Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Lesbians-Psychology, Mothers and daughters, Parents of gays-Attitudes, Parental rejection


This study explored the ways in which lesbian adult women, who have been rejected by their mothers because of their sexuality and maintain relationships with them, understand and manage those relationships as well as their motivation for maintaining the relationships. Since limited research has focused on adult lesbian women who have maintained a relationship with a mother who rejects their sexuality, a qualitative, exploratory study was chosen as an appropriate research design. This qualitative study used a flexible interview format comprised of semistructured, open-ended questions presented to 13 self-identified adult lesbian women who had been out to their mothers for at least two years and had maintained a relationship with them after they had rejected their sexuality. Participants were asked about the nature of their relationships with their mothers prior to disclosure of their sexuality, immediately following disclosure and at the time of the interview, about what impact their mothers' rejection had on them, why they chose to maintain the relationship, and how they manage the tension in the relationship about their mothers' rejection of their sexuality. The findings yielded diverse impacts on participants of rejection by their mothers, including difficulty in romantic relationships, questioning of their sexuality, and mental health issues. Participants also listed a variety of motivations for maintaining relationships with their mothers post-rejection, with many expressing that they value their connections to their families as a whole and that there are other aspects of their relationships with their mothers outside of their sexuality and mothers' rejection. There was widespread consistency in the use of limited and avoidant communication with mothers as a way of managing the tension in the relationship about the participant's sexuality. Suggestions for further research were described that may assist in the understanding of lesbian women's relationships with mothers who reject their sexuality.




iv, 112 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 92-104)