Every week or so, one of us will post a new question related to parenting, gender, and being gay, and then each blog a response, not to exceed 500 words. If you’re a blogger and have something to say on the topic, we’d love for you to play along. You can post your answer on your blog and then link to it in the comments of the original question post. Melissa, at The Middle of Everything went first with this post.
Here’s this week’s question:
We often hear gay families say they’re “just like” other families. Is this true for you? How? And how are you not just like straight families?
Most days I don’t feel we’re much like the imagined, average American family.
A few reasons why:
– Although the U.S. has come a long way, men are stuck in a distant second place when it comes to judging who can best nurture and take care of children. In some form or another, I get the message every day that mommies are unique, special, and just plain better. There is no mommy up in this house.
– Because we don’t have default gender roles to fall back on, we actively determine how to divide household and parenting responsibilities. We aim to have a balance that feels fair to both of us. If one of us starts to be resentful about carrying a certain load (which is frankly likely to be me because I’m the stay-at-home parent), we try our best to reassess how we’re doing things. Many straight couples are mindful about balanced roles (including those we’re closest to), but from what I can observe in the wider community around me, women still take on a greater share of parenting and household responsibilities.
– Even when we’re in a community setting in which we feel welcomed and included, it’s never far from my mind that, legally speaking, we’re outsiders. Our relationship has no legal standing; we can’t adopt a child together in Ohio.
– Our family values seem different. This isn’t just about being gay or being feminist. We have more in common with sub-cultural back-to-the-landers than we do with the families in our town who pour out of the churches every Sunday to shop together at WalMart. We’re not religious, and although we like buying stuff and thinking about buying stuff, we’re not so fond of capitalism. I’d give up electricity in a second if it was part of a promising, collective effort to conserve resources and wreak less havoc on the environment.
– Having a family formed through transracial adoption also sets us apart. In a world where biology matters tremendously, biology doesn’t connect us to our child. We’re conspicuous wherever we go. And we think a lot about race and the impact of racial prejudices and stereotypes on our kid.
But. There are plenty of things we have in common with “average American families.” I guess for me, these are lowest common denominators, though, and less interesting to talk about than the differences.
– We care about making our home a comfortable, attractive place to spend our time.
– Although we’re by no means poor, we worry about money and how to plan for the future.
– We fret about how our kid is doing and whether our parenting is excellent, middling, or awful.
– We value our extended families and spend a lot of time with them.
– We try to instill a sense of fairness and decency in our kid.