I've avoided posting about this obviously controversial topic because I don't want to rabble rouse, nor do I care to stand on any soap box about my personal feelings about homosexuality. But let's face it, it's a "public" subject, one that our children are exposed to in this increasingly public world, and guess what? We are on the very public Internet. So let's talk.
A friend sent me a link to this parenting story today: Daddy, what does 'gay' mean? It's a laugh-out-loud story about a child's innocent question, the gay question, the one that's bound to face all of us moms of big kids if it hasn't already. After reading it, I thought about a scenario that my sister, the wedding planner, recently faced with her 6-year-old (very precocious) daughter. Here's how it went:
My sister runs her wedding planning biz from home. Naturally, my very girly niece is sensitive to all things wedding related. Really. I mean this child knows her hors d'oeuvres, her silk shantung and her calla lilies. One morning my sister was watching a wedding design special with celeb designer Jonathan Adler. It just so happened that he referenced his "partner" and their own fabulous wedding. Before she knew it, the image was on the screen. Two men in tuxedos. Well.
"Mommy!" shouts my niece. "Can two boys get married?!"
"Um, well," stumbles my sis over her words. "Yes, in some places."
"Really?" says my niece.
"In some states, if two men really love each other, they are called gay, and yes, they are allowed to get married."
Long silence. The six-year-old brain is at work.
"Wow," says my niece. "So can two girls get married too?"
"Well, yes. If they really love each other," says my sis, not quite believing that this is the conversation she's having with her first-born child.
"So I can marry Olivia?!"
my sister first relayed this story to me, I laughed for days. Children
are so innocent. Of course my niece wants to marry Olivia; she's her
best friend in the world. Who better to eat hors d'oeuvres with? But it also made me think about the
inevitability of facing the subject of homosexuality as a parent. It can
pop up when you least expect it, and the way you react to it will
undoubtedly have an impact on your kid. I was proud of how my sister
handled things with my niece. She was straightforward and without
saying too much, she didn't avoid the truth. I hope I can be that cool when it's my turn to explain what gay is.
And as for whether or not my niece can marry Olivia, "No you cannot," said my sis. "You are not an adult and only adults get married."
Has your child asked you what 'gay' means? How did you explain it?