By: Dani Langevin, Lesbian Columnist – April, 2011
My mother, God rest her soul, always told me that when a child asks a question they are ready for the answer. Of course always be sure what questions they want answered and answer them in an age appropriate way. Case in point: my daughter asked me, when she was about 4 or 5 years old how to make kittens. I proceeded to tell her that you needed a mommy cat and daddy cat and they get close and in a few weeks the mommy cat has kittens. She looked at me wide eyed for a few seconds then asked, “Mommy, how do you draw kittens.”
I’m curious to know why parents are hesitant to discuss same sex relationships with their children. My guess is that, as adults, they can’t get past the sex part in order to focus on the most important factor: love. And regardless of your religious convictions these relationships do exist whether you want them to or not and at some point your precious little over protected angel will be exposed to one or two or, God forbid, three.
Recently my daughter told me about a conversation her cousin had with her 7 year old daughter. The daughter made a comment that ladies couldn’t marry ladies. Her mother corrected her and said that they absolutely can and that men can marry men. Then she gave the example of my wife and I and her daughter was perfectly content with the answer. There, one less bigot in the world.
I decided to throw the question out to my Facebook ‘family’ and see at what age they think it is appropriate to discuss same sex relationships with a child. The response was incredibly positive and reassuring.
One friend, a Christian who has three children I believe to be 12 and under said, “I am trying very hard to make my kids grow up accepting every human being for who they are and not judging them.” After all, isn’t it God’s job to judge not ours? She went on to mention how her oldest son is sometimes teased at school by the other boys who call him ‘gay’ as if being gay is something to be scorned and ashamed of. Now where would they get that idea?
Another friend, we go back over 30 years, echoed my mother’s beliefs. “I always answered questions as they came up and I think I answered them in an age appropriate way.” This was followed by a response from a high school classmate, a staunch conservative, “The word sex shouldn’t come into the discussion . . . When two people fall in love, they enter into a relationship.” It is about love, after all, not sex. An author friend of mine wrote, “We don’t make a big deal out of relationships in any way except to tell them no one should dictate who you love or who should be a part of your family.”
I love the fact that these parents are willing to be so open and honest with their children. That’s so important. My 20 year old daughter and I have a very close relationship. I remember telling her when she was very young and she adored me that some day she would hate me and think I’m the stupidest person in the world. After going through her teens she said, “I never did hate you, Mom, and I’ve never thought you were stupid.” She’s always adored me and has always come to talk to me about anything even things I didn’t want to hear. I believe it’s because I let her know that no subject was taboo and I would be open and honest about anything she came to discuss with me. So, it pleased me very much when the people who responded to my question seemed to have the same mantra. I do wish, however, some had opposing views just to make it more interesting. I wonder why the nay sayers didn’t respond.
The most eloquent and thoughtful response came from an old student of mine who must be about 17. Her and her friend responded with this: “I believe that if a young child is asking about relationships, a parent should explain that there are all different types of families. If a parent is to hold back information about homosexual couples, the child may get the impression that gay love is somehow less real or legitimate than straight love. Showing acceptance . . . from a young age makes the idea of diversity normal for a child. I would reinforce that all types of couples can marry and love each other regardless of their gender.” Her friend added, “The reason people are against homosexuality is because they are brainwashed from a young age, first by the people who raise them.” From the mouths of babes.
I will continue to advocate for love in my family both with my children and their children when we’re blessed with them. If you’re hung up on the sexual aspect of any relationship then you really don’t know what it is to be in one and be truly loved.