Family members might not have been shocked about my husband’s niece who recently came out. However, they were concerned that we told our children.
Although the news may sound like something we shouldn’t discuss with small children, it’s important to address that society has changed. Yes, the world will continue to surprise our children, but I strongly believe in addressing certain topics and asking them about their thoughts.
Tell Them Anyway
Parents might think they’re doing their children good by not bringing up tough discussions. My husband and I believe it’s better for us to explain/teach something to our children now than to have society do it for us. Society might not be as kind.
I grew up in a Catholic household where we didn’t discuss homosexuality. Members of our church would believe the person was confused or uncertain of themselves.
Growing up, my brothers and I were sheltered during our childhood, and we didn’t socialize with certain people. We went to Catholic schools where homosexuality was seen as a sin.
Yes, you would hear stories about lesbians at my all-girl Catholic high school, but no one dared to discuss it.
College Years With LGBQT Members
It wasn’t until I hit college that I met people who would socialize with gays and lesbians. It was fascinating to me, and I remember my cousin telling me she had a gay friend. She embraced him as a normal human being.
I wanted that for myself — to connect with others, and know who they were and what they were about. The people that I grew up knowing as “sinners” were roaming the same halls I was.
I made friends with several, and I keep in touch with them through social media. It’s been fascinating to see my friends fight for equality. Being able to share their struggles with my children is important for me. It’s almost as if I’m giving back to the wonderful friendships I’ve made throughout the years.
Today, we live in a society that (for the most part) accepts the LGBTQ community. You can even see representations of members throughout the media as well.
We’ve seen movies where the same sex is affectionate, and our kids asked questions. As a parent, it’s my job to answer them in the best way possible.
One of our kids’ favorite cousins told me she likes girls. My husband and I made it a point to share the news with our children. Although our oldest was confused at first, it didn’t make him love her any less.
We met her girlfriend this week and it was exciting to see that our boys embraced her as another person. This is one of the reasons why we tell our children about the “tough” topics. So they understand that we are all created equally.
Why Address ‘Tough’ Topics When They’re Young
At this age — three and six — our boys are still developing their perception of the world around them. I wouldn’t want them to raise our children like my brothers and me. We’d take whatever our parents’ beliefs were and roll with it.
I strongly believe children should have a mind of their own. They also need to be educated on what’s going on around them so they can properly form their own opinions.
How To Start The Conversation
Telling your child about a gay/lesbian family member requires patience and time. The worst thing you could do it blur out whatever comes to mind. You’ll want to begin the conversation somewhere.
When we’re going to discuss a tough topic with our children, we turn to TV news. It’s full of interesting topics to share with your family and friends. We use our mornings as a time to discuss life lessons, mainly about the consequences of our actions.
Another way we like to focus on certain topics is to think of everyday scenarios. Much like like going to the grocery store. You’ll meet some interesting people at Walmart. I never hold back on the opportunity to share a life lesson with the kids.
42 responses to “Why I Told Our Kids About A Gay Family Member”
You are wonderful. You are a role model as a parent. I am gay, and hated myself for that, for many years. I realized I had to learn to love myself, and have been working on that ever since. I eventually met someone who was as old fashioned as me and we adopted an infant, at birth. We are your typical American nuclear family, except there are two dads. These days families come in so many different shapes and sizes, it makes it easier for us. We thought it best to raise our son in NYC where there is more acceptance, and we have been very blessed in the lack of judgment we have felt. Meanwhile, he always has a girlfriend, and I have to guide him through that! How ironic.
I wish there were more aware parents such as yourself. Because you see, we are not different, we are the same. Do you know who my friends are? The parents of the other kids that my son has been in school with since four months old. That is our gay life. For us, it is all about family and friends, and that is how we are raising our son. Our 16 1/2 year old annoying as all heck, son!
This is beautiful, Mitch. Thank you for reassuring us that this was a good decision to make. I think it’s great that you and your spouse took on an infant and raised him as your own. People will judge others no matter what, but if you stay true to yourself (as you’ve learned to be throughout the years), you’ll be able to appreciate more of what life has to offer.
PS: I always love catching the gadgets you and your son are testing. I swear if I wasn’t budgeting myself, I’d grab those headphones you’re promoting!
We are not born with prejudice and intolerance, it is taught to us. Bravo for talking to your kids about what should be a perfectly normal topic, although I find it sad that – in this day and age – people still think that such a topic is taboo and should not be discussed with children. Children need more love, not less.
This is really great and yes i agree with you, kids should be exposed to LGBTQ at an early age because and as you said, they hv their own ideas.
Yes, and their minds tend to wonder. Thanks for your feedback, Chad.
I don’t know if I totally agree. I think it’s important to talk about sexuality and explain that some men like men, some women like women, some men like women, some women like men, and some liked both, but I don’t think it’s important to “out” people, to specifically be like “your uncle is gay” or “your aunt is a lesbian.” It makes it a bigger deal than it is. I think it would be better to keep it more casual so if your uncle has a boyfriend, and your kid’s meeting him for the first time, well then you would just say “and this is your Uncle John’s boyfriend.” No need to point out that they are gay, the kid will catch on and it comes across as normal rather than different.
This is true. I will say that my son brought up that a classmate has two moms. This was when he was in kindergarten. He seemed a bit shock (he had never seen it before) and we talked about it. We said two people can love each other regardless of sex. I brought up their cousin because they would see it more in the family.
That’s such a tough situation to be in to have discussions like this. However, I believe that it’s better that we as parents teach our children about topics like this, than their friends. Everyone will have their own opinions on how this should be handled, but I applaud you for finding what’s right for you.
Thanks, Lynn. I think when situations arise in the family, it’s best to discuss them.
As my step-sister, who is my children’s aunt, is gay I completely agree with the importance to be open and honest with your kids. Good for you for loving your niece and being open minded.
Thanks, Jess. I’ve always believed in being true to yourself and those around you, so I made it a point to mention it to our kids. If someone is happy being who they are, why should anyone have a problem with it?
I think its great to tell the kids at a young age. They learn alot and accepting more than the adults of todays society. I am honest like that as well in my family.
That’s beautiful, Farah. It’s so important to talk to children. They understand more than we think they do.
This is a very complicated and taboo’ed topic.
I appreciate the courage you shown by writing about this.
keep it up.
Thank you, Samar. I know parents who don’t touch this subject (my own included).
I think it’s very important to talk to kids about LGBTQ people as if they are normal people. Kids don’t have the same prejudice as we adults do and for them LGBTQ people are not different.
Absolutely! I think that’s where most people make it “awkward” for today’s generation. They breathe the same air we do.
No, I honestly haven’t had to explain this to my girls. Because this has never been a big deal for them. Because we have never made it a big deal. My mama’s pastor, who is like a second son to her (she had been assigned as his layperson mentor in our denomination when he first moved to where she lived, and she actually quit her church/switched her membership to his because, well, he’s an amazing man of God) was happily dating someone he met in seminary when she first met him. Then Pastor Jay got engaged – then got married – and Pastor Jay is now happily married for 5+ years. To another man. Who happens also to be ordained clergy in our denomination. So no, it’s not at all weird to my girls that Pastor Jay is married to Pastor Geoff. Or that our church’s current seminary student (who’s serving as our associate pastor), Pastor Dan, recently was off for the summer and came back in the fall as Pastor Stephanie, who now knows our congregation/her wife/her children are “safe” enough and love her enough that she can FINALLY be who she is (and always has been) on the INSIDE, with all of us on the outside. God doesn’t make mistakes, and God made each of us who we are for a reason. And it breaks my heart that so many people still have trouble accepting that, in the 21st century. (In case you’re wondering, I’m a lifelong member of the United Church of Christ – go look it up at ucc[dot]org.)
Thank you for your feedback, and for telling me about your Pastors. I think it’s good that your children were exposed to the idea of same-sex relationships at a young age. I’m also excited that Pastor Stephanie could be true to herself and those around her. That’s one of the beauties of life — to accept who you are no matter what.