Straight married couple - how best to talk about same sex couples/families with young kids - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 11-11-2010, 06:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I hope this is the right place to post. I'm a straight married woman living in a crunchy and diverse urban neighborhood. My close neighbors include a gay couple. My 6-year-old recently started asking me questions, like, "Why don't Chris and Matt have girlfriends?" I've been answering kind of generically about how while a lot of couples include a man and a woman, sometimes people fall in love with someone who is just like them. He was very surprised to hear that, and now I think he is confused about same sex friendships vs. same sex relationships. My kids don't really know about sexuality of any kind at this point, but I want to plant the seeds of acceptance about various relationships and families being normal to counteract any crap they might hear at school or church (I am non-religious, but DH is Catholic). Any advice on the best way to approach it? Good books for kids, etc.?


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#2 of 13 Old 11-11-2010, 06:22 AM
 
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Forum crashing here, but honestly, at 6, I think you overexplained and are kinda continuing that track.  Really, as simple "they don't want girlfriends" would likely have satisfied him.  It's the truth, it doesn't get into sexuality or sexual identity or any of the other complicated stuff.  Even if he asks why, just saying that not every guy wants a girlfriend or wife and everyone has their own reasons would probably be enough.  I am not suggesting avoiding what you are trying to do completely, rather that I think you might be giving him more information than he can really understand, or probably thought he was asking for when he asked the question.

 

It's like that joke where the kid asks his dad where he came from, dad launches into an entire birds and bees explaination and the kid gets a confused look and says his buddy came from Toledo. 

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#3 of 13 Old 11-11-2010, 07:08 AM
 
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My kids have been around gay people all their lives. We just told them that sometimes boys marry boys and girls marry girls and left it at that. Now that they are at the age of starting to have crushes they just figure that gay is normal for some people and they don't care one way or another


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#4 of 13 Old 11-11-2010, 07:20 AM
 
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We just say sometimes two men fall in love, sometimes two women fall in love, that loves comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes and varieties. 

 

I, personally, think it's a big deal to NOT make a big deal of it. We said it like it was just a passing thought, not a, "Let's sit down and have a talk," kind of thing. As such, my 8 year old thinks absolutely nothing of it at all and was 'caught' explaining to a friend about how a kid can have two dads and no moms. She argued no, that just was not possible, and eventually I had to step in and confirm, yes, it WAS possible. 

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#5 of 13 Old 11-11-2010, 07:47 AM
 
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Originally Posted by happysmileylady View Post

Forum crashing here, but honestly, at 6, I think you overexplained and are kinda continuing that track.  Really, as simple "they don't want girlfriends" would likely have satisfied him.  It's the truth, it doesn't get into sexuality or sexual identity or any of the other complicated stuff.  Even if he asks why, just saying that not every guy wants a girlfriend or wife and everyone has their own reasons would probably be enough.  I am not suggesting avoiding what you are trying to do completely, rather that I think you might be giving him more information than he can really understand, or probably thought he was asking for when he asked the question.

 

It's like that joke where the kid asks his dad where he came from, dad launches into an entire birds and bees explaination and the kid gets a confused look and says his buddy came from Toledo. 

I have to really disagree with this.  I think 6 years old is plenty old to have the knowledge that while much of the time men love women, sometimes men love men, and sometimes women love women.  It doesn't have to go any deeper than that, that's not a lot of detail - is factual, and has been plenty of information for my almost 7 and almost 4-1/2 yo in conversations that have flowed out of questions they've asked me about different families we've seen out and about.  They haven't asked any questions beyond "love".  If and when they do, I'll use the same discretion of content that I will use when talking to them about details of a heterosexual relationship...thus far we haven't gone much into the mechanics of sex, though the time is coming for DS since he is nearly 7.    Saying the two men "don't want girlfriends" implies that they are just friends and would normally have girlfriends, which is way different than not being attracted to women, and IMO sends a subtle message that hetero is the desired choice and the one they would make in a relationship, which is clearly not true.  I guess I'm not sure why you would hide the fact that these two men have chosen to be in a relationship with each other. 

 

I'm uhhh, also a crasher.  But this really kind of stuck in my craw.


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#6 of 13 Old 11-11-2010, 07:50 AM
 
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I'm forum crashing too, but we have a lot of same-sex couples in our circle of friends, and I just explained that sometimes boys love boys and girls love girls the way mommy and daddy love each other, and that's OK too.

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#7 of 13 Old 11-11-2010, 08:15 AM
 
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Originally Posted by The4OfUs View Post



I have to really disagree with this.  I think 6 years old is plenty old to have the knowledge that while much of the time men love women, sometimes men love men, and sometimes women love women.  It doesn't have to go any deeper than that, that's not a lot of detail - is factual, and has been plenty of information for my almost 7 and almost 4-1/2 yo in conversations that have flowed out of questions they've asked me about different families we've seen out and about.  They haven't asked any questions beyond "love".  If and when they do, I'll use the same discretion of content that I will use when talking to them about details of a heterosexual relationship...thus far we haven't gone much into the mechanics of sex, though the time is coming for DS since he is nearly 7.    Saying the two men "don't want girlfriends" implies that they are just friends and would normally have girlfriends, which is way different than not being attracted to women, and IMO sends a subtle message that hetero is the desired choice and the one they would make in a relationship, which is clearly not true.  I guess I'm not sure why you would hide the fact that these two men have chosen to be in a relationship with each other. 

 

I'm uhhh, also a crasher.  But this really kind of stuck in my craw.


I agree with this completely.  I don't think you need to talk about the mechanics of gay sex (any more than you wold talk about the mechanic of hetero sex when talking about opposite sex couples), but I think "they don't want girlfriends" is being deliberately obtuse about the question.  As a married person, I would probably answer this question something like this, "They don't have boyfriends and girlfriends for the same reason Daddy and I don't have boyfriends and girlfriends.  We've found the person we're in love with and want to be with and so have they."  And I probably would also say, "Because they're gay."  Because, really, that's probably the biggest reason they don't have girlfriends wink1.gif

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#8 of 13 Old 11-11-2010, 10:51 AM
 
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I am not trying to be deliberately obtuse, just trying not to overexplain.  Saying that they have found the person that they love and want to be with is probably also a good one.  My point was to be sure to simply answer the question that is asked, which is why I gave the example of that joke.  The OP stated that it seems that her answer confused her son, so I am inclined to think that going into how some people have different types of relationships was probably more information than he was asking.  I was not in anyway trying to hide the relationship or anything like that and was for sure not trying to imply that a heterosexual relationship is better than homosexual. 

 

Actually, these types of questions are usually BEST answered first with another question like "why are you asking?" or "what do you mean?"  IOW, clarification on exactly what information the child is looking for.

 

Another posted mentioned that it's a big deal to NOT make a big deal about it and I agree.  Things become a big deal when you make them a big deal, in either a positive or a negative way.  And the simplest answer is usually the beest

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#9 of 13 Old 11-11-2010, 11:13 AM
 
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And I probably would also say, "Because they're gay."  Because, really, that's probably the biggest reason they don't have girlfriends wink1.gif



Yes to that!  Love is not a foreign concept to children and love is not tied to sex in their minds.  I think it is OK to say that those men don't have girlfriends because some men love and have a relationship with a woman and some with a man.  The same goes for women.  Some women have boyfriends and some girlfriends.  He obviously has some sort of idea about relationships if he assumes they should be in one. 

 

I like the idea of an open minded parent introducing the child to the word gay before the big kids in the back of the schoolbus do it.  That way it will hopefully not have a negative first association for the child, and when he meets my son in Kindergarten and my son says his moms are gay he will know what that is and think it is OK because you told him it was OK. 

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#10 of 13 Old 11-11-2010, 01:43 PM
 
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I completely agree with Pranava. It's not a big deal to explain it in very basic concepts of love. It IS a big deal to not offer complete honestly (albeit simple) and it will become a much bigger deal the longer you wait to explain it. Lying by omission sends the message (however unintentional) that this is something other than normal and ok and the later the kids work it out, the harder it will be on them to grasp it as a non-issue.


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#11 of 13 Old 11-11-2010, 06:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for all the advice! I am going to introduce the word "gay" so he (and probably my middle son pretty soon) will know what it means factually (as a love relationship, since he knows nothing of any kind of sexuality yet) and not as being a big deal. I really want the kids to be accepting of all kinds of people and families. Plus, if one of my own kids is gay, I wouldn't want it to be something he felt he needed to hide from me for 20 years because he didn't know how I felt about it.

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#12 of 13 Old 11-11-2010, 07:07 PM
 
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yep, that is how we explain it.  usually men love women, women love men, but sometimes, men love men and women love women. no big deal.  what is important is that the person you love is nice to you and that you are nice to them.

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#13 of 13 Old 11-17-2010, 12:51 PM
 
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The Family Book by Todd Parr is a good one. 

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