Reddit Thread Shows How a Parent's Bigotry Can Hurt Their Child's Friendships and Community

Parents rally around a gay mom after the mother of her son’s best friend confessed she didn’t want her son to be around her “lifestyle.”

Two girls (2-4) embracing on porch, rear view
Photo: Getty

As parents, we want our children to have healthy and happy friendships. We spend so much time driving around to drop off and pick up, coordinating countless playdates, and we even hang out with other adult parents (that sometimes we don't even like) in order to facilitate our children's friendships. We support our children through disagreements, hurt feelings and all the issues that come from hard-to-grasp concepts such as sharing and jealousy. We try to do it all. But sometimes people's biases get in the way.

This week, a mother on a parenting Reddit thread with the user name Visual_Vegetable_169 shared a recent experience she and her wife had. On what should have been a fun lead-up to a celebratory weekend culminating with a big sleepover party for her son's 9th birthday, this mother and her family ended up coming face to face with a bigotry that is often hidden and silent.

The original poster (OP) u/Visual_Vegetable_169 got a call from her son's best friend's mother, who shared that her child would be unable to attend his upcoming birthday slumber party. The OP assumed this other woman's son might be afraid of spending the night away from his family, and empathized, "a lot of kiddos their age are scared of sleepovers, it's a lot to go a night without Mom and Dad."

If only. The other mother coldly responded, "That isn't the problem here." When asked what the problem actually was, the other mom shared, "I don't want my son being taught against our values," alluding to the fact that this birthday party was going to be happening in a house with two moms. She went on to say that her kid "doesn't need to be taught about homosexuals and that lifestyle." She suggested that the slumber party be held at her house instead.

The mom of the birthday boy let the other woman know that would not be okay, but that she and her child were still welcome to attend. She has since struggled with processing this experience. "I'm just at a loss of words honestly," she wrote about what they should tell their son. "It's just such a bummer. For our son and theirs." The reality is gay parents often face daily microaggressions, discrimination, and questioning by straight parents.

Another parent u/Zoidberg3000 wrote, "I'm not surprised. My wife and I get it ALL the time. We live in one of the gay capitals of the world and still straight parents are super weird around us."

The mothers of the birthday boy didn't know what to tell their son; the OP felt a need to protect her son from this, and her wife felt angry and wanted to share all of it with their child.

Another poster u/Lookingforthe411 shared advice on responding to situations like this, should this ever happen again, "In our home we teach kindness and respect despite differences."

While the OP was concerned about "creating issues," u/Lookingforthe411 continued to acknowledge that the issues have already been created by the other mom. They pointed out that what remained was "an incredible opportunity for him to develop compassion and acceptance for others and you should absolutely tell him that."

As more supportive comments came in, most exposed the lack of values the bigots clearly have on loving one's neighbor. Others pointed out the truth about what will happen when kids see families that look different from theirs. Another person, u/sketchahedron, wrote, "She knows that if her kid goes to the party and observes the truth—which is that gay couples are just normal parents who love their kids—the kid will realize their parents are full of shit and begin to question everything the parents have taught them."

Many commenters felt that if it's possible for people to change, it's better than writing them off. Showing people kindness and believing that even if they don't change, at least one can influence kids to have different views from their parents. As parents who love and support our children, we don't want to deny our children friendships. But it's also heavy to carry that emotional labor.

While this bigoted mother had accused this couple of having "that lifestyle" perhaps it's just time for them to sit down with their son and have a frank discussion of their values and of this other parent's lifestyle of bias, judgment and bigotry. Parents, by addressing issues head-on, you can support your child in having strong and loving friendships and community.

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