What’s In A Family?
Someone asked me if my being a parent means coming out again and again. I actually kind of think being anything other than hetero means you do that to some extent. There are approximately 2-3 million kids in the United States being raised by one or more gay parents, but we don’t know exact numbers. That’s more than a few and increases the odds that every child can meet someone with 2 moms or dads.
I’ve always taught that families come in all shapes, sizes and colors and my children have never minded. My son almost plays the role of some mini sociologist. Two of my children’s favorite books include All Families are Special by Norma Simon and Buster’s Sugartime by Marc Brown. In All Families are Special a teacher asks children about their families and we get to see a wide spectrum in simple, child-friendly format. I’ve even had the pleasure of reading it to my children’s classes. Buster’s Sugartime is actually a book about the Vermont maple syrup season (where my roots lie), but was challenged in some circles because the two women whom Buster and his father visit in Vermont are Lesbians.
As children grow their level of understanding changes. My youngest daughter thinks nothing of whether anyone is gay or straight. Just this year when talking about one of his friends at school though my son said, “You know, I think so-and-so’s Mom is gay.” I asked why he thought that might be and he replied, “He always says Moms and never mentions having a father. I don’t think he has a Dad.” It wasn’t an issue for him, just an observation. The eldest knows and doesn’t seem to care. She actually shares more with Dena than me.
I can’t pretend to know it all but I can try to do the right thing for us. I don’t want my children to face adversity because me and when we find discrimination in any form we acknowledge it’s no way to live and move on. I don’t find a need to come out to everyone when we go places or participate in events. Case in point, we have some kids in our neighborhood that play with our kids daily. We go places together and have sleepovers. Their mom asked me one day how long Dena and I had been together. There wasn’t any criticism or negativity. I didn’t have to tell her. She knew. All in all, there are times when it comes up and times when it doesn’t. My best advice is to roll with the punches while we all work to make the world a better place.
Sometimes that’s hard. One Stay-At-Home-Mom I know applied for Medicaid after her partner’s employer would not provide insurance for domestic partners. She was denied benefits because she could not provide a father’s name to seek child support. These women love their child and each other but let’s face it, by denying coverage they were snubbed by one partner’s employer, the state and had to look at forgoing the benefits of group-rates because of who they love. They “came out” to the state but the folks at Social Services did not know how to proceed.
“Gay parenting” is really like all parenting. We’re all in the same boat doing the best we can for our kids, all the while hoping it’s enough. People don’t have to come out as straight or divorced or widowed and it shouldn’t be a big deal to be a gay parent. Personally, I look forward to the day when everyone is able to recognize that.
Lillian Studevant is a working professional and mother of three. She is passionate about animals and rescues dogs in addition to two of her own. Follow more of her family's adventures on her Personal Blog.
By Julie Harthill Clayton My 16-year-old son recently asked, out of the blue, whether I thought people were either entirely straight or entirely gay. I told him that I thought that human sexuality and identity were on a continuum; some people fall squarely at each end, others fall all along that continuum. He seemed satisfied. But [...]March 28, 2013
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