As part of what is often labeled a “non-traditional family,” (or NTF*) I strive to fill our son’s life with people, experiences, and stories that reinforce that there’s a place in the world for everyone, regardless of their age, gender, skin color, or how their family is made — including an adopted boy with two gay dads.
While our family may be atypical in it’s makeup, we are extremely typical (boringly so) in that we have the same worries as so many other parents.
“How will our son do well in school?” “Will he ever eat his vegetables?” “Who will his friends be?”
Yet add to that list “Will he be treated differently for having two dads and being adopted?” and we’re back in non-traditional territory. And as any NTF parent can attest, finding books, toys, TV shows, and movies that represent your family can be challenging.
One great resource I’ve found is something we already had — our Netflix subscription. As a long-time Netflixer (?), I consider myself an expert at finding the perfect show to appease or distract my energetic 5-year-old – or even provide some occasional downtime for his two dads.
Below is a list of nine great Netflix titles that provide just the right mix of entertainment, encouragement and empowerment for our little NTF.
Sugar and spice and everything nice? Not always. Sometimes little girls are made of sports and science and everything nerdy. Sometimes they’re not enchanted by princesses and sparkles and fairy wings. Sometimes they don’t think pink.
More (girl) power to them! But when it comes to buying clothes for such independently-minded young ladies, what are progressive, supportive parents to do?
One way to encourage and empower your kids is to check out Svaha, an awesome and awe-inspiring new clothing company. A designer friend turned me on to them, and I was instantly charmed by their cute-as-pie/out-of-the-box designs for little girls. Watch this video to learn more…
Ever since I started putting notes in my son’s lunches, I’ve tried to ensure a good representation of female characters. The same goes for educating him about superheroes outside the context of lunch, and about life in general. Yet any parent that has attempted to teach gender equality to their kids knows it’s an uphill battle. As much as you try to debunk stereotypes, model acceptance, and expose them to what’s fair, you’re regularly thwarted by a toy company, or the aisles of a retail store, or that boy at preschool who convinced your kid that “Frozen is boring…because it’s for girls.”
Then last week, the trailer for the upcoming Supergirl TV show debuted, and I saw a glimmer of hope on the horizon…
Even before I became a father, I would read stories about little boys who didn’t like sports, or preferred Barbie over Boba Fett, or wanted to dress like Daphne for Halloween, or enjoyed having their toenails painted pink. Invariably there was an antagonistic relative, neighbor or onlooker going head-to-head with a proud, resolute parent who was coming to the aid of their atypical son. I’m sure these moms and dads went through a period of adjustment to reach their own place of acceptance, but in these stories they’re already proud Papa and Mama bears, stopping at nothing to defend their cub’s right to live outside society’s rules. One dad even wrote a letter to his hypothetically gay son, which melted my heart, as well as that of the bazillion other people who read it. These stories are beyond inspiring and give me hope for humanity.
So yeah, sometimes I wish my son was gay.
A new video from Similac does a near-flawless job of illustrating — and then defusing — the so-called “Mommy Wars.” Yet by excluding half of all parents from the name of their campaign, they undo much of the goodwill built up during the ad.
Take a look, and be sure and watch all the way to the end.
Founded in human nature and fueled by the Internet, the Mommy Wars have been raging in full force for quite a few years. Mothers, physicians, psychologists, educators and all manner of experts and amateurs weigh in on all manner of parenting-related topics: circumcision, vaccinations, diet, working or homemaking, spanking or time-outs, “cry it out” or co-sleeping, attachment parenting, Tiger Moms, helicopter parents, etc., ad nauseam, ad infinitum. Often perched atop the list: breastfeeding vs. formula.
Similac, a primary purveyor of formula, tackles this titular issue (and several others from the list above) in their new spot, set within an initially humorous gang war between multiple parent posses. In addition to the bottle- vs. breast-feeders, you see baby carriers & stroller-pushers, stay-at-home-moms & corporate office moms, disposable & cloth diaperers – all posturing on the playground. A bunch of dads can even be found rocking baby carriers and (natch) manning the grill.
I grew up the son and grandson of Baptist ministers — men not historically well-versed in the art of scented body sprays. While I learned many valuable lessons from my father, his knowledge of man fragrances was not something he passed down to me. I recall in 9th grade wondering why my dad’s new aftershave smelled so familiar. Upon investigating his medicine cabinet, I discovered he was slathering himself with Charlie every morning. The smell was familiar because my most recent (and much more experienced) girlfriend had worn it. I was horrified. Disgusted. Confused. Now I understood why every time my dad walked by I had flashbacks of being cornered in the church kitchen during Vacation Bible School. The combined memories of her ample bosom and the cloying amounts of perfume she wore still causes me to gasp for air.
Thus, I was left to learn how to “Scent Responsibly” on my own, experimenting with all manner of colognes and deodorants, with varying degrees of success. But my son will never have to endure what I went through. Nor will any other young man, ever. Thanks to Old Spice and their line of Re-Fresh Body Sprays.
Originally launched in January with the viral video “Mom Song,” Old Spice introduces new scents and products via the fatherly response, “Dad Song.” Check out this new masterpiece below…
As you can see, “Dad Song” illustrates in song (weird, weird song) the contrast between the long-held notions that moms want their boys to never leave home, while dads can’t wait for them to grow up and get out. I was the oldest of 4 boys, yet I found the portrayals in the ad did not mirror my experience. While both my parents were understandably forlorn when their eldest (and best) flew the coop, the couldn’t wait for the other three to pack it up and move on with their lives. I guess I’m just special that way.
In any event, your dear old Designer Daddy and his new best friends at Old Spice have got a mountain of manly merch to stuff the stocking of every man in your life. Poor phrasing aside, every man needs to smell good and this is some seriously bounteous booty.
Earlier this year, our family had a uniquely awesome experience — we starred in a TV promo for PBS KIDS! Ours was one of several testimonials featuring parents of real-life PBS KIDS viewers, and the only one featuring same-sex parents. It was filmed and produced by a wonderful crew of folks who descended upon our home, made us up a bit and filmed us doing stuff like making cupcakes, playing in the backyard and watching TV. It was really hard work.
I heard the promos had finally been made available to the individual PBS affiliates, but as each station makes its own programming schedule, there would be no way to know when and where they would air.* However, the production company kindly provided a download of our (very) mini epic, and gave me the go-ahead to share it.
Grab some popcorn, but you’d better make it a small…
The Parents Project is an online resource for parents of LGBTQ kids. It’s loaded with videos, advice and other bits of helpful stuff, like info on what did or didn’t turn your child gay, things not to say to your kid when they come out to you, and bunches of other stuff related to self-esteem, gender roles, sexuality, etc. The site was started by Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo, who also co-founded the award winning youth organization Everyone Is Gay. These ladies are all the awesome. The Parents Project recently reached out to me to be a contributor to their site, and you can betcha I said yes.
My first assignment was to answer this question sent in by a grandmother-to-be, concerned about the potential lack of female presence in her gay son’s life.
“My son and his husband have been married for just over a year. They’ve recently brought up the idea of adopting a child. I’ve been supportive of my son and his partner, but as a mother I can’t help but wonder how the lack of a mother figure in the household could negatively affect the child’s upbringing. Any advice?”
Read my response and learn more about The Parents Project by clicking the bright orange link.
READ FULL ARTICLE >>
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I always imagined myself as a father, but I never imagined being asked questions quite like these.
Perhaps you’re wondering why I went with queerest questions — other than the obvious alliteration and overall cleverness, that is. Because while some of the questions are offensive, some are annoying, and some are downright stupid, they’re not all offensive, annoying or stupid. But they are all queer — as in odd, strange, bizarre. Much like the entire experience of parenting.
Now, if we’re done questioning the queerness of my headline… on with the questions!
We were winding down from a particularly drama-filled play date. There had been sharing-related skirmishes; LEGO lay strewn about the playroom like carcasses on a battlefield; there had been tears. And after much cajoling and promises of future bounty, there had been an “I’m sowwy” from my little force of nature to his playmate and host. Jon can sometimes be like a giddy locomotive off its tracks. Full steam ahead, tooting its merry horn, nary a thought for the fact that it’s derailed and tearing through the countryside, mowing over everything and everyone in its path.
Yet while he may be full of drive and boundless energy, he’s always been very affectionate. Which, for me — his somewhat introverted and decidedly less adventurous Dad — makes it all manageable.
After we’d made our apologies and gathered our things to go, Jon approached his friend — 6 years old to Jon’s 4 and-a-half — to tell him thank you. He followed with one of his epic hugs — both arms flung out fully extended, not closing them until he’d fully enveloped the huggee. His friend seemed a little overwhelmed, but hugged back; then my son tilted his head, stretched up on his toes, and moved in to give his pal a smooch on the cheek.
The friend jerked his head away, reacting with an annoyed “WHAT THE…?!?” Jon just kind of shrugged and let go. But my heart broke a little.