Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

James F. Paulson

Committee Member

Desideria S. Hacker

Committee Member

Michelle L. Kelley

Committee Member

Robin J. Lewis

Committee Member

Barbara A. Winstead


Bisexual individuals are more likely to be parenting as compared to other sexual minority individuals, however a review of the current research on sexual minority parenting and families demonstrates a limited understanding of the experiences unique to this population. Furthermore, the socialization of parenthood as both a heterosexual practice, and one that is intertwined with womanhood suggests bisexual mothers may encounter unique challenges and experiences in negotiating these two identities. Therefore the current study seeks to expand upon the literature with a primary aim of understanding the relationship between bisexuality and motherhood identities, psychological distress, parenting efficacy, and self-esteem from the theoretical perspective of identity theory. Data were examined from 211 self-identified bisexual women, who were currently parenting at least one child under the age of 18. Results revealed a moderating effect of parenting identity centrality on the relationship between bisexual identity centrality and sexual identity salience. Furthermore, sexual identity salience demonstrated significant relationships with participants’ level of parenting guilt, self-esteem as a bisexual individual, and feelings of shame as a bisexual individual. Participants who reported higher feelings of efficacy in their parenting role reported lower levels of parenting guilt as well as lower levels of psychological distress. Finally, higher levels of sexual identity salience were related to lower levels of psychological distress. Results offer partial support for identity theory as a mechanism through which to understand experiences of parenting guilt, shame as a bisexual individual, and psychological distress in a sample of bisexual mothers.


The VIRGINIA CONSORTIUM PROGRAM IN CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY is a joint program of Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk State University, and Old Dominion University.


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