Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Gay and Lesbian Adults' Relationship with Parents in Germany

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Gay and Lesbian Adults' Relationship with Parents in Germany

Article excerpt

Next to significant expansions of legal rights and recognitions of homosexuals, the beginning of the 21st century brought a rapid expansion of social science research on gay and lesbian family issues (see Biblarz, Carroll, & Burke, 2014, and Biblarz & Savci, 2010, for recent reviews). In addition to general demographic accounts of same-sex partnerships in the United States and elsewhere (e.g., Andersson, Noack, Seierstad, & Weedon-Fekjær, 2006; Carpenter & Gates, 2008; Chamie & Mirkin, 2011), a number of more specific topics, such as parenthood, the division of household labor, or relationship stability in same-sex couples, have been investigated empirically (e.g., Berkowitz & Marsiglio, 2007; Goldberg & Perry-Jenkins, 2007; Kurdek, 2007; Rosenfeld, 2014). Although this research has benefited from a growing availability of nationally representative data on the gay and lesbian population, most studies are still based on nonrepresentative samples and have qualitative research designs.

This is also the case in the literature investigating intergenerational relations of adult gay and lesbian children with their parents. Although homosexual children's experience of rejection and weak ties in families of origin is a long-investigated topic (e.g., Weston, 1991), many of the more recent studies have focused on the question of how parents' sexual orientation matters for their children (see Manning, Fettro, & Lamidi, 2014, and Stacey & Biblarz, 2001, for reviews), whereas a comprehensive account of intergenerational family relationships for a population-based sample of adult gay and lesbian children is-to the best of our knowledge-still lacking (but see Reczek, 2014, for a recent qualitative study).

Using information derived from the German Family Panel (pairfam; see http://www., our study aimed to help fill this gap. We drew on the solidarity- conflict model developed by Bengtson and colleagues (e.g., Bengtson, Giarrusso, Mabry, & Silverstein, 2002; Giarrusso, Silverstein, Gans, & Bengtson, 2005), which considers intergenerational family relations a multidimensional construct. Five core dimensions of parent-child relationships proposed in the solidarity-conflict model are accounted for in our empirical analysis, namely, (a) affectual, (b) associational, and (c) structural solidarity as well as (d) conflict and (e) ambivalence. Distinguishing between heterosexual and homosexual children (on the basis of information about whether they have or are looking for a same-sex or different-sex partner, respectively), with this study we thus add to the literature on intergenerational relationships accounting for the growing diversity and complexity of families (see Kalmijn, 2014, and Seltzer & Bianchi, 2013, for recent reviews).

Background and Previous Research

The German Context

Germany is a country characterized by a pattern of intergenerational relationships in between the extremes of the (Western) European continuum of family ties, with typically weaker ones in the Nordic countries and stronger ones in the Mediterranean countries (e.g., Hank, 2007; Steinbach, 2008). Similarly, the German population expresses attitudes toward homosexuality that are less positive than, for example, in the Netherlands, Sweden, or Denmark but more positive than in Ireland or southern and eastern Europe (e.g., Gerhards, 2010; Slenders, Sieben, & Verbakel, 2014). Steffens and Wagner (2004) found that almost half of the respondents in a nationally representative sample interviewed in 2000-2001 held at least neutral attitudes toward gay men and lesbians, whereas in the 1980s only every fifth German approved of homosexuality. They suggested that "lesbians and gay men profit from more general societal changes in Germany, such as less-traditional gender roles, more individualization, less conservatism, less-conservative family values, and changes brought about by the women's movement" (p. …

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