“COMING OUT” TO YOUR CHILD AS LGBT PARENTS
Thank you, Eleanor, beautiful name but I have gotten so used to referring to her as JustEllaBella 😊 for requesting us to share how we handled the topic of homosexuality with our son, from gay parents view to share with her blog readers. A perfect topic as we celebrate global Pride Month, albeit somewhat subdued this year thanks for Convid-19 and our social distancing requirements.
This is what we shared …
Way before our son was finally placed with us and our family was formed, my husband, Darren, and I had decided that we would always do our best to be as honest as possible with our child. We had heard so many stories of hurt when information is withheld, that the last thing we want is to add to those statistics. Do not get us wrong, we are also very aware that it is not always possible to share the truth in too much detail. So, we have chosen to always listen first to what is being asked and then respond age-appropriately but truthfully.
Our household, one that is made up of two dads, was bound to raise questions from our son’s classmates at some point. As always, it happens sooner rather than later, however, not always for malicious reasons. Almost always from a point of innocent ignorance. It is always “What do you mean you have two dads?” or “You can’t have two dads, where’s your mother?”.
So even before he started playschool, when he was old enough to start going to the playground with our helper, we discussed the fact that he has two dads and how his mother had asked us to look after him. This was enough for a while but as he grows older, the questions he asks require more specific responses, which prompts us to always listen to what it is that is really asking.
We also found that by enquiring from the school whether they were LGBT+ Family-friendly, helped us a lot. It meant that we would know if we had the schools support should any parent issues arise once we became part of the school and more importantly that our son’s teacher would be able to educate the classroom should there be questions about our family setup. The reality is that the questions from our son will never stop. Although he understands he has two dads while most at his school only have one, I do not believe that he has totally grasped the concept of what homosexuality is. We are quite fine with this, as we do not believe that he is yet at the age that requires him to grasp it either. It is more of a society issue and not for a child of his age. For now, all he needs to know is that his family setup is different yet very similar to his classmates in that he has a mother that loved him enough to want a better future than she could provide at the time.
It is important to remember that although society refers to families like ours as LGBT+ families, in most cases it is only the parents that are part of the LGBT+ community and it does not necessarily mean that a child being raised by two men or women will one day be gay, but if he does, so what? We will address his sexuality with him at that point if it requires us to intervene for whatever reason.
We believe that it is important that our son realizes that as a society, not everyone is the same. Just like he has two dads whilst others have one, we are also different in the way we look, and that is ok. We encourage him to understand and accept individual people for who they are without feeling the need to put them into a box to relate to them. If you want to be friends with someone, be friends with that person for the reason you were drawn to them in the first place. There may come a time when your paths will separate, and we share examples of individuals that he was friends with in Playschool, in Grade R or Grade 1 who are now no longer part of his life today, but his life continues, it did not stop. You make new friends. Who knows one day your paths with these other friends from Playschool etc. may cross again?
For now, he understands that not everyone likes everyone else. Each person has their reasons for not liking a certain person or a group of people. Their reason may not always be right, but it is their choice. It is not up to him. Not too long from now, I am very sure there will be more questions as he meets new people who have a different set of questions. As parents, I hope that Darren and I continue to empower our son to deal with these questions or that he continues to feel comfortable enough to raise them with us. The older he gets we will have a better understanding of the subject of homosexuality and how it impacts his life and as his parents, we will address it with honesty when the more difficult questions and their answers come up for him to process.