Sunday, June 19, 2011

10 Pieces of Advice to Gay Dads

Happy Father's Day!

Ah, the joys of the newborn children and the craziness of inexperienced parents.  Alas the "gayby boom" is in full swing.  Gone are the days of the rare gay dad and undercover lesbian moms.  This Father's Day has caused me to reflect on my experience as a Gay Dad. After a 45 minute conversation with my son, I realize that all-in-all the last of my worries are through.  He will not starve. He will someday be upper-middle class or higher. He will someday, hopefully in the distant future, make me a grandpa.

That being said I wanted to share some knowledge based on the experience of being a full-time, out of the closet, gay dad. I wanted to share what I've learned. I made a list, because people seem to like my "lists".

1. People do not want to see your baby at an adult cocktail party or event. Especially other parents. There is an "adult sphere" and a "children sphere". There is a baby human sphere, and and human sphere and they shouldn't mix.  Your baby is not an accessory for others to admire. It's creepy, and I think it's disrespectful to the parents who just spent $50 - $100 so they could have a night away from kids. 

2. Create your support network. This includes family, friends, neighbors who can all take care of your child when you want to go to some "adult" event. (Did I mention that I don't want to see your kid?)

3. Keep a strict, no exception rule about bedtime. For us it was 8PM. It never deviated till he was 21.  Knowing that he was safely tucked away allowed us to relax, enjoy our evenings and even go to cocktail parties, sans child.

4. Get involved in all aspects of your kid's life. Baseball, PTA, extracurricular activities are all ways to help broaden your child's life and your own.

5. Don't EVER share any personal aspect of your life with a. another parent, b. teacher, c. coach within a 300 mile radius of your home.  You may casually mention something about your plantar warts to an acquaintance at the little league, next thing you know you're sitting alone at the PTA dinner.  The child rearing network is designed for child rearing. In such it is a major alert system for any perceived illness, weakness, or deviation from the norm.  Confess to a fellow parent that your husband is having affair....before you know it you're the object of pity at the baseball diamond, PTA meetings and Sunday school. Just keep your personal life separate from your child rearing life.

6. Other parents are NOT your friends. They are your rivals who are fighting to win the limited resources of time, energy and capital expended on children. Resources like teaching time, coaching time, field trips, awards....they want this for their kids....not for yours. Think of them more as coworkers who are fighting for that big promotion. Raising kids is not a zero sum game, there are winners and losers. 

7. Your kid does not stand out because you are gay. YOU DO!  In fact, you will be known as the "the gay dads".  Your kids' teachers may know who you are, Gay Dad, but may have no idea who your kid is. 

8. NEVER, never, never explain your relationship  to a school secretary, teacher, nurse, doctor. If they ask you who you are, you are the child's parent, end of story.  If you say something lame like "I'm Dad #2" or "the stepdad" or "I'm not the biological parent" you've just given away your power. The second you hesitate about your role in your child's life you've diminished yourself in the eyes of your child, your partner and society. If anybody asks you who you are, say confidently "I am his/her father." (in a don't fuck with me tone of voice).

9.Find the "Power Mom". This is the woman who has inherited the traits needed to herd all the other moms into action. You must appease her at all costs.  Unless you want the role of  "power mom" you will use all your gay powers of flattery, good taste, bawdy humor, cutting remarks and back stabbing to get in her favor.  She is the one who will be the one who protects your child when you are not there. She is the one who will keep the other parents from making comments. You goal is make her see your child as one of her own. Once that's accomplished, it's smooth sailing. Power moms are also known as "mother hens, lions protecting their cubs, she wolves".

10. Your kid doesn't care that you're gay. Just don't be too "gay" at sports events.

Next to convince yourself not to kill your teenager.