Teaching Children About The A In GLBTA

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You can marry a man, or a woman, or you can choose to never marry anyone at all.

I tell my children this over and over. (Separate post is upcoming on blurred gender discussions. I’m trying to stick to one point at a time. I know, focus is not what anyone expects from me.)

You can have your own house and not have to share your stuff or make compromises. You can live down the street from Mama, or we can get condos in the same building. (Please God, I love my children, but I want them to move out someday.)

Single is not a failed relationship status.

You do not have to go two-by-two through life. You are not on Noah’s Ark.

I think that the asexual community is perhaps the least recognized branch of the GLBTQA community—heck, they don’t even get to own their own letter entirely. There’s some confusion as to the “A” in GLBTQA—some people use it to mean Ally, others use it to refer to Asexual, and I’ve also seen it less-frequently used to mean All. (Bustle.com has a simplified list of definitions of various identities that can be helpful.)

I have friends who identify as asexual, and I have friends who do not identify as anything but have not been actively involved with anyone in the time that I have known them, and I’m not close enough to them to justify asking them to clarify how they identify. (See, sometimes I can actually be polite and tactful. I know, I surprise myself as well.)

It often seems that our society is most comfortable sending people off into the world in orderly pairs. My single adult friends are always dodging questions about who they are dating, or if they’ve met anyone interesting lately. We talk about relationships like we talk about sports or the weather—as a way to make small talk—but we don’t always realize that these questions can be hurtful to those of us who don’t have a +1 for whatever reason.

I interfere with well meaning relatives who ask my kids if they like someone at school. As a mother, it’s my job to create space for them to be whomever they are right now with no pressure, and allow them to grow into whomever they will become.

The truth is, asking about who someone is dating isn’t nearly as interesting as asking what they are passionate about. I’m in favor of more interesting conversations.

My boys, at ages 8 and 11, have no interest in dating anyone right now. Neither have ever exhibited a crush on anyone, except for the one time when Mya was on Yo, Gabba, Gabba, and my one-year-old son dropped his toys and stared at the screen in wonder. I try to remind myself not to fill in empty spaces in conversation with questions about school yard crushes. I want them to feel that they are enough on their own. I never want them to feel obligated to date in order to please their mother.

They never have to go to a school dance if they don’t want to. If they do go, I want them to know that dates aren’t required. The best times I had at dances were when I went with a pack of friends instead of a date. I do force them to learn some basic dance moves, like the minimalist side-to-side step and bounce, or the simple jumping up and down type thing, because I don’t want fear of dancing to be the reason they don’t go. I also stress that there are other ways to have fun at a dance—honestly, playing in the band is just as cool as dancing to someone else’s music, and then you don’t ever have to sweat the slow songs.

Society changes slowly, but it does change. I often feel like the greatest contribution I will ever make in this world will be in the adults my children will become. So when we talk about diversity in our house, I defend the A in GLBTA. Asexuality is not a defect of character, and it’s important to clarify that to our children. Many creatures of the world do not choose to live in pairs, or flocks, or herds, and they are just as amazing as the ones that do. In other words, it’s a completely natural identity. I want my children to create a life that works for them, and not feel obligated to fit into anyone else’s idea of who they should be.


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