Gay Dad Life

7 Worst Types of Parents You Meet During Playdates

I detest playdates.

There, I said it.

Before I go any further, I promise I'm not talking about the playdate I had with you. That was the one exception. You and your kid are the greatest.

And I'm not talking about "playdates" with my existing parent friends — they usually go off without a hitch. Our kids entertain themselves while we adults get in some much-needed catch-up time.

I'm talking about parents, strangers save for the fact that their names are on a contact sheet distributed by a school, arranging for their children to spend time together for the benefit of the children (again, the benefit of the children).

Why do I dislike playdates so much? It could be that your kid (okay, my kid) sucks at sharing and taking turns. Perhaps I don't want to be a cruise director in charge of keeping everyone occupied, or maybe I get too stressed out over your kid's myriad of food allergies. Maybe I'm over parents comparing their kid with my kid. Or maybe, just maybe, I'm extra sensitive about the image I'm projecting as a gay father, and I'm tired of working extra hard to combat the gay dad stereotype.

Nope, it's none of that.

It's O.K.P. (other kids' parents)

In the past few years, I've found myself suffering through an assortment of cringe-inducing playdate scenarios, none similar to the last. I've seriously seen it all. To paint a clearer picture for you, I've broken down some of the more offensive playdates I've been forced to stomach over the years.

#1: The Kid Thief

So here's how it usually plays out. Doorbell rings. Kids make a beeline for our playroom. There, they find all of Max's new toys perfectly lined up with museum-like precision, each one displayed an inch-and-a-half apart. Never get in the way of a boy and his Hot Wheels. Anyway, a few weeks back, Max's friend Gabe and his mother were over. Things seemed to go well. No spills. No blood. No teeth marks. No reason not to invite them over again. Then, after the playdate ended, after the guests had driven away, Max pulled me to the Hot Wheels lineup where there sat two conspicuously empty spots. With eyes full of tears, he says: "Gabe stole my new fire truck Hot Wheels."

Shoot me now.

What was I supposed to do with this information? Is there a civil court for this type of thing? I texted Gabe's mom and asked if he accidentally brought home a few of Max's Hot Wheels?" She responded with: But at least it gave me 24 hours to install a baby cam.

#2: The Abandoner

While this next mom and I never met in person, we emailed so many times, our gmail accounts were practically BFFs. So I didn't really know what to expect when she arrived. That' a lie. As the kids' first official playdate, I expected to actually meet her. Nope. She literally dropped her kid off in front of our gate and sped away. I asked little 4-year-old Belle where her mommy went. She answered, "To the nail salon." Yep, she expected me to provide payment-free childcare services. I mean, if she had asked first, I would have said sure … just as I would have expected her to return the favor for me one day. But that never happened. Belle hasn't been back since. Oh, and just to be clear, French manicures are so 1993.

#3: The Insta-friend

Alternately, there was the woman who came to our house determined to become my new BFF. Maybe she got her signals crossed. Maybe she mistook my forced awkward, but cordial, pleasantries at the drop-off line as genuine kindness. Sucker. Either way, here we were planning double dates with our husbands. She came on so strong, it was almost as if she was sent by the school welcoming committee, assigned to "befriend the local gay dads" at any cost. Check.

#4: The Scientologist

I'm afraid if I say anything derogatory about this particular playdate, I will mysteriously disappear like David Miscavige's wife. Let's just say Kaleb's mother was part of "the church" and was not so subtle in her efforts to recruit me. Yep, true story. For the record, I totally respect all religions. God bless.

#5: The Bring-The-Whole-Herders

I've said it before and I'll say it again. God bless single parents, especially single parents with multiple children. That said, if you're planning on bringing three children of varying ages with you to my house for a playdate, let a brother know ahead of time. Such wasn't the case this past summer when one of Max's preschool friends came over with his two older siblings. It was going fine until I suggested everyone go swimming. That's when the oldest in the herd, a husky 12-year-old, asked to borrow one of my bathing suits. Um, no. But that's not even what bugged me the most. The expectation that I'm supposed to provide entertainment and childcare for kids who are NOT direct friends of Max was a bit much, don't cha think?

#6: The Non-Reciprocator

I have no problem hosting repeated playdates. Though, I do think it would be fair to reciprocate. I mean, there's this one mom who has yet to host a playdate at her house. It's not like I want to go steady or anything, it's just that my son really wants to play with Jonah's toys too. And if you can't host for whatever reason, just be upfront about it. Otherwise, I take it personally and freak out over all the made-up reasons I've concocted in my head, like the fact that Max likes to practice writing his name. On other people's white sofas. Or how he's recently learned to blow his nose. Without using a tissue.

#7: The House Tourers

Those nervy, nosey parents who show up expecting the grand tour of every inch of your home. And not just the play area and kitchen. I'm talking about the parents who want to see it all, the whole enchilada. Every bedroom including the master. Every bathroom, even the quarter bath in the basement. These are the parents who totally judge your decorating skills, people who have no hesitation to invade someone's personal space so they can then look up the house's worth on Zillow. I just realized I'm describing myself. This is me to a T on every playdate. I like real estate. Sue me.

If I haven't completely unsold you on the idea of playdates, here are a few basic ways to make your next one more bearable:

  • Stick to an hour. Ninety minutes tops. After that, you're practically begging for a meltdown. And after you pick yourself up off the floor, chances are your child will follow suit.
  • Let your child pick their friends. Stop trying to force playdates with kids your child has no chemistry with ... despite how handsome their Dad is. If not, you'll probably end up being embarrassed when your kid refuses to play with hot dad's kid. Then the playdate inevitably gets cut short. Hot dad goes home. Nobody wins.
  • Don't overdo it with the snacks. There's no need to prepare an elegant cheese plate in preparation for a 5-year-old playdate. They don't eat Gouda. Once you do this, an uncomfortable precedent has been set that makes your guest feel the need to live up to your unrealistically high standards next time they host. It's not about us; it's about the kids. Keep it that way. Oh, one more thing — if your kid has "food allergies," pack him or her a snack! I shouldn't be expected to have fresh organic versions of every possible food scenario currently in the pantry.
  • Set up a playdate at the park instead of your house (especially for first time playdates). That way, the self-induced pressure is off. No need to go food shopping. No need to clean the house and remove any incriminating evidence. Plus, fresh air is better than whatever Glade plug-in you typically insert before guests arrive.
  • Hide favorite toys. The biggest cry-inducer is when both kids want the same toy. Now's not the time to have a reasonable conversation about sharing. One way to avoid this is to go around the house before your guest arrives and literally put away your kid's most cherished toys. This works well until they decide to show their friends the hidden toys — so hide them well!
  • Most importantly, like the Seinfeld show, quitting while you're on the top is the way to go. All good things have an expiration date (RIP Whitney). So always end playdates on a high note. Because even if the kids fought for the first hour, if it ends on them laughing and having fun — that's all they'll remember. When things tend to turn ugly during our playdates, I slip in with an amateur magic show or silly tickle chase. Works every time.

As anti-playdate as I may come off, I'm certainly not alone. A lot of the parents I talk to avoid playdates like the plague. But for them, it surprisingly has nothing to do with O.K.P., the aforementioned Other Kids' Parents. Many feel that playdates desensitize a child's spontaneity for play and that pre-scheduled playdates make kids lose their ability to think outside the box.

With all due respect, I call bullsh*t on that theory. I don't think playdates are dumbing down our kids' ability to be kids. If you're too lazy, overly judgey or super introverted, chances are you're not a good candidate for playdates. But own it. Don't put on the self-righteous "back in the old days, kids had to entertain themselves" act. Nobody's buying it.

If done correctly — with reasonable, fair parents and their non-klepto offspring — playdates could be a great option for you and your kids.

Emphasis on the word "could."

*Names changed to protect the guilty.

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Gay Uncles

Gay Uncles are an Essential Part of This Gay Dad Family's Village

It takes a village to raise a child, and this village includes many gay uncles

In November last year, Ottawa-based husbands Matt Ottaviani and Rej Gareau (whose story we shared in July) became first-time dads through surrogacy. They were overjoyed to welcome their daughter Andy and become a family of three.

But as many of us know, raising a child isn't always just about the nuclear family. The African proverb "it takes a village to raise a child" is a commonly repeated phrase, and rings very true for many families. Matt and Rej are no different, and when they shared their story last month, one thing jumped out to us: the important role Andy's guncles play in her and her dads' lives.

In honor of Gay Uncles Day today, we reached out to Andy's many guncles to learn first-hand how their relationship with the family affects their lives. Here's what they had to say.

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Gay Dad Life

Need a Sitter for Your Kids? Gays With Kids Reviews UrbanSitter

Back-to-school is already here for some of us, and if you're looking for a sitter to help out with school runs, after-school pick-ups, and the occasional date night, check out our review of UrbanSitter.

Instagram @davidcblacker

We moved from New York to Boston the summer of 2017. Along with the Manhattan skyline, our beloved Broadway, and late-night cookie deliveries, we also left behind our sitters — two sisters who had become more like family.

After settling for several months into our new home and neighborhood, we realized we hadn't had a dads' night out since our move. Our kids were still too young to leave alone at night, so I began what I presumed would be the tedious task of finding a sitter.

The first thing I did was to leave a post on our local parents' Facebook group. The dad of one of our daughters' classmates told me about UrbanSitter, a website and mobile app that he'd had success using to find last-minute sitters a few times. He also mentioned that within the app, I could see see babysitters and nannies recommended by parents at our kids' school in addition to local parenting groups.

While I appreciated the tip, I let him know that I was really hoping for a direct referral. But when none others came from the — other than a couple of middle schoolers looking for their first sitting jobs — I decided to give it a try.

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Move over Modern Family, there are some new gay dads taking over the small screen! Big Bad Boo Studios is bringing their animated series The Bravest Knight to Hulu. The series is based upon a children's book called "The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived" by Daniel Errico, and it follows the life of Sir Cedric - now grown and married to Prince Andrew - as he regales their adopted daughter Nia with tales of his knighthood journey as she trains to become a knight herself.

"We are so excited about The Bravest Knight, its values and our partnership with Hulu," said Shabnam Rezaei, the director of the series and co-founder of Big Bad Boo Studios. "They understand how to push the envelope with authentic storytelling."

"I immediately fell in love with the idea of a girl wanting to work hard and make something of herself," Rezaei continued. "I also have a nephew who has two dads, so it's a very personal issue for me. I want him to have role models when he's watching TV. I want him to feel like having two dads is completely normal. That's what this show is going to do for him."

Errico's book was first realized as an animation when Hulu created a short film based upon his writing and were interested in exploring the concept of a full series. "I watched the eight minutes on Hulu and at the end the prince and the knight get married and I was in tears," says Rezaei. Rezaei then stepped in to create all new art work including new character design by Tim Linklater and backgrounds by Sarita Kolhatra. Together, they created a kickass bible and pitched the series to Hulu and were successful.

Diversity and inclusivity is celebrated throughout The Bravest Knight, reflected by its casting choices. Nia is played by Storm Reid, from "A Wrinkle in Time," and her dads Sir Cedric and Prince Andrew are voiced by T.R. Knight and Wilson Cruz respectively. The star studded cast also includes Wanda Sykes, Bobby Moynihan, RuPaul, Steven Weber, Teri Polo, AJ McLean, Jazz Jennings, Maz Jobrani and Christine Baranski as the formidable Red Dragon.

"With so many wonderful stories yet to be told, we hope that The Bravest Knight stands as an example of the undeniable strength in inclusivity, and the inherent joy in all forms of love and identity," said Errico, the author of the original book.

The first 5 episodes were released on June 21, and there are 8 more planned for release before the end of the year. Be sure to tune in!

This is the Main Title Song for Big Bad Boo's Hulu Original Series "The Bravest Knight". The song is performed by Justin Tranter and composed by Michael Plow...


'Our Family is Complete': Congrats to Gay Dads on Their Recent Births and Adoptions!

Join us in congratulating all of the gay men in our community whose families grew recently!

Wishing all of these gay dads congratulations on their exciting news this month. From becoming first-time dads to finalizing adoptions, congrats to everyone in our community on their wonderful news!

Circle Surrogacy is the proud sponsor of this month's congrats post. They were founded in 1995 on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to be a parent. "For over 20 years we've helped LGBTQ+ couples and singles around the world fulfill their dreams of parenthood. We've helped bring more than 1,900 babies into this world... and counting!"

Congratulations to Andrew and Edward on finalizing the adoptions of their twins!

For Andrew and Edward, their foster parent training plus home study took about a year. "We had a brief placement of twin girls that were four years old two months after we had been approved," said Andrew. "Then we took a break as it was a difficult process, the 'loss' aspect, when that placement ended."

Then on March 15, 2017, their case worker sent them information about two little babies - a boy and a girl - that were still in the NICU and only nine days old. "It was a foster case with an uncertain future, but we decided those little babies needed us!" They dads took a leap of faith and on July 10 this year, their twins' adoptions were finalized. Andrew and Edward have a wonderful bond with the paternal grandmother as well as a special relationship with the twins' father. "We all love these twins, and the more love they have the better their lives will be."

"Adoption is one of those experiences where one side experiences incredible joy while the other side experiences incredible loss," continued Andrew. "We are grateful to experience this joy knowing that biological family members are happy for us to experience that joy."

Congratulations to this Mt Airy, Philadelphia, forever family of four!

Congratulations to Sean and Thomas on finalizing the adoptions of their twins!

Together 15 years, London couple Sean and Thomas recently finalized the adoption of their twins.

"About 3 years ago we started meeting adoption agencies and were approved as prospective adopters the following spring," shared Thomas. "We were anticipating a long wait, but quite quickly were matched with our twins. At the time they were nearly five."

After a fairly long transition period for everyone to get settled in, the adoption was formalized the day after Father's Day. "Two years after matching, at times it seems like the kids have been with us forever and other times a blink of an eye. But it is certainly the most life-changing, transformative experience and we cannot imagine life without them. It's wonderful that our family is now official!"

Congratulations to Phillip and Clinton on the birth of their daughter Madison!

Little Madison joined her dads on July 1, 2019, after coming into the world via surrogate.

"I caught Madison as she was born," said Phillip. "I have never felt such an exhilarating rush in my entire life! We were genuinely in love at first sight!"

Now that we Phillip and Clinton are dads, they say they feel a "sense of wholeness" in their lives! "We have a new motivation and purpose in life! It's truly the greatest blessing!"

These new dads and the apple of their eye live in Texas.

Congratulations to Michael and Tyler on the birth of their twins, Elliot and Oliver!

Herriman, Utah, couple Michael and Tyler have been together for 9 years, and married for 3. "In the beginning of our relationship we knew how important family was and how much we wanted to be dads," said Micheal. "After we got married we met with a couple surrogacy agencies and were advised to meet with an IVF clinic before proceeding. In doing so, we found that going through a surrogacy journey independently was very possible."

So the dads decided to shift gears and work in that direction, booking a follow up appointment with the clinic. "We met with their 3rd party coordinator over the surrogate process and she did not have any inquiries of any surrogates." Serendipitously, and unbeknownst to the husbands at the time, their future surrogate made an appointment to talk about being a gestational carrier for a same-sex couple. "The next day we got the unexpected call that someone was interested and open to meet. From there the rest was history as we continued with the surrogacy process."

Over a year later, the dads welcomed their two sons. "The first time we got to hold the boys, it felt so natural to us, as if nothing else in the world existed and time stood still as we got lost in the moment."

Congratulations to Adam and Josh on finalizing the adoption of their daughter!

Adam and Josh got engaged on Good Morning America on Valentines Day, and welcomed their Christmas miracle baby into their lives on December 26th. On July 12 this year, they celebrated becoming a forever family of three.

"For an event that always seemed like it would be the end of our adoption journey, Baby K's Finalization Day felt more like the beginning of a greater adventure," shared Adam. "Since day one, Baby K was always loved and 100% part of our family, but we are so filled with joy to see this day come and make it officially official. We cannot wait to spend the rest of our lives not only watching Baby K grow and develop, but also to see the two of us learn and grow in this new role as parents."

Congrats to these Dallas dads!

Congratulations to Dan and Martin on the birth of their son Herman! 

Copenhagen couple Dan and Martin welcomed their second child through surrogacy on July 11 this year in Florida, USA. Herman joins big sister Ellen, born March 1, 2015, in Vermont via surrogacy. Here's a little more.

"Two amazing American women and their families took us in as their own and we're forever bonded," said Dan about their path to fatherhood experience. "It has been an amazing journey with both of them, our family is complete."

Congrats to the Danish family!

This post is sponsored by Circle Surrogacy

Circle was founded in 1995 on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to be a parent. To this day, that belief is at the core of everything we do. For over 20 years we've helped straight and LGBTQ+ couples and singles around the world fulfill their dreams of parenthood. We've helped bring more than 1,900 babies into this world... and counting!

We're an agency comprised of social workers and lawyers, accountants and outreach associates, and program managers and coordinators; but, more importantly, we're an agency made up of parents, surrogates and egg donors, who are passionate about helping people build their families, and invested in each and every journey.

Circle is proud to have helped so many gay families achieve their dreams of becoming parents. Together, we make parenthood possible.®


Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals.

In a post on Facebook, Ed Smart, father of kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, came out as gay. He also discussed his strained relationship with his Mormon faith, claiming he felt he didn't feel comfortable living as an openly gay man in a church with a difficult history with respect to its LGBTQ members. He and his wife, Lois, have filed for divorce.

"This is one of the hardest letters I have ever written," he began the letter. "Hard because I am finally acknowledging a part of me that I have struggled with most of my life and never wanted to accept, but I must be true and honest with myself." He went on to acknowledged a new set of challenges facing he and his family as they navigate a divorce and his coming out — in the public eye, no less — but concluded, ultimately, that it's a "huge relief" to be "honest and truthful about my orientation."

He went on to condemn The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. "I didn't want to face the feelings I fought so hard to suppress, and didn't want to reach out and tell those being ostracized that I too am numbered among them. But I cannot do that any longer."

In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Ed Smart further discussed his reasons for coming out now, as a 64-year-old man.

"I mean, I knew that it would probably come out at some point, just because people can't leave things alone. I did anticipate that it would happen at some time, but my intention in writing it was to try to let my friends and family know, you know my extended family ... know where things were. So, you know, I was really concerned about how the rumor mill starts," he told the paper. "I knew that at some point in time, that would come out," he elaborated. "I didn't know when it would come out, and so I would rather have it come out the way that it did versus having some rumors going around, and you know the crazy way things can get twisted."

In 2002, Ed Smart's daughter Elizabeth was abducted at knife point by a married couple from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah. She suffered physical and sexual abuse at the couple's hands, for nine months, until she was finally rescued by police. During the ordeal, papers — including the Salt Lake Tribute — speculated about Ed Smart's sexual orientation based on some fabricated information sold to the paper by tabloids like the National Enquirer. (The Enquirer retracted the story, and the reporters at the Tribute were ultimately fired.)

"I think that in April I started feeling like I needed to prepare something," Smart told the Tribute. "Because during Elizabeth's ordeal, there were things said, and it wasn't what I wanted to say, and I was not going to allow that to happen again."

As to how his family has taken the news, Smart said they've been "very kind" to him. "I think it was very difficult to have this kind of come out of the blue. I don't think any of them knew I was struggling with this, so it was something they were, if you want to call it, blindsided by. I totally get that. They've really been very wonderful."

Congrats to Ed Smart on making the difficult decision to live his truth. Read his full letter here and his interview with the Tribute here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

"Rollercoaster and Sons," Explores the Journey of One Single Gay Dad Through the Foster-Adopt System

When it comes to the foster-adopt system, "there is no roadmap," said single gay dad Chase Turner

Guest post written by Chase Turner

Many of us thought long and hard about what avenues were best to pursue being a dad. For me, fostering to adoption was the selected road. There is no roadmap here, many things that came my way were learned by doing. Along the way, I started wishing I had a better support group or people who could understand what it's like to be gay and attempting to adopt. Often we (people who are LGBT) feel scrutinized and judged for choices that the majority makes but for us there is pushback. Once my adoption was complete, I felt it was necessary that I put pen to paper and write this story, from a gay male perspective.

My goal was to provide a voice in the space of foster care and adoption where there is a void. Additionally, I wanted to provide an authentic look at all facets of the process, from the kids, to the obstacles and challenges that happened within my personal life. I do hope you enjoy and more importantly can relate or prepare yourself for a similar journey.

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Gay Dad Penguins Strike Again! This Time in Berlin Zoo

The latest male penguins to care for an egg together are Skipper and Ping in the Berlin Zoo.

First, there was Roy and Silo — the two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo that served as inspiration for the famous children's book And Tango Makes Three. Then Magin Sphen got together in Sydney, where aquarium keepers gave the cocks (Calm down, that's what a male penguin is called!) a foster egg to care for.

And now, please welcome Skipper and Ping in Berlin to the latest list of gay dad penguins! As soon as the two emperor penguins arrived at the city's zoo, they set about trying to start a family, said Berlin Zoo spokesman Maximilian Jaege to DPA news.

"They kept trying to hatch fish and stones," Jaeger said.

So the zookeepers loaned the penguins an egg from a female penguin, who is apparently uninterested in hatching eggs on her own, according to the BBC.

Unsurprisingly, the gay penguins are killing it as parents. "The two male penguins are acting like exemplary parents, taking turns to warm the egg," Jaeger said,

Read the whole article on DPA here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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