Dear Is This Normal,
My partner and I are a same-sex couple, and we have a son together. Obviously, being in a same-sex relationship, we’ve always normalized all types of families, and our son is very comfortable with the fact that he has two moms. But with him starting school soon, we want to help set him up for success when it comes to explaining his family to other kids/people and being able to answer questions about our family life. How can we help him?
One of Two Mommies
Dear One of Two,
I think it’s great that you want to help your son be prepared to explain his loving family to those who ask (or pry), and I’m also deeply sorry that the onus is on you and your partner and your son to make these preparations. I can assure you, I never had to teach my kids how to answer questions about their family dynamic to anyone—heteronormativity made sure of that. It shouldn’t be this way, but alas, here we find ourselves! So let’s talk about it, so your son can talk about it when asked.
Kids are naturally curious and inquisitive, so presumably a lot of the questions he’ll get from his peers (especially young school-aged kids) will likely be borne of sheer curiosity. Kids may not even register or care that your kiddo has two moms, but they’ll want to know if he has a dad. Or what he calls two mommies, or how he has two mommies when babies only come from one mommy. So it’s a good idea to equip your son with some standard, clear-cut answers.
Question: why do you have two mommies?
Answer: because my mommies love each other and wanted to be mommies together.
Question: What do you call your mommies:
Answer: specific to your family names for one another.
Question: do you have a dad?
Answer: again, this one will be specific to your family dynamic and how much (if any) of the process you’ve shared with your son.
Make sure your little guy knows the basic facts of your particular family situation, so that if he’s asked and feels inclined to answer, he has information he feels confident and comfortable with sharing. I say ‘inclined’ to answer because I think it’s important that your son understands that he is under no obligation to anyone to explain his family, even when someone asks directly. Boundaries: we love ‘em, you know it.
You may also consider talking to your son’s teacher prior to the beginning of the school year and explaining some of your concerns. Putting this on your teacher’s radar can perhaps open up the conversation on ways the teacher can take opportunities with her students to normalize families that don’t look like their own.
And finally, even though it breaks my heart to suggest this: it’s probably a good idea to prepare your son for those questions and comments he may get that are not curious in nature, but more mean-spirited. It’s a terrible thing to imagine, a child being made fun of or picked on because they have two loving parents. But…well, you know. Explain that kids may say mean things or make rude comments not because they are bad or mean kids, but because they come from a place of not understanding because they haven’t encountered a same-sex family before, or because they’ve been taught wrong information about things that they just do not understand. It’s not your son’s job to educate them, obviously, but if he’s able to clearly and calmly explain what his mommies are like, and what his family life is like, it gives him a chance to turn a negative interaction into a positive outcome.
Best of luck to your son as he starts school! Ugh, I can clearly recall the agony and the ecstasy of those days. And congrats and best of luck to you and second mom on this major milestone and transition! It sounds like he’s a very lucky kiddo, and you all are going to find your way through it together just fine.
From One Mom to Two,
Is This Normal