…and some girls marry girls.
In Nurture Shock, there is a chapter that talks about the importance of talking about racial differences. Before I read that chapter, I used to think that if we didn’t want our children to be racist, we shouldn’t bring attention to the differences between ourselves and someone from another race. I think it is a common misperception for parents. We think that if we don’t highlight the differences, our children won’t develop the prejudice.
Unfortunately, that is not true. If we don’t talk about it with our children, we’re forcing them to come to their own conclusions. More often than not, those conclusions are usually something like – if they don’t look like me, they’re bad. So we need to explain to our children that we may look different on the outside, but we all have the same feelings and emotions on the inside.
If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge? – Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare.
When Boys Marry Boys
I was thinking about that chapter in Nurture Shock when I realised there was another topic we don’t really talk about that we should – homosexuality. Children are exposed to the ideas of love and marriage and having children, so why not same sex relationships? We may be more open-minded and accepting about it now, but we still don’t really address the subject with our children. And here’s why we should…
Some of our children are going to discover that they are attracted to other people of the same sex. Rather than leaving them to suffer in silence and confusion about their feelings, isn’t it better for them to understand them from the get go? Some boys like boys, some girls like girls, some boys like girls, and some girls like boys. It doesn’t matter which you prefer, it’s all okay and there is nothing wrong with you.
In fact, there is a spectrum for heterosexuality to homosexuality and sometimes we shift along that spectrum at different parts of our lives. It’s called the Kinsey Scale:
- 0 – exclusively heterosexual
- 1 – predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual
- 2 – predominantly hterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
- 3 – equally heterosexual and homosexual
- 4 – predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
- 5 – predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual
- 6 – exclusively homosexual
- X – no socio-sexual contacts or reactions
Just as we would want our children to be comfortable about their race or how they look, surely, we would also want them to be comfortable with their sexuality. If my sons discover one day that they like another boy, I want them to know that it’s fine even if everyone else around them doesn’t think so.
Even if our children are preferentially heterosexual, I want them to be comfortable when they see other men with men or women with women. Just as I don’t want them to be racist, I also don’t want them to be homophobic. By addressing this topic from an early age, it will help to address the issue of homophobia. It is natural to feel uncertain about things we don’t understand. The more we talk about it, the greater our understanding and the less we have to fear.
Children will form their own opinions whether or not we choose to talk about it. If we want a hand in shaping their views, we need to be open about these subjects and start discussing them early.