Single motherhood has become a fact of modern life and now, a new research has found that there is no significant difference between a donor-conceived child and one conceived the same way but with two heterosexual parents.
The University of Cambridge study suggested that the children growing up in solo mother families are generally well adjusted, with positive feelings about family life, although they do raise questions about the absence of a father in their families.
“Indeed,” said researcher Sophie Zadeh, “at the age at which children begin to understand their family circumstances, they continue to function well.”
The study was an evaluation of 51 solo mother families who were compared (both quantitatively and qualitatively) with 52 heterosexual two-parent families with at least one donor-conceived child aged 4-9 years.
The participating families were matched in terms of the age and gender of the target child, and on demographic factors including the mother’s educational level.
The study, said Zadeh, is the first to examine child adjustment and children’s perspectives in solo mother families at an age at which children are old enough to understand their family circumstances and what it means to grow up without a father – and the only study to assess children’s own reports about their social and family experiences.
Zadeh concluded, “In general, our findings seem to suggest that what matters most for children’s outcomes in solo mother families is not the absence of a father, nor donor conception, but the quality of parenting, and positive parent-child relationships.
These findings therefore echo much of what we already know about the determinants of children’s psychological adjustment in other family types.”
The study is presented in 32nd Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.