It is estimated that over 100.000 Italian children are being raised by same-sex parents or by a single parent who identifies as gay or lesbian. Scientific research conducted in a variety of countries has shown that the psychological wellbeing and development of children in these families is comparable to that of children being raised by heterosexual parents. The most recent psychological studies find that sexual orientation does not affect one’s ability to be an adequate parent. Rather, what influences the development and adaptation of the child is the quality of the relationships the parent establishes within the family. Our project proceeds, therefore, from the assumption that social policies should focus on supporting rather than critiquing parents who identify as non-heterosexual.
“She really looks like you!” Genetics and daily life
The most common vision of the family is built around the idea of parenting as “reproduction” of the self. In this common-sense view, the physical continuity provided by the transfer of genetic material from parent to child offers parents an opportunity for recognition and belonging. Often, the phenomenon of physical similarity is also extended to a similarity of personal or psychological qualities as well. Additionally, the experience of pregnancy and childbirth (and, more recently, of breastfeeding) is frequently seen as a fundamental dimension of being a woman.
In same-sex couples, one parent may exercise this biological option while the other parent, even with the same biological potential and desires, may not do so. This family arrangement, along with those that include step-parents and adopted children, disrupt conventional images regarding the biological link between parent and child, and present, therefore, a variety of parental subjectivities. The Family Lives project focuses particularly on obtaining an in-depth understanding of how these subjectivities are constructed by parents in same-sex couples.