Melisa Holmes at Girlology.com and I were chatting over email the other day and she had plenty of wise words for parents of girls. Since we have a lot of gay dad friends, and not nearly enough gay dad content on GreatDad.com, I’m always interested in what experts say about gay dad fathering, as new an area of study as it is.
Her advice to gay Dads: Keep being a great parent—open, honest conversations and active listening are the best. Don’t hesitate to jump on in, but not to feel bad if your daughter says you don’t understand. Most gay dads I know ( we have a lot of gay friends and know a few gay dads) have women in their lives that help their daughters with things that the daughter feels like a woman should help with (i.e. 1st bra buying is a big one…helping learn how to use tampons….). Gay or straight, moms or dads – all girls and boys need an adult they can go to with those “awkward” questions. Sometimes its an adult entirely outside of their family structure.
This is what I hear said quite a bit. Michael Gurian (Nature the Nurture and other books) once told me that he finds that gay families consciously or unconsciously integrate role models of the opposite sex. One benefit of this is that their kids have someone else to talk when they need a gender-specific point of view.
Gay parenting, as we now start to see, isn’t that much different than straight parenting, once you brush away the societal prejudices. It starts with diaper changings, feedings, and unquestioning love and attention, and evolves, like straight parenting to a real relationship that requires emotional support, honesty, and empathy.