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Hadley, E., Stuart, J. (2009). The Expression of Parental Identifications in Lesbian Mothers' Work and Family Arrangements. Psychoanal. Psychol., 26:42-68.

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(2009). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 26(1):42-68

The Expression of Parental Identifications in Lesbian Mothers' Work and Family Arrangements

Erin Hadley, M.A. and Jennifer Stuart, Ph.D.

This paper employs a multiple case study approach to explore the complex influences of parental identification on lesbian mothers' decisions about paid work and family life, and on their comfort with those decisions. Through four clinical research vignettes, we describe the breadth of experience observed in a sample of 13 lesbian women assembled as part of a larger study (Stuart, 2007) exploring the psychology of conflict between paid work and motherhood. A psychoanalytic theoretical perspective and research approach allow us to argue against some oversimple conceptions of lesbian motherhood advanced by other theorists and researchers. Variations in lesbian mothers' work-family arrangements cannot be explained in terms of either egalitarian relations between two maternally identified partners, or more traditional relations between one maternally identified and one paternally identified partner. Like heterosexual women, lesbians express a mixture of maternal and paternal, female and male identifications through varied arrangements of paid work and family life. However, lesbian mothers may be somewhat more reluctant than heterosexual mothers to acknowledge either current conflict around work and motherhood or its roots in personal history.

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