Conformity and innovation in the relationship to family norms in the gay and lesbian "co-parenthoods"
Social sciences Université Libre de Bruxelles Brussels, Belgium
Some gays and lesbians, sometimes also single women, use "co-parenthood" to have children in order to maintain certain values, such as the biological link or the joint presence of the mother and the father. The "co-parenthood" project is a parental agreement between a man and a woman, who are not in couple. They decide to have a child together but they want to bring him up separately, possibly with their own partner. This new design of parenthood creates very diverse and innovative forms of multi-parental families. Those "co-parents" reinforce some parental norms but also diversify the set of familial structures and "family life experiments". With this presentation, my aim is first to consider the ambiguous relationship existing between the co-parents and traditional family norms, for example with respect to gender representations and biological parenthood. Then I will show how this new form of access to parenthood, which could seem marginal at first by some of its characteristics, fit particularly well to the current constraints of society. This presentation is based on the analyses of more than twenty crossed and extensive interviews (biographical approach) with co-parents living in Belgium.