As an LGBT mom or dad, there is a lot more to worry about than just raising the baby. Most parents don't need to worry about what others think about their relationship, nor do they have to wonder if others will exclude their baby or if other parents won't allow them to play with their kids someday.
Queer parents have a lot to offer their child. Children raised by LGBT spouses are likely to experience an empathetic, tolerant childhood. When a baby grows up with two parents who love them, they are so lucky regardless of what gender their parents are. Sometimes, though, it's hard for other people to see that.
It's gotten a lot easier for gay parents in the past couple of years, but many are still left with difficult questions as they raise their baby into a world full of prejudices and painful experiences. This article doesn't claim to have any answers, but it does explore some common questions LGBT parents have during the first year of parenting. Sometimes feeling understood is validation when going through hard times.
For non-queer parents, keep these questions in mind when talking with LGBT friends. They've likely asked themselves or their spouse a few of these questions before. Take time to reach out to them and be a good support to remind them that many people will love and accept their family for who they are.
15 LGBT Parents Grow Up Unhappy - How True Is This?
Do children of queer-identifying parents grow up more unhappy than children born in straight households? The answers are mixed, but it's not because of the parents themselves. What influences the child's happiness most may not be their parents but how others treat them because of their parents.
Some children who grow up in an LGBT household face discrimination at school and among other peer groups. Other kids may even bully them if they know their parents are LGBT and treat them as weird or abnormal because of this. Bullied children are more likely to develop depression and anxiety issues later on (as are LGBT-identifying youth), and they report feeling more lonely or unhappy.
Unfortunately, your child may grow up more likely to develop depression or anxiety than some of their peers, but it's not because of your parenting if this happens. If you can, try to raise your child among peers that are tolerant and accepting of others.
14 How Can My Partner And I Respond To Prejudice?
Some people may not reach out with compassion and may even say hostile, hurtful things to your family. They may tell you that children of queer parents grow up damaged or broken, or that you and your spouse are unfit to become parents. In some situations, they may even react aggressively. When this happens, you may feel lost or even afraid, and you may question whether you can handle this kind of discrimination.
It's hard to know what to do when people respond with hatred, especially when they do so because of who you and your family are. You are in an important position, though, because you can be an example for others and help them understand that LGBT parents are more similar than different to others.
If you are in a healthy place to do this, you may feel better when reaching out to others who may feel isolated and alone, as you can understand what they're going through. Be the kind of person who nobody feels hated around, and do your part every day to bring a little more compassion into the world.
13 Why Do Strangers Always Ask Us The Weirdest Questions?
LGBT parents are more than likely to get a few weird questions. When someone asks which parent is the "mommy" and who is the "daddy" in the relationship, you may feel a little perplexed. After all, you are in a same-gender relationship, emphasis on gender. Shouldn't it be obvious that there are two mommies or two daddies?
This question is only the tip of the "weird things straight people ask us" iceberg for queer parents. Why do strangers ask you odd and sometimes even funny (to you) questions? Maybe they're well-meaning and trying to understand, or maybe they're not quite thinking their questions through. Either way, at least it's something for you and your spouse to laugh about later on.
12 Will My Baby Or Spouse Face Any Legal Discrimination?
Depending on your country, your baby and spouse may face some limitations that aren't a problem for heterosexual parents. In the United States and Canada, LGBT parents are able to get legally married and raise children with the same rights as other families. For unmarried LGBT parents, they may face some inhibitions or secondary challenges in adoption cases depending on the state or prejudices of the adoption center. Additionally, in cases of divorce or separation, court favor usually favors against an LGBT-identifying parent in favor of a non-queer parent.
Other countries may have additional limitations placed on LGBT parents, none of which are fair or right but nonetheless happen. Whether your baby or spouse will face legal limitations depends on your location. If you do, know that you are not alone and that there are other LGBT parents going through similar challenges.
Consider moving to a more LGBT-friendly area, finding support with other queer parents, or doing what you can to influence progress in your area when discrimination comes. You may be able to make changes that later LGBT parents will feel grateful for.
11 Do Queer Parents Raise Their Children Differently Than Straight Parents?
Yes, but none of these differences are negative. LGBT parents generally care for and raise their children in the same way as heterosexual parents. Some research, however, shows that children raised in gay households are more likely to grow up tolerant and understanding of others, and they show higher levels of empathy. This may be because they have faced significant prejudice earlier on and have learned to become more open towards other minorities.
In addition, some studies show that children raised in LGBT households tend to have a more open mind towards love and relationships, and that girls born in lesbian households are more likely to seek professional careers outside of gender roles.
10 Is My Child Missing Out On Anything Straight Parents Can Give Their Baby?
This is a common concern among LGBT parents but if it puts your mind at rest, most research shows that LGBT parents give their babies the same opportunities as other parents do. What's most important is that a baby feels loved and cared about growing up, and that they're raised in a safe household.
In fact, some research notes that LGBT parents may offer an especially stable household for their baby to grow up in. Gay couples mostly choose to become parents, unlike some heterosexual parents who may choose it out of obligation or accidental pregnancy. Because their parents deliberately chose and prepared to raise a child, they are more likely to offer stable and loving homes than on average.
LGBT and non-LGBT parents essentially raise their children the same. As long as they care for their baby, the parents' gender has nothing to do with their well-being any more than it matters what ethnicity, age, or other identity the parents are.
9 Where Do We Find An LGBT-Friendly Place To Raise Our Baby?
While you don't have to choose a city or neighborhood particularly because it's known as LGBT-friendly, it may help when raising a child. Whether you live in a liberal city or more conservative area, you may find other LGBT people who you can rely on as a support system when raising your child. Living close-by other queer parents can help you feel less alone and face unique challenges as they arise.
How can you find LGBT-friendly areas? If you're looking to move, do a little research into nearby LGBT-friendly cities or tolerant neighborhoods. Word of mouth may help you find an ideal place, or you may seek out websites specifically made for queer people looking to find a home.
8 Will My Baby Wish They Had A Mother And A Father Someday?
This might be one of the hardest questions LGBT parents ask themselves during the first year of parenting. You and your partner may love your baby very much and raise them as best as you can, but you may be plagued with concerns that some day they'll wish that they had a father or mother. It's completely normal to have these feelings. Homosexual parents aren't the only people who feel like this.
Single parents, grandparents raising their grandchildren, divorced parents, and other families also worry that their children will wish they had two biological parents living with them. Sometimes, families aren't defined by biological parents. Families are the people who love you, care for you, and are here to support you no matter what. You can give that to your child just as well as anyone else can.
When your child's older someday and can tell you how much they love you, they most likely won't follow up with how much they wish for a mom or dad that was never a part of their family. Most likely, what they will follow up with is gratitude for the life you and your spouse gave them.
7 When My Spouse Is Upset By Discrimination, How Can I Comfort Them?
Words and actions hurt. No matter how much love you feel from your spouse, new baby, and loved ones, attacks from strangers or even those you know may sting. That kind of hurt is enough to bring anyone down. You or your spouse may not understand how someone can react with so much hatred when you're just raising a child like anyone else.
Comforting your partner may not mean taking all the pain away or fighting against every person who has something negative to say about gay parenting. That just might not be possible.
Try to be there for your partner and let them know you love them, and give them what they need: whether that's someone to vent to, a shoulder to cry on, or even a little space. You may not be able to make the situation go away, but you can make it easier to handle.
6 What Should Our Baby Call Us?
When both parents are of the same gender, you may be at a loss for what your baby should learn to call you. Do you use your names? That might feel too distancing. What about just going with two "Mommys" or "Daddys?" Great in theory, but this could get a little frustrating once your baby grows up.
The answer? Do what works for you. Some parents use two different variations of mom or dad, such as "Dad" and "Papa" or "Mom" and "Mommy." Others do use their given names. Some go for a mix between the two and refer to themselves as "Mommy Kelsey" or "Daddy Henry." Take some time with your partner and figure out what you like best. There is no "right" way to determine what your baby calls you.
5 What If Other Parents Don't Want Their Child Playing With Our Baby?
It's easier for you and your spouse to face discrimination than to watch your child go through it with no fault of their own. After all, your child has done nothing wrong (nor have you or your spouse). Why wouldn't other parents want their kids to hang out with yours when they're just like anyone else?
There are no easy answers nor simple solutions to why other children may isolate your baby. As your baby grows up, try to surround them with other open-minded families such as close friends or other LGBT/ally parents. Having families who accept your child and want them around their own kids may help them know that no matter where they go, they will find tolerant people.
4 Where Can We Find Support For LGBT Parents?
Sometimes being an LGBT parent can be so isolating. Knowing other parents from playdates, friendships, or parenting courses can help a lot. Straight parents, however, may not quite empathize with the hurdles that you and your spouse may face. In some situations, you may want to reach out to other queer parents who understand exactly what you're going through.
Where are all the other gay parents, and how can you get connected with them? Seek support within the LGBT community. If you know of any LGBT friends who are raising a baby, seek them out for advice and support in times of need. Should you find that you don't know any queer parents, don't worry: find a local LGBT support center and see if they know of any resources or support groups you might find helpful.
3 Will Our Baby Grow Up To Be LGBT, Too?
Although you may have heard this so many times, it is a myth. Research has shown although that LGBT parents raise children who are less likely to conform to gender stereotypes, their children mostly end up straight. In fact, one study of adolescents raised by gay/lesbian and straight families found that of the adolescents studies, the only queer-identifying child belonged to a heterosexual household.
Suppose your baby does grow up to be LGBT. If you think about it, they are so much luckier than some queer-identifying children. They already know that you will love them no matter what and accept them for who they are regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.
2 Can We Protect Our Baby From A Life Of Discrimination?
Although you may want to shield your child from every insult that someone says towards them, someday they will come across people who express discrimination towards LGBT people. When these people know that your child was raised in an LGBT-identifying family, they may lash out against your child or give them wrongful information about their family dynamics.
But this may not always be a bad thing. While hurtful words may sting, your child may learn to grow up as accepting of all people because they know how it feels to be excluded somewhere. This will make them a blessing for those who know them and feel left out.
In addition, no matter what, your child will always have you, your spouse and other people who love them to turn to when things get tough. Having LGBT parents is just a small part of who they are. Those who care about them will know this and accept them, no matter what some people say.
1 What Is The Best Piece Of Advice For Same-Sex Couples Who Want To Raise A Baby?
Know that in the end, your family is so much more similar than different to anyone else's. You are two compassionate people taking care of a baby. Your genders don't define the way you parent, nor do they inhibit your ability to raise your child well.
You and your spouse have a lot to teach your child about the world and so much experience to offer. Know that as your child grows up, you are teaching them every day to be loving, accepting, and tolerant of people even if they come from backgrounds different from their own. You are also teaching others who may not understand the LGBT community that you are just like anyone else.
So, here's a piece of advice: give yourself credit where credit is due, and don't worry about your sexual orientation or what others think. Instead, keep being a good example and raising your baby. In the end, they'll turn out just fine.