Q.Our 5–year–old has a friend whose parents are a lesbian couple. My daughter has started asking me why there's no daddy in their house. I believe what the Bible says about homosexuality, but how do I talk about it in a way that my child can understand?
A.I appreciate your desire to handle this situation faithfully. By the time children are 10–12, it is very important to at least define homosexuality and your position on it. This is critical for any child entering public middle school, where they will be inundated with the language and comments other kids use to talk about homosexuality. So even though your daughter is only 5, it's not too soon to start figuring out how you will handle this issue during the coming years.
We know from Scripture that Jesus warns us not to be judgmental of other people lest we be judged by God in the same manner (Matt. 7:1–2). At the same time, we are charged with teaching our children to follow God's laws by living Christlike lives (Deut. 4:9). We can accomplish both these commands by responding to situations such as yours in love.
Right now, your daughter is too young to understand the difference between homosexuality and heterosexuality. While she obviously understands gender differences, her concept of love is very basic; for her there's no distinction between romantic love and filial love. That's why young children often say they want to marry their same–sex best friend or their sibling or parent. When she asks why there is no daddy, she really is looking for a simple answer: "Megan's daddy doesn't live with her family." As your daughter gets older and begins to understand that grownups often fall in love and make families together, she might have more questions. But you can follow her lead on this one. Answer the questions she asks and let her seek out more information when she wants it.
What will matter to your daughter, however, is the way you treat her friend and the child's parents. If she senses that you are kind and caring, she will do the same. In a few years, when she starts to think about the moral issues involved, she will be better able to work through her questions with an attitude of love and care, rather than one of judgment or distain. So model Christ's love to this family in tangible ways. Treat the women with the respect you would give any other parent and welcome their child into your home as you would any other friend.
If you feel your child is being exposed to overtly sinful behavior, you need to set some ground rules, such as having the children play at your house rather than the other house. Get together with your spouse to discuss and pray through your options. Remember, God can and will use this situation to further his kingdom.
Karen L. Maudlin, Psy.D., is the mother of two and a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in marriage and family therapy. She is the author of Sticks and Stones (W).
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