Gay Dad Life

Single Gay Dad Seeks Female Role Model

I’m a single gay dad to Sam, a boy who has no traditional mother figure in his life. Every Mother’s Day, then, is cause for a faint, nagging anxiety that I’m sure many gay and single-sex households have. There’s me, of course---a blend of mom and dad---but no matter how much I congratulate myself on making it this far without any major catastrophes, there’s still that feeling that maybe I should be adding something to Sam’s experience.

So, I’ve been wondering how I can go about making sure my kid connects with women, in a positive way.

Of course, Sam and I meet all kinds of people, in all kinds of settings, every day. It’s not like we live on Planet Gay, isolated from all straight people and all women. But looking for positive female role models at random places like my local grocery store, or the doctor’s office, may be asking too much of the setting. Not because such places do not have strong female role models. I'd just rather avoid earning a reputation as that weirdo who interrupts a woman's shopping to ask her impromptu questionnaires about female role models for my two-year-old.

Maybe I should just drop Sammy in front of the TV and queue some Madonna music vids---there you go, kiddo, strong female role model! I'd honestly prefer to queue up lectures from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but I’m not quite sure two-year-old Sam would get it.

But are famous people good role models merely because they’re famous? Are celebrities strong role models simply because they have been successful? While I admire all kinds of famous people, I'd prefer to find role models a bit closer to home. I am less likely to point to them as female exemplars for my son than I am, say, my friend who is a successful academic. Or a social worker. Or who styles hair for a living, reads books like they’re on the mass extinction list, and is one of the kindest, warmest, and most thoughtful people I know.

It’s qualities like these that I admire in role models, not material success.

There are women in our family, of course. Sam’s grandmother is mighty in her way. She did all sorts of fascinating and adventurous stuff in her twenties, that I wouldn’t have had the guts to do now. She traveled the world, dodged militias in Idi Amin’s Uganda, dabbled (it was the 60s), hiked volcanos, camped out in the African wilderness with lions snuffling around the tents. She’s more staid these days, but no less an example to me, and her grandson.

I also try to make sure that Sam has FaceTime with his Aunty T, and his Aunty Jenn. Sometimes that’s difficult, because they both live on the other side of the Atlantic, and time-zones suck. And Sammy isn’t quite at the point where he’ll sit and chat to faces on the iPad about his day. Nevertheless, it gives him twenty minutes each week to connect with people who are important in my life, who have qualities that I admire, and hope that he will have as he grows up.

And I guess that’s what’s important.

What matters most is not the gender of the role model, but the qualities they embody. I am a firm believer that masculine and feminine qualities are in fact human qualities. Yes, generalizations exist for a reason, but there are too many exceptions, too many overlaps, for those generalizations to be useful in anything but the most superficial sense. It is essential that boys and girls are surrounded by good examples of all sexes and genders from day one, but the old idea that a boy or a girl needs a person of a specific gender in their life---that a gender specific role model is developmentally crucial---is a discredited one.

So, if you’re a dad or a mom, LGBTQ+ or not, don’t sweat it worrying about the genders and sexes of your child’s role models. What’s important is the qualities that you are teaching. In that respect countering the symptoms of toxic prejudices embedded in our culture---the primacy of men, the vilification of feminine qualities, the reduction of women to either idols or monsters, the commodification and possession of women’s bodies, even all our little acts of reflexive misogyny---is far more important than playing Beyoncé on repeat, and saying, 'look, there’s a strong woman!' What I think is important, is teaching my son to respect women as equals, to respect masculine and feminine qualities as equally valid and valuable, to recognize that women are capable, contributing members of our society.

The best thing we as gay dads can do is ensure that our kids have contact with both men and women, who embody positive qualities. And that means switching on to issues that affect women. It means being aware of inequalities and prejudice, and not just the big-ticket items, but the everyday, reflexive prejudice we can all be guilty of. It means ensuring our kids have positive examples of how to identify and challenge those inequalities. If we do that, it’ll be good for our sons (and daughters), and good for society, too.


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Gay Dad Life

The Suburban Gay Dad

Are you intimidated by the suburbs? This gay dad was — but then he moved there.

In a recent article for Yahoo! Lifestyle, Steve Jacobs says the thought of living in the suburbs as a gay dad "intimidated" him. But when he started fantasizing about garages, he began to question that notion. Any apprehension he had soon evaporated, he said, one winter morning while trying to navigate the snowy streets of New York City with a stroller.

While "pushing the stroller through snow banks and pools of slush with snowflakes stinging our faces," he wrote, "a vision came to me: I pictured us walking into a garage, hopping into a car, and arriving at a diner with 10 times less drama. This image planted the seed of moving to the 'burbs that I couldn't shake."

Soon, the family of four found a house in a town a half hour outside the city. "It had grass and a beautiful yard for our spirited kiddos. The schools were good. There were even good restaurants. The only red flag: Census data estimated only 0.1 percent of the population was gay male."

There were some "growing pains" while trying to make friends in this environment. "When we attended our first dinner party, within minutes the hostess went to the kitchen and the other wives followed her, while the husbands settled into the living room. Ira and I froze, looking at each other. In the city, our straight friends hadn't separated out like this for the evening. Should we stay with the dudes, exert our masculinity, and blow off the mom we liked? Or does one of us go with the wives and accept the personal branding that comes with that? We did a quick rock paper scissors in the foyer. Ira went with the wives."

But ultimately, "being a parent defined me more than I ever imagined it would," he wrote, and he settled in nicely to his new suburban life.

Have you had a similar adjustment, from city life to the suburbs? Tell us about it at dads@gayswithkids.com for an upcoming piece!

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Guest post Tracey Wimperly

I've recently written a children's picture book (aimed at 2-4 year olds) called "Fridays with Fitz: Fitz Goes to the Pool." Every Friday - when his two dads go to work - Fitz and his grandparents (my husband, Steve and I) head off on an adventure. Through the eyes of a curious and energetic 3 year old, even ordinary adventures, like riding the bus or foraging for fungus in the forest can be fun and magical.

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And if you're a gay couple, it can have it's own set of problems above and beyond the standard work-life issues that people face. Recently, the Harvard Business Review conducted a study that focused specifically on the experiences of same-sex couples who wanted to make moves towards a work/life balance.

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In 2003, while both studying at Reading University in the UK, Ben Suter and David Cocks met after locking eyes on the dance floor and then being introduced by a mutual friend. Ben, a meteorologist and Operations Manager, and David, an Assistant Principal, have been together ever since. They moved to Australia together in 2010, seeking a different life, and an overall better work-life balance. The chose Cairns in Queensland as their new home, between the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest, "taking life a bit easier," said David. The couple were also married in June 2016, back home in England.

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When Kyle decided to take his four kids, ages 6-11, to New York City on vacation, his friends thought he was crazy.

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"You can't be serious? A single dad taking four kids to the Big Apple? Think again."

"That's bold. There's no way I'd do that."

Those were a few of the responses I heard from my friends as I told them I was thinking of booking a trip to New York City with four kids, ages 11-6. My children's fall vacation from school was approaching and I wanted to get out of the house and explore. Was the Big Apple too much of an adventure?

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National's Pitcher Cites Wife's Two Moms as Reason for Declining White House Invite

"I think that's an important part of allyship," Doolittle said of his wife's two moms.

Sean Doolittle, pitcher for the Washington Nationals, declined an invitation to the White House after his team won the World Series this year. In an interview with the Washington Post, he listed his numerous reasons for staying home — and a main consideration, he revealed, was his wife's two moms.

"I want to show support for them. I think that's an important part of allyship, and I don't want to turn my back on them," Doolittle said during the interview.

Trump's treatment of a minority groups, generally, factored into his decision as well. "I have a brother-in-law who has autism, and [Trump] is a guy that mocked a disabled reporter. How would I explain that to him that I hung out with somebody who mocked the way that he talked or the way that he moves his hands? I can't get past that stuff."

Doolitttle clarified that his decision had little to do with policy disagreements with the White House. "There's a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country. My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we've done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the 'shithole countries.'"

He concluded by saying he respected his teammates decision to attend the White house ceremony. "I want people to know that I put thought into this, and at the end of the day, I just can't go."

Read more of the Washington Post interview here.

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New York Will Fight 'Repugnant' Trump Rule on Adoption, Says Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York promises legal action of the Trump administration moves ahead with plans to allow discrimination against LGBTQ adoptive and foster parents

Last week, the Trump administration announced plans to allow adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents — but he may face a legal fight from (former) hometown. In a tweet, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said the proposed move "isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values,— it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home." If the proposal moves forward, he continued. "we'll take legal action to stop it.

Governor Cuomo's office followed up the tweet with a lengthier statement posted to their website:

Once again the Trump administration is attacking the hard-earned rights and protections of the LGBTQ community, this time proposing a new measure that would give foster care and adoption agencies license to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Trump's proposal isn't just discriminatory and repugnant to our values — it's also heartless and dumb as it would deny countless children a loving family and a safe place to call home. If he moves forward with this rule, we'll take legal action to stop it.

No matter what happens in Washington, New York State is and will continue to be a beacon of equality in this country. Our Human Rights Law and adoption regulations expressly prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, including when it comes to adoption. I encourage any LGBTQ New Yorker who feels they are a victim of this discrimination to contact the State Division of Human Rights for assistance.

Our message to the Trump administration is simple: there is no place for hate in New York or in our nation, and we will not allow this noxious proposal to stop LGBTQ New Yorkers from becoming parents or providing care to children in need.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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