Recent statistics show that roughly 25 percent of gay and lesbian couples in the U.S. are raising children as a family. So, that means that there’s a good chance that your kids may have one or more classmates with gay parents and they may have questions about these nontraditional households—questions that you need to be prepared to answer.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Regardless of how you feel about the subject of gay parents, your answer to your kids’ questions about the topic should be simple and to the point:
Amber’s moms are in love, just like a mom and dad are in love, and they are raising her together.
Ben’s two dads are a couple, and they decided to adopt him because they wanted to have a family, just like a mom and dad would.
Your child’s questions about gay parenting and gay couples are most likely going to stem from his confusion, since from an early age we are socially taught to associate marriage and parenting solely with male/female unions. Again, keep your explanation simple, and always return to the central truth—Ben or Amber’s parents are two people in love and raising a family together, just like a mom and dad would do.
GAUGE BY YOUR CHILD’S AGE
Depending on the age of your child and his curiosity on the subject, you can choose to have a longer, more complex conversation about civil rights laws in your state and societal views on gay marriage. But rather than jump into a potentially confusing discussion about morality and legality, let your child’s questions lead the way.
If your child is starting to understand, or you’ve already had The Talk about the birds and the bees, he’s likely to have some potentially uncomfortable questions about how gay parents procreate, and whether they kiss, sleep together or have sex.
Only you can decide your comfort level in answering. You can keep it G-rated and tell your child that gay parents kiss, hug and cuddle just like straight parents do. Or, you can wade into a more specific discussion of the particulars of gay and lesbian sex. However, save this for an older child who has already gotten some basic sex-ed, either through his school or with books that you have provided and discussed with him.
APPROACH WITH AN OPEN MIND
Even if you oppose gay unions and gay parenting, the fact of the matter is that your child is likely to encounter these realities at school, on the playground, and in the homes of friends. When you discuss gay parents with him, you can explain to your child that while you are personally opposed to the idea of same-sex parents, his schoolmates love their gay parents just as he loves his mom and dad. After all, no matter what your beliefs, you wouldn’t want your child to be unkind to or shun the child of gay parents based on something you’ve taught him.
Read Related: The Challenges Of Gay Parenting
FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES…
This viral video made the rounds on YouTube last year. It shows a young boy’s reaction the first time he encounters a gay couple.
His reactions are precious, and truly illustrate the innocence and acceptance that children are born with. “You’re both husbands?” the boy asks. “You married each other?! That’s funny!” He pauses and thinks, then exclaims: “So that means you love each other!” Moments later, he’s over it: “Hey, I’m gonna play ping pong now. You can play if you want to.”
Remember, children aren’t born with prejudice in their hearts. All they know about love, hate, acceptance and bigotry, they learn from us. They can learn to love and accept their friends and their friends’ gay parents, or they can learn to judge, ridicule or even hate them. It all depends on us.