Protecting the Children – Part One

I’ve already spoken about one need of children, here, in regards to gay marriage. But there are other issues that we women, we mothers worry about, and after some hard consideration, I think it’s time to address them.

It was 1980. Early spring, one of those gorgeous days when I could put the windows up and let some fresh air blow into the house.  One of those days you dream about in January.  I was sitting in the rocker, cuddling my firstborn, when all of a sudden there was an explosion of profanity from the next-door back yard.  It was impossible, even with windows down, to miss what had happened:

My next-door neighbor was gay. He’d been married, his wife was absent, due to health issues that were never elaborated on, except that she was in full-time nursing care. He had a teenaged son and daughter. I liked George (another pseudonym) — cheerful, talented, creative, good-humored . . . and I liked the kids, too, although the boy seemed sullen at times and the girl was so shy I didn’t even know what her voice sounded like after almost a year of being neighbors.

The night before, George had had a party.  George, Jr. was screaming obscenities at his father because other gay men at that party had been hitting on him, and his dad had looked on and done nothing.  The friends mattered more.  He hadn’t protected his son from unwanted sexual advances.  All it would have taken would have been a good-natured, “Hey, if he doesn’t want to, leave him alone.” But evidently that was not what had happened. I couldn’t fathom it then, being so protected, myself, growing up, but it sounded as if George had actually found the whole thing perfectly acceptable.

George, Jr. was furious at his father. He was confronting his father with the strongest possible expressions of rage for a horrible breach of parental responsibility,  and with an ultimate betrayal — and George laughed.  He laughed at his son.

I told DH about it, when he came in for lunch. “Just keep quiet about it,” he told me. “Don’t say anything, not to anybody.”  I didn’t know, then, that DH had been seduced, himself.

This was at a time when an adult, even a parent, could be brought up before a judge for what was called moral turpitude.  I don’t know what would make that definition, any more; the courts more and more are favoring the gay parents in custody issues.  The protection of minor children from irresponsible and immoral behaviors is getting harder over the past few years.  Even 20 years ago, when I worked for a lawyer, today’s (im)moral climate wasn’t even on the radar.

Frankly? having girls, there was a limit to what I had to worry about. If I’d had any boys, I don’t know WHAT I would have done. Even then, you couldn’t change custody and visitation over what MIGHT happen; something had to have already happened before you could deprive a parent of custody or visitation rights. Now the definition of endangerment, in court, has become so watered down as to become very nearly meaningless.

One thing you can do — TALK TO YOUR KIDS.  No matter their age, even preschoolers can know that it’s wrong to be touched in areas a bathing suit would cover, and that they can ALWAYS talk to you if someone says or does something that makes them uncomfortable. They can be told that it’s okay to say “no,” that just because a person is an adult, “respect”  only covers so much territory.

Being age-appropriate is key. And you don’t have to point a finger to Daddy or Daddy’s friends.  Kids are at risk now in school from teachers and coaches. School sex ed classes cover matters most of us do not want to have brought to our children just yet, and certainly not without our own values (like chastity and reverence) being included in the conversation. A huge item in the news this week is a 10-year old in California being raped by a “transgender” in a public bathroom.

So it’s not just us who have to worry — everyone needs to worry, now; no one can afford to be complacent. But we have a higher risk factor.  I’m putting feelers out to see if there are any studies about rates of molestation for children of gays as compared to children from heterosexual households.  So far, nothing. We’ll see.

But there are risks. Maybe your gay ex-spouse is a jewel who wouldn’t dream of hurting anyone (I believe DH is in this category), but you can’t be sure all his friends are going to be so conscientious.

Forewarned is forearmed.

 

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