The teen years are never the easiest for any family to navigate. But could they be even more challenging for children and parents in households headed by gay parents? That is the question researchers explored in first time parents magazine first study ever to track children raised by lesbian parents, from birth to adolescence. Although previous studies have indicated that children with same-sex parents show no significant differences compared with children in heterosexual homes when it comes to social development and adjustment, many of those investigations involved children who were born to women in heterosexual marriages, who later divorced and came out as lesbians.
Data on such families are sparse, but they are important for establishing whether a child’s environment in a home with same-sex parents would be any more or less nurturing than one with a heterosexual couple. We simply expected to find no difference in psychological adjustment between adolescents reared in lesbian families and the normative sample of age-matched controls,” says Gartrell. I was surprised to find that on some measures we found higher levels of competency and lower levels of behavioral problems. In addition, children in same-sex-parent families whose mothers ended up separating did as well as children in lesbian families in which the moms stayed together. The data that Gartrell and Bos analyzed came from the U. But Gartrell and Bos could find no differences on psychological adjustment tests between the children and those in a group of matched controls. At age 10, children reporting discrimination did exhibit more signs of psychological stress than their peers, but by age 17, the feelings had dissipated.
It’s not clear exactly why children of lesbian mothers tend to do better than those in heterosexual families on certain measures. But after studying gay and lesbian families for 24 years, Gartrell has some theories. They are very involved in their children’s lives,” she says of the lesbian parents. And that is a great recipe for healthy outcomes for children. Although active involvement isn’t unique to lesbian households, Gartrell notes that same-sex mothers tend to make that kind of parenting more of a priority. Because their children are more likely to experience discrimination and stigmatization as a result of their family circumstances, these mothers can be more likely to broach complicated topics, such as sexuality and diversity and tolerance, with their children early on.
Because the research is ongoing, Gartrell hopes to test some of these theories with additional studies. See TIME’s Pictures of the Week. See the Cartoons of the Week. Not So Fast Meet the Twixters. They’re not kids anymore, but they’re not adults either.
Ann States for TIMEAfter taking more than six years to graduate from the University of Georgia with a degree in cognitive science, Matt Swann, 27, worked as a waiter in Atlanta. Michele, Ellen, Nathan, Corinne, Marcus and Jennie are friends. All of them live in Chicago. They go out three nights a week, sometimes more. Ellen is on her 17th, counting internships, since 1996. None of them are married, none have children. All of them are from 24 to 28 years old.
Thirty years ago, people like Michele, Ellen, Nathan, Corinne, Marcus and Jennie didn’t exist, statistically speaking. Back then, the median age for an American woman to get married was 21. She had her first child at 22. It’s 25 for the wedding and 25 for baby.
It appears to take young people longer to graduate from college, settle into careers and buy their first homes. Who are these permanent adolescents, these twentysomething Peter Pans? Ten years ago, we might have called them Generation X, or slackers, but those labels don’t quite fit anymore. This isn’t just a trend, a temporary fad or a generational hiccup.
This is a much larger phenomenon, of a different kind and a different order. Social scientists are starting to realize that a permanent shift has taken place in the way we live our lives. In the past, people moved from childhood to adolescence and from adolescence to adulthood, but today there is a new, intermediate phase along the way. Where did the twixters come from? And what’s taking them so long to get where they’re going? Some of the sociologists, psychologists and demographers who study this new life stage see it as a good thing.
The twixters aren’t lazy, the argument goes, they’re reaping the fruit of decades of American affluence and social liberation. This new period is a chance for young people to savor the pleasures of irresponsibility, search their souls and choose their life paths. 20s “kidults” and “boomerang kids,” none of which have quite stuck. Apter became interested in the phenomenon in 1994, when she noticed her students struggling and flailing more than usual after college.