We were in the car driving back from one of my weekly therapy sessions, and my mom started talking about Suzan, her best friend at the time. She took a deep breath and said she had to tell me something.
“Suzan and I … are dating,” she said.
“I knew it! I knew it!” (Because I had, in fact, predicted it months ago).
That was almost three years ago. Suzan, her four kids and their dog Lady moved in with me, my mom and my sister last summer. They got married in September 2018, and here we are: four girls, two boys, a loud dog and two moms.
For many people around us, including plenty of extended family members and close “friends,” the “two moms” part was harder to comprehend than the “six kids” part. The age-old question arose: How does having gay parents affect kids?
The answer is, we are affected by our parents the same way kids with straight parents are. Our parents annoy us, have rules for us and ask too many questions, but ultimately those things all come out of love. Children of a same sex relationship are not disadvantaged by the identity of their parents.
One stereotype is that having gay parents causes children to be gay. However, the American Psychological Association (APA) confirms that children of same sex couples come to terms with their sexual and gender identity through the same process that children of heterosexual parents do, sometimes even in a healthier way.
As a whole, our family is open to discussions on topics ranging from our insecurities and struggles to our favorite dinner table activity, where each person states their highlights and lowlights of the day. I know that when I come to my moms about something, they will hear me out no matter what the topic is. Even as a step-parent, Suzan has worked really hard to establish a close, but not overbearing relationship with me. This kind of environment is not uncommon in households of same sex couples.
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) describes adolescents of same sex couples as more open to discussing and working through emotionally heavy topics. This stems from parents who exhibit self-confidence and vulnerability in who they are, allowing children to feel more comfortable with their identity. This means their children will feel more secure to come out to their parents if they aren’t straight.
In our household, my moms work very hard to parent each of us to our own needs. This can be difficult with all of the moving parts — especially working on balancing co-parents, our dads, from former marriages. AAMFT says this is a large obstacle for blended families (two parents with children from former marriages), especially for same sex couples when the other parent is heterosexual and in a relationship. The difference in parenting styles is more heavily scrutinized.
Out of the six kids, I am the only one who stays with my moms 100 percent of the time. The fact that I am not consistently exposed to the typical “father figure” seems to be an issue for many people outside our family. However, good parenting is not just checking the box of having a maternal and paternal figure. It means parents listen and support their children while modeling a healthy relationship to them.
One thing I have learned over the past three years with my moms is that they are truly in love with each other. It also shows me what I should look for in a relationship. I see them celebrate each other’s strengths and work on each other’s weaknesses, all while keeping the fridge stocked with cold sparkling water.
It’s not always a picnic for them though. They have done their best to keep us from burdens we don’t need to carry, but coming out, especially as adults from former straight marriages in Kirkwood required so much courage from them. It’s hard to know that as an adult, you really don’t have it all figured out. Yet, as difficult as that process was and continues to be, it brings out even more strength and compassion from our whole family.
So yes, we drive a Subaru and sometimes I get stuck in a loop of “go ask your mom.” Waiters always assume we want two separate checks, and even after three years, I still get double takes when I say moms, plural. But our household of eight has both functions and dysfunctions like any other family, and having two moms is just another piece of the puzzle.
About The Writer:
Olivia Silvey is a sophomore at Kirkwood High School and is a design staffer for the school’s newsmagazine, The Kirkwood Call. She is also a member of the school’s Coalition Club, which focuses on gender equity issues. Silvey enjoys reading, writing, music and spending time outdoors.
Her article originally appeared in The Kirkwood Call.