Non-traditional families are no longer the rarity they were just 25 years ago. Today, it is not unusual for a child to be raised in a family with same-sex parents. These families face most of the same issues that traditional families face. But there can still be added stresses for children with two moms or dads.
Not all of society has embraced same-sex marriage, and the children that are raised in such a family can be subject to ridicule, rejection, and discrimination. The children may not experience this ridicule until middle school, when some classmates start learning and exhibiting the prejudices of their parents.
It’s important to have open and honest communication with your children. Without that, you won’t know when they may be facing ridicule or discrimination. And if you are not aware of the problems, you can’t take any action to help your children.
People disagree on how to prepare children for the teasing or bullying they may receive as a result of having same-sex parents. Some people are pro-active and try to prepare their children in advance. They may also go to the school, discuss their family arrangement, and set forth their expectations of the school and staff. Others prefer to wait until a problem appears. They don’t want to borrow trouble in advance. There is no right answer here.
Your children will have to learn how to deal with the intolerance of others. Each child will need to find his or her own way. Your guidance can help. They should be encouraged to associate with friends who are not affected by the family arrangement. It may also help them to associate with children of other same-sex parents. These children will not discriminate against them and may be able to share the ways they handle the teasing, bullying, and questions by curious friends.
You should also encourage them to talk to you about anything that is bothering them. They need to know that they can voice their own questions and concerns without hurting or offending their parents.
Here is an interesting finding. Children of same-sex parents often befriend and accept people who are often shunned in school, at work, or in life. Having been ridiculed themselves, they may more readily see value in those who are ridiculed by others. Check with your local LGBT organization to see what programs they offer for youth experiencing these stressors and emotions. For traditional and non-traditional families, children find strength and camaraderie in peers. Providing them with a supportive resource to express themselves and learn healthy coping mechanisms when faced with bullying, teasing, and other peer pressure can be largely beneficial for them and for your family.
New Direction Family Law