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6 Challenges That Gay Moms Face (And How to Navigate Them)

Updated: Feb 12

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Two moms and a baby

Becoming a parent is an incredible journey filled with joy and love, but for gay moms, the path to parenthood may come with its own set of unique challenges. From societal prejudices to legal complexities, navigating these obstacles can be hard without a supportive community. Luckily, Gay Moms Club is here to help.

With expert advice and tips from Dr. Lee Phillips, a psychotherapist and certified sex and couple's therapist, we dive into how you can better understand the complexities and challenges that gay moms (and you) might face.


With these six practical tips on how to truly overcome the unique set of challenges that come with queer motherhood, we can help you to focus on what matters most — being a mom.


Why do gay moms face challenges in parenthood?

All parents face challenges, even if they’re on their third child or their first. But as you may know, gay moms often experience a different level of challenges when it comes to raising kiddos.

“Lesbian moms often face challenges in parenthood due to discrimination in the context of heterosexist and homophobic societal attitudes by their communities and environments,” Dr. Lee explains.


What are some challenges gay moms face?

So, what challenges do gay moms actually face? We touch on six main challenges and how to overcome them, according to Dr. Lee below.


1. Sexual stigma

Sexual stigma is one of the biggest challenges that gay moms face. The term refers to the negative regard, inferior status, and relative powerlessness that society can often place on individuals associated with non-heterosexual behaviors, identities, relationships, and communities.


According to Dr. Lee, gay moms may struggle with confronting the heterosexist norms that say that lesbianism and motherhood are incompatible. If this is truly internalized, it can promote heteronormativity and bring up stress, discomfort, and sadness.


“When a queer parent internalizes negative societal attitudes against homosexuality and (unconsciously) accepts these attitudes as part of their value system and self-concept,” Dr. Lee says, “They may feel less able to raise their child well.”


Solution:

According to Dr. Lee, psychotherapy and couples therapy can be a beneficial way to help lesbian mothers cope with sexual stigma and any issues relating to the internal sexual stigma they may face due to discrimination in their communities and environments.


 

2. Family problems

It’s no secret that many gay folks face judgment and scrutiny from their parents and family members. Plus, when it comes to gay moms, they’re often handling family dynamics while looking to receive validation and acceptance as a parent.


“Lesbian mothers’ families of origin may be reluctant to accept their parenthood, especially when they have not yet accepted their daughter’s identity as a lesbian woman,” Dr. Lee says.


Solution:

Consider trying psychotherapy. It can be a really beneficial way to help queer mothers who are struggling with coming out to their family, talking about their identity, and accepting their own life and who they are.


 

3. Attachment challenges

Unlike heterosexual couples who conceive a child naturally, lesbian couples often can enter parenthood in ways that look different — and no matter how it comes about, it is all beautiful. But, according to Dr. Lee, one challenge that gay moms face is having to process the reality that one partner may have a biological connection to their child while the other partner may not.


Solution:

If you have the means, try seeking out a parenting specialist or a family therapist who can help with attachment challenges so that you and your partner can take an equal stance in raising your children together.


 

4. Societal judgment

“There is the judgment of women and mothers in our culture and many expectations for what constitutes a good mother,” Dr. Lee says, “This can be difficult for lesbian couples working to define themselves, their relationship, or their parenthood in their own way.”


Solution:

There are many support groups for lesbian women and great communities, like Gay Moms Club, that can help you navigate motherhood as a gay woman. Joining one to build a connection with other lesbian mothers can make it easier to address parenting challenges, discrimination, and family concerns so that you might feel more understood and less alone.


 

5. Big questions

It used to be that it was actually more common for women to come out after they already had children from heterosexual marriages. But now, with women coming out younger and being more accepting of who they are, many gay women who want children are having to address the big concerns that can come with gay motherhood, like if they want to be the one to give birth or their partner does.


Solution:

Struggling to identify answers to the big questions? Seeking the help of a professional can help you decide how you’d like to conceive — like intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) or using donor sperm from an anonymous or known donor — and with communication challenges in the relationship, such as who will give birth.


 

6. Cost

No matter sexual orientation, bringing a child into the world costs money. But if you’re a gay mom, the cost can be much higher. Lesbians are dealing with the fact that, statistically, women make less money than men, and the process of getting pregnant is not cheap either.


Solution:

Seeking the advice of a financial planner can help gay moms with cost concerns and overall family planning.


 

Resources for Gay Moms to Consider

While challenges may arise, the journey of being a gay mom is a testament to strength, resilience, and the power of love. By joining supportive communities and finding resources like these, you can celebrate your unique family.

  • Rainbow Families supports, educates, and connects lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) families, parents, and prospective parents by offering a wide variety of education programs, support groups, opportunities to connect, and more.

  • Gay Moms Club is a safe space for lesbian moms to connect and explore original and inspiring content to celebrate the magic of motherhood within the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Strong Family Alliance has a simple mission – to save lives and preserve families by helping children come out and parents become informed supporters and allies. They give parents and LGBTQ people accurate information, insights on this challenging transition for both parents and children, ways to keep LGBTQ children safe and healthy, and encouragement for parents to lead with love and solve problems over time. They provide a non-political, research-based source of information and guidance to help build understanding and strong relationships.


 

A vibrant, safe space for lesbian moms to connect.


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