Lgbt Parents &Ndash; Mister Moms?

August 27, 2011 by Examiner Cogan  
Published in Family

What kids call their gay parents is a relatively new question kicking about in the Toronto LGBT parenting community. And although lesbians are far more likely to have children either from previous (heterosexual) relationships as well as together (using a sperm donor), gay dads are following in a close second. I ask Barlow Rather (38), a civil rights lawyer and one of Toronto’s more vocal gay dad activists, who with his partner Martin Avery (40), a graphic artist, have five children ranging in age from one to 11, how they approached the issue.

What kids call their gay parents is a relatively new question kicking about in the Toronto LGBT parenting community. And although lesbians are far more likely to have children either from previous (heterosexual) relationships as well as together (using a sperm donor), gay dads are following in a close second. I ask Barlow Rather (38), a civil rights lawyer and one of Toronto’s more vocal gay dad activists, who with his partner Martin Avery (40), a graphic artist, have five children ranging in age from one to 11, how they approached the issue.

“We couldn’t make our minds up what they should call us and we decided before the first twins were born that we would be many different things,” says Rather. “But the moment they were born, we became Dad and Daddy.” Another gay couple I spoke with say they go by “Mommy and Mommy2″. I wonder if this seems a bit hierarchical to Mommy2?

Some names are a bit cutesy for my liking, but then same-sex couples do not have the thousands of years of precedent to follow, as straight couples do. One lesbian I know has her daughter call her by her first name, because she cannot abide the sugary labels others chose. “We know other same-sex parents that started off as one thing, but ended up as something else as the child got older,” says Avery. “What sounds cute when children are young can sound silly as they grow.”

Another lesbian couple (who have now split up) each gave birth to a child, and find that their children distinguish between the birth mother and the co-parent: “My birth child calls me Mummy and my ex, Lala. My ex’s birth child calls her Mummy and me Makma.” Mary Rogers (35), a social worker and her partner Vicky Towers (33), a veterinarian, living in Newmarket, have two children. “We are Mummy Mary and Mummy Vicky, or Mum and Momma. But sometimes they just say Mum and we both answer.”

“Our kids used to get some very strange comments from other children at school when it came to Mother’s Day,” laughs Rather. “On Father’s Day they each make one card for Dad and one for Daddy.” The old favorites often do win out: at last year’s Toronto Alternative Families Show, a seminar on what children call their parents found that Mum and Mummy and Dad and Daddy were the most popular choices, although one child was heard to call her mother “Mister Mum”.

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