Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 719-739

First online:

Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Youths: Separation-Individuation, Parental Attitudes, Identity Consolidation, and Well-Being

  • Frank J. FloydAffiliated withUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • , Terry S. SteinAffiliated withMichigan State University
  • , Kristina S. M. HarterAffiliated withUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • , April AllisonAffiliated withMichigan State University Department of Family Practice
  • , Cynthia L. NyeAffiliated with

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The study examines separation-individuation during adolescence and young adulthood for gay, lesbian, and bisexual youths, and evaluates the consequences of parent-youth relationships for well-being and sexual orientation identity development. Seventy-two youths completed interview and questionnaire measures of relatedness, autonomy, and conflictual independence in relation to mothers and fathers, along with self-reports of parent attitudes, identity consolidation, and well-being. When youths perceived that their parents had relatively accepting attitudes regarding sexual orientation they demonstrated closer relatedness and greater conflictual independence with parents, but not greater autonomy. Both accepting parental attitudes and greater separation-individuation predicted more positive well-being for the youths, though only parental attitudes predicted greater consolidation of sexual orientation identity. Although mothers were generally closer and more supportive than fathers, relationships with both parents were important, independent predictors of personal adjustment. The discussion proposes mutual influences among separation-individuation, perceived acceptance by parents, identity consolidation and well-being.