CHFD 331 AMU week 8 lesson Families American Military University
Parenting, including how we parent and the experience of parenting is shaped by culture. Cultural factors shape experiences in a number of different ways. In this lesson, you will learn about the experiences of gay and lesbian parents, families who become parents through adoption, and how to encourage resilience in children and families.
Topics to be covered include:
- Experiences of lesbian and gay parents, and their children
- Experiences of military, step, foster and homeless families
- Strategies for raising resilient children in challenging times
Parents become parents in a variety of different ways, and families can take a number of different forms. In some cases, the ways families are formed, and the family structure can pose some additional challenge including personal difficulties, legal struggles or social challenges. In many cases, these challenges are alleviated by an increasingly accepting culture that is more likely to welcome gay and lesbian parents, parents who use assisted reproductive technology (ART) and parents who opt for adoption rather than biological parenthood.
All parents have a responsibility to raise children who can function well in society, and who have the resilience they need to move forward in education, and later in the workplace. This resilience, or ability to bounce back from struggles, is one of the keys to success, and all parents, regardless of family structure, should work to help develop it in their children.
Gay and Lesbian Parents
Gay and lesbian parents express similar reasons to have children and create a family as heterosexual parents. The reasons include personal fulfillment, a desire to have a child, recreating happy family times from
childhood, wanting to make children’s lives better, and perceiving raising children as a part of life and the next step in their relationship. Their journey to parenthood may involve adoption, fostering, use of assisted
reproductive technology (ART), surrogates, or natural childbirth (Brooks, 2013).
Gay and lesbian parents may be single parents, but they are more likely to be living with a partner. They may experience the challenges of other parents like the stress of raising children, life difficulties, divorce, shared
custody, or the challenges of single parenting. Depending upon the state they live in, they may also experience prejudice in terms of a lack of legal custodial rights as a parent, both for birth, as well as adoptive parents. Examples of these prejudices may include difficulty adopting as a couple, challenges getting a nonbirth parent added to a child’s birth certificate, or other legal issues.
Same-sex marriage became legal across the United States on June 26, 2015 with the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. This reduced the stress for some same-sex parents by providing an additional avenue for familial security. In addition, this ruling is likely, over time, to improve the situation regarding legalities for same-sex parents.
Young adult children of gay and lesbian parents report that the legal rights and benefits of same-sex marriage would have given their family psychological and material benefits that heterosexual married parents and their families automatically assume. Some of these denied benefits may include health care coverage, visitation rights for a nonlegal parent in the hospital, acknowledgment of the partnership of the parents, and
legitimizing the relationship and family.
In one study, a teen mentioned that she could not drive her nonbiological mother’s car because that parent was not the legally recognized parent. When only one parent has a legal tie to the children, this causes stress to the parents over concerns about discrimination and losing rights for access to the children (Brook, 2013). Following the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2015, families now have the option to marry legally and gain the rights and responsibilities associated with marriage in our culture.
Role of Men
In studies with lesbian partners in the last trimester of pregnancy, all of the participants believed that men would play a role in their child’s life, however, not a traditional role. Lesbian parents valued the interaction of male relatives and friends with their child, and this reflected a desire to provide their child with the best possible experiences (Brooks, 2013). Close male friends could fill that role, as could uncles and grandfathers. There is no shortage of options for male role models in female-headed families.
Adjustment to Parenthood
After the birth of a child, lesbian, gay, and heterosexual parents experience an adjustment period while the new parents get used to their new roles, with sleep deprivation, less couple time, and balancing work and
family responsibilities. Communication and beginning cooperative help to work through these issues help gay couples establish their parenting role. The adjustment to parenthood is a common and shared experience,
regardless of the parents’ sexual identity. When gay and lesbian parents are preparing for adoption, they experience similar levels of anticipation,
anxiety, and tension about the adoption process as heterosexual parents.
Lesbian parents may also experience grief and depression about their inability to conceive, if assisted reproductive technologies (ART) have failed.
Both gay and heterosexual parents seek family and friend support when facing infertility or considering adoption. Gay and lesbian parents are less likely to receive family support for adoption unless they have been in a long-term relationship. When family is unavailable or unwilling to provide support, gay and lesbian parents tend to rely on friend support to replace family support.
Other issues for gay and lesbian parents may be the choice of a last name. Some parents choose a hyphenated name or the name of the legal parent; today, married couples make these choices in the same way a heterosexual couple would. Lesbian and gay parents also need to discuss what the child will call each parent and to acknowledge their roles (e.g., Mama, Mom, Daddy, Dad, or Papa). Parents are concerned that their children will be teased and bullied because of the parents’ partnership. They may try to live in areas where their family will be accepted, and where their children can see and know couples and families with similar dynamics. Despite changing social acceptance for same-sex marriage and children within this type of relationship, discrimination is still an occurrence. Sometimes parents may be restricted from school activities or trips or only one parent may be allowed to be involved (Brooks, 2013).