Regardless of age, gender identity, or sexual orientation, all those thinking of having a child are likely to ask the same question: "Will I be a good parent?” But when gay couples pose this question, there are also a lot of other factors in need of consideration.
Although the world has become much more understanding, there are still many people who don’t understand the realities that gay individuals face. But studies show that children of gay parents grown up much the same as the average child: happy. This is why gay parenting issues are so important to discuss.
There are hundreds of stories about parents who not only disapproved of gay marriage but also refuse to talk to their children when they learn that their gay children are planning to have children of their own. Other stories also show the discrimination children of gay parents receive in their schools from classmates and their parents.
Unfortunately, many people in society still believe that gay parents cannot nurture a child properly without the presence of the opposite gender in their family dynamics. This can make it very hard for both the parents and the child to navigate the world without fear of discrimination in one form or another.
The Birds and the Bees
Many heterosexual parents have expressed difficulty talking to their children about sex. This subject can be very sensitive for some gay parents.
In the video interview above, an American father shared some of the issues he faced and how he successfully dealt with it, saying “There’s a lot of resistance still, where you live can sometimes be a big challenge. We live in Tennessee, and there are a lot of people that, perhaps would have never socialized with us, but when we joined the soccer team, the Republicans that most of them are, have embraced us, and I think we’ve changed their hearts and minds.”
Later in the interview, the father added a point about society’s misconception about gay parent’s inability to create their children, he clarified this point, explaining:
“Because of advances in medicine, we’re able to have families, that are biologically ours, and many people think that because we’re gay, we’re infertile. We’re not infertile… Our process of having children is a little bit different than others, but our children are real human beings, they are sacred, and they should not be marginalized."
Tips for Gay Parents
Communication is key. Talk to your child openly about the positive things in your family arrangement as well as explaining discrimination and why people bully.
Knowledge is power. Find children’s books that will help your children deal with the issues.
Teachers can help others learn. Seek to develop a relationship with your child’s teacher and ask about educating the other children about your family structure.
Strength in numbers. Join a community or have a social network, so children can develop bonds with other children of same-sex relationships, which will prevent them from feeling alone.
Embrace other cultures. If your child sees you accept different cultures and love other races, it will help them become more open-minded.
Let your kids fight their own battles. You want to step in when your child is in danger of serious harm, but not every issue requires your intervention. If you continuously help too quickly, your child won’t learn how to resolve conflicts themselves or have the courage to stand tall in difficult situations.
Love Comes First
Children of gay parents tend to be more open-minded, tolerant and have a better understanding of equitable relationships while showing no significant differences in achievement, social functioning or mental health.
In the video above, on top of discussion many of the issues highlighted in the article, one father speaks on how critical gay parents are:
“The LGBT movement has almost inexplicably been the driver in rethinking family in this country, not breaking it down… and the irony is that not only are we attacked as people who are trying to eliminate families… we’re fighting for it, and we’re saying to the country that family is something you fight for!”
While society still struggles to accept gay parenting, this hasn’t stopped same-sex parents from moving forward and starting successful families. Research shows that gay parents may, in some ways, be more successful than straight parents. Abbie Goldberg, a psychologist at Clark University in Massachusetts, spoke about the benefits of gay parenting mentioning:
“Gay parents tend to be more motivated, more committed than heterosexual parents on average because they chose to be parents” Gays and lesbians rarely become parents by accident, compared with an almost 50 percent accidental pregnancy rate among heterosexuals. That translates to greater commitment on average and more involvement.”
Family is something worth fighting for. Being a gay parent will have a share of difficulties, but by following the advice of other parents, it’s more than possible to endure and have a successful family.
This article was originally published in August 2016 but has since been updated to reflect more current information.