Gay dads study: Happier, working less, getting less sleep

Tue. June 15, 2010 12:00 AM by News Staff

San Francisco - A new study of gay dads finds that having kids is a good thing.

The Rockway Institute research focused on stable two-dad couples who had babies through surrogacy. The fathers' median age was 41 and most of the children were toddlers.

As is typical with any parent, most of the dads reported they were getting less sleep and spending less romantic time with their partners.

"Our findings reinforce the growing research evidence that the sexual orientation of the parents makes little difference in parenting," said Dr. Robert-Jay Green. "At this early stage of child development, the infant's or toddler's needs drive the family interactions and structure the couples' relationships with friends and relatives. This is as it should be."

53 percent of the gay dads said they had missed opportunities at work and had changed career goals after having children.

Most of the gay couples were financially able to scale back work expectations (their average salary was $270,000 per year), but this part of the study did lead researchers to an interesting conclusion.

"Many of these gay fathers negotiated their career prospects downward and focused on their parenting responsibilities as being primary, at least for the time being while their children were so young," the study found. "This is in sharp contrast to heterosexual fathers, who often augment their work hours and career commitments after having children."

However, the dads who were working said they were getting along better with their coworkers, because they were able to share parenting experiences.

The gay fathers also reported that overall, their relationships with extended family members improved. That's partly because the arrival of a baby cemented the dads as "couples."

95 percent of the dads said that having a baby made them feel good about themselves, and virtually all of the dads reported an increase in self-esteem.

The study is published in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of GLBT Family Studies.