In our past several posts, we’ve taken a look at some of the misconceptions about children of gay parents and research indicating that same-sex parents are just as effective as their heterosexual counterparts.
This time, we figured we’d discuss a prominent parenting issue within the community: finding other adult role models for our children. In our case, our children are being raised by two mommies (we’ll get to what our children actually call us in a future post). Both of us feel it is important for our twins to have positive male influences in their lives, so we make sure they get a lot of exposure to some of our close male friends and family-members.
We came across an excellent discussion of the topic on The Rainbow Babies that provides some guidance about finding gender role models for children of same-sex parents. Among the suggestions: find a family member or friend, appoint a god parent, participate in a buddy program such as Big Brothers Big Sisters or join a support group.
If you’re interested in going the support group route, here is a state-by-state listing of available resources.
There are two factors to consider when choosing a role model. The first is to make sure you have thoroughly vetted the person. Make sure you trust them, they are attuned to your parenting style and preferences and that the children would be safe in their care. The second is to make sure the potential role model is supportive of your family and your lifestyle, which will prevent you from being undermined.
Make sure you have a frank conversation about the expectations on both sides. The last thing you want is for the role model to prematurely back out after bonding with your child — which no doubt would inject instability into your family — or for their to be some uncertainty about what their relationship with your child should look like.
Another piece of advice is that you might not have to try very hard. Children are amazingly adept at finding role models. It will certainly start to happen when they attend school and make friends.
Kids also are a lot smarter, intuitive and observant than we give them credit for. They will absorb both traditional and untraditional gender roles on their own. In the end, their preferences and personalities will prevail. The best thing you can do is be open with them, expose them to the world and guide them as they figure things out on their own.