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Five-Year Study in Australia Finds Parents in Same-Sex Relationships Are Among Happiest Families

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A new five-year study of family life satisfaction in Australia has concluded same-sex parents are some of the happiest and most supported family set-ups in the country.

Dr Bronwyn Harman, a researcher from Edith Cowan University, Perth, studied hundreds of parents, aiming to discover how resilience, social support and self-esteem contribute to a family’s overall happiness levels.

Despite a positive shift in attitudes to equal marriage and LGBTI parenting in Australia, the study found same-sex parents were less concerned about public perceptions after battling stigma and discrimination in the past.

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As a result, same-sex parents were found to be the most resilient of family set ups, which also included straight couples, older first-time parents, single parents, step-parents, parents of children with a disability, parents living in rural areas, parents of large families and teenage parents.

Talking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Dr Harman said

They have to go to a lot of effort to get these children, so these children are very, very much desired. Often when same-sex parents do have a child they feel like they’ve hit the jackpot because they didn’t think it was going to be possible because of their sexuality.”

Big families, she found, are the happiest, with parents of four or more children coming out on top for their overall satisfaction levels.

Despite dealing with comments including ‘do they all have the same father’, and ‘are they all yours’, the larger families benefitted from increased levels of support, with the older children taking on some of the responsibility for the younger children.

Single fathers were found to be the least satisfied with their lot, due to negative societal perceptions.

The study revealed they believed themselves to be the ‘lesser parent’, with many being mistakenly blamed for the break up of the two-parent family unit, and others struggling to take time off work to look after their children.

Dr Harman said government services need to account for the fact that not all families are the same.

We need to remember that different groups of parents have different needs to contribute to their life satisfaction. It would be much better if we were able to separate the needs of different families and tailor services towards those individual cohorts.”

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