Parenting Pride: Baby Steps

  • The service having id "propeller" is missing, reactivate its module or save again the list of services.
  • The service having id "buzz" is missing, reactivate its module or save again the list of services.
Parenting Pride: Baby Steps

A few years ago I realized that if I was not being my authentic self, I was preventing others from doing the same. I became a single parent to two wonderful boys who are just as proud of me as I am of them.

Everything in life is about balance; work, play, relationships, my checking account—but, with kids in the mix, every decision manifests from the position of parent. What am I cooking for dinner tonight? Will my kids eat it? Will my kids like her? When should I tell them? How do I raise them to be compassionate human beings? 

No one handed me a manual when I gave life to the most precious souls in my universe, and no manual would be sufficient because every child is different. There is, however, an analogy to be made with the progression of walking: it starts with baby steps. 

Similar to my “coming out,” which was a realization that happened over time, involving my children in the culture of gay pride began with talking to them about the importance of love. Feeling loved and returning that feeling is part of being complete. If we can't be loved for who we are, then that love is not genuine.

No one is more influential in a child's life than their parents; they believe everything they are told and mimic our behavior. Children are born to love unconditionally and that aptitude needs to be nourished or they will begin to believe it is acceptable to place conditions on love. 

I kept my cultural lifestyle separate from my parenting life until I felt comfortable explaining to my oldest son what Pride represents. To me, Pride is an opportunity to be free from the judgments of others and provides an example of acceptance for my children. I thought I was protecting my son by delaying this explanation, but setting an example of being proud of who I am has led him to his own self-acceptance, which is protective in itself. My youngest son is happy being anywhere there are rainbows. 

 



Comments [11]

Grace Moon's picture

entaoed, I'm wondering if you

entaoed, I'm wondering if you can say how old your son was when you came out to him?

I have a friend who came out later in life 3 children all under 13 at the time. she explained to the oldest one first (once she found a serious partner), think the younger ones were too young to really comprehend. But they seemed to not have any issues with it at all. Wonder also if age matters? When a parents lifestyle changes dramatically when a kid is pre-teen I think its easier for the kids to assimilate to the lifestyle? Let when parents get divorced? I remember when my parents got divorced I took it easier than my older sister who was a teen, I was 10.

No doubt love and stablitiy have everything to do with everything, but just wonder about the age factor, since everything seems more difficult with teens.

 

tweet tweet @gracemoon

entaoed's picture

I'd say it has more to do

I'd say it has more to do with maturity than a specific age. I think waiting until the teenage years would be more disruptive, they already have so much going on and their opinions are more in tune with those of their peers by then. 

I put off any explanations because I thought if I wasn't seeing anyone seriously it wasn't really neccessary. But, I am very involved in the equality movement and just recently explained why to my 11 year old. I haven't had a discussion with my 6 year old, but he is more mature for his age than my oldest was at the same age. I expect with my youngest he will intuitively pick it up and probably ask me.

I recently did some interviews with the local media about the official end of DADT. I really felt that I needed to talk to my oldest son because I didn't want him being asked questions he couldn't answer.

Grace Moon's picture

thanks

entaoed its all so very fascinating.

tweet tweet @gracemoon

Meffle's picture

Weel, here we are

Here we are going through our second parenthood.  We raised two and now we're raising two more.  Our situation is a bit different, more complex, more insane, but what I found interesting in the context of when and how to come out to your kids is this:  Our oldest son's father outed us when our son was about 17 years old.  Our son was livid, not that we were gay, but that we'd never told him.  We explained simply that we hadn't told him because it had never been an issue and, as such, we felt it was inappropriate to discuss our sexlife with our son.  Beyond that, I had to ask -- when he was a "tween" and Julie and I would argue and perhaps not speak to each other for days, he and his brother used to lament that we should make up because they missed us making out in the kitchen -- what exactly did he think that was about?  Never did get a clear answer.  However the point is, it was normal behavior in their household, no one from the outside ever made an issue of it, so it just never came up.  (Bear in mind, we lived in NYC).

So I'd have to say there's no such thing as gay parenting, or gay parking, or gay doing dishes.  It's just parenting and when it's appropriate to talk to them about the gay part is when the outside world intrudes, or never, whichever comes first.

There's a thin line...still...

entaoed's picture

I am dreading the teenage

I am dreading the teenage years! 

I talk to my kids about a lot more than my parents did because that is what I think was lacking from my childhood...my parents didn't think I would understand. 

Although being a lesbian is defined as a woman who has sex with another woman, I am a celibate lesbian (personal and religious reasons) so for me it is more of a cultural conotation and does affect how I parent. I think my decisions have more to do with what is age appropriate, but I definitely use my own experience to teach my children to love unconditionally.

When I was dating there was absolutely no advice for same-sex dating and when to introduce a partner to my children. But the concensus for straight couples was around 6 months (children need consistency) I found the women I dated thought it was perfectly fine to meet my children after the first date..If the kids don't know about my orientation, I guess they would just assume we were friends until it became more. I am sure they would figure it out after awhile, but if I communicate with my kids I am teaching them it is ok to communicate with me. 

Meffle's picture

That's one area where we differ.

I met my kids when they were 6 & 7 and their mom was already co-habitating in a long term relationship.  (Yup, I'm a home wrecker!)  Since our relationship started out allegedly as a long distance (1379 miles)  business-turned-friendship (I have since discovered that she had ulterior motives from day one!) meeting the kids was not an issue. The wrecked relationship, however, was not a particularly affectionate one and I seriously doubt the children witness any PDA.  I, on the other hand, am very affectionate so we "made out in the kitchen" whenever the spirit moved us.  It didn't damage their psyche and I don't think it made them any more or less affectionate themselves.  One is physically aloof -- always has been (more like his grandmother), the other is quite touchy-feely -- at least with his girlfriends, and his kids.

I think the timing for meeting girlfriends/boyfriends/boifriends should be the same whether the relationship is gay or straight.  When it looks like it might be serious and you want to spend more time together, introduce the kids -- if only for logistical convenience.   Basically, if you relax I think you'll know when it's right.  As far as explaining human/your sexuality to them, again, follow the straight folks.  My parents also weren't big on heart-to-hearts about these things, but I really can't imagine a straight parent sitting his or her 7 year old down and saying, "Honey, I'm straight.  Do you know what that means?" unless something made it an issue.  ("Honey, I'm straight, but Uncle Charlie is gay, that's why he and Uncle Rex sleep in the same bedroom in their 7 bedroom house.  Do you know what gay means?")

Here's something interesting that happened just last night.  It was open house at the kids' school.  I went, Julie babysat.  Our 6 year old was very excited about a letter he left for us on his desk.  The letter began, "Dear Mom and Dad,..." Now shocking as that may at first seem, our -- their dad also lives with us.  When is saw the note he pondered whether these relationships might be confusing to them.  I often wonder that myself, especially when the 6 y.o. (a boy genius) asked Julie, "You're my mom, right?" Yes. "And you're daddy's mom too, right?" Yes.  "And Nanum's our mom too right?" Yes.  "But..." Yes, I'm your mom and daddy's mom and Nanum's your mom.  You as such a lucky bot to have two moms and a dad, and lots of uncles and cousins and aunts... Confusion successfully deflected.

Of equal "concern" (in parenthisis because actually I'm not the least bit concern... yet) is when the 5 y.o. noted that I'm the only one in the house who is black and that he wished I was white so we could all be the same color.  I pointed out that when we get together with the larger family, most of us are black, some of us are spanish, french/canadian, whatever, but we always have a good time, right?  Right.  CanNatecomebacknextsummerlikehedidlastsummeronlythistimespendthewholesummerwithusandwecangoswimmingandtoPlaylandandthedaddycan akeustothezoo...  Again, confusion successfully deflected.

Kids are amazingly adaptive creature and if we don't mess them up with our own shit and our own agendas, they will grow up to be amazing adults.  One of the most common errors of good parents is overparenting.

There's a thin line...still...

entaoed's picture

I don't believe there is such

I don't believe there is such a thing as a "homewrecker" it takes two to tango.. When I talk to my kids it is more about the timing, maturity level etc. Although, I used to feel why do I need to tell people i'm gay because people don't go around saying, "oh, by the way, you should know I'm straight." But, the assumption is that one is straight (most of the time) so there is some practicality in doing so.

As for parenting styles, i've had to do quite a bit of adapting. My ex was strictly an authoritarian and I figured he was overly critical so I was very lax. When we split I had to adapt my parenting style to find a balance.  

Conlite's picture

A better definition would be

A better definition would be "women sexually attracted primarily to women".  Whether or not you're actually getting any (or even looking for any) is another tale altogether!

Love your blog, btw.

Marcie Bianco's picture

I wonder, entaoed, do you

I wonder, entaoed, do you ever feel like there are any decisions that are made without consideration of your children? (or, is this impossible?....) I guess, I'm in part wondering about the separation of parent and child; the two are distinct entities, but, clearly, they are not really -- well, not when they're young.

Intriguing first piece -- well done!

entaoed's picture

There are very few decisions

There are very few decisions that don't involve my children and those would be the ones I make while at work or when they aren't physically with me. Any decisions involving finances or relationships (friend or otherwise) are based on what is best for them. If I want them to grow into responsible self-sufficient adults, I am responsible for making sure they have the life skills and positive influences to succeed. 

I will write more about the decisions they affect in my next piece, so stay tuned! 

Marcie Bianco's picture

Am looking forward to

Am looking forward to it!

From the position of being a former third (a partner of a parent) in the relation between parent & child, I found it understandable but terribly difficult to listen to the parent's continual fear of not considering the child enough, or of inadvertantly hurting the child, about potential future decisions involving all three of us (to a greater or lesser extent). ... Can't wait to hear your thoughts about it all.