adolescents in heterosexual-parent families who were drawn from a large school-based survey in the Netherlands. The two groups of adolescents were matched on age, gender, educational level, country of birth, and parental birth country. By including only families with continuously-coupled parents, the study controlled for factors that might adversely affect outcomes, such as parental divorce.

“Ours is the first study to compare adolescents in intact two-mother planned lesbian families with a matched group of adolescents from intact heterosexual-parent families,” said Nanette Gartrell, Williams Institute Visiting Distinguished Scholar. “This is important in exploring adolescent-parent relationships, as well as adolescent psychological adjustment and substance use, since parental divorce and re-partnering can affect all of the above.”

The DLLFS is the longest-running and largest prospective investigation of lesbian mothers and their children in the Netherlands. Initiated by Dr. Bos in 2001, the DLLFS examines the social, psychological, and emotional development of the children as well as the dynamics of planned lesbian families.

The study, “Lesbian and Heterosexual Two-Parent Families: Adolescent-Parent Relationship Quality and Adolescent Well-being,” was conducted by Loes van Gelderen, PhD (University of Amsterdam), Henny M.W. Bos, PhD (University of Amsterdam; Williams Institute Visiting International Scholar, 2012), and Nanette Gartrell, MD (Williams Institute Visiting Distinguished Scholar, University of Amsterdam;, and appears online in the current issue of the Journal of Child and Family Studies.

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