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Non-Traditional Families and Child Behaviorism Affects Research Paper

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Updated: Nov 27th, 2019


The orientation of modern families has shifted away from the ‘ideal’ context of a nuclear family paving way for the emergence of more controversial family setups such as single parenthood as well as gay and lesbian families (Arrigo, 2005).

Various states in America and other regions of the world have legalized homosexual marital unions, which have enabled them to enjoy relatively similar legal rights as those enjoyed by heterosexual couples. These jurisdictions have further prohibited discrimination of homosexual parents during the process of adoption, which has been prevalent in the past (Arrigo, 2005).

Various concerns have been raised regarding the suitability of the non-traditional families’ environments for the development of children. While some scholars suggest that children in these non-conventional families are likely to experience difficulties in developing gender orientations, identity, and gender roles, others suggest that children raised in homosexual families are likely to become homosexuals themselves.

Further, children in homosexual and single-parent families are often subjected to stigma and can be traumatized by their peers from heterosexual family settings rendering them more vulnerable to psychological and interpersonal difficulties as well as behavioral problems (Arrigo, 2005).

Society attitude towards non traditional family parenting

Through a research study, Hereck and other scholars sought to identify the causes of society’s negative attitudes towards gays and lesbians as well as their views towards the impact of their parenting (Crawford, 1999).

The study revealed that men have a tendency to be more homo negative than women and the society’s negative attitude towards gay and lesbian parenting could be partly attributed to external forces prevalent in society such as religious orientations of a given society, traditions upheld in that community as well as the ideologies and attitudes towards gender and the family.

Crawford (1999) concludes that the most likely people to hold negative attitudes towards gay and lesbian parenting are theistic highly traditional people who conceptualize homosexuality as a lifestyle choice and people who are surrounded y a society that holds similar views towards homosexuality.

In the contemporary society, one out of every three children is born to unmarried parents rendering the child to a higher risk of negative pressures being elicited by society.

Negative impacts are likely to result from societal attitudes as well as low income often associated with single-parent families. In their empirical paper ‘The Impact Of Marital Quality, Divorce And Remarriage On The Relationship Between Parents And Their Teachers’, Oruch, Thomton and Cancio analyzed the parent-child relationship putting into consideration such variables as marital quality as well as the marital status of the parent. According to them, the parent-child relationship differed depending on the gender of the child.

In cases where the mother was divorced and failed to remarry, the relationship between the mother and the daughter remained intact while the relationship between her and the son was negatively affected by the family restructuring. The quality of the father-child relationship was also negatively affected by divorce in both the daughter and son, but the impact was found to be stronger in daughter (Elizabeth, 2000).

The role of the father is considered vital in the development of the child and consequently his absence may negatively impact on the child in single-mother families. It is often assumed that the primary role of the father in the family is economic and in his absence the family is likely to suffer from economic hardships, which put more pressure on the single mother as well as her children (Elizabeth, 2000).

However, with the changing roles of fathers in as well as the social norms about fatherhood in the modern society; this trend is continually changing towards family set up where the mother can independently provide for her children without male assistance.

Impact of non traditional family parenting on children

Homosexual and single parents’ families have to constantly struggle with prejudicial notions and such as homophobia and gross stereotyping in the modern society which labels them as ‘unfit parents’.

However, there lacks adequate literature to prove significant negative impacts on children brought up in non-traditional family settings relative to the impacts on children brought up in heterosexual two-parent environment. The existing research suggests that these parents are as capable as heterosexual parents to provide an environment condusive for positive development of their children (Arrigo, 2005).

A study conducted in 2001 in the United States revealed that out of a random sample, 8% of lesbian and gay men were parents or legal guardians of minor children with 49% of the participants revealing the intention of being parents in the future (Arrigo, 2010).

It is a general societal expectation for heterosexual parents to become parents and they often do this in absence of a strategic plan, on the other hand, minority groups such as homosexuals and single parents have to endure complex procedures in an attempt to become parents and due to external pressures and negative expectations from the society, such parents are likely to strive to become better parents than parents in heterosexual relationships.

Tasker and Golombok’s longitudinal study in 1995 where they studied a sample of 25 young adults from lesbian families and 21 young adults from heterosexual single parent’s families revealed that those children brought up in lesbian functioned normally psychologically and in terms of sexual orientations which served to nullify the misconception that homosexual families results into homosexual children.

Further, no significant differences were found to exist between children raised in homosexual family setting from children raised in heterosexual single-parent homes and the children raised in these two family settings displayed relatively similar levels of anxiety as assessed by trait anxiety inventory as well as depression levels as assessed y Beck Depression inventory. The study was clear evidence that non-traditional families do not have substantial detrimental effects on child’s development (Arrigo, 2005).

Further, a study conducted by C. Patterson (1994) on 37 four to nine-year-olds found two differences existing between children from homosexual families and heterosexual parents whereby the children in homosexual families reported more symptoms of stress than children in heterosexual families but enjoyed a stronger sense of well being.

Through this study, C Paterson concluded that development of children in these families was within the normal limits and misconception that the children were likely to develop homosexual orientations was completely unfounded (Arrigo, 2005).


The dynamic nature of the modern world has led to restructuring of major institutions in the society. The family set up has shifted towards non-traditional form and this has raised a lot of controversy in the society. However, as a result of modernization, the significance of family structural variables such as sexual orientations of parents and the number of parents in the family set up is gradually diminishing, rendering the changes in family set up inevitable.

Therefore, people should aim at accommodating and accepting individuals from homosexual and single-parent families rather than criticizing and excluding them. This will serve to promote their self acceptance, boost their self-esteem as well as the overall effect of promoting the cohesion in the modern world.

Reference List

Arrigo, A. B., & Shipley, L. S. (2005). Introduction to forensic psychology; issues and controversies in crime and justice. London: Elsevier Academic press.

Crawford, I., McLeod, A., Zamboni, D. B., & Jordan, B. M. (1999). Psychologists’ attitudes towards gay and lesbian parenting, American psychology association. Web.

Elizabeth, H. P. (2000). Marriage and family review, ProQuest LLC. Web.

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