Talking about the Bees and the Bees with Children

I have been thinking about how other people deal with the topic of homosexuality with their children. You know I have been thinking about this issue a lot lately. Different things keep sparking it off but I wasn’t sure how best to put it. Now I have decided just to get on with it and get it out there. I always work on the principle of if they are ready to ask they are ready to know. Sometimes though how will children know the right questions to ask. Society is not accepting enough, in my opinion, of single sex relations. I mean it was great that Ireland voted Yes for single sex marriage – but really there should have been no need to vote in the first place.

Deciding to marry your best mate when you are in infant school

I guess it all started when my 7-year-old son came home from school saying that he was going to marry his best friend (also a boy). They had both wanted the same “girlfriend” but had decided that it was easier if they stuck with each other. Although very innocent and most likely meant nothing I reassured my son that this was okay. That actually if he had wanted to marry another boy then that was fine. I don’t tend to discuss being gay with my boys, but neither do I talk in terms of being straight either. If we discuss marriage I say your husband or wife, I would never assume. But I guess the issue had never been really discussed before – not even with my older boys.

children and homosexuality
Natalie Cassidy plays Sonia Fowler (nee Jackson) in Eastenders who has had partners of both sexes.

Not watching Television as a Family impacts on topics discussed with Children – including Normalizing Single Sex Relationships

It was during a hangout that we discussed what things we do and do not talk about with our children (such as terrible things happening on the news). It made me stop and think about how we no longer watched television as a family. The children tend to watch their (safe) cartoons/shows and I watch my soaps etc when they are in bed (for peace not protection). That actually they are not that interested in what I am watching. But it also means that they are not exposed to situations such as Sonia Fowler in Eastenders having a daughter and then leaving her husband before being with another woman (again). In fact  I asked my 18-year-old (who went to an all-boys school) if he knew any single sex couples and he did not (he does know some of my friends who are but it has never been made an issue of).

Girls are Lesbians because they were holding hands

The conversation came up again when again said 7-year-old said that two girls at school were lesbians. I asked him why he thought this and he told me it was because they were holding hands. We talked about how two girls came hold hands without it meaning anything more than friendship – but if they were actually lesbians then that was okay too. He was quite concerned to think that they couldn’t have a baby, but I reassured him that two people of the same-sex can get married and have babies. I explained that I have friends who are gays, lesbians and bisexual (and have children). I did not explain this any further because that is where he was at mentally. He did not NEED me to say any more – but if he would have asked then I would again have explained. Times are changing as technology advances, I think it is easier to show our children (or for them to find out for themselves) and to search information about sexuality online. In fact I told him about My Two Mums blog. Or for adults to find the resources to find the answers to questions they may not know themselves. For example I have no experience or real knowledge on topics such as transvestites or transgender – but have let the said 7-year-old read The Boy in the Dress.

children and homosexualityToys and Nail Varnish do not make you Homosexual

I have never stopped my boys from having whatever toys they like (apart from guns at first because I don’t like violence but gave up when they made guns out of stickle bricks etc) . I have bought them pink stuff and even recently they had LEGO Disney Princesses (which they converted into Ninjas!) When people started calling my oldest son gay (for having a pink doll) or said he would turn out homosexual because of this I simply explained that this is not the case. You see I really do not think that the toys you play with influence how you feel towards others sexually. You cannot chose who you fall in love with (or what their sex will be). I was again reminded of the ignorance of others recently when my 7-year-old decided to wear nail varnish and was then called names by his peers (not their fault I know). I reminded him that he had wanted to put the nail varnish on, made him think about why he should be confident of who he was. That wearing nail varnish did not mean that he was sexually attracted to other boys, BUT if he was then that was okay too.

I personally think this is a really important issue to be discussed with young children. I would hate for a child of mine to fear being who they are, wanting to tell the world who they really love. What do you think – is it something you talk about with your children?  Or would talk about? How have you approached it?  Or do you disagree that it is not a topic to talk to children about?

31 thoughts on “Talking about the Bees and the Bees with Children”

  1. We have always been open as a family, and we all have friends who have same sex partners or are bisexual . I don’t see it as a issue.

    At my sons school there was stickers stuck to toilet rolls raising a campaign about it doesn’t matter who you love.

    Love like friendship is unconditional.

    We discuss it and continue to do so , we are not bigoted in any shape or form.

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  2. My eldest daughter asked me recently if two (gay) male friends were brothers and I simply replied, “no sweetheart, they are married” She was a little shocked but we chatted about it and she was fine. I think it has historically been considered a taboo subject with children but there are so many same sex families now, I think it is important for children to grow up and realise that children in their own schools could have two mums or two dads, without making it into an issue. I’ve always been honest with my girls when they have asked questions and they have always been very accepting of whatever they have been told.

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  3. We have always talked about loving people, not the sex of the people. I have no issues with same sex relationships and want the boys to feel the same. We talk about it as though it is normal (which it is). I want the boys to feel comfortable talking about anything with me, so we just chat!

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  4. I think this is a topic to broach with our children on their level of understanding. People’s sexuality is more open these days on tv and in the media, which I think helps to discuss the topic.

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  5. I’ve recently had this discussion with my 12yo, who has high functioning ASD, which means it’s all black and white to him. I simply explained that it didn’t matter who you fell in love with, love is love. There was no talk of gay or straight, just relationships.

    I think, as parents, we have to normalise it, in a way our parents didn’t. It’s a different time: LOVE is LOVE, simple x

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  6. I have always been open with my kids about sexuality. They are grown up now, but if any questions ever come up then I would always be totally honest with them. Growing up my best friend was gay, and my teenage daughters best friend is also gay so same sex relationships are often discussed in our house.

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  7. We have talked about this with my 7 year old, after it was explained to her she understood but thats where the conversation ended. I like to be open with my girls and answer the questions that they ask. I’m sure that she will ask more questions about it again in the future. I always ask my girls to be honest and thats how I am with them when they ask questions.

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  8. We have always been open about it in this house. And just deal with it in a matter of fact way. It just is. As you know, without saying too much it is very real in our family and is just not an issue, its a complete non thing and I think that is the only way to talk about it. To be matter of fact And carry on doing what you are doing

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  9. My youngest told me he was gay (which is fine but I wondered how he realised this aged 6). He thought it meant someone who never gets married – which he has no intention of doing cos girls are yucky! So we’ve started talking about what it means.

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  10. We have had this conversation with all my kids except the very youngest. My brother is gay and we have been very open about it and answered questions as they have arisen. I don’t give more information than they have asked for on this or any other topic and keep it age appropriate. It works well for us and they don’t seem to take note of gender stereotypes that much.

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  11. I grew up with a couple who lived next door who just so happened to gay, I think because of that I never batted an eyelid, we would look after there cats when they went on holiday and they sometimes look after our cat, so it was just “normal” in some ways.

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  12. I’ve made a point of talking about this (and other stuff) with my kids because we live in a rural area and everyone that they know lives in a traditional heterosexual family arrangement. I want my kids to feel that if they or anyone else is gay, straight, bisexual or whatever then that is absolutely fine and no big deal.

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  13. i ha always been very open with things like this with my children, i find the earlier you speak to them and be honest, not make a huge deal over the conversation or sentence spoken , the more responsible they behave over the answer

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  14. It hasn’t really come up for us, but I guess I should look at talking about it some more. He doesn’t really come across same sex relationships as we don’t see anyone regularly that’s in one. My cousin in the states is married to another man and he often posts about the problems they encounter including the fact that their state seems quite anti same sex marriage – they went to Canada to get married. I would want my son to grow being open and accepting towards people in same sex relationships.

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  15. I’ve not talked to N about it. I think he’s too young at 4 years old. But then we’ve only talked limited bits about boys having seeds and girls having eggs that make children. But I think it’ll come up at school mainly because the head (a woman) has a female partner which I’m sure will crop up. He’ll likely be a bit removed from the reality of non-heterosexual relationships because they’re so few on the ground amongst people we know (an old uni friend who I don’t see anymore, and I think someone at work, but again not someone I socialise with outside of the office). I can’t say that our local area is particularly obvious – it’s very rare to see an obviously same sex couple, they could be friends or partners, there’s little way of knowing – so waiting for the questions could be a long time coming.

    I’d rather just wait until it comes up (and to correct any derogatory thing that the OH says in the meantime), although I would rather get in first before school pse lessons which may not tell the facts the way that I would want to.

    I don’t think N currently has an issue with liking pink, wearing fancy dress princess dresses or doing hair dressing, as he professes to like all 3 at the moment. Although one of his nursery friends makes comments thanks to having an older sibling (girl) so the stereotypical colour and job thing is filtering down from that.

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  16. I touch on this subject with my 3 year old. I tell her everyone is different, skin colour, hair colour etc and sometimes 2 men or 2 Wonen get married because they love each other. She is happy with that for now!

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  17. Great post Joy, I think it’s important to be open. I like to think when POD is older she’ll feel that she can talk to us about anything. She might not want to obviously! One of my brothers is gay so I hope that helps but talking does too. Seem to remember in my era there was little bee chat at school or at home!

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  18. It’s not a subject that I’ve broached with my kids, but mainly because I haven’t had too, it’s literally never come up. I would never force it either, they tend to ask when anything stands out to them so either they’re way more accepting than a lot of adults (often true of kids) or they haven’t even noticed anything.

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  19. I think my children are getting to the age where we need to talk about things like this more, it’s always difficult to know when is right though isn’t it?

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