Growing up all my friends had a mom and a dad.
There was no question about it. As we got into middle school and high school, some of my friend’s parents started getting divorced, and then it became a single parent household, but there still wasn’t a question on whether there was a mom and a dad.
Sometimes, there were questions like, “Well, why is one parent white and the other parent black?” or “Why does your dad work, but your mom doesn’t?” but still no question on whether there was a mom and a dad. As I started getting older, I knew more people that were living with only their mom or only their dad. Questions like “Where is your dad?” and the response being “I don’t have a dad” were becoming more common. MOST of the time the next response would be, “Yes you do, everyone has a dad.”
At this time in my childhood, “everyone has a dad” would have been my thinking and probably my answer because that is what I knew to be true. To have a child, you had to have a mom and a dad. This wasn’t my parents fault and it wasn’t anything they had purposefully taught me. It just was.
As a teacher, I am aware that families are all different, and I can’t assume that a child has a father figure in their life. I have heard other teachers ask students about their dad and the student will reply with “I don’t have one” and the teacher will come back with “Everyone has a dad, but you might not know him.” I have always been against this thought process because, to me, a dad was always a male figure who was there for you, took care of you, you could trust, and was raising you. Whether that person was biological or not. I understood where others were going with their thought process, but I was never okay with that statement.
It wasn’t until my wife and I had our first child that this statement started and continues to send me right over the edge. When we began talking about a family, we would get the question constantly about who the dad was going to be. It would stop me in my tracks because there isn’t a dad in our family. My son will not grow up with a dad. He will, forever, grow up with two moms. Will he have male figures in his life who he can look to as role models, who he can talk to, who he can learn from? Yes, but that doesn’t make any of those male figures his father. When we became pregnant, some of our family members would ask about the dad. Again, we had to teach them that there is no dad. The ones that respect us have changed their vocabulary and honored our family.
It wasn’t until I heard a co-worker (a few months ago) talk about how they were talking with a student and that student stated they didn’t have a dad. My coworker told that student, “Everyone has a dad. You may not know him and he may not live with you, but everyone has a dad.” I was sitting right there asking myself if I was going to open this can of worms, if I was going to start this conversation with this person. I decided that I didn’t have a choice. I am raising a son who has two moms and no dad. If and when the time comes that someone tells my son that he has a dad, he just doesn’t know him, I want my son to know that he can stand up and tell that person “No, I have two moms. There is no dad.”
So, what does our family look like?
My son has two moms and a donor-helper. This donor-helper was kind enough to lend us a part of him that we don’t have. This person did that on his own without getting anything from us in return. At this point in time, we don’t even know who that person is. In no way, shape, or form does that person have any rights to my son or our family. My son has a picture book that we created for him before he was born. It goes through the process of how we started our family. We aren’t lying to him or leaving anything out. We are teaching him what his family looks like, along with what other families might look like.
We will all become better because of it.
My wife, my son, our future children, and myself ask you to think about all family structures, about all the many ways families are created, and take the time to get to know someone before you assume what their family looks like. Teach your children about other families, open their world up to others who aren’t the same as they are.
Our son has two moms, there is no dad.
Featured image credit: Sadie Kay Photography