This study demonstrates the inadequacy of the traditional theory of childhood socialization and identity formation, which holds that children are socialized to internalize the key parameters of their parents' identities. The lesbian, gay and bisexual parents studied were willing actively to foster a sexual identity different from their own in their children. This illustrates that parents may seek to shape the process of internalization so that their children are able to develop identities fundamentally different from their own. The implication for social work is that adoptive or birth parents may successfully instill identities in their children which differ from their own.