Researchers: Susan Golombok

Susan Golombok

Susan Golombok is Professor of Family Research and Director of the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge. Her research examines the impact of new family forms on parenting and child development, specifically lesbian mother families, gay father families, single mothers by choice and families created by assisted reproductive technologies including in vitro fertilisation (IVF), donor insemination, egg donation and surrogacy. Her research has not only challenged commonly held assumptions about these families but also has contested widely held theories of child development by demonstrating that structural aspects of the family, such as the number, gender, sexual orientation, and genetic relatedness of parents, is less important for children’s psychological wellbeing than the quality of family relationships. In addition to academic papers she is the author of Parenting: What really counts? and co-author of Bottling it Up, Gender Development, and Growing up in a Lesbian Family.
  • In one study conducted in the United Kingdom, researchers compared 20 families headed by lesbian mothers (11 couples and 9 single mothers), 27 families headed by single heterosexual mothers, and 36 2-parent heterosexual families. The study began when the children were 6 years old, and the third follow-up took place when these offspring had reached adolescence (Golombok & Badger, 2010). By age 19, the adolescents born into lesbian-mother families showed lower levels of anxiety, depression, hostility, and problematic alcohol use and higher levels of self-esteem than adolescents in traditional father-mother families (Golombok & Badger, 2010).


Modern Families – 2015

Modern Families brings together research on parenting and child development in new family forms including lesbian mother families, gay father families, families headed by single mothers by choice and families created by assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF), egg donation, sperm donation, embryo donation and surrogacy. This research is examined in the context of the issues and concerns that have been raised regarding these families. The findings not only contest popular myths and assumptions about the social and psychological consequences for children of being raised in new family forms but also challenge well-established theories of child development that are founded upon the supremacy of the traditional family. It is argued that the quality of family relationships and the wider social environment are more influential in children’s psychological development than are the number, gender, sexual orientation, or biological relatedness of their parents or the method of their conception.

Parenting – What really counts – 2000

Parenting: What Really Counts? examines the scientific evidence on what really matters for children’s healthy psychological development.
The first section considers whether it is necessary to have two parents, a father present, parents who have a genetic link with their child, or parents who are heterosexual. Section two explores the psychological processes that underlie optimal development for children, particularly the quality of the child’s relationship with parents, other family members and the wider social world. Contrary to common assumptions, Susan Golombok concludes that family structure makes little difference to children’s day-to-day experiences of life.
As well as for students, researchers and teachers, Parenting: What really counts? will be of great interest to parents and those thinking of embarking on a non-traditional route to parenthood. It will also be welcomed by professionals working with families and those involved in the development of family policy.

About My Big Gay Family

My Big Gay Family