Dear Jody: Parents need to honor whole family, not just grandchildren
March 15, 2007
Q: I have two lovely, biological children, ages 1 and 3. My partner “Sandy” and I chose to become parents and used a sperm donor for me to conceive. Her parents have always been very supportive of us and our children. Our children are the apple of their eye and we often do things with them as a family. We even went on a vacation with them, and the children had a wonderful time.
Of course that is not the problem. The problem is my parents. They have always disapproved of our relationship. They believe that being gay is a sin and so they don’t want anything to do with Sandy. They seem to think that if I wasn’t with Sandy I wouldn’t be gay. I still see my parents about once a month or so, but Sandy is not invited and when we are together, my parents pretty much play like Sandy doesn’t exist. Normally we meet at a restaurant which is neutral ground. I do this so that I don’t have to worry about my mother crying or my dad getting angry at my situation. I have put up with it because I don’t want to lose my parents, but it has been very painful to me.
Well now, all of a sudden, they want to have a relationship with our children. They called 3 days ago and wanted to know if I would bring the kids when we visit next week. I don’t know what has made a difference because before they just ignored the fact that we had kids. I don’t know what to do because Sandy says absolutely not. She thinks they will bad mouth us and if they don’t want a relationship with her, they can’t have one with the kids.
I see her point, but also want to do what is best for the kids. If having a relationship with my parents would be good for them, then I don’t want to deny our kids their grandparents. I don’t think my parents would say anything bad about us, but I certainly will be there so I could stop if they started to. What do you think we should do? I don’t want this to come between me and Sandy.
A: First, I have to say that I have a hard time with the idea that your parents want a relationship with their grandchildren but won’t have one with your partner. If you want to keep a happy home for your kids, I would suggest you honor your partner like any married person would–should. Your parents need to learn that you are a family.
You might also want to take this time to tell them that their not having embraced their grandchildren and your partner has kept you from having a normal family relationship with them–and will continue to do so if they don’t make an effort to change their attitudes. It’s my opinion that unless they work on accepting Sandy, they will undermine your relationship in one way or another. This will not be healthy for your kids. As it is now, your parents currently have no relationship with the children, so it would not be a horrible loss or trauma for your children–though just not having a second pair of grandparents is, of course, a loss in itself. I would approach all this with your parents by letting them know that they need to work to accept Sandy as your partner in order to make it a healthy situation of having them in your family picture.
Need resource during stressful times
Q: I have read your column for some time now. I have found your advice to be sound and concise. My wife and I have been together for ten years and for the last six months we have been attempting to get pregnant through the assistance of a doctor. It has been a challenging time and we are both struggling. Particularly, we have been struggling with the emotional stress of attempting to get pregnant and then learning that we are in fact not pregnant while the cost of the fertility treatments mount ever higher. I am certain that all couples go through this regardless of their sexual inclination, but I am looking for a resource for my wife and I to assist us emotionally. I would appreciate your thoughts on the matter.
A: You could seek counseling to help, but first you could check with your doctor and ask if there are any support groups that s/he knows of in your community. Also, there are on-line support groups as well. (My partner has cancer and I have found an on-line caretaker’s group that has been helpful to me.) I googled “infertility support groups” and came up with many websites. One in particular was www.dailystrength.org That site had all kinds of support groups. I then entered “infertility” and got to the on-line support group that would be of help to you. Good Luck!
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