Monday, June 22, 2009

If Heather has two mommies, what happens on Father's Day?

This exact question came up recently in the Triangle Families online discussion group. (This is a Yahoo group for gay parents and their kids and allies around the NC Triangle area.) One women's kid's teacher asked which mother should get the Father's Day gift they made in class.

Now, it sounds like the teacher was well intentioned and was sincerely trying to understand the best way to handle things and be respectful of the child and family. Unfortunately, it also sounds like the teacher went about it in the worst way possible, i.e., along the lines of "which of you is the husband?"

If you're a gay parent, you've been in this situation, in one way or another. This is yet another way that our difference makes life just a bit harder for us.

The thing that I thought was most interesting about the online and offline discussions that took place around this issue, though, was the variety of ways different families handled this.

Now, basically everyone agreed that talking to the teacher - and laying the groundwork ahead of time whenever possible - is good. (It's always best to be open and matter-of-fact, and to invite questions, discussion, and communication.)

As it turns out, some lesbian couples did, in fact, have one partner get Father's Day presents and the other get Mother's Day gifts. Ditto for gay male couples. Some gay male couples asked for two gifts on Father's Day and nothing on Mother's Day. (Some asked that Mother's Day gifts go to a grandmother or an aunt or the teacher.)

This discussion also brought up the variety of families, gay and straight, that exist. In addition to the usual (to us!) two-mom or two-dad families, you also have the single parent, the time-sharing parents and their respective spouse/partner, the multiple step-parents, the foster parents and bio-parents, the former foster parents, the bio-mom who's still involved after the open adoption, etc.

This isn't just an issue for LGBT families - this is an issue for any family that's different from the mainstream. The more awareness we have about the diversity of all families, the better.

[For the record, for our Father's Day, Kid gave us each a little rock with google eyes made up to look like each of us, i.e., Craig's had yarn for hair and mine was bald. Awww! It was sooo cute and touching! He's my heart! Also, I continue to love his grade-school teachers for their thoughtfulness. And on Mother's Day he made something for Grams.

That's how we handle it, but each family is different. Regardless, we'd all be better off with more asking and more telling. Awareness=education=acceptance.]

No comments:

Post a Comment