Unmarried … With Children: Ted Peterson on Parenting

Ted Peterson
Authored by
Ted Peterson

June 24, 2013
7:01 a.m.
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“I would ask for advice, but I can’t bear fools.”
“Odd, because your mother could.”

Since I’m not good at accepting unsolicited advice, I try my damndest to avoid giving any, but solicited advice is a completely different thing. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, if someone says they need my opinion, I have to drop everything to give it.

Recently, a friend of a friend, a single gay man, asked if he could grill me on the subject of foster adoption. Of course, before leaping on it with phone and email correspondence, I began with the usual charming false modesty, explaining that experiences may vary and I can only talk about what Ian and I went through with the two foster children who passed through our home and the one we were able to adopt. After this preamble, but before the advice, I always like to add on the order of my attorney, a disclaimer about the views, opinions, conclusions and other information expressed being for entertainment value only.

The guy’s story was that he was in his mid-40s with a comfortable and secure career, but hadn’t met The One yet and didn’t feel like settling. He had, however, always wanted a child, and everyone had always told him that he would make a great dad. He wanted to give it a go.

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“Funny how you’re so strong, Daddy, because you’re also a complete nelly.”

I had to tell him straight away that one of the first lessons I learned the first time a child came into my house was how hard it must be to be a single parent. Obviously, there are terrific single parents, mothers and fathers, out there, but a support network is vital for emergency babysitting, housekeeping, and cocktail mixing to maintain sanity. Having a partner to share experiences and responsibilities is obviously ideal, but I’ve always been a follower of the maxim “better to be alone than to be in a bad relationship.”

There have been plenty of articles about single women deciding to become mommies before becoming wives, deciding when to freeze their eggs and when and how to fertilize and implant them. Less discussed are men, straight and gay, deciding that they’re ready to be daddies on their own. The ones I’ve talked to admit they’re terrified as they take the first steps, but what intelligent parent-to-be isn’t?

todd-parr-animals-hoodie_designOne of Mikey’s favorite books is The Family Book, by Todd Parr, which describes all sorts of arrangements: big families, little families, transracial families, stepfamilies, single parent families, same-sex parented families, adoptive families, and families, like ours, who are very loud. Todd’s message and art are so beloved that the Family Equality Council commissioned him to do T-shirts and placemats with “Family = Family” on them. We own three. We really need nine more.

You might have heard this, but any day now the Supreme Court is going to make a couple of decisions about gay marriage. The last week of June they’ll be saying yes, no, or pass to whether my domestic partnership in my state and country gets upgraded to a full marriage.

It’s a pretty big deal. On a practical level, having the same rights as other married couples means, for example, that we will be able to file joint federal and not just state taxes, as we do now, requiring two sets of returns and long delays. But there’s also the symbolic and emotional side to having your relationship be called officially, legally a marriage.

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“With regards to discipline, Papa, why don’t you be the bad cop AND the good cop? I’ll be the fabulous cop.”

After my conversation with the advice-seeking fellow, and figuring that since I’m GuySpy’s Family Guyd, at this historic moment, I thought I really should focus on my family. Fortunately, I have discovered that there’s a group, which is obviously an ideal resource for gays wanting to learn more about marriage and forming families, called Focus on the Family. You can Google them if you like.

I went to their website, and under the “Marriage & Relationship” tab found a sub-heading called “Preparing for Marriage.” Obviously, I was excited to learn about what I could do in advance of the Supreme Court ruling to prepare myself for my change of status, so I went there first.

“Why Wait for Sex?” was the title of the first article.

Like I said, I usually don’t take unsolicited advice, but in this case, I took its point immediately, and immediately stopped reading and went and had some sex with my man. Thanks for the suggestion, James Dobson!

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