The other day, a pretty interesting conversation was had in my household. My 5 year old, completely out of the blue, said to us:
“You know my friend X from school? His mommy is married, but her husband is a girl. He has two mommies!”
I did what any good mother would have done…I nodded my head, “OK, honey” and hoped the conversation would end.
Instead, she went on and on about how cool she thought it was to not only have 2 mommies, but to have a girl as a “husband.” She’s only 5, so while I hardly took that as her attempt at “coming out,” it was inevitable that it was time to have “the talk” about same sex marriages.
Now, my husband and I have already had some pretty uncomfortable talks with our kids – from “where to babies come from” to “why do boys’ private parts look different from ours?” How well we’ve handled those…well, I guess time will tell. But this here was a “talk” we just weren’t ready for. We’ve never prepared for this type of conversation, or imagined how it would go. Hell, truth be told, we’ve never actually had this conversation with our own parents either! (…and judging by all of the gay relatives who only surfaced in my late teens, I can pretty much guess how my parents went about handing the topic.)
The first thing I had to do was to make sense of what was really happening. My daughter understood that her friend having two mommies was something different enough to bring attention to, but she didn’t know why. She clearly didn’t understand this as a debate on homosexuality, gay marriage, religion, or any more of the complicated issues we adults have associated with this topic, nor did she really care to. So, I did a little research and formed the following tips on how to talk to your curious little ones about same sex marriages:
- Use the word “Gay.” In other words, don’t make the word “gay” a bad word, or worse – don’t use an actual bad word! Doing this identifies that there is a difference, but does not form any opinion of that difference.
- Don’t pretend that half the world is gay. It’s ok to point out that it’s a minority group of people. After all, your child has clearly has already recognized that this is an unfamiliar situation from what they’re used to. What’s most important is that you do not attach a judgment to it.
- Get your mind out of the gutter.Kids don’t know or really care what gay or straight couples do behind closed doors. Enough said.
- Don’t make it about your child. Your child seeing a gay couple is not going to make your child gay. They are not seriously contemplating a change in lifestyle or anything of the sort.
- Just talk to your child. Nope, you can’t change the topic or pretend you don’t hear them. Bottom line is that they are going to be exposed to so many different types of people and families and you can’t run forever. Encourage an open dialog with your children.
So moms and dads, have you had this talk to your kids about same sex marriages? How did you handle it?
(One request – please have respect for all readers as you post your comments)