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29th Jun 2018

5 things that same-sex parents really want you to know

Happy Pride!

Sharyn Hayden

As an unmarried straight woman on the island of Ireland, I have had my fair share of uncomfortable and inappropriate questions thrown my way when it came to my pregnancies, and my subsequent parenting choices.

I endured the usual – was it planned, would we get married before or when the baby came, would we keep our dog, was I planning to breast or bottle feed and what PRECISELY was my birth plan..

These were the questions, not of my nearest and dearest, but of complete strangers, of course.

And even though those questions drove me bananas at the best of times, the intrusive nature of the type of questions I received kind of pale in comparison to those of the same-sex parents I am friends with.

With the majority acceptance of gay couple’s rights in this country to marry as of last year, we are still endeavouring to re-train the social conscious when it comes to same-sex parenting.

We know that it happens and is happening that same-sex parents are having children. In fact, it has always been happening, we just haven’t ‘gotten around’ to normalising it.

But as we are all, now, fully aware that families come in all sorts of different packages in Ireland, and some of those packages have same-sex parents in charge, you might need to familiarise yourselves with the following:


1. How same sex parents got pregnant really isn’t anybody’s business

They have a child and that’s all you need to know. Do you realise there are some heterosexual couples who have fertility issues and might opt to get pregnant in exactly the same way as some women in same-sex relationships, for example? You wouldn’t really ask them ‘where did you get the sperm from?’, would you?


2. Mammy is Mammy and Daddy is Daddy

Asking a same-sex couple who is ‘mammy’ and who is ‘daddy’ is pretty ignorant. Women are women and men are men, capiche?


3. There really doesn’t need to be one man and one woman to make up the perfect parenting couple 

If parents – in all their forms – are lucky and smart, they will surround themselves with a great mix of wonderful people who will form a part of their children’s lives. Since the world population is fairly balanced in male to female ratio, the likelihood is that they will have a network of both men and women around. Questions like ‘Will they suffer without a mother/father figure?’ is both pointless and undermines the parent’s instinctive ability to raise their child in a way that best matches their needs.


4. They don’t need to look like their parents to belong to them

Both heterosexual and homosexual couples adopt, use surrogates and donors in order to fulfil their need to start or add to their families. It has always been a fact of life for all types of families that straightforward biological conception doesn’t necessarily work out for everyone. So just repeat after me, ‘Is this your son/daughter? He/she is absolutely beautiful, you must be so happy’. End of.


5. Same-sex parents might break up just the same as straight parents might break up

There seems to be some urban myth that same-sex couples are ‘flighty’ and unlikely to go the distance. Well, I’m sure that some of them are, much the same as some hetero couples are flighty and unlikely to go the distance. Making enquiries as to ‘what will happen if you two break up’ is a bad question to ask ANY parent, so just.. don’t.

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