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Talking to Your Preschooler About Homosexuality

By Christine.Coppa |

On Saturday morning as I helped JD get dressed for a birthday party, he, out of nowhere, said, “Mommy, a boy and a boy can’t get married.” I didn’t skip a beat. “Ah, yes, they can!” I said, as I pulled the t-shirt over his head. When his little face was revealed he said, “No, Mom, you’re wrong!” I paused and thought, how shall I broach this? Ding-ding-ding: The source. “Who told you this?” I asked. “*Bob from school.” “OK,” I said. “Well, Bob from school is very wrong. If two boys love each other they can get married and so can two girls,” I said. JD looked at me with a really confused face. I mean, he is four and his mother isn’t married; explaining homosexuality or marriage in general isn’t exactly easy. There was a point when he thought Ed (dad friend) was Lily’s (JD’s friend) uncle—how sad is that?

Then I remembered a story I wrote for a parenting website about books that explain modern families. (You can find that link here.) I instructed JD to go sit on the couch. I ran my finger through a row of books on the bookshelf in our living room. “Ah,” I said. “Here, it is.” I pulled out And Tango Makes 3. There’s no better way to introduce a hard topic than snuggling up on the couch and reading about it—words and vivid imagery do wonders. For those of you unfamiliar with the book, it’s just beautiful and brilliant.

Based on a true story about a charming penguin family living in New York City’s Central Park Zoo—Roy and Silo, two male penguins, are “a little bit different,” as the book phrases. They cuddle and share a nest like the other male and female penguin couples. Determined and hopeful to start a family of their own, they bring an egg-shaped rock back to their nest and take turns sitting on it. Of course, nothing happens, that is until a watchful zookeeper decides they deserve a chance at having their own family and gives them an egg in need of nurturing. The fathers do a great job of hatching their funny and adorable daughter, and the three can still be seen at the zoo today.

As I read JD the book, I pointed to Roy and Silo over and over. “See buddy, a boy penguin and another boy penguin and they love each other, they are allowed to get married and they have a baby.” JD’s eyes widened and he smiled! “*Bob was wrong, Mom!” he said. “Yes, he was. Roy and Silo have a special family just like us. No two families are the same.”

I am raising my son to be an open, loving individual. He won’t go to college one day and be mystified by a gay roommate and feel the need to videotape his private moments, like Ravi did at Rutgers to Clementi. My son is being raised to accept people for who they are and I won’t stand for less. This starts in the home now. I grew up in a pretty open family. We talked about everything, and everyone was in each others’ business. If I was in HS with gay peers, I didn’t know it, and I wouldn’t have cared. I made a lot of gay friends when I left for college and spent four years at The University of the Arts in Philly. One of my best friends from college is a lesbian. There is nothing odd about this to me, and that is the example I am setting for my son. I support gay marriage. Love is love and love is good. As a single woman (yes, still single, people—let’s not get ahead of ourselves with *Joe) I can only hope I am lucky enough to find the love that my married gay friends have found. It’s real and beautiful.

JD snuggled closer into me and admired the soft watercolor artwork in the book. “Roy and Silo,” he said. “Boy and Boy!” “Yes buddy! See, Tango has two daddies! You have a Mommy. Lily has a Mommy and a Daddy.”

“If Tango has two daddies, why don’t I even have one daddy?” BREAK MY HEART.

To be continued…

Do you talk to your kids about homosexuality? How do you feel about gay marriage?

Please friend me on Facebook (so you can read my 9000 status updates a day) and follow me @JDSMOM2007 on twitter. Visit ChristineCoppa.net For more info on where to buy Rattled! click here.

*Bob is a pseudonym for a little boy in JD’s school. JD fibs so he could have made this up. These are my views.

 

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About Christine.Coppa

christine-coppa

Christine.Coppa

Christine Coppa is the author of Rattled! (Broadway Books, 2009), the creator of glamour.com's Storked blog and a freelance fashion market editor. Her son, Jack, is 5 and they hail from North NJ. Her work has appeared in Glamour, First for Women, Redbook and Parenting among other publications.

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30 thoughts on “Talking to Your Preschooler About Homosexuality

  1. Crystal says:

    I have heard of this story, but have never read it. I did not realize that they had a rock and tried to hatch it to have a baby of their own. I teared up when I read that. How sweet. My little boy is 1 so a little too young to understand this now. But, it is my goal to teach hom acceptance of all people. I want him to understand that everyone is different and everyone has different families and lifestyles and this is what makes the world a beautiful place. I would not want to live in a world where everyone is the same or we could not be who we truly are.

  2. Christy says:

    Great blog… I lol’ed at the “Joe” comment…don’t you know we wish for you a singlemommyhood type ending….lol……. and then cringed at JD’s comment about him having no dad. Just curious- how have you broached the subject of “A” being absent? My son’s dad hasn’t ever been in his life and I’ve always just told him that his dad wasn’t ready to be a daddy, but mommy was ready to be a mommy. My son is now 16 and I think he realizes what his dad is all about, just by him being absent – even though I’ve never spoken a negative word about his dad to him. I actually worry that my son will be so disappointed if he ever meets his dad because his dad has really sucked at life.

  3. Christine.Coppa says:

    Stay tuned for that blog! I talk to JD about his absent dad. There’s a formula. Blog to come. And yes, I want a happily ever after too.

  4. christina says:

    Mia Grace is 4 and she asked about 2 men holding hands the other day. We explained that they were holding hands because they love each other. She took it in and it wasnt brought up again. We have loads of gay friends and take her to the gay pride parade in manhattan every year. her “uncle” alan who we have been friends with forever, is gay and used to manage a gay club. we would always stop by to see him and she would dance with the drag queens. my hope is to raise her to accept everyone for who they are, not who they love. If she every tells us that she is gay, she will know that she is loved 1000000% no matter who she loves. i love the way you talk to JD about the important things. =)

  5. Jen says:

    Omg break MY heart! I almost teared up! You did an amazing job of explainity homosexuality & will continue to do so with regards to JD’s “father”.

  6. Courtney626 says:

    I love this post. I just bought this book for my son last week! He’s only a year old but I was raised in a very open household and I want him to be as well. Great blog!

  7. Christine.Coppa says:

    Thank you :) Sniffle

  8. Tristan says:

    Read The Family Book by Todd Parr to JD. Its a great book on all the different types of families you can have, and then some!! :)

  9. Colleen says:

    We actually just had this conversation at our house. My daughter asked if two women could get married, I said, yes if people love each other and that was it. Appreciate the reading material. Also, at what frequency will you be blogging here?

  10. Jeff says:

    Great post, I wish everyone would raise their children the way you are raising your son.

  11. Alana says:

    Talk about breaking your heart. How sweet. Coming from someone with many gay family members and a not so accepting area of the world, I think how you are raising JD to be so open and accepting is wonderful. More mothers (and fathers, grandparents, etc.) need to teach these values to their children. I love it and will definitely be gifting that book to a few friends :)

  12. Angie S says:

    I always enjoy reading your blogs. There are things that I find very helpful, my older two kids have their dad involved. My two year old does not. So, being without a dad around for him is new to me. At the age of two I hear him ask to talk to Daddy, then I realized he thought that Daddy was someone’s name. Reading what you go through helps me to sort of have an idea of what to expect. Thank you for putting your experiences out there to help.
    I really enjoyed the post. I think I will pick up that book to put into our library.

  13. Lorette Lavine says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post and the reference to Tango…”modern family” does need some explanation to kids so they can understand all the choices.

  14. AB says:

    This is a great post…and it’s so important to be open and honest with kids when they have these natural questions. They take their cues from us. If we are uncomfortable, they are uncomfortable. If we’re not, they’re not. When my son was about JD’s age, 8 years ago, he asked me if boys could marry boys. I told him that depends on the state you live in but that my personal opinion was that if you love someone you should be able to get married if you want to. He replied, “Good. Because I am definitely marrying Andrew.” (his best friend at the time) I will never forget the honesty and innocence of that statement, and I will always do my best to reinforce that spirit of openness and acceptance.

  15. Holly says:

    I am also very open with my children about homosexuality. At ages 7 and 9, they know very well that men and women can fall in love with anyone they like.

  16. Christine.Coppa says:

    Thanks for all of these inspiring comments!!

  17. Kate says:

    This is assuming that everyone in the world actually agrees with this lifestyle

  18. Katherine Henderson says:

    I was pretty young when I learned about homosexuality. I have very dear family members that I love that also happen to be gay. I think it’s important to broach these subjects with our children and try to be sensitive and respectful. My family was very conservative and although they were largely respectful when describing it they made it very clear that being gay was wrong. Looking back I think that was unnecessary. It didn’t serve to shape my opinion in the future. Regardless of your opinion on the matter children will form their own opinions so trying to color it with your own isn’t helpful.

  19. Andy Cash says:

    If you like this, please support the message at Facebook.com/ourheartsarewithyou. The only way anything will change in this country is if we can all speak out together.

    My son is 15 months and I hope by the time he is in preschool there won’t be any questions as to whether it is ok. That’s a short time from now, I know, but there are so many people who quietly agree with equal rights but don’t say anything. This is the decade that we will remember ending legal discrimination. And we will smile when we think about the world our kids will live in!

  20. Chloe says:

    When my son’s two nanas (my mom & her partner) came to visit last year he didn’t notice the matching wedding bands. He didn’t ask why their marriage is only legal in 6 states, ours unfortunately not being one of them. When he climbed onto their bed to sit between them and share his Dr Seuss book, he didn’t ask why they were sleeping together. All he cared about was that there were two more loving adults around to play and read with him, and generally spoil him. Days after their visit he kept saying “I want to see my nanas again!” Who can blame him, they’re a lot of fun! We haven’t discussed human sexuality with him yet, other than to explain that Daddy planted seeds in Mama’s belly to grow him and his baby brother. When he’s a few years older and ready for a more in-depth discussion of the facts of life, we will include gay & lesbian relationships as part of the conversation and teach him to respect the rights of the LGBT community, just as my mother taught me to respect people of different races, religions etc.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    King and King is another great children’s book that discusses homosexuality in a supportive, lovely and fun way.

    Kudos to all the parents who want to show their children that “Bob” is, in fact, wrong.

  22. Becca says:

    As a child I was brought up accepting homosexuality. My grandmother after having four children with an abusive man turned gay. I was never taught that being gay was a bad thing! In fact, it was the best thing ever for my whole family! My Grandma Jeanie (my nana’s companion) was the one who kept us together, and raised my uncles and my father like her own and accepted us as her grandchildren as well. Ive been around it my whole life and my daughter will be too. As children it was difficult to understand which is why I wish it was a spoken topic. My cousins and I had difficulties as babies disguising if she was male is female and after discussions with our parents we understood! I love my Jeanie still to this day and miss her very much as she died last summer. But her love still surrounds our family and my daughter too :)

  23. Hilary says:

    As a gay mom THANK YOU. Beautifully written.

  24. JR says:

    I don’t try to explain sexuality to my boys yet ,3.5yrs & 11mths, but I’ve explained to my 3.5yr old that there are all kinds of families and that’s ok. Some kids have a mommy and daddy, some have just a mommy or just a daddy, some have two mommies, some have two daddies, and some kids live with their grandparents. I want my kids to grow up accepting all people no matter of race, religion, sex, or sexuality.

  25. Rachael says:

    Thank you so much for teaching your son to love everyone. I am hopeful that my daughter will live in a generation when two mommies and two daddies will be nothing out of the ordinary. My partner and I just had our daughter three months ago and I am so excited to read blogs like these!

  26. Amber says:

    Oh Christine, that book sounds incredible — totally tearing up right now! You did such an amazing job explaining this to JD. :D

  27. Tara says:

    @ Kate ~ please, explain exactly what there is not to “agree” with???

  28. Samantha at ShesNotBroken says:

    I didn’t realize there was a book written about this; I remembered hearing about the penguins, though. I hope when my daughter’s a little older, there won’t be a need to explain any of this. It will be nothing more than two people fall in love, get married, and/or have kids and nothing more. It still looks like a cute book, though.

  29. Nicole says:

    Ok so never brought up the subject but i know it needs to be brought up my ex father in law my daughters grandpa is gay and lives together with his boyfriend for ten years which is great and im not against any of this i think people should be able to love who they wanna love but i just would like to know when and how would i explain all this to her. She is 5 now and ask 50 million questions as it is so how do i go about it. Do i wait and let her ask or do i need to bring it up to her? i would love to be able to talk to her dad about this since it is his dad but we dont see eye to eye on things resaon why we are divorced but I just want to explain to her that this is ok and anyone can love one another. Whats the right step to take????

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