Questions same-sex parents get asked all the time...

(72 Posts)
SophieBMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 24-Jun-14 16:27:48

This week is Pride - a whole week dedicated to celebrating the LGBT community, and to challenging prejudice and inequality.

Which has got us thinking about same-sex parenting at MNHQ. A same-sex parent of our acquaintance says she's often asked, 'Which one of you is the biological parent?' Now, this is a pretty personal question, and we're fairly sure it wouldn't be asked of heterosexual parents - so we wondered: what other challenges do same-sex parents face?

Whether you're in a same-sex relationship, or know people who are, we'd love it if you could share the most-asked questions, and least-loved prejudices, about same-sex parenting. Please feel free to share your wittiest comebacks too!

With luck we'll be able to collect all of your experiences just in time for the London Pride celebrations on Saturday - and we'll be sharing them to let people know the sorts of things they shouldn't be asking same-sex parents.

Happy Pride! <hoists rainbow flag outside MNHQ>

MadTessaSpall Tue 24-Jun-14 18:27:52

What a great idea, I love the idea of sharing such inappropriate questions to raise awareness of what isn't acceptable.

The thing we get - and many same sex parents of our acquaintance seem to get is, for female gay couples, 'how did you decide which one was going to give birth?' Like as if I'm going to share such a personal and intimate decision with people I barely know. My favourite is when this is preceded with something like 'if you don't mind me asking' which suggests they know damn well I may very well mind. Have yet to think of a good comeback to that, I usually say I'd rather not get into it which usually shuts them up. Although I did once tell someone that we flipped a coin because I wasn't in the mood and thought if they're stupid enough to believe it then so be it.

Another is questions about the donor. Again, if I don't volunteer the information, it's none of their business! As far as I'm concerned, that information is personal to my DC, and is their decision to share such information, not mine.

Am constantly amazed at the strangers and people at work who feel this level of questioning is appropriate. And...breathe....

I'm not a lbgt parent but I have 2 couple friends that are. They get asked a lot about :
adoption
if they were 'straight' before (?!)
if they'd let the other one do it (pregnancy, birth, sperm) next time
How they chose the donor
How they decided who did what
Who 'plays' mum or who 'plays' dad (seriously!)

DottyDot Wed 25-Jun-14 16:50:03

I have the completely opposite view, madTessa! grin

I don't think any questions are inappropriate and am really pleased when anyone asks any questions because I'm glad they're nosey interested and it opens it all up, which can only be a good thing.

I've been asked how did we decide who should have the first baby (dp and I have had one each), who's the father, how did you do it etc. and I answer openly to each one. It's interesting and let's face it, different to how things usually happen, so I don't blame people for being curious and if they're able to ask it means we're doing something right, I think.

I think the level of openness and positivity about questions is one we've hopefully passed on to ds's as I know they get questions too from friends and they can be as open/transparent as they want to be - or not - it's up to them but we've hopefully shown how you can be open and how it's OK to ask and answer questions.

AWombWithoutARoof Wed 25-Jun-14 17:05:26

I met a (much younger) acquaintance of mine really, and was delighted for her that she's now in a relationship and that she and her girlfriend have a baby. She was only in her teens the last time I'd seen her and wasn't really out. I was bursting to ask all about the new life that is clearly making her really happy, but I felt it would be too intrusive to ask any questions I wouldn't have asked a heterosexual couple.

titchy Wed 25-Jun-14 17:06:23

Friend of a friend was asked if she'd prefer the child to be gay shock

AWombWithoutARoof Wed 25-Jun-14 17:07:43

Oh god, I wasn't meaning I'd ask something like that! shock

HarderToKidnap Wed 25-Jun-14 17:12:14

I have a close friend in a SS couple. I met her at antenatal classes and in the years since then we've become close as a couple, so know her and her wifey really well. My own personal faux pas - at first I would refer to the donor as ".daddy", cringey when I look back! We were all desperate to know the ins and outs of conception too, but no one asked openly, but she told us all about it when the babies were about six months. And I remember once asking her if she felt differently about their son (her bio child) versus their daughter (wifey's bio child) but we were having a deep and meaningful at the time. She's said she did actually, but were in the midst of post birth hormones and breastfeeding. Answer would be different now, I'm sure.

Anyway, they are my personal "what not to ask"s!

Upandatem Wed 25-Jun-14 20:16:41

I don't mind being asked. It is different and that's ok. Back later.

Optimist1 Wed 25-Jun-14 20:19:07

My daughter and her wife have always been pleased to answer the hundreds of questions I had about the technical, medical and legal aspects of their motherhood (not that I asked all the questions at once!). In turn, I have been able to educate friends of mine if they express an interest. There has been no embarrassment whatsoever.

To my shame, though, I did commit a faux pas recently. My daughter gave birth to the first baby, her wife to the second. Mothers' Day was approaching and I said "Ooh, DIL, this'll be your first Mothers' Day!" completely overlooking the fact that she had spent three years being mother to the first-born. <shameful cringe> Bless her, she didn't pick me up on it and we understand each other well enough for her to know that it was just a clumsy remark on my part.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Wed 25-Jun-14 20:54:26

It's all about context imo (disclaimer, I'm straight so may have this completely wrong). There's a group of us who all go on a holiday once a year, with one SS couple. Yes, I asked about their conception and birth experience, but only in the same level of detail I'd asked all the straight mums who had gone through the same experience - we've all had our kids at the same time and we've all shared our stories.

IMO not to ask, in that context, would be 'othering' iyswim. But interested to know from other LBGT parents if I have that completely wrong blush

DottyDot Wed 25-Jun-14 20:58:19

It's just interesting stuff isn't it - I don't know why people wouldn't want to ask questions - I'd want to know how it all happened if I met a same sex couple. There are so many variations on a theme too, which makes it more fascinating - dp and I created our ds's in a completely different way to my friend and her female partner, so you can't make any assumptions with a same sex couple, hence the need to ask questions...!

'do your kids get bullied about it at school?'

Why not just say 'your choice to be a big lezzer has put your children at risk' if that's what you mean?

Goalie Wed 25-Jun-14 22:32:22

My wife and I have two gorgeous DS (5 and 2) and have been asked amongst other things :

Who's the daddy?
How did you conceive?
How much did conceiving cost?
Who's having the next one?
Do you find it difficult to be their mum when they're not yours? angry - My wife is the bio-mum to both DS.
What do they call you?
What does DS1 school think about it?
Why did you have kids?
What happens when they're older, how will they cope with two mums?
Who's going to teach them to shave?
How did you teach DS1 to pee standing up?
Do you still manage to get family discount ticket prices as you're two women?
What will you do if they grow up to be 'straight'......

Most of the time I answer openly and honestly. On the odd occasion, especially for the more stupid questions, I make up just as stupid responses...it keeps me entertained!

Having read a few of the responses i think it really depends on the context of the questions.
IMO Things you wouldn't ask a hetroesexual couple that are almost strangers = not ok
Things you are curious about/ chat about because you're friends = ok.

Sometimes people are nosey but it is natural to be curious. I guess the level of intrusiveness perceived also depends on the tone of the questions too.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Wed 25-Jun-14 22:45:32

Well that's kind of where I'm coming from Jazz. I know every heartbeat of a friend's IVF journey, to then completely ignore that my SS couple friends are also on their own journey to conception etc would be rude. (I realise I've just used journey twice in an UN-ironic way...)

VeryDullNameChange Wed 25-Jun-14 22:50:28

I think the one thing that is never OK is the use of "_your_child" vs "not your child" to delineate which mother has given birth to a child of their relationship (as opposed to a child of a previous relationship to whom one of them is a step-mum of course). I notice that's the one that a PP have a angry face to.

justjodie92 Wed 25-Jun-14 22:55:58

A friend asked me, "if you have a baby, will you raise it as gay??"
Hmmm, where do I start?!

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Wed 25-Jun-14 23:17:38

just with oh no, we were planning to raise it as a Jedi, actually? ???

fortyplus Thu 26-Jun-14 00:20:27

I have a gay friend who conceived using ivf and she excitedly told me everything - all that I would've asked and more! So no embarrassment for me because she was so open right from the start.

I guess we're all a little curious about lifestyles different from our own, whether down to religion, culture or whatever. Surely if we're close friends we should feel comfortable to ask almost anything, whereas with strangers we should be more tactful?

Xcountry Thu 26-Jun-14 00:21:08

So... I know this thread is all about questions, likely questions you have all been asked before and though I do not wish to offend anyone, there is one particular question I have been dying to ask but never really had the guts opportunity before.

Backstory:
DD1 is at school with a little boy who has two mummys, fine by me, none of my business and he is actually a lovely little boy but the problem I have is DD and curiosity. My background in in agriculture and DDs biology knowledge is impeccable (she knows all about the cows going to the bull and the male sperm and female egg etc) and I am genuinely struggling for a way to explain the little boys conception - for want of a better word - without royally fucking it up and offending anyone (it might also be worthwhile noting this boy is in the year below DD so is maybe 7 or 8).

I want her to be tolerant and accepting of other peoples families, and we have had the same conversations around step families but I think she must have a degree of knowledge about how it happens to be able to be accepting of things.

So my question is: How do I broach this subject (as I the actual biology part) with my children so I do not offend anyone and it is as age appropriate as possible? The little boy isn't adopted and often refers to the younger woman as his 'tummy mummy'

Fideliney Thu 26-Jun-14 01:36:29

Goalie please do explain if i'm being a bit thick, but isn't "what does (s)he call you?" an eminently no-nonsense, practical question? It's the first question I quietly ask the parent when I meet a small child with SS parents for the simple reason that I want to get it right. I've met a few Mum/Mummy pairs, Mama/Mummy pairs and Mummy X/Mummy Y pairs but also other naming situations so I'm sure as hell not going to guess!

ShutTheFuckUpBarbara Thu 26-Jun-14 06:32:12

Arf @*raising him as a Jedi* grin

BertieBotts Thu 26-Jun-14 06:50:24

Xcountry there was a great thread a while back, called something like "aibu to explain where babies come from like this" with good age appropriate explanations for every situation I could think of.

VeryDullNameChange Thu 26-Jun-14 07:27:29

Fideliney, I reckon "What do DC call you?" is a perfectly reasonable practical question for a nursery teacher or another mum at a play date. It's not a great question from a workmate or other acquaintance who will not be meeting the child.

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