Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Stepparenting in Gay and Lesbian Families

Important among the wide variety of stepfamilies are the families formed by the same sex partners with children from a previous marriage or a previous relationship. Gay and lesbian stepfamilies bring to their system both the usual stepfamily issues and the additional challenges faced by homosexual individuals, partners, and parents in a heterosexual, homophobic society. These sources of stress often interact resulting in problems with communication leading to difficulties with roles, identities, and co-parenting alliances.

For example, Adrienne, a high school teacher, is concerned about the reports coming home from the elementary school about her partner's daughter, Stacey. Stacey's mother, Elaine, defends Stacey and thinks Adrienne has too high expectations. As they discuss their concerns, both know it would be helpful if they talked jointly with Stacey's teacher, so that they could both ask questions and hear what he has to say. However, Adrienne has not come out to her employer or colleagues about her sexual orientation.

She is concerned about a case in a neighboring school district in which a colleague lost his job when a parent reported that he was gay. She also feels vulnerable because she is new to this system and has not yet gained tenure. If they present themselves to Stacey's teacher as a couple, Adrienne's job may be at risk. Elaine is also concerned because Stacey's teacher seems to be very conservative and traditional in the material he presents to the children. She worries about his prejudices making it difficult for him to treat Stacey fairly.

Read more: National Stepfamily Resource Center

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