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|Title:||LESBIAN/QUEER IDENTIFIED GRANDMOTHERING: CREATING VISIBILITY AND ACKNOWLEDGING STRENGTHS THROUGH THE GRANDPARENT – GRANDCHILD RELATIONSHIP|
|Abstract:||This research explored the experiences of lesbian and queer-identified women who are actively grandparenting in the context of a same-sex relationship. Most research investigating the experiences of grandparents takes a heteronormative focus and fails to acknowledge the possibility that grandparenting can take place within the context of a queer family structure. Thus, this study attempted to initiate a discussion among feminist, queer, and gerontological researchers to fill a gap in the literature on grandparenting within a same-sex context. A qualitative study of four lesbian/queer-identified couples was conducted. In semi-structured interviews, couples were interviewed together and asked questions about their involvement in the everyday lives of their grandchildren, how homophobia and heterosexism impacts their relationships with their grandchildren, and how these experiences vary (if at all) with the nature of the grandmothers’ relational ties (e.g., biologically related or non-biologically related). While the sample included some variation in terms of incomes, backgrounds and cultures, all four couples are linked into informal lesbian/ queer community networks and live in large or mid-size urban areas in southern Ontario – a relatively progressive jurisdiction with respect to same sex marriage and human rights legislation. Findings suggest that there are differences in the experiences of lesbian grandmothers based on varying relational ties and that non-biological women are particularly affected by changes in the socio-legal context and by homophobia and heterosexism within the extended family. Non-biologically related grandmothers consider their role as a grandmother to be ‘chosen;’ that is, they made a conscious decision to identify as a grandmother. Non-biologically related grandmothers also did not anticipate becoming grandmothers because they were not biological mothers; thus, the opportunity to become a grandmother contributed to a life course journey that they did not expect to have. By grandparenting openly and honestly within the context of a same-sex relationships, participants strive to prepare their grandchildren for an increasingly diverse Canadian demographic by modeling a healthy and loving ‘non-traditional’ family and by demonstrating the importance of accepting differences. With respect to implications, the findings suggest that supporting non-biological parents and grandparents will be a critical step for service providers and policy makers who are working with LGBTQ families. At the level of direct practice, these family experiences underscore the importance of recognizing and affirming these non-traditional family forms. In many settings, social work practitioners have and can seize opportunities to question, confront and revisit organizational and professional practices that fail to acknowledge them.|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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