Explaining Gay Parenting
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Explaining Gay Parenting

Parenting expert Jan Faull, MEd, on kids whose parents are gay.

Q: "My 6-year-old daughter has a friend with two moms. Lately, she's been asking questions about why her friend doesn't have a daddy. I want her to be open and accepting of this difference. How might I explain this to her?"

A: Several conversations need to take place as you introduce this issue to your daughter. And with recent news regarding a possible constitutional amendment on marriage, the issue of gay marriage and parenting will no doubt become a larger issue nationwide. All of these conversations are important, yet there's no need to give your 6-year-old the whole spiel in one sitting. In time, you will discuss them all.

First, here's how you can answer your daughter's question: "Why doesn't my friend have a daddy?" You only need to say: "Most children have a mommy and a daddy. Others have only a mommy, only a daddy, two mommies, or two daddies. There are many combinations of parents, but most important is that parents care for and love their children."

Birds and Bees

At some point, when you talk with your daughter about how babies actually get started -- the sperm coming from the male and the egg coming from the female -- then your bright child might ask, "How did my friend get born when her parents both have eggs and neither has sperm?" Then you'll need to explain about artificial insemination or adoption, whichever the case is for your daughter's friend.

There will also be a time when you'll need to explain about sexual preferences. "Most people are sexually attracted to and fall in love with a person of the opposite sex, but some people are attracted to another of the same sex. Such men are referred to as gay, women as lesbians."

Embracing Difference

Later, but before the teen years set in, you'll need to offer your opinion about gays and lesbians giving birth or adopting children, about prejudices surrounding them, and how people make these choices and why. Without knowing your opinion, your child will have no frame of reference from which to form her own thoughts and ideas. If you don't provide her with a place to start, she'll look to peers and popular culture to decide how to think and feel on this topic.

The best way to drive home the point that you're open and accepting of your daughter's friend -- and her two mothers -- is to invite them to your home for dinner, go bowling together, or include them in a community gathering. By including them, you prove to your daughter your acceptance of all families.