Marrying mum and…mum? How to discuss same-sex marriage and other complex topics with your kids.
You may be familiar with the CBBC show, ‘Marrying mum and dad’, which follows children as they plan their parents’ big day. The show is designed to be an outlandish reality-based bit of fun, with themes like Doctor Who, but can also be a good springboard for discussions about other topics.
Last night a member of our team sat down with her kids to watch the show, but it turned out this was a slightly different episode than those they’d seen before; instead of ‘Marrying mum and dad’, it was ‘Marrying mum and mum’.
This was the first time the topic of same-sex marriage and relationships had come up in their family and naturally raised a lot of questions. Her eight year-old son said, “I didn’t think a girl could marry a girl?” and “why do they call one ‘mum’ and one ‘mummy’?”.
“I explained that the law has changed so that they can get married now.” said Georgina, mum of three. “I was waiting for the question about how two mums had had children together, but was quite pleased that it didn’t come up – it was getting late and I didn’t want to get onto a lesson about sex education!”
She also used the opportunity to explain that a male friend of hers, who the kids have known for years, has boyfriends. Discussions like this are ideal to revisit later on, when new questions come up.
TV shows, news reports and stories like this can be a good way to start a discussion with your child on some potentially difficult topics. But they can also present you with questions you aren’t sure your child is ready for, or don’t know the answer to.
So how can parents approach complex topics like this with their kids?
This is just one example of a discussion your family might have, but regardless of the topic it’s good to know how to deal with the situation when questions come up. Talking about another complex topic – Brexit – earlier this year, Dr Amanda Gummer said:
A good rule of thumb is to let your child lead the conversation and avoid over-burdening them with adult concerns. Let them ask the questions they have, then give them time to digest what you have said. They can always come back with more questions later.
It’s also important to give age-appropriate answers, but what exactly does that mean? Pre-schoolers generally will have only a passing curiosity, so we suggest focusing on reassurance and specific worries they have. As children get older, the playground is a hotbed for rumours and misunderstandings as children try and sound more grown up than they are to their friends. Encourage your child to ask you about anything they’re confused by and not to accept everything their friends say as truth. As a parent, you are the one who knows your child the best – so the judgement is for you to make.
This post was written by Anna Taylor