University of Southern California New York University*
How Does the Gender of Parents Matter?
Claims that children need both a mother and father presume that women and men parent differently in ways crucial to development but generally rely on studies that conﬂate gender with other family structure variables. We analyze ﬁndings from studies with designs that mitigate these problems by comparing 2-parent families with same or different sex coparents and single-mother with single-father families. Strengths typically associated with married mother-father families appear to the same extent in families with 2 mothers and potentially in those with 2 fathers. Average differences favor women over men, but parenting skills are not dichotomous or exclusive. The gender of parents correlates in novel ways with parentchild relationships but has minor signiﬁcance for children’s psychological adjustment and social success.
Fathers and mothers differ, just as males and females differ. —David Popenoe We know the statistics—that children who grow up without a father are ﬁve times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more
likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. —Barack Obama
Department of Sociology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-2539 (firstname.lastname@example.org). *Department of Sociology, New York University, 295 Lafayette St., 4th ﬂoor, New York, NY 10012. Key Words: bisexual, development or outcomes, family structure, fathering, gay, gender, lesbian, parenting and parenthood, transgender.
In 1999 American Psychologist unleashed a public furor when it published an article that challenged a popular discourse on the dangers of fatherlessness. ‘‘Deconstructing the Essential Father’’ (Silverstein & Auerbach, 1999) contended that successful parenting
References: SUPPORTING INFORMATION Additional Supporting Information may be found in the online version of this article: Appendix A: Main Features of 81 Studies Considered in Biblarz and Stacey (2010) Tables 1 and 2