THE LESBIAN FAMILY LIFE CYCLE by Suzanne Slater

THE LESBIAN FAMILY LIFE CYCLE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Therapist Slater explores lesbian family development in a much-needed but stiffly written book. Sexism and heterosexism put unique external pressures on the lesbian family, the author argues; its boundaries and existence are unlikely to be recognized and supported by the partners' families of origin, friends, coworkers, and ex-husbands. Partners may also have different relationships to lesbian identity and to being ""out,"" which can create conflict. Lesbians run into many of the same problems as heterosexual families and couples (less sexual spark after years together, etc.), but Slater finds that such universal problems can be more disruptive in lesbian relationships because they have so few models of ""normal"" family patterns; healthy lesbian families, though numerous, are often hidden. Drawing on her own extensive research and clinical practice, Slater maps out some of the typical stages in the life cycle of a lesbian family. Throughout the book, she provides anecdotes based on composites of real families; these enliven the text by lending human faces to therapeutic generalities; she writes, for instance, of a little girl who wouldn't complete a school assignment because she feared telling her classmates her parents were lesbians. Unfortunately, even the anecdotes are a bit wooden, and Slater's clinical language is stultifying; phrases like ""the interplay of individual and relational tasks"" will turn off many lay readers. However, her models will surely help therapists and clinical researchers better understand lesbian couples and families. Tough going for most readers outside the field, but the author raises valuable questions about the impact of social prejudice on lesbian families and relationships.

Pub Date: June 9th, 1995
Page count: 300pp
Publisher: Free Press