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Old 12-07-2009, 02:21 PM   #1
J'aime Paris
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Lurker has question

I've been lurking on this forum for a bit, and notice that many people here have children.

I have a brother -in- law who is gay. He is a wonderful person, but we don't get to see him very often because he lives in CA.

There is a LONG background story, but I'll get to the heart of the matter.
How do I tell DD (age 11) that her uncle is gay?

Her uncle has been living with his partner for about 7 years. DD was only 4 back then, so there wasn't anything to explain. Recently, she has started asking questions about why uncle isn't married, lives with a man, etc.
I have no problems at all with my BIL being gay. I'm just not certain how to explain this to DD in age appropriate terms.

TIA for any feedback! DD loves her uncle alot, so it's really important that I address this as best I can.
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Old 12-07-2009, 02:46 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J'aime Paris View Post
I've been lurking on this forum for a bit, and notice that many people here have children.

I have a brother -in- law who is gay. He is a wonderful person, but we don't get to see him very often because he lives in CA.

There is a LONG background story, but I'll get to the heart of the matter.
How do I tell DD (age 11) that her uncle is gay?

Her uncle has been living with his partner for about 7 years. DD was only 4 back then, so there wasn't anything to explain. Recently, she has started asking questions about why uncle isn't married, lives with a man, etc.
I have no problems at all with my BIL being gay. I'm just not certain how to explain this to DD in age appropriate terms.

TIA for any feedback! DD loves her uncle alot, so it's really important that I address this as best I can.
I won't give you any advice per se, but I'll tell you how my cousin handled the questions that her 5 year old daughter had when they attended our wedding.

She waited until her daughter asked her why there wasn't a bride and a groom. Then she explained that when two people love each other, they get married. Most of the time that means a man and a woman, but sometimes it could be two men like Uncle Rob and Uncle Scott (the daughter already knew us and had stayed at our house several times) or even two women.

That simple, honest approach satisfied her daughter.
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Old 12-07-2009, 03:36 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rpmdfw View Post
I won't give you any advice per se, but I'll tell you how my cousin handled the questions that her 5 year old daughter had when they attended our wedding.

She waited until her daughter asked her why there wasn't a bride and a groom. Then she explained that when two people love each other, they get married. Most of the time that means a man and a woman, but sometimes it could be two men like Uncle Rob and Uncle Scott (the daughter already knew us and had stayed at our house several times) or even two women.

That simple, honest approach satisfied her daughter.
Great answer Rob! It's exactly how I explained my friends to my kids....I also added that when they grew up they'd get decide who they want to love!
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:47 PM   #4
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Whatever you do, I wouldn't make a big deal out of it. Just treat it as a matter of fact and act like it's no big deal that he is gay (because it isn't a big deal). I think since your daughter is 11 she probably knows what "gay" means. If that's the case, the next time she asks why her uncle isn't married or lives with a man I would say "It's because Uncle So-and-so is gay."

When my 11 year old niece (on my husbands side) asked how she and I were related, I told her we were related through marriage because her Uncle and I got married. She didn't realize that two men could get married, so I explained that in most places they can't but in Massachusetts (where we live) they can. She was fine with that explanation and that was the end of the conversation.

My husband and I are a visiting resource for a 6 year old boy who doesn't have a family (we visit him every other week at the resident home where he lives and we take him out to lunch or to Toys R US or to get his hair cut, etc). We had been his resource for about 6 months when he asked me why I was wearing a ring. I told him it was my wedding ring. He asked me who I was married to. I told him I was married to Scott. He asked why I wanted to marry Scott. I told him because Scott is a very special person to me and we want to spend the rest of our lives together. He said "oh" and asked if we could go to McDonald's. And that was the end of the conversation.
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Old 12-07-2009, 10:04 PM   #5
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What would you say if your BIL had been living with a woman for 7 years without getting married? Normalize it exactly the same way.

And/or does your BIL consider himself married? If so, just tell her that he's married to his partner.

(You may need to check in with your BIL about whether he sees his relationship as lifelong or for-now. I mention this because my DW's family had trouble accepting me initially because in their heads she had been married to her previous partner even though they had made no lifetime commitments to each other -- other people misunderstanding relationships is an odd side-effect to anti-equality marriage legislation.)

If he is simply legally single because of discriminatory laws, an 11 year old can understand that, too. I work with a group of 11 year olds in my church who have a very strong sense of social justice and are quick to point out that injustices hurt us all.
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Old 12-07-2009, 11:06 PM   #6
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I teach 9 and 10 years olds- be honest and straightforward. Address it casually- thereby you are being the role model so that it really is no big thing- love is love no matter what.
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Old 12-08-2009, 05:47 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donald...really View Post
My husband and I are a visiting resource for a 6 year old boy who doesn't have a family (we visit him every other week at the resident home where he lives and we take him out to lunch or to Toys R US or to get his hair cut, etc). We had been his resource for about 6 months when he asked me why I was wearing a ring. I told him it was my wedding ring. He asked me who I was married to. I told him I was married to Scott. He asked why I wanted to marry Scott. I told him because Scott is a very special person to me and we want to spend the rest of our lives together. He said "oh" and asked if we could go to McDonald's. And that was the end of the conversation.
LOVE this!
So great ... for so many reasons.
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Old 12-08-2009, 06:52 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donald...really View Post
He said "oh" and asked if we could go to McDonald's. And that was the end of the conversation.
So typical. Kids are great like that. When my kids were younger I showed them my wedding video. They were at the age when the whole TV technology concept was so difficult for them. After that any time we saw a bride on TV they would ask if it was me. I remember the time that there was a black bride they asked if it was me. I thought WOW any and all prejudices are learned. Kids are totally color blind - and any other kind of prejudice blind.
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Old 12-08-2009, 10:18 AM   #9
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I agree with everything said, and am amazed at the grace of the answers and real life situations.

One thing I have noticed with my 11 yr old, although a boy. He does kinda know about sexuality, but really is more confused about attraction in general. Still thinks romance etc is a bit icky no matter who, but is peeking at it if you know what I mean.

Now is the time to check your own reactions to all types of couples, because they are super aware of your body language, tone of voice about it all. Our children's comfort level so oftens reflects our own.

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Old 12-08-2009, 10:33 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J'aime Paris View Post
I've been lurking on this forum for a bit, and notice that many people here have children.

I have a brother -in- law who is gay. He is a wonderful person, but we don't get to see him very often because he lives in CA.

There is a LONG background story, but I'll get to the heart of the matter.
How do I tell DD (age 11) that her uncle is gay?

Her uncle has been living with his partner for about 7 years. DD was only 4 back then, so there wasn't anything to explain. Recently, she has started asking questions about why uncle isn't married, lives with a man, etc.
I have no problems at all with my BIL being gay. I'm just not certain how to explain this to DD in age appropriate terms.

TIA for any feedback! DD loves her uncle alot, so it's really important that I address this as best I can.
so many great responses!
I agree with the simple and honest approach.
kids are great and so accepting, they don't have all the baggage that adults come with
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:01 PM   #11
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OP again

Thank you for all of the suggestions!

I had a chat w/DD this morning before school. I told her that you love who you love. And I asked her if uncle and his partner (not married, but long-term relationship) are caring and friendly? She said, "Of course". And is uncle a good person? She said, "Yes." Then I asked her, "Does it really matter then"? She thought for a second and said, "No. And I'm glad that uncle lives with Rob, because he's fun and let me play games on his iphone when we visited!"

It went alot smoother than I expected. The casual approach was good.


An added note..........BIL doesn't bring his partner home to WI hardly ever. In fact he's coming home for x-mas without his boyfriend. My husband's
other 2 brothers are homophobic idiots!! They make everyone uncomfortable, and it makes me sad. Maybe that's why I wasn't sure how to talkk to DD about this. I didn't know if she had heard anything from them.
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:09 PM   #12
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Perhaps "the brothers" are the ones who need the talking too.
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:21 PM   #13
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I LOVED these responses. Just last night, my partner was telling me, after a week long trip w/ her family, her nephew, who is 8, said,"Aunt Sista, why do you want to kiss me goodbye, your a boy?" She said she just laughed and said no I'm not...but didn't know how to approach it, since it's not her child. I think I'll copy these responses and send to my sister in law. Great post, just intime!
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:36 PM   #14
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Sounds like you handled things well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by J'aime Paris View Post
An added note..........BIL doesn't bring his partner home to WI hardly ever. In fact he's coming home for x-mas without his boyfriend. My husband's
other 2 brothers are homophobic idiots!! They make everyone uncomfortable, and it makes me sad.
This sounds very sad. Maybe you could ask BIL if they'd like to come visit your family some time so that he can hear that you're prepared to have a different relationship with them than the rest of the family.
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:57 PM   #15
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I think the way you approached DD sounds good!

I am straight, and DS has been raised around my gay friends. Literally, the day after he was born one of my gay friends came to the hospital to meet DS so he has never really questioned it.

Just make it clear to DD that in your home you believe in equality and you are happy for your BIL. Hopefully she will see that the others in the family are missing out by excluding your BIL's partner.
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