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LGBT parents

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

71 replies

SophieBMumsnet · 24/06/2014 16:27

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!

OP posts:
singarainbow · 28/06/2014 04:32

I agree with the posters who are happy to answer most questions - the more dialogue the better - I feel its better to de-mystify the whole thing!
However, the worst encounter I can recall - is when I was out with my wife and 3 DC's (aged 10,7,3 at the time) at a small village restaurant. We had just paid the bill, when the waiter asked "where is their father"? The kids and us just stared with opened mouths. In an effort to show the kids that we are not at all ashamed I answered "They dont have a father, we are a couple, and they are our children". Hoping this would be enough to send him off on his way, he then said "So they all have different fathers?" I replied "No, we used a donor, they are our children". He looked confused and wandered off.
I then approached another waiter and asked to speak to the manager - the manager was the "waiter" in question.
I told him that I found his questions inappropriate and intrusive and was unacceptable. He said "I am sorry, I didn't mean to cause offense".
That was it. We left.

We do laugh about it now, but at the time we all felt very vulnerable and at a loss as to how to deal with it.

In hindsight, kids being there or not - I should have said "I am here paying for a meal - what the has anything to do with you?"

TheHoneyBadger · 28/06/2014 10:39

i'm not in a ss relationship but am a single mum who was single all the way through and find people are so damned intent on finding out about ds' father (who is not on the scene in any way shape or form) that the very first time they sit along with you with a coffee it splurges out. i tend to tell them the details and another friend has commented why do you tell the nosey buggers it's none of their business. i think we all feel differently about these things - some of us would rather they asked and got it over and done with and others would rather they didn't and find it intrusive. my feeling is if the curiousity is there it's going to stay there until it's dealt with and i prefer things over and done with.

another thing i presume i share with ss couples is the whole school business of making a big deal out of fathers day (male ss couples will have it with mother's day i guess). i kind of wish they'd just stop doing this at school. it's all hallmark money making nonsense anyway and why impose it on kids when they know that some will be with ss parents, some living with grandparents, some in foster care, some with single parents etc. to spend a whole day going on about daddies and how special they are and making father's day cards is hardly essential.

frequently i can tell people wonder if i conceived my son by AI or IVF when they realise there is no sign of a father or mention of one and i've been asked about that before.

it would be nice if people just got over the whole heteronormative template and saw families as families regardless of their make up. believe it or not i have actually had to point out to people that yes, ds and i are A Family.

Upandatem · 28/06/2014 20:20

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MadTessaSpall · 28/06/2014 22:22

I think there's a massive difference between being open/ not being 'secretive' as a pp put it, and wanting a bit of privacy. I'm a teacher in a school where I am happily out to staff, students and parents who know I have a family with my ss partner. I am open about being gay and, amongst friends, open about the processes we went through to have dd, but the difference for me (and I realise this is personal) is I don't really want to have to talk about intimate processes I had to go through with my body or my DD's private life to nosey strangers.

For me, this is about a basic right to privacy rather than 'secrecy', and I am gobsmacked at how many people who know me very little feel it is appropriate to ask such personal questions. I'm really irritated at the thought that some people have the brass neck to ask people's children rather than the parents, as some previous posters have said, how intrusive and inappropriate.

rhetorician · 28/06/2014 23:10

Madtessa yes, I completely agree. I do sometimes get a bit fed up with endlessly coming out to people, explaining myself and my family All the Bloody Time.

Itsfab · 29/06/2014 17:54

"he is actually a lovely little boy..."

Xcountry why wouldn't he be a lovely little boy and why the need to say it? Confused.

TheHoneyBadger · 29/06/2014 18:49

madtessa i guess this is an issue, be you straight, gay, single, married, whatever of personality more than anything. there'll always be those comfortable with talking about these things and those who find it a bit up close and personal.

obviously though being in certain brackets re: ss relationship, single, having struggled to conceive and everyone knowing etc will attract more questions.

TheHoneyBadger · 29/06/2014 18:53

do you not find you just end up with standard prepared answers?

so for me, " no, it's just me and ds. always has been. no, no father on the scene" smile brightly. oh and then i have to fend off the (meant to be consoling or reassuring) remarks about how i'll 'find' someone one day and 'it's never too late'. lol. apparently i need 'turning' from my singledom as much as lesbians need turning from their strange fancying of women.

MadTessaSpall · 29/06/2014 21:37

Like rhetorician says, it just gets a bit wearing when it's fairly regular. Sometimes I don't have the patience for it, I don't want to feel as though I am constantly explaining myself. I do have some standard answers but it's always when it catches me off guard. It makes me feel a bit like an animal in a zoo.
I'm currently pregnant so I suppose it's a bit of a sore point although I'm finding people can be a bit inappropriate about pregnancy full stop, without any of the alternative family stuff on top.
TheHoneyBadger do people actually say those things? Although tbh if one more person tells me how flipping difficult it is having two kids...

TheHoneyBadger · 30/06/2014 08:19

people do madtessa! Grin admittedly i'm in 'the only single mum mum in the village' type territory and it's all very mummy, daddy, 2.4 children and 2 cars world at times. if i do meet someone and it turns out to be a woman rather than the man they've all assumed i want to find i will mutate into a complete alien life form i suspect.

Fatmanbuttsam · 01/07/2014 16:42

I haven't really been in the receiving end of questions as my children are from when I was with their dad.
I have been asked questions along the lines of 'so which one of you is the man' and others relating to sex.....

ArcheryAnnie · 01/07/2014 17:24

I hope this isn't derailing as I am bi but single....

I got one of DS's small friends say to me, brightly "where's your man?" after not producing a man either at any playdate or at my home. (We'd known him for ages by this point.) I explained I didn't have a man, was unlikely ever to have a man in the forseeable future, and that's OK as it wasn't mandatory to have a man, and lots of women don't have a man but do have kids. He seemed to accept this after a while, but he did seem pretty baffled by the idea!

He wasn't even being critical, I'm pretty sure - it was just outside his experience.

ArcheryAnnie · 01/07/2014 17:25

Oh, and the conversation was a lengthy one, with "why don't you have a man?" and variations thereof as followup questions, and so on and on and on.

I mean, I'm sure plenty of growups want to ask the same thing, but aren't quite so blunt!

saintlyjimjams · 06/07/2014 14:07

This is sort of related sort of not (very interesting reading though). But when ds2 was about 5 he was asking where ds1 (severely disabled) will live as a grown up. I suggested a few options then said smiling 'or maybe he'll live with you'. He says 'WHAT?' I thought I'd gone too far & gently explained that we didn't have any expectations of ds2 hands on caring for ds1. He just said 'no - I mean you're saying I don't have to live with a girl?' I told him he could live with whoever he liked and his shoulders sort of dropped in relief and he said 'what you mean I don't have to marry a girl???' I explained he could marry who he liked or not get married at all and we had a big 'yaaaay' then lots of singing about how he'll live with a boy or his brother.

It's a VERT heteronormative world out there. We have gay friends obviously but he'd got to 5 without really picking up on any of that whilst simultaneously being weighed down at the thought of having to get married to a girl - with that much heteronormativiry I supposing it's not surprising that you get daft questions sometimes (I do as well with ds1 - sometimes they're crass but I try to respond to the intent)

TheHoneyBadger · 06/07/2014 14:14

yay for not having to live with a member of the opposite sex shackled to you for life Grin love that story. have had similar with ds who should know better given i'm single but the heteronormative all pervasive culture had gotten to him too.

we had a discussion the other day about how i could just as well meet a woman to marry as a man (though neither is the most likely) and he concluded it would be much easier if it was a man because then people would make less fuss. quite insightful without knowing it on how so many bisexual women end up with men when they want to have children.

Fatmanbuttsam · 06/07/2014 22:31

I was chatting with one of my ds's today about where he might be in later life..... He was informing me that when he was a mange may at times be late home from work....I said that he may at that point be living with his partner....Ds thought that was the time to inform me that he was I hadnt worked that out :-)

GermyElephant · 07/07/2014 09:29

This is such an interesting thread. I'm very curious about stuff but wouldn't generally ask unless I know someone well enough or unless they volunteer information.

I don't have a huge social circle and live in a village where most families are Mummy, Daddy, 2.4 children. So it's difficult to ensure that my DC are aware about a range of possibilities with family structure. Because of our narrow range of experience, a lot of the questions don't come up. It's the same with people with physical disabilities and even those of other races. I suppose this is where TV and books come in! I'd like my DC to know for example that some parents are gay/single/wheelchair bound and some children wear glasses/are not white so they know all these things are "ok" rather than "weird".

flipflopsonfifthavenue · 07/07/2014 15:56

My partner and I have a DS and I'm pregnant with DC2. DS is biologically mine and I'm carrying DPs egg now. Both have same donor so will be generic half siblings. We feel this provides a nice familial link all round and we'll all be connected.

My carrying both babies worked for us as it means we'll both have the same parenting relationship with each child.

We're happy answering any question especially from our friends/family or anyone who's interested and curious. I think you have to accept people will be interested in your alternative family.

The Q that I like least is "do you know who the Daddy is?" But I find this is more about people being unsure about what language to use rather than anything else.

We also get asked "what does DS call you both?" And one friend once asked if it might be confusing for him if we're both called Mummy? We just replied that he'll know exactly who we are and it might be confusing to others but that's not our problem. In the event were Mummy and Mama.

People now say that DS looks like DP which isn't technically possible, but we feel it just goes to show how they view him as much 'her' child as 'my' child :)

ArcheryAnnie · 07/07/2014 17:01

People now say that DS looks like DP which isn't technically possible

People used to say that I looked like my brother, which I really liked to hear, even though a) we're adoptive siblings, and b) we're different colours! But we both have freckles, and similar personalities in many ways.

One of my sisters is a total miniclone of my late mother, peas in a pod, and they had no genetic link at all, just familiar - they were much more alike than my mum's genetic children were to her!

TheHoneyBadger · 07/07/2014 18:41

there's some cultures in asia that believe in consubstantiality in the form of eating at the same hearth. there was an island with a long history of immigration who had the cultural belief that eating at someone else's hearth, or eating together at a heart created family and did so literally, as in people came to look like each other and share 'substance' via the hearth instead of just the blood Smile

i like mummy and mama but i'd want to be mama, it sounds so cute when they say it.

dogscatsandbabies · 07/07/2014 22:18

I'm another one who likes the questions about how my fantastic girls came to be and happily answers. If you can't talk about things that are still unusual how else do you normalise them?

For me, the worst question I'm ever asked is "what does your husband do?", usually as an ice-breaker by new acquaintances, even in child free environments (because I wear a ring, presumably). Wouldn't it be lovely to live in a world where we didn't have to identify our deviance from 'the norm'? Although I do love answering that with "absolutely bloody nothing!" in an outraged voice, then laughing and gently pointing out that I don't have one!

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