This article originally appeared in Macaroni Kid on December 17, 2020, by Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS; Health Affiliates Maine.
Question: I am a bi-sexual woman married to a woman. My daughter will be starting school next year and we hope to do some preschool programs this year if possible. My daughter has a biological dad she doesn’t see often. I know questions will arise for her during the school years on having two moms. My wife and I have open conversations with our daughter and want to help prepare her for questions and how she can best handle them. Do you have suggestions on where to start?
Answer: It is so good that you are thinking ahead to help your daughter with complicated moments. We can’t be there all the time, but sometimes we can give our children tools to help them navigate.
Like all the kinds of diversity that she will experience, your family situation of having two moms sets her apart. Diversity is about differences. The place to start is by helping her embrace all the beauty of diversity, the positive benefits diversity brings to our world. Has she tried foods like Chinese, Thai, or Italian? Does she know anyone whose family immigrated to our country? Does she have questions about how Somali women dress? Does she have questions about disabled (I like “otherly-abled”) people? Talking openly about these groups as well as gay and lesbian families will provide comfort, confidence, and information when these subjects come up at school.
Here is an example of just one of the many conversations to broaden her world of acceptance. When you enter a store together with automatic doors, explain that the doors were made that way so someone using a wheelchair can roll in easily and that the slopes at the end of a sidewalk mean everyone can get around easily. This normalizes these differences and shows how everyone is important.
Having toys and books that celebrate differences, including having two moms, can be helpful and can provide opportunities for larger conversations. I’ve included some examples and urge you to explore the many fine options:
- Matching Game: I Never Forget a Face by the EEBOO Corporation
- Crayons: People Color Crayons by Lake Shore Learning
- Book: Mommy, Mama and Me by Leslea Newman
- Book: My Two Moms and Me by Michael Joosten
- Book: Love Makes a Family by Sophia Beer
In your open conversations with her, talk about why she has two moms. Without knowing what questions will arise, increasing her knowledge and understanding of your relationship may give her the words she needs. In language, a child will understand, explain about love (“People are like peanut butter and jelly, meant to be together”). Let her know that sometimes people might not understand because they’ve never seen it before, and sometimes people are unkind about things they don’t understand. Invite her to always bring their questions to you and to talk about how she’s feeling.
Some families have two parents of different races. Some only have one parent, while some are being raised by grandparents. Your daughter is different. Your daughter is special—she has two moms.
Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS is a professional counselor and the Outpatient Therapy Director at Health Affiliates Maine.