Like every good parent, I struggled with what lessons from my childhood I would teach my children, and which ones I felt I could do better with on my own. I still play with the lesson plan in my head. As each child ages and personalities emerge, as societal and cultural influences impose increasing awareness on them, the lessons shift and change and have morphed into something all their own. I can’t teach them the same way my parents did. I don’t believe the same way anymore, either. Despite all the appreciation I have for my upbringing, I am not my parents.
I still respect my parents. I love them deeply. But I will teach my children:
LOVE = COMMITMENT, NOT GENDER
When I was a kid, I had an aunt that, although she lived nearby, I rarely saw. To this day, I don’t know if that was intentional or not. But I remember that when I did get to see my Aunt Merrie, Aunt Tabby and the kids were always with her. I didn’t know enough to understand that Aunt Merrie and Aunt Tabby were a couple. They were just Aunt Merrie and Aunt Tabby. I loved them, I loved their kids, and I loved being with them. Nothing else mattered.
Recently, an article on children of same-sex couples has garnered national headlines and social media attention. It claims that such children’s health or well-being are not affected adversely by their parent’s sexual orientations. I’m inclined to believe this, based on my experience with my aunts. I didn’t know they were a “couple” in the sexual sense of the word. I knew they lived together. They had their kids. They were happy.
My parents taught me that homosexuality is a sin. Maybe. By the Bible’s standards, it is. I’m not going to open up a huge can of worms on this blog post by going into details on this (cause let’s face it: the religion argument could go on forever!), but I feel a bigger lesson to teach my children is, love and commitment go together, regardless of sexual orientation. The lesson my parents taught me on love and commitment by example far outweighed the lesson they taught out of fear.
“The lesson my parents taught me on love and commitment by example far outweighed the lesson they taught out of fear.”
They have stayed together through thick and thin. They have been married for 42(?) years. They have traveled the world together and have had to spend a great deal of time apart, too. Yet, they still stay steadfastly by each other’s side. And I still see the love and devotion! So rare these days. I think this lesson of dedication would have been the same regardless of their gender.
I recently read another article on same-sex couples that I found eye-opening. I enjoyed this article much more than the one that is circulating the internet now because it presented multiple sides of the debate as well as statistics from other countries and data that seems to go back further. But what really caught my attention was the implication that what is causing stress to children isn’t the sexual orientation of the parent, but divorce.
One out of every two marriages now ends in divorce. (WAIT! Before all the divorcees out there get angry, I do understand that sometimes divorce is necessary. There are many reasons marriages fail, and I’m not judging anyone.) But there are so many out there now that it makes me wonder how many people try anymore.
So, I did a little digging to find out what the number one cause of divorce is in America. According to IDFA, the number one cause of divorce is not infidelity or money problems, it’s basic incompatibility. In other words, people simply don’t have the skills necessary to solve difficulties within their marriage. I’d put my money on ineffective communication, but it could be a number of issues.
“…the number one cause of divorce is not infidelity or money problems, it’s basic incompatibility.”
I’m not special. I don’t know how my husband and I have made it work, except that we have based our marriage on love and commitment, despite everything we have gone through. And somehow along the way we found a way to work through many of the things that spell out a recipe for divorce for many people. People told us we wouldn’t make it (I was 17 when we got married). But come this May, we’ll be married for 21 years! I can only owe it to the example we were shown. It stuck with us.
So, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans-whatever. Just LOVE and stay committed. Don’t give up on a marriage easily. Work through problems. Communicate. That’s the message I hope my children take into their future marriages. No matter who they marry.