Same sex parent families

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by scarlet_begonia, May 8, 2008.

  1. scarlet_begonia

    scarlet_begonia Comrade

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    May 8, 2008

    I posted this in preschool because I would really like age-specific responses for the little guys! This year, our school of 95 children has at least 5 families with two moms. In all of the cases, there's a feminine-looking mom and a masculine-looking mom. I am hoping for your input about what to say when other children ask questions.

    Example 1: Danny says, "My mom's name is Diedre and my dad's name is Laurie." Tommy says, "Laurie? That's a GIRL'S NAME." Danny says, "NO IT'S NOT. SHE'S MY DAD." (note correct pronoun.) I just said yes, Laurie is a girl's name and left it at that.

    Example 2: Rob says, "I have one mom, Barbie, and two dads, Bubba and Kelly." Susie says, "Kelly not your dad!"

    Example 3: Mary's Momma Cathy drops her off at school. Jason says, "Oh there's Mary and her dad." I say, "That's Mary's momma." Jason says, "No it's not--that's her dad!!"

    I try to ignore what I can and let it slide right by....these kids'll forget about it by tomorrow for the most part! But what do I say when Jason says Momma Cathy is Mary's dad right in front of her?

    What do I say to Danny when he gets upset because Tommy corrected him?


    I personally don't care how your family is structured, but I know a lot of you may be bothered for religious or personal reasons. I just want suggestions on how to discuss this issue as it comes up during the day, not as part of a curriculum on families.

    P.S. I really can't ask the moms because only one of the kids is mine, and I know she does NOT want to discuss it. She's a bit high-strung. To put it nicely.
     
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  3. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    May 8, 2008

    Do you think that your kids would connect with it by saying that people have different families and that different families call the members by different names? You could then lead into people calling their grandfather (for example) papa, grandpa, pop, etc... and that it is ok to call your family whatever you want to. I agree with you about not making it too big of a deal and letting it go. I am sure that you do use books when it is appropriate to show all kinds of families people.
     
  4. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    May 8, 2008

    I have a situation like that. One female parent is the "mom" and one is the "dad". Do i send them BOTH something for mother's day? I had the student make 2 gifts. The other students don't notice because they are very low functioning sp.ed so that's not an issue. I just don't even know how to address the card. I'm leaving it blank!
     
  5. teacherpippi

    teacherpippi Habitué

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    May 8, 2008

    I've asked the parents themselves how they would like to be addressed. Different families prefer different things, and it is best just to ask.
     
  6. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    May 8, 2008

    ditto...

    It's a whole new world out there ...

    We have to be even more sensitive to our parents..and try not to let our own feelings enter the classroom

    Other teachers can make the situation worse! Whispers and dirty looks can make your kids uncomfortable, and wonder where you stand.

    I think you should just ask them what they preferred to be called.

    When one of my kids said she had two mommies, I just say.."That's nice." When the kids start arguing with her, she handles it herself!
     
  7. Xtine

    Xtine Companion

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    May 8, 2008

    I have a little boy with Mum and Mama, we made two Mother's Day gifts. If the kids ask, he just says he had two mom's and he's lucky.

    Side note - Laurie who lived next door in Little Women was a boy!
     
  8. scarlet_begonia

    scarlet_begonia Comrade

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    May 9, 2008

    *note* All names have been changed to protect the innocent ;)
     
  9. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    May 10, 2008

    Happy birthday, scarlet begonia!

    In my school, which is even smaller than yours, we've had several families with same-sex parents. We have a family with 4 parents, 2 moms and 2 dads. (They are marvelous parents.) It has never been an issue and the kids all seem accepting.

    To the children who question a family setup, I would say that there are all kinds of families and people all have their own ways of addressing them. (Think of nana, nanny, grammy, grandma, etc.)

    When one of my students said he had two mothers, and another said that he couldn't have two mothers, he simply replied, "Well, I do."

    It also reminds me of the time one of our 1st graders had to draw his house, and he drew a castle. The other kids said, you can't live in a castle. His answer was, "Well, I do." He did, in fact. His family was from Germany and had many homes, one of which was a castle. They were wealthy land owners and their children attended our school for 3 months out of the year.
     
  10. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    May 10, 2008

    If she calls one mom and the other dad then just the mom one should get mothers day. It wouldn't be anything different than standard parents.

    I would think, though, that one would have to make sure that these people are acting in these rolls and it is more of an official family rather than "girlfiend" or "boyfriend" case. Just like you wouldn't have a child make a father's day gift for a man who was just a long time boyfiend of the mother.

    OP was right in that how you handle the situation depends on the age of the children.
     
  11. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    May 10, 2008


    Happy Birthday

    I don't know how old the children are but my youngest son, who is 9 now, has always been one to be very curious about familial relationships. Not just the type of thing you are describing but the whole family tree stuff in general.

    I think handling it like Tasha or upsadaisy said is just fine. They'll go home and ask their own parents anyway.
     
  12. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    May 10, 2008

    I don't think I would do that.... I'm not going to ask every child of a heterosexual union, "Is that *really* your dad... or is it just your mom's latest boyfriend?" I think if the kid is calling the woman "dad", then it's a pretty clear indication that they have a family unit.
     
  13. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

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    May 10, 2008

    My personal experience is mostly with troubled kids, and most of them happened to come from homes where either one or both parents were out of the picture completely. Several were being raised by grandparents, aunts, or foster parents. A few had parents who were in jail or deceased, so these familiar issues were extremely painful for them.

    My point (I have one!) is that the traditional two-parent household is becoming less and less common nowadays, so I would guess that you'll have kids in your class with non-traditional family arrangements even if their parents aren't gay or lesbian. I've remarried, so my son has a dad and a step-dad, but he often refers to them both as "dad." So, it's probably safer as a general rule to err on the side of inclusion. For example, for Mother's Day, it's probably best to open it up as a celebration of all parents and the special people who care for the kids in your classroom. Certainly, explain what Mother's Day is about and all, but maybe just let the kids make up their own cards and crafts that are a little more generic. For Mother's Day at my son's school last year, he made little crafts that said "I Love You" and "Thank You" which could be given to any parent or guardian, but he made it clear that he made them for me!

    As for discussions about families, I don't think there's really a problem with keeping the conversation gender-neutral. To you, the teacher, the parents or guardians will be Mr. or Ms. So and So. To the other students, does it really matter if one parent is the dad or the mom, and is it really appropriate to decide which is which? I'm not sure. It's probably better to just explain that Ms. and Ms. So and So are Little So and So's family. Family are the special people in our lives who care for us. Lots of people have different kinds of families, and that's that.
     
  14. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    May 10, 2008

    Yes bandnerd, I agree with you. I meant, "be real sure" and didn't mean to imply that I would come right out and ask the couple.

    Lemon
     
  15. scarlet_begonia

    scarlet_begonia Comrade

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    May 10, 2008

    ty for the birthday wishes! I like the idea of reminding the children that they all call family members by different names; I hadn't thought of doing that.

    My main concern (and it hasn't come up yet!) is that I don't want anyone to be offended or upset. I can guess that the masculine looking mom (Momma Cathy) KNOWS she looks more masculine, and I can guess that she wouldn't take offense if she heard 4 year-old Jason say that Momma Cathy is Mary's dad. When this situation happened outside her hearing, I corrected "Jason" but did not push the issue when he insisted, "No, that's her DAD." But it's only a matter of time before this happens within the parents' hearing, and I don't want anyone to be upset or feel excluded.

    I guess it might not sound like a big deal, but it is for me. I really want to handle this situation in a proper manner--without coming right out and saying, "I know Momma Cathy doesn't (wear makeup, wear dresses, have long hair, fill in something) but she IS a girl and she IS Mary's Momma Cathy." I don't know. I just worry about the Momma or Mary being upset.

    And as I said before, I can't ask any of the parents because they're all in other classes (except one, and like I said, I can't approach her.) I did ask Mary's teacher and she wasn't sure either. She gave the same suggestion to talk about different families and different names within families. Thanks so much for your ideas and for reading!
     
  16. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    May 10, 2008

    You could just tell Jason to ask Mary who she is. Then drop it. I don't think the parent is going to care how a little kid perceived her.
     
  17. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

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    May 11, 2008

    Gender is sometimes a really touchy subject in the GLBT community, and gender identity is often quite fluid. It could be that one partner just appears more masculine, or that person could be transgendered, or struggling with gender expression and gender identity. You just never know. It's safer to avoid gender-specific labels like "mom" or "dad" if you can, and stay gender neutral in this type of situation. When little Johnny says "that's so and so's Dad!" you can either ignore it and quash the discussion, or tell him that's so and so's parent or that's so and so's family. Gender identity can be a really touchy subject.
     
  18. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

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    May 13, 2008

    I agree with newbie. While we generally see sexual orientation as a dichotomy (with bisexuality snuck in there somewhere), some studies suggest otherwise, broadening definitions of "male" and "female." A (stereotypical) "masculine" woman who dates other women can be anything from a woman, to a man, to someone who is transgender, to someone who may even identify as straight! The complexities are far from categorical.

    I think it is wonderful to hear how most of the kids are generally unfazed by the situation. The children of the couples can handle the deliniations on their own--and I think that's cool!

    As for Mother's Day . . . I'm not sure. If one of the parent's identifies as a "father," then Mother's Day would not be for that parent. Of coure, I guess the only stipulation for Mother's Day that is generally held is that the recipient of gifts would be a woman who has given birth (or adopted). So, if a person identifies as a man or with the label of "father," then that person would have Father's Day.

    Of course, the distinction between "mother" and "father" may be for the child's benefit. I don't know what type of area you are in, or the age of the parents, or anything else that would even provide some type of indication (seeing as we don't have the parents' input) of the situation, but maybe the parents decided to be called "mom and dad" so their child could say "My mom and dad" as opposed to having to say "I have two moms." Who knows.

    As for worrying about others being offended. Don't. I see no reason why you should be worried about that. Other children and parents can worry about same-sex couple families on their own. The same-sex couple families know potential biases, and I am sure the fact that you are concerned comes through when you work with parents!
     
  19. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    May 14, 2008

    There is a very controversial book out--"My Two Dads" and probably one called "My Two Moms" I have not read either one, but remember the turmoil they created when they came out.
     

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