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Melbourne Community Voice – "When should gay dads come out to their kids?" by Tracie O’Keefe

November 27, 2007 Leave a comment


How and when should gay dads come out to their kids? Tracie O’Keefe offers some advice.

Recently I gave a talk to gay dads about coming out to their children. One of the things I discussed was how the phrase ‘gay’ can be constricting for men who sleep with and have relationships with men. If you’ve slept with your child’s mother, you don’t ever want that child to think they were a mistake, so you’ll need to present yourself as being bisexual to your children when they were conceived.

Why come out to the kids?

Children need a number of things from parents, including food, shelter, love, education and an opportunity to explore themselves and their personalities. The most important thing, though, is to be able to trust their carers. They need to be able to believe that daddy is not a liar. Trust and honesty support love, whereas dishonesty on the part of the parent can undermine the child-parent relationship. Children are much more worried about whether they can trust daddy and is daddy fun, rather than whether he’s a screaming queen.

When is the right time to come out to your kids?

The answer to this depends on every individual family and every individual child. Certainly the sooner you start being honest with your kids, the easier it will be for them to trust you. You have to do the ground-work of ensuring your children value and respect all people equally. If you’ve taught them to be bigots, then you’ll reap what you sow.

When to come out also depends on how amiable the birth mother, wife or ex-partner is; but it can be helpful to discuss this with the adults in the family, so that they can support your disclosure. The last thing you want is your great Aunty Mavis turning up at the door and telling the twins to tell daddy that she “loves the gays, and would they please tell that to their dad?”

Where is the best place to come out?

Respect your child’s private space, which of course is generally their bedroom. Tell them in a place that’s more neutral, such as the sitting room or the garden; perhaps even have a family picnic. Just remember not to make it a drama, but simply another piece of life’s information that little Pia or Jake needs to know. Remember that wherever you tell them, it’s a memory that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Don’t do it while you’re running around Bunning’s Hardware, either: do you really want to answer a lot of personal questions while in the checkout queue?

What is the best approach to ensure material is broached sensitively?

Stories are great vehicles for seeding the ideas that being a gay man or a man who loves men is OK. Expose them to stories of happy gay families and happy heterosexual families. Remember to normalise the gay experience. It will now of course be very useful to point out that Professor Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series is gay; that he is a very happy wizard who is every nice person’s friend – and he can do magic.

How can I still be credible to my family?

Credibility is about honesty, trust, decency and kindness, not about whether you fit into other people’s rigid ideas, philosophies or religions. Your job as a father is to give your children a role model by which to live their life; and to instill values that will lead them to happiness. It’s not about the misery of keeping up with the Joneses. Be proud of being queer and show other people that you are proud by teaching your children how to respect you.

Dealing with the future

Just think about the advantages of your child having a gay or queer dad; they get to go to Pride March and Carnival. One obvious advantage from your child’s perspective is that if daddy has a boyfriend, you might even get more presents on your birthday; you also get someone who came out and put themselves on the line to love you and tell you the truth about themselves.

It could help for families to get some family counseling to deal with the complications that may occur due to power-sharing between two homes. Some men prefer to stay in the relationship with their ex-wife or partner because they are such good friends, but dads should make sure they know their rights of access to their children in all situations.

Remember that lack of trust in a parent is the foundation for many mental disorders later in life, but that parental trust, honesty and love helps children transcend all life’s difficulties and helps them remember daddy fondly.

Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH is an individual, family, couples and sex therapist. Visit http://www.tracieokeefe.com .

[Link: Original Article]

Categories: gay

Sydney Star Observer – "Prospective Rainbow Parents Wanted" by Cara Davis

November 22, 2007 Leave a comment

PROSPECTIVE RAINBOW PARENTS WANTED by Cara Davis

Cathy and her female long-term partner have long dreamt of becoming parents, but have struggled to find a gay couple to co-parent with.

The women want to find a gay man who is interested in their child’s life, but the opportunities for meeting and socialising with other prospective parents are rare.

For years, lesbians and gay men have been asking Dominic Gili from Rainbow Families where they can meet others to co-parent with but, with so few options available, Gili has had to suggest placing an advertisement in a local paper, or joining an online forum.

Gili, through Rainbow Families, has now organised a night for prospective rainbow parents at the Bank Hotel, Newtown, on Monday 26 November.

Gili said the night is intended to help those who have hopes of becoming parents and have not met someone to co-parent with. But it also will give people the opportunity to share stories and discuss child-related issues.

“Like-minded people can just come together and chat, and someone might make a contact who, down the track, they can co-parent with,” he said.

“It sounds too much like a dating game when you say it that way, but there is just no forum for that in Sydney at the moment.”

Gili said he had received a lot of interest from the men wishing to be dads, via the Gay Dads NSW group, and now hoped to spread the word among the lesbian community.

The Prospective Rainbow Parents night will start at 7pm. For more information email Dominic at nsw@gaydadsaustralia.com or call 0400 296 253 or 9573 0372.

[Link: Original Article]

Categories: Co-Parenting, gay, Lesbian

The Age – "Parent case may alter ‘family’" by Karen Kissane

November 21, 2007 Leave a comment

IN A case that could change the definition of “family”, a gay man who fathered a child has asked the Family Court to recognise his gay partner as a co-parent.

At a child access hearing in Melbourne yesterday, a registrar warned that the men were asking for a special status not normally given to parents in blended relationships.

“People separate or they have other partners, but (the new partners) are not regarded as having the same rights as biological parents, or the same parental responsibilities,” the registrar said.

“That’s what (the applicants) want, and it’s not what is usually given. It’s a vexed issue.”

A trial expected next year will decide whether the father’s partner can be recognised by the court as having “shared parental responsibility” for the child, to whom he has no biological link.

The child, a boy, lives mostly with his biological mother and her lesbian partner. He was conceived within their longstanding relationship using sperm donated by the gay father.

The mother and father agreed that both would have a role in his upbringing.

The mother’s and father’s relationship has since broken down. A report to the court by an independent expert said the boy was happy, confident, articulate and creative. He was affectionate with both couples, but regarded the women as his parents.

Yesterday’s hearing was over an application by the father to have more time with the boy.

The expert report had suggested he see more of his father, who was a significant figure in his life. The child’s independent lawyer told the court: “(He) needs more time with his father, whether his mother likes it or not.”

The registrar reserved his decision about increased access for the father.

[Link: Original Article]

Categories: Co-Parenting, gay, Lesbian