Family / Parenting

A Different Take on Coming Out to Your Kids

Hiding under the coversMy kids were born into a two-mom family, but it didn’t take them long to figure out that most families look different from ours. The first time a child asked me why Noah had two moms, he was probably about 10 months old and the child who asked was in kindergarten. She wasn’t trying to be malicious. She just couldn’t fit us into her view of the world. My heart didn’t stop pounding when a third little girl piped in that she also had two moms, along with one dad. It finally calmed when a fourth child observed that his mom gave him a dinosaur, which the others found more interesting than my breathless effort to explain that families look lots of different ways.

And although my children obviously know that families look lots of different ways, how that connects to romance, sex, or sexual orientation has been kind of murky.

We’ve had some helpful books about how growing babies in my tummy took special stuff from me, called eggs, and special stuff from a man, called sperm, and how some nice doctors helped us use the special stuff to start them growing inside of me. (We have a few books about how babies are made without a Reproductive Endocrinologist, as well.)

In terms of the kids’ feelings, we’ve navigated at least one passionate childhood crush. Josie had my permission to marry Henderson and his family also approved of the match. But all of the parents agreed that the children had to wait until they were grown-ups before they could get married. The adults were probably the most sad when Josie’s feelings faded. A little girl had a terrible crush on Noah when they were in kindergarten; he may have also had a crush, but never quite admitted it or identified the person on whom he (may have) had the crush, although I do not think it was Raelynn. We did discuss, at length, that although you never have to feel the same way about someone as they feel about you, when someone has a crush on you, you cannot be mean to them or tease them about it.

Other than those, and explaining in a general way that some boys like girls, and some like boys, and some girls like boys, and some like girls, we haven’t talked much about sexual orientation. I haven’t shared my opinion that sexual orientation is not, to paraphrase the bard, “an ever-fixed mark.”

Until now.

As I mentioned in my last post, “I Hate National Coming Out Day,” although I have been out since I was 19, since my wife and I split up, I’ve found myself exclusively interested in dating men. This past summer, I started dating someone seriously, and the time came for us to meet each other’s children.

So, How does a lesbian mom tell her kids that she has a boyfriend?

(That question is so weird!)

I decided to try it one kid at a time. I invited my boyfriend to come over for dinner and board games with my 9 year old, on an evening when my 7 year old was with her grandparents.

The night before, I suddenly realized that I had to come out to my son. It was bedtime, and as we were sitting on his bed, I started talking:

Me: You know how in that movie we just saw, and with most of the people we know, there are boys who like girls and girls who like boys?

Son: Uh huh.

Me: And then there are some people who are boys who like boys or girls who like girls?

Son: Uh huh (with some burrowing under the covers).

Me: Well, there are also people who sometimes like girls, and sometimes like boys. (Deep breath.) It turns out, I’m one of those people. (Another deep breath.) Remember Mr. Francis? Who came to the block party?

Son: Yeah? (Muffled, because of the covers.)

Me: Well…he’s become my boyfriend. And I invited him over for dinner and game night with us tomorrow. Is that ok with you?

Son: (Flips over under the covers, sneaking a look at me on the way, with a big smile on his face.) Uh huh. Did you know that in Minecraft there is a kind of spawner that you can put up in the air and when the stuff it spawns lands, it turns into food? I put a cow spawner on the roof of my house and now my house is full of steak and leather.

That’s pretty much his normal reaction to anything involving love or romance or kissing or any activity or feeling in that universe, so I added that Mommy knew about it too, and if he ever did want to talk about it with either of us, he could. Then I let him ramble on about Minecraft for another minute or two before redirecting him to our bedtime story.

Game night, by the way, turned out to be excellent. Mr. Francis won all three of our games, but except for Dungeon!, the games were close, and my son got to do all of the math of keeping score.

When my daughter got home from visiting my parents, I told her in the same way. She was less desperate to talk about Minecraft and wanted to get her own board game night with Mr. Francis and me, too.

Coming out, releasing secrets, feels as good as it ever did.

Photo Credit: Liza Kessler

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6 Comments

  1. Seems like you are navigating all of this well. As for Minecraft, I would like to hear more about that spawner 🙂

    • Liza Kessler says:

      Thanks, Vikki! Like everything else in parenting, it feels like a constantly moving target. But I’ll ask Noah for more information about the spawner, and how you too can fill your house with leather and steak. 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing this. What a great example you set! Also, my 11-year-old does the exact same thing, except it’s not Minecraft; it’s the SF Giants. Oh, the endless rambling statistics . . .

  3. Awww! I’m glad they took it so well. Sexuality is confusing as adults, but often kids don’t care nearly as much as we do!

  4. I think because I am bi and my first husband was male, bisexuality has always been something I have talked about to my daughter. And, I always coach things in, “well you could fall in love with a man or a woman” Sometimes I add, or both. I also, almost always, say that other people (actual sexuality unknown) could love both men or women.

    It is not that I foresaw the end of my relationship… but rather, the fact that it could have been me in a lesbian marriage that defines my queerhood and is what I use to legitimatize myself as part of the community and not just an ally. (nothing against allies, they are great, awesome, amazing, needed, and not me).

  5. Vikki, Noah says you need a really high wall in your house, with an open roof. You put the cow spawner on the top of the wall and then when it spawns a cow, the cow dies on impact, leaving you with an endless supply of food and material for armor. He recommends doing this in Creative, rather than Survival.

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