Saturday, June 21, 2008

Do right by your children

Last week, we held our fantastic "Creating a Family: Choices for Prospective LGBT Parent's" workshop. We added an extra session to the workshop attempting to address the "are you ready" to be a parent session. There is so much to cover on this topic, I realize now I wasn't sure what I wanted our participants to walk away with is such a succinct effort to reach their minds.

After a week of reflection and happenings in my life, I want to stress to people how life-changing bringing a child into your life is. Now for me, I would say even with all the sacrifices, poop, and vomit, it is the most beautiful thing that has happened to me. I wouldn't trade it for anything even though I miss taking naps and sleeping in something terrible.

It is an awesome charge to be responsible for the development of a little being. There are so many decisions. So much of my brain energy is occupied by my daughter, whether she is with me or not. It is so easy to lose your existence when a child comes along. Though, I like being my daughter's mother way better than my previous life when it was so much more about me.

Recently, I have talked with a number of individuals and couples who have worried me about their decisions to become parents. Please, let me premise this with I do not think I am some supreme authority on child-rearing, but I have had 3 years of it to know a few things.

1. if you have problems in your relationship, adding a child will not improve it. It will likely make it worse, and then leave the child with the possible loss of one of those parents.

2. if one person in the relationship is not really interested in having a child, you are probably setting yourself up for some difficult crap in your relationship and as parents. I can't imagine if my wife did not equally love our daughter in those tough moments of parenting (which can be everyday for a while). I know we all have our roles, but we really need to equally want it.

3. when thinking of having children, remember they are what is most important. Not you, not your partner, or anyone else. Every decision you make affects them. Don't have a child with someone you are unsure of and then leave them, leaving your child without one of its original parents, or at best, in a difficult child-sharing arrangement. As a parent, I totally get why people stay together for the good of the children (granted, there are some situations that this is clearly not good for the children). I didn't get why people did that when I was younger.

4. parenting is about being selfless much of the time. I don't now that you can ever prepare for how far you go with being selfless, but just know it should be a big part of your identity.

5. I know many of you probably think I am being ridiculous with my above statements, but I have to say I expect more from us as parents, and I absolutely want the best for our children no matter the sacrifices we have to make.

We don't have a nice little legal system that is going to adequately help our children when our relationships fail, so we need to be better than our crazy-acting-out heterosexual peers and do right by our children no matter what. That said, don't have children if you are not prepared to do right by your children. Don't have children if your relationship is broken--fix it first, even if the clock is ticking.

Parenting is one of the most rewarding roles we will have on this earth. We are helping create little beings. It is an awesome responsibility that shouldn't be taken lightly.

So many of us are GREAT parents. Our kids deserve us being great for them with all the other shit in the world we can't control for them. We can control the love we show them, the decisions we make for them, and whether we are doing right by them.

Yell at me if you want, but do right by your children always.

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