Meaning in Life Among Middle-Aged and Older Gay and Heterosexual Fathers

Geva Shenkman*, Kfir Ifrah, Dov Shmotkin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study explored differences in meaning-in-life indicators, namely purpose in life and personal growth, among 76 community-dwelling middle-aged and older Israeli gay men, who had become fathers through a heterosexual relationship (mean age = 59.42, SD = 6.15, range: 50-78), 110 gay men that were not fathers (mean age = 60.37, SD = 9.69, range: 50-84), and 114 heterosexual fathers (mean age = 62.27, SD = 8.09, range: 50-87). As hypothesized, after controlling for 10 sociodemographic characteristics, personal growth was higher among middle-aged and older gay fathers compared with heterosexual fathers. No difference emerged for purpose in life. In line with a second hypothesis, both purpose in life and personal growth were higher among middle-aged and older gay fathers compared with middle-aged and older gay men that were not fathers. The findings emphasize the possible strengths, manifested by elevated levels of meaning in life, which fatherhood embodies for gay men.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2155-2173
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Volume39
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2018

Keywords

  • gay fathers
  • meaning in life
  • middle-age and older gay men
  • personal growth
  • purpose in life
  • sexual orientation

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