Experiences of LBGQ mothers: Identity, social support and maternal satisfaction
This dissertation attempts to provide a better understanding of lesbian, bisexual, gay and queer (LBGQ) family life by beginning to answer the question, "What is the experience of motherhood like for LBGQ women?" After first locating this query within theoretical conceptualizations of identity, the experience of LBGQ motherhood is explored in relation to identity interference, social support and maternal satisfaction.
Internet survey data from 157 lesbian, bisexual, gay and queer identified mothers was used to examine the study hypotheses. In addition to the collection of basic demographic information, survey measures included assessments of LBGQ-mother identity interference, social support, relationship satisfaction, disclosure of sexual orientation and maternal satisfaction. Multiple regressions were used to predict maternal satisfaction by using predictors such as demographic information, social support and LBGQ-mother identity interference. Univariate analysis of variance were employed to explore the relationships between various pathways to motherhood and assorted family structures with maternal satisfaction, LBGQ-mother identity interference, social support and relationship quality.
Study results supported the predictions that women who reported lower levels of LBGQ-maternal identity interference and higher levels of social support would describe themselves as more satisfied with motherhood. Further, women who experienced lower levels of LGBQ-maternal identity interference experienced greater social support and thus reported higher levels of maternal satisfaction, The results also illustrated that women who disclosed their sexuality to friends, co-workers, and family perceived themselves as having higher levels of social support, and thus greater maternal satisfaction. This study also revealed that the association between relationship quality and maternal satisfaction is mediated by social support. Exploratory analyses exposed a significant link between the youngest group of mothers and maternal satisfaction. In addition, mothers who acquired their first child in a lesbian partnership reported greater maternal satisfaction, less identity interference, greater social support and higher levels of outness than mothers who gained their first child in a heterosexual partnership. The implications for clinical, legal and socio-cultural responses to LBGQ families are discussed, and the questions raised by this dissertation are framed to generate future research.