Sunday, September 29, 2013

But My Kid Is Not Gay...

Are you sitting there thinking, "But my kid's not gay, why should I care?" 

Is there really any reason to raise our children from birth in a way that supports them in growing up an ally? Babies don't care if someone is gender nonconforming, babies have no concept of sexual orientation, so what difference does it make?

And there you have my answer: It's important to consider how we are raising our children from birth, because from birth we are shaping their views on social issues even before they are old enough to know that there are other perspectives. From birth we can model compassion, respect, and unconditional love in every interaction with our child. And while you may think that every parent would automatically model those things, many parents do not. 

The second part of my answer is this: Your child might not be gay, but maybe they are and they haven't told you because they believe you won't love them or accept them if you knew. Your child might not be gay, but, if your child is very young, they might be and neither of you know it yet. Your child might not be gay, but they may be gender nonconforming, bisexual, a lesbian, or enjoy dressing in drag. Your child might not be gay, but their cousin might be. Your child might not be gay, but at some point in their life they are going to find out that someone they know is and when that happens it should really be no big deal.

And if your child is gay, and they have grown up in an ally family, then they will be able to tell you "I'm gay," knowing it won't change your relationship.  

When we were raising our babies we had no way of knowing that our daughter's first preschool teacher would be gay, or that her boyfriend would have two moms. We didn't know that one of our girls would want to go into theater and that she'd join a theater program that was directed by a gay man. We did know that we had a relative who had hidden their sexual orientation from their family into adulthood, and the pain that caused everyone in the end. When my girls were babies, I wasn't consciously raising my children differently because of that, but now I know that how we have raised our kids has the potential to save their generation and future generations from a whole lot of hurting.  

If we are to raise children who are compassionate and who accept others for who they are, we need to be compassionate parents who accept our children as the individuals they are from birth. We do this by responding when they cry, actively meeting their needs, listening to what they have to say, and giving them space to be who they are instead of trying to shape them into who we want them to be. 

With every interaction we check to make sure we are not making our needs, wants, or expectations more important than those of our children. We check in with ourselves, asking, "Would I treat an adult the way I'm treating my kid?" We put ourselves in our kids' shoes and we respond from a place of empathy and compassion, not from a place of being bigger, stronger, or older. 

We need to let our kids know that they never have to earn our love by living up to our expectations or pretending to be someone they aren't. We need to love them unconditionally, and unconditional love is not affected by their sexual orientation.

Blog posts relating to Parenting

Letter from the Accepting Dad To the Unicorn's Dad, concerning his child who had recently come out as transgender.

Amelia's advice: 10 Ways to Support Your Gay Kid, Whether You Know You Have One or Not

Click on the "Resources" tab above to find links that offer support for you if you think your child might be ____________ (fill in the blank).

Books relating to parenting: 

Radical Family Parenting: A Guide for Parenting with Compassion, Honesty, Respect, and Unconditional Love, written by Jess Robertson 

Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishment to Love and Reasons, written by Alfie Kohn  

Websites related to parenting with compassion: 

The Natural Child Project website.  

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