Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Julie R. Ancis - Chair

Second Advisor

Catherine Brack

Third Advisor

Sheryl A. Gowen

Fourth Advisor

Brian Dew


This study is designed to more fully understand the adaptational processes that parents of lesbians and gay men experience when their children come out to them. Seventeen parents described their experiences in semi-structured interviews. The interview transcripts were analyzed using grounded theory methodology to develop a model of parental adjustment over time. Parents experienced three broad phases of adjustment, each with different emphases: emotional responses were most dominant initially, cognitive and behavioral adjustments were the primary focus of the middle phase, and moral/spiritual issues were the major concern of the final phase. Some parents who successfully negotiated these adjustments came to view being the parent of a gay male or lesbian as an important component of their identities. Implications for further research and clinical practice are discussed.