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This Sunday, families across the country will light up the barbeque, put the finishing touches on homemade cards, and fill up restaurants to celebrate and honor their dads on Father’s day. Thanks to advancements fertility options and gay rights and, male couples can now join in the fun and joy of Father’s day too!
Father’s Day also offers the perfect opportunity for gay dads to raise awareness about their families and the challenges they face.
According to the Williams Institute, 20% of LGBT men are raising a child under the age of 18.
What does this mean for you as a gay dad? It means that you are not alone! Like other families in the United States, families that include gay dads are diverse. They are made up of parents and children of all races and economic levels. Some gay dads are married and some are single; some raise children with a heterosexual ex-partner.
Despite this diversity, you can find strength when you connect with other gay dads. By sharing, learning from, and determining how to handle similar and different experiences, you’ll become better parents. In fact, the American Psychological Association suggests that gay parents who are comfortable with their sexual identity and are surrounded by people who are supportive of them make better parents.
By connecting with others, you’ll improve your own mental health – as well as that of your children.
Whether you’re gay, straight, divorced, married, wealthy, or living paycheck to paycheck, parenting is challenging! Even if you have the biggest support group in the country, you won’t be able to avoid all of the challenges of parenting. Your toddler will get sick the week of your big presentation. You’ll find your seven-year-old in front of the TV 20 minutes after you told her to do her homework. Your teenager will come home late. These are the kinds of challenges that allow you to teach your kids about right, wrong, love, and compassion.
However, as a gay dad, you may face a whole host of additional challenges. How do you talk to your child about being gay and what that means? How do you handle a school bully or even a teacher who judges and mistreats your child because of your sexual orientation? How do you teach your child to respond to discrimination in her community and the media?
The answers to these questions depend on your values and priorities as a family, as well as your child’s emotional and cognitive states. While there is no one right answer, there are a few best practices that can help.
First, you shouldn’t go at it alone. Your support group, a counselor, or a social worker can help you evaluate your children and your situation and provide you with ideas on how to positively deal with your challenges.
Second, let love dominate. Whenever you talk to your children about these tough issues, remember to remind them that you love them and that nothing their friends, teachers, or favorite celebrities say could ever change that.
This Father’s Day, take some time to relax, enjoy your family, and recognize what a challenging yet important job fatherhood is! But don’t forget to spend some time talking about what life is like as a gay dad. The more you talk about the blessings and challenges of gay parenthood, the more you’ll help others to understand and accept your family and other families just like yours.