Co-parenting arrangements in lesbian and gay families: when the ‘mum and dad’ ideal generates innovative family forms

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Cathy Herbrand De Montfort University, Leicester, UK

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This article engages with current debates on the potential of contemporary family formations, particularly those created by lesbian women and gay men, to challenge hegemonic family models. Drawing on in-depth interviews with lesbian and gay individuals living in Belgium, it explores parental ideals and family practices among people actively choosing ‘co-parenting arrangements’ that include more than two adults raising a child. It examines how this route to parenthood was justified by co-parents’ desire for a biological child, to experience pregnancy, to know the child’s background and most importantly, to provide the child with a mother and a father. These motivations were not only aimed at normalising their family situation, but also reflected deeply anchored family values. The article demonstrates how innovative and reflexive family forms can arise from conventionally based assumptions regarding gender roles and kinship, and calls for a more nuanced consideration of individual values and intentions in parenting that potentially destabilise the hegemonic family model.

Cathy Herbrand De Montfort University, Leicester, UK

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Families, Relationships and Societies
An international journal of research and debate