Talking to Your Kids About Same-Sex Marriage

In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states, people celebrated, lamented, cried onto their keyboard, changed the filters on their Facebook profile pictures, etc. Like bellybuttons, everyone is entitled to their opinions about the ruling. But as parents, it’s important that we understand that this ruling is an enormously progressive (and, in my opinion, awesome) event – and doubtless a historical one. America’s legalization of same-sex marriage will be in history books, and it’s our turn as parents to share in this moment in history with our children.

When I read the news on Friday, one of my first thoughts was that my son is going to grow up in a country that is (again, in my opinion) far greater than the one in which I grew up. Being a Christian myself, it may be somewhat controversial for me to say that, but I do believe that the country is a better one now simply because this ruling demonstrates our love for one other and desire for others to feel the love that we feel.

As parents, we have the choice to:

1. Let our (perhaps negative) reactions to this news keep us from explaining it to our kids, or

2. Tell our kids about gay marriage and allow gay marriage to become just marriage (or, in other words, a normal part of the world in which we live).

It may be difficult for us to choose the latter, however, even if we are in full support of gay marriage. This happens because when we look back at our childhood, the idea of being gay (and certainly the idea of being gay and getting married) was not a common one.

Until recently, the media did a horrible job portraying homosexuality, from kids’ shows to films to music to commercials and on and on.

Many of us joke about shows that have the signature minority best friend character and things like that, but rarely did they portray a gay character (and certainly not as the protagonist). Of course, things have changed enormously for the better for homosexuality on TV (which NPR predicted in 2012).  In Variety, TV columnist Brian Lowry said for  that, as far as homosexuality showing up on television, “there’s pretty clearly no turning back.” Homosexuality will most certainly continue to be a huge part of pop culture, no longer being a unique aspect of the small screen. In a recent New York Times article, Jodi Kantor even analyzes the ways in which the normalcy of homosexuality in art may negatively affect it just simply because it is no longer as rare, and therefore inspired by its own individuality, as it once was.

Though I hope the fervor for homosexuality in pop culture continues, the point stands: it is officially present and accounted for.

So what does that mean about the conversation? That means that the demand for it is most assuredly coming to your computer, to your movie theater, and to your living room. It’s not just Ellen DeGeneres or “Glee” anymore. And since so much of the way we raise our kids comes from retaining or tweaking the way we were raised, we may find ourselves unsure of how to approach the normalcy of gay marriage.

So maybe it will still be a little while before some of us think of gay marriage as part of the traditional marriage sphere of everyday life. I think that’s okay, and I don’t want to hate on people who are making that change slower than others. But the bottom line is that our kids need to hear from us on this issue. Older kids will form their opinions; younger kids may want to adopt the opinions of their parents immediately. Either way, it’s important that they know the significance of this decision.

Whether you agree with the ruling or not, the ruling placed love above hate in this country, and that is something worth sharing with the ones we love most: our families.