Love is still in the air this week, and it’s something to celebrate with your family as often as you can. Since the supreme court legalized same-sex marriage last year, parents of young kids have had to figure out how to talk to young kids about different kinds of relationships, gay and straight. This can be a little confusing. They don’t need all the intimate details, for sure, but they will at some point have questions about why their friend in preschool has two mommies instead of a mom and dad or why your cousin Sarah has a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend like your cousin Mollie. You might even have encountered this already. Kids are sharp and don’t appreciate our dismissing their questions, so you should be prepared and know how you’ll talk to them about different kinds of love when it comes up.
The number one rule when talking about gay and straight relationships with kids is to be honest and direct. They can smell an evasion. Tell them some girls love other girls and some boys love other boys just like some girls love boys.
Keep it Simple
You definitely don’t have to go into long, drawn out explanations of how homosexuality and heterosexuality differ, because when it comes to kids, what they’re wondering about is love. Tell them their mommy and daddy love each other just like Jake-from-school’s mommies love each other. Everyone is a little different, just like some families just have one mommy or some families have step-mommies too.
Even if you’re not comfortable with same-sex marriage, talking to your kids is a wonderful chance to teach them about being kind and polite to everyone, even if they’re different. You wouldn’t want your preschooler making fun of a classmate because she has curly hair, and the same is true for a classmate that has two daddies. Same sex couples are a fact, and same sex parents are becoming more and more common, so hiding from the issue isn’t an option, especially from kids who pick up on everything.
It’s unlikely your small child will worry about if he’s going to love a girl or a boy some day, but should the question come up, reassure him that you’ll love him no matter whom he loves.
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Emily Brown is a preschool teacher, freelance writer, and mom to two energetic, funny little girls with a flair for drama and a shared love of cheese and pickles. She’s also written a book on the history and food of restaurants in Birmingham, AL called Birmingham Food: A Magic City Menu.