Gay Parenting and Therapy: A Perfect Match
With the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling to legalize gay marriage and 2016 ruling to permit same-sex adoption throughout the United States came a progressive step toward the acceptance of gay parenting, right?? The number of same-sex couples who are raising children in the U.S. is steadily increasing while the current political climate regarding the subject is, well let’s just say………divided.
Same-sex couples that have made the decision to create a family together should regularly have open and honest conversations about their hopes and fears. Lack of communication at this time could lead to unrealistic expectations and/or feelings of isolation within the romantic relationship. Some of the “sensitive topics” could include:
Prejudice and Discrimination
One of the major issues that gay parents and their children may have to deal with is negative public opinion. Although society has been becoming increasingly supportive of the LGBTQ+ community, prejudice and discrimination continues to exist for this population. Both parents and children should have a strong support system that provides encouragement to help combat possible feelings of inferiority.
Parent Gender Roles
Gender roles and expectations are socially constructed concepts that have existed for centuries within heterosexual families. With gay and lesbian couples, these lines are often blurred as they typically share child-rearing responsibilities, housework, and financial obligations. This could possibly lead to conflict among gay parents because they are both often stretching themselves too thin.
Jealousy and Detachment
All relationships change when the couple decides to start a family but jealousy and detachment can come much easier if one partner has no biological ties to the child. They may miss the love and attention that they received from their partner before the new addition came along as well. New parents are typically exhausted and are not able to make as much time for each other. This may cause some distance in the intimate relationship.
Many gay and lesbian parents seek out couples and/or family therapy to help alleviate some of these concerns and promote healthier communication.
An approach that has been effective when working with same-sex parents is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). EFT promotes valuing authenticity and empowering clients. This approach focuses on emotions and attachment issues rather than cognitive aspects of relationships.
Another successful approach is Gay Affirmation Therapy, which is a culturally sensitive, strengths-based model that focuses on the social development of LGBTQ+ people and works toward client self-acceptance.
A third approach used when working with gay parents and their children is the Satir Family Therapy Model. This theoretical approach focuses on love and acceptance within the family unit. There are many hands-on interventions that can be used to help understand each other’s perspectives and create a stronger bond.
There are also many support groups for gay parents and the children of gay parents. These groups help to alleviate feelings of alienation and promote unity and acceptance.
For more information, please contact Nancy at The Mental Gym!