Same-Sex Parents Spend Significantly More Time With Their Children, New Study Finds

Same-sex parents spend more time engaged with their children than do heterosexual couples, according to a major new University of Texas study.

The study of American families by the Population Research Center at UT found the most profound difference in families headed by two mothers, with the parents spending, on average, 40 percent more time with their children.

The Independent adds:

The extra time comes largely because both mothers typically offer as much child-focused activity as mothers in heterosexual partnerships. Fathers with female partners spent only about half as much time with their children.

Women spend around 100 minutes a day engaged in child-focused activities, compared with an average of 50 minutes per day among men who were married to, or cohabiting with, women. But fathers in same-sex relationships spend roughly the same time as the mothers, doubling the time typically provided by heterosexual dads.

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“Our findings support the argument that parental investment in children is at least as great – and possibly greater – in same-sex couples as for different-sex couples,” study author Kate Prickett says.

“Our study suggests that … children with two-parents-of-the-same-sex families received more focused time from their parents – 3.5 hours a day, compared with 2.5 hours by children with different-sex parents,” Dr. Prickett notes.

The study was based on U.S. Census Bureau data from more than 40,000 parents.

Dr Prickett says that while the research was unable to point to a definite explanation of the difference, the existing social research gives an idea. She wrote: “First, it’s possible that selection plays a large part. That is, the ways that same-sex families come about, such as partnering with someone who already has a child, going through insemination or surrogacy, or … adoption, suggest a strong desire to be a parent. Second, parenting remains a gendered process. Fathers coupled with women still tend to be the main breadwinners, and their partners … take on more domestic responsibility.”

“Same-sex parents tend to spend more time planning to have children – it doesn’t happen ‘by accident’, after all,” said Jane Czyzselska, editor of the lesbian and bisexual magazine Diva. She added: “I think the fear of discrimination at school from heterosexual parents and teachers might make some [same-sex] parents ‘go the extra mile’.”

“For all adoptive parents, spending time to develop an attachment with a child is key,” said Tor Docherty, chief executive of New Family Social, an organisation supporting LGBT adoptive and foster families. He added: “Developing confidence and self-esteem are skills LGBT people can thrive at, making them well-placed to help a child who … needs to make sense of their place in the world.”