Saturday, July 30, 2011

Daddy Dearest

Well, I suppose that no matter now much you mentally prepare for the day when your fatherless son will start talking about having a daddy, it still catches you off-guard. Recently, Theo has been noticing daddies of all kinds---mostly because on his favorite show, Caillou, "Caillou has a mommy and a daddy." S. and I are straightforward, simple, and direct answerers of kid questions, so we simply said, "Yes, Caillou has a mommy and a daddy. You have two mommies," and go on to explain how some families have a mom and a dad, two moms, two dads, etc. Now he seems accepting of the fact that he has two moms and Caillou has a mom and a dad. (He also makes sure to mention that besides a "Mommy" and a "Mama," he also has a "Maxie-Jo" to throw into the mix.) Thank goodness we know other two-mom families so I can reference "so and so has two mommies, too." Of course this just reinforces the fact that we ought to make much more of an effort to make play dates with other queer families with kids that we know.

But the dad thing is stuck in his mind, you can tell. He mentions other people he knows who have daddies (us, for instance, or his cousin Jackson). I know it's natural and I know that the more direct we can be about this now, the more prepared we'll all be to tackle different questions later, specifically about donors, but still. We know he couldn't go on living in his little two-mama bubble forever, especially since he's going off to pre-school in the fall. But this marks a pretty significant step forward in Theo's consciousness of his existence in the world.

I am consistently in a state of wonder about how much children pick up from their environments without us never having directly taught them. It is so true that children are natural learners.

So, everyone--who has dealt with this issue? What did you say to your child?


Jennifer said...

I say the same as you: "Some people have two mommies and some have two daddies and some have one of each and some are raised by grandparents..."

My girls now even role play dads. Sometimes I will ask them where they learned something and they will reply "My daddy taught me." I think at first I was ascribing my OWN fears about that to what they were saying. The I realized they are just noticing, not lamenting. I figure if I act as if they are missing something, they will indeed feel like they ARE missing something.

All that matters is that they have two loving, stable, supportive parents. I'm really trying to get that through their little heads!

BTW which preschool is he going to? The girls will be at Arcadia for two days a week next year....

S. said...

The YMCA in Westfield! We're super-excited.

casey said...

Roozle is only 27 months old and already talking about daddies all the time. "I no have a daddy. I have two moms." Is frequently heard around here. At first I was a little freaked out but she seems to just be noticing what's going on with her other friends and how she is different. Like you said, though, thank goodness we have lots of two mom families in our lives so we can give Roozle a big list of all her other friends who also don't have a daddy. That seems to help for now. But I definitely wasn't expecting this so soon.

Whozat said...

I've told Peeper the story of how she was made, including about the donor, since she was born. She recently started telling it back to me. (See my blog for adorable video explaination of IVF!)

She has lots of little friends in MOMS Club, and until recently we were the only two-mom family in the group. (The new family just joined, has a 3 mo and hasn't attended yet, so...)

So, she hears other kids talking about daddies and has met several of their daddies, and they'll all met both me and Shrike, and know that Peeper has two moms.

(Several have asked their moms about it, and one has told her mom she wanted two moms! lol)

Peeper's not hit the point yet of asking / talking about *her* daddy, but I'm hoping that her (two year old) understanding of the donor process will help her with that when she does.

I have mentioned to her that when she's a grown-up we can learn more about him, and now that she's old enough to sort of get what I'm talking about, I need to show her his photos again.

For us, it's helpful that Shrike's sister is also gay, (although her kids have a total of one dad and three moms, because she was married, had kids, then came out, she has a partner and he's remarried) as is her cousin (whom we dont' see oftern - but their son is made the same way as Peeper).

So, that's where we are with it, but check back with me when she starts asking more questions - or other kids start asking more questions of her.

Stacy said...

I say the same thing you do. I try not to talk too much about how wonderfully awesome it is that she has two moms. Even though I want to.

Isa (4yrs) has been talking about dads since she was about 2. Last year she started saying things like, "I wish I had a dad." or "EVERYONE has a dad but me."

I've been advised to acknowledge her feelings but DON'T try to tell her how lucky she is because of what she DOES have. ( Even though it breaks my heart a little bit every time she mentions her dadlessness.)

Now Maya is starting to notice dads too. What did help Isa a little was, "Heather Has Two Mommies" and "The Family Book" since we have no gay friends with kids near us.

Good luck! :)

For the Long Haul said...

I have a little bit different of a situation given that my son has a known donor who lives in another state. I basically told him the same thing (about the two Mommies thing, but my Ex and I are divorced so it doesn't pack quite the same punch) but since he knows there IS a "Daddy" out there that he has met it complicates things.

Overall I think the very best thing you can do with/for your children is to always be honest and answer their questions. Short and simple is best. Sometimes I tend to get a little long-winded trying to explain everything but for my son, a simple, "Yes you have a Daddy that lives in another state, but your 'parents' are Mommy and Mom" has seemed to work thus far. But not unlike Theo, he is super pulled to this whole "Daddy" thing.

Overall, be totally honest and keep it simple. That's my two cents. (My son is 5 1/2).

Melody said...

Same as what Jennifer said and what you're doing. S gets confused sometimes and says that MY father (her grandfather) is her daddy b/c she hears me call him Dad. I'm constantly reiterating that all families are different and then going through all the different incarnations of families. I think its particularly hard right now b/c most of her peers at daycare are in two parent male/female households. I think as she gets older some of those families will change through divorce. That's terrible, but I actually think it will help her to understand that all families are different once she is, in fact, AROUND some families that are different. I'm making an effort to introduce her to kids in other two mom households. There's one other family like ours at daycare, and they have a son one year older and twin daughters one year younger than S.

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