By Tara Weng, GalTime.com
Talking to Your Kids About Same-Sex RelationshipsIt's become readily apparent that my children are growing up faster than I can grab a handbook and immediately tackle any given parenting situation. Recently my 7-year-old has been actively inquiring about same-sex marriage as she has heard snippets on the news about legislation and equality. Using that as a jumping off point (as well as the casual usage, albeit out of context, of the word "gay" by my un-knowing son) I started to wonder how I could/should react if either one of my kids came home and wanted to have a sit-down about homosexuality.
I don't want them to feel like I don't know they talk about sex/sexuality at school so I feel like I need some intelligible feedback on the ready. Wracking my own brain wasn't working (fast enough) so I figured once again this was a question best posed to a professional.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Michael Mantell says it's time to look in the mirror before tackling this issue with your children. "First, examine your own feelings about homosexuality. Discussing your own beliefs, religious faith, experiences about homosexuality with your children makes sense--but be aware that you may be open to criticism for being judgmental, negative, or homophobic if you are making too big a deal about your kid's gay friend. That will only lead to your children seeing YOU in a negative light," he says.
This discussion can happen with your kids sooner than you think. I found it a bit disheartening when I discovered Tennessee legislators were declaring it unlawful to discuss homosexuality at school-not just the teachers, the students as well. I mean really, how can you possibly control speech, particularly in the school yards of this country? You can read more about what has been dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill here.
But I digress (once again.) Back to the subject matter at hand. Just how do you talk to your own kids about sexuality at this level? Dr. Mantell has some point(s) of interest for parents in this regard.
Don't make a big deal out of this...it will only backfire.
If you see that your kids' friends--gay or not--are influencing your child in way(s) you don't approve of, set reasonable limits and boundaries. But if you don't see negative influences, allow the friendship--it will likely draw your child closer to you.
Don't judge. If you believe your youngster is interested in homosexuality, be open enough without judgment to discuss it.. Lose your child? Not ever worth it!
Make your concern about negative behavior, not sexual preference.
As so often happens, the media can provide what experts refer to as "teachable moments" for parents.
The conversation with your children is going to be altered by your own viewpoint(s), where you live geographically and your children's own experiences. Just remember that these moments are the perfect opportunities to assure your kids that you love them no matter what and that you encourage an open dialogue with them about anything.
More from GalTime.com:
Why I Hate the Word Punishment!
The Dreaded Question: Mom Did You Ever...
Yikes! Middle School Sex Survey