Spotlight Series: David & Alex
TNF: How did you start your family?
DAVID: Our son Maxwell came to us through adoption. After weighing our options, we decided an open adoption would be the best choice for us.
Because while we were open to the sex and nationality, we weren’t open to babies that were exposed to drugs and alcohol. What appealed to us most about open adoption was the ability to get to know the birth parents, their families, and have access to their health records.
TNF: Did you always want to have kids?
DAVID: From day one, one of the key factors in our compatibility was our strong desire to have children. We’re both very family-oriented and being around our nieces and nephews helped us get the wheels in motion. Neither of us could have envisioned a world where we wouldn’t have at least one child.
TNF: Where do you live?
DAVID: Just before Max arrived, we purchased a home in Studio City, California… a neighborhood often described as the place “creative-types move to raise their children.” We love our house, especially because we have a great swimming pool in the backyard. It’s where we’ve taught Max how to swim.
TNF: How has the shift in marriage equality affected you (if at all)?
DAVID: Five years ago when we began our journey into parenthood we were told that only a small percentage of birthparents are open to placing their child with a gay couple. We were warned that it would probably take a very long time. As it turns out, we were matched within about six months. Now that marriage equality is a hot topic and gay marriage is legal in most states — even red states — naturally more people have evolved on the topic. I can only hope that as time goes by people will continue to let go of age-old stereotypes regarding what and who make a family.
TNF: Does your family feel adversity?
DAVID: Living in Los Angeles, it’s fair to say that we live in a bubble. The things that are accepted as “normal” here are considered “abnormal” in most other cities. There are times, however, that we feel adversity — it’s less about us as a family and more about us as fathers raising a boy. We’re constantly asked ignorant questions like: Who’s going to teach your son to throw? Who’s going to teach him how to fight? Who’s going to take him camping? I know these questions aren’t mean-spirited. But the subtext suggests that, as two gay men — who aren’t personally interested in sports — we’re somehow ill-equipped to raise a boy because we lack the masculinity and toughness required to raise boys.
Our job as fathers is to introduce our son to as many activities as possible so that he can discover his strengths, his likes, his dislikes and grow into a good person.
The last thing we want for our son is to be restricted or pigeonholed by archaic dictates of society. In fact, research shows that children of gay dads are less bound by gender stereotypes than those raised in straight households. For them, it’s not about ‘boy things’ or ‘girl things.’ It’s just about things. Imagine that.
TNF: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a parent?
DAVID: Our son wears the pants in our family. There I said it. It’s true. Our son is spoiled. Not sure where it stems. I mean, do all gay parents unwittingly spoil their kids to gain the approval they never received as children? Do we do it to make up for the material things we didn’t have growing up? Or are we overcompensating for the fact that our dual-income lifestyle limits the time we get to spend with them? Or maybe, just maybe, we’re not very good at saying no.
Here are the top three mistakes we’ve made that you can hopefully learn from:
- Gifts Are Okay If You’re Rewarding Positive Behavior
Instead of indulging your child with a toy because he sees and wants it, you have to make them earn it. That way they’ll associate gifts as rewards for positive behavior.
- There Is Such A Thing As Too Much Praise
Far too often praise is given for things a child hasn’t really put any effort into. For example: when Max would draw pictures of me that looked more like something the cat puked up, I’d say “great job, buddy.” Instead, by offering a “Wow, you really tried hard on that” you’re teaching him that the effort is more important than the results.
- Don’t Do Anything For Kids They Can Do For Themselves
While Max can totally put on his shoes by himself, I’m quick to jump in when his little hands get stuck. What can I say; it’s that powerful natural impulse to fix things for my little guy. Unfortunately, kids might start to feel that they can’t do something when we do it for them before giving them the opportunity to figure it out. Instead, we should cheer kids on so the sense of accomplishment is theirs to enjoy.
TNF: Do you have any advice for LGBTQ youth?
DAVID: All the things that make you feel different and alone are the same things that are going to make you successful, original and the person people want to be around. It’s astonishing just how short a time it can take for the woeful things to turn into wonderful things. I know this because it happened to me.
TNF: What’s one life lesson you want to teach your children?
DAVID: Pulling someone down will never help you reach the top. And if people are trying to bring you down, it only means that you are above them.
My husband and I have a very strict no-bullying policy. Mentalities like this start at home. We all know that children will repeat and copy behaviors of their parents.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful family with us!