This happened not too long ago when I was visiting a dear friend at her house. She had cancelled and rescheduled and cancelled and rescheduled and she seemed to be perpetually busy with her two angelic kids; a boy of 7 and a girl of 4 and rightfully so, they sure could be a handful sometimes!
We talked for a while and then I went to say hello to the kids. They seemed to be arguing (no big deal, you should’ve seen me argue with my sister when we were little). Only we stopped short when we heard the boy say, “Gays are just weird, they are bad, I’d punch one if I saw one!“ To which the little girl said, “No! They are in love, just like mommy and daddy and that is not bad.”
I watched my friend watch her kids. I could sense her alarm and tension. I thought she’d intervene, but she turned around, shrugged at me and carried on. I was taken aback but I realized that’s usually what we all do. We, as families, avoid a problem long enough and hope for it to magically disappear.
But here is why talking is important: when you talk to your child, you not only put your point across in a gentle manner but you also open doors for further conversation. You encourage him to come to you with his problems. You encourage a culture of openness and dialogue. Sure, some things are difficult to talk about. Homosexuality, most definitely, is. Kids are usually never introduced to these terms at kids carnival in Delhi or play schools in Delhi NCR. However, with the Supreme Court of the United States making gay marriage a constitutional right, there couldn’t be a better time to talk about it with your kids. Here is how you can approach the issue with your little ones:
1. Explain to them why all the pictures on social media are suddenly sporting the rainbow
Given how savvy kids are today, chances are that your children spotted the rainbow trend way before you did. But there is little chance of them knowing what the gesture stands for. Although kids classes in Noida or play schools in Noida may not explain much to the kids, you need to explain how these colors represent the LGBT campaign and how people all over the world are celebrating the ruling of The United States’ Supreme Court that constitutionalized gay marriage.
2. Explain in simple terms what the differences and similarities are
Try to explain objectively what is different about gays. This can be particularly difficult as you’d possibly be attempting to explain to your little kid something that you yourself might not understand fully. Explain how men can sometimes love and care for other men (and parallely for women too), exactly like their mommy and daddy. Make sure you don’t let any negative undertone sneak into your conversation.
3. Don’t let your own personal beliefs hinder the development of those of your kids’
You might have a certain standing on homosexuality but try not to impose it on your kids. There’s more to this talk than conveying information. You may or may not be okay with homosexuality but surely, you cannot be okay with your kid being hateful or judgemental. Kids are born with innate compassion and tolerance just like my friend’s little daughter but they can easily lose all of it growing up in a prejudiced and scathing society. You must discourage discrimination at all costs.
4. Open up to questions without judgement
Encourage your child to ask questions and answer them gently and patiently. Try to engage them and draw out their thoughts. It would be great if you can figure out their opinion on the matter by the end of your conversation. Keep the tone of the talk light as serious conversations often mum them up.
5. Explain how things stand in India
Do talk to them about the Indian scene as well. Tell them how gay marriage is still not legal in India even though many activists campaign for the same in India too. You might want to tell them how many famous people have come out - Vikram Seth from India or people abroad like Ellen DeGeneres or probably their T.V. favorites, Barney from How I Met Your Mother and Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory.
Written by Pankhuri Shrivastava