Special Issue "Health and Well-Being Related to New Family Forms: Perspectives of Adult Individuals, Couples, Extended Family Members, Children, and Professionals"

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Dorit Segal-Engelchin
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
The Spitzer Department of Social Work, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel
Interests: new family structures; factors associated with family-form choices; effects of family structure on the well-being of women and men; women’s health and well-being; CB-ART interventions for stress reduction
Prof. Dr. Orit Taubman-Ben-Ari
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Social Work Faculty of Social Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, 5290002 Israel
Interests: Intergenerational relationships and personal growth following life transitions, such as the transitions to parenthood and grandparenthood, in regular and special circumstances (e.g., infertility, pre-term birth; twins); the psychology of risk taking, especially reckless driving, with an emphasis on risk taking among adolescents and young adults.

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Over the past four decades, within most Western societies, the traditional family composed of a married heterosexual couple and their genetically related children has given way to an array of new family configurations. This shift is linked to major social and legal changes, as well as medical advances in assisted reproduction technologies. The ever-growing diversity of new family forms encompasses, among other things, intentionally child-free families, single-parent-by-choice families, families created by elective co-parenting arrangements, families headed by LGBTQ+ parents, families created through reproductive donation (e.g., sperm, egg, or embryo donation), and surrogacy families.

Recent research has begun to shed light on individual differences among parents and children within new families and the factors underlying these differences. The aim of this Special Issue is to advance our knowledge and understanding of the factors that shape the diverse experiences, wellbeing, and health outcomes of individuals on their path to forming new family forms, as well as those of the adults and children living in specific family forms, to inform the development of policies and practices designed to promote the thriving of these families. It will extend current knowledge from the viewpoints of both members of new families and professionals, such as physicians, therapists, and teachers.

This Special Issue seeks papers devoted to investigating a wide range of factors contributing to the psychological, social, and health outcomes of members in new family forms, including but not limited to characteristics of the family members, parental stress, resilience and coping strategies, family climate, stress related to non-traditional family-form choices, and sociocultural and/or other contextual factors. Papers addressing the following topics are also welcome: effects of perceived stigma on the wellbeing of adults and children in new families, the impact of laws and public policies on family-form choices, and perspectives of medical doctors, mental health professionals, and health policy-makers on the outcomes associated with living in new family forms. The Special Issue is open to papers from a variety of perspectives, including medical, psychological, social, and legal perspectives.

Prof. Dr. Dorit Segal-Engelchin
Prof. Dr. Orit Taubman-Ben-Ari
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • new family forms
  • routes to parenthood
  • wellbeing
  • health outcomes
  • stress
  • resilience
  • coping strategies
  • infertility-related stress
  • assisted reproduction
  • reproductive donation
  • fertility preservation

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Factors Associated with Quality of Life of Mothers in Diverse Family Structures: Hetero-gay, Single-mother-by-choice, Married, and Divorced Families
Authors: Segal-Engelchin, Dorit.; Erera, Pauline. I.; Jen, Sarah
Affiliation: The Spitzer Department of Social Work, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel School of Social Work, University of Washington, WA, USA School of Social Welfare, University of Kansas, Kansas, USA
Abstract: Many studies have examined the impact of family structure on mothers’ well-being. However, none of these studies have included mothers in hetero-gay families, which consist of a heterosexual mother and a gay father who conceive and parent children together while residing in separate households. The current study extends previous research by examining the quality of life and health outcomes of 49 mothers in hetero-gay families in comparison to that of 171 single mothers by choice, 58 divorced, and 255 married mothers in Israel. The results show that the psychological and physical quality of life of mothers in hetero-gay families was significantly higher compared to that of the other groups of mothers. Family structure emerged as a significant predictor of mothers’ quality of life, distinct from other predictors such as economic state and mental health state. Controlling for all measures, hetero-gay mothers had significantly higher psychological quality of life as compared with divorced and married mothers as well as significantly higher physical and social quality of life as compared with single mothers by choice. No significant differences were found between the groups in physical health symptoms. The implications of these findings are discussed in the context of women’s family choices in contemporary society.

Title: “’You go on a 'business trip’ for a tummy period - you come back with money, & that's it”: Discussion of stigma coping strategies in an online support group for surrogacy in Post-Soviet Russia
Authors: Daphna Yeshua-Katz; Natalia Khvorostianov
Affiliation: Department of communication Studies, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Abstract: Background: Gestational surrogacy, in which the surrogate mother is not biologically related to the child she is carrying, is the most common type of surrogacy today. Although technologically well-developed and legal in many countries, it provokes and even contradicts basic traditional concepts of family, motherhood, and gender roles. The present study examines the types of stigma coping strategies surrogate mothers discuss in an online support group for surrogacy in Post-Soviet Russia; (2) Method: We conducted a qualitative thematic analysis of 15,602 posts on a Russian-language online forum for surrogate mothers; (3) Results: the members discussed four types of coping strategies: stigma internalization, stigma avoidance, group identification, and stigma challenging. Nevertheless, these strategies varied across the stages of surrogate motherhood: the participants advised each other specific strategies to cope with the state of discreditable (invisible) stigma —at the first few months of their pregnancy, and advised different strategies when the pregnancy became visible and they risked becoming a discredited person. Furthermore, the members disclosed using these strategies even when they went back to their previous family life. Conclusion: our findings indicate that surrogate motherhood in the post-soviet context has a moral, family, temporary, and occupational stigma associated with reproductive technology.

Title: The effect of stigma on lesbian families' life experiences, in the mirror of Insidious Social Trauma model ; A call for a psycho-political perception of recovery.
Authors: Alona Peleg
Affiliation: Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel and Levinsky College of Education, Tel Aviv, Israel
Abstract: The minority stress model, suggested by Meyer (1995, 2003), maintains that social conditions characterized by stigma, prejudice and discrimination predispose LGBT people to greater exposure to stress in comparison with heterosexual and cisgender individuals; this excess stress affect their well- being and may lead to various physical and psychological problems. However, in the last 3 decades there have been significant improvements in the social conditions of LGBT people. These improvements include a marked increase in public support for the rights of LGBT people and legal recognition of same -sex relationships, which have been accompanied by a significant increase in the number of children being raised within planned same-sex families. The current study explores the lived experiences of 40 women living in planned lesbian families in Tel Aviv, a relatively tolerant and inclusive community. The research was based on narrative, in- depth, interviews, which were analyzed according to Gilligan's listening guide method (2003). The analysis of the narratives indicates that lesbian mothers (and their children) still cope with different expressions of delegitimization and social- emotional violence on part of their families of origin (parents, siblings) and the medical, educational and social surroundings. They use strategies such as hypervigilance and information – management, in order to regulate the stress. The findings of the study are discussed in light of Root's insidious social trauma model, (1992), calling for a psycho-political perception of recovery.

Title: Behavioural Outcomes of Children with Same-Sex Parents
Authors: Deni Mazrekaj 1; Mirjam Fischer 2; Henny Bos 3
Affiliation: 1 University of Oxford, Park End Street 42-43, OX1 1JD Oxford, United Kingdom 2 Institute of Sociology und Social Psychology, University of Cologne, Albertus-Magnus-Platz, D-50923 Cologne, Germany 3 Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of Amsterdam, Nieuwe Achtergracht 127, 1001 NG Amsterdam
Abstract: Same-sex parents may face substantial stressors due to their sexual orientation, such as experiences of prejudice, negative feedback from friends and family, and a prohibitive legal environment. This added stress is likely to lead to reduced physical and mental health of same-sex parents that may in turn translate into problematic behavioural outcomes of their children. To date, there are only a handful of nationally representative studies that investigate child wellbeing of children with same-sex parents. The current study takes a closer look at children’s behavioural outcomes reported by a parent using the emotional, conduct, hyperactivity, and peer problems subscales of The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). We take advantage of unique data from the Netherlands based on a probability sample from population registers, whereby same-sex parent households were oversampled to maximize the number of observations. Weights correct for this and allow inference to same-sex and different-sex parent households with children between the ages of 5 and 16 years (91 children with same-sex and 139 children with different-sex parents). The findings suggest no significant disadvantages for children with same-sex parents compared to different-sex parents. We contextualize these findings in their wider cultural context and formulate policy implications.

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