How to Talk to Kids about Having Two Moms
Diversity. It’s what makes this country unique and interesting. But for a child, being different can be scary and uncomfortable. As lesbian parents, you and your partner want the best for your child – something you made clear before he/she even entered the world. From selecting a sperm donor to choosing a delivery room doctor, odds are you made every effort to ensure your son or daughter was born safe and healthy. Now, you want to the same thing – to keep your little one socially safe and mentally healthy.
In a world where lesbian couples and alternative families still face criticism and persecution, how can you teach the light of your life to take pride in his/her uniqueness and celebrate the fact that all families are special in their own ways?
The answer to this question is the same answer that satisfies so many parenting questions – be honest and loving. Of course, what an honest and loving answer looks like depends on your child’s age. The following tips can help you navigate communicating with your child during his/her formative years.
Ages and Stages
Kids start discovering, exploring, and enjoying the world around them from the moment they’re born. Remember the way your baby’s eyes lit up the first time you read her a picture book, or the smile that lit her face after she took her first bite of pureed fruit? That’s the satisfied look of a child who was born to learn! But even though your little one is deeply engaged in the world around him before he can even walk, that doesn’t mean he is comparing your family with the families of your loved ones.
Before the age of about three, most babies and toddlers are content if they’re being loved, nurtured, nourished, and cared for. Your child will form a special bond with all the people who are providing love, care, and fun – you, your partner, brothers and sisters, grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, and the list goes on.
When your child hits that magical pre-school age, however, the questions will start rolling in. There are two primary reasons for this. First, your baby isn’t a baby any longer, and no longer is she satisfied with observing that the sky is blue. Now she wants to know why, so if you haven’t reached that stage yet, brush up on your science, because you’ll need it! This curiosity extends to her family. If your family is different from her friend’s, she’ll probably ask you to explain.
Second, age three and up is prime time for starting school! When your little one begins pre-school or kindergarten, he will be exposed to that marvelous diversity that makes America great, and odds are, he will have questions, not just about why he has two moms while his friend has a mom and a dad, but also about ethnicities, races, religions/holidays, and people who speak other languages!
Love and Laughter
When those questions come in, don’t avoid them, but answer them in them lovingly and accurately, reminding your child that diversity is cool.
For example, you might say something like, “Families are different. Some families have a mom, a dad, and children, but other families have a mom, a grandma, and children. Some kids have just a mom or a dad. Some kids live with their aunts or uncles. Our family has two moms. Isn’t it great that we all have someone who loves us?”
Encourage your child to name something she loves about your unique family, and talk about the fun memories you have had. Make sure to end the conversation with laughter and good memories. This way, if the question comes up again, your child will remember that all families are special, and she loves her family.
You’ll probably need to have the “different family” discussion with your child more than once, and as he gets older, the content will vary. Your child might ask you specific questions about why a friend’s parents divorced or a grandparent was given custody. Before too long, your child will start to pick up on the facts of life, and you’ll have even more complicated questions to answer! If your child’s friend is getting a baby sister, for example, he might ask you about you or your partner’s pregnancy. He might even ask if he can have a sister! No matter what questions he asks, just remember to be honest, loving, and age appropriate. Tell your child what it was like for you or your partner to be pregnant with him. Recall the sweet memories of first kicks and flutters. You might even relay the story of the special doctor that helped you become pregnant. This will make your child feel special and wanted.
Stick and Stones
No matter how much you try to prevent it, there will likely come a time in your child’s life when she is ridiculed or teased for her family. It’s best to prepare for this moment by having an action plan in place. First, from the time your child is little, remind her that sticks and stones can break her bones, but words can pierce the heart. Teach her to be kind to others, to use kind words, and to talk to you if someone’s words hurt her. It’s important to encourage openness when your child young, so she doesn’t hide her feelings or experiences and turn them into fuel for acting out or self-destructive behavior.
When the moment comes, again, face it with love. Affirm your child, her feelings, and your family. Then, start a positive discussion in your community about acceptance and tolerance.
You and your partner want what all parents want – what’s best for your child. The best way to achieve that is by loving your child, setting a good example, and being open. As long as you’re consistently honest, caring, and age-appropriate, you can answer whatever questions he asks – no matter how challenging. For more info on infertility and family building, visit Red Rock Fertility or schedule an appointment with us.