Same-Sex and Different-Sex Parent Households and Child Health Outcomes: Findings from the National Survey of Children's Health

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2016 Apr;37(3):179-87. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000288.


Objective: Using the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children's Health data set, we compared spouse/partner relationships and parent-child relationships (family relationships), parenting stress, and children's general health, emotional difficulties, coping behavior, and learning behavior (child outcomes) in households of same-sex (female) versus different-sex continuously coupled parents with biological offspring. We assessed whether associations among family relationships, parenting stress, and child outcomes were different in the 2 household types.

Methods: Parental and child characteristics were matched for 95 female same-sex parent and 95 different-sex parent households with children 6 to 17 years old. One parent per household was interviewed by telephone. Multivariate analyses of variance and multiple linear regressions were conducted.

Results: No differences were observed between household types on family relationships or any child outcomes. Same-sex parent households scored higher on parenting stress (95% confidence interval = 2.03-2.30) than different-sex parent households (95% confidence interval = 1.76-2.03), p = .006. No significant interactions between household type and family relationships or household type and parenting stress were found for any child outcomes.

Conclusion: Children with female same-sex parents and different-sex parents demonstrated no differences in outcomes, despite female same-sex parents reporting more parenting stress. Future studies may reveal the sources of this parenting stress.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Family Relations / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Heterosexuality / statistics & numerical data*
  • Homosexuality / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Spouses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology