Children in planned lesbian families: Stigmatisation, psychological adjustment and protective factors

Submitted by Sunil Patel on Thursday, 8 May 2008 - 5:59am.

The study assessed the extent to which children between eight and 12 years old in planned lesbian families in the Netherlands experience stigmatization, as well as the influence of protective factors (relationship with parents, social acceptance by peers, contact with children from other families headed by lesbian mothers or gay fathers) on their psychological adjustment (conduct problems, emotional symptoms, hyperactivity, self-esteem). Data were collected by questionnaires filled out by the mothers and by the children themselves. The children in the sample generally reported low levels of stigmatization. However, boys more often reported that, in their view, they were excluded by peers because of their non-traditional family situation. Girls more often reported that other children gossiped about the fact that they had two lesbian mothers. Higher levels of stigmatization were associated with more hyperactivity for boys and lower self-esteem for girls. Having frequent contact with other children who have a lesbian mother or gay father protects against the negative influence of stigmatization on self-esteem. Findings support the idea that children in planned lesbian families benefit from the experience of meeting other children from similar families.
Keywords: Stigmatization; psychological adjustment; lesbian families; children

Format: Journal article
Year of publication: 2009
Author: Henny M. W. Bos, Frank van Balen