Past Posts Revisited: How to Talk to Your Children About Gay Parents, by a Gay Parent

therealthingnews-com-au

I’m always happy when someone reposts my piece How to Talk to Your Children About Gay Parents, by a Gay Parent. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve posted here, and I tend to hear back some really amazing things as well as gain some super cool new followers every time it gets spread to some other corner of the internet.

Previously, the piece was featured on sites like the Today Show, Lifetime Moms and the Good Men Project. Just this week, two more very popular sites reblogged it, garnering it a bunch of fresh traffic. First, it ran on one of my favorite parenting blogs, Scary Mommy. If you don’t already know Scary Mommy, you should go there right now. It’s full of hilarity, top-notch writing and all kinds of wonderful things.

Scary Mommy has amazing readers, who’ve so far shared my post almost 10,000 times on Facebook(!) One person who read it over there works for the popular Australian news site News.com.au, and she asked if she could rerun it on that site as well.

They apparently put it on the front page, which brought it a lot of attention. If you read the comments on that site, you’ll see the response was not quite as positive as it’s been on other sites. I have no idea if News.com.au’s readership leans conservative or if this is representative of how most people Down Under view families like mine. Either way, I’m really grateful they ran my post because I’d rather this topic be discussed than ignored, and at least I put the subject in a few people’s minds.

My original piece wasn’t intended to defend my family or to convert homophobes. (For that, try this post instead.) It was aimed at sympathetic straight parents. However, to the detractors on news.com.au and elsewhere, I’ll say this:

Families with gay parents aren’t going away. You can say “Every child needs a mother and a father” all you want, but at some point, you’ll need to accept that you live in a world where not every child is going to have one. They might have none — or two. The only family you get to assemble is your own. Do with it what you will. You can either try to live peacefully with those who make different choices or remain cranky and increasingly isolated. You can tsk, tsk and say “Those poor kids,” but your pity and bigotry does more to harm my children than having two dads who think they’re the greatest kids in the world ever could.

I’ve read plenty of comments, on the other hand, that made valid criticisms. In the hopes that my piece will continue to be shared, I’ve decided to do a few minor revisions to take those into account.

The first is my mockery of the word “queer” in this line from the original piece:

You could also use the word “queer”, I guess, but then your kids and I will just think you’re a pretentious dweeb.

Most people, even those who self-identify as “queer” seem to have taken it as the harmless joke it was meant to be. Others took serious offense, and that’s something I never intended. The theme of the piece is tolerance and inclusiveness, and if anyone felt slighted by that line, I apologize. I admit my impression of the word “queer” as being pretentious dweebery is probably 20 years out of date. People self-identify as “queer” for a variety of very valid personal reasons, and I don’t want to make light of that.

I’ve removed that joke from the post. The Brainy Smurf joke is a better closer anyway.

Second, a few people have taken issue with me saying, “Every child ends up with the right parents for them” when we know how many kids in this world are abused, neglected or otherwise mistreated by their parents. It’s a fair point, so I’ve changed that statement to “It’s love that makes a family”. That way you can help explain nontraditional families without also validating abusive ones.

Lastly, I made a few minor tweaks just to make the piece more evergreen and universal. I never expected people on other continents would read my blog, and not all of them know what Grand Central Station is.

If you want to reblog the post from this point on, I ask that you use the newer version. Just to restate my reblogging policy:

Anyone is welcome to repost anything on this site anywhere, provided they credit me and link back to the original post on my domain. (Something along the lines of this would be great: “This piece, by Jerry Mahoney, originally appeared on his blog “Mommy Man: Adventures of a Gay Superdad“. I request that you use the “Contact Me” page to let me know when you’re going to reblog something. I love to check out my work on other people’s sites, however big or small their audience, and I may even be able to send some traffic your way by sharing your link.

To share any of my posts on your social networks, just click the corresponding button (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) at the bottom of the post and it does everything necessary for you.

If you quote excerpts, please link back to the full piece.

If you link me without reposting the entire piece and say, “Hey, go read this guy’s site! It’s great!”, then you’re awesome and I like you.

Aw, shucks. I like all of you! And I still can’t wait to visit Australia someday.

Past Posts Revisited: 10 Reasons We (No Longer) Love McDonald’s

A few months ago, I wrote a post wherein I asked my kids what makes them mad.  Sutton’s response was quick and brutal: my singing.  Well, I’d like to state that her opinion has evolved.  Now when the topic comes up, she says, “I don’t like your voice!”

This is why it’s good to update old posts now and then.  Things change.  Sometimes, my kids grow firmer in their convictions, and sometimes, I ease up on mine.

I have to admit I no longer stand fully behind my post on why I love taking my kids to McDonald’s.  At the time I wrote that, we were only one month into our cross-country move.  I had discovered that the local McDonald’s had a family night every Thursday, featuring a nice magician guy.  He made balloon animals for the kids, while I got to enjoy the snotty teenagers heckling him from nearby.  It was a nice routine, at  time when we really needed one.

The free ice cream on Family Night is the world’s tiniest cone. Who says McDonald’s isn’t concerned about childhood obesity?

That was eight months ago, and I’ve discovered more things to do around our new home.  I’ve also gotten thoroughly sick of McFood.  I don’t think I’ll ever become one of those fast food fascists who never lets their kid step foot inside the golden arches because it’s POISON — POISON!!!, but going there once a week is no longer something I proudly recommend.  Here’s my point-by-point rebuttal of my prior post:

1. My kids are always the best behaved children there.

Still true… but also a source of concern.  You know those balloon animals the magician makes?  My kids ask for giraffes and flowers.  The other kids get swords and guns.  Then they battle each other to the “death” (if only).

Worse are the McDonald’s-es with play places.  Now that my kids know those exist, it’s hard to get them to go to a location without one.  Sure, that labyrinthine plastic apparatus lets them work off the ocean of calories they just consumed, but when you put all those kids together in a confined space, just out of grown-ups’ reach, it’s bound to turn into a miniature, neon-colored Thunderdome.

Adults have no jurisdiction inside those twisty, netted structures, because they simply can’t fit inside or even see what’s going on up there.  There are always some little monsters quick to take advantage of the lack of supervision and go all Lord of the Flies on each other.  It’s a Hobbesian state of nature, every pipsqueak for himself.

My kids mostly stay above the fray in this pop warner Hunger Games… but I wonder how long that will last if we keep going there.  The day I see them with pig blood smeared under their eyes, we’re outta there.

This piece of crap kept my kid busy for 20 minutes.

2. The meal comes with its own entertainment.

My kids still love Happy Meal toys… unless they’re given two different toys and one of them gets a better one than the other… or they’re given the exact same toy but one of them still thinks the other’s is better… or they both get crap toys.  I cringe when I first peek in the bags to see what the toys will be, hoping they will meet my kids’ approval.

3. It kills time.

It’s great getting out of the house for a while… but McDonald’s is not really a fun place for a grownup to be.  If only the McAcoustics didn’t so greatly amplify the shrieking and stomping, maybe I could zone out a bit and forget that the chicken sandwich I’m eating is hastening my demise.

4. The zit-faced 16-year-old slaving over the grill for minimum wage is a better cook than me.

Hey, kid, ease up on the salt… or at least throw some beta-blockers in the Happy Meal box.  Sheesh.

5. It’s an excuse for me to eat McDonald’s.

Nothing on the McDonald’s menu appeals to me anymore.  When I wanted to be sorta healthy, I ordered a salad… which is basically just a chicken sandwich (you can even get it breaded and fried!) on a bed of iceberg lettuce instead of a bun.  Eventually I realized that I could get a halfway decent salad by taking the kids to Panera Bread instead, and they could eat grilled cheese sandwiches instead of French fries.  If one of us is going to settle for food they’re less-than-thrilled about, I’d prefer it be them and not me.

6. It’s cheap(ish).

Panera Bread is about the same.

7. It’s low maintenance food.

So is Panera Bread.

8. They eat a full meal there.

Not anymore.  The food doesn’t have nearly the appeal it used to. My son can eat a peanut butter sandwich every meal, every day and never complain.  But even for him, one serving of McNuggets a week is sufficient.

Half the time, I have to beg them to eat a second McNugget just to make sure they won’t McStarve.  Honestly, they eat more at Panera Bread.

9. The food’s not much worse than what I serve at home.

The food at Panera is better.

10. McDonald’s teaches my kids the value of moderation.

You know what teaches them the value of moderation even better?  That three out of four times we eat out, we go to Panera Bread, instead of McDonald’s.

McDonald’s has become more of a once-a-month destination, and personally, that’s made my meals a lot happier.

When I think back on that original post, I still understand what I felt at the time, I’ve just grown since then.  (Mostly, I’ve grown sick of the food.)  If you’re still in more of a once-a-week mode yourself, more power to you.  I would never judge anyone for taking their kids to McDonald’s that much.  Hey, I’ve been there.

A word of advice, though: if they open a Panera near you, check it out.  And if you have any other family-friendly dining suggestions, please let me know.  I’m gonna be SOOOOOO sick of that place in a few months.

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