A qualitative study of parenting and religiosity/spirituality in LBGTQ families

Sharon S. Rostosky, Roberto L. Abreu, Annette Mahoney, Ellen D.B. Riggle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Considerable research has examined reciprocal ties between religiosity/spirituality (R/S) and parenting within families headed by heterosexual married and single parents (Mahoney, 2010). Yet, no systematic studies have explored interlinkages between parenting and R/S within families headed by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) identified parents, despite evidence of the importance of R/S in the lives of LGBTQ people (Herek, Norton, Allen, & Sims, 2010). We asked LGBTQ participants (N = 75) in an online survey to describe how their religious and/or spiritual identity or beliefs influenced their parenting. Three primary themes emerged from analysis of the responses. LGBTQ parents used R/S to (a) teach their children beliefs and values, (b) facilitate spiritual dialogue and critical thinking so that their children could make informed decisions about R/S, and (c) provide a sense of belonging to a community and connections to others and/or a higher power. These findings suggest that, similar to heterosexual parents, LGBTQ parents draw on their religious and spiritual identity, values, and resources to support their children's R/S development. The findings also highlight the unique motivations and strategies that LGBTQ parents use to facilitate their children's R/S development within a social context that stigmatizes their family.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-445
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology of Religion and Spirituality
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Psychological Association.


  • parenting
  • religion
  • religiosity
  • spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Religious studies
  • Applied Psychology


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