Lesbians `are better parents'

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The Independent Online
LESBIAN COUPLES are better at sharing the household chores than traditional parents, leaving both partners more time to spend with the children, says new research.

A comparison of heterosexual and lesbian parents by Gill Dunne, a Cambridge University researcher, found conventional parents had much to learn from two-mother families.

In lesbian families, both the mother and the co-parent tended to regard parenthood as a combination of mothering and breadwinning.

Whereas ideologies of motherhood and fatherhood polarised responsibilities for children among heterosexual couples, single-sex households were able to negotiate more balanced lifestyles.

"We have a situation where, in many families, the father is designated the breadwinner and the mother takes on responsibility for looking after the household," said Dr Dunne.

"We found lesbian couplessplit their time at work so effectively they bring in half an income each. This allows them to devote more time to the children than the conventional model. This is something that parents can learn a lot from.

"There is nothing to say that one parent has to be a breadwinner. It ends up with a father or mother spending so much time at work that they never see their children."

Most of the 43 couples studied had young children, paid employment and were educated to degree level. The research was funded by a pounds 150,000 grant from the Economic and Social Research Council.

Dr Dunne, a widow now based at the London School of Economics, said lesbians made good parents. "Their children are enormously wanted, very loved and born into an environment where both parents have been brought up to provide a stable household."

But the research angeredtraditionalists. Valerie Riches, director of Family and Youth Concern, said: "This is part of a radical feminist agenda. A lesbian couple can never provide as good an environment as a heterosexual couple because they cannot provide the input and perspective of a father."