How Chick-Fil-A Almost Ruined My Family

At one point last week I was pretty sure that Chick-Fil-A had ruined my family.

When the Chick-Fil-A anti-gay controversy broke out during the summer, it was a no-brainer for C.J.’s Dad and I to have a conversation with our sons about the company’s beliefs and decide as a family that we weren’t going to eat there anymore.

Our little family took a big stand and let it be known.  Most people assumed our anti-Chick-Fil-A stance was based on our love and support of my gay brother.  It’s a correct assumption, but a limited one.  My husband, my sons and I decided to boycott Chick-Fil-A in love and support of the entire LGBTQ community and, more importantly, because in our house we believe that all people are created equal and deserve to be treated that way.  To us, there is no excuse for hate and discrimination, not even the go-to “the bible told me so” explanation.  Call us crazy.

We also wanted to use the situation to teach a life lesson: sometime you have to sacrifice in order to stand up for what you believe in.  Chick-Fil-A has long been a favorite of C.J. and his Brother.  They would miss the food for sure.

Our kids agreed with our decision.  Our nine-year-old son wrote a letter to Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy.  Our five-year-old son (who is gender nonconforming) understands that Chick-Fil-A isn’t nice to everybody, that they are mean to some people and that that is not okay.

My husband and I made it quite clear to those close to us — especially those people who, on occasion, feed our kids when we are not around — that we would not be eating at Chick-Fil-A.

That was our decision.  If someone we knew didn’t make the same decision, we were disappointed but we didn’t unfriend them.  We just asked them to get their fill of those homophobic nuggets, sandwiches and waffle fries when we weren’t around.

Sometimes you have to agree to disagree.

We’ve learned that sometimes that is easier said than done.

Last week, a member of our family had a few moments alone with our oldest son and engaged C.J.’s Brother in a conversation about Chick-Fil-A, which lead to the family member explaining the biblical definition of marriage and what the bible says about homosexuality to our nine-year-old.

We.  Were.  Pissed.

We felt like we had been purposefully betrayed and deceived.  We felt like our son had been part of talk that was inappropriate because of our beliefs, his age, the topic and the family member’s knowledge that we are LGBTQ allies through and through.  And, none of that takes into account that our son’s beloved uncle is gay and his brother has a very high likelihood of being gay or transgender.

Once we took a few days and few steps back, we realized that we assume that people in our family’s lives will behave as we expected them to.

“The easiest way to get your expectations unmet is to fail to communicate those expectations to the person who is supposed to meet them,” someone said to me recently.

We had never clearly communicated how we expected the adults in our family’s lives to conduct themselves around our children when it came to matters of religion and being LGBTQ.

We sat down with the family member and, for the first time, said out-loud what we expect of them and others.  Initially, it felt weird to do it.  But after we did it, it felt weird that we hadn’t done it earlier.

We had never said out-loud to the people in our lives:

1.  Please do not talk about religion to our children. We believe that God is more about love, kindness and inclusiveness than he is about fear, hate and shame.  We believe that he created each person perfectly and without flaw and that, more than anything, he wants each person to be treated that way.  And, if judgment is necessary for entrance into heaven?  It’s God’s to give, not ours.

Whether you agree with our religious views or not, let’s all play it safe and refrain from engaging children in conversations meant to sway them.  If you feel like it’s your calling to spread the word of your God or your religion, please don’t spread it onto our children.

2.  If you have something unkind (at best) or hateful (at worst) to say about the LGBTQ community we have to insist that you do not say it around our children or us.  We’ve ended friendships for less and do realize that sometimes family ties are a little trickier to deal with.

All that being said, anyone – family or not – who teaches our children that their uncle and other LGBTQ people aren’t equal, are sinful and should be excluded from things like civil rights will be eliminated from our lives.

3.  Because our child is gender nonconforming and has been for more than half of his life, statistically speaking he has about a 75 percent chance of being a member of the LGBTQ community.  When our family is around, please conduct yourself as if a member of the LGBTQ community is in your presence.

4.  Also, because of his gender nonconformity, compared to his peers he has a much higher likelihood of attempting suicide, experiencing major depression, abusing substances, developing addiction and practicing unsafe sex and behaviors.  We can lower the likelihood of all of those things being in his life if we protect him from bullies.  Bullies aren’t just at school; all too often they are in the home.  Our home and family has to be a safe, loving and accepting place for him.  Always.   If you can’t help create that kind of environment then you are probably helping to destroy it – which means you shouldn’t be a part of it at all.

Thankfully, our family member listened to our expectations and agreed to meet them in the future.  We agreed to forgive and try to move forward.  We also agreed that Chick-Fil-A wasn’t what almost ruined our family – that family member’s actions and our failure to communicate our expectations did.

* * *

Would you allow someone with different religious beliefs to talk to your children about their beliefs and religion without you around?

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76 Responses to How Chick-Fil-A Almost Ruined My Family

  1. Clay Severns says:

    I’m all for supporting the LGBTQ community and everything, but why avoid a chain restaurant? I mean, just because one guy isn’t all for such a community doesn’t mean Chick Fil-A is evil.
    Oh well, at least we’ve got colonel Sanders still.

    -Clay…

  2. amyc says:

    “Would you allow someone with different religious beliefs to talk to your children about their beliefs and religion without you around?”

    Yes, I probably would, as long as they told me about it either before hand (if it was planned) or right after (if it was impromptu). I want my kids to be exposed to all ideas and be able to communicate their thoughts, questions and ideas openly with anybody who is willing to listen. I will teach my kids critical thinking skills and logical reasoning and allow them to come to their own conclusions about religion, politics, etc. If I don’t allow them to be exposed to other ideas then I don’t think it will be easy for them to come to their own conclusions.

    I’m an atheist in an otherwise very Christian family. My niece (a teenager) found out I’m not a Christian a little while back. Every other time I’m around her she actively tries to corner me to talk about her doubts in her own faith. She still proclaims to be a Christian, she’s just really curious about why I’m not anymore and doesn’t have anybody to talk to about the doubts she’s having. I’ve explained to her before that I don’t want to disrespect her parents, but I also know that telling her parents about her doubts would get her into a lot of trouble and it would destroy her trust in me (I’m the only adult figure she feels comfortable talking to about a lot of subjects). I try to be “nice” when/if I talk to her about the subject, and the most I’ve done is just ask her what her doubts are and ask questions about what she believes and why. I’m not trying to convince her of anything. I’m just trying to allow her a safe place/person to talk to about this stuff.

    Of course, she is older than your child, and she came to me about it, I never once broached the subject with her. Also, I’m not trying to teach her anything or contradict what her parents teach her about religion. So the situation is quite a bit different. You also seem to be the type of open-minded parents who would be quite accepting of a child who doubts their religion. My niece’s parents on the other hand would probably ground her from phone privileges and be even more strict with her.

    p.s. I just found your site, and I love it.

  3. I can’t believe you even had to have that conversation with your own family. I mean, I get the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ but surely things like religion and sexuality are for the parents to face with their children in their own time. How naive was I in thinking that was the way the world worked because my family operates that way?

  4. kylethegirl says:

    I fully respect and support you and your family in the nonconformist ways of raising your little boy. I think that everyone should be free to wear what they want to wear, no matter what society deems appropriate, and I applaud your bravery in this judgemental world.

    Here’s what I have a problem with though. The president of Chick-fil-a made his views on gay marriage clear, everyone is aware of that. But nowhere and never did he say that he was going to stop serving them, or that he was intolerant of homosexuals. He just said he didn’t personally believe they should be allowed to marry. (I do, before anyone accuses me of being like them.) Many people share this CEOs beliefs, will your family ban EVERY business who’s CEO doesn’t agree with gay marriage? Is your intolerance of his belief not just as close-minded as their intolerance of yours?

    Everyone has always known that the founders of Chick-fil-a are and have always been devout Christians- to the point that their restaurants aren’t even open on Sundays. Surely you had to have suspected that the president strongly believes only in marriage between a man and a woman? But you could eat there because no one had said it out loud? So now that this company’s president has come out with how he feels about the issue, you want nothing to do with his company. So he doesn’t get to HAVE an opinion?

    I believe that gays should have all the rights of straight people, marriage included. I also believe in free speech, and that a man should not be condemned merely for not agreeing with everyone on an issue. He is not saying that gays are not allowed to eat in his restaurants. THAT would be cause for action. But refusing to eat chicken from his fast food chain just because he has an opinion that doesn’t match yours is, I feel, just as silly.

  5. Lyla says:

    Thank you this is great advice, I appreciate having the chance to think ahead and have some of these conversations now.

  6. Steph says:

    I’m a little bit confused. You said, to your family, there is no excuse for hate and discrimination… but then you decided to boycott Chik-Fil-A.

    Is boycotting not discriminating?

    Or if it is discriminating, do you mean that there are excuses to discriminate, such as when you disagree with a person for whatever reason, whether it be because of your personal relationships, but not because of something like your religion?

    Because in this case it seems you’re discriminating against the owner of Chik-Fil-A for having different beliefs than you. And, oddly enough, you’re discriminating against the owner of Chik-Fil-A because he discriminated against others who had different beliefs than him.

    I have read every blog post you’ve ever written, and it’s enlightened me about many things concerning the LGBTQ community, but this post really disappointed me. It seems you’re really no better off than the Chik-Fil-A guy. I wasn’t aware you wanted to teach your kids to boycott others who have different, and potentially well-thought-out beliefs.

    • Mrs V says:

      On the off chance that you are not a troll

      Chic Fil A Big wigs
      1. give money to groups that fight to ensure Uncle Uncle can’t have a marriage that is recognized like straight folks.
      2. Give money to groups that fight-abroad-for things like legislation that makes being gay a crime punishable by death.

      CJ’s family
      1. Does not give money to Chic Fil A
      2. Asks others not to feed the boys Chic Fil A

      How anyone can confuse these as the same thing is beyond me.

    • msvirtue says:

      On the off chance you are not a troll

      Chic Fil A
      1. Spends money to ensure that Uncle Uncle can’t have a legally recognized marriage.
      2. Spends money to help groups that do things like making being gay a crime (abroad)

      CJ’s Family
      1. Does not spend money at chic fil a
      2. Asks that family members do not feed the kids Chic Fil A

      How are these things different?

      If you need me to point it out for you I certainly will.

      CJ’s family is trying not to support something they see as awful.
      Chic Fil A is trying to actively constrain the lives of others because they see it as awful.

      I’m sure those Chicken folks have what they feel are very good reasons for using their purchasing power to try to constrain the lives of others, but if you honestly think that is comprable to CJ’s family using their purchasing power to refuse to support such a thing you need some time spent navel gazing.

    • laurakmeyer says:

      I know you expect a response from the blogger, but I just thought I would lay out some facts for your consideration:

      1. Choosing to not spend your money in a company that does not share your values s financially supports organizations in limiting the rights of others is not discrimination.

      2. Choosing to use profits from paying customers to support organizations which actively lobby to take away and limit rights of people that don’t share your religious views IS discrimination.

      Bullet point 1 has no impact or intent to impact the fundamental human and/or civil rights of a group of people.

      Bullet point 2 is actively seeking to limit the human and civil rights of entire swaths of people.

      If you continue to support an organization which is funding, (with profits from your purchases), organizations which run counter to your commitment to equal and constitutional rights, you are, by proxy, allowing and approving of discriminatory lobbying.

      This is not discrimination.

      If Chik-fil-a did NOT pump huge sums of money into organizations which lobby to actively take away human and civil rights. If they just stated their views but still complied with basic human and civil rights without attachment to these organizations, well then, yes. You could argue that they were being discriminated against for their opinion.

      The key here is what they do with the money you spend in their stores to actively disenfranchise fellow Americans.

    • George says:

      Here’s my take on the CfA mess:
      “But if you want money for people with minds that hate,
      then all I can tell you, brother, you have to wait!” –John Lennon
      I don’t want a single penny of mine going to hateful, mean-spirited groups that cause harm, so I no longer spend at CfA. It’s not discrimination, it’s a simple choice.

    • devotchka says:

      http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/boycott

      “to engage in a concerted refusal to have dealings with (as a person, store, or organization) usually to express disapproval or to force acceptance of certain conditions”

      http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/discrimination

      (The definitions at M-W, while accurate, didn’t fit this use of the term.)
      “treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit: racial and religious intolerance and discrimination.”
      It all depends on why you’re boycotting. In this case, for most of us, we are boycotting CFA to avoid financing discrimination. I always knew what kind of people the Cathys were and I was not surprised that their money goes to groups that fight equality and civil rights for LGBT citizens (in America and, it turns out, around the world — more later). However, when I learned that these groups fight not just against allowing homosexual marriage and against laws that protect LGBT Americans from discrimination, which is bad enough, but also that they support, whether directly or subtly: criminalization of homosexuality in the USA; the practice in other countries (such as Uganda) of murdering LGBT people, whether allowed by law or just unpunished; the practice of trying to convert LGBT Americans to heterosexuality; and more … I could no longer give my money to CFA. I actually don’t like this, since CFA has decent food, clean restaurants, excellent customer service, and serves kids’ meals that I felt most comfortable resorting to feeding my kids when I really had to resort to fast food; and I recognize that by doing this I am also not supporting locally-owned franchises. But in the end the money goes to hateful practices that I simply cannot in good conscience support, even extremely indirectly. That is boycotting, but not discrimination.

  7. purplemary54 says:

    Thank you for saying that. And good for you and your family member for talking and setting boundaries you could both live with. Families can learn to live with each others differences without anger. Maybe watching C.J. grow up will help that family member be more tolerant to the LGBTQ community.

    • whatyouwant says:

      I agree. If anything, it may convince someone who might otherwise have considered it a choice, that C.J. was born this way.

  8. insaniteen says:

    Very well written post. And no, I would prefer if people not have talked to my children about religion but many of them did over the years. That did allow us to have some interesting and in depth conversations about religion and beliefs and what people generally get out of religion and faith and the differences and similarities between all of it.

  9. blushtwice says:

    Reblogged this on blush-twice and commented:
    I love it! u have my support! ur amazing for taking a stand! I have 3 kids of my own and their happiness is whats important! ur doing great keep it up… u have my love here! many blessings to u!

  10. auntiemip says:

    I don’t know you, but I love you! I find you eloquent, loving, intelligent, passionate…practically perfect in every way! I am awed. I am grateful. This is beautiful and should be required reading. Bless you for showing my weary heart that there is truth, love and acceptance is this life. Your God is my God and He is so much stronger that hate.

    God bless your beautiful family. God protect your beautiful boy. I pray that by the time he grows up that we live in a world where differences are embraced and our deepest desire is to learn fro one another. Thank you for showing us the way!

  11. devotchka says:

    Beautifully said. I have been reading your blog for some time now and I continue to be impressed with how you handle these situations with such grace. My children are very young, and neither of them (so far) have expressed any of the “flair” that your CJ does :) , but I still meet difficulties similar to what you relate here, if not as immediately applicable as in your family’s life. What I mean is, my husband and I are not religious, but we strive to be good people and we are trying to raise our children to be loving, kind, peaceful, respectful, and non-judgmental. That’s not easy to demonstrate 100% of the time, but we try. Unfortunately, many of the people in the circles we live in, while calling themselves Christians, follow the hateful beliefs that make me want to distance myself from any religion. Some of the people who will be most influential in our children’s lives, due to their familial relationships, believe and want to teach things that I do NOT want them to learn; and sadly, these people are not willing to respect my wishes. I am torn, because I do not want my children exposed to such teachings from such influential family members, especially while so young and vulnerable, but I do not want to have to cut these people out of their lives either. I am very relieved and happy for you that the person/people in your situation are more understanding.

    • George says:

      If I may suggest a question – Regrading those who refuse to respect your wishes, why do you not want to cut those people out? Just because they’re family? That’s not really a good reason to let them poison your children’s minds. If you cut them out, they may just realize you’re serious, and that you will put your children first. It may make them rethink their position. If it doesn’t, well, is it a loss?

      • devotchka says:

        It is really a struggle for me, to decide between keeping family in their lives, vs risking them being taught things I wholeheartedly disagree with. The people who worry me most in this situation are actually my own parents, who also tried to teach me the same things they still believe. My siblings believe as they do, but I do not. My parents provide other valuable support to me as a parent, at the same time that I am conflicted with them over other equally important things, and I feel that grandparents and other relatives are very important in a child’s life. If a relative were physically abusive or otherwise overtly dangerous, of course I would not hesitate to keep my children away from such a person, family or not! So how much difference is there between that situation or a relative who simply endorses hate? It’s something I think on every day. Currently, I am trying to keep them from teaching my children hateful things as best I can, and calling upon my wonderful and kind mother-in-law (who my children adore) and the church family we have recently chosen to help reinforce what I do want my children to learn. And hoping that my children will, like I did, grow up thinking for themselves and choosing love and peace over hate.

  12. miafaery says:

    You are brilliant and beautifully articulate. Love reading your blog!

  13. Nikki says:

    Hey there! I love reading your blog and I think it’s great you directly addressed the problem. I think that defining clear boundaries and expectations are always the way to go.

    To answer your question about letting someone else of a different belief talk to my children– I think I would. I am a firm believer in that you cannot truly understand your own beliefs unless you learn to understand other’s as well. If I had a dollar for how many Christians say blatant statements regarding religions they know NOTHING about, I’d be rich. I am a Christian, but I love learning about other people’s beliefs so I can share in discussions with them. After all, why would anyone listen to anything I have to say if I can’t learn to listen to them? I think my children should be able to learn how to listen to other’s beliefs, have a polite and intelligent conversation with them and learn how to disagree without turning to hate. Sure, such conversations can be confusing to children, but I’d make sure to follow up with them and have our own discussion afterward to clarify anything they wanted to discuss.

    I do have two questions though, and I want to preface it by saying I’m not trying to be snarky or anything. Sometimes tone can be lost in online comments.

    1) I was confused about your point #3. What do you mean exactly by “When our family is around, please conduct yourself as if a member of the LGBTQ community is in your presence”? I guess I’m confused in that, shouldn’t everyone be treated equally? Or are you implying proper equality behavior in that statement? I wasn’t sure if there was something specific you meant there or if there was some story behind it or something I’m missing. Just curious.

    2) What are your feelings on Chick-Fil-a now that they have stopped giving money to those organizations? Has your family changed their minds on it or no?

    Thanks again for sharing your family’s story.
    Bests,
    N

  14. Wow. I’ve been following your blog and never before posted but I felt I had to commend the way you handled the situation. I have been struggling with how to broach this subject with my (and my wife’s) family for quite sometime. I guess I fell into “assuming they would know” category, but I am now thinking we need to be very clear about what is and is not allowed to be discussed around our son. Thank you for your honest post. I love following your blog btw. :)

  15. It almost ruined my family too. In the beginning of the controversy, I posted a link on Facebook – just a link, not a call to action – that showed Chick-Fil-A’s actual IRS tax form because a friend had asked for “proof that isn’t liberal media slander”. By the time I next logged onto Facebook, a war had broken out in the comments. It was horrible.

    The worst part was when my little brother’s wife decided she needed to tell me she can’t love my partner and I together. She told me he felt the same and for 24-hours I thought my brother had stopped loving me. Then they had a fight because he never said that. The family fallout has been devastating. I fear for Halloween… sometimes I have the urge to whack a person in a cow suit. (kidding, I don’t hurt people)

    • Abby says:

      I want to send you an internet *hug*. I can’t even imagine how it would feel if my brother-in-law said something like that to me. You know what? I’m sending you two. *hug*

  16. I truly love your blog! But, as commented earlier, I reached the end and Google Ads had a link for coupons to get Chick-Fil-A. I don’t know how the “ads” part works for Word Press, but I’d try to get that off your page, if possible. Just a suggestion…

    • chalanilg says:

      So did i. It was kind of funny… in a not funny way. :/

    • Raven says:

      I have an AdBlock application on my browser, so I did not see the ad, but if I recall correctly, Google Ads sort of ‘scan’ the article for some kind of merchandise or, better yet, a business name.

      As it’s not a real human reading the entry, so they don’t know this post is about *not* going to CFA, all the ad-bot know is she said the magic words. Unfortunately, there is nothing the Word Press owner can do about this as far as I know beyond buying something to remove ads.

      They can keep their coupon and waffle fries, I’d rather be able to marry my girlfriend.

  17. Roxana says:

    As a teacher, I can tell you that children bring these topics to the classroom all the time… Sometimes because they’re curious, sometimes because they don’t find any answer, or the right answer, or a clear answer at home. And all the kids share their opinion, so your son might as well hear the same thing your relative told him about from another children at school. So I’d say, instead of telling people not to speak to him about certain topics, you should tell him about religions, and the way other people sees things, because that way he’ll know how to defend himself or to express his opinion… If you keep avoiding it, maybe he’ll find his answers outside your family (and believe me, you don’t want that). So in my opinion, if religions aren’t open, then you should be open about religions. Tell him what other religions think about, even those which are ridiculous,and the reasons why you don’t agree, and there he’ll have enough arguments to form an opinion and defend it and himself againt anyone who approaches him and tells him the opposite. So protect him by expanding his knowledge of other views of the world before others with different opinions do it, and make him stronger. Good Luck!

    • Ally says:

      That’s how I handled it with my son. We talked openly about the things he would hear and I would tell him my opinions and always stressed that he, and only he, would be the one who would decide that felt true and right to him. He is one of the most kind, empathetic, perceptive teenagers I know who feels passionately about all equal rights across the board.

      His paternal grandfather is a deacon in the Baptist church and the biggest homophobic, racist hypocrite I have ever met. I dislike the man but left it to my son whether he wanted to have a relationship with him. He is my son’s family, whether I like it or not and within reason, I felt I had to give my son a chance to know that side of the family. I explained to my son that his grandfather had a very limited education and his opinions were based on a very narrow view of the world. He’s never been outside his small Texas town. I told my son that like Maya Angelou says, when we know better, we do better and his grandpa doesn’t know any better. Grandpa took him and his cousins to the pool one afternoon and the boys struck up a conversation with a black girl. Grandpa was openly hostile and rude to this child and was very upset the boys were speaking to her. That was the last time my son had anything to do with him and that was years ago. He knows it is completely his choice but it comes down to you can’t pick your family, but if they are bad people it doesn’t mean you have to keep them in your life either. So, you can’t control the nasty, hateful messages your children will hear, but loving, involved parents have a remarkable ability to give context to that and help develop a child’s perception of the world and those very limited people. I think CJ will be just fine because of the amazing support system he has and he’s very blessed. What breaks my heart is there are so many LBGT kids being raised by people like my son’s grandpa.

  18. Debby says:

    How difficult is it for people, including family, to keep their religious views TO THEMSELVES! Really?!?! There are approximately 40 major religions in the world and about 38,000 (seriously) recognized denominations of Christianity. But their view is the only right one. . .

  19. sohobbes says:

    Thank you, thank you for this. It’s so hard for me to have a rational conversation with my (fundamentalist) brother sometimes, with his kids telling my son he’s going to the devil. Thank you for giving me a conversation starting point.

  20. Lucia says:

    I so appreciate your posts. I haven’t kept up, but the few times I’ve come to your site, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about how you bring love and faith into your children’s lives in a way that gives them the freedom to be whomever they want to be. In less than a month, I will be reconnecting with my many trans friends at a Transgender Religious Leaders Summit. I think the attendees have been primarily Christian and Jewish, but perhaps a few Muslims (I’m trying to recall from the past two years), and most of the people are somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum or their supporters.
    In response to your question about allowing someone with different religious beliefs to talk to my child without my presence (although he’s grown now, but thinking about how I see things now and if he were still a child), I would say that it depends upon the person. I would trust most any of my friends from this summit because I know they hold such high respect for an individual’s right to choose what they believe and how they live. So I’m thinking they would be inclined to talk about their experience of their particular faith tradition versus trying to sway someone like my child. But I would be highly disinclined to let anyone who is non-LGBTQ supportive to talk to my child about any faith, especially including Christianity, even though I’m a Christian, without my being there precisely because the Bible has been too often used as a club to bash any group or limit rights based on the interpretations of the holder. Oh, sorry! I’m starting to launch into a lecture here!
    Let me just say again how much I enjoy your posts and how much I respect and appreciate the way you’re raising your children! Blessings!

  21. Awesome, awesome, awesome. I just blogged about a similar situation, and I have found I cannot be as respectful and educational about stuff like this.

  22. I am going to use this list to give to my friends as well. Thanks!!
    Keep strong!

  23. This is exactly why we don’t allow my husband’s parents to be alone at any time, for even one minute. Even with us telling them they are not to talk about religion/LGBT stuff with the kids, they are just the type to try to sneak something in there. We have discussed all the things that can be brought by people around them including the meanings of all the names that LGBT people are called. They know all of it. But coming from a family member who is supposed to accept you unconditionally? Children should not have to be inflicted with this kind of rejection and pain. You are more forgiving than I because if someone in my family were to have done this they would be crossed off the family list. It is the parent that should be standing between them and their child. One day the child will be strong enough in him/herself to be able to state their own beliefs, but until then; It is me who will be standing in the gap. Period.

  24. First off I wanted to say that you are an amazing mother. Far too often religions come into conversation and there is always negative conotation attached to most if not all religions. To be honest, I think that every religion deserves to be scrapped from the books. It’s time that people start treating each other with love, kindness, and respect at all times. As you have stated, we as humans are not one to judge one another. We only judge others because we in reality are only judging ourselves. You are a wonderful mother, it makes me happy to see the support you give your family. Peace and Love. Namaste.

  25. Mac says:

    What a wonderful blog. I too recently wrote a blog about chick-fil-A after their public homophobic statements. Someone close to me is still in the closet, and all his friends were posting pro- chik-fil-A pics on his facebook wall. It was really hard for him. Thank you for taking a stand. I’ve never eaten there, and I never plan on it!

  26. sarah says:

    I would have no problem if someone discussed their religious beliefs in a general way and with respect to others who don’t share their faith. If what happened to CJ’s brother happened to one of our children, I would be very pissed off, however. We also have an Uncle Uncle and although my children are both gender typical, I have no idea what their sexual orientation is at this point. I, too, am raising my children in a way that I hope neither will find it necessary to go into the closet if they are gay or bisexual.

    We talk about different types of families and we talk about the fact that in our state, men can marry men and women can marry women, and that we think that it’s absolutely fine and good. i have told them that there are other people who don’t share our beliefs, and that my husband and I think it’s a very silly way to think. I think it’s important for them to know that not everyone thinks the same way as us and that some people may be very vocal about their beliefs in contrary to ours. I know at some point they will run into this, and they will need to have the tools to respond to bigotry.

  27. mark says:

    All I ask, and apparently that’s too much, is for people to have their liked and dislikes, their opinions for themselves, and if it doesn’t directly affect them to let everyone else have theirs. There is no real need for it to be discussed. I think the orthodox Jewish laws on meat and diet are silly, but if it works for them have at it. Islamic belief in the virgins in paradise makes no sense to me, but hey if they got that to look forward to have at it. Same sex relationships are not something I would personally weekly, but for someone else who finds that love, then fine by me. I still like them or not based on personality and character. Lots of folks would find my belief in god, or a symbol of a Christmas tree to be dumb too, but if I like it why should they care. There’s plenty of hate going round today, not just here but everywhere. Try to stay stable to who you are, don’t buy into their stuff, you have no need to intrude on their happiness when it doesn’t affect you, so they don’t have that right either, no matter what they think. But on no account does a stable adult discuss weighty issues of any kind with a child. That is just such an imbalance too be ludicrous.

  28. Zaylinda says:

    Have you seen the youtube videos about marriage equality by John Corvino? He’s got a good one about why modern marriage is NOTHING like ‘traditional’ marriage. It might help to counter some of the ideas people were trying to plant in CJ’s brother’s head.

  29. vtgrrrl says:

    Did you know Chick Fil A is a corporate bully? Check out this article link to see what they’re doing to a one-man-show in Vermont. Even though this article is a few months old, Chick Fil A is still aiming to take out the “little guy.” When did this become an American value?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/05/us/eat-more-kale-t-shirts-challenged-by-chick-fil-a.html?_r=0

  30. My beliefs differ from yours in several places, however, that doesn’t give me the right to talk to your children about anything. Unless they are in my Bible study class, that’s up to you to handle. Your family member was out of line, particularly if this family member was perfectly well aware of how you are raising your children (which I’m going to assume they are knowledgeable at least to some degree in this area). Ultimately, it’s is up to your children, as they grow, to decide what they believe, and I believe that each person should make an informed decision based on thorough study of themselves and what they truly take to heart. It’s our job, as parents, to guide them. It was not the place of your family member to step in and say anything. The only exception I can think of would have been if your son brought up the topic, but that seems uncharacteristic of a nine year old. Since the topic was brought up though, you could use it to fill in any gaps or answer any questions your son may have about the issue and how it made your son feel to discuss another view. Use the intrusion as a stepping stone to a great conversation with your son. You handled the situation well and hopefully this will keep others from sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong.

  31. xenophilicx says:

    I admire how to-the-point you are.

  32. Thunderbunni says:

    I had a member of a group well-known for going door-to-door selling their religion do just that to my child. My 11-year-old son was at home alone, and contrary to our rules, opened the door to this person (a respectable looking middle-aged person.) This person spent nearly 10 minutes trying to convince our son that only “their” church could get him into heaven. I asked our son why he didn’t just shut the door in this person’s face, he responded, “But Mom, that would be RUDE.” After discussing (again) to never open the door to strangers, I called the Place of Worship. I notified the person in charge at the PoW what had occurred and that taking advantage of children was NEVER appropriate, especially a child home alone. I also asked if he was not concerned that some angry parent might accuse the adult of inappropriate behavior, true or not. This had obviously never occurred to him… Perhaps I did some good…

  33. Joycelyn says:

    I wouldn’t want anyone to talk to my children ALONE about religion or any other topic where there could be controversy. I am not opposed to having those conversations with people of other religions, cultures races as long as those conversations come from a place of love and inclusion and I am there to step in if a message other than love comes through. We are not religious in our core family but my middle child believes in god, prays at times and believes his god loves everyone equally and wants everyone to be included and happy. My oldest child does not believe in one god, thinks science is a much better belief system and excluding anyone from your life by your beliefs is ignorant. My youngest child worries about what racism is (can she use the word black when describing something, what about if she uses it to describe a person?) she is nine and doesn’t want anyone to be hurt by her words when her heart is so full and in the right place. She doesn’t understand when people don’t come from a place of love and unity. You have taught me a lot about which words to choose and which battles to fight. I am proud of all that you do for your children, they are lucky to have you.
    Jww

  34. George says:

    Nicely done! Unfortunate that such things have to be done at all, but, when it needed to be dealt with, you did, and very well indeed!
    I suspect, however, that some did have a fair idea of your position; why else did the person in question approach your son about this only when alone with him? Why else approach him at all?
    Well, it happens, and you handled it. In so doing, you not only made a statement to that person and the family in general, but to your children. Bravo!!

  35. There is a book, “What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality.” It’s great! I highly recommend it, especially for people who are around people who think the Bible condemns it.
    No, I wouldn’t really want someone to talk about their religious beliefs to my son without me around. However, for the most part, my friends have very different religious beliefs, so it could be interesting to have discussions with the kids involved.

  36. belle morgen says:

    First of all I love your blog! It’s very refreshing to see parents who are still inclusive and open and not telling their children to hate other people’s lifestyles. It’s also good to see you’re not trying to turn your son in the direction you want, as some religious nuts would have you do. I don’t know how I would have handled that case, quite frankly, as I’m not a patient person when it comes to my children, but kudos to you!

  37. Larry says:

    Is your oldest son too young for you to say “That is what Aunt Rhoda believes about gays and marriage, your Dad and I believe something different. Honey, what do you think is right? What do you believe?”. I want my 9 year old child to be exposed to different religions and different ways of thinking so that he can choose his beliefs for himself. I want to be a strong role-model for him but ultimately he may choose to become a Christian or Buddhist, or something I’m not.

    I’m very careful about showing an extreme dislike towards one religion or another in front of my child (even though sometimes I dislike them all equally :).

    So to answer your question, yes I would let a relative talk to my child about their religion because I would also be talking to my child about other religions and how we need to let people come to their own conclusions, even if we disagree with them.

    Having said all that, I just want to mention that I love your blog!

  38. Laura says:

    I really love the way you approached the problem of a religious family member going behind your back. Really, to me that is the bigger crime than telling your son about a particular set of religious beliefs that are *obviously* not applicable to your family; sneaking those opinions in when you weren’t around to stop the conversation was completely inappropriate. I don’t think I would have been able to handle the situation as well as you did; I’m impressed that you were able to address it and not just fly off the handle, like I would!

    I have to add, though, that I guess my family is somewhat unusual. I was raised in a very liberal Protestant church and don’t recall *ever* being taught that homosexuality was wrong, but in her senior years my mother has gotten even *more* liberal and now belongs to a small church that has as part of its mission statement to be “open and affirming,” i.e. to accept anyone regardless of sexual orientation. They have a number of gay members and are gaining more all the time, and the church truly is a cross-section of society as a result, with straight and gay individuals and families all joining together to create a loving fellowship. So for those who don’t believe that organized religion has anything positive to say about the LBGTQ community, just keep looking; there ARE churches out there, where the children are taught that God is love without the hypocrisy so many commenters have discussed!

  39. jungalero1101 says:

    The family member was out of line and you handled it extremely well.

    You are such an inspiration to many with your posts. Thank you for being a voice of clarity and intelligence in a world that lacks it much of the time.

  40. Wonderful! your family member was acting on purpose to try and undermine your stance.
    One a side note love the fairy wings and broom shot.
    You and your family could not be more up for the task of raising your lovely boys and I watch, learn and cheer you all on.

  41. Marco Luxe says:

    Good for you. As for “biblical definition of marriage” [hah!], see Betty Bowers Explains the Bible at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFkeKKszXTw

    “Biblical marriage is between a man, his sister…. a kitchen condiment, and a pack of raped whores.”

  42. Jennifer S says:

    I love your rules. Growing up Jewish in a very Christian, small southern town… we were constantly faced with peers and adults trying to convert us with stories of their personal relationship with Jesus. My father taught us to view this with understanding… much as you’ve stated here. People with these beliefs feel they’ve found something valuable and want to share it with others… whether or not it’s been requested.

    But I think spreading the judgmental and angry aspects of religion falls into a different category… or at least it should. This is not about love. Chick-Fil-A used profits to support groups that wish to strip other people of their basic human rights and dignity. I explained this to my children and we haven’t eaten there since the story broke.

    Fortunately, it gave me a chance to show my kids more about my spiritual and moral beliefs. I like the way you took the lesson even further and will continue the discussion in our own home, as well.

  43. I don’t yet have kids, but I think a lot about the issue of religion because many in my family are religious, and in some cases religiously intolerant. I am an Agnostic/Atheist, meaning I don’t believe in God, but I accept that I could very well be wrong. I think it more likely that we are all wrong, and if there is a divine being, they are so beyond our understanding that all of our rules that come from God are extrapolated and undoubtedly far from the truth.

    All of that said, after a certain age (undetermined, may depend on the child), I will have to let go of any attempt to stop my children from discussing religion. It will be in our lives, it is in our family, it will be in their friends at school and they will learn about it with or without me. I will try to teach them my beliefs on religion and morality, noting that the two are quite independent of each other. But in the end, I want my child to be able to make a decision on religion on their own, and I will do my best to arm them well for it.

    I will teach them and let them be taught, then discuss what they think. But in the end, the decision on what to believe is theirs. Both of your children need to learn about religion and what you believe. At their age, I would think you want to be the teacher or at least choose the teacher, rather than have others impose their beliefs on them. I think your rules are very good, but that you will need to revise them or relax them as your children grow older, because at some point they deserve to know what their friends and family believe, even if it disagrees with their lifestyle and beliefs.

    All of that said, you are probably way ahead of me and are obviously doing a wonderful job with your children. Keep it up :)

  44. Eddy Lopez says:

    First, let me say how much I appreciate your blog. I grew up in Orange County, a long time ago, rooted in the church and deep in the closet and don’t have many fond memories of growing up in the OC! It took a long time to shake them off and move on. It’s a joy to read about your family living (thriving) behind the Orange Curtain.

    I tell all my friends with kids to try and think back to the age your child is and remember what you saw, heard, knew and did and to double that information for kids today. At nine, I won’t list the things I saw and did and was curious about, it scares me to remember ;-). Now this is first hand. There was a recent study about the effect background television has on kids. So when you think you’re watching a program and your child is playing in another room or focused on something else, their still getting that information. Same goes for what others watching your kids may have on.

    As much as you want to control the world (family, friends, information) around your child, he’s still going to be told, overhear, see things you don’t want him to and his only defense is to know you’re there to talk and from what I’ve read on your blog, your kids know that.

    Cheers

  45. Tiffany says:

    You handled this way better than I would be able to.

    To answer your question about religion, I don’t think anyone should discuss their faith or lack of unless it it brought to to them. With children, anything more than, ‘God is Love’ is too much. It doesn’t matter what religion you are or what you call your God, the core message is the same across the board and that is all there should be to it when talking to children.

  46. scutaloo says:

    I come from a Pagan family (not Neopagan, just a traditional family which honors its ancients and raises its young in firmly traditional ways), but even I often have to remind some devout Christians around me that their God is Love, not hate. They never really believe me, though.

  47. Miriam Joy says:

    “We believe that God is more about love, kindness and inclusiveness than he is about fear, hate and shame.”
    Amen to that! At church on Sunday they opened the service with an invitation to sign the anti gay marriage petition (so far signed by over 600,000 people in the UK, they’re aiming for a million), and then preached THE ENTIRE MORNING on how the most important thing was love and how nothing motivated by love could be evil. Oh really. So that’s why you’re judging people because they want to get MARRIED? Because they LOVE each other? You JUST TOLD ME that that couldn’t be evil. I don’t understand how the church can be so hypocritical. Yet I remain a Christian, because I’m pretty sure that’s not what God wanted, and just because I don’t agree with their interpretation of stuff doesn’t mean I have to abandon the whole faith.

  48. David says:

    and as I read your blog entry – Google Ads has coupons for Chick-Fil-A just a click away. The mind boggles.

  49. Amanda says:

    You handled this so well.

    I would not allow anyone to discuss religion with my children without me being present. I expect that they would not do that, but now that you mention it, I’m not sure that I’ve made my expectations completely clear. This will be on my mind going forward.

  50. Vic Anne says:

    Good job. I would be pissed too. Until my child has shown to me that they have a full understanding on their own beliefs (when I have kids they will get to experience all religions) and can identify what religion they feel like they really belong to, then NO, no one will be talking to them at all, in any regard when it comes to religion when I am not around. Even if I am, I may get annoyed. Myself growing up did not agree with the religious norms that my family believed in and I was looked down upon by it but have also grow an intense dislike for when anyone attempts to force a single religion onto a child and then does not let them ask questions, find out information on their own or even consider the differences between religions. I think it all comes down to my intolerance for the separation of human beings from one another based on anything like skin, colour, religion, gender, sexual preference, etc. Everyone is completely different and I try to promote that acceptance and understanding that there are many different things is what makes the world a better place. (Sorry for the rant, there.)

  51. Gabrielle says:

    I may have to steal those rules. They’re very well thought out and thorough. And, no, I wouldn’t want someone else to talk to my child about religion, either. I believe religion is very personal, and it is up to the parents to decide what they want their child taught. My husband and I follow separate faiths, so our child is already learning about respect for different beliefs. But we both teach her about acceptance of all people, including my gay best friend (her guncle).

  52. Matt Thomas says:

    Reblogged this on Matt Thomas and commented:
    Just incredible. I’d never dream of talking to my cousins’ kids about religion or sexuality; and not just because I’m gay and an atheist. It’s because that’s none of your fucking business.

  53. momentary says:

    I think that if you are Christian (which I’m assuming you are based on what you said), there really is no way to shield the kids from what the Bible says. Hiding it could be damaging and make them feel like they’ve been lied to when they inevitably find out. I’d rather just address it head-on, like, “in the Old Testament it says this and this and this, but Jesus said this in the New Testament about loving everyone and not judging anyone.” If anyone tries to teach my kids that God hates anyone for any reason, I’ll just break out the Bible and explain to the kids that some people try to say that they hate something or are scared of something and blame it on God, but this is what God really says about loving EVERYONE, no matter what.

  54. ConstructionGuy says:

    At nine years old CJ’s big bro is going to hear this stuff every day. It will come from teachers, family, strangers and the television. You may want to consider arming him with the true facts about all this stuff (i.e. there was no definition of homosexuality when the bible was written so they could not have possible written about it, just as they could not have imagined cellphones in that time, the “bible” is currently written by various publishers adhering to the norms of whatever group they are aligned with and has changed significantly from the original version…..) he will need that ammunition to defend himself and his brother. Good Luck!

  55. THis is a difficult situation. Because in fact your kids will be exposed to this kind of stuff. Is it a teachable moment? Meaning can we use the opportunity to teach our kids how to reason, and decide for themselves if something is “true” just because an adult says it? or because it’s written in some book somewhere. Is it possible to use this to show our kids how to disagree well, and civilly? On the other hand we have this responsibility to protect our kids and to educate them on what WE believe. So I am not sure there is an easy answer here. Like much of life it’s complicated, and we just do our best..

    I am glad you explore this stuff publicly. I am so glad that C.J. and Big Brother and the rest of your family are born into such a supportive and loving home with amazing parents. It gives me some hope.

  56. Angeltots says:

    You handled it well. Very admirable. And no, I wouldn’t want anyone to talk to my family about religion. They should just stick to weather and day-to-day topics.

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