Gay Parents Raising Happy Kids
All parents want to raise happy, confident kids whether they’re straight or gay parents. When you’re the parents of a child born through surrogacy, raising happy kids is no different from that of any other parents – you’ll just have different challenges to face.
Here are 9 tips and guidelines for gay parents raising happy kids.
1. Let Kids Know Where They Came From
No doubt there’s going to come a time when your child has questions about surrogacy and where they came from. The best way to handle these questions is to prepare for them ahead of time. This means that you and your partner need to anticipate the questions and agree on the answers. There have been a lot of studies done about when to talk to kids about unique family dynamics, including divorce, adoption, and surrogacy – and the consensus is in favor of talking to kids early. Why? Children who know where they come from are less anxious about their special family structure.
The more secretive you are about the conception and birth of your child the less confident and secure your children will feel. Kids are intuitive and they don’t need to be in their teens to notice that there’s something different about your family structure and their birth. Being open and honest about surrogacy from a very young age takes all the doubt and uncertainty out of the equation.
As your kids become more curious, be welcoming and encouraging for all questions. Honestly answering those questions helps children feel confident and accept who they are. Knowing how much they were wanted goes a long way in helping them accept the special way they were born.
2. Standing Up for Your Kids
No matter how hard you try to shield them, children can be picked on. Children of gay parents are no different and will likely be exposed to some amount of bullying by their peers in some way. Discrimination and curiosity about gay parenting is still happening in schools. You can play your part in diffusing the discrimination and bullying by standing up for your kids ahead of time.
When your child is ready for school, whether it’s preschool or grade school, talk to the principal and teachers before the first day. Tell them your story.
3. Don’t Be Too Protective
Gay parents often feel they need to protect their children more than other parents. You may want to make as many situations in their life as easy as possible as most parents wish! Your children will be much happier and self-confident when you treat them the same as heterosexual parents. Parent with love and care, being there to assist without being overprotective so that your kids can learn how to fight their own battles.
4. Let Them Know You Love Them No Matter What
Parenting comes with both ups and downs. That cute and adorable baby who came to you through the surrogacy process is going to quickly grow into a child who doesn’t always behave the way you would like them to. These are the times that it’s more important than ever to let them know that you love them…no matter what. When your child does something you don’t approve of, be clear that it’s the action you don’t like, and not them.
5. Be Affectionate
There’s a direct connection between how much affection we get in childhood and how happy and healthy we are in the future. Taking the time every day to hug for no reason at all is a great way to make kids feel as though they are loved. Children of gay parents or heterosexual parents need signs of affection, which can help boost their self-esteem, improve their performance in school, and encourage great communication between parent and child.
6. Fostering a Relationship with Your Surrogate
By the time your baby is born you’ll already have decided if you’re going to maintain a relationship with your surrogate – and if you do, how much contact your surrogate will have with your child. There are differing opinions on this. Some studies show that a surrogate relationship is important for the emotional development of your child and other study results indicate that keeping in contact with the surrogate has no effect on the well-being of surrogate children. Ultimately the decision is yours – do what’s right for you and your family.
7. Respect Their Privacy
Just because you’re open about being gay doesn’t mean your kids are ready to share this information with everyone. Go with the flow and don’t take it personally or worry too much. As long as they’re happy they’ll figure it out in their own time.
8. Relax and Just Be a Family
Sometimes gay families feel they need to be better than straight families, proving that they’re just as good as everyone else at being both a gay couple and gay parents. Falling underneath the pressure of being better can be transferred to your children, giving them the sense that your family isn’t “normal”. The best way to keep you and your kids happy is to just be yourselves and enjoy being a family without labels!
9. Take Care of Yourself
Another way to raise happy children as a gay or straight couple is to take time for yourself. Don’t sacrifice all your wants and needs for your children. You need to take personal time, both separately and as a couple, to recharge. This can mean a night off at the movies, or a weekend away – the important thing is to take time for yourself so you can be the best parent possible.
Wrapping It Up
There’s no manual when it comes to raising happy kids. Parenting comes down to a few guidelines with a lot of trial and error. For gay parents, the trials and errors can be a little more difficult, but with love and understanding you’ll make it through all of the challenges with flying colors!!