The Roles of Parents In A New Generation

I do realize that being a two mom family out in the open is something a bit new to our society. With the Supreme Court ruling in the US, while our families existed, there are some who are being recognized and for that, I am grateful. However, there are times that I am reminded the typical stereotype of a family cannot be changed overnight. LGBT families have existed for years, they are in history, hidden in the shadows and they are finally getting a chance to come out in the open.

Families like ours are redefining what it means to be a family, but it’s no different than single mothers, adoptive parents, divorced families, or families headed by grandparents or aunts and uncles. Family dynamics are not just black and white. Parents are not simply made up of a man and a woman, a mother and a father.

So, why then, do the first things out of people’s mouths consist of gender specific roles in family. When people see pictures of my family, especially my daughter, this is usually how the conversation goes:

Them: “Are you married?”

Me: “No, but we’ve been together for 10 years.”

Them: “Is she laying on Daddy’s shoulder, there?”

Me: “That’s my partner, yes, she’s laying on her mom’s shoulder.”

**Cue embarrassed look from the other person**

This makes me feel like shit. Why? Because I don’t come out the gate with my sexuality. My sexuality is not what makes me a person. It’s not what makes me a mother. It’s not what makes me who I am. My sexuality is not about anything that affects anyone else. My sexuality has nothing to do with sex, frankly, it has to do with who I love and who loves me. Who has loved me for 10 years and who I have walked through fire with for the last 10 years. And, that person happens to be another woman.

Why is it my fault that that this person assumes there’s a man in my house. I don’t fault them, I’m not offended by the question. I’m offended by the reaction. Don’t make me feel bad because you can’t think about your words before you say them. It’s not my fault that you have not yet figured out that there are different kinds of families.

What if I had been a single mother? What if my child was sitting on my sister’s lap? Or my brother’s? How is it that we have been so programmed in society to think of families in simply one way? The world is changing and I know change is scary – but let’s get with the times. Not for my sake but for theirs. I hope these people who meet me and realize I am not my label will think about their word choices next time they ask about someone’s family.

No two families are the same. My daughter doesn’t have a Daddy. She doesn’t realize that yet, but she will soon. I am not concerned about this because we will teach her about the different types of families and the different way that families are made. She will not feel any different or less important than anyone else she knows with a mom and a dad.

I’m waiting for the day when someone mentions something to her about her Daddy. What will she say, how will she respond. I’m certain this will spark questions for her and we will have answers for those tough questions. We are teaching our daughter to think about things and question things, she’s still too little to make her own choices and decisions, but she’s curious and she has inquiry behind those big brown eyes.

Gender doesn’t matter in this house and in the end, my daughter will be enlightened and more aware of her surroundings. She will not be caught off guard or embarrassed when she asks another child about their parents. She will not be confined to a rigid set of rules that define a family. For that, I am grateful. She really can be anything she wants to be.

So, Punky doesn’t have a Dad. I don’t have a Husband. Before you ask about someone’s situation or family, think about what you say. Change the wording to make it less specific to the ‘norm’, because in the end, what’s normal? Really? In the end, there is only family. Save yourself the embarrassment and uncomfortable silence by choosing your words more carefully. You don’t offend me when you ask these things, but it sure does make the conversation awkward when I have to correct you.

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11 thoughts on “The Roles of Parents In A New Generation

  1. Yes. All of this. I’m patient, as I’m sure you are, but I often think you know, how hard would it be to ask a more neutral question, like (in this case) “oh and who’s with you both in this picture?” When I have encountered similar remarks, usually in person with my partner, it’s usually an observation that sort of sucks personal identity away and turns you into a “mommy/daddy” instead of a person with a name and distinct relationships. It would be wonderful if we could just all agree not to assume pronouns and ask about people not about the roles they hold.

    • I know how that feels too, meridith! I’m glad this speaks to you, as I am sure that it speaks to a lot of us in this situation. I would love for people to stop trying to put us in one box. Family comes in all shapes. I think people should really get with the times.

  2. Thanks for this. I honestly never would have thought about it. I probably would never ask either, though. I’m much too interested in the kid to notice the adult in the picture. Sad but true. It’s good to be made aware of things like this, though. Because it’s not something I’ve thought about, but it should be. So, thank you. And I’d love to be able to read your posts about your daughter, if you’re inclined to share with me.

    • I totally understand not thinking about it. It’s just the things that come naturally out of our mouths. I have been guilty of it before too. It’s just my current pet peeve πŸ˜‰ I am definitely sending you the password to my posts, and I am glad to have you reading! Thanks so much for stopping by! πŸ™‚

    • I’m not embarrassed at all actually. Thank you for the question. When I have to clarify that I don’t have a husband when someone asks how long I have been married, or when I have to clarify that my daughter is not sitting on her father’s lap, but her mother’s. These types of clarifications from me make other people uncomfortable. I’m generally stating that I wish I didn’t feel like the jerk making people uncomfortable, when they should maybe just reword their questions to be less assumptions.

      • Ok. I understand that. Thanks for explaining! I can relate to both ends of the conversation in different ways. I wouldn’t take it personally.

      • No problem! I don’t think I really take it personally, I just feel bad when I make someone else uncomfortable. And, I don’t really think I should feel bad.

  3. I know how you feel. I get that reaction when I respond, “I don’t have a husband, I have a wife,” when people ask me if I’m married and what does my husband do, what’s his name, blah blah. I just wish people wouldn’t assume that we’re all in a traditional couple/family. But I think if we remind them enough, it may go better for the next person after us. Maybe they’ll think before they speak.

  4. Oh man do I hate this! At work my Pts always see my ring and ask about my “husband” and Im torn because I feel like it could be an opportunity for me to educate or it could backfire and I’m stuck with them for the next 12 hours. Either way it’s awkward and in the end I get mad at myself for feeling weird about my own family :/

    • I know how you feel. It’s awkward for all involved, but you don’t want to make people uncomfortable, so you just end up feeling upset with yourself. That’s just no way to be!

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