Gay Dad Life

Parenting Class 101

Sign Us Up!

Life changes after you have a kid—all parents experience this, but for us it was a long process just to become a parent. We decided to build our family by adopting through the foster care system, so the process was a lot more complicated than one might expect. This process has made parenting both a privilege and a gift for Philip and me.

A couple years have gone by since we went through training classes to be a foster parent; I try to think back and remember the topics discussed. More often than not I just remember how hard it was to hear what some kids experience in the foster care system.

After we had our son, it seemed like the first couple years required a lot of care—from bottle feeding to diaper changes and medical appointments—there was a lot to keep us occupied. Now that our son is over two, things have changed; Jacob has started coming out of his shell, but we have also started to see unwanted behaviors that have practically unraveled overnight. We also haven't quite mastered “potty training" either. Philip and I also came to the realization that our social needs are not being met. We missed adult-only time too!

One day I saw a flyer at daycare for The Incredible Year's Parenting Class, and I thought this might be what we need! We could get our training hours in (we are still in the Foster care system), and we could learn parenting skills that we might not already have. The class was a commitment—two and a half hours a week for fourteen weeks. I'm the type of person who, when I commit to something, I have a hard time backing out of it later. I wasn't sure if Philip would be interested, but he was! I think he felt the same way that I did; this class would get us out of the house, and we could meet other parents. It was hard to meet other parents at daycare—they always seem to be in such a rush with no time to talk and a “get-out-of-my-way" attitude. I wanted to break this routine. We signed up at the last minute and read the details—the class provides dinner and childcare, even better!

Ground Rules

Our first Thursday class arrived, and I was both excited and nervous. I felt bad for Jacob, going to daycare all day and then two additional hours of childcare at night. However, I was determined to stay positive—this is for all of us, our family!

After dinner we walked in to the classroom to find the agenda written on the marker-board. I thought to myself, “What did we get ourselves into? There are at least ten couples, and, of course, we are the only gays!" Sometimes I think we gays are more judgmental then others. We think that we'll be judged so we decide to become more judgmental initially.

The first thing our instructor did was to lay out the ground rules.

“What should the ground rules be for this class?" the instructor said.

A mother spoke up and said, “Don't Judge."

“What is said in class stays in the class," a dad said.

Another mom chimed in, “Be open minded."

I was immediately relived and elated. Here I thought we, my family, would be judged based on who we are, but I came to realize it is not about me; these families signed up for this class to become better parents to their kids just like us! I realized that I'm a parent, and it does not matter that I'm a gay person. I'm a parent and that is why I'm taking this class.

“When you have a kid, no one gives you a manual, you have to figure out how to be a good parent on your own," a mother said.

That statement is so true. I think most parents try their best to be a good parent, but with daily stresses and challenges that come with juggling work and home life, it is easy to sometimes forget to focus on your child, even though everything that you do is for them.

After the initial ground rules were finalized, the instructor moved on to goals:

“I want to go around the room and ask each parent what his/her goals are for the class, Eric we will start with you," he said with a big smile.

Oh great! I'm put on the spot right away with no time to think about it, but then it just came out. I said, “To meet other parents and know what to expect down the road." He continued to write everyone's goals down and off we went into the class session.

While our goals might have been a little different, we all had the same reasons for joining the class—to be a better parent and to have the tools needed to get by the day to day challenges we face as parents.

After the first class, we got home and Philip and I looked at each other with a big smile. This is just what we needed! It was really great to be around people who are experiencing the same struggles that we do—it felt like much needed therapy. To talk about issues and hear about other parents' struggles—we were not alone! Fourteen weeks seemed like a long time until we got into the class. I began to come out of my shell, and I really felt a part of something that I have not felt for a while.

Moving Forward

Our last class was a week ago. Our last dinner was a potluck, every family brought something to share. You could tell everyone really cared because everything was delicious and wholesome.

Looking back, I even noticed this experience helped Jacob grow. He was able to be with older kids, which was great preparation for his future: elementary school. At the end of each night, it was nice to open the door to the classroom and see the excitement of the kids waiting for their parents to pick them up. It was also nice to say bye to each parent and the support of saying, “Have a good rest of the week!"

Now that class is over, I am a little sad because we are on our own, BUT I did achieve my goal—we met a couple of families whom I look forward to connecting with outside of the class. I also feel like I have the tools I need to be a good parent. I have a fear that we will forget techniques we learned as time goes on, but I know we need to take a step back and focus on behavior instead of immediately getting frustrated.

On a side note, I have to say—those of you who have two girls—I feel for you! Wow! From the stories we heard it appears that having girls is a bigger challenge than boys. We wanted a little princess, but I think Philip has changed his mind after hearing some of these stories. I did not realize how hard a little girl could bite another's check and not let go!

Parenting is one of the hardest jobs I have ever had—even owning my own business is easier—but being Jacob's Papa is the most rewarding job I have ever had. I would encourage gay dads to join some kind of parenting group, even if you think you know all there is to know about parenting. It really helps with the day-to-day challenges; what works one day might not work the next. As a parent you have to be ready to roll with the punches or bites for that matter.

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...

What's it Like to Be a Child of the 'Gayby Boom'?

Tosca Langbert, who grew up with two dads, writes a piece for the Harvard Business Review about what it's like being among the first children of the "Gayby Boom" to come of age.

We've previously written about the pressure on LGBTQ parents to appear perfect, given that so many in the United States still feel out families shouldn't exist in the first place. And we know this pressure trickles down to our kids. But In an article for the Harvard Business Review titled 'The Gayby Boom Is Here to Stay," author Tosca Langbert eloquently writes, from her perspective, about the experience of beingone of the first children to come of age during an era when LGBTQ parenthood is far more commonplace. She and her two siblings, she notes, "were raised in a family that was an impossibility only decades ago."

In the article, Langbert said she knew from a young age that her family was different from those of most of her peers, who had one a father and a mother. But otherwise, she writes, she didn't feel like her family differed much. "Like any other parents, Dad sat in the carpool lane after school and taught us how to ride our bikes," she writes, "while Papa took us to the movies on the weekends and separated the whites from the colors."

Despite this mundanity, her family remained something to marvel at for much of her youth. When the family moved into a new neighborhood in 2006, it made the local newspaper, with a headline titled, "Gay Father Tests Tolerance in the Park Cities."

She and her siblings have spent much of their lives, she explained further, having to respond to the question: what's it like having two gay dads? For Langbert, there is only one correct response, which is: Amazing! "Any other response, even if simply accounting for a family's nuanced experience, might as well be an outright admission of failure on behalf of the entire LGBTQ community," she wrote.

Children of the 'Gayby Generation,' are also put in the position of having to come out on behalf of their parents, and "often with mixed results," she wrote. She gave the following anecdote as an example:

"My father was asked to step down from his leadership position in my brother's Boy Scout troop on account of his sexuality. Even though my siblings and I were only fourth graders at the time, we understood that our family was under strict scrutiny, and that even the slightest misstep could beget severe consequences for how competent our fathers were perceived as being. In the face of this pressure, the first generation of 'gaybies' recognized the importance of presenting their families as perfect; doing otherwise would only present ammunition to those already dubious about the rights of LGBTQ parents to raise children."

The entire article, which includes the perspectives of multiple now-grown kids that are part of the "Gayby generation," is well worth a read, which you can access here.


Utah Bill Would Allow Gay Men to Enter Surrogacy Contracts

Rep. Patrice Arent of Utah is sponsoring a bill that will remove a provision that currently prohibits gay men from entering into commercial surrogacy contracts in the state.

Though Utah is not one of the three states that currently prohibit commercial surrogacy contracts, the state's current policy does specifically exclude gay men from doing so. That may soon changed, however, thanks to a bill in the state's legislature that was unanimously voted out of a House Committee that would remove that restriction.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, a Democrat, was created in response to a ruling by the Utah Supreme Court this past August that found the ban on gay men unconstitutional.

Gay men have been excluded from legally entering surrogacy contracts due to a provision in the current law that requires medical evidence "that the intended mother is unable to bear a child or is unable to do so without unreasonable risk to her physical or mental health or to the unborn child," Rep. Arent told the Salt Lake Tribune — a requirement that clearly excludes gay male couples.

The state's original surrogacy law dates back to 2005, before same-sex marriage was legalized in the state, which accounts for the gendered language. Though the state's Supreme Court already ruled the provision unconstitutional, Rep Arent further told the Tribute that, "People do not look to Supreme Court opinions to figure out the law, they look to the code and the code should be constitutional."


Colorado Republicans Try and Fail to Outlaw LGBTQ Marriage and Adoption Rights

A bill introduced by four Republican state legislators in Colorado that would outlaw same-sex marriage and adoption rights was voted down.

The "Colorado Natural Marriage and Adoption Act," which would have outlawed gay marriage and adoption in the state of Colorado, was voted down in the state legislature this week. The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Stephen Humphrey and three of his conservative colleagues: Dave Williams, Shane Sandridge and Mark Baisley.

If enacted, the bill would have enforced "state law that marriage is between one man and one woman" and restrict "adoption of children by spouses in a marriage ... that consist of one man and one woman."

The bill, which had little chance of success, particularly in Colorado which has trended more progressive over the past several election cycles, was mostly symbolic, according to Sanridrge. "We all know this bill isn't gonna pass in this current left-wing environment," he told Colorado Public Radio. "It's to remind everyone, this is the ultimate way to conceive a child."

In a sign of how far we've come on the issue of LGBTQ marriage and parenting rights, most Republican legislators in the state did not endorse the bill.

Though the bill had little chance of passage, LGBTQ advocacy groups in the state are taking the threats seriously nonetheless. Daniel Ramos, director of the LGBTQ group One Colorado, told LGBTQ Nation that the bills were an attempt to return Colorado to its "hate status" of the 1990s, adding the aggressiveness of the measures were "a bit surprising."

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!

Image: NWSC Clients

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...

Fatherhood, the gay way

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

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse