The Difference Between You and Your Kids
by Kristen Beireis
As the straight Daughter of a lesbian, I find there are many differences between my Moms and I. Growing up, I didn’t really notice any differences. They existed, I just wasn’t aware of them. As I grew into adulthood, I started to notice how VERY different I am.
You may already notice some of these differences in YOUR kids. It’s important to acknowledge them so your children will grow up to be the unique individuals that they are. So, what might some of these differences be? Your kids might be straight, uninterested in activism, more closeted than you, more open than you or even the exact opposite of you. The world your children live in is a very different one than the world you grew up in. They have a unique opportunity to choose how they want to be with their LGBT parents.
Remember, your child may be straight. When they leave the safety of their childhood home, they will be in the straight world and the LGBT world may not accept them as “part of the community.” It’s important to honor that part of your child and allow them to experience the straight world. Let them go to the baseball game with their friends. Let them see what it’s like to go to a “not so accepting” church. Give them the experience of going to picnics with straight families. When they want to go to the most closed-minded and non-accepting college they can find, take them there, walk around campus with them, and educate them on what you see that will be different from their openly gay home. Allow them to choose to go there anyway. They will need to learn to live in the straight world. It can be VERY different from the world they grew up in. Exposure is the best way to make that adjustment easier.
Then there is the issue of coming out. Yes, your kids come out, just like you do. Have you ever walked into a room, sized it up to see who was there, and decided it just wasn’t the environment to be “out” in? Your kids do that too. You may have chosen to be “out” in your community. Did your kids? They may decide not to be in certain cases. They size up situations too. They even learn how to test people to know who is safe and who isn’t. So, your child may choose to be “in the closet.” It’s good to talk to your kids about this. Ask how they came to that decision? Share how you choose. Don’t be shy about coming out when your kids are around. Give them the “kid language” that will help them, when they are ready.
I know a lot of LGBT parents that are very active in the Pride Parades and community groups. It’s important for them to stand up for their rights and fight for what they believe in. It’s who they are and it’s very cool to watch! As a kid, I marched right next to my Mom and supported her in every parade I could go to with her. As an adult, I realized that it’s not MY battle and decided that being an Activist for gay rights wasn’t part of who I am. Now, I stand for MY rights and I stand for being me. Growing up in the gay community can teach you a lot of things about owning who you are and being proud of that! I just don’t stand for the same issues as my Moms. So, if your child decides she doesn’t want to go to the parade, it’s not a rejection you or the fact that you are gay, it’s just that she isn’t into it. It may not be her thing.
You are a model for your kids. Know that they are watching how you handle being LGBT in society and that’s how they will learn. Honor their differences and allow them to choose how THEY want to be. Let them experiment. You may find that the child who asked NOT to go to the Pride Parade decided they were missing something. Ask your kids about their decisions? Be there for them when they have questions and be honest in your answers. Allow your kids to express their opinion without judging them (even if you totally disagree!). THEN give them your opinion, if they are willing to listen. If you honor who your child is, they will be well equipped to go into the adult world where they will have to make their own decisions.
Being a child of the LGBT community is an amazing experience that allows kids to grow up with strength, confidence, pride and the right to be who they are. I am grateful for the challenges and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
About the author: Kristen helps adults with LGBT parents create their OWN amazing lives. She is dedicated to helping them adjust to being in the straight world and find their own path that is not determined by their parents’ sexuality and honors that part of who they are. Kristen believes in empowering individuals to be the unique human being they are, with each step they take on the path of life. To learn more about Kristen and her Rainbow In Me program, go to her website.
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