“My daughter has been in a relationship with her girlfriend for a few years, and we’re in wedding planning mode. I want to ask her if children are in the future, but I’m nervous to bring that up since she’s in a lesbian relationship. How do I navigate that topic of conversation?”
Question Submitted Anonymously
Answered by Kristin Russo
Hello MY MOM! Just kidding, I know you aren’t my mom… but you might as well be, because ohhh how I know this is just how my mom felt and continues to feel! What is incredible about the experience I am having with my mom is that—despite me KNOWING that she is fit to burst with the idea of her first grandkid—she has completely respected my boundaries and my privacy when it comes to the specifics of my family-future-plans.
Now, I have gotten a bit ahead of myself, so let’s break this down:
First of all, THANK YOU. Thank you for being a badass mom to your daughter (I can tell!), for being excited about her future, and for supporting her love and her soon-to-be-marriage. It is really important for us to start here, because you should know that you are already giving your daughter (and her future wife) such an incredible foundation of family and love.
Now, onto the baby-stuff. Lesbians certainly can and do have babies, and your daughter and her future wife may very well be planning for a larger family down the line. There are sperm banks, there is adoption, there is the possibility of using a “known donor,” there are foster kids! The complexities and specifics of all of those options deserve their very own piece here at My Kid Is Gay, but for now suffice it to say that babies are certainly possible for your daughter! What this means is twofold: hell yes you can talk & think about her possible-future-babies but, wait!!!! …you should also be just as respectful of your daughter and her wife’s personal boundaries as any parent should be with any child, regardless of their sexuality.
See, here’s the thing. I was married to my wife, Jenny, three and a half years ago. See, look, here’s us:
Our wedding was the best, and my mom made 200 tiny green-checked cloth napkins and about 400 pounds of granola and burlap table runners and so much more! She threw herself into wedding planning as though it was the role she was born to fulfill (honestly, it may well have been), and I was so excited to share that experience with her. Leading up to and during my wedding, my mom and I were both focused on my wedding. We didn’t get ahead of ourselves at that point because we wanted to celebrate what it meant that I had found someone to spend my life with—someone who I love dearly and who challenges me in incredible ways. I say all of this because, first and foremost, I want to encourage you to put your focus on your daughter’s partnership for the time being. Time is a funny thing, and I wouldn’t want either you or your daughter to miss the wonder that this celebration can be, all because you are thinking about what will happen after.
It has been some time since that wedding day, though, and I honest-to-God thought that my mom would be all up in my business asking about babies left and right, driving me batty. We have discussed my general feelings on family, which is basically “yes, I want a family, I think, but life is complicated, so I just don’t know any specifics, I just need to figure it out as it comes,” but we haven’t dug in any deeper than that. We graze it occasionally, and sometimes she does bubble over in spite of herself (just last month my mom was here, saw a baby, and accidentally blurted out, “Oh! He is so cute! You had better give me one of those SOON!”), but one of the biggest gifts my mom has ever given me is that she has not pushed me on the question of specifics. I am sure she talks about it with her sisters, I am sure she talks about it with my dad. She might even talk about it with my sister! Who knows! What I do know is that she has been incredibly respectful of me and of the complicated process that can be thinking-on-kids, trying-to-have-kids, or anything else in between.
My advice to you is to be excited about the many possibilities open to your daughter and her partner, and to stick to the more general, supportive questions. Perhaps you can say to her something like, “I am so excited for your wedding, and that you have found someone to spend your life with. I know that managing a marriage and thinking about the future can be so complicated and wonderful, and I just want you to know that if you want to talk about anything, at any time, I am all ears. I cannot wait to see what your future holds!” Your daughter will get the message. You support her, you love her, and you know she can have a future that looks oh-so-many-ways. You can also feel comfortable asking her, more generally, “Do you both talk at all about having kids?” Let her guide the rest of this conversation, both before and after her wedding. She may open up to you and tell you everything she is thinking right away, or she may be like me and meander around the perimeter of the conversation because she isn’t sure (or she isn’t sure how detailed she wants to get right away about their thoughts & plans).
Essentially, my advice is to treat your daughter the same way you would treat any of your children—with love, with respect, with compassion. Have patience, give space where space is needed, and at every turn, remind her how much you love her and how excited you are for her to be sharing her life with someone she loves.
Kristin is the CEO & Co-Founder of both Everyone Is Gay & My Kid Is Gay. She also hosted & produced the first season of First Person, a video series on gender and sexuality from PBS Digital. She co-authored the book This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids (Chronicle, 2014), is the co-director of A-Camp, and holds a Master’s in Gender Studies from the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan.