17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"Mom, does Laurie have TWO moms?"

My dear son Simon is a precocious sort - we've gotten used to it in his nearly 4 years. Obscure questions, detailed explanations for things beyond his years, that sort of thing. But this morning...well, this one had me momentarily stumped.

We were sitting together, watching a little Noggin before school. A promo for Jacks Big Music show came on featuring Laurie Berkner. This is how our conversation went:

Simon: "Mom, who is that lady"?

Me: "That's Laurie Berkner. You know, she's the one that sings all those songs we listen to in the car. Victor Vito, Laurie's Got a Pig on her Head...you know".

Simon: "Oh, that's right. Laurie. (long pause) Mom, does Laurie have two moms"?

Me: (Gulp) "Ummmmm...excuse me"?

Simon: "Does Laurie have two moms"?

You have GOT to be kidding me. Two moms? Where is he getting this from? Seriously?!

Me: "No, she does not have two moms "(at least as far as I know...)

Simon: "Does she have two dads"?

WHAT????? Where is this coming from? Think quickly...We have never discussed homosexuality with him or alternative parenting lifestyles. Not because I have a problem with it (I don't) but because he's only 4 and it hasn't come up! I'm pretty sure he isn't getting this from his very conservative Methodist affiliated preschool either. Hmmmmm....

Me: "No, she does not have two dads".

Simon: "I have a mom and a dad".

Me: "Yes, you have a mom and a dad. Some kids have two moms and some have two dads. You have both, a mom and a dad". (Please please please don't ask me any more about this because I'm really not able to explain alternative parenting lifestyles at 8:10 AM...please please please....)

Simon: "Oh. OK. Thanks mom".

WHEW...dodged that one for, like, another 6 hours. When he's not asking about how gravity works, what the definition of "deep" is, who invented scissors he wants to know if Laurie Berkner has two moms. Good grief...

But this does have me thinking. I am confident this question will come up again, probably well before he hits grade school. What is the best, most honest, fair way to talk about homosexuality with young children? Any thoughts? Any experiences with this one?


  • Are you sure he wasn't thinking of (heterosexual) step-parents? (I had 6 grandparents, because two got divorced and remarried.)
    posted by Anonymous Susan M at 1/31/2007 12:11:00 PM  

  • I was watching Oprah the other day and saw a family of two dads who had adopted 6 children and I was in tears. When two moms and two dads have children, you know that it was not out of "oops" factor which unforunately so many children are today. These partners in life WANTED children, and had to go to calculated lengths to get them.

    The two mom/two dad families I have seen/met have been some of the most attentive and committed I have seen, and frankly I am in awe sometimes.

    I think that a discussion about family structure (two moms/two dads/2 moms and 2 dads/2 stepmoms/no mom etc. etc. etc.) is a way different discussion than sexuality...so if he brings it up again at this age and at his level, maybe take it as an opportunity to talk about family values and what makes family's special, and how lucky you are to be a family etc.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/31/2007 12:14:00 PM  

  • Kage, I agree. I feel pretty passionately about these amazing families of same sex partners...but that's another post altogether and franky, not a discussion I want to get into right here.

    I like the angle of talking about family values and the importance of FAMILY, regardless of who makes up that family (ie, grandparents, aunts and uncles, even friends who fill in the familial gaps).
    posted by Blogger chloe at 1/31/2007 12:21:00 PM  

  • i was raised LDS. i now teach sunday school (k-8) at a church that is "open & affirming" - meaning we do not discriminate against sexual orientation or identity. we have many lesbian and gay couples and a few of them have adopted children.

    i think kage is right on. in sunday school, i don't teach the children about sexuality. instead, i teach them about families and how it doesn't matter whether you have 2 moms, 2 dads, divorced parents, live with grandparents, etc - all that really matters in the home is love.

    i am very curious about those of you who are LDS and teach your children that it is ok to have 2 moms (or 2 dads). what happens when they are older & they learn that the church doesn't accept them? (i apologize if this is a threadjack)
    posted by Blogger brenbot at 1/31/2007 03:15:00 PM  

  • i didn't mean for my question to sound critical in any way (i know that's how it could come across). i am genuinely curious.
    posted by Blogger brenbot at 1/31/2007 03:37:00 PM  

  • No Brenbot, not a threadjack. I'm trying to figure that out myself, being LDS but ALSO being in favor of gays and lesbians both adopting and raising their biological children together. Hard to reconcile the two and there are lots of angles to work with when working it out within myself (didn't say that too elequently).

    Long story short, I'm not sure how to explain/teach my children about alternative families yet - today was my first foray into this territory...
    posted by Blogger chloe at 1/31/2007 03:52:00 PM  

  • brenbot, I don't think it is a threadjack either.

    While chloe's first question is how to start teaching when children are young - and I think kage's comment was perfect, there will come a time when children will come to understand the complexities of the issue which will inevitably result in harder questions. To me, they will be hard to answer because I myself am asking those same questions and searching for an answer that makes it all make sense.

    My plan is to be honest in my unsurety as the hard questions arise (on this subject and others). Hopefully we will be able to have age-approriate conversations that span over the years and be able to learn and grow together as a family.

    It's a hard one for sure. And one that every family will ultimately approach from the angle that they feel comfortable with.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 1/31/2007 06:47:00 PM  

  • Well said Carrie.

    I have already found in my discussions with Simon that admitting I don't know the answer to something doesn't feel as awful as I thought it would. I DON'T have all the answers - it's OK that he knows that. But it is then my responsibility to try to find those answers for him and work through it together. Easy when it's finding the name of the guy that invented scissors - harder when it's explaining alternative lifestyles and helping him to form his OWN opinion, not simply going off of mine.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 1/31/2007 06:54:00 PM  

  • To me, this is a hard subject. My opinions have changed and my perspective has shifted over the years (think "closet-anti" to "somewhat tolerant" --which is a pretty big gap when it comes to me), but it's still a difficult to talk about --for me.

    I agree with what brenbot and kage said: teaching the kids that there are all kinds of families that love each other. Leaving it at that is good for a 4 year old. Or maybe even a 6 year old.

    The subject of homosexuality and lesbianism is something I kind of lump with sex itself. I don't want to give all the information to my children at once. As they grow, they will be ready for new information. As they ask harder questions, I believe they will be ready for harder answers. But, like you, chloe, I'm not ready to go down roads they aren't ready for--or I'M not ready for.

    I would apply that logic to what you asked, bren --about what the LDS church teaches as far as gender, eternal marriage, etc. A child is not ready to understand the deep doctrine of the Temple Endowment at 5 years old, but they are ready to understand the doctrines of prayer and faith. One day, my children will understand (or not understand) why the LDS church teaches what it does (as far as gay relationships go), but I'm not going to worry myself about it now. Don't get me wrong --I do want to be prepared for the future, but I would rather not worry about it now when they are so young.
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 1/31/2007 07:22:00 PM  

  • You know, as far as dealing with this with my kids, we have close family members who are gay, and my kids are used to seeing Uncle Freddy with Uncle Mark- it's just part of the landscape for them.

    I know someday they will ask questions, and we will answer them frankly and age-appropriately- and my hope is that growing up seeing people who live differently than we do, and yet whom we love very dearly and see often, will make the point a non-issue.

    As far as the chuch teachings- we live in and belong to a church that had continuing and ongoing revelation. It's part of what makes up different- and I hope that will explain some teaching that don't make sense.

    (by the way, I'm not big on giving kids a lot of sexual information at young ages- my kids know thier Uncles love each other and are a family, and part of OUR larger family, but they don't need to know the nuts and bolts of what that might mean... until they ask or are ready, less is more)
    posted by Blogger tracy m at 1/31/2007 08:58:00 PM  

  • sorry about all the typos... it should real "HAS continuing and ongoing revelation" and "what makes US different" and "teachingS"

    and probably 1/2 dozen more... time for bed!~
    posted by Blogger tracy m at 1/31/2007 09:01:00 PM  

  • Chloe,

    Thanks for posting on this subject, I've been thinking about doing it, but never figured out a good angle.


    Your question is valid and something that my DH and I think and agonize a lot about...esp since our best friends are a committed lesbian couple who are planning to adopt.

    I've concluded that there is no way to reconcile the church's stand with our own. For awhile, I used to think that it was a "cultural" not "doctrinal" issue, but that isn't completely true. It has jarred my testimony at times, but ultimately, like Tracy M., I hope for that "continued revelation.."

    At BYU, my biology professor was talking about evolution and said that he knows that evolution is a true scientific fact, but he also knows that God created the earth and he believes both even though they are sometimes at odds. This is how I think of the issue right now...I believe in the Church, and I believe that my gay friends are wonderful, beautiful people who deserve all of the same rights and priveleges (including raising a family) as I do. Someday it will all be explained...

    Our gay friends have been pretty understanding of our committment to the Church....even though they know the Church's stance on their lifestyle and even that the Church gives money to support "family values" legislation...that is a big credit to them...everytime I hear the Church in the news in a "family values" capacity I have to admit that I cringe.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 2/01/2007 01:04:00 PM  

  • I recently heard a blurb given by a BBC reporter (re. the LDS church and a little bit about Mitt Romney) and the reporter was fascinated by the fact that the LDS religion is not afraid of science the way other prominent religions seem to be.

    I think because the LDS religion embraces science we will be better prepared to understand the why's of the issue.

    I feel like more LDS are starting to believe that homosexuality is genetic in some cases and not neccessarily always an evil "choice". However, this does not change the fact that doctorine tells us this is a sin and something that needs to be dealt with the way other temptations are dealt with on this earth.

    Tough question - I never even thought about how to explain it to my son. Maybe the same way you explain why their friends parents drink alchohol or their friends go to the movies on Sunday - they aren't bad people they just have different beliefs.???
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 2/01/2007 02:05:00 PM  

  • Melissa,

    I think the explanations you are using here are ones that many members use. But for me, and many other people (I think), these explanations carry a lot of big logical, emotional and doctrinal problems that I can't glaze over.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 2/01/2007 03:23:00 PM  

  • i appreciate everyone's comments - thanks. it is good to hear that some of you are hoping for change or at least questioning.

    sometimes i wonder whether i took the easy way out by leaving the church rather than waiting for a revelation. although when i think about it, i feel i did what was right for me & i respect each of you in your decision to do what is right for you.

    i can't help but share this. my mom had a gay friend who killed himself because of the church's involvement in "family values" legislation (prop 22 in CA). shortly after this, we left the church.
    posted by Blogger brenbot at 2/01/2007 03:35:00 PM  

  • Brenbot- Yup, me too. And it required a lot of hard pondering and looking at things before I decided to join anyway...

    Not an easy path, but the right one for me.
    posted by Blogger tracy m at 2/01/2007 04:21:00 PM  

  • I'm coming into this a little late...sorry. A year ago my 16 year old nephew began to explore homosexuality. He decided to talk to me (the only active member of the church in my family) about it-why me?-I have no idea.

    But he did and he wanted my opinion. Not the church's opinion, but MY OPINION and I didn't really have one, yet. I don't consider myself homophobic and I am accepting of those I know who practice homosexuality. Do I get uncomfortable when I see it on TV? Yes. Am I out protesting gay marriage? No.

    I was praying my heart out throughout the entire conversation with him and I ended up feeling inspired to say something like this...We are created as spirit Men and Women by God before being born on Earth to gain a physical body. We are fundamentally one sex or the other with distinct talents and purposes. God loves us and wants us to share in His greatest joy-"to multiply and replenish the Earth". If we are in a homosexual relationship then we cannot biologically create children and therefore partake of God's greatest blessings.

    And I really believed every word as it came out of my mouth. I have thought long and hard about it since that day and now have a sense of what I'd say when faced with this question by my own children, when they are of appropriate age.

    I believe that it's a sin because it upsets even the very core of the Plan of Salvation. The church cannot possibly embrace and accept this and not completely alter every single other doctrine. I wouldn't hold my breath for modern day revelation to change any of this. Many more people would leave the church if they changed their stance on this than they currently are for the church's intolerance towards it. There would be no truth to the temple ordinances, the eternal plan for families, the doctrine and promised blessings of chastity... Seriously, think of the ramifications.

    How do you sustain the modern day prophets and apostles who OBVIOUSLY condemn this thinking (See the proclamation to the world on the Family) yet have fundamental problems with their teachings?

    Let me answer my own question. Perhaps I can relate. Before my mission I had a shaky testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith. I could say with certainy that every other aspect of the gospel was true. But, for various reasons, the idea of preaching this doctrine made me a bit nervous. If J.S. wasn't a true prophet, the church wasn't true and I was wasting 1.5 yrs of my life. I fasted and prayed countless hours and days for a testimony and it did come. It came VERY powerfully and it felt good every single time I taught about him on my mission because I knew so strongly that he was indeed, a prophet.

    Do you think that it was by coincidence that "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" was released when it was? This was the beginning of the world's outward acceptance of the subject. The prophets and apostles are men who walk and speak with GOD. They teach us what he wants us to know and teach our own children. This declaration is ALL ABOUT what OUR beliefs as members of God's church, guided by modern day Prophets, should be.

    " We...declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife." How do you mistake that and somehow hope that they'll "change their minds" and accept homosexuality and same sex marriages? How do you get through a temple recommend interview?

    I'm not saying we shouldn't allow our children to play with children of same sex marriages, or treat them with anything but kindness. I have many friends and a family member who are living active homosexual lifestyles. I love them dearly and adhere to the idea of "loving the sinner and hating the sin." Would they make great parents? Absolutely. Am I sympathetic to their pleas to become parents? Yes, I share in the same desire to have and rear children. But do I teach my own children that it is in line with the doctrines of the church we attend or may hopefully someday be? No.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/05/2007 09:29:00 PM  

  • Carrie,
    What are the logical, emotional and doctrinal problems with teaching your children that just because someone drinks coffee they are not a bad person, they just have different beliefs from you?
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 2/06/2007 09:16:00 AM  

  • Anonymous, thank you for your well thought out comments - I really appreciate it.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 2/06/2007 10:11:00 AM  

  • Melissa - if I could answer your question to Carrie - I would respectfully say that the problem I (and maybe others also) have with your argument is that it implies that homosexuality is a sin. I no longer hold that assumption when I think about it from a church doctrinal standpoint which complicates the issue tremendously.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 2/06/2007 04:18:00 PM  

  • Melissa,

    It wasn't that particular part of your original post that I was referring to. I was referring to your statement that homosexuality is a temptation that needs to be dealt with like other temptation. Looking back, that was unclear. But I don't believe I can (or want to) explain coffee drinking the same way as I want to explain homosexuality to my children. All I am saying is that the topic gets complicated really fast in my head so what might seem like any easy answer for some, just doesn't work for others.

    I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. If you continue to post, please be wary of expressing your opinions in a way that does not "question the righteousness" of other commentors (something we try not to do around here). You have good points and are welcome to share, just remember to phrase your opinions in a kind way as to keep an open dialogue going.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 2/06/2007 04:27:00 PM  

  • This is a very confusing topic for me, too. I actually always thought I was so conflicted b/c being a convert and in the performing arts I have so many gay friends and never ever had a problem with it. I thought maybe if I had been raised LDS my opinion may be more black or white. But apparently that's not the case for many who were raised in the church. I have never been challenged by one of my gay friends as to the church's stand on homosexuality, but I always wonder what I would say if I were (besides the obvious facts)? The thing is that I know the BOM is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and I know that GBH is our prophet today. That is glue that holds my testimony together. But doesn't the church teach that homosexuality is a sin? I mean, what Melissa and Anon are saying I would think is common amongst the LDS community. Am I wrong? The church doesn't seem confused as to it's stance on homosexuality, but I guess we as members oftentimes are. It's interesting to me to read everyone's comments b/c these are hard questions (thanks Chloe's DS) that I'm not sure how to answer after being a member for four years.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 2/06/2007 05:41:00 PM  

  • I understand better now. I wasn't trying to trivialize the issue of homosexuality by comparing it to coffee drinking, I just thought it simply went logically with how to explain to a child why people are still good people even though they are doing things (or not doing things) that we as members of the church do (or don't do). I have never thought about how I would respond to a "why does Jenny have two moms?" question so I was throwing something out there. Hopefully, I will be able to come up with an answer that makes sense to me and is congruent with the teachings of the church (which seem pretty clear on this issue). However, I do see that that is an easy answer for me because I don't have a gay child or close family member and that it may be a more difficult explanation for others.
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 2/06/2007 06:16:00 PM  

  • So sorry tftcarrie, I did not intend to question the righteousness of your contributors in any way. I just worry that you advertise yourselves to the world as a group of Mormon women, yet many comments here lead readers into thinking that your questions and doubts are mainstream among all Mormon women, which they are not. I did not intend to sound unkind or hinder any type of open dialogue. It seemed like the dialogue was already dead when I came into the discussion, it had been four days since the previous comment.

    Up until Melissa's original posting, nobody had expressed an opinion in line with the teachings of the church, nor explained what that even was.

    I find it irresponsible to discuss such controversial doubts on an open forum such as this without adding some type of disclaimer for the innocent onlooker. " These opinions by persons claiming membership in the Church of Jesus Christ do not accurately reflect the doctrines of the Church," would be fitting.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/06/2007 08:07:00 PM  

  • Dear ladies,
    Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with it, the LDS church's position, is very clear on this issue. As Anonymous said, homosexuality undermines the purpose of life and the Plan of Salvation. The brethren are not out of touch on the topic of homosexuality. They fully understand the social and emotional issues that surround same-gender attraction, but they will not and cannot change their stand on a principle that the Lord has defined as a sin. To infer that they might implies that prophets alter doctrine to match public opinion, and that implication is false.

    You subtitle your blogspot as a group of Mormon women..." and as I read the blogs it's clear that you have non-LDS readers who believe they are getting the Mormon point of view from you. That places a burden of responsibility on you as well as an opportunity.

    You started this blog asking what to say to a child if this issue came up. Well, a young man I love as a son and who has been like a member of my family for ten years has recently announced that he is in a gay relationship. He is just as wonderful as he always was and he knows I still love him and that I always will, but he also knows that I believe his choices place limits on him. We have spoken often about the nature of families being eternal and what is required to secure these blessings. In short, he knows how to claim them if and when he is ready. That seemed to me to be the best support I could possibly offer any person, gay or straight. That is truth. That is the message of hope and love Mormon men and women have to offer their friends. Thank you to the bloggers who point that out.
    posted by Anonymous LL at 2/06/2007 08:34:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.
    posted by Blogger brenbot at 2/07/2007 09:14:00 AM  

  • Thank you to everyone for sharing your thoughts. And especially to all that shared their very personal experiences involving gay loved ones.

    This blog is contributed to by a group of active, dedicated, and believing Mormon women. And even though we have that in common, we share widely diverse opinions on many gospel and non-gospel related subjects. I don't think any one of us claims ownership on THE Mormon view. We express our views, challenges and questions and because we are Mormon, each one becomes A Mormon view. None of which I feel the need to warn against or apologize for.

    I am appreciative of the spectrum of opinions and the honest, heartfelt and kind discussion we have had in this post. But now I feel like the comments have digressed to a discussion of the righteousness of questioning members and the motives (hateful or otherwise) of the Church's stand on homosexuality as a whole.

    I hope that everyone can recognize that all the Mormon commentors on here are trying to lovingly and faithfully answer some hard and personal questions.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 2/07/2007 10:41:00 AM  

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