Pride and Acceptance: Listen to the Kiddos
Happy Pride! And what a Pride month it has been! It has been an especially buoyant and celebratory one thanks to New York becoming the sixth state along with the District of Columbia to create marriage equality.
The month of June brings a renewed energy regarding sexuality diversity with fun events and bright colors. At least those are the things that most effectively catch the eyes of my kiddos: Parades? Rainbows? Feather boas? Now we are talking, Mama! As they recognize the festivities and have their own understanding of what it all means, my mama brain considers what kind of job I am doing raising open-minded, accepting human beings. It is a lot to consider and often overwhelms me until I center myself and really listen to my children.
I enjoyed sharing the news about New York with my kiddos as they, especially my oldest, remember the campaign in Maine in 2009 after which voters repealed marriage equality in our state. We have regular conversations about political and social issues in our house, because those are the conversations my partner, our friends and I are pleased to share with the children. They ask meaningful questions often piqued by the adult discussions. I’m moved by the fact that their sincere curiosity about marriage equality comes from a place of a total lack of understanding about “why people who love each other can’t get married.” Yes, kiddos, exactly…excellent question!
Did you ever try to explain to elementary school children why certain people can get married and certain people can’t? It is an exhausting routine of mental gymnastics that ultimately the kiddos don’t buy anyway. They continue to look puzzled and in the case of my guys someone usually just ends up saying, “Well, do the adults know that that is just not nice? I mean, love is love, Mama.” Right on, buddy. Ahh, out of the mouths of babes.
And I can’t even get started on how beautiful their concern is for their friends who have two moms or two dads: “What if their dads want to get married, Mama? Their family all love each other just like we do.” The kiddos just instinctively get it.
That’s when my mama burden lifts. When I stop, listen and recognize that they don’t need me to help them understand love and commitment between people who love each other. They get it. What they need help understanding is the convoluted, backward adult world of discrimination. And, honestly, that is painful to have to share with them.
The insight that they are already amazing, open-minded human beings was an excellent gift to myself for Pride. The fact that I somehow thought I had to instill in them acceptance is so naive of me. In fact, their holistic and integrated understanding of fairness and the universality of love is the ideal representation of where we all wish to arrive.
Taking their statements and questions deeply to heart gives me such hope. I see the world through their eyes and know that when they become adults the social and political landscape will look vastly different. I have no illusions that they will not have their own challenges to face. But I know that each and every Pride month that comes and goes will be another year closer to when they and their contemporaries are influencing policy and moving about the world modeling tolerance.
Their dad and I will continue to help provide perspective about the complex issues around marriage equality and sexuality diversity. We do owe them that as they grow up and gain a more mature understanding. I do, however, intend to do a lot more listening. They, in their acceptance and wisdom, will shape the future of our culture. In fact, in our house, they already do. I am grateful to have two such wise teachers.