Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Playdates when young son's friend has two mommies
Wanting to be tactful: I don't want my 6-year-old son going over to his friend's house to play because the friend's parents are gay. I am not homophobic and have nothing against gay people — I just don't want my son exposed to this unfamiliar lifestyle at such a young age. I just think he's too young to understand. If he was older, it would be different.
We've had my son's friend over to play several times already, and it's getting awkward not sending our son over there. How can I explain my feelings without making it seem like I'm homophobic or without offending my son's friend's very nice parents?
Carolyn: Why does he have to understand? Or, more specifically, what is there for him to understand at this stage beyond, two people who love each other have created a home together? If he really presses you on it, you can point out that the majority of couples are male plus female, but like anything else, it's normal to have some common things (like brown hair) and variations (red hair). Sexuality is no different — though "sexuality" is my word for you. For your son, all you need is "couples," or "families."
Meanwhile, the best way not to "seem" homophobic is not to be homophobic. Keeping your child away from his friend's home because his parents are gay is a homophobic choice: You're treating this couple as an undesirable "other." The best thing you can do for when your son is older is treat this very nice family, now, as you would any other very nice family.
Also, not for nothing, I have a hard time believing your son, at 6, isn't already fully aware that his friend has two mommies/daddies. My kids were on to that well before age 6, and were naturally accepting of it. Kids are open to the world as it's presented to them; it's adults who teach them to start filtering it all in arbitrary ways.
Having a drunken bash does entail a few risks, you know
More than spilt milk: I held a drunken bash during which a great time was had by all, but two of my friends spilled drinks — one on the carpet, one on a couch. I know who the spillers were because they both told me and apologized, but neither of them offered to pay (for carpet shampoo — regular cleaner didn't get the stain up — and for the reupholstery I now have to do on the couch). They're both good friends otherwise, but I'm really offended by this. Should I ask them to pay? Judge them in silence? Let it go?
Carolyn: Well, wait a minute. If you open your home to a bash, then you open yourself to spills. I could see charging them for damage unforeseeable by you and preventable by them — say, if they played living room volleyball with your ceramic sculpture. Likewise, if it was a fairly tame gathering and someone got outrageously drunk, then I could see hoping, even expecting, the drunk to assume responsibility for any resulting property damage.
But a spill by a reveler or two at a "bash" is an accident. Take the share of responsibility that's yours to take, and upholster the couch in dark red this time.