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Uncomfortable conversation w/ my kids over gay/lesbian marriage- but not what you think.

So we were watching an episode of Cake Boss the other night. On the episode (Netflix) Buddy was making the cake for the first Gay couple to be married in NY. My kids already know that people love who they love and they have been taught that gay marriage is normal and okay. Well, my son who is 9 stopped me part way in and asked me what they were talking about. I was a little taken aback. Why was he asking me this. He already knew all about this... so I said "Remember how we have talked about families are made different ways? Sometimes..." he cut me off by saying "No mom. Why are they the *first* to get married? How come they are the first ones?" At that moment my heart sank a little. A conversation that has always been about love was about to expand into a conversation about hate as I had to explain how some people oppose gay marriage. He was confused and wanted to know why anyone would oppose it and I had to try to explain how people have different opinions and don't always agree and he just couldn't wrap his head around it. Later it occurred to me that the part of the conversation that was uncomfortable for me (the part about hate and discrimination) was probably not the part many families have trouble with. I imagine in many families the subject of gay marriage in general is not a comfortable one. Then I thought more about it and figured that perhaps I was over analyzing. So my question is: How do you handle these kinds of questions with your kids? Are their certain aspects that make you more uncomfortable than others?

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Anonymous

Asked by Anonymous at 8:02 PM on Nov. 8, 2013 in General Parenting

Answers (8)
  • My oldest is only 7. I learn more towards the "some people don't agree & think it's wrong" approach. Which, of course, is followed by "why". And, I basically try to explain that some people are taught to be prejudice.
    3libras

    Answer by 3libras at 8:07 PM on Nov. 8, 2013

  • My kids have always known about gay people and gay marriage, and that we don't have a problem with it. It's never been a big issue that others think it's wrong. When it has come up, I've usually answered with something along the lines of, "Some people think being gay and gay marriage is wrong. I think they're wrong for thinking that, but they're entitled to their opinion, just as I am." I've taught them that sometimes discussing those opinions is fine, and other times it's not, and tried to help them learn the subtleties of when is the right time and place, and when is not.
    wendythewriter

    Answer by wendythewriter at 8:15 PM on Nov. 8, 2013

  • My daughter and I had a similar chat the other night, but it centered around the fact that my brother wanted to take her from me at birth and raise her because he thought I would be incapable of caring for her as a blind mom. I had tried to keep that fact away from my little girl for as long as possible, but she overheard her dad and I discussing it in our bedroom when we thought she was asleep in hers. Anyway, she said, "Mommy, you take care of me fine." She couldn't get her head around the idea of why it would be a problem. I tried to explain to her that my brother was worried because he thought I might not manage to keep her safe, and she just kept saying he was silly. I got to thinking that while it's good to teach our kids to be open-minded, it might be wise to let them know that not everyone else in the world is, so they aren't completely floored when they encounter pure stubborn ignorance for the first time.
    Ballad

    Answer by Ballad at 8:23 PM on Nov. 8, 2013

  • We have always been open about some women love women and some men love men in the same way that your mom and dad love each other. This is just natural to him. There are no hard discussions about it. At seven he is aware that some people disagree with men loving men and so on. But he finds that is just silly. We don't make it a huge issue since we want him to grow up and find this normal and natural. As he gets older, especially since we live in a very conservative Southern Bible Belt state, I am sure he will encounter how some of his friends and their families do not agree.
    Anonymous

    Answer by Anonymous at 8:30 PM on Nov. 8, 2013

  • There are a lot of issues that boil down to how different people think, feel & believe, and that this sometimes extends to what (they think) others should/shouldn't be allowed to do.
    Fairness & injustice is an issue that does come up. Historically & in the present. The fact that a child could be amazed or disbelieving that a situation could exist now is telling of his experience & assumptions, and could be encouraging. Even though it can hurt to present "reality" to him.
    I don't demonize people when trying to contextualize upsetting realities. This applies to "senseless violence" and to issues of discrimination & inequity, too. I'm clear that I care about justice & object strongly to people being harmed. But instead of speaking in terms of "good" & "evil" people, I talk about how tragic things can happen when people are hurt or afraid. And how people who have been badly mistreated without help sometimes want to hurt others.Etc
    girlwithC

    Answer by girlwithC at 10:27 PM on Nov. 8, 2013

  • That's like trying to explain the holocaust, or why blacks had their own bathrooms and water fountains. You have to look back on it and feel embarrassment for the human race. It SHOULD feel awkward because it was WRONG.
    PartyGalAnne

    Answer by PartyGalAnne at 11:40 PM on Nov. 8, 2013

  • My son is only 5 and has yet to really be exposed to gay marriage and therefore has not asked. I am not purposely keeping him from it, we simply don't know anyone who is gay so there has never been a reason to bring it up. He does see the world as man + woman because in his world thus far that's all that exists. When the day comes that he experiences differently, my explanation will be simple and non-chalant. I will tell him the same thing I will tell him everytime he experiences something "new" and "different". I will say, some people like different things than you do. Some people think differently than you do. None of it matters. All that matters is you accept that and trwat them wih respect. I don't want to give him a reason to think being gay, or being anything different than him or anyone else he knows, is a big deal. I strive to help him see the world equally.
    maecntpntz219

    Answer by maecntpntz219 at 12:31 AM on Nov. 9, 2013

  • It SHOULD feel awkward because it was WRONG.

    We stumble on that quite a bit with DS's best friend. He's younger, more sheltered, goes to church, and is in Scouts. Things DS has had explained to him and been allowed to make his own choices are not a factor to his friend (see the sheltered part). He doesn't understand why his friend makes different choices, so I have to explain his parents don't tell him all the same things we do, then I have to explain why, and explain why it's not up to him to share them (though he'll probably bring some of them up eventually just through conversation).

    NotPanicking

    Answer by NotPanicking at 8:25 AM on Nov. 9, 2013

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