We all know it’s a mom’s world out there. Our son has two dads, so when he first joined our family we were concerned that he wouldn’t have enough women in his life. Instead, we found ourselves surrounded by women – at school, on the playground, and elsewhere – and found the world of parenting dominated by “mommy culture”. Suddenly, we were dads in a mom’s world, whether looking for masculine diaper bags or searching for parenting advice that wasn’t directed exclusively to mothers.
There are many practical reasons for your children to rejoice in the fact that they are Children of Gays (COGS), and college admissions is one of them.
While your children may be in diapers today, one day they will apply to college, and in the college admissions process, they—like all other applicants—are nothing more than commodities. They must sell themselves. And the admissions essay is their one opportunity to communicate their unique selling proposition—their platform.
Unless they are the flawed-yet-compelling works of a gang member turned high school valedictorian or a refugee with six menial jobs and a 3.5 GPA, these essays—regardless of how well written—are numbingly predictable and trite.
They paint unconvincing portraits of remarkable relatives who taught the applicants the value of perseverance, honesty, or one of the other six pillars of character education. Or they chronicle the applicants’ shallow perceptions standing in the serving line of a Saturday Kitchen (each weekend of their junior year when they finally realized a little community service work could provide essay fodder) trying to scoop vegetables onto homeless people’s plates while the homeless people dodged their station and beelined for the cookies and muffins.
Put yourself in the position of the college admissions counselor who has just read 180 essays on the same theme and faces the prospect of 220 more. Your eyes are blood shot. Your back is stiff. Your mind is in a trance. You begin to question your choice of career. You think, “This isn’t what I wanted to do anyway, is it? Why am I here? What is my life all about?”
Just when your thoughts are turning suicidal, you lift a COG’s essay from the top of the stack. “What relative will I have to read about this time?” you ask yourself listlessly. And then your eyes skim the first line. A little adrenaline courses through you. Your eyes widen. Never in your thirteen years as a college admissions officer have you read a lead sentence like this one. Lesbianism [Homosexuality]: How has it shaped my life, and how can it benefit the life of [insert college name] if you admit me to your undergraduate school of liberal arts? The essay continues: Like the great anthropologist Margaret Meade, I have lived among an alien tribe. I have observed their beliefs and customs and I bring extensive insights into their way of life. In a world that daily grows more diverse, I can help others with strategies to bridge the divide between our cultures.
Regardless of your COG’s writing style or skill, the mission will have been accomplished. The college admissions counselor is alert. His or her eyes move from the essay to the accompanying transcript. The application package is placed on the short stack of those that will get a second read. And at night, when the college admissions counselor has dinner with his or her spouse, the essay will be the topic of their conversation. Your COG’s odds of acceptance have just skyrocketed.
Coming soon: Part II of The Advantages of Being a Child of Gays.
It has been excessively long, there is more, and more that transpires between each of my entries. I had not even had the chance to log on and see what is new with those of you who I have had the wonderful chance to be in contact with. So, from the obvious to the not so obvious, in snippet form as per usual.
California-WOW a lot can change in a month. I am proud to be gay and from Massachusetts. Not unlike the shot heard around the world, the revolution started here and on some level so was the marriage revolution. We were the first state to recognize and legalize same sex marriage. As I look around the world and follow the happenings as it pertains to the marriage issue I see progress and change and I am proud we are part of that! To those of you in California, congratulations! To the rest of us, let us push from coast to coast until we meet in the middle recognized as family everywhere!
Bryce-We finalized Bryce’s adoption last Monday and I am finally relaxing. It was amidst a small group of important people in our life. The judge was wonderful and I broke into tears as both of my boys sat on the bench with the judge (feet up on the bench mind you! My heart in my throat, that this person could have me disbarred), and as the decree of the court was read, Ben reached over, kissed his brother, and put his arm around him. We legally joined as a family and the legal status was consistent with the emotional status. I had my family and my boys, I do not think there has been a moment in my life where I was more proud of myself or of my children or a time in which I felt as much joy for my future, whatever it may hold!
The boys are the future and now I have time to create my future! To those who have been to finalization you know the amount of stress that leaves your body after it is over and there is closure. I still have been recovering from it all and I am remembering how to think, my neck and shoulders are finally feeling like a body part as opposed to a weight.
Ben-is turning six (6) on Sunday. Where did the time go from baby to boy? We are going out tomorrow night to buy his Birthday present and have dinner together. He is getting a big boy bike. He is doing great in school, graduating from kindergarten and onto 1st grade. He is quite a handful at 6 but, I am very proud of him. He is playing soccer on a team (affectionately dubbed the bad news bears by all of the parents) it is a riot to watch but he does well and has a ball so that is what matters. However, I do feel strange being there as the single dad with 2 kids. How do I chase a 2 year old and watch a 6 year old at the same time? It is tough and there is little time that I notice that there is a distinct difference. However, I proudly show up with them and do it. It is not the gay part that is weird it is the single part and dividing my attention between two kids. I do the best I can, that is what I tell the kids and “I am only one person”
My Mom-is the same but is coming this weekend to the Beach house to celebrate Ben’s birthday so I am sure I will get more of the story. There is not a change and I continue to have big boy discussions with Ben nightly. That idea has turned into a great idea. It allows him to talk about everything and anything under the sun and is just his time. I wish my parents would do that with me now…
So what about ME-Well, I am dating…one guy who definitely has my attention and I want to spend more time together…I will leave at that as he reads this post . SO, make the next move there mister! The playgroup is growing and more and more are hearing about it. It is just nice that we all have a place to gather. I am about to embark on a journey working as a coordinator for a GLBT youth group. This will be a regional group for youth. I am very excited about that. I am waiting for the artist to finish the work on the children’s book I wrote. I hope to have that in NY this summer. If anyone knows a literary agent, let me know. I also have enough work written for the adult book written and I need to hand it over to the editor, as it is too personal for me to correct, as it is part of who I am. Work is the same and I am preparing for a new schedule as summer camp and new daycare for Bryce start after the Fourth of July holiday.
Overall, I am fine, the kids are alright and we are one cohesive unit, legally and otherwise. I am feeling my way through my future and it is time for me to grow and change. I hope you are all well and that your children are. To those of you chasing wishes and dreams (children) keep on it and have faith and hope, it can happen! If there is anything I can do send a note. Thanks for all the notes from all of you, my cyber-family!
It’s natural for gay parents to feel discomfort about their assimilation into the straight world. While you existed in your gay ghetto, straight people were the enemy. You despised, envied, feared, and longed to be them. You defended yourself against your deep feelings of inferiority by telling yourself you had no interest in their boring, monochromatic lives. “I am living on the edge,” you told yourself. “I am a minority fighting for survival. I have important life and death issues to think about.” These issues included:
•How to survive the Bush-Cheney years
•Domestic Partnership rights
•The continuing debate over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
•Should you move to Canada or Massachusetts?
•Does Ted Haggard deserve your sympathy as a gay person?
•What if Mark Foley had been a Democrat? Thank God for small favors.
•What do the Scientologists have on Tom Cruise?
•When are Ellen and Portia going to break up since all Hollywood relationships do?
Now that you’re living among your “enemies,” it’s hard to reconcile your old sense of alienation with your new feelings of camaraderie. You’re a little ashamed to admit it, but the fire has burned out of those “life and death issues” and you would now much rather be discussing:
•The relative merits of Maclaren, Bugaboo, and Peg Perego strollers
•Public versus private school education
•Whether or not to allow television on school night
•Your video game policies
•Early versus late bedtimes
•Strategies for teaching the birds and the bees
•How much homework your children will get in second, third, and fourth grade
•The statistics on concussions among youth soccer players as a result of headers
•How to find a babysitter
•How to terminate a babysitter
•How to survive a babysitter defection
•What to do about alcoholic school administrators and teachers who should have retired before your children were forced to endure them
You haven’t lost your gay identity. You’ve lost your identity period—like every other parent, gay or straight. But you should be comforted by this. It means you’re taking your new role in life seriously.
© 2008 by Carrie Smith. All rights reserved.
In Part I, we learned that your straight children are second language learners when it comes to the language of your gay heritage, and we learned how hard it is to master the idioms of a second language.
In this part, we’ll look at another obstacle your children face—and that is developmental readiness.
Remember that understanding idioms requires an ability to think abstractly. Even some adults who have achieved high office struggle with abstract thinking their whole lives. So you can imagine the challenge for young children who have not reached Piaget’s formal operations stage of development. Let’s take a look at a gay idiom guaranteed to confound your concrete thinkers.
Idiom • Come out of the closet
Child-friendly definition • to tell people you are gay
Synonym • friend of Dorothy
Sample sentence • “Mommy and Mama had to stop hiding and come out of the closet when you were born.”
Helpful Hints • Nothing you say is going to help your young child distinguish between the metaphorical gay closet of your past and the closet in their bedroom.
To you as a gay person, the closet represents a confining but safe haven from all the forces that want to vilify and persecute you. To your straight child at the concrete operational stage, the closet is a fearsome, dark place inhabited by monsters and the occasional witch. And the idea that their beloved mommy or daddy actually came out of a closet is absolutely terrifying. The fact that your children are still concrete thinkers, doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of basic deductive reasoning, and their thinking will go like this: “Monsters live in closets. Daddy came out of a closet. Therefore, Daddy is a monster, too.”
Assure your child that you are not a monster, and explain that some closets are in fact safe hiding places that protect us from invisible monsters that lurk in the open. If your child looks at you funny or says, “I don’t understand,” conduct a simulation using the steps below:
1. Locate a closet big enough to accommodate you and your child.
2. Step inside the closet with your child and close the door.
3. Tell your child: “We are hiding. There is a monster outside who does not like gay people. I want to come out of the closet but I cannot come out until I am strong enough to slay the evil anti-gay monster.” (Note: Under no circumstances leave your child alone in the closet. Hold your child’s hand at all times, and end the simulation immediately if you observe any symptoms of panic or agoraphobia. These include sudden asthma attacks, heavy breathing, clammy palms, and moaning.)
Most parents find this simulation to be an effectivea teaching strategy. Some report, however, that their children have subsequently gone into the closet fearing those invisible monsters lurking in the open.
Well it is mid February and this is the week of school vacation. I am usually laying on a beach by now with Ben playing in blue water and me thinking of nothing. However this year we have Bryce who is now free for adoption and paperless. The adoption process is difficult I will admit and there is not a way to describe it but there are things that you do not think about. Like the fact that you can not (or it is extremely difficult to obtain one) You have to get permission to remove the child from a jurisdiction and to take a child overseas while the adoption is in process is not a good thing, there are to many things that could go wrong. As I am often traveling to places where they will look at the birth certificate and there is only a mother on it and I am not named it is not worth explaining to a border guard why I am a single father with 2 little boys. Perhaps this is internalized homophobia…but it is certainly not worth the risk. So we are home this week.
We celebrated Bryce’s second birthday by heading up to Maine and going out to dinner with just the three of us. It was amazing to see his face light up when they brought out the cake with the candle in it and he knew exactly what to do, blow out the cnadle and head for the frosting. I would say that beign home with the boys is a rewarding challenge. It give me time to spend with the kids in a non rushed and open way to do what we want when the mood striked and to actually listen to the kids and let them take control of the conversations and the week. It is not absent chalenges and I do feeel like I do not get a vacation.
Oh well, my birtday is approaching in a little more than a wek and I am just fine with that. No fan fare, no expectations and no additional candles. I guess that if I had to say that I live my life with no regrets, I would be a fool. While I have few regrets perhaps one that I am becoming aware of is that I wish I had chosen to be a father earlier. I know there were reasons and things to get done but with all the gifts I get on a daily basis from the kids. Oh well I am off with the boys to get the car detailed…yes it is a mess.
In his new book, University of Pittsburgh associate professor of law Anthony C. Infanti explains the law’s impact on lesbian and gay lives. Each chapter opens with a story about actual experiences of lesbians and gay men – and then uses those experiences as a starting point for discussing the law.
Issues discussed include marriage and its alternatives, bias crimes, the military, education, employment, housing, medical and tax planning, and parenting. Going beyond just a summary of the law, the book provides both legal and nonlegal strategies for coping with – and effecting positive change in the law as it affects our lives.
Infanti’s areas of specialization include taxation and critical tax theory. His articles have appeared in such publications as the “Florida Tax Review,” the “Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law”, the “University of Pittsburgh Law Review,” the Tax “Management International Journal,” and “Taxes” magazine. His work in the area of critical tax theory, which focuses particularly on the application of the tax laws to lesbians and gay men, has been published in the “Buffalo Law Review,” the “Santa Clara Law Review,” the “Whittier Law Review,” “Unbound: The Harvard Journal of the Legal Left,” the “Saint Louis University Public Law Review,” and “The Tax Lawyer.”
Article adapted by Proud Parenting from original press release.
Image Source: ”Everyday Law for Gays and Lesbians and Those Who Care About Them”
Psychological studies of lesbian and gay couples reveal two key factors that promote healthier relationships: (1) flexibility about gender roles, and (2) equal division of parenting and household tasks.
“It all comes down to greater equality in the relationship,” says Robert-Jay Green, PhD, executive director of the Rockway Institute and a nationally recognized researcher in both family issues and GLBT relationships. “Research shows that lesbian and gay couples – by virtue of being composed of two partners of the same gender – have a head start in escaping the traditional gender role divisions that make for power imbalances and dissatisfaction in many heterosexual relationships.”
Other research on parenting also found significant advantages for same-sex couples. Three separate studies found that lesbian partners tend to share parenting and household responsibilities more equally and to be more satisfied with this division of labor. By contrast, in heterosexual dual-career families, mothers often did much more childcare and housework compared to fathers, regardless of equal hours spent at work. This imbalance often breeds resentment over time.
Research has found that gay fathers are more nurturing than straight fathers. They are also less likely to limit their parenting role to being only a provider. All of these family researchers concluded that the freedom to defy traditional gender-linked parenting roles helped gay men and lesbians take good care of their children and experience greater feelings of fairness in their couple relationships compared to heterosexuals.
Source: Alliant International University
Hello.. or should I say Howdy! (That was just for effect… we don’t really all talk that way… but yes, I admit I have an accent) My name is Kristin. I am 35, have been partnered for 9 years, and live in Arkansas. Ar-Kansas for you LSU fans. 🙂 My wife and I have always talked about having children, but the time never seemed right. Part of the problem was my fear over how my parents will react. They are not accepting, or even dealing very well, and I worry it will drive us further apart. But after a spring ovary removal due to a cyst, I decided I’d better get on with it. We are trying via AI and are in the middle of the TWW. (I’m just learning all of those.. so help me out if I mess them up!) Who knew two weeks could be so long??!?!?!?! It is amazing to me how your perspective changes once you really start trying.. all of the things you read about ahead of time take on new significance! But as I am sure you know, it is extremely exciting….
Gay? In Arkansas??? It works, but I wouldn’t recommend it. While I have a very few cases of blatant discrimination, I still get excited when I tell someone that I actually have a wife, not a husband, and their head doesn’t spin off. Of course, sometimes I also have situations where I choose not to say anything… or just go along with the husband comments. I know… isn’t that awful???? I just don’t want to end up a statistic.
So… once we get pregnant but before the baby is born, we plan to move to Massachusetts so we can get married. We have both wanted to live in the northeast for a long time, and now we have something that will make us move!
I enjoy this site very much and want to say thank you to everyone who has left comments in my guest book!!! Everyone here is so nice. To bad we can’t all get together at a coffee shop (decaf only!!) to hang out and chat… 🙂
For a six-month reporting period, the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) found that 82 percent of parents accurately detected the presence of teen cigarette smoking – the parents’ reports corresponded with the teens’ reports of their own smoking.
Eighty-six percent of parents accurately evaluated the presence of teen alcohol use, and 86 percent accurately reported the presence of teen marijuana use. However, only 72 percent of the parents in the RIA study accurately reported the presence of hard drug use (anything other than pot) by teens.
According to lead researcher Neil B. McGillicuddy, Ph.D., “This study begins to dispel the notion that parents don’t know the extent to which their teens are using cigarettes, alcohol and illicit drugs. It seems that, despite a few exceptions, many parents do know the extent of their teenager’s substance use. Parents can use this knowledge to help themselves cope with teenage substance use and the resulting stress on the family, as well as to begin conversations with their teen about making changes.”
For RIA study, 75 parents and their teenagers were interviewed separately about the teens’ recent use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. Parent-participants were, on average, female (85 percent) – 39 years of age with 13 years of education. Teen-participants were, on average, male (61 percent) – 16 years of age and not receiving substance abuse treatment (76 percent).
In a very important finding – parents were less aware of the extent of the teen’s substance use if the teen was younger (about 14 or 15-years-old), and if the parents did less monitoring of what their teens were doing after school, during the evening and on weekends. Together, these findings suggest that parents need to consider increasing their monitoring of how teens spend their time and begin thinking about substance use at a significantly younger age.
Also, parents who are overly self-involved made less accurate reports.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York.