"Hey, you know some kids have two daddies, right?"
June 2, 2015 11:16 PM   Subscribe

 
I am not a parent but it would seem paramount to have your children interact with all sorts of people as much as possible i.e. transgendered gay people disabled etc. And not only casual interaction but be able to see how different people live their daily lives. That interaction would hopefully foster commonality and empathy in children.
Sadly though, even with all our technology, I see more people in groups of similarity and increasingly separated from those not in their group.
posted by robbyrobs at 12:48 AM on June 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Don't limit this to parents.

source:

By law, all primary school students in the Netherlands must receive some form of sexuality education. The system allows for flexibility in how it’s taught. But it must address certain core principles — among them, sexual diversity and sexual assertiveness. That means encouraging respect for all sexual preferences and helping students develop skills to protect against sexual coercion, intimidation and abuse. The underlying principle is straightforward: Sexual development is a normal process that all young people experience, and they have the right to frank, trustworthy information on the subject.
posted by DreamerFi at 4:48 AM on June 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


I try to use multiple daddies/mommies with my two-year-old, and I pick she or he reasonably randomly with non-specific toys. (Of course, I'm being gender-binarist, as is the post author.)

Most important I think is the missing characters in the media we consume: no women, no black people, no single-sex marriages. Daddy and Mommy can use nice inclusive pronouns as much as they want, but while the mainstream TV shows and books ALWAYS have a white male straight lead and MAYBE a woman or black sidekick, it's hard to introduce the diversity and acceptance we might want to see in our play. Penny in Fireman Sam has a lot on her (capable) shoulders.

(I should add that I'm British, so I am prejudiced against American characters like McStuffins and Dora - restricting yourself is always going to be more probablematic, of course.)
posted by alasdair at 4:58 AM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm an outlier, in that the majority of my friends are creatives; artists, writers, sculptors, dancers, etc. my son was a ring bearer in three gay weddings before he was six. So, you'd expect him to have a pretty accepting attitude. However, most of his friends, who haven't been raised that way, are just as liberal about gender, same sex relationships, and skin color. I really, really believe that the next generation will look at these archaic rules of discrimination the same way we look at colored water fountains...with horror and amazement.
posted by dejah420 at 5:24 AM on June 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


I am not a parent but it would seem paramount to have your children interact with all sorts of people as much as possible i.e. transgendered gay people disabled etc. And not only casual interaction but be able to see how different people live their daily lives. That interaction would hopefully foster commonality and empathy in children.

I agree with this but I think it's not that simple; one of the things that it's important to me when I have kids is that they be really accepting and understanding of people who are trans*, but (as far as I know) I don't have any close friends or acquaintances who are trans* and it would be really disrespectful and inappropriate to go around asking trans* people to serve as representatives to educate my children when they have their own lives to live.

Exposure is fantastic and I hope it becomes more viable as we talk about issues of gender and sexuality more openly but it's not as simply as having your children interact with all sorts of people because it's not the responsibility of trans* people to interact with my theoretical children if they don't feel like it.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:52 AM on June 3, 2015 [10 favorites]


My Four Step Program:

Step 1: We are all human. We all live on the same planet. We all have different life experiences.
Step 2: Be kind.
Step 3: Don't be an asshole.
Step 4: See Step 3!!
posted by Fizz at 6:29 AM on June 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


We have lots of friends and acquaintances who are gay, including my wife's TA, so my son has been around them a lot. We always try to point out 'not all families are man-woman-child'.

I feel current children's animation is getting better at this: Clarence's friend Jeff has 2 moms, for example, about which no fucks are given, at all. Korra, well, what can I say, is awesome in this regard. Steven Universe is a very non-traditional family, plus Garnet, IYKWIM. Lots of strong, agency-having female characters in Adventure Time, plus Marceline and Bubblegum used to date.

Also, my kid loves My Little Pony:FIM, and he's gotten a little bit of crap from other boys about this, but he stands firm, has a Pinkie Pie train set and all, and we've talked about how things shouldn't be for boys or girls, how anybody can like anything, etc. So he's had a (super gentle) introduction to being discriminated against for being non-gender-conforming, and he came through OK. I use this whenever discrimination comes up: "you know how they picked on you for liking MLP? etc...".
posted by signal at 6:55 AM on June 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is why it was so nice to watch the Korra finale with my kid, as she and her girlfriend gazed into each other's eyes and walked off into the future. A kiss would have been better, but he and I both knew they were a couple.

Also several of his Sunday school teachers and of course church members are gay.

I am actually more concerned at the lack of nonwhite folks in his sphere, this is still a pretty segregated town. It's something our church is working on. His school is a lost cause, it's pretty much all white and likely to stay that way.
posted by emjaybee at 7:01 AM on June 3, 2015


We have Todd Parr's The Family Book on regular bedtime story rotation. But I definitely had to ask about and seek out a book with LGB (no T or Q because I can't fairly say those are addressed) themes. Just going to the kids' book section of an average store you're unlikely to find such broad inclusiveness. Now I'm just hoping that Daniel Tiger will introduce gay parents into the mix, as they've done a very good job of having a variety of families otherwise.
posted by falconred at 7:06 AM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, if I can keep talking about my kid, he does this cute things where he calls any kind of discrimination 'racism', so if we see an example of sexism, homophobia, etc., he always says 'that's racist!'. We try to expand his vocabulary, but basically he gets it.
posted by signal at 7:08 AM on June 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


I really, really believe that the next generation will look at these archaic rules of discrimination the same way we look at colored water fountains...with horror and amazement.

Yeah, "the kids are alright."

(Would you believe I first read "colored water fountains" as literal, that is, fountains using colored water and wondered, "why on earth is that horrible?" d'oh.)
posted by chavenet at 7:18 AM on June 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


I am not a parent but it would seem paramount to have your children interact with all sorts of people as much as possible i.e. transgendered gay people disabled etc.

Me : Son, this is my friend from work, Chao. Can you say hello, please ?
Son: Hello Chao! Nice to meet you. You're from China, like my dad's computer!!
Me : ...

True story.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:30 AM on June 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I really, really believe that the next generation will look at these archaic rules of discrimination the same way we look at colored water fountains...with horror and amazement.

And to me, this is why it is so frustrating trying to talk about equality issues, particularly with fundamentalist Christians. 150 years ago, Bible-believing Christians used scripture to support their belief that slavery was okay. 50 years ago, Bible-believing Christians used scripture to support their belief that racial segregation and discrimination was okay. Today, there are Bible-believing Christians who use scripture to support their belief that just about anything on the LGBTQ spectrum is a sin. The patterns are there, over and over.

You'd be hard-pressed today to find a Christian who honestly believes the Bible supports slavery, and you'd be hard-pressed today to find a Christian who honestly believes the Bible supports racial discrimination. But they were dead-sure about it back then. So what changed? Did the Bible change? Or maybe our cultural interpretation of it? And even knowing how dead wrong those Christians were about those issues, so many Christians today are still, still absolutely convinced that this time, they are right about what the Bible says about LGBTQ issues, even as they shake their heads in horror and amazement at their fellow misguided believers of yesteryear.

It really warms my heart to see that, in general, with each new crop of kids, LGBTQ issues are a non-issue. If the old haters are so desperate to cling to their backwards ways, even as they work to damage the safety, freedom, and livelihood of others, history cannot be too unkind to them. Let tomorrow's kids shake their heads in horror and amazement at just how backwards some people still managed to be.
posted by xedrik at 7:35 AM on June 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


My kid has grown up with gay family and friends. He has no problem, at 7, telling people about them, which, in Texas, makes for some uncomfortable people. I love watching those interactions.
In his preschool there was one boy who asked for, received and wore some beautiful hand-me-down Indian dresses from a girl at the school. (His liberal New Yorker dad had a lot more problems with that than all of the pinko Austin parents!) I don't think we had more than one conversation with my kiddo about how everyone is different and if that person wanted to dress that way, then more power to him. Watching the kid on those flow-y dresses on a hot summer day made ME realize that I hadn't worn a skirt in years, so I fixed that. Only recently have we started having more in depth discussion of how some people don't feel inside how some parts of society want them to look on the outside and that we should support them and act in ways that make them, and all people, comfortable in the world. We don't know anyone in our lives that identifies as trans but that does not mean we can't lay the groundwork for an accepting child. (I hope. God, I hope.)
Now, if he meets his first trans person while still in the stage (like Pogo Fuzzybutt's kid) where he says aloud whatever comes into his mind, it may make for some awkward conversations, but that's parenting!

(My kids best outburst was in the loud, echo-y grocery store where he pointed out a double amputee walking on prosthetic legs and yelled "LOOK AT THAT GUY'S ROBOT LEGS!!!!!!" And everyone turned. I turned and stared because, holy shit! I know a guy who mountain bikes with one prosthetic leg and the guy in the grocery store had ones that looked like they were from 40 years in the future.)
posted by Seamus at 8:20 AM on June 3, 2015



By law, all primary school students in the Netherlands must receive some form of sexuality education.

Huh, I wonder what law that is. The "kerndoelen", which lay out what students should learn in primary school, only say "students should learn to be respectful about diversity in society, including sexual diversity" (sloppy translation mine). It's half a sentence, in a paragraph about learning main points about religions that are common in the Netherlands. Many Dutch children do not get "sexuality education" as a separate subject in primary schools.

Subsidised schools in the Netherlands are often religious and some religious schools do not want gay teachers. It is against the law to flat out say that you do not hire gay teachers, but there are of course enough loopholes. There are many villages where a christian school is the only school there is, so as a parent you're stuck with it. Whether christian schools should be allowed to refuse gay teachers has been a contentious subject for many years and it's far from settled, so it's a bit weird to read an article that presents the Netherlands as a model country without even mentioning these issues.
posted by blub at 8:45 AM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


You'd be hard-pressed today to find a Christian who honestly believes the Bible supports slavery, and you'd be hard-pressed today to find a Christian who honestly believes the Bible supports racial discrimination.

Have you been to the South much?
posted by blucevalo at 8:51 AM on June 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


I am super proud to say that all of the kids in my life are getting these essential interactions. My best friend's two boys have been utterly surrounded by queer aunties and uncles growing up. Their godparents are a gay couple who they travel with 3 or 4 times a year, they have attended pride parades and other LGBT events and the next door neighbor's child is working out some gender issues by spending most of their time at the house because the boys don't care what gender MG is.

My niece counts into her little 3rd grade clique of friends one trans girl and is in a pretty diverse school in the L.A. Unified School District, so that's working out well also. Not to mention her extremely non-traditional aunt and uncle. She is quite fully versed in not all families look the same.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:02 AM on June 3, 2015


The author of this piece needs to invest in an Oyster card and leave those leafy London suburbs and get out a bit more. (Although it is hard to believe that anyone living in Southeastern England is so socially isolated that they only see traditional families.)

Kids are naturally observant and curious. One of the main reasons I send my kids to the academically poor, but socially rich public school is so that they can lean to live with other people. Social skills are the one thing you can't learn from books, you have to live it.

In a school with 500 students, they see same sex parents, single parents, divorced parents, going-through-a-divorce parents, mixed race parents, adoptive patents. They notice these things without being prompted and they ask questions without being prompted.

Kid: "There is this kid in my class Henry. Why is Henry so dark when his parents are so light?"

Me: "Henry is South Asian and he was adopted by some people from Scotland. They could have picked anyone they wanted and the fact the choose Henry makes him sort of special."

Kid. "Yeah, Henry sure is special. He cheats at soccer. He's always falling down and crying and trying to get a free kick."

Me: "That's not Henry. That's soccer. Get over it."

I find it is a lot easier to have these discussions concerning people my kids know rather than as just an idea. They also learn that Tolstoy was right:" All happy families are happy in the same way." And that this has nothing to do with composition and it is all about love and commitment and being nice to each other.
posted by three blind mice at 9:44 AM on June 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Here in my rural, conservative, deeply religious part of the world, it's unusual to see a same-sex couple. But last weekend, my kids (7, 11) attended their first gay wedding, and had the opportunity to see 400 people stand up in church and give the newly-married grooms a lengthy standing ovation. They saw gay couples. Lesbian couples. Drag queens in and out of their performing attire. Straight couples. Men in kilts. And it was all the same to my kids because they have grown up with the ideas that love is love and be your authentic self. The church and reception were packed with the history behind this marriage becoming law, and being accepted in the U.S., but for my kids, as young as they are, same-sex marriage is an anchor, a normal way of proceeding, and will always have been in their frame of reference as far as marriage. So they had a great time and kind of shrugged right past expressions of self and commitment that differ from what they see at home. I am so lucky: I was a reader ("How Falling in Love Is Like Owning a Dog," thanks for the excellent suggestion, Ask MeFi!), and I had the amazing opportunity to affirm my support for my friends in full view of my kids. That's what they'll remember, too: How everyone laughed, and cried, and cheered for the commitment between these men, how people stood up for them, and greeted this union in love and support. Not a bad way for kids to spend their first wedding. Love is love.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:09 PM on June 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I recently had a conversation with my 8 yr old about gender identity. He has a friend who I suspect is trans, or at least questioning, so I wanted him to understand the general concept, so that if the friend does come out s/he will be met with acceptance, not "that's weird."

Later that day my son saw our dog cleaning himself by licking his paw and rubbing it on his face, and said "You know how there are boys who are really girls on the inside? Well, I think Snickers is actually a cat."

(facepalm)

You're welcome, trans people, and sorry about that part where my kid compared you to a chihuahua.
posted by selfmedicating at 5:15 PM on June 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I bought the new and improved "Heather has Two Mommies" for my library, and put it in my regular picture book collection, not the "parenting" ghetto. Then I waited with bated breath to see if anyone would complain. Yesterday someone finally checked it out: a mom (who I know is married to a man) brought it over to her 4 year old and showed it to her with some other books. "It's about a family" she said. So at least one kid in my town with opposite-sex parents is learning about other kinds of families. Yay!
posted by Biblio at 8:49 PM on June 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Biblio: "I bought the new and improved "Heather has Two Mommies" for my library, "

A few weeks ago, we went to a public library and went to the picture book section. signal jr., after looking at some other books, picked out 'Nicolás tiene dos papás'1 on his own, brought it back, read it, and said it was 'fun'. He didn't comment on the dads' sex.

1 A Chilean publicly funded equivalent to "Heather..", somewhat controversial when it came out and was distributed to schools and libraries)
posted by signal at 5:54 AM on June 4, 2015


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