I am sure you have all heard the discussions on the Don’t Say Gay bill that has been gaining momentum in Florida and recently Louisiana. As an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community and a mom to a 16-year-old and 11-year-old kid, I wanted to make sure my kids were being loving, accepting, and affirming friends to their classmates. One of my favorite quotes and reminders to my kids (and us adults, too) is “Be careful who you hate, it could be someone you love.” I did not find the source of this quote but to me, this speaks to me because we never know how someone is feeling and as good humans, we should be showing love and never hate.
As my kids have aged, I have never shied away from discussing the differences we all have as humans. As an interracial family in South Louisiana, we are used to questions about if I am REALLY my daughter’s Mama because I am just SO WHITE. So similarly to the questions I have gotten about our different races as a family, my LGBTQIA+ friends have had questions about their family dynamics. From an early age, I liked to tell my kids that similar to you having a mom and a dad, some families have two moms or two dads. My kids never questioned, they just said “Oh, cool” and moved on. This is a reminder to me that society is who puts the pressure on us to think and act differently and that our kids listen to our actions.
There seems to be this fear surrounding explaining to kids about the variety of family dynamics that exist in our society. If you are looking for suggestions, some of the things I have done over the years include:
- Keep things clear and simple. Mention that Tommy at school has two moms in casual conversation. This should not be anything groundbreaking, and I promise your kids will accept this information and move on.
- When speaking with children, use words such as “let your adults/parents know,” instead of saying “tell your mom and dad” when you get home. Switching to inclusive language is a good way to make sure all children feel their families fit in. This will include a variety of family dynamics including LGBTQIA+ families, as well as children who are raised by grandparents or other adults in their families.
My parenting goal is simple: raise kind, loving adults. Just as I teach my kids to do their own laundry, dishes and chores, it is equally important for my kids to be taught to love and accept everyone. I think there is one thing we can all agree on, we want our kids to be the NICE kids on the playground or in the locker room.