Brothers’ “inappropriate” behavior at daycare.

Q:

I am a child care provider. My question is about how to interact with the children in my care who have a lesbian mother. The boys are 20 months and 2 1/2 years old. I did not know that their mother was a lesbian when they started in my care. It was brought to my attention by their aunt.

These brothers are always hugging and kissing each other, but I never thought anything of it. I thought that they were just being kids and so I usually just tell them to stop because it’s not nice to be in each other’s faces.

I would like to talk to the mother about her children’s behavior but I don’t want to offend her. I don’t believe the mother knows that I am aware she’s a lesbian.

A:

Our society encourages boys to wrestle and rough-house together, but in this case, a more gentle interaction of hugging and kissing seems wrong to you. Why?

What would you want to tell the mother about the boys’ behavior? Originally, you thought they were “just being kids.” How do you see it differently now that you know their mom is a lesbian?

While their hugging might seem unusual to you, there’s no harm in it. I would only see it as a problem if one of them does not want to be touched that way. If you are assuming that their mom is “teaching” the boys to behave this way, I doubt it. The more probable scenario is that the boys’ behavior is not discouraged at home. Many straight parents would immediately reprimand their sons for being affectionate with other boys because they fear that would “make” them gay. That’s simply not true, and their mother probably knows that.

8 thoughts on “Brothers’ “inappropriate” behavior at daycare.”

  1. I love the timeliness of this topic. I wanted to share what just happened to us a couple of weeks ago.

    My partner and I recently had to face the issue of our little boy kissing another boy at day care. The teacher brought it up to our attention, and we had to tell her that it is okay for a two year old to kiss another child, be it boy or girl. She sounded defensive after being confronted, but the issue was, “because the parents are gay, then is he behaving that way?” She didn’t say it in exactly those words, but that is what came out of her actions. I thought it would be interesting to share it. I also shared this and your letter with the Pop Luck Club, a large Los Angeles based group of gay fathers.

  2. I am a child care provider, also. I encourage all of my children to hug each other when one is sad, hurt or even happy about an accomplishment. Children, especially boys, need to know how to be affectionate and supportive of one another. Obviously, children also need to understand boundaries and learn to respect kids who do not enjoy being hugged. With all of the violence in the world, it’s wonderful to see children in their innocence and to appreciate how natural it is for them to love each other.

    Since you were not concerned about this behavior prior to learning of the parents being lesbians, it’s my opinion that this is not a child care issue…but a homophobia one. I’d suggest you reread some child development books to assure you that hugging is okay in children. Then maybe do some reading on GLB parenting…it’s easy to be afraid of something you don’t understand or know.

  3. This question made my blood boil! In addition to the homophobia so apparent in her concerns, she has apparently reprimanded the boys for being “in each other’s faces” even though there was no indication that either one of the children had a problem with it. Personally, I’d like to suggest that the mother take her children out of this day care immediately. Why would anyone want to discourage gentle, loving interaction between siblings???

  4. I agree with the replies already posted except that the lesbian mom needs to calm down and realize that this is an opportunity to help educate this child care provider. After all this provider will probably have some little lgbt people in her care at some time and this is
    opening the door to enlightenment.

    Ruby Hamilton
    PFLAG Toronto

  5. Contrary to the way some people seem to view things I myself think it is perfectly natural for brothers to hug and kiss eachother. I have to ask if the provider would have been concerned had this been two sisters or even a brother and sister. I have known many brothers who grew up hugging and kissing eachother and continue to do so as adults. Most of them have wives. The rest do have girlfriends. One common thing is the women in their lives appreciate the affection their men have with their brothers. And I agree they come from homes where it was not discouraged as well it should not have been.

  6. This teacher told them to lay off the kissing BEFORE she knew about their mom’s orientation. In my opinion she is right; it isn’t nice to be in each other’s faces all the time. I don’t have much patience with people who urge their children to be torchbearers of a new sensibility when the children are too young to understand either the old or new sensibility.

    Many years ago I knew a woman who was a prostitute and did not distract or stop her three-year-old daughter from playing with her genitalia in front of other people. “Heather likes her vagina, what’s wrong with that?” she would say. Well, nothing, but if you don’t teach her that that should be private then she is going to gross people out and not realize it. And it’s impolite and distracting, as is the brothers constantly kissing in class.

  7. I am shocked and horrified! I don’t want to beat anyone up over this but do you really think that a 20 month old and a 2 1/2 year old actually have a clue to what sexuality is? Their behavior shows me that they are happy children being raised in a loving home. I would be concerned if they were touching each other inappropriately but it is obvious that they are children who are loved.

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