A few years ago, at Christmastime, my baby brother Kyle, (he’s not a baby- 28 and married), didn’t have a way to get home from NYC. He was debating if he should even come home because of the lack of transportation and the time crunch. He doesn’t own a car, because it’s New York, and he had to work December 23rd until 5. Me, being the great big sister I am, offered to drive to NYC with my then seven-year-old son to bring him home. It seemed like a win-win. We’d explore the city while Kyle worked on Friday and then head home together.
On the drive home, somewhere between Pennsylvania and the Ohio Turnpike, in the middle of the night, the conversation changed. Kyle wanted to know what I told my son about his upcoming wedding. Kyle was engaged to be married to his college boyfriend, David. He was understandably a bit annoyed at me when I said I hadn’t really told him anything about it.
I hadn’t told my son anything about his uncle’s wedding for a couple of reasons. One, the wedding was not for another year. Two, Kyle lives far away and we don’t get to see each other frequently. It wasn’t a hot topic of conversation with a little boy who’d rather talk about dinosaurs and Avengers. (In case you were wondering, this was not the correct response.)
I honestly never really planned to have a talk with my son about his uncle’s wedding. Maybe that was the wrong approach. My take was that it was just how things are and that I would tackle any questions as they came up naturally. I mean, do you sit your child down and have an in-depth conservation with them when your brother is marrying his new wife? No, probably not. We see it different when unions are “different”.
And this was that different situation. In my search to help my son understand and support my brother, I did what any self-respecting mother and sister would do, I googled all the things to start the conversation. Some helpful tips I found for talking to kids about this:
- Keep the conversation simple.
- Be open to the questions your children may have. Some of the books mentioned below would be great for this!
- Help kids understand through books. Below are some books with amazing reviews
- “Families, Families, Families” by Suzanna Lang- This book uses animals to show the love that blooms from all kinds of nontraditional families.
- “The Different Dragon” by Jennifer Bryan- A bedtime story featuring a bedtime story, about a playful dragon who goes on adventures. This book teaches kids about being true to themselves and different families.
- “This Day in June” by Gayle E. Pitman- This book honors the day that honors Pride Day. This is the tool for teaching children about respect, acceptance, and understanding.
If you’re still feeling stuck, ask your family member to join in the conversation with you! Most importantly, show acceptance and compassion towards your family members. When your child sees this, they will follow!
And for those wondering, Kyle and David got married in Woodstock, NY. Up in the mountains, a beautiful wedding ceremony and reception that they basically created themselves. It was an amazing celebration for the happy couple, their friends and family.