I would bet my life on the fact that almost all lesbian moms have heard this phrase (or a similar one) at some point: your child just needs a man to help them through this situation. Am I right? In the United States, 4.3% of the population identifies as gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, or queer. According to a 2017 report presented by the Family Equality Council, over 200,000 children are being raised by a parent who identifies as LGBTQ. As a parent, my wife and I know what our children need, and that is not a man who lives in our house to help them grow into the humans they are meant to be. For lesbian moms (and this is not an article slighting any other person who identifies as a parent) comments like “you need a man in your life to help your kids,” does not make parenting any easier.
When my wife and I decided to expand our family and have more kids, we went in eyes wide open. We suspected we’d face challenges conceiving (which we did.) We expected we’d surprise the hell out of our families (which we did.) And we knew that we would need to build our community of parents to help in the raising of our kids (which we have.) These are the very same things all parents experience, no matter if you’re a cisgender hetero couple or a two-dad household. Preparing to expand one’s family comes with its challenges — defending your family should not be one of those things. In addition to battling the question, “so, who’s the mother,” we must also have an answer in waiting of how to handle the where’s the man question.
Photo credit: Rathkopf Photography
Let’s get one thing straight, and I am solely speaking for my own family here, when my wife and I got pregnant, we did so securely in our gender identities. We knew that we were signing up to be moms to kids and that no men were living in our house and that is because we are lesbians. Yes, we used a sperm donor, and yes, we looked for a donor who would work for our family, but that donor is not “the dad.” What all kids need are emotional security, and our kids, all three of them, have that because of their two moms.
Photo credit: Tim Coffey Photography
Recently, my wife and I had to have a conversation about the best way to have the sex talk with our soon-to-be 15-year-old son. A dear friend of mine, who meant well, insinuated that our son would need a man to explain sex to him. It was a teachable moment for me, as a queer parent, to explain to my friend that we’d already had the sex talk with our son. We know him best and what works for him.
We knew that books, yes, look like It’s So Amazing: A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Babies, and Families would help us in the conversation. And it has, but so has conversations with his uncle and grandfather. Just because our son doesn’t have a dad, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have male figures in his life that can answer questions for him that we or books can’t. The conversations he’s had with his friends help him too, because we can tell him what is fact and fiction from those conversations. In other words, we are a family who talks (a lot) about everything, and sex is one of those things. We don’t need a man to live in our house to parent our kids the way they need, giving them what they need, when they need it. We communicate with our kids, always have, and always will.
Here is what I want all of you well-intentioned cis-gendered friends, couples, and family members to know. Lesbian moms (and other LGBTQ parents) are enough for their kids. We know what it means to build a community, we’ve been doing that for a long time. On Father’s Day, my son was asked, “Don’t you wish you had a dad, like some other kids?” And my son’s answer was this, “My moms have been there for me,” and jokingly he went on to say, “Basically, one of my moms is pretty masculine,” he answered.
Lesbian moms don’t have to fit into traditional gender roles to be able to successfully raise our children, especially our sons. It just so happens that one of us presents in a more masculine way. And just because she does, that doesn’t mean she’s trying to be the dad.
Photo credit: Rathkopf Photography
The physical presence of a person who identifies as a man or a woman in one’s household does not ensure that the kid(s) who live in that household will be “better” or “worse” with or without that opposite gender represented. If you think otherwise, find yourself an adult whose mother or father failed them in some way. Kids raised in single parent households will be the first ones to tell you that they are grateful for the parent who raised them. It’s the same with kids who are raised by same-sex parents.
A parents’ job is hard enough, don’t make it more challenging than it needs to be by asking stupid questions, especially when it comes to trying to understand LGBTQ parents. Kids with lesbians moms don’t need a dad anymore than kids with heterosexual moms do. Period.
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