How Lesbian Mothers Prepare Adolescents for Homophobic Stigmatization

[Speaker] Bos, Henny:1
[Co-author] Van Rijn-van Gelderen, Loes:1, Van De Bongardt, Daphne:1, Gartrell, Nanette:1,2
1:University of Amsterdam (Netherlands), 2:UCLA (United States of America)

In same-sex parent families, there is great variability in offspring experiences of homophobic stigmatization and its consequences on their well-being. This study assessed whether lesbian mothers prepared their adolescent offspring for homophobic stigmatization, and if so, whether preparation offered protection from the psychological consequences of stigmatization. Data were collected through a mixed-methods approach. The sample included 67 Dutch adolescents and their birth- and co-mothers. One-third of adolescents reported that their mothers had prepared them for the prospect of homophobic stigmatization. Only among unprepared adolescents was there a significant association between stigmatization and problem behavior. Mothers prepared adolescents in different ways: (1) explaining why people may react in negative ways, (2) providing helpful responses to stigmatization, and (3) emphasizing that their family is "normal". These findings are relevant for parents and professionals who are concerned about protecting adolescents in same-sex families from the negative effects of homophobic stigmatization.
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