Gay Dad Life

What's the Difference Between a "Dad" and a "Parent"?

Being a dad is awesome. Being a parent is hardcore.

I have already begun to notice a clear distinction between being a dad and being a parent. As a dad, I get to play with my kids, show them love in fun, caring way like smothering them with hugs or performing impromptu singing concerts which fortunately they have no developed the vocal ability to critique. As a dad, I can be the shoulder they cry on, the face that makes them so easily light up, the dude who swings them around, tosses their little body of my shoulder as we embark upon another adventure. Being a dad is unbelievably rewarding and connects me to my twins in a way I know will bond us forever.


So then there is the parent thing. And, I guess, yeah - being a dad is being a parent. Sure, there's that. But I'm a big kid at heart and I don't know if my overly eager, imaginative spirit will ever grow up. And, quite frankly, I don't want it to. So being a parent, for me, is the inevitable grown up side to fatherhood.

Somewhere along the crazy road of surrogacy and welcoming our then newborn twins, an agreement had to be made. It's a decision I never was formally aware of, one I still don't know when or how it happened. But at some point I agreed to being a parent. A serious commitment to do for these two little humans better than I ever did for myself. I agreed to face my demons, my fears, my phobias, my irresponsible and totally self-serving side - face it all head on so I could be the best parent possible for them.

A balance is necessary in fatherhood, the balance of dad and parent - of the mentor and guide. My inner child had to join forces with my inner adult so I could lay a foundation of love and security.

I could play all day, could easily live within my weird little mind and show our kids the world. Open their eyes to art, music, food, nature - the endless opportunity of boundless excitement all within our fingertips. But I also have to provide a feeling of safety, of trust and balance. I can show them that the dark is nothing to fear, even though I may be petrified myself (I'm sure my husband is laughing right now. I have been known to turn all the lights on when he is away on business). I can show them it's OK to cry and feel emotions, that a bump on the head isn't the end of the world (even though I may have had a minor anxiety attack when my son fell face first out his stroller onto a cement floor).

Listen, the sight of full on diarrhea would normally make me want to hurl - but somehow as a parent, a switch is flipped. It's business as usual and I have to handle things I would normally run from - face responsibilities I would otherwise scoff at. Constant cleaning, feeding, scheduling, maintaining, wiping, soothing - all the while still showing them I'm their dad, not just their parent. And vice versa.

While as a person who naturally can dissolve in front of a television or get lost in my own world for hours on end, as a parent I made an agreement to make sure my babes are taken care of in mind, body and spirit. Still making time for my own sanity and balance. But as a dad I want to show them all the magic of getting lost in fantasy and exploring personal freedom without consequence.

It's a tightrope of choice that seems to come so naturally when just realizing one day how grateful I am to be their father. How lucky my husband and I are to show these two baby birds the whole world, while still protecting them from it until they choose to fly on their own.

It has been an eye-opening, soul-searching experience that has only just begun. One that just kind of works itself out if you're willing to be the best you can be. And, honestly, sometimes that means asking for help so you can walk away for a few hours to recharge. Other times that may mean doing three loads of laundry while cleaning 12 bottles, making baby food, walking the dogs, then getting the kids ready for a bath.

But breathe easy, have fun and always remember how freakin' cool your kids are.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

This European Couple Became Dads Through a U.K.-Based Surrogacy Program

Janno, from Estonia, and Matthias, from Belgium, were accepted into the "Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy" Program.

Janno Talu, an accountant, and Matthias Nijs, an art gallery director, were born in different parts of Europe. Janno, 39, is from Estonia, and Matthias, 28, is from Belgium. Their paths crossed when the two moved to London, each from their different corners of the European Union.

Janno relocated to London earlier than Matthias, when he was 24, and his main reason for the move was his sexuality. "Although Estonia is considered one of the more progressive countries in Eastern Europe, when it comes to gay rights, it is still decades behind Western society in terms of tolerance," said Janno. "And things are not moving in the right direction." In 2016, same-sex civil union became legal, but the junior party in the current coalition government is seeking to repeal the same-sex partnership bill. "In addition," Janno continued, "they wish to include the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the country's constitution. Even today, there are people in Estonia who liken homosexuality to pedophilia, which is why I decided to start a new life in the UK, where I could finally be myself."

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Asks: Is Destroying an Embryo Similar to Abortion?

It's a question many LGBTQ parents using advanced fertility treatments will need to face — what to do with "left over" embryos.

Let me start off by saying that I have always been pro choice and support all laws that allow people to have full reproductive rights including safe and legal abortions. This is a complicated subject and not one that I ever thought I would really have to deal with on a personal level, especially being a gay man.

I remember a very heated discussion on abortion in my biology class back in university. I was young, idealistic and had very strong convictions about abortion. I was debating with a female classmate who was pro life. She felt there was no reason for an abortion ever, not even if raped by your own parent or sibling. I could not really understand her position, then or now. Don't get me wrong, I still don't agree with her, but now that I'm older and wiser, and also a parent, I have come to respect and accept opinions other than mine.

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Expert Advice

What's It Like When You're NOT the Bio Dad to Your Baby

Lauren Mello of Circle Surrogacy breaks down some of the challenges facing the gay dad who will *not* become the biological parent.

If you're a gay couple considering surrogacy, one of the first decisions you'll need to make together is who is going to be the biological father. When it's time to create your embryos with your egg donor's eggs, you have a few choices when it comes to which dad will be providing his biology: one dad only can provide his biology, both dads can provide their biology and leave the fertilization to chance, or both dads can provide their biology and fertilize half of the embryos with each dad's sperm. Some gay dads choose this third option if they plan to have twins, or more than one baby through surrogacy.

Once embryos are created, you'll decide which embryos will be transferred into your surrogate mother. Hopefully a pregnancy results, and you'll be on your way to fatherhood!

The question is: what's is like when you're NOT the bio dad to your baby? We spoke with a few dads through surrogacy from Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation, about the emotions surrounding being a bio dad...and not being one.

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Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Gay Chiropractor Explains Why He Came Out to His Patients

After Cameron Call, a chiropractor, came out to his family this past year, he knew he had one more step to take — he had to come out to his patients

Fear is an interesting thing. It motivates when it shouldn't, shows at inconvenient times, and is the author of stories that do nothing but hold us back. I would argue though, too, that fear has some good qualities. I believe it helps us to feel. And I think it can be a great teacher as we learn to recognize and face it.

For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

Only so much growth and learning can occur when we limit ourselves to our fears. If people never did anything they were afraid to do, life would be incredibly boring and far too predictable. At some point we must face the things we fear and just go for it not knowing what will happen next.

After finally coming out to my ex-wife after ten years of marriage (see previous articles for that story), and eventually telling my family I knew there was one more step I needed to make.

I am a business owner. I am a structural chiropractor and am highly specialized in my field. Nearly four years ago I opened my own clinic, Horizon Chiropractic Center, in Phoenix, Arizona. I poured my whole heart, body, and soul into the creation of my practice and its growth. Opening a business fresh out of school is no simple task and I worked hard to build my practice with close relationships and word of mouth referrals. I established myself as an expert and built a strong reputation as a family man, and my ex-wife and kids were the face of my practice.

I loved and do love every person who has ever come into my office and treat them like family. We laugh together during visits, celebrate wins, cry together, often hug, and cheer each other on regarding various things in our life. That's also a large part of who I am: a people person. I enjoy spending quality time with those I am privileged to help. No one comes in my office and only sees me for 2-5 minutes.

Even though there was so much good that I had built into my brand and reputation fear eventually found its way into my business too. I was afraid of what would happen if people found out the truth. Would they be okay with having a gay chiropractor? Would they still trust me to be able to help them? Of course, the story in my head I was telling myself was much bigger and badder than it needed to be.

When we decided to get a divorce, I felt strongly that I needed to face these fears and begin telling a number of patients the truth of what was happening in my life. I know in reality it is no one's business but my own. However, I felt like I needed to let my patients who had become like family to me truly see me for who I am, and who I always was. And so slowly, case by case, I began to tell a select number of people.

I'll never forget the first patient I told. She had been coming in for years and was bringing her son in to see me who is on the autism spectrum. It was the day after my ex-wife and I decided to get a divorce and she could tell something heavy was on my mind. I eventually came out to her. The first words out of her mouth were "I am so proud of you!" We cried and hugged and it was the complete opposite of what I ever expected. And it was perfect. I felt loved. I felt accepted. I felt seen.

As time went on it got easier. And overall the responses were all completely positive and supportive. Out of all the patients I told and those who found out from other circles, only three stopped coming in to see me. Since coming out, my office has grown tremendously. My reputation hasn't changed. If anything, it's solidified. I can't help but think that part of that is due to finally embracing all of me and allowing others the same opportunity.

I read somewhere once that you never really stop coming out of the closet. And I've noticed that too. Sure, not everyone needs to know; it isn't everyone's business. And I hope that one day we live in a time period where fear doesn't prevent anyone from being seen. I want to contribute to the upward trajectory I think our society is headed of understanding, acceptance, support, and equality.

I would love to be able to say that after coming out publicly I no longer feel fear; but I do. And I think in some ways I always will no matter what. But that's part of life, right? Recognizing fear when we have it but then choosing to move forward out of love – love for others, but maybe more importantly love for ourselves.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Gains Clarity After a Health Scare

A recent health scare helped give Erik Alexander clarity.

Sometimes fear can cripple the mind and hinder ones judgement. Having children of my own, I have come to grips with accepting the things I cannot change and learned to take action when there is no other choice. When it comes to my own personal health, the future and well being of my family gives me all the clarity I need to make the right decision about any kind of health scare.

This episode is dedicated to all the parents out there that are going through or have gone through similar situations.

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Surrogacy for Gay Men

Interested in Surrogacy? Check Out These Bay Area Events This Weekend

If you're in the Bay Area this weekend, two major events are happening that will be of interest for dads-to-be and surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF)

If you're in San Francisco or the surrounding area, clear your calendar this weekend. Two events are happening simultaneously that are significant for dads-to-be AND surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF). For an outlines of both events, check out below.

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News

Gay Dads Show Up at Boston Event to Drown Out Anti-Trans Protesters

When Trystan Reese found out protesters were planning to show up to an event in Boston he was presenting at, he put out a call to his community for help — and gay dads showed up.

A couple months ago, Trystan Reese, a gay, trans dad based in Portland, Oregon, took to Instagram to share a moving, if incredibly concerning, experience. Reese, who works with Family Equality Council, was speaking at an event in Boston, and learned before his appearance that a group of protesters were planning to attend.

"As a trans person, I was terrified to be targeted by anti-LGBTQ people and experienced genuine fear for my own safety," Trystan wrote. In response, he did what many LGBTQ people would do in a similar situation — reach out to his community in Boston, and ask for their support. "And they came," he wrote. But it wasn't just anyone within the LGBTQ community that came to his defense, he emphasized — "you know who came? Gay men. Gay dads, to be exact. They came, ready to block people from coming in, ready to call building security, ready to protect me so I could lead my event. They did it without question and without reward. They did it because it was the right thing to do."

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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