This week I read an article about some changes in California’s elementary through high school curriculum, which will weave the LGBT/gay rights movement into history and social studies classes beginning in the 2nd grade.
The articles aren’t clear-cut about what exactly will be taught, but they do specifically mention 2nd graders learning about two-mom and two-dad families, in addition to transgender and bisexual family structures. This worries me a bit. It’s not that I think the gay rights movement should be scrubbed from history or skipped over in textbooks, but I just think that perhaps there is a more appropriate age to cover the material. I mean, can’t we all sort of agree that a child should at least master their multiplication tables before they are introduced to the concept of sexual preference? It’s possible that the curriculum will keep it simple and just point out the existence of same-sex parents (which many kids will already be aware of at that age) but in a group of inquisitive 7 year olds, it might be difficult to just leave it at that. I worry that broaching the subject of same-sex parenting with a 2nd grader will spark questions of sexuality in general that my children won’t be ready or mature enough to discuss. Personally, I’d like to be the one to talk to my kids about sex – heterosexual sex included – and about things like what it means to be gay, transgender, or bisexual. I planned to discuss these things at some point… I just didn’t think they’d be 6 when I did it.
When I think about having “the talk” with my kids, I literally feel nauseated. I have no idea how to even start that kind of conversation. Sex isn’t the only subject that causes me anxiety – I worry that when the time comes to talk about other mature and potentially difficult topics, I won’t know what to say.
When I first had Vera, just getting her to sleep seemed SO HARD. In that moment, that’s all “parenting” was: making sure she slept, ate, and pooped enough. Now baby sleep is a breeze for me, and what’s difficult is combating disobedience and whining. But this week I’ve been thinking about what lies ahead in terms of motherhood, and I can tell that the parenting I’ll be doing 3 years from now will make what I’m doing now seem simple. In the scheme of raising a child, I’m still in the beginning stages. That thought overwhelms me. Sure, I can get a baby to sleep. But can I raise a respectful, kindhearted and morally responsible human being? Will I be able to broach difficult subjects with wisdom and clarity?
Part of the reason I am choosing not to do preschool (in addition to the astronomical cost and the debatable benefits) is that I want to maximize the time I have to teach and shape the character of my kids before they head off to school and are exposed to situations and influences outside of my control – like the aforementioned new curriculum. My hope is that if I can give them a good foundation prior to entering school and put certain communication practices in place (like this interview idea) that we will be prepared to address difficult concepts as they come up instead of being caught deer-in-the-headlights, not knowing how to handle sensitive topics in a confident but conversational manner.
Only time will tell how successful we are at accomplishing that goal. Reading those articles this week was just the kick in the butt I needed to start thinking about how we are going to parent over the next 15 years. The weight of the responsibility is far greater than I had ever imagined. Will we be able to rise to the occasion?