Same-Sex Parenting Impact on Children’s Behavior

The increasing number of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) couples has led to a controversial debate over their parenthood. While some states in the United States and other countries in the world permit same sex parenthood, others do not have laws that permit such systems of parenting. The debate concerning the issue of same sex parenthood revolves around the behavior of children raised by LGBT parents. Opponents of the issue allude that children raised by LGBT parents are vulnerable to depression and imbalanced care. On the other hand, proponents argue that same sex parents have the capability to raise children who lead normal and successful lives. The purpose of the study is to examine the behavior of children raised by same sex parents.

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Statement of the problem

The issue of parenting is fundamental and requires lots of attention. It is critical to elucidate that parenting is one of the foundations of humanity. As such, parents need to be individuals who inculcate attributes that positively affect the lives of children. In the absence of proper parenthood, children grow in a manner that hampers their success. Imperatively, the behavior of a child is closely related to the manner in which parents raise them. Rokis (2014) elucidates that children need a well-balanced system of parenthood, which instills values and virtues that advance the quality of their lives. Conversely, the issue of LGBT parenthood has raised concerns from proponents and opponents. The debate revolves around the issue of parenting and whether the children raised by LGBT families acquire similar care and attention like those raised by normal families. In addition, the debate has also led to the deprivation of rights that LGBT families should enjoy, which include parenting.

Practically, the problem associated with the behavior of children raised by LGBT families concern limited research. The limited amount of available research implies that the findings demonstrate a scale of bias. It is vital to explain that the issues advanced by opponents and proponents of LGBT parenthood are important and need due diligence from scholars. A scrutiny of the issues facilitates a successful examination of the behavior that children raised by LGBT families demonstrate. Moreover, it is important to understand whether the assertions presented by the various scholars are authentic and applicable. According to Haney-Caron and Heilbrun (2014), arguments concerning same sex parenthood are crucial and need extensive research, which yields conclusive results. By engaging in extensive research, the findings will not only be authentic but will also reflect the actual state in the field. As such, the imminent problem, which relates to whether children raised by same sex parents demonstrate positive behavior, receives the requisite redress.

Aim of the Research

To assess the impact that same sex parents have on the behavior of their children.

Research Questions

  1. Do same sex parents affect the behavior of their children positively?
  2. Do same sex parents affect the behavior of their children negatively?
  3. Should more states and countries institute laws that permit same sex parenting?

Literature Review


Over time, the issue of same sex couples and the rising demand that they become parents and raise children has triggered controversy between opponents and proponents. The rising number of LGBT families led to their desire to have children and enjoy the privileges associated with parenthood. According to various studies undertaken by those who oppose the issue of same sex parenting, children raised by same sex parents may be deficient of balanced care, gender roles, and maybe subjects of violence. Consequently, those who support the issuing state that the children raised by same sex parents lead normal lives, and in some cases, acquire talents that may not have been possible if normal families raised them. To understand whether same sex parenting has a positive or negative impact on child behavior, the literature review uses three research questions that guide its examination of the issue. The questions help in assessing the positive and negative impact that same sex parenting has on child behavior. Furthermore, the questions address whether more countries should institute laws that permit same sex parenting.

Theoretical Framework

To examine the behavior of children raised by same sex parents effectively, there is a need to understand the role played by behavioral theories. By studying behavioral theories, the level of understanding in relation to parenthood and the effect that parents have on child behavior augments. Theories such as classical conditioning and operant conditioning are some of the theories, which are very instrumental in the examination of the impact that same sex parents have on child behavior.

Classical Conditioning Theory

Classical Conditioning Theory is a theory advanced by Ivan Pavlov and focuses on behavior and the effect of conditioning. According to Ivan, the behavior of certain animals that comprised dogs changed when certain activities happened repeatedly. In his observation, Ivan realized that by pairing the sound of the bell with meat powder, the dog, which was the subject of his study, salivated. According to Lineros and Hinojosa (2012), after pairing meat powder with the sound, the dog developed a conditioned response towards the sound and started salivating upon hearing it. The dog salivated because it realized that meat powder accompanied the sound of the bell. As such, the sound of the bell conditioned the dog’s behavior to an extent that salivation occurred each time the dog heard the sound. The conclusion of Ivan was on the fact that behavior is subject to conditioning which has a significant impact on the eventuality of one’s character.

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The theory further improved when philosophers such as John Watson changed the subjects from animals to human beings. In his study, Watson decided to try the theory using a young boy, Albert, who was 11 years old. The philosopher paired a frightening sound with white rats. Watson ensured that the sound occurred each time the rats appeared. Overtime, the young boy developed fear towards the white rats, which he associated with the frightening sound. In the studies by Watson and Pavlov, it is clear that behavior is conditioned by certain repeated stimuli that create a conditioned response. According to Afolabi (2013), salivation occasioned by the bell is conditioned stimuli. On the other hand, the fear of white rats was conditioned stimuli. Therefore, it is evident that human behavior can change positively or negatively depending on the scale and nature of conditioning, which people receive as they grow.

Operant Conditioning Theory

Operant Conditioning Theory is a behavioral theory introduced and coined by Burrhus Skinner. The theory emphasizes on the effect that reinforcements and punishments have on the behavior of an individual. According to Skinner, human behavior changes according to the outcome initiated by their activities (Omomia & Omomia, 2014; Remington, Osmanski, & Wang, 2012). For instance, if a person smokes and is reprimanded, then the person is unlikely to continue smoking. In this context, reprimand acts as a punisher and discourages the person from continued smoking. Consequently, if an individual undertakes an activity and receives appreciation, the likelihood of repeating the activity is high. The appreciation received in the aftermath of engaging in the activity is a reinforcement, which encourages the person to adopt the activity.

From the research, Skinner used animals such as mice to undertake the activities and observed the results. Skinner placed the animals in a box with incentives that served as reinforcements or punishments. Overtime the animals refrained from activities that initiated punishments and focused on activities that acted as reinforcements. Schlinger (2008) asserts that Operant Conditioning Theory states that reinforcements may be rewards, appreciation, and positive regard accorded to a person after undertaking an activity deemed as good by the society or caregivers. Conversely, punishers comprise reprimands and disciplinary actions, which focus on discouraging a person from executing certain activities that are not right before the caregivers and the society. Overtime, individuals adopt behaviors that initiate reinforcements and desist from those that lead to punishments.

Relevance of Classical and Operant Conditioning Theories

Classical and operating conditioning theories are relevant in the examination of same sex parenthood and child behavior. In the context of Classical Conditioning Theory, the study assesses whether same sex parents and parents of the opposite sex execute the components of the theory in guiding their children. It is essential to outline the fact that if the caregivers accord all the provisions outlined by the theory, which espouse conditioning the child behavior positively, then the findings will be useful. The relevance of using the findings from those parents who apply the provisions of the theory takes effect because effective application of the provisions yields positive results. The positive outcomes are apparent in several studies that discuss parenting among normal families. Pornpitakpan (2012) explains that Classical Conditioning Theory is one of the practical theories that help improve the quality of care and child behavior in families. As such, by using the theory, the study not only amplifies its findings, but also makes them valid and reliable.

Consequently, Operant Conditioning Theory is another theory used by families to improve the quality of parenthood. In the perspective of Connor and Scott (2007), Operant Conditioning Theory is very essential in augmenting the quality of care that parents accord to their children. Practically, by applying the principles, children adopt the best behaviors and in the end become successful citizens. To advance the quality of the findings, the study will focus on the presence of the principles among the sample studied. Presence of these principles and their application in families implies that a defect may not be a result of poor parenting, but instead, may be due to an outcome initiated by the type of families that raise the children. As a result, a scrutiny on the presence of the theory is core in creating a distinction between poor parenting and identifying the impact that same sex parents have on child behavior.

Parenthood among Same Sex Families

While the issue of parenthood among same sex families continues to trigger debates, the rate of LGBT families that are continually raising children is on the rise. Apparently, several LGBT families become parents through a number of ways. Hopkins, Sorensen, and Taylor (2013) state that some of the ways through which LGBT families become parents include insemination, surrogacy, and adoption. In addition, some LGBT families may retain their children born from former relationships. Insemination is one of the methods that lesbians use and it entails an agreement where a man accepts to donate his sperm and one of the lesbian couple carries and delivers the baby.

Consequently, in surrogacy gay families approach a woman and request her to carry and deliver the baby for them after being fertilized by one of the gay couples (Goldberg & Allen, 2013). Thereafter, the surrogate mother hands the baby over to the gay family, who take up the role of parenting. Adoption is a method that works for all the LGBT families and entails adoption of children and an eventual acquisition of their parentage rights. Consequently, some LGBT families may have had children during their former relationships and retain them even after their change of identity.

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Effect of Same Sex Parents on Child Behavior

Positive Effect

Motivation and open mindedness

Motivation is one of the positive effects that are evident from studies done concerning the positive impact of same sex parents on child behavior. Past studies done by Marks (2012) and Abbott (2012), outline that children raised by same sex families have high levels of motivation unlike those brought up by parents of the opposite sex. Motivation that is apparent from the behavior of children raised by same sex parents emanates from the motivation that their parents demonstrate. It is vital to explain that LGBT families plan and decide to raise children unlike in some normal families where conception may take place without the consent of all the parties. As such, LGBT parents demonstrate the willingness to raise the children and because of the well-designed parenting plans, motivation becomes practical. The high level of motivation demonstrated by the parents bringing up the children is eventually passed down to them though classical and operant conditioning.

Another positive effect that same sex parents instill on their children to influence their behavior positively is open mindedness. Children raised by same sex parents are likely to be open-minded as they grow up, a factor that makes them interactive and creative all through their lives. A study done by Shields et al. (2012), claim that children raised by gay families are likely to be open-minded unlike those who come from normal families. The open-minded nature evident in the character of children raised by same sex families transpires because the children receive unique care. Moreover, the commitment, which manifests through care accorded by same sex parents, augments the scale of value inculcation on the children, a factor that leads to open mindedness and development of a good character.

Negative Effects

Depression and imbalanced care

Depression and imbalanced care are some of the negative behavioral effects associated with same sex parenting. In coining the aspect of depression among children raised by LGBT families, Power et al. (2012) allude that the unique nature of the families at times plunges the children into a state of depression. Furthermore, since majority of the children raised by LGBT families do not have a biological connection with their caregivers, they are often depressed because some of them may not know their biological parents. Connor and Scott (2007) state that depriving children from knowing their biological parents is one the factors, which initiates depression among children raised by LGBT families. Notably, after an understanding of the family setup that they are growing in, the children tend to isolate themselves and in some cases stay away from others in the society. It is imperative to outline the fact that other children in the society may ridicule their colleagues raised by same sex parents and trigger depression among the children.

Imbalanced care is evident in the manner in which same sex parents acquire the children. Children raised by same sex parents receive imbalanced care from their guardians. In the words of Marks (2012), children, who grow up in LGBT families, can acquire biased characteristics. While some may be too feminine, others can be more masculine. The bias in behavior affects their growth and interaction with others in the society. For optimum growth and development, children need care and affection from a mother and a father, a position that is deficient in LGBT families (Farr, Forssell, & Patterson, 2010; Herbst & Tekin, 2010). The claim affirms the imbalanced nature of care that children raised by same sex parents receive. Practically, imbalance in care is an effect associated with same sex parenting which influences the behavior of the child negatively.


Research Design

The study will employ descriptive case study as research design in studying the influence of same sex parents on the behavior of children. Baxter and Jack (2008) explain that case study offers an in-depth study of individuals, groups, or populations with unique attributes that identify them and set them apart as cases. Descriptive case study is an appropriate design because the study will focus on children with same sex parents and describe their behavior with a view of identifying unique behavioral changes when compared to children under normal family setup. Creswell (2009) as well as Bordens and Abbott (2014) argue that descriptive case studies provide comprehensive information about individuals, groups, or populations. Essentially, descriptive case study explicates and illuminates cases of interest.

Target Population

The target population in this study is children of same sex parents. Since proponents and opponents of same sex parents argue that same sex parents have positive and negative influences on children, the study of behavior changes among children in same sex families would illuminate and expound on the issue of parenting. Moreover, the study would elucidate the influence of families on growth and development of children. Hence, the study will target children in same sex families who are in various schools from the first grade through to the ninth grade for they are at the critical stages of growth and development.

Sampling Method

Since children with same sex parents are few in the society, the study will use convenience method of sampling in selecting study participants. Convenience method of sampling is advantageous because it enhances representation of population, increases external validity of the findings, and saves time and resources of sampling (Creswell, 2009). The study will aim to select 50 children from families with same sex parents and examine them as cases of the study. Moreover, the study will classify children into different groups according to the sexual orientation of their parents, that is, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents.

Research Instruments

The study will use questionnaires as research instruments in collecting data regarding the influence of same sex parents on the behavior of children. Fundamentally, the study will use structured and unstructured questionnaires to ensure that it collects comprehensive and relevant information about the behavior of children with same sex parents. According to Baxter and Jack (2008), questionnaires are appropriate research instruments in case study for they collect both qualitative and quantitative data. Therefore, the study will design questionnaires and determine their reliability and validity before using them in collecting data of interest related to the behavior of children with same sex parents.

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Data Collection

The study will collect data regarding the behavior of children under families with same sex parents. Prior to the study, the researcher will seek ethical clearance from the relevant authorities and schools where the children learn. Moreover, the researcher will seek informed consent from parents and teachers before undertaking the study. Since teachers understand the behavior of their pupils, the study will use them in filling questionnaires. The researcher will request teachers to undertake independent and impartial assessment of behaviors of the sampled children by filling questionnaires.

Data Analysis

The study will employ qualitative and quantitative techniques in the analysis of the collected data. In the analysis of the qualitative data, the study will use thematic analysis to determine patterns and trends, which indicate behaviors of children with same sex parents. Furthermore, the study will use descriptive statistics in the analysis of the quantitative data collected in the questionnaires.


The issue of same sex parenting is on the rise. The rising nature of same sex parenting takes place because of the increasing number of LGBT families. While the issue has received support from some scholars, it has equally received criticism from those who oppose it. Proponents explain that the issue has advantages such as motivation and open-mindedness, whereas opponents state that same sex parenting can lead to depression and imbalanced care. Theories such as classical and operating conditioning are very important in explicating the role played by parents in dictating child behavior. It is important to allude that same sex parenting is an issue that continues to raise controversy and debate.


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