Imagine you’re at the train station, taking your kids into the city to see the Lion King. A man steps off the train, and two toddlers run up to him shouting, “Daddy! Daddy!” He gives out two hugs and about a thousand kisses and tells them how much he missed them while he was at work. You’ve witnessed scenes like this many times, but as always, your heart melts. Then the dad stands up, walks a little further down the platform and kisses… another man.
Well, that’s different.
“How was your day?” the first guy asks, and the other one starts talking about who got time outs, why the kids have maple syrup in their hair and who flushed what down the toilet right before they left.
OK, back to normal.
You’ve probably done the math by now — Look! Gay dads! — but there’s a decent chance you’ll feel a tug on your leg, and your kid will look up at you and ask, “Yo, what’s the deal there?”
This is the story of my life. I am a gay dad, and I confuse children.
I’m sure it happens more than I realize – at the supermarket, at the park, at preschool. Just by acting like any other parents, my partner Drew and I are inadvertently sparking countless conversations that start with, “Where’s their Mommy?”
You’re free to handle that question however you want, of course. But if you don’t know where to begin, allow me to help.
You see, when Drew and I decided to have kids, we knew that the gay dad job description would include explaining our family to the world for the rest of our lives. That’s one of the reasons I started my blog.
It’s also why I am kindly providing you, the sympathetic straight parent, with some guidelines. (Unsympathetic straight parents are free to ignore my suggestions, in which case, I’ll enjoy watching them squirm.) Obviously, what you say will depend on how old your kids are and how much exposure they’ve had to gay people previously, but in a broader sense, these suggestions should apply to anyone.
I’m not a child psychologist, just a gay dad who’s thought a lot about the issue and who has a big stake in it. After all, I don’t want your kids coming up to my kids one day and telling them they’re weird for not having a mommy.
If you don’t want that either, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Use the word “gay”.
Everyone’s concentrating on taking the negative connotation away from the word “gay”, but at the same time, let’s not forget to encourage the positive. We don’t want “gay” to be a curse, so go ahead and teach it to your kids. That’s how we’ll really take the sting out of the word.
“Oh, Uncle Doug and Uncle Max? They’re gay.” “Aunt Vera and Aunt Debbie aren’t sisters, honey. They’re lesbians.” “Well, statistics suggest at least 3 of the Smurfs must be gay.” Don’t make a big deal about it. Just say it. If your kids hear some jerk at school sneering, “That’s so gay!”, their response will be, “Yeah? So what? So are Uncle Max, Aunt Vera and, most likely, Brainy.”
2. You don’t have to pretend half the world is gay.
Don’t play down the fact that your kids may have witnessed something unfamiliar. “Geez, Madison. They have two daddies, what’s the biggie?” It’s natural for poor little Madison to be confused, so give her a damn break.
Kids are probably going to assume all families have one mommy and one daddy, because that’s all most of them see. You can be honest. Use words like “most” and “some”. “Most families have a mommy and a daddy… but some have two mommies or two daddies.” As long as you don’t attach a value judgment to that statement, it really is no biggie. (The same goes when explaining single parent families, divorced families or anything else your child might be witnessing for the first time.)
Some kids might say something like, “That’s weird”, or they’ll think you’re playing a joke on them. That should just be a reminder of why you’re having this conversation. Get to your kid before ignorance does. If you’re honest with them, they’ll get it. Explain that gay families are less common than the usual mommy/daddy family, but they’re every bit as valid. “It’s not weird, it’s just different than our family.”
3. Get your mind out of the gutter.
It seems silly that I even have to say this, but when some people think about homosexuality and kids, they imagine that you’re suggesting they graphically describe intercourse to kindergarteners. Um, no. All you should be doing is answering the questions they’re asking, and save the rest for junior high health class. If they wonder why Owen has two daddies, it’s because “His daddies are in love”… or because “Some men love other men.” Hopefully, you’ve taught your kids to understand what love is, so no further explanation should be required.
And do use the word “love”. That’s what we’re talking about here. You don’t need to say “attracted to” or “some boys like boys”. “Like” is how they feel about each other. A kid might think, “Well, I like boys. I guess I’m gay.” Compare it to your own relationship (assuming you have a good relationship). “You know the way Mommy and I love each other? That’s how their daddies (or mommies) feel about each other.” And if your kid says, “Yuck!” it’s probably because they feel the same way about when you and your spouse get all schmoopy-doopy with each other. That’s progress.
4. Don’t make it about your kid — yet.
Understanding gay parents is a big enough topic of discussion, and your kid probably won’t be prompted to wonder about their own sexuality at this point. You don’t need to say, “You might marry a man someday yourself, Junior!” While it’s great to plant the seeds of acceptance early, you’ll probably just end up confusing them more. Your kids have plenty of time to figure their own feelings out, and when the time comes, make sure you let them know that you love them no matter what. But no, they can’t marry Brainy Smurf.
5. If your kid does ask you to speculate, you can tell them they’ll “probably” be straight.
Again, only if your kid expresses some curiosity should you even broach the subject. But if they’re wondering, “Who will I marry someday?”, feel free to tell them, “You’ll probably marry someone of the opposite sex, but I’ll accept you either way.” Of course, if you’re like the mom from the amazing blog Raising My Rainbow, your “probably” might lean the other way. Just take your cues from your kid.
6. Remember the magic phrase, “Love is what makes a family.”
It’s possible your kids will ask something like, “But doesn’t everyone need a mommy?” Even kids who don’t know exactly where babies come from understand that women are the ones who get pregnant and give birth. When that’s all you know, then two daddies just don’t add up.
Again, don’t go into any more detail than you need to. Remind your kid that while it’s a woman who gives birth to a baby, your Mommy(-ies) and/or Daddy(-ies) are the one(s) who raise you. It’s no different than how you’d explain adoption by a straight couple. “The Strattons flew to Beijing and brought little Daisy home. Now they’re her Mommy and Daddy.”
What kids want to know is that the little boy or girl they see whose family looks different is still being well taken care of. Assure your children that the kids are in good hands, because love is what makes a family, and those parents love their kids as much as you love yours.
7. Most importantly, just talk to your kids.
Your kids are bound to see a gay family sooner or later, even if it’s just Mitchell & Cameron on Modern Family. So if they come to you with questions, it’s really important that you don’t get weird about it. Don’t change the subject, don’t tell them they’re too young to understand and definitely don’t lie and say that the mommy is home doing dishes or off fighting in Afghanistan. Otherwise the message you’re sending is that there’s a reason to be uncomfortable around gay families. The same goes for all kinds of families, whether they have two moms, two dads, a single mom, a single dad, foster parents or if they’re being raised by wolves – just explain that that’s a different kind of family and gee, isn’t it nice that everyone’s a little different.
… which leads me to a big secret.
You see, there is a gay agenda. It’s true.
What most people don’t realize is that the gay agenda isn’t “everybody should be gay”. It’s “everybody should be themselves.”
Be a nerd, be a Yanni fan, be a real housewife of your particular geographic region. Whatever. It’s all part of the same cause, and it’s a great message to teach your kids.
I shouldn’t have to say this in the 21st Century, but for anyone who’s still wondering, NO, I don’t want to make your kids gay. I just want to live my life with a sense of mutual respect for everyone else on this planet. If you want the same thing, then let your kids learn by your example. Show them that nontraditional families are nothing to be afraid of.
Teaching your kids to be accepting of gay people and gay families is a great way to teach them acceptance in a broader sense – and to teach them the ultimate lesson: to be accepting of themselves.
I know some people think differently, but that’s what I call family values.
Jerry, as usual, it is a pleasure and an honor to follow your blog.
When my oldest son was six, I sat him down and explained that the important thing about couples and families is that they love and respect each other, and that it doesn’t matter if it’s a man and woman, two women, two men, people of different races and ethnicities… Shortly after that his baby brother was diagnosed with Autism and we realized that acceptance is in short supply in this world. Our oldest has grown up feeling that the only thing that should be looked at as “shocking and out of place” is hatred for others…
I love that you are advocating speaking to children as if they understand everything we say to them because, in fact, they do; prejudice doesn’t come in until we introduce it, and they pick their cues up from what we say. I’ve never regretted being honest with my son and, I had to admit, he has turned out to be an awesome human being.
Keep it up! You guys have a very beautiful, very lovely family and I always wish you the best.
Thanks, Lola. It really makes me happy to hear about people talking to their kids like you did and getting the response you got. Your kids are very lucky, and it’s no surprise your son has turned out so awesome! xo
This was very helpful….I have 3 young boys and this topic just came from my 5 year old. I had to google for help and this is where I found it. Thank you.
How do I talk to my children about gays? I tell them A) Its not natural, B) Its simply weak people who indulge in this perversion like drug addicts, and lastly C) Stay away from them.. they are perverts.
Not all of us accept gay people, Millions of us educate our children similarly.. so you still will have a fight on your hands.
I’m ready for your fight. And I hope when your kids grow up and realize what a closed-minded bigot their mom is, they’ll still find it in their hearts to love you.
BarbraBig, I am sure that in your neck of the woods there is an abundance of occupations in which you could engage on a Saturday afternoon. Instead, you have opted to seek out, find and respond to a blog entry that has incited all your vitriol to spew forth.
Yes, ma’am, you state what is obvious: there are people out there who are not just content with having an opinion, but who also are hell-bent on imposing that opinion on their children. Your children, ma’am, will suffer because of what you say because you are planting the seeds of fear and ignorance in them; should one of them happen to be gay, you have just condemned them to a life of shame and self-loathing.
Why don’t you seek a more productive occupation? The world is full of truly wonderful things that you could engage in without resorting to condemnation, hatred, ignorance and fear-mongering. I suggest listening to the soothing and uplifting works of Luigi Boccherini while looking out your window at the wondrous landscape that nature is painting in golden hues at this time of year…
I love, love, love this post and I’m not even gay! Not only is it seriously funny and well-written, but your message gives me goosebumps (without beating me over the head). I’d like you to consider letting me reblog this (well, now that WordPress has added a reblog button, I guess I don’t really have to ask, but I’m a polite person, so there). I post every Monday and Thursday, and would love to “guestpost” this when I’m on vacation and you’re not. OK, I’m gonna stop now so that you don’t think I’m a super-creepy blog stalker.
Stacie, your politeness goes above and beyond. No, you didn’t have to ask and yes, you are welcome to. (Just make sure you link back, of course!) Thanks for stalking!
Will do…next vacation is in March, or sooner if I can sneak out of the house.
So great Jerry! The first time my kids were going to meet Bennet and Sutton I was waiting for the “whos the mommy” question. It never came and still hasn’t. You are Uncle Jerry and Uncle Drew parents of Bennet and Sutton a happy family who all loves each other no question required I guess:)
How funny. I don’t think Kathy’s kids have really asked either. Maybe I’m not confusing as many kids as I thought. 🙂
I love this! What a public service to parents who want to raise their kids with openness and understanding but haven’t really thought through how exactly (like me). And any time I can see your cartoons, it’s a good day!
Your blog is, by far, one of my very favorites. I’m going to share this post with everyone I know. Because NO ONE can tell this story better.
And you are by far one of my favorite commenters. 🙂 Thanks!
Lovely blog, I followed it from reddit and will definitely be back. We´re a straight couple with kids and our eldest, 7 yrs, has just started asking questions and I´m proud to say I handled it mostly as per your suggestions.
Great to hear! Thanks for reading, and please do come back!
Great post, Jerry. Wonderful suggestions, and as always, written beautifully and with humor.
I like the guy with a crew cut and mustache the best (drawing-wise)
I worked extra hard on that one. Thanks for noticing.
I have to agree with the other comments, this is another wonder- and insightful post. Reading about your family and the love you all have for one another, I cannot help but wonder why there are people out there who are hateful of others just because their personal lives differ from their own. Respect and love, common sense and decency, these are things that are important, not skin colour or sexual orientation – things that harm no-one and can’t be changed anyway.
In any case I’ll make sure, when the day comes, to talk to our little monster the way you described it – as if it was nothing super special, let alone weird just because it’s different. As you say, different is what makes the world interesting.
Thanks, Sandra. I’m so grateful for parents like you who teach their kids respect and tolerance. As I’ve said before, everyone we’ve met has been really nice and supportive so far. The resistance we expected to face as gay parents just hasn’t reared its ugly head, which is a surprise and a relief. Maybe times really are changing. 🙂
I linked back to this on my Facebook. It is extremely well written, and the way you tell people to break it down for their kids is perfect. Our son grew up around our friends who were gay, and watched it on TV (Hurray, Buffy the Vampire Slayer re-runs) and we just explained it as it came up. Our daughter has a friend who has a Mommy A, and Mommy Becky, and Daddy K. Nothing wrong with that, and she sees it as perfectly normal.
I hope everyone can handle it as easily, and that they continue to see what an awesome parent you are! I can tell just by reading the posts that you and your hubby do a great job–kids are high maintenance but totally worthwhile.
Thanks for posting this–is it OK if I link back to it on my WordPress blog? I keep that separate from my FB since it is semi-anonymous.
Thanks, thanks and yes! Link away! And I second your hooray of Buffy – what an amazing show. (I happen to know one of the writers, who is of course a genius and an amazing guy.)
I love your writing; you always make your point with such grace and humor. I wish I had that kind of style and tact. On another note, reading about the things you and Drew dow with the family, I have to say your kids are lucky to have such a cool set of dads. Adopt me.
Well, if we did have another kid, we probably would adopt. Can I ask if you’re toilet trained yet, because that would be a point in your favor. 🙂
I would stop my kid from saying it was weird, which has an alienating tone, I would not frown upon them saying it’s “unusual”… because technically, it’s not the usual, which means… wait for it… it’s unusual. It’s also technically “strange” meaning it’s usual in a way that is hard to understand and might be a little unsettling… But I would clarify that it’s not unusual or strange in a bad way, and that they’re likely nice people just like us.
Well put. Sounds good to me!
Enjoy reading your blog! I hope it helps open eyes and minds!
Thanks, I hope so, too!
Jerry – you and Drew are truly wonderful parents…Bennett and Sutton couldn’t have asked for better ones…yes, parenting is difficult (no matter what age-21 & 23 isn’t any easier-well ok, it’s a little easier) …however, you are on the right track for raising 2 well rounded (and I’m sure brilliant) children.
The important message is to teach our kids to love everyone. When I was in high school, gays were different than the rest of us…however, when my kids were in high school, gays were “ok”. Times have changed and continue to, slowly, but it’s happening.
None of us were put here to judge others, just love them for who they are…and that is what we need to teach our children. Keep up the good work, you are a wonderful dad!
Love you much Cousin…Doreen
Thanks, Doreen. Things have changed a lot since I was in high school, too. I sure never knew anyone with gay dads or moms back then. It’s definitely much easier to be ignorant if you’re never exposed to something, so if my kids end up meeting people who are unenlightened, I’m sure they’ll enlighten them. 🙂
Thanks for being a great cousin – and a great mom, too. Love you, too!
I absolutely LOVE this! I don’t have kids yet, but I’ve always planned on teaching them to accept and celebrate all different kinds of families. This blog really helpfully and concisely sums up really great ways to do this. Thanks for this post, and this great message! 🙂
Thanks, Melia. Sounds like your future kids will be very lucky to have such a smart, hip mom! 🙂
This baby’s going viral…
This was such a fantastic post. Witty and smart but a completely valid point. I told my dad off the other day because he used a derogative term in the car with me. He is learning, slowly, but I’m working on the whole acceptance thing with him. I love my friends and family regardless of their orientation and I want him to understand that.
Thanks for the great post!
Great article! My brother is gay, and is happily married, so my kids have had the exposure that some other kids lack. They were very matter of fact when their cousins asked who the man was with their uncle, to them it’s no big deal. As my daughter, who was 7 at the tiem said “It’s just people’s lives, geez!” (Complete with eye-roll!)
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My Spouse and I have been raising kids for 12 years now, first as foster parents (which we still do) and for the past 10 years to our son who joined our family when he was three.
At first we had concerns how our various kid’s schoolmates would react to the two day thing but from the beginning was pretty surprised. Not only at the level of acceptance but also in cases at the wistful “Wow, we don’t have one dad who we spend time with and you have two” and how much their friends liked hanging out at our house.
That’s so great to hear! I’m hoping we’ll be the cool house to hang out at someday, too. I’m looking forward to being that dad who sits down and plays video games with all his kids’ friends. “You guys playing Mario Kart? Count me in!” I’m sure my kids will be so embarrassed. 🙂
Best wishes to you and your family.
Loved everything about this post x
Thank you. I love getting comments like this!
Reblogged this on Kristian Ramon.
Thanks for the reblog!
You rock. This is a fantastic. My girls are teens and tweens now and we are a heterosexual couple, but we started early letting them know that there are all sorts of families (We used some great books called “It’s So Amazing” and “It’s Perfectly Normal” that are categorized as sex-ed books starting for ages 6 and up, but that cover everything from the emotions around sex to different families as well. Now when we talk about their future families, we will throw in things like your boyfriend or girlfriend, whatever you choose. We occasionally get a little wrinkled nose as they are all showing preferences towards boys now, but at least they have heard over and over that not only will we accept them no matter what, but that they should be accepting of others. As they are older, we also have great political discussions about gay marriage rights. We are atheists, so I like to say that our marriage is no more valid to the church than a gay marriage and that is just fine. I don’t want a religious marriage, I want to make a commitment to my partner (which we have homered for 25 years now) and I want the government rights of marriage and I think any two consenting adults should be able to do the same.
Thanks. I haven’t heard of those books. I’ll try to check them out. I love the nose wrinkling – very sweet. Clearly they got your message – and then some. 🙂
Thanks. I haven’t heard of those books. I’ll have to check them out. I love the nose wrinkling – very sweet. Clearly they got your message – and then some. 🙂
I disagree with it being ok with Beiber Fever – How can you write such a well thought out post, but then include that it’s alright to support bad taste in music? Sheesh! :o)
Seriously though, thanks for this!
Just to clarify – that cartoon was meant to represent the voice of a straight parent talking to his son. It’s not how I feel. If either of my kids had Bieber Fever, I’d be a little disappointed. 🙂
While I enjoyed your post, I must say that I really took issue with the statement “You could also use the word “queer”, I guess, but then your kids and I will just think you’re a pretentious dweeb.”
Not every non-heterosexual person can enjoy the same white, homonormative class privilege that you do, and labeling them as a “pretentious dweeb” is not only rude and inaccurate, but also ignores the factions of queer individuals whose rights and needs have been ignored by the mainstream gay rights movement. Queer isn’t just an alternative term for “gay”, but rather describes a number of identities that recognize that not everyone fits neatly into the gender-binary or exhibits “normal” sexualities. Not everyone lives in the world of the HRC where marriage equality is the most important issue.
You may call me pretentious for leaving this comment, but remember that I am not the only person that needs the identity “queer” to exist. Please think about that in the future before tossing it aside like a joke. Thank you.
Agreed with Ayana. I really liked this post – there was a lot of practical advice in here – but that line seriously rubbed me the wrong way. For many of us, “queer” is the only term that makes sense to describe our sexual orientations / identities. We’re not pretentious dweebs. We are people for whom the choices of gay/straight and even gay/straight/bisexual don’t apply. Many of us are people whose genders or the genders of our partners don’t fit into the male/female box. And yes… people like us have families as well.
My apologies to you, too, Ira. I really didn’t mean to offend or exclude anyone from my post. Of course everyone should teach their kids to love and respect everyone, regardless of what labels they feel fit them best. (Not to be defensive, but I was talking about a scenario where a straight parent used the term, presumably to try to sound hip. That was what struck me as silly, not the feelings of people who self-identify as “queer”.) Thanks for writing.
Haha, I was actually about to post to say the same thing – this is an amazing post, don’t get me wrong, and it’s a topic I am happy to see covered so well, but I identify as queer so that jab was a bit hurtful.
I mean – it’s nice for you that “gay” is a label that you feel happy with, and I mean that sincerely, but not all of us under the not-straight umbrella with you are so lucky. People are complicated and sometimes “queer” is honestly the best we can do. 🙂
Thanks, Sarah. I really wasn’t aware that some people used “queer” because they felt excluded by the term “gay”. I’ve always thought of it as the more academic synonym for “gay”. I’m glad the three of you wrote to tell me otherwise.
I actually had a line in an earlier draft of this post about gay people who don’t want transgendered people included with us in non-discrimination clauses. Something along the lines of, “Who do you think was fighting for our rights at Stonewall? You’re lucky they include us.” I cut it because it was too much of a digression (and would probably baffle straight people who aren’t aware of the rift between some gays and transgenders). But that is how I feel. We’re all one community, and anyone who wants to stand beside me and fight for equality is welcome. I’ll proudly fight for theirs as well.
Thanks so much for writing. I’m sorry if I offended. It certainly wasn’t my intent to write a post about inclusiveness and understanding that left people feeling isolated and misunderstood. Perhaps I need to learn more about “queer” and its connotations. I respect and appreciate everyone, no matter how they label themselves, and I’m glad you wrote to make your point of view known. Again, my apologies.
Ayana, I found your differentiation between ‘gay’ and ‘queer’ very informative. As a straight person, I believed the terms to be essentially synonymous, and in fact had always thought that by using ‘queer’ gay people were ‘owning’ the once-derogatory term, sort of de-fanging it. I’m glad for the deeper understanding.
That said, after reading your comment (and before reading Jerry’s reply) I thought “But this post is directed at straight people.” And let’s be honest…the term ‘queer’, coming from a straight person, does sound weird and yes, even pretentious in a Liberal elitist way. Sort of like a white suburban dude in a sweater vest describing a pair of Hispanic men as ‘homeys’.
Your feelings on the subject are clearly and understandable strong, and your message is important. BUT I think you’re doing poor Jerry a disservice with your “You may call me pretentious for leaving this comment…” remark.
Considering the context, you’d almost have to go out of your way to be outraged about this.
Explain to him how and why it offended you, yes. Get your message across, yes.
Get puffed-up and snarky with someone who is clearly on side with you – no.
So happy to have discovered your blog via your SIL Susie. (We went to HS together.) Great post! And may I second Carrie’s recommendation of “It’s So Amazing”. Got it this year to read with my 5 year old son and I recommend it to everyone!
Thanks, I’ll definitely check that out! So glad you found the blog!
A friend of mine posted a link to today’s blog post on Facebook, so of course I had to check it out. Thanks so much for the humor and matter-of-fact way that you deal with things that, quite frankly, need humor and matter-of-factness. Oh boy, and after that exceedingly terrible sentence, I’m about to make a confession of sorts. *ahem* I’m writing a book. It’s a YA LGBT fantasy romance – title: Prince(ss) Alexandra. . . and what jumped out when reading your article is that I have a confused princess who desperately wants to be a prince talking with her friends about boys who like boys and girls who like girls. I’m really torn. I’ve made it through the third draft, and have not introduced the terms gay, lesbian, homosexuality, bisexuality or transgender to this fantasy world. Why I am I clogging the blog? Feedback, I guess? I have 5 readers looking at my 3rd draft right now, and none have made a comment on that particular piece. The underlying premise of the story is to be who you want to be/are meant to be, rather than who your parents/society tell you that you ought to be. My goal is to create a story that’s mainstream enough that teens will pick it up and say “yes, this resonates with me!” So… feedback. In a fantasy world where those terms honestly don’t exist and our protagonist is wrestling with so many questions . . . it may come to love at the end, but it all starts with like.
Sorry it took me so long to respond. I thought I had already replied but I guess I didn’t. Bad blogger!
Honestly, I would leave “gay” and the other terms out. They don’t need to exist in your fantasy world, and if your general message is self-acceptance, then leaving it broad will allow all kids to relate, whether they’re gay/transgender or not.
Sounds like a great book. Put me down for a copy – and good luck with it!
I don’t agree with telling your kids they’ll “probably” be straight or that they’ll “probably” be gay. That’s the problem with a lot of kids needing to come out of the closet now. Because it’s assumed that the default setting for children is to be straight. That’s not the case, and you shouldn’t pretend that it is. You should just let them know that only THEY can know whether they’re straight or gay, and that neither one is better off than the other.
That being said, I do agree with pretty much everything else. And I think that this is a wonderful article. I just have that small bone to pick.
I see what you’re saying. I did try to make it clear that you should only do that if a kid is specifically asking that question. Of course, it’s best to let kids figure it out on their own rather than steer them in one direction. Sexuality can be confusing to kids (and adults, too), so my point was that if a kid needs help understanding, you don’t need to be evasive just for the sake of being evasive. As long as your message is, “Whatever you are, I love you”, that’s what matters.
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We’re sharing Island Monkey’s spotlight. How nice to find your blog. I really liked this post, although I have no kids, who knows when someday I may find myself with someone else’s kid, trying to come up with appropriate answers to the questions kids always ask. Bless their curious little hearts. Great common sense, no fuss approach.
Thanks for commenting. Glad you found the blog!
This is fantastic.
nicely said. we have the added twist of being a blended family where one son visits his other mom every other weekend and lives with his mom and stepmom “i’ve got a lot of moms” he mumbles when asked whose that? it’s all in the explanation!
I love it. Congrats to all you moms!
Beautiful. Spoken with love and experience…with humor and without judgement…that is very hard to do.
I wish for you and your family the same thing that I wish for all families…peace, grace, laughter everyday, fun, learning moments, teaching moments and someday…a world where blogging about having to explain love to anyone will be a thing of the past.
You are a very gifted writer and obviously a loving, attentive, thoughtful partner and parent. (Ever notice those two words are only different by one letter?)
What a sweet, thoughtful, beautifully expressed comment. Thanks so much, Tricia!
I love your blog. I am a straight mother of 3. Two of my best friends from high school are lesbians so it was very important to me to make sure that this conversation is one that I have early and often with my children. I began reading The Family Book by Todd Park to my children to help introduce the idea that there are lots of different kinds of families and each one is special. Thank you for this post. It is wonderful.
We love The Family Book! It’s so great to have a book that specifically mentions families with two moms or two dads. My kids love that page. We always stop and say how proud we are to have two dads in our family. Glad you’re sharing it with your kids, too. Thanks for writing!
i love this! everything about it! i’m a straight, married, mom of 2 and have several gay couple friends – i know at some point my 4 year old will notice that we have gay friends and now i know exactly what to say – until now, i just planned to say, “sometimes boys like boys and sometimes girls like girls” – good call on the word “love” – it makes much more sense that way!
and how did i miss the most obvious gay reference – Modern Family!! it’s the one tv show we sit down and watch as a family (is that wrong?) – how could i forget to say, “like Cam and Mitchell” – duh!
Great! Glad my advice helped. And I’m really glad Modern Family is increasing tolerance – and giving people an entry point for discussion. Thanks for the comment. I’m sure you’ll raise some terrific, loving kids.
Is it too late to say thanks for the RaisingMyRainbow shout out?! Hope not. Cheers to you and your blog.
I don’t think anything I’ve written or accomplished with this blog has impressed my boyfriend as much as the fact that I got a comment from Raising My Rainbow. We are such big fans (blush). Glad I could send a few readers your way. You’re a great writer and an inspiration.
My family was concerned how my sister-in-law’s adopted (cross cultural) daughter was going to handle the “normality” of school with lesbian mothers of another race. Turns out we needn’t have worried about her.
Another child went home with this:
Child: “Mommy, Sisi has two mommies. Why don’t I have two mommies?”
Mother: “Um, but you have a mommy and a daddy.”
Child: “But I don’t want a daddy! I want two mommies!”
This is fantastic! I recently read something that talked about the impact having to explain “gay” to your children had. They implied it to be incredibly traumatizing. Here is a real life conversation about my brother and his partner (who are also our main source of babysitters).
3 year old daughter: Is Uncle J Uncle A’s honey? (which is how she refers to everyone’s significant other)
3 year old daughter: I knew that was his honey. He’s a good honey.
Me: Yes. And do you know that that’s what’s important? That you have a GOOD honey.
3 year old daughter: Yeah. I’m hungry, do we have any apples?
See, traumatizing right?
Very sweet – thanks for sharing that! Where did you read it was traumatizing? I’m guessing somewhere with a political bent – and they complain about a “gay agenda”! 😉
Oh wow Jerry. I loved going through your blog. I belong from a society where gay couples are… let’s just say not liked very much but the way you write about your lifestyle, thoughts and kids is truly moving. Wish we could interact in real life. If I ever come towards your part of the world, I will surely look you up 🙂
Thanks, Annie. It’s always nice to hear when my blog reaches someone from a less gay-tolerant society. Hope your country catches up at some point, and if you ever make it over to the US, please do look me up! 🙂
THANK you! I’m a straight mama with a straight husband living in a military community. We don’t get to hang out with gay couples much (despite the recent repeal of DADT), but gay tolerance and gay rights are a huge hot button issue for myself and hubby and we want to make sure we’re telling our child the right things. We don’t want to go so far with it that it’s a big deal and the subject of every conversation, we just want her to treat gay and lesbian people (really all people) with respect and want her to feel comfortable with different types of families. I don’t want her to feel, when she sees a gay couple, awkward about it like I felt around the one lone African American in my town. My parents made a huge deal out of my being nice to him, and although their intentions were good, it make the whole thing uncomfortable for him and for me. This is hugely important to us, but hard to find good information. It’s not in any parenting books I’ve seen. Your post here is much appreciated, as are all the others here on my new favorite blog! ❤
FANTASTIC TIPS! And such an interesting post! I am in interior design so I am surrounded by and have gay friends, though no one is ready or have discussed having children, so I had never thought about this topic before. I’m bookmarking this blog and sharing it with them!
My exhusband of 13 yrs is gay. I suspected this throughout my marriage but it wasn’t the reason we divorced. A few years ago he signed off on his parental rights and has not had contact with our three children, now teens. I feel I need to tell the kids as they’ve expressed the desire to see him and I think they deserve the chance to see him and draw their own conclusions, at this point they have no idea he’s gay. Well my 15 yr old so has exhibitedsigns that make me believe he might b gay….he’s very feminine and just doesn’t do the
I’m so sorry this got cut off. I feel terrible for you. Whatever happened between you and your husband and whatever he came to realize about himself, it’s unthinkable to me that he could just sign off on his parental rights and not see his kids anymore. I hope it’s not out of some kind of shame over being gay or fear that his kids will reject him. Especially if one of your kids does turn out to be gay, it would’ve been nice for them to have a decent gay role model instead of one who abandoned him.
Personally, I don’t see any reason not to tell the kids their dad is gay. To keep it from them just reinforces the shame and fear. Acknowledge it, and then you can point out that being gay isn’t what made him a bad parent (a bad husband, maybe).
I’ve always thought parents over-think ‘big’ issues too much, and the ‘What does ‘gay’ mean” question is no exception.
My answer to my kids when they asked (usually around 6 or 7) was simple and engendered ZERO confusion: “Gay is when a man falls in love with another man or a woman falls in love with another woman.” The end.
Nicely put. Simple is best.
Great post, but as someone with friends who are incest survivors, I was really bothered by this line: “Remember the magic phrase, ‘Everyone ends up with the right parents for them.’”
Thanks for reminding me that there’s an exception to every rule. Some parents are terrible, and some kids deserve better. I guess my point is more that it doesn’t matter how your family comes to be, because it’s not genetics but the love that binds you from that point on that makes you a family.
Love this. Have bookmarked it, and will make sure I remember it, if ever my children ask, up until now, we have been sure to teach them that ‘love is love and love is good’ and my 5 year old already tells me he might choose to marry one of his best boy friends and not one of the girls ..I love that he is growing up so happy to embrace love in all it’s colours, shapes, sizes and forms- love is good x
Sounds like you’re doing a great job already!
Your wit is today’s gift to me, thank you. I was raised by a gay daddy, but I don’t think he’s made me laugh this hard since he blew raspberries on my four-year-old tummy! You’re a clever writer.
Thanks! Raspberries on the tummy… I’ll have to try that one! 😉
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=raspberry — helpful?
Thank you for this! I just had a conversation the other day with my kids (8 and 5) when we came across the word “gay” while reading Narnia. We’ve talked a lot about gay marriage thanks to a proposed amendment to our state (which was defeated, woohoo!), but this was the first time babies entered the conversation. We don’t have any close gay friends, so I never know for sure if I’m saying the right things, but I think our conversation was pretty close to your advice, so I feel like I’m at least somewhat on track!
I’m guessing “gay” in Narnia wasn’t synonymous with “homosexual”, unless Aslan makes a big announcement in one of the later books. Still, how great that you used that as an intro to talk to your kids about the other kind of gay. You want a close gay friend? You got one now! 🙂
You just made my day! 🙂
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Maybe it’s because we’ve always had gay relatives, but my kids never brought up the question either. They just accepted that sometimes there are two folks of the same gender, and they are a family. I can’t remember at any point being uncomfortable about discussing our gay family members. It was just not a big deal. Never has been.
I think kids react based on what they see around them – based on others’ reactions. We’ve never made it a big deal. We’ve treated gay people the same as we’ve treated anyone else. We’ve accepted it as a normal part of society, and our kids followed suit.
Kids learn ignorance. They learn bigotry. They learn to be uncomfortable. My son had a nanny who was black for the first year of his life, while we were stationed in Germany. She was wonderful with him, and he loved her and spoke of her often when we came back to the US. He never thought about her color, and never considered it. She was just someone he loved. When we moved here and placed him in daycare, he came home one day and looked at a photo of his former nanny cuddling him on the fridge, and with the most surprised look on his face said, “Mommy! Hazel was black!” It never occurred to him. But when someone mentioned race at daycare, he all of a sudden became aware of it. He became aware of her color. I was a bit saddened by this.
I love that nanny story. It says so much about kids’ minds. I think you handled everything so well. Race only becomes an issue if you make it one. Sure, someone else always will as your kids grow up, so that’s the best time to address it. The fact that you haven’t made an issue of it until then shows your attitude towards it. You can teach tolerance jut by not teaching its opposite.
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This is one for Scary Mommy, or another super mainstream blog. I say that because people who come to your blog are probably okay with homosexuality, and this message needs to get out to the MASSES. My 19 month old has a lot of “Gunkles,” so I will be using your words of widsome one day!
Thanks. You’re right. People who come here tend to be supportive already. But this one actually did run on Scary Mommy. The response was also great there. Very positive comments. On the other hand, it ran last week on an Australian news site, which some people claim is almost as conservative as Fox News. That generated a lot of “this is disgusting!”-type comments, and I got one email telling me to burn in hell. The positive comments were in the minority, but it felt good knowing that it at least reached a few people who appreciated the message.
My bad, and congrats to you! Don’t worry; all your loyal readers will visit you in hell 😉
Awesome. I’m hoping to get a nice room, near the fire pits.
Australia does have a LGBT community which is sadly ostracized by many heterosexual people. Not all Australians are homophobic and I’d like to apologize for those that are. Awesome blog, keep up the good work.
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This post really touched me. As a parent of two it means a lot to me to be able to talk to my kids about such subjects. I am a mother of a bisexual teen and teaching her to be who she is no matter what means a lot. Its important that she accepts people for who they are as well and this is one thing my husband and I try to teach both our kids. Thank you for posting this, it will be a tool I will use when topic like this come up with my kids.
Thanks for writing. So glad the post helped you, and so glad your daughter is lucky to have such understanding and loving parents as you and your husband. Sounds like you’re doing great! 🙂
What about a man who is in the closet? My kids know after six years of wondering why we are divorced. Right now they are just processing it.
That is a great question. I don’t have any personal experience on it, and without knowing how old your kids are, I’m not sure what exactly I’d suggest. In general, though, I think it’s always better to be honest. Even young kids can understand something like, “Some men are meant to be with men, not women, and Daddy realized he’s supposed to be with a man.” Sorry, I know that’s a rough situation. Good luck with it.
I needed this. I was watching “Milk” for the first time, tonight. My 5 year old son climbed onto the couch with me as Sean Penn and James Franco kissed outside their camera shop. He was confused. I told him that sometimes men love men and that it’s ok… it’s part of the world. I love everyone and want my son to know, early on, that being gay is perfectly ok. Well… My boyfriend flipped out on me. He was appalled that I would let my 5 year old watch a movie about gays. He even said, “And I heard how you explained it to him!” I was taken aback because we have gay friends; plus, I know he’s shown my son movies with kissing straight people. He treated me like a horrible mother. Although I know how I feel, I need some back-up that this was a perfectly healthy interaction between my son and me. Thanks
Yes, I think you handled it perfectly. I’m not sure Milk is a great movie for kids, mostly because they’ll be frightened by James Franco’s moustache. But you explained it just right. This might be something you should talk to your boyfriend about.
My kids are 14, 12 and 10. As of a few days ago they all know. He will not really talk about it because he does not want the community, family etc. to know. I am not going to overtalk it, but I am sure they will have questions. It is not my place to do the talking but he will not talk about it. He does not talk about anything really except day to day stuff so this is very difficult. My youngest keeps asking me if it really is true. SHe had no idea. I thought she had some inclination but she says she did not.
Susan from March 18
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Fine way of describing, and pleasant paragraph
to obtain facts on the topic of my presentation subject, which i am going to present in university.
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Great advice! My son is 8 and has asked more detailed questions about the reproductive aspectd of same-sex parenting, so I thought it might be helpful to share how I explained that.
He has always been familiar with same-sex couples because there are several in our church, though none have children. It was not until kindergarten that he knew a child with same-sex parents. He said, “Hannah has two moms and no dad. But YOU told me a baby has to be made by a mother and a father!” (accusing look). I said, “It does take a mother and a father to start a baby growing, but those are not always the same people who raise the baby and act as its parents. Hannah has two moms who love her and take care of her. They are a family. There’s no dad in their family. The father who helped Hannah start to grow is her father in that way, but he’s not a daddy who is raising her.”
That was enough until he was 7 and asking more detailed questions about reproduction and eventually got to, “When a family has two moms and no dad, or two dads and no mom, and they want to have a baby, how do they do that?”. It was easy to explain three options:
1. They can ask a friend to be the other biological parent. Then the two moms or two dads will be raising the child, but the other biological parent is someone their family knows and spends time with, kind of like an uncle. (We did not get into the mechanics of conception for this. I think my son assumed the bio parents would have sex specifically for this purpose.)
2. They can get help from a doctor, who gets the sperm from the father and puts it into the mother so that it finds her egg and the baby grows. If the mother is growing the baby for a family with two dads, then they have to wait for it to be ready to be born, and then she says goodbye to the baby and the two dads become the parents. (This explanation required several rounds of, “But isn’t that too sad?!” and, “It seems too sad to me; I don’t think I could say goodbye to a baby I grew, but different people make different choices.”)
3. They can adopt a baby who needs parents because the biological parents are not able to take care of the baby.
My son immediately began analyzing the physical resemblances between Hannah and each of her moms, speculating on which mom grew her. I told him it is fine to wonder about that, but remember that BOTH of them are her “real mom” and it is rude to ask a lot of questions unless people feel like explaining their family.
Gender roles in our family (headed by unmarried heterosexual parents) are so flexible that my son doesn’t question how anybody would decide which mom cooks dinner or anything like that!
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A friend reposted this on FB and I just had to comment. I am 51, and grew up in a upper-middle class, mostly white, straight-laced town where everyone had station wagons, picket fences, and a mom and a dad. The rare few had divorced parents, and I was one, living with my mom. That felt strange enough, but the big secret was that my dad was gay, lived in the city, and had a longtime partner. This was back in the 70’s, where people definitely didn’t talk about anything even remotely in that direction. If they did, it was something awkward and uncomfortable, and as a result, my dad’s sexuality became a big secret that we all kept close – not healthy as you can imagine. My dad understood and accepted it, but remained proud of who he was and folded us, even during the uncomfortable teenage years, into his other life. When I got to college, I start sharing his whole story only with people who I knew wouldn’t judge him or define him falsely by their own misperception. I do the same today, sharing his story and mine only with trusted friends, even though he passed away many years ago. I never really learned to deal with the bigots, and I love my dad too much to let someone who never knew him redefine from an ignorant perspective.
I am so glad that today, children of gay parents live in a world where they can find a family that mirrors theirs, whether they are being raised by two gay parents or have a gay parent and a straight parent. I am happy to see that there are open, honest discussions like this, and gratified to know that there are parents (and writers) out there like you who share such wise and perfect advice on how to answer the hard questions that may come up. I know it isn’t always easy, but I hope the path isn’t quite as rocky as when I was growing up. You said it all beautifully, and I wish that we could have had discussions like this back when I was a kid. So as a grownup child of a gay parent, thank you from my little corner of the world!
Thanks so much for this comment and for sharing your story. It really meant a lot to me. I realize constantly that I’m only able to be who I am and to have the family that I have because of people like your father, who dealt with being gay with dignity in a much more oppressive time. I’m sorry things were so hard on him in his lifetime and so hard on you as a result, but I’m grateful to him and so many others like him for paving the way.
All my best to you!
I was very touched by your response. It feels so right to talk about my dad and our life growing up, but finding an audience that understands can be challenging. I just read your “five types” piece and I have a few “types” that I expect when I tell them about my dad…so I choose to mostly only tell the supportive ones. I did make a mistake recently, which brought me back to my avoidance of someone redefining my dad through their own ignorance. The friend I had shared my story with asked me months later if my dad got all “weird” when he “turned gay”. I pretty much flattened her by pointing out that my dad had been a senior VP in a major insurance company (a conservative industry), a father of three and a gay man who was out but not in anyone’s face about it, balancing all those parts of his life with incredible grace. I guess she wondered if he wore feather boas and platforms with his suit to the office? My dad would have laughed with gusto at that image, and that is what keeps me plowing forward with my own version of coming out, one supportive friend at a time 🙂
That’s a great story. There’s still so much ignorance in the world. All the more reason you’re doing a great thing to honor your dad by talking about who he was.
At the end of the article you mentioned that you just want to live life “with a sense of mutual respect for everyone else on this planet”. I’m curious then why earlier you said that if unsympathetic straight parents ignore your suggestions you would “enjoy watching them squirm”.?
So if I react to unsympathetic straight parents unsympathetically I’m a hypocrite? I think you missed the point, let alone the joke.
Jerry said “mutual” respect, which part of “mutual” dd you not understand?
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What a well written article. While this is not directly related, maybe you can shed some brilliance? I’ve been researching how to tell my 13 and 10 year old children that I am lesbian and in love with an amazing woman they are already building a relationship with. Because of their age, and tolerance to all that is vastly different from them, they understand and accept what being gay is. But what if its their own Mom who for the majority of their lives was living with their father. Is this a rip the bandaid moment? How can I expect them to be honest with me if I’m not with them?
Great goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you’re just too wonderful.
I really like what you’ve acquired here, really like what you are stating and the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still care for to keep it wise. I can not wait to read far more from you. This is really a terrific web site.
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Clear post, well said, wonderfully so… and the stream of comments is so good.
When my daughter was in 1st grade, she had two classmates with gay parents. We live in a rather conservative city, so it was a bit surprising for there to be 2 openly gay couples with chilren in the same classroom.
The school is very active with their anti-bullying efforts and it had been made very clear to the first graders that calling people gay was not okay. It was not made clear, and is probably difficult to convey to a bunch of 6 and 7 year olds particularly when skirting the sensibilities of a conservative Catholic population, that “gay” shouldn’t be used a slur but saying an openly gay person is gay is not bad.
So, one day, my very serious daughter came home and reported that so-and-so had called another child’s dad gay and I had to explain this child was not being mean because the dad is, in fact, gay and what that means. She said “okay” and moved on. It has come up a handful of other times in the following couple of years but never in confusion, just checking to make sure she understands.
But with all of the non-heterosexual-nuclear family configurations that her classmates live in, 2 daddies/mommies isn’t much of a leap because even though that the family she’s growing up in, she doesn’t take it as a given that everyone will.
Dear Jerry, thanks a million for your post, which I found through Everyday Feminism website. Most of the comments say what I wanted to say about how clear, fun and helpful your text is, so I will skip to saying that I feel blessed to have the opportunity to read what you wrote and that this will truly help me assess the subject with friends and relatives. I do not have kids and my partner is not very keen on the idea of having them, but I have friends with kids who will certainly profit from the wisdom you provide here. Besides having incredible and thoughtful responses for children, your text can also be a source of understanding for grown-up’s as well.
If you would allow me to, I would like to translate your post into Portuguese and share it with friends here in Brazil, through my humble blog – I have not been writing lately because of professional and academic pressures. Of course I will quote the source and include the link to your website for those who can read in English as well.
I regret to say that in spite of many advances and keen efforts to put forward the notions of mutual respect and understanding towards race/gender/social relations, we have been facing quite a backlash from a neo-conservative right (and some extreme left, as well) in my dear country. On the other hand, there are some important people speaking up for civil rights here, as well, and I strongly hope we will build a better and more supportive and tolerant society.
It is comforting to see (from the stream of great comments you had) that there are more and more people aware of the misconceptions and misinterpretations of gender roles and who consequently are struggling to change that.
Your site bacem a beacon of light for me and I will help spread the light. Sorry for the long comment. May your path keep bing blessed with all the best that life can offer.
Just wanted to note that I thought this was a great article. I wanted to single out one or two of your recommendations, but they’re all too good. Okay, perhaps I’ll throw the spotlight on #6. But again, all good.
I also want to add, because I guess I’m still observing my own transition myself, I’m a dad but straight. I grew up thinking more or less like every straight guy too, which is that I didn’t think I really knew anybody gay and it was all a bit “odd” to me but also unimportant, as… again… I didn’t think I knew anyone.
Turns our, of course, that I did. One of my college roommates, for instance, who — bravely, I should add, since his own dad had a tough time of it) came out after we all graduated — turned to be just the first of a few people I’d come to know.
It might seem overzealous for me to say this, but I genuinely appreciate the very positive effect these friends have had on my life in the time since. Partly, just because by being gay at all, they’ve challenged me to open up my eyes. And life with eyes open is better.
But also because everyone really is different. And it’s been great getting to know not just a demographic class, but the differences within it. This might be especially true of my college roommate, who I got to know as a great guy long before he’d found the courage to come out. Might seem silly to say, but it was great that it was all the same afterward, too.
Today, my wife and I have friends who are gay parents. They’re both loving, decent guys… hard-working and great providers… and two individuals who have gone to great sacrifice to put this family together (five kids, all adopted). Their children couldn’t be luckier.
Anyway, great and helpful post. It was reassuring to see that a lot of what you said was similar to what we told our two children, as they watched a parade in support of marriage equality pass by our apartment window.
Best of luck with your kids and thanks again.
Thanks for this comment. I agree, it’s great for kids — and for all of us — to know lots of different kinds of people. There used to be a time when grown-ups felt like they had to protect kids from homosexuality, or at least from knowing about it. Glad to see that’s changing, family by family. 🙂
Reblogged this on JerBear's Queer News, Views & Memories and commented:
This is a fabulous, inspirational and ultimately extraordinarily normal look at 2 dads. If there is an LGBT Family in your life and you want to talk to your kids about it, this is the post you need to read. In fact if you yourself want to understand a family with 2 dad’s – read this. Oh, alright, everybody should read this!
Great blog post. As a gay dad in highly conservative Kansas, I am thrilled yet shocked this has never come up in front of us. Our son, who was thrown into our family by international adoption via Ukraine (at 4) has never ever questioned our family situation. I can only guess he’s been asked questions by both his peers and adults however he is never indicated that he has; yet stands by firmly that his life and our family is normal. While his friendships have not been seemingly effected by our family make up, I can tell that many of his friends’ parents tend to distance themselves from us only because they don’t know what to do or how to react to the differences. I honestly hope and feel that this article can go along way to help coach parents not only on handling the child’s reaction to different families but also to their own personal Perspective of what a family is.
As a stepdad I EARNED the tile “dad.” And I was damn proud of it. Anybody can have a child, but not all are ready or willing to be MOM or DAD, or MOM and MOM, or DAD and DAD. What we need in this word are GOOD PARENTS, regardless of their sexuality, to be raising good kids.
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I’m impressed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s equally educative and entertaining, and let
me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that too few people
are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy I came across this in my search for something regarding this.
Thanks for this — This is tremendous!!! You are spot on, Straight parents don’t know how to discuss, even when, like myself, we support “love”. This is helpful.
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What a FABULOUS blog!! Even as a gay mom it is a conversation we have with our children. I posted this on my Facebook page and will re-blog this if that is ok. I look forward to following you on your life journey. Please feel free to check out my VERY new blog. Cheers!
Of course. Thanks so much for reblogging it. So glad to have found your blog!
Reblogged this on 2mommiesof3 and commented:
Straight or gay parents, teacher, Aunt or Uncle……this blog post is a MUST to read!
Thank you for this entry. See. I am eagerly waiting for my first grandchild from my daughter (who is single and in college) and was raised since she was 4 by a single mother. It isn’t an unusual family. It’s a *different* type of family. We ALL have different types of families and through the generations, they have been able to accept and respect a heck of a lot more than the generations before. So like you, I am proud to be in a ‘different’ kind of family. 🙂
jerry me and my husband have ran in to a problem with our 12 year old son making comments like being gays a choice or that is disgusting and has said he didnt want to be friends with a child at school cause he is gay what is the best approach for this cause we are a gay married couple and trying to build our family but fill that this could be a problem
There is certainly a great deal to find out about this topic.
I really like all of the points you have made.
Reblogged this on sexplainer and commented:
Hi everyone! This is a first but I’m reposting from someone else’s blog. This comes from MommyMan, Adventures of a Gay Superdad. Jerry writes here about talking to kids about gay parents. It’s smart and fun and practical. Only point of disagreement (from point #3) – we don’t have to wait for junior high health class to educate our kids about intercourse. But I think Jerry was being cheeky. The rest of his post allows me to hold that perspective. Either that, or I’d like to see those stats about the gay smurfs!
I hope if you’ve been wondering how to frame this issue for your kids, you find this helpful too.
This was very helpful to me. I have a 4 year old from a previous relationship with a man. I have always loved women but I tried to live by “society’s terms” for a long time instead of doing what made me happy. But now that I’m older I decided I’m gonna do what I wanna do and I’m now in a wonderful relationship with a woman and we want to get married. But I’m so nervous about explaining the marriage to my daughter. She knows we sleep in the same bed and tell each other we love each other but I’m worried once we tell her about us getting married she will be confused and I don’t want other children to tease her once she’s in school. This also goes for our children we will have in the future. I just don’t want them to suffer because of me. Any other advice?
I have one child from a previous relationship and two more with my now wife. Children are so much more casual about these things. Our childrens’ school have been a wonderful source of support for both us and our kids. They are very open about talking about all the different types of families in our community. It is part of the “community” unit covered in most primary grades.
If your daughter is still fairly young, I suggest you read her a few of the Todd Parr books. They are an incredible resource to use. Just be honest and remember…your relationship is only a big deal to her if you make it a big deal. When we were getting married my wife’s family never had “the talk” with her young nieces and nephews. To center it out was to create a big deal where there wasn’t one.
I hope you follow my blog. I am going to follow yours and look forward to joining you on your life journey!
This is a wonderful post. I loved everything about it and I’m so glad I found your blog!
Love this, thank you for sharing. We try to teach our girls to be accepting of everybody, and I feel like this blog has prepared me for this conversation.
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Jerry, your post was open, smart and and funny. Thanks for the info. My kid already knows all that stuff from preschool. She came home one day and explained me how some guys marry guys and girls marry girls and there are many kinds of happy families and that was that.
I am from a country where being gay is a big no no. People are soooo scared of gay people and often think that gay is synonym with paedophile or gays will teach or lure their kids into their lifestyle. So, in my country, gay ppl will never admit they’re gay and most of the time they leave double lives. Sad, i know.
I wish all children have happy, loving families (all kinds, colors, shapes and sizes) and my philosophy on people is: everybody has only one life, why should somebody live the way somebody else wants them to live.
I am a supporter of minorities rights in my group and often go into polemics with friends and try to open their eyes. It is very hard teaching tolerance, my friend. It’s a tough battle, I admit.
Love this post!
Jerry, you sound like a really fun, good natured dad who loves his kids! This is an awesome reminder that kids are inquisitive and we can honestly answer them with no shame. I think it’s sad that we have to describe gay people by their choice in spouse. I don’t tell my kids that family is straight. I would rather people be described by their hair color, eyes, favorite pass time etc. My absolute favorite is being called ” Cian and Chloe’s mom”. Rest assured I am not bothered by the term “gay”, I use it but its not top of the list when I am describing a friend. You make really good points, and I am glad I stumbled upon your blog.
Cheers to you and your family!
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I found this through a search that I did because my husband and I are having a disagreement about this. We are both tolerant, live and let live, kind of people and even though I am a Christian, I don’t think homosexuality is sinful. What is in the bible is taken way out of context. However, It does open you up to hate and disdain. So….We have a two mom couple on just about every soccer or tball team our 7 or 5 year old play on and I just never point it out, because I didn’t want them to question the kid or the parents. They never noticed, so we don’t bring it up. Then one day, my 5 year old said that a man can’t marry a man, that is just silly. He was trying to tell us about a show where there was a wedding and he mistakenly said he married him, when he meant he married her. Anyway, my husband agreed with him that it was silly. My husband and I talked later and I told him not to say that because our son has twin girls with two moms in his class and he may tell them that it is silly or wrong. My husband said that, in truth, two men can’t legally get married and he doesn’t want the kids thinking it is OK. Well that is when I realized that we aren’t as cool with it as I thought. I don’t think seeing gay couples will make our sons gay, but my husband seems to think that if we just say it is fine and OK and natural, then they will experiment with both genders. While I would love and accept my son no matter what and so would my husband, I don’t want him to be gay. So how do I tell them that it is OK for other people, but not OK for us. Is that ignorant of me. Am I way overthinking it. I don’t feel like these couples are going to make my children gay, but, for some reason, I have this problem with telling them that it is perfectly OK and normal for them to like boys or girls. How should I explain it. I would be mortified if he told his five year old friends that their Moms were wrong or weird and made the little girls feel bad.
I find that the line, “We don’t do that in our family,” covers a lot. In our case we are okay with our children being gay, but we feel strongly about not taking the name of the Lord in vain–and our son’s preschool teachers did that a lot in front of the kids. We explained why we don’t do that, but we also told him not to criticize his teacher, just let it go.
From my comment above (May 13, 2013):
My son immediately began analyzing the physical resemblances between Hannah and each of her moms, speculating on which mom grew her. I told him it is fine to wonder about that, but remember that BOTH of them are her “real mom” and it is rude to ask a lot of questions unless people feel like explaining their family.
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Hi! My name is Kyriotissa, and I live in Venezuela, where homophobia is a real issue. I absolutely love your text, I think is a clear and funny example that being a gay parent is no big deal, but also is a real issue today. I took the liberty to translate your text in my blog, http://mamadeclasemedia.blogspot.com, with proper accreditation to your blog, of course. I am starting my blog, but I am also a junkie of translation, so I hope your text bring me tons of reader to be educated in the topic. Awesome job you do with this blog!!
Muchas gracias, Kyriotissa! Mi espanol no es tan bueno, pero me gusta leer mi articulo en su website! 🙂
Jerry, I read with interest this story about explaining gay parents/families to children. What saddens me is your own admission that (as you suggest to call it) gay parenting needs to be explained.
Kids have the unique ability to see things normal and abnormal and call it what it is without worry of being politically incorrect. Now you want teach heterosexual parents to justify your behavior to our kids?
Kids are smart enough to understand that two males cannot have the same biological child. They know it’s not possible and that’s why they are asking questions.
Abhorrent behavior is something everyone has the potential toward. I personally adopted an 18 year old girl that spent 9 years being sexually abused by a pervert stepfather that is now spending 17 years in prison for his perversion. If anyone would have a reason to avoid being heterosexual it should be her!
What about the perverted men who like to fondle little boys. Are they perverts because they want to fondle other males, or because they want to fondle children?
If I acted on my abhorrent tendencies I would be in prison myself. That’s why as adults we are expected to act with self-control.
Your story tells me and anyone who gives this issue a great deal of thought would know that you do realize that relations with another person of the same gender is NOT normal or acceptable. You are simply justifying you abhorrent behavior and asking for our help in doing that.
You sound fun. Let’s set up a playdate sometime! 🙂
Jerry, I believe you just modeled what a good parent does in a challenging situation. Well done.
Fondling children causes harm. Having been the child in one of those situations, I know this from bitter experience. It is completely different from a gay couple, which consists of two CONSENTING ADULTS and not a child forced into an involuntary and developmentally inappropriate sexual relationship. I find it offensive that you would use the suffering of people like me to justify your hateful view of gays.
I have heard from guys who are pedophiles and don’t want to hurt children, and my sympathy goes out to people struggling with their harmful desires in that manner. I would not wish the same struggle on gays, who can easily fulfill their sexual desires without hurting anyone.
Now what I really want to say is the truth so am going to say the truth. God put in the bible Adam which is a man and eve which is a woman together on this earth he did not put two men or two woman. There are actually bible stories about how god burned down town and cities thousands of years ago for Homosexuality. God Hates it because he put a woman and a man to be together. And for people to walk around prancing and dancing like its normal. I just have mixed feeling about it. Being a mom and haveing two kids and all. Because these families (Gay families) When my kids see them its just …. Because studies show most kids turn gay from seeing other people or like on tv . Sooo I mean I just don’t know
If you actually read the story in the Bible you’ll see that city was destroyed for people trying to RAPE angels, and violate hospitality in the process. There is so much wrong with what they did, I have no idea why people think it was about being gay. (Especially since the men involved weren’t even gay – they were just as happy to rape Lot’s daughters. Gay guys aren’t interested in women.)
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I really enjoyed this, it really helped. I have a few more questions, if it’s possible to email me, I would greatly appriciate it.
I like the straightforward simplicity of your message.
My kids aren’t enough for conversations with much depth – I have a 2 and half year old and 1 year old – but I have been teaching my older child about gay parents since she was 1 and a half and she started grouping everything she saw into families (mommy tree, daddy tree, baby tree). When we play, or we are just observing nature, I create families with her (mommy dinosaur, mommy dinosaur, baby dinosaur or daddy carrot, daddy carrot, baby carrot). Cars, stuffed animals, rocks, really anything can be created into a family in my child’s mind, which opens up opportunities for me to open her mind about what families can look like.
We aren’t discussing, we are just playing normal as all children do, and all the characters we create act in similar ways – they talk, they eat,they play
I have a new blog about social justice minded parenting strategies and I would love to refer to your work, link to it, and even repost it if it seems like a good match. But of course you get ultimate veto power – you can check it out at http://www.activistparenting.com
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Brainy Smurf most likely is gay. He kissed Lazy Smurf on the lips in one episode, and gave Clumsy Smurf a valentine in a different episode.