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Imagining Men: Lesbian Mothers’ Perceptions of Male Involvement During the Transition to Parenthood


Department of Psychology, Clark University, 950 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01610 (


Much popular and professional literature has focused on the effects of father absence, particularly in lesbian parent households; yet, little attention has been paid to lesbian parents’ preferences and intentions surrounding male involvement. This qualitative study of 60 lesbian women who were transitioning to parenthood explores this issue. Most women desired some level of male involvement, even before their children were born. Far from describing a desire for “father figures,” however, they conceptualized male involvement in novel, diverse, and sometimes ambivalent ways. Having a boy enhanced some women’s motivations to actively pursue male role models for their children. Findings are discussed in terms of their implications for understanding of the kinship structure of lesbian-parent families and families in general.