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Growing pains

(14 Posts)
staceyo9 Thu 25-Aug-11 13:19:55

My Partner and I have been together over a year now and have a two year old son (from her previous, heterosexual relationship). My last relationship was a 13 year heterosexual one with 3 years of marriage.

Last night my partner told me she is scared of what will happen to our son when he starts school. She contemplated us not being together to make it easier for our son. I really don't know where to start for advice on how to raise a child from a gay relationship.

Please help as I do not want to lose my partner but will step aside if she wants what's best for our son.

I love her so much and my family is everything to me but if this is going to be a problem then what are we to do? See, our son has grown up very close to me so I have never been a stranger to him. Although he is 2 he understands he has two mummies but obviously isn't aware that not every family is like ours.


DottyDot Thu 25-Aug-11 13:25:25

Hi there - we've got two boys, aged 9 and 7 and we have never had any problems at all since they started going to nursery as babies. We live in a fairly nice area admittedly but their primary school is down the road in a fairly mixed socio-economic area - so not all middle class mums! But everyone has been completely accepting and they've both made really good friends. Wherever they've been in terms of nurseries/schools, dp and I have always gone in once at the beginning to go over our situation and we tend to mention it to teachers at the beginning of each academic year - just a quick conversation sorts out things like the boys see their Dad so yes, Fathers Day cards are good and sometimes we get asked if we want one or two mothers day cards!

So far, fingers crossed, no bullying... I know this could change - but as time goes on the boys get older, wiser and hopefully more immune to as and when this might happen.

So, I'd say, keep talking to each other and please don't split up over 'maybes' . Hope this helps and happy to talk some more.

sparks Thu 25-Aug-11 13:35:14

What is your partner scared of exactly? That your ds will be bulllied? That the teachers will mistreat him somehow?

If it's any help, I have a 12 year old dd. She has never had any particular problems in school wrt having two mummies. DP and I always went to parents evenings together, so the teachers knew about our family situation, but they took it in their stride.

sparks Thu 25-Aug-11 13:39:37

Have you seen the Stonewall web site? Lots of good info there.

DottyDot Thu 25-Aug-11 13:44:25

Just to add most of ds1's friends think him having two Mums is "cool". The fashion with calling everything 'gay' (i.e. rubbish) drives us a bit mad and we tell ds's friends off if we hear them using it - much to ds's huge embarrassment - but then that's what Mums are for right?!

I really think the key is being open, confident and communicative - tell everyone and don't be embarrassed/worried. Be really open with all the professionals who come into your life - teachers, doctors, school mums etc. and your attitude of 'there isn't a problem' will be infectious! smile

rhetorician Thu 25-Aug-11 20:37:35

I would second everything dottydot has said; no secrets, and you and your partner have to get used to the idea that you have to be totally out, to everyone, and for it not to be a big deal for you.

Our DD is 2.7, and fully aware that she has 2 mummies, but also quite conscious that other families aren't made this way (she'll say, 'oh, yes, that's y's mum, and his dad is called x'). Like dotty we have just been very open with everyone - neighbours, staff and parents at nursery - we live in Ireland, so quite conservative in some ways, and the nursery is not in a particularly middle-class area. We have had nothing but kindness and support - the occasional curious question, which I think is to be encouraged. We tend to volunteer information rather than leave things unsaid. All questions you answer head off things that your son might have to deal with, and give him a model for how to handle stuff. Does your son see his father?

I really don't think that splitting up is the answer - you are lesbian parents to a boy that you both clearly love very much, and I can't see how 2 loving parents splitting up is going to help him through life!

hester Thu 25-Aug-11 23:09:35

My dd has just finished Reception, and has had a wonderful year. She did get a little bit of teasing from one little girl about having two mums, but the school handled it wonderfully and it stopped. More of an issue was my dd getting upset by all the questions she was facing. These questions weren't asked with any hostility, but she felt overwhelmed by them and that was a wake-up call to me that I needed to do more to build up her resilience and 'script' her to be able to handle questions.

I put off having children for a long time because I was so scared that they would get bullied - so I really understand your fears and those of your partner. I came out 28 years ago and life was a lot harder for gay families then - it truly is getting better all the time. Everyone in our community and at our school gate has been very welcoming, and my dd is very happy at school. I now feel loads more confident that we will be able to handle any teasing that comes along.

You and your dp shouldn't split up over this. You should, though, talk to lots more lesbian parents to find out what the reality is and how people cope. And think through your strategies for dealing with bullying should it happen - I'll happily go through what I think works, if you like.

mumblecrumble Sat 27-Aug-11 05:51:06

Your son is a lucky boy to have two loving parents who love each other. As a hetro mum I have no experience of this but I could mention that as a teacher in my experience no body bats an eyelid. Its the parents we can;t contact and are not bothered who have kids we feel sorry for!

Also, our DD is about to start school and I do believe that at some point all kids are bullied about something. Yours is just lucky to have that home support.

staceyo9 Sat 27-Aug-11 20:46:02

Thank you all for the support. It means a hell of a lot.

Our son's dad (Steven) is still in his life and we are very close friends with him. See, I knew our son's dad 3 years before his mum even met him so my friendship with him has been longer than my partner's whole relationship with him, so a solid foundation there.

Our conversation a few nights ago was just nerves about the whole situation and we now have a few questions, if anybody can help us:

Is anyone in a similar situation where they have a child from a heterosexual relationship and then a child in a homosexual relationship?

We are very interested in having our own child to give our son a brother or a sister (hopefully a sister). How do we approach the subject of our son wondering where the new baby's daddy is? He currently thinks that when I have a baby, Steven will be the father of my child.

He is a very bright boy and is very loving and we feel he is now at the age where he can begin to understand the situation.

Thanks again for your support!

rhetorician Sat 27-Aug-11 22:00:18

I think it is pretty amazing that your little boy is in touch with his dad and that he sees a good relationship between you, your DP and him: this will serve him really well and will give him huge confidence as he grows older.

I think that the transition from straight to gay relationship happens fairly often, actually, but often the children are older which brings quite different challenges.

Regarding the question of any subsequent child, well, it depends on what method you choose, but I am sure in a loving context and with careful, age-appropriate explanations, your son will cope fine. Some people have children who are full siblings, often circumstances intervene and they are not - as in your case. People muddle through, I promise smile

If I might say so, you should probably try and stop thinking of where you are as a 'situation'; to your son it is his reality, his family and he probably doesn't remember anything else. Children are amazing like that - our DD has 2 mums, and a dad (+ his family) that she sees every couple of months - she rarely asks about them in between, as she knows this is how things are.

Finally (sorry!) they also change very fast, and what is really important to them one week will be processed and filed away by the next.

Good luck - you sound like you're doing fine

hester Sat 27-Aug-11 22:05:33

stacey, you sound really down and lacking confidence in your family. It is really urgent that you address this, before your current son and any future child pick up on it and feel that there is something shameful or wrong about themselves and the people they love.

All the research shows that children raised in lesbian/gay families are as well adjusted as any other. It also shows that they are not more likely to be bullied, though when they are bullied this may be the topic the bullies pick on. All the children I know being raised by two mothers are happy and confident. There is no reason to assume this will be a damaging experience for your son, and every reason to hold your heads high and be proud of your family. In fact, it is essential that you are proud of your family, since your children will take their cue from you.

Do you know other gay families? Do you think it might help to join a lesbian mothers group?

rhetorician Sat 27-Aug-11 22:09:21

+++ to what hester says; I think meeting some other lesbian parents might be just the ticket - great for your son, as well

staceyo9 Sun 28-Aug-11 10:59:10

Thank you all again. This is invaluable advice and we are looking for lesbian parents who we can be friends with.

Rory77 Sun 28-Aug-11 11:48:55

hello, we have 3 kids and for the most part we have had no issues. My partner also has concerns from time to time about other parents reactions etc. However we haven't yet had any problems, our eldest has been through 6 school years now and has had a few questions about having two mums and a dad (we have a known donor who is their dad with regular contact) but we taught her to be honest about it and the other kids just accepted it.

Its scary out there, exposing your children to other people's opinions on the whole though you will have little control over what your child experiences with interactions at school - but what makes a huge difference is a loving example of family life at home.

Just my opinions smile

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