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Retrieved from Dissertation Abstracts International. (Order No. 3132743)

In addition to sexual minority stress, same-sex parents may experience stressors that are specific to parenting, similar to the parental stress experienced by heterosexual parents (Lichtanski, 2004). Stress related to parenting can be chronic, as the stressors may be pervasive, ongoing, and require that families adapt to compensate for the effects of the stressors

Bos, H.M.W., van Balen, F., van den Boom, D., & Sandfort, G.M. (2004). Minority stress, experiences of parenthood and child adjustment in lesbian families. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 22(4), 1-14. doi: 10.1080/02646830412331298350 4

Non-legal same-sex parents who have more restrictions and fewer rights may experience parenting as more stressful than same-sex parents who have full parenting rights. Examples of this may be feeling frustrated by not being able to provide health insurance to their children or concern about not having custody if the parents' relationship ends. Non-legal parents may also experience stress over incidents such as not being acknowledged as a parent at their children's school. Thus, same-sex parents without legal rights are more inclined to experience chronic stressors specifically because of their limited parenting rights. Those stressors that are related to being a sexual minority have been found to coincide with same-sex parents' experiences of more parental stress. As of yet, it is unknown if experiences of rejection and parental stress may differ based on legal rights, as the only research comparing parental stress levels between biological and non-biological parents was conducted in a country that provides same-sex parents with parenting rights equal to those of heterosexual married couples. (Bos, van Balen, van den Boom, & Sandfort, 2004)

Bos, van Balen, and van den Boom (2004) identified another aspect of same-sex parenting, which the researchers described as parental justification. Although this study was conducted in a country that provides equal family rights for same-sex and other-sex relationships, the non-biological same-sex mothers reported feeling more need to justify their parenting ability than did fathers in heterosexual relationships. This researcher expects the need to justify parenting ability would be even greater for non-biological same-sex parents who do not have the assurances of legal parenting rights. When the researchers (Bos, van Balen, van den Boom, & Sandfort, 2004) explored the experiences of sexual minority stress for same-sex parents, they found no differences between biological and non-biological mothers on the need to defend their parenting ability, but those who reported more sexual minority stress reported greater parental justification. This held true for mothers who reported perceiving more stigma about being a sexual minority, for those who had experienced more rejection, and for those who had internalized messages of homophobia. Thus, regardless of whether mothers had given birth to their children or not, those experiencing sexual minority stress also experienced a need to defend the quality of their parenting, perhaps expecting others to think they are not good parents because of their awareness of the stigma around their sexual orientation.

Social Support and Gay Parenting

Lichtanski, K. (2004). A comparison of adoptive gay and adoptive heterosexual fathers: Differences in their perception of parenting abilities, level of parental stress, style of parenting, and available social support (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Dissertation Abstracts International. (Order No. 3132743)

One of the few studies that has explored parental stress with same-sex parents compared gay and heterosexual fathers who have adopted children. In this study, no difference was found in the level of parental stress between the two groups of fathers. However, gay fathers reported more social support than heterosexual fathers. Thus, social support may help to counter the difficulties same-sex parents face, at least when they have legal parenting rights. It is unknown if the social support received by non-legal same-sex parents would be sufficient to counter the effects of sexual minority and parental stress.(Lichtanski, 2004)

Lambert, M.L. (2002). Minority stress and coping in lesbian mothers. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Maryland, College Park.

Lambert's (2002) study indicated that lesbian mothers feel more emotional support from their families of origin than from friends who do not have children, regardless of their sexual orientation. They also reported receiving more support from heterosexual friends with children than from those without children. Surprisingly, the participants reported more satisfaction with the support they received from heterosexual parents than from gay and lesbian friends, whether or not their friends had children.

Gartrell, N., Banks, a., Hamilton, J., Reed, N., Bishop, H., & Rodas, C. (1999). The National Lesbian Family Study: 2. Interviews with mothers of toddlers. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 69, 362-269. doi: 10.1037/h0080410

Though few studies have considered the experiences of same-sex non-legal parents, the limited research indicates that these parents may receive less social support than same-sex legal parents. The National Lesbian Family Study (NLFS) in 1999 found that same-sex non-legal mothers felt their own mothers were not as close to their children as their partners' mothers were (Gartrell et al., 1999).

Gartrell, N., Banks, a., Reed, N., Hamilton, J., Rodas, C., & Deck, a. (2000). The National Lesbian Family Study: 3. Interviews with mothers of five-year-olds. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 70, 542-548. doi: 10.1037/h0087823

The NLFS study in 2000 found that a sizable minority of the biological grandparents did not recognize their daughter's partner as a parent to their grandchildren (Gartrell et al., 2000). These two studies indicate that non-legal parents perceive less support from their families and also receive less support from their partners' families. Considering this along with research indicating primary support may come from the family of origin, non-legal parents may receive little support in their role as parents, and therefore the limited social support may not reduce the impact of non-legal parenting status.

Works Cited

American Psychological Association. Resolution on sexual orientation, parents, and children. Retrieved from http://apa.org/pi/lgbc/policy/parentschildren.pdf. 2004b

Blake, P.A.. Correlates of lesbian parented families. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Adelphi University, Garden City. 2005

Bos, H.M.W., van Balen, F., van den Boom, D., & Sandfort, G.M.. Minority stress, experiences of parenthood and child adjustment in lesbian families. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 22(4), 1-14. doi: 10.1080/02646830412331298350 4. 2004

Brooks, V.R.. Minority Stress and Lesbian Women. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books. 1981

Gartrell, N., Banks, a., Hamilton, J., Reed, N., Bishop, H., & Rodas, C.. The National Lesbian Family Study: 2. Interviews with mothers of toddlers. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 69, 362-269. doi: 10.1037/h0080410. 1999

Gartrell, N., Banks, a., Reed, N., Hamilton, J., Rodas, C., & Deck, a.. The National Lesbian Family Study: 3. Interviews with mothers of five-year-olds. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 70, 542-548. doi: 10.1037/h0087823. 2000

Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Find an Issue [Fact sheet]. Retrieved from http://www.hrc.org/issues/. 2009

Lambert, M.L. Minority stress and coping in lesbian mothers. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Maryland, College Park. 2002

Lichtanski, K.. A comparison of adoptive gay and adoptive heterosexual fathers: Differences in their perception of parenting abilities, level of parental stress, style of parenting, and available social support (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Dissertation Abstracts International. (Order No. 3132743) 2004

Meezan, W., & Rauch, J.. Gay marriage, same-sex parenting, and America's children. The Future of Children, 15(2), 97-115. doi: 10.1353/foc.2005.0018 2005

Meyer, I.H.. Minority stress and mental health in gay men. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 36(1), 38-56. doi: 10.2307/2137286. 1995

Meyer, I.H.. Prejudice, social stress, mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: Conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 674-697. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.129.5.674. 2003

Riggle, E.D.B., & Rostosky, S.S.. For better or for worse: Psycholegal soft spots and advance planning for same-sex couples. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 36(1), 90-96. doi: 10.1037/0735-7028.36.1.90. 2005

Rostosky, S.S., Riggle,…[continue]

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