Ideals, negotiations and gender roles in gay and lesbian co-parenting arrangements
This paper engages with the complex gender and parental dynamics experienced in the context of co-parenting arrangements. These arrangements, based on mutual agreement, involve people who commit to raising a child together, possibly with their respective partners. These family forms are usually pursued to avoid what is perceived as the uncertainty surrounding alternative assisted reproductive options such as donor insemination or surrogacy, and to allow the child to have two biological and sexually differentiated parental figures. This paper explores some of the opportunities and challenges presented by co-parenting by focusing on the experiences and accounts of lesbian women and gay men engaged in such family arrangements. Drawing on work by social theorists of the family, the main characteristics of these arrangements are first examined to show that while co-parenting might first seem marginal, it appears particularly well adapted to contemporary social constraints and parenting expectations. The second part of the paper shows how in practice, dominant gender norms remain largely unquestioned and can lead to tensions and unbalanced parental power relationships between biological parents, which in turn, can present a significant challenge to these family arrangements. The analysis therefore suggests that while co-parenting offers the potential for parents to reconcile contradictory social expectations and provide them with opportunities to create family practices that suit them, these are restrained by existing gender norms, in particular by the prevailing role of the biological mother.
Health Policy Research Unit The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
Citation : Herbrand, C. (2018) Ideals, negotiations and gender roles in gay and lesbian co-parenting arrangements. Anthropology and Medicine, 25 (3), pp. 311-328
Research Group : Centre for Reproduction Research
Peer Reviewed : Yes