Gay Dad Life

How to Handle Your Child's First Crush

It’s late at night. You can’t sleep. You put on the TV, but all the Golden Girl reruns are over. So you open your laptop. Go to your email and hit the refresh button. You expect to see a One Kings Lane email appear, or another Trump-ruining-America CNN alert like every other night. But instead it’s an email from your child’s kindergarten teacher. The ominous subject line simply says your child’s name: “Maxwell.”

Oh shit.

You start to shake. You’re scared to click on it. So you quickly eat the emergency white chocolate Kit-Kat you keep in the top drawer of your bedside table. A hundred thoughts rush through your mind as you quietly crunch to avoid waking your better half. Did he bite someone? Was he caught eating his boogers? Someone else’s boogers? Has he not memorized all his site words? Did he play the “Chuck” name game in class (Chuck, Chuck, bo-buck, banana-fanna fo…)? Or worst of all, did he bully someone?

You snap out of it! Obviously, he didn’t bully anyone. He is your kid after all. But nothing could have prepared you for the content of this email:

Hi! I just wanted to let you know about a situation at school involving Maxwell. He apparently has a crush on one of his classmates (and the classmate has a crush on him). There has apparently been some kissing going on (on the cheek), I think mostly by the other person. I spoke to both Maxwell and the other child today about what is/is not appropriate at school. I would appreciate you having a similar conversation at home. This "romance" is causing quite a stir in the classroom.

Thanks for your support!

Sincerely, Mrs. Amazing Teacher

Okay, her name isn’t actually “Ms. Amazing Teacher.” But she is, in fact, an amazing teacher to my son, Max. We love her. Max loves her. He’s learned so much in her class and goes to school excited every day. I just want to go to the same extreme protecting her name as she did withholding the kissing culprit’s name.

My first reaction was this must be an April Fool’s joke. Everything about it reeked of being Punk'd. But sadly, Ashton Kutcher was nowhere to be found. Was I supposed to take this seriously? Based on her decidedly earnest tone, I reckon I was.

But was this really worthy of an email? Causing a stir? He’s six!

The thing I found oddest was her seemingly deliberate use of vague, non-specific descriptions (“classmate" and “the other person”). I wouldn’t expect her to call out the other child by name, but not using pronouns seemed rather anomalous. And therefore, I couldn’t help but think, maybe this so-called “crush” was on another little boy, and she didn’t want to be the one to open that can of worms. No pun intended.

"So," I asked Max on the way to school the next morning, "are there any kids in class you like playing with the most?”

“I like playing with everyone,” he replied.

“But is there anyone extra special you like spending time with?”

He thinks for a moment. “Oh, yeah, I married Sarah at recess yesterday” (not her real name.) “We got in trouble because she kept kissing me.”

My first inclination was to high-five him and ask about a prenup, but then I remembered his teacher's request. I said it’s totally okay to play together at school, but that kissing isn't appropriate behavior at school. As I said the words aloud, I couldn’t help but cringe a little because I didn’t think the behavior was necessarily inappropriate. I felt it was normal. I pretended to get married on the playground when I was his age. Everyone at school knew I’d  be Mr. Whitney Houston.

So what’s the big whoop?

After doing some research I have a much clearer understanding as to why his teacher reacted the way she had. I learned some tips on how to handle your child’s first crush — and take note, because it involves more than a simple high-five.


According to experts, most kids will experience their first crush by the age of five or six. And while Kindergarten crushes rarely amount to more than hanging out at recess together, kids at this age may want to act out what they think it’s like being in love. One of these behaviors is oftentimes kissing on the cheek. Experts say there’s absolutely zero sexuality at this age. It’s just their way of showing their feelings. If kissing is happening at school, it’s probably a good idea for you to talk about boundaries with your child. Playing together at recess: all good. Kissing in the classroom? Not so much.


When talking with your child about their schoolyard crush, do not laugh at them or dismiss their feelings. If you do, they might not feel comfortable opening up to you in the future. And that can lead to bad things. Remember Amy Fisher?


A schoolyard crush can oftentimes foreshadow the type of person your child will be attracted to as he grows up. Experts suggest that these early connections help us understand which qualities we notice and like in other people — and adversely, a few that we don't. So take note. Ask questions. Then sit back and enjoy watching how it all unfolds.


If we’ve learned anything from Justin & Britney’s relationship, young love doesn’t last. And while most kids will get over their first crush quickly, some may struggle with hurt feelings. Whether your child is the heartbroken or the heartbreaker, it might be a good idea to ask them how they feel about it. It’s also a good time to remind them of all their wonderful qualities. One thing I do that seems to help in situations like this — I tell Max about my own similar childhood experiences, so he realizes these things happen to everyone and it’s just a part of growing up.


With puppy love comes lots of teachable moments. It’s a good time to talk about things like respect, privacy and kindness. For example, a well-mannered man never kisses and tells (unless you’ve kissed a celebrity — in that case, Tweet that shit!). Another important lesson… if someone has a crush on your child, but your child doesn’t return the feelings, it’s important for your child to understand that he/she doesn’t have to reciprocate.

So in the end I learned that while puppy love can be “cute” at first, it’s not always harmless. I now understand why Max’s teacher reached out to us. Helping our tots navigate these special feelings is critical to how they cultivate healthy and positive habits in future relationships. So be sure to check in with your child’s teacher if you think your child may have developed special feelings for someone. It’s always good to get their perspective — after all, teachers often spend more time with your kids than you do.

Love is a tricky and sensitive subject matter. It’s always important to keep the lines of communication open. If your child opens up to you, use it as an opportunity to guide — not dictate — his decisions. Because when we respect and honor our children’s first loves, they are more likely to look back on them fondly.

As for my marriage to Whitney … it’s not right, but it’s okay.

Read David's recent posts:

American Horror Story: Getting Your Child to Take Medicine

Putting an End to My Son's Obsession With Toy Weapons

My Favorite Father and Son Movies


Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Photo Essays

How Single Dads Are Celebrating Valentine's Day This Year

Valentine's Day is not just for lovers! We caught up with 8 single gay dads to see how they plan to celebrate Valentine's Day with this year.

Valentine's Day is not just for lovers; it's also a day to celebrate our loved ones. And that's exactly what these single dads are doing.

Within our community, GWK has a large group of admirable, active, and awesome (!) single dads and we want to honor them! On Valentine's Day, they and their kids celebrate their family unit in the sweetest possible ways. We asked the dads to share these moments with us, and, where possible, one of the most heartwarming things they've experienced with their kids on Valentine's Day to date.

Hear their stories below.

Keep reading...
Gay Dad Photo Essays

11 Gay Couples Share Secrets to Their Long-Term Relationships This Valentine's Day

This Valentine's Day, we spoke with 11 gay dad couples who've been together for almost a decade or longer to learn what's made their relationships last

You're the peanut butter to my jelly, the gin to my tonic, the strawberries to my cream, the Mr. to my Mr.!

Happy Valentine's Day folks! We're excited to celebrate this day of lurrrrvvve by featuring a few dads in our community who've been together for almost a decade or more! And they're ready to share their secrets to a successful relationship and parenting partnership.

Keep reading...
Gay Dad Life

"Worth Every Blood, Sweat, and Tear": Congrats to Gay Dads on Recent Births and Adoptions!

Wishing all of these gay dads whose families expanded a lifetime of happiness! Congrats to everyone in our community on their recent births and adoptions!

Gay men go through a lot of ups and downs on the path to parenthood. It can be one of the most emotionally draining times in our lives. But as each of these families who are celebrating births and adoptions this month agree: it's worth every hardship.

Congrats to the dads whose families grew this month!

Keep reading...
Surrogacy for Gay Men

Dads Talk About Surrogacy Process in New Video for Northwest Surrogacy Center

The Northwest Surrogacy Center interviewed some of their gay dad clients for a video to celebrate their 25th anniversary of creating families through surrogacy!

Last year, Northwest Surrogacy Center celebrated 25 years of helping parents realize their dreams. And they celebrated in style by inviting the families they've worked with over the past two and a half decades to join them!

At the party, they took the opportunity to film queer dads and dads-to-be, asking them a couple of questions: how did it feel holding your baby for the first time, and tell us about your relationship with your surrogate.

Watch the video below and get ready for the water works!

Keep reading...
Surrogacy for Gay Men

Campaign to Legalize Surrogacy in New York Heats Up with Competing Bills

Two competing bills — one backed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and another by Senator Liz Krueger with stricter provisions — are aiming to legalize surrogacy in New York.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York is once again attempting to legalize commercial surrogacy in the state, which is still just one of three states in the country to forbid the practice.

"This antiquated law is repugnant to our values and we must repeal it once and for all and enact the nation's strongest protections for surrogates and parents choosing to take part in the surrogacy process," Governor Cuomo said in a statement in announcing a broader effort called Love Makes a Family. "This year we must pass gestational surrogacy and expedite the second parent adoption process to complete marriage and family equality."

Keep reading...
Change the World

Your Marriage Should Be Gayer, Says the New York Times

In an op-ed for the New York Times, Stephanie Coontz, author of "Marriage: a History," lists the many insights LGBTQ marriages can offer straight ones.

According to a fascinating op-ed in the New York Times this week by Stephanie Coontz, author of "Marriage: a History," turns out the people convinced marriage equality — legal across the United States for five years now — would usher in the complete breakdown of civil society should be more worried about the health of their own marriages.

In the article, Coontz details the results of research that followed 756 "midlife" straight marriages, and 378 gay marriages, and found same-sex couples reporting the lowest levels of physiological distress — with male gay couples reporting the lowest. The reason for this, the author said, is pretty simple — misogyny. The idea that men and women should strive for parity in a relationship is still a fairly new idea, Coontz said, and traditional gender roles are still pervasive. Gay couples, meanwhile, are free from such presumptions, which often results in happier, healthier relationships.

The most interesting findings in the research relate to parenting. While gender norms tend to be even more emphasized among straight people once they have children, with the bulk of the childrearing falling to mothers, same-sex couples — once again freed from the stereotypes of the male/female divide — parent more equitably. As the author notes, "A 2015 survey found that almost half of dual-earner, same-sex couples shared laundry duties, compared with just under a third of different-sex couples. And a whopping 74 percent of same-sex couples shared routine child care, compared with only 38 percent of straight couples."

When it comes to time spent with children, men in straight marriages spent the least amount of time and the lowest proportion of "nonwork" time, with their children — while men in same-sex marriages spent just as much time with their children as women in a straight relationship. "The result?" Coontz writes, "Children living with same-sex parents experienced, on average, three and a half hours of parenting time per day, compared with two and a half for children living with a heterosexual couple."

Straight fathers devote the least amount of time — about 55 minutes a day — on their children, which includes things like physical needs, reading, playing, and homework. Gay mothers spent an additional 18 minutes each and straight mothers an additional 23 minutes. Gay fathers spent the most time with their children, the study found, an average of an additional 28 minutes a day.

Taken together, straight couples spend an average of 2 hours and 14 minutes on their children. Lesbian moms spend an additional 13 minutes, while gay men spend 33 more minutes than straight couples.

One factor, the author notes, that can help explain this difference is this: gay parents rarely end up with an unintended or unwanted child, whereas a full 45% percent of pregnancies in straight relationships in 2011 (the last year data is available) were unintended, and 18% were unwanted.

But right. Gay people shouldn't be parents.

Single Parenting

The 'Strange Dichotomy' of Dating as a Single Gay Dad

A single gay dad describes the balancing act involved with dating after having come out later in life.

It was a Friday morning as I walked towards the twins' bedroom door, and I caught the dreaded whiff. The unmistakable smell of fecal funk. My heart sank — I knew exactly what awaited me on the other side. As I cracked the door open, my assumptions were immediately confirmed. Our resident two-year-old "scat princess", a.k.a. Maren, had pried off her poopy diaper and painted her bedroom walls and doors in her own excrement for the third time in as many weeks. I couldn't decide if I wanted to scream or cry. Fortunately my dad superpowers immediately took over and I did neither. I simply gritted my teeth, smiled, threw open the door and uttered "good morning, girls!" I spent the next hour giving the toddlers, the walls and the doors a Silkwood scrub-down. Again.

Fast-forward twelve hours later. The kids were safely with their mom for the weekend, and I was out on a date with a handsome guy I met on Tinder. The trauma from earlier in the day a mere, faint memory. This was the strange dichotomy of my life as a single gay dad. Balancing dating in the midst of coming out later in life, never mind the whole parenting thing, is a struggle. And, one that nobody really talks about.

Keep reading...

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse