Big conversations

I have been seeing a lot of talk in queer mom land about when and how people talk to their kids about their donor. I feel behind because we haven’t. Whoops.

We have open and honest conversations with Gus but we follow his lead and this isn’t something he has shown much interest in. He knows he grew in my uterus. On some level he knows he was born in our living room (Lesley happily showed him where). We have Zak’s Safari, a book about a donor conceived kid with lesbian moms. When we tried to read it to him he got bored and asked for a different book. He asked me while we were on vacation how he got in my uterus but we were in the car with my mom who was already shocked that he knows the word “uterus” so I changed the subject and hoped he would ask again when we were alone. He hasn’t.

I’m of the belief that big conversations should be somewhat child led and right now my child isn’t leading me into those conversations. He is young, on the cusp of three, and I imagine in the next year those will come up a bit more. I think about this not only with him having a donor but also conversations about racism and homophobia. I don’t think he is quite ready for the conversations but I will not shy away from big topics when brought up.

It’s hard because I recognize that some of that, especially not talking about racism, is a privilege we have. I know that is not the case for everyone. But I want him to be young and innocent a bit longer. I work hard to expose him to all types of family and racial diversity however I can. We talk openly I just don’t start conversations about these bigger topics.

A women I know has a fb group for parents who are activists. It is small and I was in it for a while but recently left. She was posting articles about how to talk to your kids about gay people. It made me so sad that we are something that other people need to “talk to” their kids about. Why are people not just teaching their kids to be kind and loving human beings? I know that it needs to go beyond that. I know that you can’t just teach your kid to be nice and have it stop there but right now it feels like a pretty good start.

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Posted on August 3, 2017, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I keep having a lot of these thoughts too. Darwin doesn’t ask about where babies come from. She seems entirely uninterested as to *how* babies get in a uterus to begin with. She is completely content with the answer that babies grow there and then are born. I’m trying to walk the line between giving her information she is asking for and wanting her to ask for more information!

    On race, I went on a rant about the white woman mocking Beyoncé’s maternity photos while Darwin was in the room. She was silent and wide-eyed, and I realized I had essentially opened the conversation, so we talked a little about how our society doesn’t value people who have skin that is darker than ours, and how we’re working to change that. And I think I ended saying something about how the most important thing right now is for her to be kind to all people, and to stand up to people who aren’t being kind if she can. I need to do more reading on this before our next conversation happens.

  2. IF a child over age 1 ever sees anyone with a different skin color it is time to talk about that reality, that people have different eye and haircolors also, and that:
    The vast majority of the world is NOT Northern European in skin, eye and hair color!!!

    If a child does not ever see people with different skin shades their lives need broadening. We live in a real international time and thinking the whole world is only N.European sets up fear of differences. Northern European children need dolls/action figures/legos of all shades because they need normalcy and reality about skin shades.

    They also need normalcy about the different ways families are composed. Todd Parr has some great books on that with lovely simple illustrations.

    PS: I am the polka dot skinned grandmother …. N.European but due to age and sun I have white sun damage spots on my arms, (tri-racial granddaughter). MAKE IT ALL NORMAL.

    Thank you for writing and posting but above all for bringing wonderful miracles into our world. You bring joy to many people and are very much appreciated.

  3. You know, I’ve had a few of these conversations, but they’ve sort of happened organically with T&S who are obviously a lot older than Gus and notice a bit more about their world.

    We’ve always openly talked about a “donor” but we had to have a real conversation a few weeks ago about what that actually meant because hearing it and grasping the concept weren’t the same. It stemmed from a “how come I don’t have a dad”, something S asked at 4 and T had yet to either ask/care about and he’s 6, so I think that level of curiosity may be entirely dependent on whether it’s something they care about. (S is more sensitive to/aware of differences, T is not.)

    As for racism, homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia, good grief the list goes on – all of these important things – we do our best to give them very basic examples they can understand and a lot of that is focusing on positive messages. I try to stay away from: It’s incredibly difficult and dangerous to be a woman in today’s society and instead say Women are strong, independent, people who can do anything and it’s good to support them if they ask for your help. That sort of thing – Many different people have a wide range of beliefs instead of These groups of people are targeted based on their religion. So far, it’s worked, without having to sit them down and give them the capital T truth of life, which I won’t shy away from when it becomes clear they are starting to Get It.

    I think you’re doing great both for your family and where you feel Gus is at. 🙂

  4. Ali has never asked about having a dad, maybe because we started early with explaining that some kids have mom+dad, some mom+mom, etc. I’ve heard other kids ask her which one of us is her ‘real’ mom and where is her dad, stuff like that, she always just tells them she has 2 moms and and drops it. Right now she’s too busy thinking about how she can convince Kurt unicorns are real and how to master the monkey bars. She might surprise me, but I don’t think she will ask about anything like that for several more years. We have dug a little deeper with race, but not really as much as I expected for her age. I think you’re doing the right thing, it’s not like he would even remotely understand any of it anyway. Even with the race topic, he didn’t seem to bat an eye over my brown kids, or do the wide eyed hair touching thing some little kids do who clearly have never seen a black kid.

    • Yeah, I was a bit nervous but it was all a non issue to him so as long as that’s the case I want to keep it that way. I think a lot about you telling me about Kurt and the chicken at school vs chicken for dinner and how he wasn’t really ready to process that and so he didn’t. That has given me some faith that in kids subconscious they protect themselves until they are ready.

  5. Clementine has never asked about the donor. I agree with you about this being child-led. I do feel more responsibility to bring up the topics that are less connected to her day-to-day life, bit thus far, I’ve been relying on exposure–populating my home with age-appropriate books that address the challenges or model empowerment and pointing out political action or protests when we see them in our community. Sometimes she asks questions, sometimes she doesn’t. When we were on our Hamilton soundtrack kick last summer, she had a lot of questions about colonial times, which led to conversations about slavery and power, which ended up being a stepping stone to bigger conversations. We’ve also gotten decent mileage out of “why don’t you let me have Barbie dolls?” and critical readings of Disney princess stories. So yeah…I agree with you about letting them take the lead but believe it’s our job as parents to provide the material for them to respond to and ask questions about. Which I think you are doing, for the record. My current struggle, now that she’s in elementary school, is encouraging diverse authentic friendships and inclusive attitudes that don’t promote a white savior mindset or tokenism. I want her to learn from people, not about them.

  6. What wonderful thoughtful commentators you have.
    I think the historical part of racism and racism today can develop organically as children begin to understand that not everyone they see is their friend; that some people are not friends and why that is. In preschool the issue of bullies generally comes up along with stranger danger. So they have some foundation for hearing about how some people have acted in the past. That can be expanded upon. But in most kindergartens Martin Luther King Day is acknowledged ~ and it is better to have had a family discussion in advance so your child isn’t shocked and horrified and scared in class. So they know that, in your family, eye, or skin, or hair color does not define a person. I think that by the end of pre-school they also need a foundation of understanding that people are different in what is easy for them to do: read, climb a tree, draw a picture ,and what takes more effort and learning. That they have already proven themselves to be good at learning because they have learned to walk and talk and it took time and effort to learn these things just like it will time and effort to learn other things all their lives.
    Parenting done well is not easy. I am impressed when I read your posts and what people say in their comments. We ARE learning more about the job and there is lots of hope.

  7. I haven’t really had any conversations with B about the donor, but my spouse has. I’m not exactly sure what she’s said, but I know it’s important to her to normalize it. He’s met three of his donor siblings, but I don’t really know how much he understands about that. I think in the next two years he’ll start asking and we’ll be able to have more discussions about it. Right now it’s just not really on his radar. I’m not about hiding information from kids, but more about taking their cues. If anyone has any good book suggestions though, I’d love to know! About parents’ educating their children about gay people, when we were at the beach B made friends with a 4 year old boy next to us. The little boy asked his mom “where is his dad?” Mom didn’t even miss a beat and said “he has two mommies, every family is different.” Lesson complete.

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