Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. James M. Croteau

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Z. Anderson

Third Advisor

Dr. Karyn Boatwright


Little research specifically addresses the heterosexual mother-lesbian daughter relationship. Given this, a core research team of six utilized a Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR) approach to gain insight into two broad ideas. The first broad idea was about how heterosexual mothers perceive that their relationship with their lesbian daughters unfolds after the mothers accepted their daughters' minority sexual orientation. The second broad idea was how changes in the heterosexual mothers' values, beliefs, and attitudes (from the mothers' perspectives) influenced their postacceptance relationship with their daughters. The 10 women who agreed to participate in the study were predominately white, formally well-educated, psychologically sophisticated, self-identified accepting heterosexual mothers. Eight of the participants were recruited from Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbian and Gays (P-FLAG) chapters in parts of the Great Lakes Midwest region of the United States, while two participants were recruited through snowball sampling. Each heterosexual mother participated in one 90-minute semi-structured interview.

Data from the interviews were analyzed utilizing the CQR process. The major findings from the study that are addressed include: (a) specifics of the post acceptance relationship that ensued between these women and their lesbian daughters; (b) the fit of Miller, Jordan, Stiver, Kaplan and Surrey's (1997) Relational Cultural Theory to these women's experience of sharing a growth fostering relationship with their daughters post acceptance; and (c) an exploration of the personal growth mothers experienced as a result of learning they had a daughter who identified as lesbian. A critique of the study and suggestions for future research are proffered.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access