Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day Pointers for LGBTQ Parents

buy canibus Lyrical law Mother’s Day is coming up in less than a month (May 11th this year). For those of you two-gal-headed families out there it means twice the fun. Or half, depending on how you do the math or the tradition! Dads, your day is a bit further off (June 15th this year), but no less worthy of advance reflection. Mothers-FathersDayMothers-FathersDay

As with so many things queer family in these early generations, we’re building the road as we travel. Approaches to “Mothers’ Day” with two moms and “Fathers’ Day” with two dads abound, but most shake down to one among a few basic options outlined at right: you go all in on the one day, or one of you appropriates space on the other day.  Or you both celebrate something else entirely, like International Family Equality Day, coming into its third year this year.

Nine years ago Dana Rudolph over at Mombian hatched Blogging for LGBT Families Day. She located it in early June, following the logic that the beginning of June would be equidistant from Mother’ and Father’s Day. It made sense as a day to pick to celebrate both lesbian mothers and gay dads, but by standing in alternative to these either/or days, it also takes a step toward an omni-gendered parenthood.

My own family has celebrated my partner on Mother’s Day and we’ve commandeered Father’s Day and made it into Baba’s Day, which has worked splendidly for us. But whichever route your family takes, the only super-practical consideration entails informing your child’s caregiver or teacher. Particularly if your child is young, and this year is the first time they’ll be engaging with these holidays through the lens of others.  Here are a few practical pointers:

    • Don’t assume busy caregivers remember what you them about how your family “does” these holidays. Put what you said into writing, send it in a note, then follow up. Your kids’ caregivers’ desire to mean well does not immediately translate into knowledge around how to approach holidays like these.
    • If your family celebrates you both on Mothers’ or Fathers’ day, be sure to connect with your child’ caregiver or teacher about whatever crafty gift for “Mom” or “Dad” they’re doing. Making two of whatever it is may or may not work out – so brainstorm ways they might be able to do something special for you both.
    • Be sure to fold your kids into discussions about how your family “does” these holidays, at whatever level is appropriate for them.

I learned the hard way, when our oldest was in her first year of preschool, that good intentions do not automatically translate. The director and teachers forgot that I’d said we celebrate me on Father’s Day, and instead hustled our daughter through something that seemed evidently a half-baked afterthought, compared to her first project for Mama. What we learned: everyone, even the sympathetic allies like those we found at this preschool, needs a reminder. After our second child went through this preschool, we all had learned a lot about expectations. And I had learned about people’s capacity to change if I help them.

He was given a form to fill out as Father’s Day approached. But his was different: they had taken the questionnaire they’d created for mothers, which the kids would fill in as they were read to –  “What is your mother’s favorite food?” “What do they do after you go to bed?” and so on – and substituted the word “Baba” for every instance of “Mother.”  That, filled in (complete with factual errors) turned out to be the best Baba’s Day gift ever.

Happy Mothers' Day, by Chris Ware, May 13, 2013. [PHOTO CREDIT: THE NEW YORKER]

Happy Mothers’ Day, by Chris Ware, May 13, 2013. [PHOTO CREDIT: THE NEW YORKER]


  1. Our family is another conundrum yet. The kids live with two mommies (Mommy and Mama), but they still sometimes talk with their father who lives elsewhere. The kids only sort of grasp the the existence of mother’s/father’s day and I think since they live with me and Laura their teachers/daycare staff just assume that the kids don’t have a dad in the picture. This makes for some slightly awkward conversations and a lot of funny looks. This will be the first time that they’ll be in school/daycare for either of the holidays so it looks like some friendly reminder letters are in order.

    • I can’t speak highly enough of a friendly reminder letter! Or something. A card. A box of chocolates with the card. Whatever does the trick.

      Unless you are at a daycare/ preschool/ elementary school that has cared for the kids of LGBT parents, and done so well, with wisdom and elegance, you just can’t rely on the fact that even the most well-meaning folk will figure out how to fit your family into the available slots.

      I tend to think of all this like how parents of kids with allergies might (or so I imagine). There’s something really important for your kids’ caregivers to know, and you have to tell them, and it’s no big deal once they know, but they won’t know ’til you give them the language for it.

  2. Every year our kids’ teachers have asked them if they would like to make two of those carefully crafted classroom projects for Mothers’ Day (as we punctuate it here), and every year the kids have declined the offer: too much work.

    Mothers’ Day is generally an awkward affair for me. I can’t say we have figured out what works for our household. But my dad and brother in law save the day by throwing a party for all the moms in our family.

    • What if the day goes 48 hrs? And it starts noon before Mother’s Day, proper (ever on a Saturday) and stretches to noon following Mother’s Day (on a Monday, a hassle, but). Then you both swap crowns at high noon on Sunday?

      I would love to hear from other folks all the variations they put on this thing.

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