by DR SIMON CROUCH
I have to admit that I am as guilty as the next person. My first instinct when I see a young child wandering alone, seemingly lost in a busy crowd, is to ask that child,
“Where is your mummy?”
It seems like such an innocuous question. What could possibly be wrong in helping a frightened child in this way. Well, I was recently told a story about such an encounter and it didn’t play out as you might first expect.
Three-year-old Jason was running around at the airport, burning off the boredom as he and his family waited for a delayed flight. Momentarily disorientated as a flood of disembarking passengers engulfed him, he glanced around searching for the security of his parents. A helpful man saw the young boy and approached with that innocent question,
“Where is your mummy?”
Jason hesitated, a puzzled look on his face. Trying to help, the man attempted a different tack.
“What’s your mummy’s name?”
At this Jason smiled. He knew the answer to this question, and he answered the man very proudly.
“My mummy’s name is Daddy.” He beamed, a giant smile on his face.
You see Jason doesn’t have a mummy – he has two daddies. As one of his dads arrived on the scene, scooping Jason into his arms, the stranger looked a little puzzled. He gave a nervous laugh and excused himself, snatching a curious glance at the unfamiliar family that was now regrouping.
The stranger at the airport is not alone however as he struggles to understand this new type of family, which is becoming more and more common in Australia. There are a growing number of children in Australia growing up in families like Jason’s where at least one parent is same-sex attracted. Television shows like Modern Family and the New Normal have cast these families as gay male couples or two lesbian parents, but rainbow families are much more diverse than this. Single gay and lesbian parents are raising children. Bisexual and transgender parents are often forgotten. And it is rare that people think about children who may have been born in the context of a heterosexual relationship but are now living with one of their biological parents and a new same-sex partner.
In fact there is a general lack of understanding when it comes to same-sex families. Senator Ron Boswell stood amongst his peers in the Houses of Parliament recently and demonstrated some very outdated opinions,