Last updated on: 3/19/2008 | Author:

Can a Child’s Relationship with His or Her Parents Cause Homosexuality?

PRO (yes)


Joseph Nicolosi, PhD, President of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), wrote in his Sep. 21, 2004 article, “Fathers of Male Homosexuals: A Collective Clinical Profile,” published on the NARTH website:

“One psychoanalytic hypothesis for the connection between poor early father-son relationship and homosexuality is that during the critical gender-identity phase of development, the boy perceives the father as rejecting. As a result, he grows up failing to fully identify with his father and the masculinity he represents…

One likely cause for ‘failure to identify’ is a narcissistic injury inflicted by the father onto the son (who is usually temperamentally sensitive) during the pre-oedipal stage of the boy’s development… The hurt manifests itself as a defensive detachment from masculinity in the self, and in others. As an adult, the homosexual is often characterized by this complex which takes the form of ‘the hurt little boy.'”

Sep. 21, 2004


Richard Fitzgibbons, MD, a pyschiatrist, stated in his Dec. 5, 2005 interview with ZENIT titled “The Psychology Behind Homosexual Tendencies: Part 1,” published on ZENIT’s website:

“Those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies identify themselves as homosexual persons and are usually unwilling to examine their emotional conflicts that caused this tendency. Strong physical attraction is present to other men’s bodies and to the masculinity of others due to profound weakness in male confidence…

The most common origins of these emotional weaknesses in men arise from a lack of closeness and affirmation in the father relationship and with male peers. These emotional conflicts result in weaknesses in male confidence, sadness, loneliness, anger and often a poor body image. In addition, those from divorced family backgrounds have major trust weaknesses.”

Dec. 5, 2005


Jeffrey Satinover, MD, a psychiatrist, explained in his July 1995 article “The Complex Interaction of Genes and Environment: A Model For Homosexuality,” presented at the the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality Annual Conference:

“The following is one of the many developmental pathways that can lead to homosexuality, but a common one… [The boy] recalls a painful ‘mismatch’ between what he needed and longed for and what his father offered him. Perhaps most people would agree that his father was distinctly distant and ineffective… The absence of a happy, warm, and intimate closeness with his father led to the boy’s pulling away in disappointment, ‘defensively detaching’ in order to protect himself…

Although he has ‘defensively detached’ from his father, the young boy still carries silently within him a terrible longing for the warmth, love, and encircling arms of the father he never had nor could have… When puberty sets in, sexual urges – which can attach themselves to any object, especially in males – rise to the surface and combine with this already intense need for masculine intimacy and warmth. He begins to develop homosexual crushes…

As he matures (especially in our culture where early, extramarital sexual experiences are sanctioned and even encouraged), the youngster, now a teen, being to experiment with homosexual activity… At some point, he gives in to his deep longings for love and begins to have voluntary homosexual experiences.”

July 1995

CON (no)


Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) stated in their 1995 publication Our Daughters and Sons: Questions and Answers for Parents of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual People:

“For years, psychology and psychiatry have bandied around theories that homosexuality is caused by parental personality types — the dominant female, the weak male — or by the absence of same-gender role models. Those theories are no longer accepted within psychiatry and psychology.”



Tom Moon, a marriage and family therapist (MFT), explained in his Apr. 7, 2005 article “Absent Fathers, Smothering Mothers, and You,” published in the San Francisco Bay Times:

“The most influential source of the ‘absent father/overprotective mother’ theory of homosexuality, was a research project conducted by psychoanalyst Irving Bieber in the late 1960’s… His conclusion was that male homosexuality is caused by ‘paternal hostility and engulfing maternalism.’ Mothers of gay men were found to be seductive, babying, and controlling: fathers were distant, competitive, or hostile…

This was hardly a representative sample of gay men… the people who filled out the questionnaires that provided the ‘data’ were not the gay patients, but their psychiatrists. No gay men were allowed to speak for themselves about their own lives. This ‘research,’ then, turns out to be nothing more than an elaborate opinion poll of psychoanalysts in the sixties, who had already been trained to believe that gay people were suffering from ‘perversion,’ …

Despite the fact that Bieber’s conclusions were repudiated by mainstream psychology and psychiatry decades ago, the fringe, Christian right ‘reparative therapy’ movement continues to cite them in support of their ‘treatment.’ Moreover, Bieber’s theories have seeped into the collective culture, and have become part of our folklore… For gay men who have been affected by these ideas, it can be helpful to look back at how they originated, and to understand that the ‘scientific foundations’ of these conclusions are composed of nothing more substantial than hot air.”

Apr. 7, 2005


Matt Ridley, DPhil, stated in his 2003 book Nature via Nurture: Genes, Experience, & What Makes Us Human:

“It would be a miracle if most straight fathers did not have a ‘negative relationship’ with gay sons. But which came first? All but the most extreme Freudians have long since stopped assuming that the relationship causes the homosexuality, rather than vice versa… Consequences had been confused with cause.”



Erik Holland, author, explained in his 2004 book The Nature of Homosexuality:

“[T]he sex-atypical childhood behavior of male homosexuals need not follow from parental behavior; rather, negative parental behavior can be a response to the sex-atypical behavior of children… This suggests that parental behavior is not behind male homosexuality.”