Things to Do - Talk About Girls Marrying Girls

One of my good SAHM friends is a lesbian (she and her partner have two children, who are among my children's best friends) and a close neighbor is a gay, single dad (his partner died when their son was a baby) so a long time ago we explained to the kids that "girls can marry*** girls and boys can marry boys." As with most conversations with young kids, this news was accepted matter-of-factly and except for a few confusing moments at the playground where we had to explain that just because two women are sitting next to each other does not mean that they're in love, the girls have never asked many questions about alternative families. Well, until recently.

A series of "mean boys" in her preschool class have caused P to explain to all her friends that they can ignore boys forever and just marry each other. I'm not sure how fellow parents are feeling about this, though I've had more than a few tell me that their girls came home saying "P told me I can marry a girl!" as if it's the best news their child has ever heard. Then the other day F asked me, "mom, why do I ONLY want to marry boys and P ONLY wants to marry girls?" P is only 4, so hopefully I'm not outing my daughter (can you really know your sexuality at 4? is that even possible? what if you're raised in an environment where homosexuality is accepted? And you often have playdates at the house of a loving gay couple? Maybe?? I have no idea.) Now sometimes I worry that I oversimplified the issue, that I shouldn't have made sexuality simpler than "what do you want for dinner?" That in this privileged world they're living in I've sheltered them from the fact that people can be persecuted and even murdered for loving someone of the wrong sex. But does it matter? At the end of the day all I want/hope/dream for them to be is comfortable with who they are. Whatever or whoever that may be. So if sometimes in their games Cinderella has two loving mommies, well, that's A LOT better than the evil stepmother Disney gave her.

But the questions haven't stopped at two mommies. The other day F asked me, "mom, only girls can have babies, right?" [yes] "So then how did Mr. W [our neighbor] get his son?" Before I could even answer, P said "well, probably someone old, like a grandma, had a baby and gave him to Mr. W because old people are too tired to raise kids all the time." To which F replie, "P, that's ridiculous, what kind of women would give away her baby? Mommies love their babies." And with this as an introduction, I tried to explain surrogacy to preschoolers - since it takes a woman and man to make a baby [avoiding any explanation of sexual intercourse, because I'm a wimp and this conversation was already challenging enough] C was really Mr. W's baby, it's just that C's "mom" [I didn't think the term "birth mother" would help matters] lives far away. But this arrangement still made F really uncomfortable. So I spent the day answering questions like "you'd never give one of us away, right?"

Ugh, this parenting gig, we try our best to be honest and at the same time to keep from unduly scaring our children. It's such a tough balance - this raising of kingdomless princesses.

What about everyone else? Any advice or stories on how to explain the world to your children? (anyone who posts anything at all homophobic will be deleted immediately from the comments, so please don't even try).

***My children think that "marry" means spend the rest of your life with someone you love. I like (and agree) with this definition, thus, while my children are young, we have refrained from introducing them to the plethora of legal complexities muddying the issue.


  1. One of my favorite backseat conversations: E says to best friend D, "I want to marry you when we grow up!" D replies, "girls can't marry each other." At this point I chime in and say, "Yes, they can..you know Ee has 2 moms." To which D replied, "Well it doesn't matter anyway, I'm marrying my brother."
    Uhh...now there you'll have a problem...

  2. We haven't encountered this topic of conversation yet, but I imagine it's not too far away. You did such a wonderful job explaining!

  3. We don't really know any homosexuals so the conversation hasn't really been brought up except that one time my daughter said something bigoted that someone in her class told her about a gay person. I just said, Well, what do you think? She said, I don't see why a girl can't marry a girl. I said, I agree and left it at that. I am not sure if I should have said more, but I have a hard time with these topics especially when she is so young.

  4. My four year old daughter talks about marrying her best (female) friend all the time. Her best friend says the same thing too :)
    Recently though my daughter has decided that she'd like to marry her baby sister as well. She gets very upset when we try to explain that she can't marry her sister. There have even been tears :(
    I've tried to explain to her that you're not allowed to marry people that you're related to but this just leaves her very confused as, in her words, "You and Daddy are married and you're related. You must be related because you are both related to me"!



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