The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

It's De Novo It's Delightful: Relationship Satisfaction Correlates for Gay Dads

Thursday, January 16, 2014: 4:00 PM
HBG Convention Center, Room 002A River Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Dwight D. Panozzo, PhD, Adjunct Lecturer, New York University, New York, NY
Description of Problem: The frequency of de novo Gay Male Parented Families (dnGMPF), not from heterosexual divorce, is increasing but little is known about them, making service provision unreliable.

Study Objectives: This quantitative study considered relationship satisfaction (RS) against several potential correlates to determine strength of associations.

Hypotheses: Couples with greater RS compared to couples with lower RS will be more likely to:

Employ constructive communication (CC)

Have a higher degree of shared parenting (SP)

Have a higher degree of parenting task arrangement satisfaction (PTAS)

Have a higher degree of life satisfaction (LS)

Methods: Purposive and snowball sampling were utilized to obtain a group of 76 dnGMPF. Internet-based survey data were collected over a 6-month period. Subjects tended to be Caucasian (90%), working full-time (76%), and highly educated (56% with a post graduate degree). The mean age was 46 years and mean relationship length was 15 years. All hypotheses were subjected to Pearson’s Correlation tests across three divisions: results for all fathers, for fathers with greater child care responsibility (GCCR), and for fathers with lesser child care responsibility (LCCR). CC was measured on a modified, with permission, CC Subscale (Heavey, Larson, and Zumbotel, 1996). Determination of GCCR/LCCR was measured on a modified, with permission, form of the Child-Related Task Subscale (CRTS) of Cowan and Cowan’s (1988) Who Does What measure and the SP index was also extracted from CRTS scores. RS and LS were measured on single item 0 (very low) – 10 (very high) measures.

Results: The hypothesis that greater RS would be positively correlated with CC was supported across all three groupings at a high level (r = .68 - .70, p < .001). The hypothesis that having greater RS would be positively correlated with a higher degree of SP was only supported among the GCCR fathers and only mildly (r = .23, p = .03). The hypothesis that greater RS would be positively correlated with a higher degree of PTAS was supported across nine different methods of grouping. The LCCR fathers, considered on their perception of fairness of PTAS, were less correlated with RS (r values all mild as opposed to moderate and p values a degree of magnitude lower), indicating that they were less wed to fairness of task arrangement as a key to RS and that even that finding, while statistically significant, is much more likely to be a chance occurrence). As expected, LS and RS were positively correlated across the same divisions as utilized in the PTAS hypothesis (r = .36 - .49, p ≤ .004).

Conclusions and Implications: There are indications from the data that the GCCR parent in some dnGMPF is more at risk for challenges in his RS. The associations are in keeping with those expected in traditional heterosexual families—fathers being less concerned about sharing parenting equally and some mothers suffering because of this. Thus, caution is recommended in work with dnGMPF around RS issues with an expectation of RS being more a factor for GCCR fathers than for LCCR fathers.