I am appearing on ITV ‘This Morning” tomorrow at 11.45 am answering questions on a phone in, if all goes to plan, as it is Alternative Parenting Week.
When I was a Class Teacher I remember being told, just before the start of the new school year, that one of the children in my new Year 1 Class had a Mummy who had left her husband and moved in with her gay partner. I remember making Mother’s Day Cards and celebrating that Henry had two Mummies and so much love.
Kids spell love T-I-M-E whether they have gay or straight parents. They still need boundaries, rules and firm, fair and consistent discipline whether they have two Mummies or two Daddies. They still need to brush their teeth and do their homework.
The challenge comes in handling the whispers, the judgement and the intolerance of others as they grow up in the world.
We as parents need to Talk & Teach our children tolerance.
Here is an article I wrote about that here.
I think kids are born with wide-eyed curiosity and an instinctive sense of justice. While they certainly notice differences among people, they don’t typically attach stereotypes to what they see when they are very young.
Most experts agree that whilst children are curious and fascinated about differences, they learn prejudice from others.
So where do they learn to judge, criticise and learn prejudice first I wonder?
• Just for this week notice how you talk about others.
• What language do you use?
• What words do you use and in what tone of voice?
• What beliefs and values are you passing on to your kids?
• How do you explain people’s different customs, lifestyle, hairstyles or clothing to your kids
• If you were a detached observer what messages are your kids picking up consciously and unconsciously from you?
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I read with great interest the actress Sophie Ward’s article in The Guardian about here experiences of raising her two boys with her partner Rena.
“At the start of 1996, I had just turned 31, and was living with my husband and two children in a small village in Gloucestershire. By the end of the year, I still lived with my two children in the same small village but my husband and I had separated and my future wife had moved in. It was not the year any of us expected.
It was the year I hurt some of those closest to me, lost friends and alienated strangers, a year I didn’t know how to get through. Yet that year delivered more than it took away. It was the year I woke up.
I fell in love with Rena when I met her in Los Angeles. It was not a great surprise to me to fall in love with a woman; for some time I had understood that my feelings of attraction towards women were not going to disappear if I ignored them. What was a surprise was the intensity of the relationship and how we both knew that a few transatlantic visits a year would not work. We loved each other and we wanted to be together.
For the first time in my adult life, I felt lost. I could see no solution that would not involve huge upheaval and heartache. I am not a believer in personal happiness at any cost and I didn’t trust my instincts. How could I take the next step without damaging the people I cared most about in the world?