It’s happened a few times lately, that upon finding out that I’m one of two moms in our family, I’m asked by another parent how to explain two-mom families to their kids (lately this has been in adult contexts, not with my kids in tow). Most recently, a dad I was talking to mentioned that he knows a two-mom family in his neighborhood, and that his own kids are asking how that family had their kids. He doesn’t know how to answer, and in fact doesn’t even know the basic facts needed to really answer the questions (i.e. were the kids adopted? or did one (or both) of the mom’s give birth? He met the family well after the kids were tiny, so he has no idea).
I encouraged him to talk to the parents, and find out how they are explaining things to their kid’s friends, but he felt like he didn’t know the parents well enough for that. We really wouldn’t mind such a question, and would be glad to help other parents have such conversations with their kids** (the more other people’s kids understand our families, the easier life is for my kids), but I get that it isn’t necessarily all that comfortable. I also know many queer parents object strongly to any “nosy” questions along these lines, so perhaps his concern isn’t misplaced. That said, I think by the time kids are school age (which these kids were), most of us are used to it, find the questions much less challenging, and have our answers down.
The conversation moved on, but I wish I’d given him a bit more information, some language to explain to his kids that some two-mom families adopt children, and some have kids with the help of a man called a sperm donor (or just “donor” if “sperm” was too much), and that both moms are “real moms” no matter how they had their kids. It might be nice to throw in a line about two-dad families and single parents, though it was clear that this dad’s kids really wanted to know HOW the moms in this particular family had their kids, not the list of family-constellations we tend to throw out to younger kids. That’s a way more toned down version than our kids get, but might have been enough to satisfy his kids, and certainly would be better than nothing.
I’m sure that whoever these kids of two-moms are in some distant neighborhood, they are perfectly skilled at handling the questions that come their way, but I feel like I missed an opportunity to help this dad and his kids be a bit more informed and when/if they asked, and maybe a chance to help this dad feel a little more comfortable with his neighbors.
So what do you think? What do you wish straight parents explained to their kids about queer families? Do you have any good ways for them to do the explaining? (Remember though, they aren’t used to this. The questions surprise them even more than they surprise us.)
**NOTE to any of our real life friend who happen to be reading: Please do say if you need help figuring out how to talk to your kids about our family.
[Comments were accidentally turned off on this post for a while, but they are up now, please discuss!]