Identity / Life

My Kids’ Advice on Coping with Difference

IMG_0709Today, as you read this, my family will be headed to Orlando, Florida for Family Forward, a retreat meant to strengthen families while making memories. My kids are excited about the hotel and the pools and Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure and I am feeling nervous because I know we will be a visibly queer family at a primarily straight event.

I have been out and proud for 25 years but I still have moments when I have to take a deep breath, center (and accept myself) and move forward.

Last night, I told my kids as much because I wanted them to know that our family would likely be a minority and I wanted to know if they had any concerns.

They didn’t.

Miguel said, “Mom, we’re going to Orlando! Who cares about the rest!” Zeca nodded along and said, “Our family is different. So what?” As I sat there looking at their smiling faces, I could feel the anxiety fading and remembered that they teach me so much. Some lessons I resist – patience is still a virtue and one that I don’t have. Some lessons I embrace – like this one about handling difference with grace.

So, I asked them if they had advice for the kids and parents of families like ours and I’m sharing their words with you with their blessing. I provided the tidy summaries but the quotes are all theirs.

How to Deal with Being Different

1. Practice self-acceptance: “Embrace your difference. Be like, ‘Wow! I’m different!’ and then remember the positives.” ~ Zeca (age 9)

2. Be compassionate: “Remember everyone is different and dealing with all the ways they’re different.” ~ Miguel (age 13)

3. Maintain a sense of humor: “When someone asks, ‘You have two moms?’ I sometimes say, ‘You have a mom and a dad? So weird!’ and they always laugh.” ~ Miguel

4. Take the space you need: “When people keep asking questions and won’t stop, I say, ‘I need to go to the bathroom,’ and take a little break.” ~ Zeca

5. It gets easier over time: “Once you have been different for awhile, it doesn’t feel weird anymore because it’s just the way it is.” ~ Zeca

6. You get to decide what you tell people: “Sometimes I don’t tell people I don’t know very well that I have two moms because I don’t want to deal with it. I let them think I have a mom and a dad.” ~ Miguel

There is a whole lot of wisdom packed into their words and I listened carefully to every word. Today, we are heading to Orlando, ready to embrace all the things that make our family unique.

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7 Comments

  1. Your kids are way wise. This is good advice for everybody! And I think your family will be one of the most Forward families there 😉 have a great trip, y’all!

  2. This is Susan’s older son, Rowan. I think that everyone should feel great about who they are and who they have as family as long as they are loved. Say hi to Zeca and Miguel for me. Hopefully i’ll see you soon.

  3. Wow! Awesome kids, awesome quotes and great reminder to love yourself and your fam. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. And this one made me cry: “Once you have been different for awhile, it doesn’t feel weird anymore because it’s just the way it is.” ~ Zeca

    I just spent lunch explaining old grief and how it weaves its way into life after a while. Your daughter found the words I couldn’t!

    Y’all have fun!

  5. Your kids are so bright!

  6. Looking forward to sharing this with my kids. Thank you, Zeca and Miguel!

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