A young daughter of lesbians questions what is “normal.”


My partner’s six-year-old came home from school and was so riled up. We asked her if there was anything she wanted to talk about. She started crying and said that she was embarrassed that she has two moms. She was barely able to get the words out because she was sobbing so hard. She said that it’s normal for her dad to get divorced and have a girlfriend, but not for her mom. She said, “this is not normal.”

She said she has been feeling embarrassed since she started school. We told her we were glad she told us so that we could all talk about it. She says no one has been teasing her, but her biggest fear is that everyone in school will find out. Yet her teacher told us that on the first day of class she had told her whole class that has two moms.

What’s your reaction? Are six-year-olds observant enough to determine what “normal” is? I keep thinking someone must have teased her, but maybe I’m not giving her enough credit that she does feel this way. How can we support her?


“This is not normal” is a repeat of something she has heard recently. Considering all the talk in the election debates regarding “morality” and gay marriage, you can bet she’s heard those words somewhere — and probably more than once. If she hasn’t heard the rhetoric directly from media, then she has classmates who are repeating to her what they have heard.

When if comes up again, you might try something like, “You might hear from other people that it’s not normal, but what we know in our hearts…” Such a statement validates that the “not normal” belief exists without validating the actual sentiment, and it acknowledges that you are fully aware of the “opposition.” You are not denying that opposition is out there, but it’s not stopping you from being a family.

You asked her if she was teased, but maybe that’s too specific. “Teasing” by most kids is thought of only in an obviously taunting way, as in: nee-ner-nee-ner-NEEEE-ner. Hearing someone say in an otherwise rational tone “that’s not normal” might not let her feel justified to label it teasing. Also, coming out to her own class is one thing. Worrying about how the big third grade kids might react is another.

Her innocent pride may have backfired, leaving her with the unexpected sting of homophobia. Maybe she simply mentioned having two moms and someone said, “that’s not normal.” It only takes one judgmental or dismissive comment to make a child rethink how “out” they are about their families.

I think it’s great you reinforced that she can talk to you about it. Even if it’s crushing you and your partner to see your child struggle, put on your best game face so she doesn’t shut down the communication about this. She will reveal more to you over time, provided she feels confident that she doesn’t need to protect her parents from the truth of her experience.


FOR MORE INFORMATION: See Chapter Four in Families Like Mine. The chapter, “Out Into the World” addresses how children navigate homophobia when their parents are not with them, and explanations for kids’ strategies.

5 thoughts on “A young daughter of lesbians questions what is “normal.””

  1. Raising children in this world of ours as lesbian parents is not easy – for us or for the children. (Speaking as the mother of twin daughters, age 10 here.) Our family has had many discussions on “normal” and “right”, some of them heart breaking, some of them eye opening. Have patience with your child. It’s hard, I’m sure, to be in school where the “norm” is a mom and dad. It’s even harder when the media is reinforcing those “abnormal” perceptions and other parents are feeding into their own children’s heads the fact that we are an immoral bunch with no idea of what family life is all about.

    Most importantly, just love your child. Let her come to terms with the fact that she does have two loving parents at home who respect her, love her and care for her. It won’t take her long to realize that although some of the outside world will have comments to make she will have the knowledge that you are waiting for her at home – her home, a home filled with love and happiness. As one of my daughters recently commented, “Mom, I feel sorry for all the kids at school who worry about their home life. I know I am loved.”

  2. We are the proud family of two mommies and a seven year old daughter. We have always told our munchkin that she is the luckiest kid ever because she has two moms. All of the kids from her daycare through second grade have known this info because we have made it a point to tell them that she is the luckiest kid and asked them how cool would it be to have two moms. Every one of those children have been so excited for her and many have said that they wished that they had two moms too. Teach her to be proud of who she is and where she comes from. Take her to gay pride (unless you live in metropolitan area! Too many naked people!) and get the book “Heather has Two Mommies”.

  3. These two moms need to find some other families like theirs with kids so that their little girl will be able to SEE that, while hers may not be the most common type of family, that there are more just like hers. That has been the biggest advantage of our little town. The elementary school has no less than a dozen kids with two moms. While those demographics are fortunate, we know that in a way, we are just plain lucky…all these lesbians had babies in the mid-90’s, and we all ended up in the same neighborhood. (it’s not all just a happy accident – our little town is known for its hippies, bikers, artists and lesbians)

    Anyway, the more this child can see other “all mom” families, the easier it will be for her to see that “normal” is a very broad term.

  4. Believe it or not 6 year olds are old enough to have a perception or “normal”. It may not be accurate but they do. Last year my son would cry because he wanted a “normal” family. His father is gay and remarried but that wasn’t even his issue then. At the time his issue was more that everyone had a Mom and Dad at home and he was the only child of divorce in his class. Sadly this too has changed. I took the route of acknowledging that his family was not the same as his friends but that doesn’t mean it isn’t normal. I also told him that come 2nd and 3rd grade there would be many kid’s living in divorced households and maybe he was 1st for a reason. Maybe he was meant to help his friends through their situations. One year later it has come true. I make sure to acknowledge the bad parts but mostly though I make sure to emphasize all the positive that comes out of his situation. It’s not perfect but so far so good.

  5. As the now 30 year old son of a lesbian family, I can tell you all from experience that what you are putting your kids through can be excruciating. I hate to tell you all this, but there is not pot of gold at the end of this rainbow… just therapy. Explaining my family’s “special” dynamic to people was uncomfortable at best, even when explaining to the most understanding of audiences. As a teenager until a few years after high-school, I was distant from even my closest friends. Though I’m sure everyone knew about my family, it’s nothing we ever spoke of. Sugar coat it however you all like, but rest assured; no matter how “normal” you tell yourselves, or your children that your relationship is… it is anything but. The untold psychological distress you’re putting your children in, is nothing short of negligence. As a parent of a 7 year old daughter, I’d sooner die than put my child through what yours are destined for… but as long as you’re happy, I suppose that will have to do for now.

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