Author Identifier

Jenine Giles

Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Arts and Humanities

First Supervisor

Vicki Banham


Dominant discourses regarding motherhood and fatherhood are entrenched in Australian culture and are often implied during public discussions of families with same-sex parents. Using a post structuralist approach, this project aimed to identify how parents in same-sex relationships experience and construct their parenting roles through combinations of dominant and alternative discourses of families, motherhood, and fatherhood. Following ethics approval, participants were recruited primarily through communication with Australian LGBTQIA+ community organisations and publications. Twenty-nine respondents each participated in one one-on-one semi-structured interview, which was audio- and video-recorded with their consent. The participants were eighteen years of age or older, in a monogamous, same-sex relationship, and identified as a parent of the child or children in their care. I used a combination of thematic analysis and Feminist Post-structuralist Discourse Analysis to inform the transcription process, identify themes and discourses present in the data, and how the discourses interacted with one another. I identified five themes; these related to participants’ parenting journeys, how they came to their parenting roles, participant-identified differences to different-sex parented families, sources of support, and challenges that participants’ families faced. Within these themes and throughout the transcripts, dominant, feminist, and queer theory discourses of motherhood, fatherhood, and families variously aligned with participants’ experiences, or were actively rejected. Whilst acknowledging the diversity of participants’ experiences and considering the ways in which they engaged with dominant and alternative discourses of motherhood, fatherhood, and parenting, I proposed an emergent discourse of parenting in which a family may have up to two parents of any combination of genders, who may or may not have similar roles but who ultimately work as a team with an equitable division of labour, and who may create their family in many equally accepted ways. It is anticipated that this research will advance current understandings of families and parenting, and that the findings will be used to inform policy, practice, and improve same-sex families’ access to services.