Monday, August 2, 2010

My Two Dads

This is not intended to be taken as a social commentary with my opinions plastered through out and jammed down your throat, this is just an observation and a few thoughts that were raised by it. If you hate what I have to say I'm sorry. Next time I'll give you a light and fluffy puff piece with heaps of humor and tenderness. I'll even through in a cherry on top. ... ok two. But today, I feel the need to let this out. Yesterday we trekked down to San Diego to see Gina's step-Grandparents (Jim and Diane) who were in town staying at their condo for the week. They are wonderful people who have always been supportive of Gina and me, and have now transferred that love to the girls as well. We hadn't seen them since April so we felt it important to go down and at least get a few hours in with them so they could play with the girls. Their daughter and their two granddaughters were also down to spend the week at the beach and they brought with them (at least for the weekend portion of the trip) her two gay friends and their four year old son. Now, I know everyone has an opinion on subjects like these. Even people who stress "Oh, I don't have an opinion on that" really do have a very strong one which they will fight tooth and nail in defense of should they be pushed enough. So I don't want to get in to that, it was just an interesting observational moment, so stifle your opinion and just allow yourself to think about it for a few minutes. None of my gay friends have kids, at least not yet, and the only families like this that I've seen are at a huge distance or on TV (I love Modern Family and Glee), so this was the first time I'd really been around a relationship like that and had a chance to sit, watch and think about it. First of all, the obvious thing, these two were very good dads, very attentive to their son and, by all that I could see, really worked like a team in what they did (more than many heterosexual parents I know). But what happens when he's 15 and he has questions about dating girls? Odds are he's going to be straight despite his parents orientation. I will offer my opinion that I think people are born this way, it's not a choice they make themselves, and I think the dads would be inclined to share this belief as well, so I'm sure they will not try and "force" gay on him as some might think. But how can they offer this heterosexual advice? Also, how will the boy handle it at that age? It's no big deal when you're four, but I was 15, I know how 15 year old boys talk: "that's gay", "you're gay", "this is gay". ... how will that affect him. Will he be hurt by it, or will it roll off his back because his parents prepared him for it? Will society have changed enough by then that this will not be as big an issue as it was? Lot of questions. I think of the movie The Birdcage, and while it was a fictional comedy, it's grounded in some potential truth. Will he run into the same types of situations as he grows through adolescence and into adulthood? Of course I wonder about the positives too. This boy was four and one of the dads was running through new vocabulary words he had learned this summer. How many heterosexual parents really take the time to do this? Surprisingly not enough. They were very focused on his politeness and his social awareness as well. Again, watch Jerry Springer, lot of parents failing at this. These two men were both bright, educated and well presented which will be a wonderful influence and one I wish I could extend to a number of dads I've run across. Also, as Gina pointed out while we discussed this on the drive home, the boy will, for the most part, be freed from the "macho" burden imposed by many dads. True, he will most likely never learn to hunt or fish or camp, but he will also probably never be screamed at from a bleacher during a sporting contest only to watch his dad be banned from all future "Christian League" sporting events. He will never be told he can't audition for a play because it's too girlie. He will never be told disgusting jokes by a father attempting to bond with him, or have his dad uncomfortably pass on his collection of dirty magazines. I doubt a good natured "wresting" match will never result in a hospital visit and a "one on one" game of hoops will never result in black eyes and stitches. Then again, he will never know the unparalleled warmth of a mothers hug. He will never see a male/female relationship behind closed doors. He will likely miss out on the "guys guy" things that don't involve dirty jokes and porn (ex. arm wrestling, motorcycles, burping contests, the various forms of pronouncing the word "dude" and their different social meanings). It's an interesting exchange. You loose a little and you gain a little, so does that make it even? Is it a different experience than the one we will give our girls that is really not that different at all? This, of course, is a new outline of an average family for which we don't have the ability to look back on 50 years of results and say "this is what will happen," but I think it's exciting to see. There are people who will hate this and make life tough for them. Many of those people screaming the loudest, of course, are such atrocious parents themselves that I wonder how they feel justified. Then there are people who will love it, many of them screaming the loudest never having raised a child themselves, nor having the slightest desire to do so. But I know, in time, the dust will settle and despite a persons own leanings an answer will be there. To finally offer my own opinion I tend to lean in the direction of The Beatles. I think that, in parenting, all you really need is love, or at least it's the most important thing you need. There are so many children lacking this one crucial necessity that who cares if it comes from a mom and a dad, two moms, two dads, or just one really, really good single parent of either type. As long as the child is loved, I am going to support the parents who provide it.

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