Tag Archives: lesbian parents

Four Married Lesbian Couples Fill Lawsuit Against Tennessee Over It’s ‘LGBT Erasure Bill’

Four married lesbian couples expecting children have filed a lawsuit in Tennessee seeking to overturn a new state law that critics say could deny rights to same-sex couples by requiring strict adherence to terms such as “husband.”

The law requires other statutes in the state to be interpreted by their “natural and ordinary meaning”.

While it does not explicitly single out LGBTQ people for discrimination, the bill has largely been billed as an attempt to prevent judges from interpreting words with gender-specific meanings — such as “husband,” “wife,” “mother,” and “father” — to mean the same thing as a gender-neutral term like “spouse” or “parent.”

In response to the law’s passage, the four couples, each of whom have conceived a child using a sperm donor, filed suit, arguing that Tennessee’s “presumption of parentage” statute — where a man who is not the biological father of, but is married to the mother of a child is recognized as the child’s father for legal purposes — does not guarantee the same rights to non-biological lesbian mothers.

The lawsuit was filed by attorney Julie Tate-Keith, who is representing Charitey and Heather Mackenzie (pictured above), Crystal Dawn and Terra Mears, Elizabeth and Heather Broadaway, and Kathrine and Emilie Guthrie.

Tate-Keith argues that the new law violates equal rights and due process protections in both the U.S. and Tennessee constitutions, and asks the court to issue an order declaring that any spouse, regardless of gender, of a pregnant women should be recognized as the legal parent of the child they raise together.

The Supreme Court said that gay people could get married. If that’s to be meaningful, then same-sex couples have to be treated the same way that opposite-sex couples are, and that means parentage just like anyone else.”

But Haslam insisted when he was signing the bill that people were reading too much into the bill, arguing that it does nothing to change or alter the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. John Stevens (R-Huntingdon), told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that he has “no idea” if his bill would infringe on the marital or parental rights of same-sex couples, but simply wants undefined words in Tennessee’s code to mean what legislators understood them to mean when they were drafting a law.

Chris Sanders, the executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, notes that the Attorney General has pointed out several ambiguous terms and areas where applying “natural and ordinary” meaning to terms could cause problems for LGBTQ families.

He and his organization have termed the bill the “LGBT Erasure Bill” because of its deliberate attempt to force judges and government officials to discount the existence of families headed by same-sex couples when interpreting or enforcing laws related to marriage, adoption, or child custody.

With 95 counties, and elected judges that serve them all, there’s just too much risk. We think it’s better to err on the side of caution, and we hope this lawsuit is successful. We don’t really want to wait around to see what negative effects it might have.”

Gay Women Granted ‘Husband’s Rights’ In Landmark Custody Case

Tennessee natives, Erica Witt and Sabrina Witt legally wed in in April 2014 in the nation’s capital.

The couple bought a home together and decided to have a child via artificial insemination from an anonymous donor.

Sabrina Witt gave birth to a girl in January 2015.

However, because Tennessee did not then recognize same-sex marriage as legal at that time, Erica Witt’s name was not placed on the baby’s birth certificate.

So when the couple split, she discovered she had little legal standing in obtaining custody, because she had not adopted her child legally either.

Initially, fourth Circuit Judge Greg McMillan ruled that this meant the definition of “husband” did not apply to her scenario, and so she was only given the rights of a step-parent.

The judge insisted that Erica did not have a “biological relationship with this child, and no contractual relationship with this child”.

However, with the support of local activists and legal pressure, Judge McMillan has had to reverse the decision and grant both of the mothers’ joint custody.

His decision to reverse his ruling makes the case a landmark case in the history of LGBT rights, particularly because the judge was asked to interpret “husband” and “wife” as “spouse”.

The case comes after a new law was introduced in the state, which calls for language in legislature to be interpreted by their “natural and ordinary” meaning.

The bill states without explanation that the “meaning” should be “without forced or subtle construction that would limit or extend the meaning of the language.”

Governor Bill Haslam, who enacted the bill, has insisted that the law will not change how courts interpret legal precedent.

The Governor said in a statement.

While I understand the concerns raised about this bill, the Obergefell decision is the law of the land, and this legislation does not change a principle relied upon by the courts for more than a century, mitigating the substantive impact of this legislation.”

A group of four married, pregnant, lesbian couples have filed a lawsuit against the new anti-LGBT law.

Tate-Keith, speaking on behalf of the women involved, stated:

The Supreme Court said that gay people could get married. If that’s to be meaningful, then same-sex couples have to be treated the same way that opposite-sex couples are, and that means parentage just like anyone else.”

This means that the Witt case does not abide by the regulation which is being challenged.


Study Confirms: LGBTQ Parents Are As Able As Straight Ones

Since adoption by LGBTQ couples and single parents has been up for public discussion, the question “What about the children?!” has emerged time and time again.

To dismiss all doubt on whether children will actually be negatively impacted from having a queer parent, a new study published in Developmental Psychology finally came up with the answer we were all expecting:

Children’s behavioral issues are not impacted by the sexual orientation of their parents”

Rather than sexual orientation being a key factor, parenting stress is actually to blame when talking about children and their development, with psychologists claiming

Regardless of parental sexual orientation, children [in the study] had fewer behavior problems over time when their adoptive parents indicated experiencing less parenting stress.”

Although several other studies have been published on this topic, like this one which focused on Australia alone, what sets this study apart is its uniqueness: it is the first longitudinal study focusing on children of LGBTQ parents. That means it followed children from early to middle childhood, giving time to assess both their personality and cognitive development.

Number of children waiting to be adopted per state

With this new study recently published, now should be the time to really openly discuss adoption by same sex couples. With thousands of children still in foster care, it seems reckless to just ignore objective data on behalf of an outdated ideology.

But maybe that’s just my own opinion as a queer woman. And what does psychologist Rachel H. Farr, assistant professor at the University of Kentucky and one of the psychologists involved in the study think about the results?

These results, which support many positive outcomes among adoptive families headed by lesbian, gay or heterosexual parents over time, may be informative to legal, policy and practice realms,”

As long as more studies and evidence on LGBTQ parents keeps coming out, the less reasons there are to doubt or dismiss us from the opportunity to openly adopt and, consequently, have the right to start a family.

New Definition Of Infertility Will Give Gay And Single Parents ‘The Right to Reproduce’

Same-sex and single parents who struggle to have kids will now be considered infertile, under an upcoming standard by the World Health Organization (WHO).

This new definition for infertility will be more inclusive for those outside of heterosexual unions or who want to parent without a sexual partner.

The new classifications will make it so that heterosexual single men and women, as well as gay men and women who are seeking in-vitro fertilisation to have a child, will receive the same priority as couples.

Right now, WHO calls infertility a disease of the reproductive system, made evident through a lack of pregnancy after more than a year of unprotected sex.

The organization also considers infertility a disability, on the grounds that it seriously impairs infertile people from a major life activity.

The new definition quashes the idea of infertility as just a medical condition. It will expand on the right to reproduce as one that goes beyond biological means, and include social conditions such as being single or being in a same-sex relationship.

Fertility physician David Adamson – one of the new definition’s authors – told the Telegraph that these standards strengthen the idea that everyone should be able to start a family.

The definition of infertility is now written in such a way that it includes the rights of all individuals to have a family, and that includes single men, single women, gay men, gay women.

It puts a stake in the ground and says an individual’s got a right to reproduce whether or not they have a partner. It fundamentally alters who should be included in this group and who should have access to healthcare. It sets an international legal standard. Countries are bound by it.”

This news has the potential to reform how many countries treats infertility.

How Old Is Too Old For A Safe Pregnancy?

Many women now opt to have children when they are in their 30’s and 40’s and some women are choosing to wait until they are in their 50’s. Some women prefer to travel and enjoy their career before making the decision to have a baby, but what are the dangers?

Last month scientists announced they had discovered a way to reverse the menopause and rejuvenating women’s ovaries which means later life pregnancies could become a definite possibility. A few weeks ago an Australian woman gave birth at the age of 62 with the help of IVF and it has raised the debate again of whether a woman should have a baby at such a later stage in her life.

A woman’s ability to conceive naturally lessons as she get’s older. Our eggs are stored in our ovaries and released every month when we menstruate. Apparently around 400 eggs are released monthly until the 4 million we started with are all gone and we hit the menopause.

The number of women having children in their 30’s has doubled over the last 25 years when it was more common for women to get pregnant in their 20’s.  So what are the risks getting pregnant later on in life?

Apparently women over the age of 30 are twice as likely to suffer from complications such as pre-eclampsia (life threatening high blood pressure) and twice as likely to have gestational diabetes.  The risk of dying during pregnancy or Childbirth increases along with the risk of the unborn baby having downs syndrome and more than half of women aged 40 or over need a caesarean and can’t give birth naturally which can cause complications for both mother and unborn child.

These risks get worse when a woman waits until she is in her 40’s or 50’s. Mothers in this age group are 5 to 6 times more likely to die after the first few weeks of giving birth compared to younger mothers. There is also more chance a woman will have a miscarriage than a live birth in this age bracket and babies born to mothers of this age are 2 times more likely to be born prematurely and have a low birth rate.

IVF is an option many women take when deciding to have a baby later on in life as it can give a greater chance of success, especially if the woman has gone through or is going through the menopause. The woman can take a donor egg and embryo from a younger, fertile woman which gives her a better chance of getting pregnant.

But this is also risky as a pregnancy later in life puts a woman at a higher risk of a stroke. IVF also has a smaller chance of success the older the mother is. Some IVF clinics do not offer IVF treatment to women over 50 but there is no law that suggests a cut off age so clinics can take each case on an individual basis.

Deciding to have a baby later on in life is something a woman should consider carefully to make sure she understands the risks involved and can make an informed decision on whether a later life pregnancy is the best option for her and her unborn baby.

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Judge Rules Lesbian Has No Parental Rights Because She Didn’t Marry Partner

The Michigan appeals court has ruled, a woman whose same-sex relationship ended before same-sex marriage became legal doesn’t have parental rights to a child born to her partner in 2008.

The decision, which comes a year after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriage across the country, will stand as a key precedent in similar disputes in Michigan involving children who were raised by same-sex couples in relationships that ended.

Michelle Lake and Kerri Putnam were together for 13 years until 2014 but didn’t marry during that time. Lake said she deserves to enjoy the rights that would have been granted to her if they had been married.

Putnam gave birth to a boy, now 8, during their relationship, but she no longer allows Lake to see him.

The appeals court said;

We simply do not believe it is appropriate for courts to retroactively impose the legal ramifications of marriage onto unmarried couples several years after their relationship has ended. That, in our view, is beyond the role of the judiciary.”

The court said Lake has no parental rights under Michigan law because the boy wasn’t born during a marriage.

This is true whether the couple involved is a heterosexual or a same-sex couple.”

The court overturned decisions by a Washtenaw County judge, who had awarded parenting time to Lake.

Judge Darlene O’Brien last fall said the best interests of the child should be considered.

Lake’s attorney, Jay Kaplan of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, said the appeals court ruling is “devastating.”

This young boy had two moms. The end result is (Lake) can be unilaterally erased from his life. … It’s the collateral damage of all those years of discriminating against same-sex couples.”

Putnam’s attorney, Anne Argiroff, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.

Appeals court Judge Douglas Shapiro said there was no evidence that Lake and Putnam would have chosen marriage years ago if it had been legal in Michigan.

He said the court might rule differently in a future case if there’s evidence that a same-sex couple clearly wanted to marry before 2015, but couldn’t because of the state’s ban on gay marriage.

Shapiro wrote.

I believe the courts would be required to recognize the parental rights of the non-biological parent.”

The Argument Against Same-Sex Parenting Just Got Blown Out Of The Water

In recent years, right winged Christians like Mark Regnerus, Donald Paul Sullins and Douglas Allen, have done their best to argue that same-sex parenting is flawed, wrong and immoral.

But a new study has blown a massive whole in this biased theory, and proved what the medical community has already long known: same-sex couples make great parents.

The primary accusation against past research supporting same-sex parenting is that the samples are skewed.

Because researchers have to advertise and search for same-sex couples willing to participate, the families self-select to join the studies, and thus may be not be representative of all same-sex families.

Mark Regnerus insisted that his studies – which are sceptical of same-sex parenting – are more valid because they use data from broad population-based surveys, and therefore are more representative.

So the Williams Institute, an LGBT think tank at the UCLA School of Law, decided to call Regnerus’ bluff.

Using data from the National Survey of Children’s Health, researchers were able to identify same-sex couples who were raising children and compare them to demographically similar different-sex parents. Because few male same-sex parent households were included in the study, they focused on female couples, identifying 95 that they then matched against similar different-sex households.

The study found only one difference between the families: same-sex couples had more stress than their different-sex peers.

However, even with that distinction, there was no difference in the outcomes for their children, including their general health, emotional difficulties, coping behaviour, or learning behaviour.

Most would think a higher stress rate would have gone against the them up, but it didn’t.

Researches concluded that the lesbian mothers might be using additional support systems like parenting groups or counselling services, and likewise, their kids may also develop greater resilience skills having to defend against the stigma of having same-sex parents.

There is an obvious explanation as to why the new study found affirming results while conservatives found negative outcomes in their population-based studies.

The new study controls for committed couples; it compares same-sex families who have raised their children from birth with different-sex families who had done the same.

None of the same-sex parents who had broken up or divorced were analysed in the study.

Regnerus didn’t account for family structure. In his study, he counted any child whose parent had had any kind of same-sex relationship at any point.

As a result, most of the children he counted had experienced a parent’s separation or divorce, but they were still compared against children from stable different-sex families. The resulting negative outcomes for those children, he concluded, proved that same-sex couples make inferior parents. Regnerus’ data only included two children who had been raised from birth by committed same-sex couples, and their outcomes were just fine.

Similar population-based surveys from Donald Paul Sullins and Douglas Allen used the same trick of comparing unstable same-sex families to stable different-sex families. Sullins, for example, used data from the National Health Interview Survey, and admitted, “Almost all opposite-sex parents who are raising joint biological offspring are in intact marriages, but very few, if any, same-sex parents were married during the period under observation.”

Sullins, like Regnerus and Allen, was comparing apples to oranges.

In some ways, the new study isn’t ground-breaking. There has already been scientific consensus in support of same-sex families for decades. With the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision last year and the recent conclusion of the challenge to Mississippi adoption ban, same-sex adoption is now legal in all 50 states.

Nevertheless, some states are still figuring out some legal questions about same-sex parenting.

Several lesbian couples in Indiana, for example, are fighting to make sure that both moms can have their names on their children’s birth certificates, a fight that has played out in other states as well.

With courts continuing to weigh these important protections for same-sex families, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have another study showing that their children turn out just as great as in other families.

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Lesbian Couple Discusses The Discrimination They Faced During Fertility Treatment

Lesbian couple from Greysteel in County Londonderry, have spoken of how they were left feeling “embarrassed”, after visiting an NHS clinic, and being told they were ineligible for treatment.

The couple – Sarah Murphy and Jenny Doherty – says they then decided to visit a private facility, in order for the procedure to be legal.

In the UK, for a couple to have both names on birth certificate, they must use a fertility clinic, and not do the procedure on their own.

Speaking the BBC, Sarah Murphy explained;

That was one of the main reasons why we chose to go through a clinic and not to do it ourselves. As we aren’t in a same sex marriage or in a civil partnership, Jenny’s name will now be on the baby’s birth certificate as the legal parent.”

Murphy said they were concerned that if they had taken matters into their own hands, a lengthy court battle could have ensued.

The couple went to the private clinic after attending the Western Health Trust and regional fertility centre.

The health service weren’t very helpful to be honest.”

The Trust told the BBC that it does not comment on individual cases, but that anyone concerned about their treatment should get in contact.

After the ordeal, Murphy said those in same-sex relationships should find it easier to access these services, and called for “better knowledge”among doctors.

Even if you could be told – ‘We can offer you this or we can’t offer you that’ – that would be a massive help, instead of walking out with more questions than you walk in. I think from the moment we walked in the door, we were almost dismissed.

We felt embarrassed for wanting something that every other human in the world wants.”

The couple say they don’t regret paying out around £6,000 for the private clinic, and that their parents are excited to become grandparents.

We were treated as a couple who wanted to have a baby, just the same as every other couple who were there. It has been expensive, and without loans and credit cards and help from my parents we wouldn’t have been able to afford it.

It has been priceless and we would do it again in a heartbeat, but at the same time we wish we didn’t have to spend that much.”

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Lesbian Pregnancy Documentary ‘Romeo Romeo’ to Air as Part of America ReFramed Series

World Channel’s America ReFramed series of independent films aims to “present personal viewpoints and a range of voices on the nation’s social issues – giving audiences the opportunity to learn from the past, understand the present, and explore new frameworks for America’s future.”

America ReFramed’s fourth series includes a series of hard-hitting documentaries including Revolution ‘67 (a look at The Newark Riots), American Arab (which explores identity and anti-Muslim sentiment post 9/11) and Divide In Concord (a “contemporary debate” about individual freedom vs. collective responsibility).

Romeo Romeo will soon be added to that list when the 2012 documentary about a lesbian couple trying to get pregnant airs on March 22.

Romeo Romeo follows Alexis and Jessica Casano-Antonellis on their journey to get pregnant, with World Channel’s official blurb explaining that “the two women spend their life savings to buy sperm online and then head to the hospital to have Lexy inseminated.”

Romeo Romeo 03

However, getting pregnant “turns out to be more difficult than they anticipated.”

Also covered in this documentary are topics such as whether or not the sperm donor should be anonymous, as well as the potential risks (such as a miscarriage and premature delivery).

World Channel notes that Romeo Romeo features “rigorous documentation” of what the couple goes through.

Romeo Romeo 02

While having the process documented on camera may have been a little difficult for the couple, in an interview with After Ellen, the two women explain that the decision to go through this was partly because of the lack of awareness and information surrounding the subject.

Romeo Romeo director Lizzie Gottlieb felt that “[IVF] had not been explored enough on film and there wasn’t enough awareness around what women go through that have fertility issues.”

The couple also reveals that when they embarked on the process, there “really wasn’t a whole lot” of resources and information available to them as a lesbian couple.

While the film won’t necessarily teach everybody everything, the fact that Romeo Romeo also looks at the “medical, logistical, financial and emotional costs” of the process should be informative.

Romeo Romeo airs as part of World Channels’ America ReFramed series.

15 Things That Are More Psychologically Damaging Than Having Gay Parents

Kids are our future. We all know this. But there are a lot of people who still – unfortunately – use this as an argument against gay marriage: After all, they say, a child raised by gay parents is going to get teased. This completely undermines the idea that not all gay couples are going to want kids in the first place, and then those who point this out are basically told that no kids = no reason to marry.

Which, logically, means that they don’t think infertile couples should be able to get married, either.

It’s not right. It’s discrimination, pure and simple. Those who do want kids are often told that their kids are going to be messed up, by default, just for having gay parents.

I call bullshit.

Gay parents doesn’t automatically mean gay kids, just like straight parents doesn’t automatically mean straight kids – and even if the kid did end up being gay, by saying that there’s a problem with that, these people are acting like there’s something wrong with being gay – even if they refuse to admit that they feel that way.

Believe it or not, though, there are a lot of common parenting fails that are actually so much more harmful to kids than just having gay parents. Psychologically speaking, kids benefit from a loving, supportive environment, regardless of the gender of their partners.

Of course, lesbians will need some outside help in order to raise a boy, just as gay men will need some outside help in order to raise a girl, but this doesn’t mean that they’re being slighted by having gay parents. There is no psychological evidence that their role models need to be a parent – in fact, my best role models growing up weren’t related to me at all.

Curious about what you’re doing to screw up your kids? According to science, these 15 things are a much bigger deal than the gender(s) of a child’s parents.

1.    Not babying your baby.

According to Tovah Kline, the director of the Barnard Toddler Center at Columbia University, your kids should be treated like their actual age. This means that babies should be held and responded to – otherwise, you’re not teaching them independence (like you might think), but rather you’re teaching them that their needs are not important. This is bordering on neglect. The opinion among parents varies here, but it’s impossible to spoil your child just by treating them like a child. Reprimand them when necessary, but never let it mean that you ignore them.

2.    Lying to them – even white lies.

Kids benefit from honest parents, which means that those little lies you tell them to save them from pain are probably messing them up more in the long run. Don’t tell your child that their dog ran away if it had to be put to sleep. Don’t tell your child that their other parent went on vacation if they really walked out of their life. It seems like you’re saving them from pain, but they will eventually figure out the truth, and it’s so much harder to face if they haven’t been adequately prepared for it. You don’t need to share all the grisly details, but you shouldn’t pretend that painful situations don’t exist, because they certainly do.

3.    Raising multiple children exactly the same way.

Sure, parenting is hard, and it can be even more difficult if you’ve finally got one kid figured out and then you have to learn an entirely different parenting style for the next kid. But it’s super important to them if you do. You know how there are some kids who don’t benefit from a traditional school setting? It’s the same with parenting styles. Children are not the same, and treating your artsy, rebellious child the same way as your Type A, obedient child is bound to have some disastrous consequences in the long run. Children need to be nurtured in a way that works for them, and to put the younger child in the shadow of their older sibling is not a good thing.

4.    Skipping family dinner.

It can be really tough to coordinate schedules enough to sit down as a family at every meal, but it’s important that your children socialize over the dinner table at least a couple times a week, if at all possible. It doesn’t necessarily have to be dinner, but kids who eat with their parents, as a family, are much more successful in their social relationships their whole life. It teaches the art of small talk, good table manners, and so much more. Don’t skip it – make time for a family meal whenever possible.

5.    Bottling up your anger, and then lashing out.

Let’s face it – kids can be annoying sometimes. That’s just a part of being a kid, honestly, and sometimes they’re going to frustrate the hell out of you. We might try to ignore these things, and we tell ourselves that we’re “letting them slide”. But we’re not – our mind keeps a mental inventory of these annoyances, until we end up blowing up over something that’s been frustrating us for a long time. Instead of pretending things aren’t a problem, calmly explain to your child why you would rather they didn’t do whatever they’re doing to bug you. Chances are, your kids are more reasonable than you thought! But if you bottle it up and then blow up, you’re teaching your kids that a) it’s acceptable to blow up over something minor (it’s not) and b) they should defer their problems to a later point in time (which isn’t healthy, because it teaches them to build up their emotions until they literally can’t hold it back anymore). Not only does this actually make parenting easier, it also encourages a healthy exchange of emotions.

6.    Revenge, or using aggression to fight aggression.

Spanking is a very controversial topic among parents (and non-parents) everywhere. There is a point where it definitely approaches physical abuse, but exactly where the distinction lies is a bit fuzzy. No matter how you feel personally, the truth is that responding to your child’s aggression with more aggression (aka spanking them) is teaching them a revenge mentality – which isn’t healthy. It’s much more beneficial in the long run if you can keep your cool and explain to them why throwing a temper tantrum is bad, they can start to see that aggressive expressions of emotions are not good. Aggression + aggression = more aggression, whereas aggression + calm = frustration and acceptance. You ever heard the “bombing for peace” cliché? Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

7.    Hypocrisy.

“Do as I say, not as I do” was pretty big when I was a kid. It probably still is, I don’t know – but it’s not healthy. Your kids are either going to view you as a liar, or they’re going to emulate your actions. After all, you’re their first role model – are you being a good one? Naturally, we’re always going to do some things that we don’t really want our kids to know about, but it’s better if you explain to your child what you learned from your bad decisions – and, of course, stop doing the bad things. Your kids can’t learn from your mistakes until you do, so expecting them to not repeat your mistakes when you’re still repeating them yourself is… Well, it’s a bit ridiculous.

8.    Comparing them to someone else.

This is one that’s going to hurt your kids right away. Your child is their own person, and they shouldn’t be compared to anyone else – even in a positive way, because this can create expectations that they might not be able to live up to. Praise them for the things they do well, and reprimand them for the things they do wrong, but never use another child as your point of reference. This can create a mindset where they will always compare themselves to others – creating an unnecessarily competitive world.

9.    Silencing their emotions.

Let me preface this one with a little story: Growing up, I was told that I wasn’t allowed to cry in front of my dad. In fact, I was only allowed to cry in my room, with the door shut, into a pillow. Yes, crying makes people uncomfortable – but being told that your emotions are bad is more uncomfortable. This leads to a life where you’re continually suppressing your emotions out of fear of rejection – and at almost-26-years-old, I still haven’t learned how to cry in front of other people. I was taught at a young age that showing emotions meant showing weakness, and that was bad. Don’t do that to your kids, please.

10. Fighting in front of them.

If you’ve got a problem with your significant other, that’s fine. Relationships aren’t perfect. But if you put down your partner in front of your child, he or she is likely learning that relationships don’t require respect (which they do) or that it’s okay to treat people badly (which it’s not). Disagreeing is one thing – attacking each other’s character is another thing. (Of course, you shouldn’t be fighting with your partner like that anyway, because it’s not good for your relationship… But we’re talking about your children here.) The same thing goes for putting down their other parent, if the two of you have broken up. No matter how you feel about your ex, he or she is half of your child’s support system – and talking down on that person will feel like a personal rejection of your child. Don’t do it.

11. Doing their homework.

I bet you’re surprised to see this one here, right? It’s hard to see your child struggling, and it can be tempting to step in and finish their homework for them if they’re stuck. But what you’re doing when you do it for them is teaching them that cheating is OK, and that challenging themselves is bad. Kids need to be challenged – it’s how they grow. If you really want to help, walk your child through the problems. This turns something that could otherwise be quite frustrating into a bonding experience – and they’re probably smarter than you’re giving them credit for.

12. Not keeping your promises.

Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, we make promises, and then when the time comes to follow through, we can’t do it. But still, we make these promises, even if we know we might be lying. (Yes, a broken promise is a lie – see #2 above.) Kids have better memories than adults, likely because they’ve got less useless information clogging up their brains, so even if you might have forgotten your promise by the time it comes up again, your child most likely hasn’t. Do not promise things if you’re not 100% sure you can follow through. (And even when you don’t promise, try to follow through on your word as much as you can.)

13. Shushing them.

We sort of addressed this with #5, but it’s worth repeating here: Kids can be annoying sometimes. It’s part of being a kid. But part of being a parent is not letting them know that they’re bugging the hell out of you. Even if they’re getting on every last nerve, it’s important that you talk with them, and respond to them. When you tell your kid to shut up (or a nicer-worded variation of “shut up”) you’re teaching them that what they say doesn’t matter. You’re teaching them that their thoughts are not important. If you have a really good reason to not want them to talk at that particular moment (such as a raging migraine, or an important phone call), then explain to them why you can’t talk right now, and ask them to bring it up later. This is much better than silencing them completely.

14. Pushing them to fend for themselves.

We all want our children to be independent and mature. But if you’re leaving them to do their own thing while you do your own thing, you’re not teaching them to be independent – you’re teaching them that they’re not worth your time (even if that’s not the message you’re trying to send). From a psychological standpoint, your kids are much more likely to be independent at a younger age if you lead them. Have them help you prepare food, show them how to do their chores the right way, and walk them through things. There’s a reason that kids have guardians until they’re older – you’re supposed to show them the ropes. If you don’t, it’s neglect, whether you want to believe that or not.

15. Trying to be their best friend.

It can be really tempting to try and be your kid’s best friend, especially if you’re a single parent, but this is not the right way to go about things. Just as you shouldn’t leave your kids to do everything on their own, you shouldn’t try to take away their right to a parent, either. If they do something wrong, they need to be taught that it’s wrong. They need a leader, an authority figure (preferably two or more). In time, as they grow up, they will see you as more of a friend – but that shouldn’t come until after they’re healthy, well-adjusted adults.

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7 Ways Step-Children Love Differently

I am a proud step-child. My parents were never right for each other, and despite all the bad advice going around where people say “you should stay together for the child” – they chose to do what was actually right, and to split up. Of course, I was still very young when they split up (they already knew they were wrong for each other before I was even born), but out of that mess I had something extra special: I ended up with four parents, where many of my friends only had two (some, only one).

For a long time, my step-parents actually did quite a bit more of my raising than my parents did. It’s not that my parents didn’t care, but it was often easier for my step-parents to handle things. My stepmother, for example, often worked nights, where my dad worked through the day. My stepdad was injured for a while, which meant he was home with me while my mom was at work. And, in some ways, I think that worked out to my benefit.

My step-parents also knew I was gay before my biological parents knew – or, at least before they acknowledged it. I remember growing up, my stepmom always made a point to tell me, “It’s okay to be gay.” By the same token, my dad tried to get me to stay in the closet for a little longer. My stepdad and I would go park by the lake and check out girls together, a few years before my mom started trying to set me up with every lesbian she knew.

(Thankfully, she only knew a few – I’m not really comfortable with my mom picking my girlfriend for me!)

Even when things got rocky, my step-parents were there for me – giving me the affection that my parents weren’t always able to, and basically picking up the slack whenever it was necessary. My stepmom has actually been divorced from my dad for almost ten years now, but I still talk to her more than I talk to him – and, in fact, I’m going to see her next weekend. The relationship a kid has with their step-parent is completely different than the relationship they have with anyone else in their lives, but (at least in my case) the step-parent helps shape the way they love in the future.

1. Step-children are all good with “ready-made families”.

Since our childhood revolved around someone who didn’t have to be there, but chose to be, we like the idea of being that person for someone else, too. I actually decided when I was very young that I’d rather adopt than have biological children. Whether I change my mind in the future is still up for discussion, but I’ve dated a number of women who had children, and the kids have never been a question to me.

2. Step-children know the difference between “want to” and “have to”.

Children who didn’t grow up with step-parents might feel the need to stay with someone because you love them. But step-children know that sometimes breaking up is the better option, because you have the chance to find someone who’s so much better than the person you’re unhappy with. If we stay with someone, it’s because they make us happy in ways that no one else has.

3. Step-children know that sometimes it’s good to have extras.

I remember one time when I was a kid, one of the chain stores had a sale on these really ugly sweaters. Apparently my mom and my stepmom hit the same sale, because I ended up with two identical ugly sweaters – but at the time I thought they were the coolest sweaters ever, and I had two of them. Step-children appreciate having spares and back-ups of their favorite things, and they know if you accidentally buy them something they already own, it means you know their taste pretty well.

4. Step-children know how to dream – and which dreams are realistic.

Even though adult-me knows that my parents splitting up was a good thing (and, to some effect, kid-me did, too), that doesn’t mean I didn’t have dreams about my parents miraculously fixing their problems and getting back together. In these dreams, my step-parents always seemed to end up with one another, too. Over time, kid-me learned to pick apart the pieces of the dream that were absolutely not going to happen, and I learned how to dream better.

5. Step-children know how important kind words can be.

My biological parents have always had a strong resentment for one another, and unfortunately I’ve gotten caught in the middle of that more times than I can count. But my step-parents were always the ones who came in and shut down the bad-parent-talk – reminding my biological parents that I was too young to hear the negative things about my other parent, because at six years old, an attack on your parent feels like an attack on half of yourself.

6. Step-children are grateful for the people who stick around.

There have been a lot of people who have come and gone from my life – some of them were step-parent-figures who just didn’t make the cut. But like I said above, I still talk to my stepmom on a regular basis, even though legally she’s lost her title. She’s still the woman who helped raise me, and just like she stood by me when she didn’t have to, I’m going to stick by her when I don’t have to.

7. Step-children will do whatever it takes to make it work – and they know you don’t have to stay in a bad relationship just because there’s a kid involved.

I hear so many people say that I “wouldn’t understand” their situation, because they have a child with their no-good cheating partner, so they can’t leave. But I do understand – I understand so well. While it’s important that a child has access to their parents if possible, that doesn’t mean that a bad relationship can magically be made better just because there’s a kid. Step-children know that a break-up doesn’t mean that they can’t still talk to their child – and they would never keep their child from the other parent(s).

Will Becoming A Parent Change Your Relationship With Your Partner? (Video)

Preparing your relationship for kids is not an easy task. However, getting through the first few years after having children is an even bigger challenge.

Here are some fantastic tips from two moms (Brandy Black and Susan Howard) who know.

Be sure to watch more videos at The Next Family

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22 Thoughts You Have When Your Siblings Start Having Kids

My brothers are a lot older than me. I’m talking like already done with puberty by the time I was born – yeah, I was not a planned pregnancy. As a result, I’ve been an auntie since the third grade – and I’d like to think I’m pretty good at it.

There are some special perks to this special position, of course, and there are some special responsibilities, too. If your siblings are just about to start having kids – and you’re definitely not there yet – I’m sure you can relate to these 22 thoughts.

1. This is great – I can just borrow a kid any time I get baby fever!

It’s like rent-a-baby.

2. This little baby is going to be the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

(At least until I have my own kids.)

3. But wait – if my brothers are having kids now… and I’m waiting for another 20 years or so…

…won’t my kid be too young to play with his or her cousins?

4. Maybe my brothers can just have more kids later.

Yeah, that’ll work.

5. I could get used to being “Auntie.”

Although my official title is Aunt B – only a couple of them call me Auntie, or Barbara. I’ll totally answer to it, too.

6. That’s got a nice ring to it.

When you have nieces and nephews at a young age, you love the authority of the title.

7. This picture would make a great background for my phone.

Cue 300 photos of your niece(s) and/or nephew(s).

8. And this picture is my absolute favorite – along with this one, and this one, and…

…and of course, you’ve got to show them to anyone who’s willing to look.

9. My nieces and nephews are so much cuter than so-and-so’s baby.

When you’ve got cute little ones, you can’t help but think they’re better than other babies. Because they’re your rent-a-babies, and they’re the best.

10. I wonder if people think this is my baby?

My nieces and nephews have, on occasion, been mistaken for my kids. And I don’t really see a need to correct them, right?

11. I need my baby!

Fun fact: When you have nieces and nephews, it’s probably a good idea to keep a car seat in your car. Just in case of emergency adventures (or trips to get ice cream).

12. Oh, don’t cry – I love you!

Because, inevitably, your nieces and nephews are going to want to go back home to their parents – but you’re determined to try your best to make them happy with you instead.

13. Can’t you just stay little forever?

Since I was 7 when my first nephew was born, that means he’s just about to graduate high school now. I think he’s even about to have a baby of his own, and I am just not ready yet.

14. My gifts will need to be super-extra-special.

Note to self: If you’re going to crochet something for them, make sure it’s a blanket. Kids hate scratchy sweaters, and they just don’t understand doilies and coasters.

15. How much gas money do I need to get to them?

One of my nephews lives across the country from me, but he’s going to be moving back this way in a few months. One lives a few hours away, with the brother I don’t really get along with. But the rest – the ones I see most often – are only a ten minute drive. (Which, of course, means I kidnap them every weekend.)

16. I need a bigger clothing budget.

My niece has a drawer in my dresser because she’s over here so much – and, admittedly, I spend more money than I should in filling it up for her.

17. I need a bigger toy budget, too.

Because no matter how many coloring books I buy them, they still end up taking mine.

18. I can’t wait to be the cool gay aunt.

And the amount of pride you hear when one of your nephews tells his uncool friend that he needs to “get over” the fact that you’re gay? Pure joy.

19. I think I’m ready for a baby!

As much as I take my nieces and nephews to get rid of the baby fever, it doesn’t really work, since the second they fall asleep in my bed, it all surges back – someday, this will be my everyday.

20. I am definitely not ready for a baby.

Truth be told, I’m barely ready to have pets – one of the perks of nieces and nephews is that you can send them home after. Thankfully lesbians have a pretty good birth control method… Wink wink.

21. This kid is going to be my everything.

While you’re still figuring out whether you’re ready for kids or not, your nieces and nephews are like your “practice kids”. You get the freedom of being able to send them home when you’ve had your fill, and also the freedom to pick them up pretty much whenever you want.

22. My brothers are so going to owe me.

If I charged my brothers for babysitting these little hellions, I wouldn’t need to work – but instead, I’m just racking up some free babysitting credit of my own. Score.

Australian MPs Look To Pass Law Allowing Lesbian Parents To Add Both There Names To Their Childrens Birth Certificate

Australia’s Lower House of Parliament passed the Family Relationships Amendment Bill last week, allowing names of both lesbian parents to appear on the birth certificate of their child.

The Bill was first introduced in the Upper House of the Parliament by Greens MLC Tammy Franks, where it was passed in June 2015.

Under the current law, only the name of the woman who gives birth to the child will appear on the birth certificate unless the lesbian couple has been together for three years or more.

The Family Relationships Amendment Bill was passed by a conscience vote of 29-12, cast by members of both the government and the opposition.

Though the Bill was supported by Attorney General John Rau, he suggested an amendment to it that would make the law applicable only to new cases.

However, this did not garner much support and the new law will be applied retrospectively, the News.com.au reported.

The Bill which is also known as “Tadgh’s law” was co-sponsored by Liberal MP David Pisoni in the Lower House. It seeks to end the three-year cohabitation rule for the same-sex couples, which still existed in South Australia.

Franks said;

The passage of this Bill has been a long time coming for children like Tadhg, who celebrated his first birthday without a birth certificate because Births, Deaths and Marriages demanded that his mothers prove they had lived together for three years before his conception. I thank the Premier for finally giving this Bill Government time, at last, to ensure its passage after it languished on the notice paper for many months last year.”

She added,

This Bill overcomes a very difficult situation where, federally these couples are recognised as ‘de facto’, but because of this discriminatory three-year cohabitation rule, both co-parents were not able to be listed on their child’s birth certificate here in South Australia. These families and these children deserved better – and at last children like Tadhg will have their birth certificates and have certainty.”

Before it becomes a law, the bill would be returned from the Lower House to be rubber stamped in the Upper House. The same-sex parents who were affected by the issue can then apply for the reissue of the birth certificates.

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6 Things Kids Can Teach You About Money

Kids are a wonderful part of our lives. Whether you have children of your own, children you get paid to take care of, or even nieces and nephews who think you’re the coolest ever (I fall into that last category there, but I’ve fallen into #2 before, too), kids offer a wealth of creativity and insight that you otherwise might not think about.

Truly, childlike innocence is something that should be preserved. Often, when going through puberty, we find ourselves rebelling from the instincts of a child, despite knowing that they’ve done pretty well for us so far. But one of the things we value most about Grown Up Life (that is, money and our finances)… Kids probably have figured out way better than we do.

What tips can you pick up from your favorite young person?

Kids expect to get a great value – every time.

As adults, we often see listed prices and make a quick decision as to whether we can afford it or not. But kids don’t do that. They expect to be able to take $1 into a toy store, pick out their favorite thing, and walk out with change. We might even tell them “It doesn’t work like that.” But why not?

Instead of squashing their hopes for a good deal, consider adding some negotiations into your own shopping routine. Of course, this is more likely to work with small mom-and-pop stores than it is at the national chains, but if you talk to the right people, you might be able to get coupons, BOGOs, and other great deals.

Stores don’t always advertise these things, because they cut into their profits. But I used to work at an overpriced retailer that literally had a “never say no” policy – if the customer asked for a coupon, we were instructed to say “We usually send coupons out in our mailers, but I will apply it for you this time.” Then we gave them 20% off their order. This retailer was a giant national chain, and they had negotiations built into their business model!

Of course, sometimes you’ll be asked to sign up for their mailer when you receive the “bonus coupon”. Take it! Everyone likes getting stuff in their mailbox, and when the things you get can save you money, it’s even better.

Kids get excited about saving.

Even if your kid-of-choice loves to spend their money, they usually enjoy the act of putting something into savings. There is such joy associated with dropping their change into a piggy bank and then counting it all up when the bank is full.

Try to go back to the days when you enjoyed saving, too. It’s often difficult for us to get excited about saving, but that’s because we’re looking at it the wrong way. Instead of thinking “Oh boy – I’m collecting something!” like a kid would, we think, “Oh no – I’m not allowed to spend this!”

Try to find a way to make saving fun again. Try competing with your savings – instead of making it all about what you’re missing out on. Consider setting up a “found money” collection. This can be something as simple as the change you find on the ground, to finding ways you can cut costs in day to day life. (Do you really need the biggest specialty drink, or would a smaller one with an extra shot of caffeine work just as well? It’s not hard to find ways to save, it’s just hard to force ourselves into the savings, but over time it can turn into habit.)

Whoever wins the “found money challenge” can either choose to spend half of their savings (and keep the rest building up) or they can choose what is done with the money – a special vacation, perhaps, or a dinner date to that expensive restaurant you thought you couldn’t afford. Try it out, and see if turning saving into a game can help you get your money on track!

Kids ask questions. All. The. Time.

I have a nephew who went through this phase of asking questions about everything. “Why is the grass green?” “What type of grass is this?” “How old is it?” “Does it smell the same as other grass?” “What’s the difference between grass and a weed?” … And all this was on the same walk.

At some point when we grow up, we start to feel guilty and embarrassed about asking questions. This is why Google gets the majority of people’s questions – but that’s not bad, either. As long as you’re asking questions to a reliable source, or a source you consider reliable to help you find a better source, you should get the answer you need.

When it comes to your money, you should be asking questions whenever anything doesn’t make sense. Does your bank charge their monthly fee on a different day every month? Ask them what their actual billing cycle is, so that you can plan for these fees. If you see anything listed as a miscellaneous charge, feel free to bring it up with the billing party – and see if you can dispute it, if you don’t agree with the fee. Most places would rather lose a few dollars on one of their fees than to lose you as a customer completely.

(Last year I got my bank to reverse four account maintenance fees, two overdraft fees, and even a few refunds for trials that I forgot to cancel. Trust me, asking questions works. This is probably why they make you wait on hold so long – they’re hoping you’ll forget most of your questions!)

Kids love change.

Have you ever seen a kid get really excited about small change on the ground? I know when I was a kid, my house had a rule. Any change that fell out in the laundry (whether the pile of dirty clothes or directly into the washing machine) was mine. It was used as a bribe to get me to do my chores, but it had another bonus too: At the end of the year, I usually had over $200 to roll up and put into my bank account.

Somewhere along the way, we start to devalue change even more than it already is. Keep the change, we say. After all, it’s a negligible amount. But those little amounts do add up over time – often very fast!

Carrying around all that change can be heavy after a while, though, and it’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to keep it on your person at all times. This is a good thing – use it! You should have one dedicated spot to put your change to save it up for a day when you really need it. For me, that place is the center console of my car. I’m usually in the car when I get change, or if I’m not, I’ll be in my car soon. Then, if something comes up (like no food in the house the day before payday – yikes!) I know where it is and I can use it as I need to.

Many bank accounts now offer a service called “keep the change” or something similar. These services refer to the total balance being rounded up to the next dollar, and the “change” being deposited directly into a savings account for you. Ask your bank if they have such a service – some might not advertise it as loudly as others do.

If your bank doesn’t do automatic transfers of this nature, that doesn’t mean you can’t adopt the practice. Just keep track of your spending and manually transfer the “change” into your savings account at the end of the week. If you have an interest-bearing savings account, every little bit will help, and you could be surprised at how quickly it adds up!

Kids love to trade.

Human civilization started with bartering as the main form of currency, so it makes sense that kids will hold onto this basic instinct. For some reason, we “outgrow” it at a certain point – but we really shouldn’t. Trading helps people to get things that they really want with something that they used to want, that someone else wants now. It should go without saying that this is the best way to make the most out of your money.

There are websites devoted to swapping things like kids’ clothes, books, sports equipment, video games, and so much more. If you’re hesitant about swapping with total strangers, sight unseen, you can always visit a local swap meet. Not all areas will have one, but often all it takes is a travel to a bigger metropolitan area. Trading and barter are still alive and well – you just have to know where to look!

If you’re unable to get to an area where swap meets are held, consider holding your own. I routinely “clothes swap” with my friends who are similar sizes. We all collect a bin full of clothes that we no longer like, that are in decent condition, and then get together to try things on.

Some thrift stores may even take trades, but you have to check beforehand. Often thrift stores are used to benefit a charity organization, so it’s best if you offer to swap with something that has a greater value than the item you’re hoping to get. In fact, unless you’re swapping with close friends, it’s always better to offer better than what you’re requesting – and it makes it more likely that your trade will go off without a hitch.

Kids make their “wants” well-known.

If your favorite kid wants something, he or she is going to say so. A lot. Maybe this has something to do with “consciousness-creates-reality” thinking; after all, if we want something bad enough, we’re more likely to make it happen. But are we willing it to us or are we doing what we need to do to make sure we get it? The lines aren’t really clear, and it’ll probably be different from one situation to the next.

As adults, we’re taught that our “wants” and our “needs” are to be kept completely separate, and that declaring what we want makes us spoiled somehow. This is very rarely actually true. You should have a clear plan of the things you want out of life, and you should have a general idea of how to achieve it.

Want that raise? Ask for it! “I helped bring in x amount of money last quarter, and I think that a raise of x% would really help to reflect this and motivate me to continue improving the company.” Maybe your request won’t be set up just like this, but it helps to have an idea going in.

Other areas you might want to speak up include at the doctor’s office (Is there a cheaper, generic form of this drug that I can use – and can you authorize that on my prescription?); the bank (I don’t want to pay my checking fee – what do I need to do to avoid it? – In my personal experience, they will sometimes just remove it for you, but you have to ask); even at your local grocery store (Do you have a loyalty program I could sign up for?).

When you put your “wants” out into the world, the worst thing that can happen is that someone will tell you “no”. And you never know, you could get exactly what you want! It goes a little deeper than that, though. You need to actually understand what you want, first, and sometimes the best way to get it won’t be by asking, but by working hard to make it happen.

Having a clear plan for how you’ll achieve your goals is necessary to make them happen – the things that are most worth having will require an effort on your part. If you had everything handed to you without having to work for it, you’d just get spoiled, and likely not appreciate the things you do get – so make sure you’re keeping up your end of the deal, too.

Woman Wins Supreme Court Batlle After Ex Girlfriend Takes Their Daughter

A woman battling with her ex -partner for the return of her IVF-born daughter from Pakistan has been given hope by a Supreme Court ruling.

The girl’s biological mother and sole legal parent took her out of the UK in 2014 to Pakistan, three years after their relationship down.

The second woman then launched legal action and asked judges to order the youngster’s return to the UK.

Her efforts to force her former partner to bring the girl back to the UK had been blocked by the High Court and Court of Appeal.

A High Court judge and Court of Appeal judges concluded they did not have the jurisdiction to make such an order because the girl was not habitually resident in the UK when legal proceedings were launched.

However, Supreme Court justices have now overturned those rulings – deciding she had been resident and allowing the woman’s appeal.

The case will now return to the High Court where a judge will make decisions on what happens next.

Lawyers say the Supreme Court ruling will have implications in a number of areas.

Five Supreme Court justices had analysed evidence at a hearing in London in December.

A lawyer representing the second woman said a judge in England could now consider what was in the child’s best interests.

Maria Wright, who works for Freemans Solicitors, said:

“(She) feared the consequence of the High Court and Court of Appeal’s decisions was that (the child) would lose her relationship with her parent entirely The consequence of the Supreme Court’s decision is that the English court can properly consider what is in (the child’s) best interests and, if appropriate, order contact or (the child’s) return to England.

Further, the Supreme Court has brought welcome clarity to the law regarding a child’s habitual residence.”

The five Supreme Court justices, who ruled that the child could not be identified, allowed the second woman’s appeal by a three-two majority.

And the second woman said she was “relieved”.

In a statement released through Freemans Solicitors, she said:

“I am very relieved that the Supreme Court has accepted that my daughter has the right to have her future considered by a court in England,” “It has been a very long process to get to this result, and I am delighted that someone will now be able to look at what is actually in (the child’s) best interests.”

She added:

“I very much hope that (the child) and I will now be able to see each other again.”

Lawyers had told judges that the second woman would have been unable to persuade a court in Pakistan to consider the case “because of the strength of there of negative attitudes towards that sort of adult relationship”.

Judges heard that the second woman was a British woman of Indian ethnicity – and the girl’s biological mother a British woman of Pakistani ethnicity.

Unmarried Lesbian Has Her Appeal For Parental Custody Rejected By US Supreme Court

Days after a US Judge ruled in favour in a custody battle between married lesbian couple, the US Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a woman who says Florida’s same-sex marriage ban deprived her as parental rights.

A lower court in Florida had ruled that Penny Willis had no parental right to the child conceived by a previous female partner.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the lower ruling stands.

Willis had been in a relationship with Anne Marie Mobley for 11-years, but the couple never married.

After they got together they decided to raise a child.

Using donor sperm bought over the internet, Mobley gave birth to their child, but a year later the pair split up.

Despite the lower court having thrown out the case, Willis claims that her constitutional rights have been violated.

In her case she noted the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling legalising same-sex marriage across all 50 US states.


US Judge Makes Landmark Ruling In Custody Battle Between Lesbian Couple

A landmark ruling has been made by a US judge, who ruled that the estrange wife of a woman who gave birth to their child has equal parental rights.

Karen and Lauren Poole were legally married in Maryland in 2013, and their child was born in 2014.

The former couple conceived using artificial insemination, and Karen gave birth to the baby.

They used the sperm of a mutual friend to conceive. He left the US, and has no legal claim as a parent to the child.

After the couple separated, Lauren Pole sort joint custody, and the judge in the custody case has ruled that both women have parental rights.

Speaking after the announcement, Lauren said:

It felt amazing … to finally hear what I already knew and what I already felt.”

She broke down in tears when the judge issued his opinion, but still may need to wait to have joint custody officially.

Karen had taken out a protective order against Lauren, which is to expire in a month.

Judge Frucci said he intended to allow Lauren visitation rights, but that he would wait until the end of this month in order to attorney for the baby time to weigh in.

The couple’s attorneys said they thought the ruling, the first of its kind in Virginia, could set a precedent.

Court Orders Lesbian Couple To Give Back Child Three Years After Adoption

A lesbian couple in Australia have been ordered to return their adopted daughter to her birth mother after she ‘changed her mind’ about giving her up.

A court ruled that the toddler would be better off with her biological parents and three siblings, despite having lived with the couple since her birth nearly three years ago, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The Brisbane couple, known only as Ms Blaze and Ms Darnley for legal reasons, had raised her from birth in an agreement drawn up by a lawyer.

The girl’s biological mother, only identified as Ms Grady, gave her newborn to Ms Blaze and Ms Darnley because she did not have the financial means to raise another child.

A lawyer then drew up a parenting plan – described as a ‘quasi-adoption’ in court – and it was agreed Ms Grady and her other children would have ‘some on-going relationship’ with the girl, although no specifics were given.

However, Ms Grady later found out that the father was a different man to whom she initially thought, and he would give financial support to their child.

She then ‘reclaimed’ the girl, who was now about nine months old.

The couple, who had tried unsuccessfully to get pregnant via IVF, were forced to take the case to court.

But they lost and their daughter will now be ‘transitioned’ back to her biological family.

She will spend one weekend a month with Ms Blaze and Ms Darnley but they have no parental responsibility for her.

It May Be Soon Possible For Lesbian Couples To Have Children With Genes From Both Parents

According to new research, same-sex couples may one day be able to have children who are genetically related to both partners.

A new technique – yet to be tried on humans – would involve scientists collecting a specific type of cell (such as a muscle cell) and producing a stem cell. These stem cells would then be used to create gametes (sex cells) – including creating an egg from a man or a sperm cell from a woman.

Research published in the Journal of Law and the Biosciences investigates the potential of this new scientific technique, known as ‘in vitro gametogenesis’ (IVG).

This could include ‘multiplex parenting’ with children having groups of more than two parents, or children with just one biological parent.

Scientist Sonia Suter from George Washington University, USA, explains IVG may be preferable to other fertility treatments in some circumstances, but in others it could be ‘substantially more problematic’.

For single parents, where all of the baby’s genetic material would come from one person’s DNA, there are greater challenges, Suter says.

We have minimal knowledge about the implications. The only way to demonstrate the effectiveness and safety of these techniques in humans is to use in vitro gametes (sex cells) to try to produce viable offspring in controlled settings – when and if we deem it sufficiently safe to do so.”

Dr George Ndkwe, medical director of the Zita West fertility clinic, told Huffington Post this technique, while useful, could radically change the notion of parenthood in future.

This is wonderful science, but it’s going to raise questions. There are possible uses of it, which in my opinion can be useful. For instance, for somebody who has no sperm at all or a woman who has no egg, if you can use any of their cells to create sperm or eggs then they can have treatment, so to use it in that way specifically for treatment, in my opinion may have some benefits.”

He added:

It would completely challenge our notion of parenthood with very complex legal implications. That’s where it gets very scary.”

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A New Approach For Parents? Help Your Child Be Happy, Not Just Successful

When it comes to raising your children, you and your partner are going to have your own opinions on how to raise them as well as have your own notions of what it means to have a “happy” child.

With that in mind, there are also some great ways that are backed up by science and studies that can help supplement your child’s happiness.

Here’s a look at five ways to that are proven to help raise a happier child…

Nurture Your Marriage (or current relationship)

Don’t let your relationship with your wife (or girlfriend if the two of you aren’t married) fall by the wayside once a child enters your life. Whether you chose to have a baby biologically or adopt, you’re definitely in for a change, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect each other.

You have to care for each other as much as the two of you are caring for the baby too.

Don’t Be Afraid to Lighten Up

Studies have found that joking around with your toddler helps set them up for social success. They are less likely to get defensive when with their peers and will definitely be much more light-hearted when it comes to joking around.

Plus…laughter is good medicine for the heart and soul. Also, when parents joke around and pretend, it helps younger children to think creatively, manage stress, and make friends more easily.

Foster Self-Compassion

When children learn self-compassion from their parents, they are not only going to be more self-aware, but more aware of the world around them in general.

When talking about self-compassion, we mean a sense of mindfulness, common humanity, empathy for others, and the ability to manage emotions and thoughts without repressing them or overreacting to them.

Be Positive

While this may be a pretty obvious tip, it’s still a very important part of raising a happy child. Children you come from a household who express negative emotions toward their infants are more likely to end up with aggressive and angry toddlers.

That anger can then carry over into your child’s adult life. So be sure to always use positive reinforcement with your child, and also be positive with your partner, as children pretty much take in everything their parents do.

Know Your Child

It goes without saying that every child is going to be different. That’s why it’s important to be in tune with him or her and make sure you recognize if there are any behavioral changes or anything that would suggest that your child is not feeling happy.

Studies have found that parents who tailor their parenting style to each child’s personality will be less likely to deal with anxiety and depression in their child. And if your child is already well-adjusted…don’t hover over them. That can not only cause anxiety, but also hurt their fragile self-esteem.

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This Lesbian Couple Will Make Network TV History This Christmas

Tonie and Bianca Alfonso-Monreal of Long Beach, California, will make network television history as the first lesbian couple to be featured on the CBS Television Network annual entertainment special, A Home For The Holidays.
Tonie and Bianca Alfonso-Monreal 01

On the show, the couple will share their inspiring and emotional story of how they built their family with the adoption of their son, Jacob.

When asked how they felt about making primetime history, Bianca told Huffington Post,

It is a huge honor for us. But in reality, we are just two moms doing the very best we can to raise our son.”


5 Scientific Reasons Why Two Moms are Better Than One

Okay, we don’t need scientists to tell us that having two moms rocks, right? But it would be pretty cool to have some scientific reasoning to help back us up.

Although research on same-sex parenting is still an emerging field, there’s evidence so far to prove what we’ve been saying all along…gay parents are awesome! But why are we so successful at being parents? Here’s a look at the scientific reasoning when it comes to why same-sex couples make great parents…

Gay Parents Foster Tolerance

A child growing up in a gay household is much more likely to approach the world with an open mind and more empathy. Not only that, but they are most likely going to be accepting of all types of people since they come from an “alternative” type of family.

Gay Parents Choose to Have Kids

There’s no such things as an “oops” baby for a gay couple. They have to plan to have a baby, whether it be through adoption or biologically, making them more motivated and committed than some of their heterosexual counterparts…not to mention, they are more prepared and aren’t likely to consider a child an accident.

Kids From Same-Sex Households Do Just as Well in School

Studies have found that there really isn’t much of a difference with grade performance when it comes to children from heterosexual households versus same-sex ones. So there’s really no basis to the argument that a child with two mothers or two fathers will do worse in school because he or she has been brought up in a same-sex household.


Gay Parents Nurture the Neediest

Gay parents are more likely to adopt minority, at risk, or children whose cases are either special circumstances or at risk. More than half of these children also have special needs. A study found that more than half of gay men and at least 41 percent of lesbian couples will adopt in the United Stated alone. That’s a huge number of great potential parents to help with the hundreds of thousands of children who are currently stuck in foster care.

Gay Parents Raise Confident Children

Yup…this was based on a study as well. It found that raising a child in a same-sex household can give kids a boost of confidence. This may circle back to gay parents choosing to have children, therefore being more involved in their child’s life (which definitely helps boosts self-esteem in child). Or it could just be that gay parents really do just rock…we’ll leave that up to you do decide…

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Mommy-To-Be-Wear: 5 Tips For Buying Maternity Clothes

When you’re expecting, (especially if it’s your first child), you’re probably thinking of more things related to the baby than yourself.

But what happens when your favorite pair of jeans just don’t fit anymore over your growing belly bump? Does that mean…it’s time for the dreaded maternity wear?

It all depends on what you feel most comfortable in, plus, maternity clothes have come a long way from a time when women didn’t have much to choose from aside from a few frumpy looking tops and elastic pants.

So what should you look for when shopping for your maternity wear? Here’s a look at 5 tips to consider to help make shopping for you and your baby bump a bit easier…

Look For Comfortable Fabrics

The ideal maternity wear will last through several pregnancy stages, so it’s important to choose well-made, high quality items that are made from strong and stretchy fabric. You want a fabric that will grow with you but will remain snug enough to support your body changes. Look for breathability, durability, and softness in the fabric, as well as the stretch factor. Fabrics like bamboo, modal, and cotton tend to be the best choices for comfort and breathability.

Keep Sizing in Mind

A lot of pregnant women are told that they should pick out maternity wear in the same size they wore prior to getting pregnant. That’s not really a good piece of advice to follow since not all maternity clothes are designed for pre-pregnancy sizes. It’s definitely a good idea to try things on to see how specific brands fit on you. And don’t forget to check the label to see if the fabric is pre-shrunk and how they base their sizing for a more proper fit.

Don’t Get Plus-Sized Clothing

Many women make the mistake of just buying regular clothes in sizes that are too large, or opt for getting plus-sized clothing. This is a bad idea, because you’ll end up with clothes that are too loose and baggy, and won’t “give” in the right place. The right fit will not only be more flattering to your body, but will also provide the best amount of comfort, so it’s a better idea to go with maternity clothing instead. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did.

Don’t Forget the Essentials

Because well-made maternity clothing can get a bit pricey, it’s a good idea to shop for quality over quantity. Lower quality clothing is more likely to fall apart quickly in the wash, shrink, or lose its shape and support. Set yourself a budget for your maternity wear, and be sure to include everyday favorites in your investment. Maternity jeans, basic maternity tank tops, t-shirts, and camisoles, a maternity dress, and maternity leggings should be at the top of the list. That way you can mix and match with your regular wardrobe and layer as necessary.

Look Out For Maternity Features

Be on the lookout for the following features when it comes to shopping for your maternity clothes to ensure a stylish and comfortable fit:

  • Adjustable waist bands (drawstring is a good choice)
  • All solids or patterns that create a slimming effect
  • Extra-long torso room for the growing belly
  • Extra length in the torso for dresses and tops
  • Empire waist in dresses and tops
  • Ruching on the side for tops and on the waist for bottoms

Keep a lookout for a butch girl’s guide to maternity wear coming soon…

Image source:Hayley & Nat from @twomummas | Kristen from Melbourne based Paperfox Studio in Australia. www.paperfoxstudio.com @

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How To Explain Sperm Donation To Your Child

The number of babies conceived through assisted reproduction technologies is steadily on the rise.

And for those who are using sperm donors to build their families, one of the most delicate issues that can arise as parents is how to talk to your children about the donors and the whole process in general.

When is the right time to discuss it with your child? And what exactly should you and your partner say to them?

Here’s a look at some tips to help when talking with your children about his or her donor.

Start Early

The longer you wait to tell your child, the harder it’s going to be for you and your partner to bring it up naturally. It’s never too early to tell the truth. In fact, some experts suggest telling your child about it while they are still in the womb so that you can get used to telling it to them when the time comes. Be matter of fact about it as though it’s not a big deal. If it’s not a big deal to your child’s two mommies, then it’s not going to be a big deal to him or her either. It’s also important to focus on your family rather than the details. Remind your child that both mommies loved each other very much and wanted to have a baby.

Distinguish Between Donor and Parent

As your child grows, he or she might start asking why they don’t have a “dad.” This is the time when it’s important to discuss with them the difference between a parent and a donor. Let them know that all families are different. What’s important is that there are two mothers that love them very much…that you two are the parents. Let them know that a donor doesn’t mean a father.

Keep the Conversation Going

Your child may continue to have questions as he or she gets older, especially once they learn about the birds and the bees, so to speak. So it’s important to always keep the doors of communication open when it comes to any questions they might have about the donor process. Think of a way that is easy for them to understand, and make sure they know that they were born out of their two mommies’ love for each other.

Acknowledge and Respect Your Child’s Feelings

Children are clear on who their parents are, so don’t be afraid of discussing any question they might have. It’s most likely they just want to understand things and are curious, like all children. Children can understand their donor origins and still know they are loved and celebrated by their family. But they may still experience complex emotions about it all, so encourage your child to talk about any emotions they may be feeling.

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What’s in a Name? Things To Consider Before Naming Your Baby

What’s in a name? Well…pretty much everything. Your child is going to have to live with his or her name the rest of her life, so picking out the perfect name isn’t something to be taken lightly. But how do parents chose the perfect name for their child?

From researching name meanings to passing down a family name, there are quite a lot of factors to consider when it comes to picking that perfect name. Here’s a look at some tips to consider when it comes to naming their child…

Be Careful With Current Popular Names

If you’re looking for a unique name for your baby, be sure to do your research on the trending popular names. What you may think is a unique name may also be deemed “unique” to millions of other parents too. Sites like BabyNameWizard.com and Nameberry.com are great resources to use when it comes to checking whether a certain name is trending up or down.

How Does the Name Sound with Your Surname?

Although you might think it’s cute for your baby to have a rhyming first and last name, or a name that’s really similar to your surname, think about how that may affect your child in the future. Do you really want him to be teased for having a name that’s really easy to mock or make fun of? Instead of looking for a first name that jives with your last name, pick one that flows with it.

Avoid Names with Unfortunate Connotations

It doesn’t matter how much you and your partner love a certain name, if it reminds you of something negative, like an ex-girlfriend or someone who bullied you in high school…whatever the unfortunate connotation, don’t name your child that name. It’s also wise to avoid baby names that will be the same as a celebrity. For instance, if your surname is Beckham, don’t name your child Victoria. Unless of course, you’re a hard core Spice Girls fan…but even then…it’s weird.

Don’t Go With Weird Spellings

This will save both you and your child from having to endlessly correct the pronunciation of the name. We all had that one kid in school whose name was always messed up by the teacher during roll call, so why put your child through that? Before going with an oddly-spelled name, test it out with friends and relatives first. If they have a hard time pronouncing it like you intend, then it’s time to rethink that spelling or chose another name altogether.

Do You Both Love the Name?

Finding a name you both like can be a tricky thing. But it’s something you both must agree on. If your partner doesn’t like a favorite name of yours, don’t force it. It’s best to find some common ground instead. Both of you can make a list of names you like and go from there. You can eliminate names together and then chose which ones make the final cut.

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Kid & Questions: How to Explain Your Same-Sex Family To Other People’s Children

Children are curious. And there’s no way of escaping all of the inevitable questions that are going to come your way in general as a parent.

But as same-sex parent’s you may find yourselves fielding a whole new set of questions when it comes to your children’s friends. So what are you supposed to do whenever your child gets asked why he or she has two mommies? Well, your first instinct may be to say something along the lines of “Our family is none of your business!”

However, that’s probably not going to solve much of anything, and you may risk isolating your child. So here’s a look at some way to help your child explain your family to friends instead…

Simply State the Facts

Family’s come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and diversity. And whether you’re gay or straight, there are many ways in which people can become parents. Let your child know their family history. Keep it straightforward and simply, that way if he or she is met with having to explain his or her family to another curious child, they can do it in the same way they were told by you.

Normalize Your Family

Children will treat information the same way you and your partner do. So if you want your child to feel at ease answering questions about their two mommies, then the two of you need to feel at ease discussing it with them. Once again, it’s important to be straightforward and up front with your children. Let them know that just because there are two mothers in the household, that doesn’t mean they are any different from any other family. Talk with them about normal things you do as a family that other families most probably do as well.

Don’t Be Defensive

Other kids may still be curious about your child’s same-sex family even after answering questions and explaining. So if you find your child is still being questioned, don’t get defensive. While it’s your motherly instinct to defend and protect your child, as long as it’s truly curiosity and the other children wanting to understand, there’s nothing to really get defensive about. However, it’s always a good idea to always be aware of what’s going on with your child to make sure nothing is leading to bullying. Always encourage your child to be open with you and your partner, as you two should do the same for him or her.

Families = Love

When children have questions about same-sex families, it’s not about sex, it’s about love. When they think of families, they think of people who love them unconditionally. This is a good explanation to give to your child in response to questions about them having two moms. When it comes down to it, really the only answer your child needs is a response along the lines of: “My parents are my parents because they love me and they love each other.” Simple as that…and children are good with simple.

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Toddler Battles: 10 {Fun & Unexpected} Ways to Get Your Kids To Sleep

What parent hasn’t experienced that struggle or “bedtime battle” when it comes to trying to get your children to sleep. More often than not, it’s not because your child is trying to pick a fight, they truly just don’t want to go to bed.

Whether they feel like they’ll miss out on something while they sleep (don’t all kids think their parents do all the fun stuff when they have to go to bed?), or maybe they’re afraid of the dark or are just excited for something that’s coming up in the week, there could be many reasons why your child is giving you a hard time at night.

Here’s a look at some tips to help make bedtime less of a battle and more of a sleepy surrender…

Have Quiet Time Before Bedtime

This means no video games, movies, or television at least a half an hour before bedtime. Two hours of quiet time is actually ideal, but sometimes you may have to compromise and settle for the half hour. Either way, having no outside stimulation before bedtime will help calm your child down as well as relax them. Also, light form the television screen can actually interfere with melatonin, an important sleep hormone.

Create a Sleep-Inducing Environment

If your child doesn’t feel comfortable and safe in their bedroom, chances are they are going to have a hard time sleeping. Make sure his or her room has a welcoming atmosphere complete with favorite stuffed animals, soft sheets and pillows, and enough darkness in the room to allow your child to fall asleep easier. The more at home they feel, the less likely they are to fight you when it comes to going to bed.

Keep a Consistent Bedtime Routine

Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers do better with routines. When it comes to bedtime, don’t scrap the daily routine either. Be consistent with thing you and your child do before bedtime like perhaps first it’s bath time, next story time, and then bedtime. When you child gets into this bedtime routine, he or she will find comfort in knowing what comes next and will be more apt to fall asleep instead of fighting you to stay awake.

Address Bedtime Fears

If your child says there’s a monster under the bed, instead of dismissing his or her fears, instead try talking about it. Sometimes some simple reassurance can help them feel more at ease and protected. If that doesn’t work, then be creative with how you “protect” your child from they’re afraid of. For example, assign a specific stuffed animal as the “monster protector” or grab a can of air freshener and deem it the “monster repellant.” Your child will appreciate your efforts and take comfort in knowing they don’t have to be afraid at bedtime.

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Butches And Babies

I am the type of woman who loves seeing pictures of happy families. Everyone complains when one of their Facebook friends shares 30 million updates of their little ones, but I eat it up. Hey, just because I’m not ready to start a family of my own doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the cuteness of someone else’s.

But one thing that’s seriously lacking from my Facebook feed is pictures of butch women and their little bundles of joy.

Even though many women are beginning to brace their butch identities, not as many are actively showing their families – there’s this social stigma surrounding being “stereotypically gay” and dealing with kids. It’s one of the lingering examples of self-perpetuated homophobia.

(Admittedly, when I was working in childcare, I felt the need to dress “less gay” while I was working with my kids, and I know I’m not the only one.)

But for those of you looking for your daily dose of lesbian cuteness, Butches and Babies may be just the ticket.

How can you resist this?!

“Jess + Jailen | Jess and her nephew Jailen on his first birthday! Time flies.”


Robyn + Billie + Alysa // “At a friend’s wedding, their photographer captured an amazing family portrait! My wife, Alysa and myself, holding our baby daughter, Billie. It was a beautiful day!”
”Jane + Brady”
”Davina + Novaleigh | My wife wearing our youngest daughter Novaleigh.”


Trevin + Shamae // “We wore the same thing to Thanksgiving dinner. First time meeting my new nephew.” tumblr_nvi1bfr7bI1qms4kto1_1280


Pat + Izzy / “2 year old Izzy and me, post rice-Krispie treat extravaganza.”


Givonna + Tristan // “Can you tell that I forced him to wear this costume?”

While not all of the pictures on the site are butch women with their own children (many are pictures with nieces and nephews) this is a big step in removing the stigmas of being gay and dealing with children. And not only that – they’re insanely cute, too.

Why this is so important

For those of us who are deeply immersed in the lesbian community, we may wonder, “Why is this such a big deal?” But think about this: Outside of your own social circle, how many butch lesbians can you think of who have public family lives? Most likely, the answer is very few or none.

Butch women have long been the subject of social scrutiny. They come with their own set of first impressions before they’ve even said anything, and it often extends to other gay women as well – not just the most naïve of our straight allies.

Even in the gay community, butch lesbian women are treated as cultural stereotypes. It’s assumed that they like sports, and working on cars, and flannel. It’s assumed that they prefer to “give” in the bedroom. It’s assumed that they’re abusive toward their partners. It’s assumed that they really want to be a man.

Why is any of this a fair assessment?

In short, it’s not.

But in order to break free of the stereotypes, we must be willing to show that they’re only stereotypes. Everyone deserves to be treated as an individual, but the ease of latching onto the narrowest of descriptions is hard to break. It’s going to be a long road to true visibility, but luckily Butches and Babies has started to pave the way.

Story Time: Children’s Books For Your LGBT Family

Reading to your children is a wonderful way to bond with them and spend quality time together, not to mention it helps them learn to love to read.

The best way to keep your child interested in reading is to find stories they can relate to and connect with. However, that can prove to be difficult when it comes to finding books that portrays a family that has two mommies… or any other type of diverse family for that matter.

Chances are, you’re going to find next to nothing in terms of LGBT-themes children’s books at your library or local bookstore. Have no fear though, we’ve compiled useful list of children’s books that celebrate having a diverse family.

Take a look at these suggestions that can be found online, or maybe you can even request your local library or bookstore to carry them…

Mommy, Mama, and Me : By Leslea Newman

This book tells the story of the everyday life of a family with two moms. It’s great for young toddlers through preschoolers, as they can easily relate to the story and what the child does with his two mommies like going to the park and having bath time. There’s also a version with two dads entitled Daddy, Papa, and Me as well.

Mommy, Mama, and Me - By Leslea Newman

Mommy, Mama, and Me - By Leslea Newman

And Tango Makes Three: By Justin Richardson

This endearing book tells the true story of two male penguins in Central Park Zoo in NYC that paired up with each other and were eventually given an egg to hatch. The result was their chick, Tango, which they raised together as a family. It’s a great example of how love and caring makes a family, not how many daddies or mommies you have.

And Tango Makes Three- By Justin Richardson

A Tale of Two Mommies: By Vanita Oelschlager

It’s got fabulously vibrant illustrations done by Mike Blanc and tells the story of two friends asking a third how his family works since he has two mommies. But they don’t want to know the questions that adults tend to over think. Instead they are curious about with one bakes the cakes and who coaches little league. In the end they find out that their friend isn’t any different from them just because he has two mommies. There’s also a dad version entitled A Tale of Two Daddies as well.

A Tale of Two Mommies- By Vanita Oelschlager

The Big Book of Families: By Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith

Whether your family has two moms, two dads, a step-dad, or even no dad, this book pretty much covers any kind of family you can think of. It has a lot of great, funny pictures and plenty of details for even the most inquisitive child. And it will be even more fun when you get to pick out your family within the pages.

The Big Book of Families- By Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith

Molly’s Family: By Nancy Garden

Molly draws her two mommies in her kindergarten class and gets told by classmates that she can’t have two moms. Instead of the teacher scolding the classmates, she instead teaches a lesson we could all learn from…that every family is different and that’s okay. It’s a great way to start a discussion with your child about how to handle that type of situation, should they face it in school.

Molly’s Family- By Nancy Garden

King and King: By Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland

This is a great alternative to the typical princess fairytale stories. It’s the story of a prince who is told he must marry a princess in order to inherit the throne. There’s just one problem…the prince isn’t into princesses. It’s a story about staying true to yourself and finding love…and of course, ends happily ever after.

King and King- By Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland

King and King- By Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland 02


Do you have any more titles to suggest? Let us know in the comments below!

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