“My kid has a friend whose parents are derogatory. What to do?”
Question submitted Anonymously
Answered by Dannielle Owens-Reid, co-founder of My Kid Is Gay
I remember what it was like being young and having my parents say who I could and couldn’t hang out with, and I’ll tell you what… I did not care what their reason was. I was pissed. In my mind, it was like, “Who cares if her dad smokes? She doesn’t, so why are you punishing me and my friend for something her parents do!?” It made me so upset that I would never EVER listen to the reasons why, or come to a compromise, or even care to talk about it. I would just be upset.
However, my parents didn’t do that a ton, and for a large part of my growing up I had a single mom. A single mom who always asked me about right from wrong. She didn’t tell me. She wouldn’t say, “Don’t be mean to people based on their skin color” but rather, “Do you think you should treat anyone differently because of how they look?” and I’d be like “…no.” I remember going through the steps in my head—“Well, they’re a person, but we look different, but like, why would I be mean to them?…so… no,.no they shouldn’t be treated differently.” It’s a cool thing, to understand on your own how to be a kind and considerate and civil human being.
I think if you’re around the parents when they’re saying shitty things, you can bring it up to your kid later. Just say, “Hey, how did it make you feel when so-and-so said derogatory-thing?” and if your kid is like, “I didn’t like it,” you can have a conversation about how you both didn’t like it. This is a cool conversation to have with your kid. You’re not talking down to them, and you’re giving them space to actually think about social issues without forcing an opinion on them. Alternately, if they say, “I dunno” or don’t have much to say about what the parent said, you can tell them why you didn’t like it— it’s totally fine to offer your opinion and open up the conversation.
Ultimately, this is your kid. You have to make the decision that you feel best about. If you feel your child is at risk being around these kinds of parents, then absolutely do what you feel necessary. But. the derogatory comments won’t stop here and you won’t always be able to protect your child. So being able to have a conversation that informs the way your child sees/feels about the comments is so important.
Dannielle resides in Los Angeles, and has been working with LGBTQ young people for over four years as the co-founder of Everyone Is Gay. She holds a BA in Theater Performance, and also worked extensively in the world of social media, heading up social interactions for Virgin Mobile on the Lady Gaga Monster Ball Tour in 2012. She recently co-authored the book This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids, with business partner, Kristin Russo.
Click through to read about our contributors!