“Mommy, Can Two Girls Get Married?”

Note :: This article is highly sensitive and personal in nature. The opinions and beliefs here are based on the author’s life journey. We’d love to hear from you if you can respectfully disagree OR can relate to her words.

“Mommy, Can Two Girls Get Married?”

My 5-year-old daughter asked me this question as I was putting her to bed one night. You know the moment, juuuuust as you’re about to shut the door and BAM!… they want to get all existential on you. Thrown off guard, I said, “Technically, yes, but that’s kind of a mature topic for bedtime so we’ll talk more about it tomorrow.” To which she replied, “…because my teacher told me no.”

I mumbled something about discussing it more later and quickly said my goodnights, then stood frozen on the other side of her door, fuming and panicked. The thing is, my daughter goes to Catholic school, and her teacher was simply doing her job. The Catholic Church does not recognize same-sex marriage, and the teachers are required to respond to that question as such. My husband and I knew this when we decided to send her to the school, and I knew this day would come—but I honestly wasn’t prepared for it, nor did I think it would sting like this.

Because here’s the thing: My own mother has been in a loving, committed same-sex relationship for over 30 years since my mom and dad divorced.

My daughter’s grandmother is gay, but it’s never really been brought up or explained to her before.

In that moment after closing my daughter’s door, I was ready to pull her from that school. So many thoughts raced through my head. “What was I thinking sending her there in the first place? How would I explain this to her without contradicting everything she’d been taught in school? What were our options for public school?” My husband gave me a different perspective to consider later that night.

Both of us were raised in the same faith, and he reminded me how we still value some of the traditions. For example, we like that she’s being taught morals and acts of service, like prayer. Just recently, she tapped me on the shoulder, signed “I pray 4 you,” and recited a well-known prayer to me. My jaded little heart sang a hymn in that moment, grateful that she’s learning to put good thoughts into the world for others.

Ultimately, we decided the best course was to let her continue at the school, but to keep an open dialogue with her, which was something I lacked in my childhood. I was always very confused because my own school taught me that it was wrong to be gay, and no one at home was explaining to me otherwise since this was a subject much of my family swept under the rug.

I carried a lot of shame and guilt as a child, and I knew I didn’t want that for my kids.

The next day, I sat her down and, in the simplest terms, explained to her our stance as a family on gay marriage—that no one should be told who they can and can’t spend their life with—and related it to her two grandmothers. I assured her that her dad and I love how her school treats her like family, even though we don’t always agree with what the school teaches. I also stressed that these kinds of discussions need to stay within our family unit since her friends’ families may teach them otherwise. I could already see she was losing interest as her eyes started wandering, so I finished by making sure she understood she could always come to us with any questions… then she happily skipped off and moved on with her afternoon.

She may not truly understand the gravity of it all now, but at the end of the day, I just want her to be proud of her family, and know that anyone and everyone deserves love.

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Originally from New Orleans, Kathryn graduated from UNO in 2004 with a BA, and worked in film and television production. After fulfilling her dream of living in Los Angeles, she moved back home to be closer to family in 2009. She is now a stay at home mom, and lives in River Ridge with her husband, Derek, and 2 kids, Roni (Veronica) and Remy (Captain Destructo). You can usually find her ratting the streets throughout the day at local outdoor and indoor playgrounds with her diabolical dude. She enjoys wine, any and all fitness classes so she can drink the wine, traveling to places with wine and karaoke!

12 COMMENTS

  1. I think you handled that beautifully! She’s too young to understand the reach that her school’s teachings may have on her beliefs and lifestyle right now but you’ve given her a baseline for how you feel as a family and that’s all any parent can really do until the kids grow a little older and start considering a path for their own lives. I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school preschool through college. I can’t pinpoint when I started questioning the teachings of the church but I know as an adult that I don’t want my kids forced to believe certain things the church still holds true. It’s hard. I’d love to think that your daughter will remember that she doesn’t have to agree with everything she’s taught in school but kids idolize their teachers so… revisit in a few years unless she brings it up again and reinforce how you love both grandmothers no matter what. Thank you for sharing!

  2. You did great! We’ve had this discussion with my children as well, including with my son, who is a few years older. We’ve said that what we believe as a family, what the Catholic church believes, and what is legal can potentially all disagree. Sometimes I’m afraid it goes over their heads, but I want to plant the seeds early so there’s no shame, greater confusion, or anger later on.

    • Thank you! It’s so important to plant those seeds in simple terms while they’re young. They hear so many things from so many different directions growing up!

  3. I know this is a difficult discussion to have but since your kids are in Catholic school and it sounds like you were raised Catholic it might be a good time to delve deeper into your own faith. This happened to me over 20 yrs ago when i dated someone who was Jewish, i wasn’t practicing my Catholic faith and had started to pick & choose what I would believe in. Knowing that i would have to convert to Judaism if I married this guy got me to thinking, “what do I believe?” I started with catholicism b/c i was raised with that and was blown away by what i learned about the church fathers, how the faith was passed on from Jesus to them on down to the present day. I had thought that it was kind of made up as they went along. I listen to Catholic radio alot and they have great shows answering all those difficult questions especially at 1:00 in the afternoon and Catholic answers live in the evening on 690 am. They also have a website catholic.com. It sounds like you love your mother and don’t want to dishonor her but At least if you’re going to reject something, have all the answers so you know what you’re rejecting. Good luck in your search.

  4. I empathize with the situation you find yourself in and understand your desire for your daughter’s school to play a role in teaching her morals and acts of service. I also think it’s admirable that you intend to keep an open dialogue with her, since you don’t agree with all that the school teaches. I remember when my son was 6 years old and mentioned a girl in his class who had two moms; I was so relieved and proud that it was normal to him, and that he didn’t note it any differently than if he’d mentioned another child’s mom and dad. I hope you can continue to tell her when you disagree with the church, but I’d urge you to consider how ashamed and guilty a child at this school will feel if and when they realize that they themselves are gay.

  5. I can relate, but in a very different way. In our family, we believe that marriage is for one man and one women, so imagine the conversation you’re having with your daughter, but the complete opposite! I know it is rare to see people have civil and compassionate conversations about this topic, but you invited people to disagree with you, and I appreciate and respect that invitation. I agree with Stephanie who encouraged you to dig a little deeper into your beliefs. We all believe something. For example, you seemed pleased that your daughter was praying. To whom does she pray? Does that someone hear those prayers? Does that someone have any claim on our lives or is he just a genie in the sky? You like that she is being taught morals, but upon what are those morals based? Who gets to determine right from wrong? How do we even know what “good” is? When you have little ones, these questions seem to take on even more importance! You and I may have different beliefs, but we have some things in common–one of them is that we are both doing our best to raise our kids. 🙂 P.S. May I recommend a great book that deals with some of these big philosophical questions? “Mere Christianity” by CS Lewis.

    • Wow, thank you for such a thoughtful response! And you know, I wish I had the answers to those questions but I’m still on the journey of figuring out my own faith. I guess that’s what makes conversations like this so beautiful. We can both express our sides in a respectful way. Thank you for the thorough feedback!!

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