Negative Parental Responses to Coming Out and Family Functioning in a Sample of Lesbian and Gay Young Adults
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- Baiocco, R., Fontanesi, L., Santamaria, F. et al. J Child Fam Stud (2015) 24: 1490. doi:10.1007/s10826-014-9954-z
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Parental responses to youths’ coming out (CO) are crucial to the subsequent adjustment of children and family. The present study investigated the negative parental reaction to the disclosure of same-sex attraction and the differences between maternal and paternal responses, as reported by their homosexual daughters and sons. Participants’ perceptions of their parents’ reactions (evaluated through the Perceived Parental Reactions Scale, PPRS), age at CO, gender, parental political orientation, and religiosity involvement, the family functioning (assessed through the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales), were assessed in 164 Italian gay and lesbian young adults. Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated to assess the relation between family functioning and parental reaction to CO. The paired sample t test was used to compare mothers and fathers’ scores on the PPRS. Hierarchical multiple regression was conducted to analyze the relevance of each variable. No differences were found between mothers and fathers in their reaction to the disclosure. The analysis showed that a negative reaction to CO was predicted by parents’ right-wing political conservatism, strong religious beliefs, and higher scores in the scales Rigid and Enmeshed. Findings confirm that a negative parental reaction is the result of poor family resources to face a stressful situation and a strong belief in traditional values. These results have important implications in both clinical and social fields.