Friday, 22 February 2008

Gay Parenting

Do you want to have kids?

When I was a young lad just out of high school, I decided I'd like to have kids by the time I was 23, because that was a good time to have them I figured, when you're still young and full of energy. I'm not quite sure whether I calculated I'd be married at that point as well, but it certainly hasn't turned out quite like I'd imagined. We keep trying but there ain't no pitter patter of little feet despite years of all the right moves... Perhaps if I had the Frenchwoman instead... things might be different!

Gay parenting, just the phrase alone creates all kinds of reactions, but it's certainly a reality, and in the past year or so I've been exposed to a deluge of examples. From kids conceived in previous heterosexual relationships, to co-parenting set-ups, lesbian mums with donor sperm children and surrogate kids. Certainly for gay couples a family is rarely accidental, so planning parenthood is a whole lot more complicated than for our straight counterparts for whom it's not a question of 'Will you have kids?', but 'When will you?'

There is mixed opinion in the gay community about the whole topic. Some will argue it's a humanitarian right, some will say it's a selfish act of self replication. I'm sure you'll have your own opinion on the topic. Religious groups often say that there needs to be a mother and a father - but will they support co-parenting arrangements where there might be two mummies and two daddies? And when the community at large is littered with single parent families - what's the problem with a two same sex parents? Surely love is the bottom line. I've seen enough families out there with kids who weren't wanted and aren't cared for to know that a child who is wanted and loved is a very fortunate being in this world.

When I got used to the idea of being gay, I slowly put aside the whole parenting thing. It wasn't on the foreseeable radar, so I got used to the idea of being a non-parent and started to revel in it really. No chronic child-induced insomnia, no restriction of my free time, weekend sleep-ins as I liked and overseas holidays on a whim... But seeing the people around me who have kids makes me wonder what it might be like to endure all those things that kids inflict on parents, and be able to help mould them into confident, capable adults who are loved and supported regardless of what they make of their lives. The mums and dads who I know, when asked if they'd do it all again despite the adversities, always say they would choose parenthood again. Sure the options are pretty complex which ever way you go, but from those I've seen - it's certainly a possibility.

Would being focused on one (or a few) little people make me less of a person for the rest of my world? Or would it make me a better one?

Am I ready to sacrifice the me that I know to become the dad I know not?


Tom Cat from Bondi Beach said...

I think if you spent a week with my 3 [2 of which are moody teenagers] even the superchilled Dr. T. would suffer a meltdown !

Nevertheless the good definitely outweighs the bad and I think being a Dad has made me a more well rounded person = more patient and more ready to encourage rather than criticise, manager and coach of a soccer team, BBQ cook & time keeper at Little Athletics, etc. etc.

... But crikey bringing up kids is expensive = start saving now !

Martin said...

Very good question - it's one of those things people often ask me about and I really struggle to answer. It certainly would be a massive change in lifestyle, and I not so sure whether I'm selfless enough.