Gay parents aren’t restrained by the same societal norms that quietly push straight parents into confined ruts of conditioned patterns.
Freed of these constraints, they typically do a number of things that make for a more thriving family.
Here are 3 of the ways that we can learn from their experience.
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Gay men often make better dads than straight guys, not because they are inherently better at it, but because their situation forces them to parent far more conscientiously. As dads in heterosexual relationships, we have strong societal norms and thus easily fall into ruts where we hand over the parenting responsibilities to the mom and whilst we stand back. As I talk about extensively in my main video, Why Modern Family’s Struggle, it leads to an imbalance in the family and has a wide range of detrimental effects. Most notable is a real strain on of the love between the parents and thus the potential for joy within the family.
Characteristic #1: Equal Footing
The first characteristic you find in a lot of gay families, that unfortunately you do not find in a lot of straight families, is a real sense of equal footing between both parents when it comes to providing for the kids in the parenting situation. Both people feel equally empowered about their ability to provide. Of course, discrepancies exist, but not in the deep conditioned way that you so often find in straight families, where everybody in society expects that the mom is the care provider and that the dad is the second class parent. Because of this equal footing, there are two people to handle every tough situation.
One person does not feel overwhelmed by the inherent difficulty of being a parent and the other doesn’t feel like a lesser parent. Both people can enjoy the wonders of being really close with their children and the deep relief when the other parent can easily take over in tough moments.
How to do this in your Relationship
As I talk more extensively about in my main video, 1 Key to Being a Great Dad, the crux of obtaining this equal footing involves us fathers facing any doubts about our ability to be an equal parent. We have to step into those moments of uncertainty and give ourselves a chance to master parenting. If we don’t step forward, the women will typically just take care of the situation. This has a short-term ‘benefit’ for us as we don’t have to deal with whatever is happening for our child, but this quickly relegates us to a disempowered position with the mom running the show. It’s so easy to just stand back and let the mom do it, but it painfully perpetuates this hindering inequality.
We can further empower ourselves and thus prevent this dynamic, by getting information about how to handle those tough moments. If you have an issue you’d like to master, just Google it or head to Full Full Fatherhood.
Lastly we have to talk to our partners about our desire to create a have equal footing. They may be used to just doing it and their motherly instincts will likely drive them to quickly manage whatever is arising. It really helps to tell them so they know to give us space. Just say ‘Hey, I would love a relationship where we are both providing. Can you give me some space and support me to step forward?’ It makes a big difference, but it requires women to resist their strong instincts and I talk about how they can do this in the video 1 Key to being a Great Mom.
Characteristic #2: Space to find their Nurturing Hearts
Along the same lines, gay guys have an opportunity to really find their nurturing side when the baby comes. So often we hand these responsibilities off to the mom thinking she’s better at it. The reality is we are all very nurturing beings if we give ourselves the chance. For the gay guys, there is no one to hand it off to, so each one is given the space to sit there and hold their baby, stare into its eyes and fall in love.
As dads in a straight relationship, we have to choose to take that moment. We have to choose to find that side of ourselves and create the love with our babies. Set aside regular time to just hold them skin to skin and staring into their eyes. When they goo, we go goo. We follow them and we fall in love. If we are caught up in our business, our phones and our work, we do not have that chance to really bond, we leave it to the moms and things get out of whack.
Characteristic #3: Strategizing
The third thing that gay families often do that straight families typically don’t, is to strategize and plan. They are going into a situation without the societal norms about who is supposed to do what and when. Everything has to be thought through. Everything has to be planned.
Having a collaboriative plan makes a huge difference. If you are not prepared for having a kid, it is going to wipe you out. It makes all the difference if you’ve previously thought through things like who is going to take care of the kid when it wakes up at one in the morning. What are we going to do when there is no sex? What are we going to do in terms of fun in our relationship? All these types of conversations need to be had if you don’t want to find yourself overwhelmed and on unequal footing once the situations arise.
Fortunately for gay families, they have to have them because of the lack of default. Do not fall into a default. Take the time to sit down, if it is before your child is born or even if you are already ten years into it. Plan out how you want to parent, how you want your family to go with your partner. That kind of collaborative conversation that we so often find in business is so often lacking at home. How could it be different? How can you get to that place of difference? Do not just accept the status quo that you are in. Strategize and make it what you want it. I cover how to do this extensively in How to Baby Proof your Marriage.
• Hopefully, we can take what from what these gay guys are doing and:
• Find equal footing with our partners.
• Find our nurturing sides.
• Strategize about how we can make our families thrive.
Regardless of your sexual orientation, if both parents are empowered, the family balance is maintained and everyone thrives.
Thank you for joining me for another episode of Full Frontal Fatherhood. I would love to hear your ideas about how we could do this. Please join the conversation below and I will see you next time for another episode of Full Frontal Fatherhood.