The ads in my social media feeds tell me Father’s Day is happening soon. While I am all for celebrating good men who are good dads, I don’t celebrate because I haven’t heard from my own father for nearly 20 years.
He was abusive and uninvolved, and in my early 20s, he sent me a letter telling me he was never interested in being a dad. We both agreed that moving on from hoping a relationship could form was best for both of us. I am not sad about this. I have found peace in what was and what never will be. I’m sure I would have loved a father who was supportive, kind, and present. But that’s not the guy I got. Instead, I got the knowledge of the kind of parent I didn’t want to be.
I am far from perfect, but I broke the cycle of many wrongs, and I can confidently say that I am a good parent. I am also a queer parent.
Many people think queer parents will turn their kids queer, too. If that argument made any sense, it would mean I’d be straight and cisgender, because I was born to parents who are straight and cisgender. Yet here I am — a queer, nonbinary person. Many people don’t think my existence is real or valid, and they certainly don’t agree that I should have children. Yet here we are again: I am a parent to three kids who were conceived by my ex-female partner using a sperm donor.
But no matter what my identity or sexuality is, my kids will become who they are meant to be, and it will be my job to nurture and affirm them. My goal is to raise resilient, kind, and responsible kids. This will be a lifelong process, but it will not be dependent on the fact that my kids don’t have a father.
Kids don’t need a mom and a dad or even two parents to achieve developmentally appropriate physical, mental, and emotional milestones. Kids need loving and safe homes; the gender or relationships of the people providing this environment are not essential for the well-being of the child. Studies have shown that kids with same-sex parents thrive and do just as well as their peers with different-sex parents. However, the current administration’s approval of allowing adoption agencies to reject LGBTQ people who are prospective parents ignores these facts.
Religion, ignorance, and unapologetic bigotry allow people to justify their opinions about what is best for kids with queer parents; they don’t care about facts, science, or actual examples of families like mine that not only challenge but prove their ideas wrong.
Many folks would rather fight to the death in order to hold onto the notion they are right than admit they still have a few things to learn. One of the many things these folks don’t want to know is that my kids are happy and don’t need a dad to continue to be the well-rounded, healthy, and secure kids that they are.
My kids know they have a sperm donor, but they don’t equate that to having a father. A father is someone who is actively involved in a child’s life. My kids have the opportunity to meet their sperm donor when they turn 18, and there is a chance they will develop a friendship or even a father/child relationship, but that will be up to them to foster.
Right now, my kids don’t have a dad, so we don’t celebrate Father’s Day. Sometimes they will make a gift for their Pop-Pop or another father figure who is in their lives, but they are unmoved by Father’s Day and don’t feel like they are missing out on anything.
The only time they feel bad about not having a person at home to call Dad is when other people make a big deal about it and say things that make my kids feel bad or less than. These are the folks who don’t want to see that our diverse family is a loving and secure place, so they try to make up a narrative that my kids are somehow suffering.
The truth is that this is not the case. My kids are happy, loved, and proud of their family. And they know enough not to judge the quality of love based on heteronormative ideas of what makes a family.
My kids don’t have a dad and they’re fine, thank you very much.