Same-sex parents contributed to an online discussion on what they felt were the specific parenting challenges they sometimes face: from conception through to the teenage years and beyond.
Are you an LGBTI parent or are you considering becoming a parent in the future? Feeling apprehensive about some of the possible challenges that lie ahead?
Hundreds of same-sex parents added their comments to a question recently posted on Reddit, which asked same-sex couples: ‘What is the biggest hurdle you had to overcome specific to ‘raising your child?’
The comments that were submitted during this discussion provided an illuminating insight into the challenges of parenthood – some of which will be common to all parents and some to LGBTI people only.
‘My own personal hurdle has been dealing with my own internalized homophobia. I feel like I have to not just be a good mom but a great mom every day so that people in their lives have no room to comment,’ said archaeogeek, voicing a sentiment recognized by many.
‘I’ve been back to therapy to deal with anxiety I haven’t felt since I was a teenager coming out 20 years ago because I’m so worried that a little friend’s mom or dad isn’t going to let my kid come play and I’ll have to explain to my kid why. My deepest fear is that somehow my kid will have to “pay” for my sexuality and that thought breaks my heart.’
Other users commented on the hurdles they had to jump through in order to become parents or to adopt – particularly as the laws in the US differ from state-to-state with regard to marriage and health insurance for unmarried partners and children.
‘We did have to move temporarily to another county (25 miles down the road) so I could adopt them because my county has too many conservative judges and we would likely have been denied a second parent adoption because of the judge’s personal opinions on the matter. That sucked, but was a blip in their lives and ours,’ said Krismastree.
‘My partner and I (both men) have two kids together: a girl (6) and a boy (4). Honestly, the biggest hurdle we’ve had to overcome would be the default assumption that the “main” parent any child has is their mother. I can’t overstate how ever-present this is,’ said SithLordDumbledore.
‘Mother’s Day is a big craft/project day in school. The teachers all constantly refer to their students’ moms. Books, TV shows, and movies do the same thing. The assumption is that the kids either live with their mother or their mother and father. This can make the kids feel different or left out.’
The issue of Mother’s day and Father’s Day was mentioned several times, and several children of same-sex couples also contributed to the debate – with one warning against designating one parent as ‘mom’ and one as ‘dad’ – particularly when it came to making cards at school!
‘As someone who was raised by two moms (I’m 23 now) who did this for a few years. Don’t do this. It’s so awkward. I remember sitting in elementary school making a card for “other mother’s day” when all the other kids were making a card for their dad. It. was. Awkward.’ said rusky333.
‘I do get the sense that it is harder for gay men to have children than gay women. For whatever the assumption is that women are better caretakers, and therefore men could not fulfill that motherly role, which is obviously not true.
‘It’s a role that is influenced by emotion, compassion, and I always viewed it – duty. If you have a child and you truly desire the best for them you will nurture them, it doesn’t matter if you are a man, woman, trans, etc.’ said draphae111.
Several Trans parents also contributed to the discussion.
‘I’m a transguy who has a 19 month old biological child with my male partner. Honestly, we haven’t faced too much discrimination, but we spent most of her early life in Portland, which tends to be pretty progressive… We have trouble changing her in public because baby stations are rarer in men’s rooms, but that’s starting to change and we’ve gotten pretty skilled at changing her in the back seat of the car,’ said Antiheroism.
‘My son is 8 months old now and is our biological son, my wife is trans. She wasn’t out until our son was about 3 months old, and then all we got was a ton of drama from my immediate family.’ Ariana.
Others mentioned the influence of overly religious in-laws, or being stepparents to children who had homophobic parents.
‘My partner has a son of her own from a previous relationship so that’s where most of the hurdles arise. I’ve known him since he was 1 and he’s 7 now,’ said Workingonit9
‘His dad is a major homophobe so it doesn’t help he hears negative things about us from him… explaining to a kid his dad’s views “on gays and homos” aren’t nice and people can love whoever they want… this is a huge hurdle that we will be trying to overcome for a while.’
One lesbian parent, junk-trunk identified an issue particular to female households’: ‘All of us are female, and our cycles have linked up! It’s a god damn hell house in here for a week out of the month.’
Ultimately, of the problems mentioned, most stemmed from homophobic or sexist attitudes within society rather than any lack of parenting skills or specific problems displayed by kids in such households.
Some commentators felt that they had not faced any particular challenges because of their sexuality, and several children of same-sex couples commented on how happy their childhoods had been. Some people just offered smart retorts for some of the more common questions they were asked.
‘”Which one is the man and which one is the woman?” My (lesbian) sister answers that one with: That’s like asking someone who is using chopsticks: “which one is the fork?”’ said Tephlon.
Do you feel that you have faced any particular challenges in being an LGBTI parent? Post a comment and let me know.