What to Know About Same-Sex Parenting Before Starting
Planning to be a gay parent? There are some things to know ahead of time to prepare yourself for a positive family life.
As you’re preparing to become gay parents, you’re likely equally as excited and nervous about the joys and challenges ahead of you. Being parents is a life-changing journey regardless of your sexual orientation, and we’re excited for you as you take this new step in your life.
It’s normal to have some reservations about becoming parents, and as same-sex parents, you may be wondering whether there are any unique same-sex parenting issues that you should prepare for before making this commitment. While being a gay parent is in many ways no different from being a heterosexual parent, there may be some unexpected challenges that arise as you raise your child. Add the fact that your child was born via surrogacy, and it’s even more important to understand these potential challenges from the very beginning.
In this article, we’ll give a basic rundown of what gay parents and children of same-sex parents might experience throughout their lives together, as well as the importance of addressing these challenges early and in a proactive way. However, one of the best ways to learn more about LGBT parenting is by speaking to other same-sex parents who have been through the same process and can offer advice for this wonderful journey you’re about to embark on.
Why Same-Sex Parenting Can Be Wrongly Controversial
As an LGBT individual, you’re likely well aware of the prejudice that some people still have against LGBT people, including same-sex parent families. And, while the American attitude toward LGBT individuals is slowly improving, you may still face rude and hurtful comments from others because of your sexual orientation.
Some of this prejudice is specifically aimed at gay couples raising a child. Some people claim that LGBT parenting is harmful to children, but we know today that this is an incredibly ignorant statement. Multiple studies have shown that children of same-sex couples are just as happy and healthy as those raised by heterosexual couples. They may even show increased empathy and friendship for peers because of the open-minded family they grew up in.
As long as a family is stable and supportive of a child, it doesn’t matter whether parents are gay, straight or any other sexual orientation. The American Psychological Association even agreed in a formal statement, saying “the adjustment, development, and psychological well-being of children (are) unrelated to parental sexual orientation.”
While you unfortunately may face prejudice from time to time while being a gay parent, know that there is no proof that your sexual orientation will have any negative impact on your child — they’ll just be happy to have a loving, supportive parent.
How to Prepare for Being a Gay Parent
While there are no proven negative effects on children of same-sex parents because of their parents’ sexuality, there are still some potential challenges you must address just in case. Because your family will be considered “nontraditional,” it will invite unwanted questions and comments — both curious and harmful. As an LGBT parent, it will be up to you to prepare your family for these moments.
As mentioned, one of the best ways to prepare yourself for the challenges of same-sex parenting is by joining gay parent support groups, where you can glean advice from others who have been in your situation. There are also some important tips that all same-sex couples raising children should be aware of and incorporate into their lives:
- Normalize your sexual orientation and family structure. As the United States becomes more nontraditional in family structures, more LGBT individuals are becoming parents. However, you may still be the odd one out at back-to-school nights and other peer gatherings. It’s important that your child understands from an early age that being different isn’t bad; normalizing your family structure and sexual orientation from the very beginning is instrumental for this. Make sure to have movies, TV shows and books about LGBT parents and their children, so your kids can see themselves reflected in pop culture and be proud of their family.
- Be open to talking with your child about the challenges of having LGBT parents. There will likely always be some degree of prejudice or ignorance that LGBT individuals have to experience. While it’s hopeful to believe your child won’t have to see that prejudice, it is also naïve to fail to prepare your child for these situations, just in case. Children raised by homosexual parents should be aware of the potential discrimination they and their parents may face in the future, as well as how to respond to these situations in a positive and helpful manner.
- Prepare your child for their peers’ responses. Similarly, your child may be bullied in school for having two moms or two dads. Not all children are raised to believe that differences should be celebrated, and they may tease your child for this. Even when your child is proud of their family structure, this bullying can take a toll on their self-confidence. You should always talk to your child about the potential for these situations and help them prepare for what to say and how to act in response.
In addition, any children of same-sex parents born via surrogacy will face other challenges with this part of their identity. You’ll need to normalize their birth story, help them accept their identity as a donor-conceived child and address more unique issues that you may not have anticipated. Your surrogacy professional can usually help explain these in more depth and offer you tips and resources to prepare for this future.
While these potential same-sex parenting issues may seem overwhelming, remember that there are many happy LGBT parents and their children in the U.S. today — and you will soon be joining that community. Don’t let these challenges dissuade you from achieving your parenting dreams; every parent has unique situations they overcome as they have children and learn about raising them on the fly. Never be afraid to ask for help, whether that’s from other same-sex parents or professionals. With the proper foresight and preparation, you can have the family you’ve always dreamed about and create positive memories that you’ll cherish forever, no matter your sexual orientation or gender identity.
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