The Thinking 

Lesbians and Neighbors

August 5, 2010


JAMES M. writes:

My neighborhood, I suppose, has been found to be adequately friendly to homosexuals and so several lesbian couples have moved in over the last year; I’m sure that they network. I could throw rocks and hit three of their houses (not that I would throw rocks at them). They seem to try extra hard to keep their lawns and landscaping extra tidy, so they can appear as normal as possible, and keep people from fussing at them or thinking ill of them. Or maybe all six of them just like to mow. I am making assumptions, but this is in the middle of Kentucky.

One of the couples lives two houses over from my wife and me, and they recently made a quite neighborly and friendly gesture towards us, offering to give us their stroller (they have an adopted little boy who is now in kindergarten). They said their boy had outgrown it and they did not have any friends with children (surprise). My wife was not around when they made this offer so I told them I appreciated their offer very much (I did) and that I would talk to her about it and get back with them.

Now, we definitely could use the stroller as it is the next size up from the one we currently have. It is a very nice name-brand stroller and their offering it to us for free was very kind. So I am leaning towards accepting it for those reasons and also because, although I think their lifestyle is destructive of things I hold dear, a part of me does not want them to think “they just rejected our offer because we are lesbians!” I guess I don’t want to hurt their feelings. On the other hand, I imagine myself 20 years from now looking at old pictures of my daughter in her second stroller and thinking to myself “There’s that stroller those lesbians gave us…” That bothers me some.

Laura writes:

You are doing the right thing by being friendly and courteous with your neighbors. If you did not feel you could be friendly and courteous to them, you should move (a reasonable thing to consider in this situation.) Neighbors are neighbors and civility and good will are required unless the neighbors are hostile. But I think you should not accept the stroller. You should decline without explanation and with friendly words of gratitude. I wouldn’t worry about their feelings; after all, it’s not a serious rejection. Furthermore these women (who may be perfectly nice) have not considered your feelings at all by bringing their unusual lifestyle into your neighborhood. Remember that. They are not so worried about your feelings; their apparent consideration for others and their outward niceness have serious limitations.

It obviously would have no ill effects on your daughter to accept the stroller, but it would carry your relationship with these neighbors to a different level to accept such a generous gift. Better to maintain some distance.

The bigger question is how to handle the matter of your daughter playing with the children of lesbians if you do continue to live in this neighborhood. This is a serious and delicate matter. I think you should let her play with their children while obviously not encouraging the relationships and arranging things so they play at your house not the neighbors’ house. It causes too much confusion and tension for children to not let them play together. However if you and they continue to live in the same neighborhood, you will have a lot of explaining to do to your daughter, in an evolving way as she matures. Children often feel sorry for other children who do not live a normal life and they rarely romanticize fatherlessness or divorce. This is all the more reason why you should not encourage your daughter to act unnaturally to the children of lesbians. When she becomes a teenager, things change. By then, your daughter will probably have been raised in a very different world from the other children and they will have little in common. The best to hope for is distant, but amicable relationships.

I’m not really satisfied with this answer to you but I don’t know what else to say. This is a very abnormal situation for you and your family. It seems there’s no completely healthy way to raise children in the company of pseudo-families and homosexuals.

             — Comments —

Clem writes:

Furthermore these women (who may be perfectly nice) have not considered your feelings at all by bringing their unusual lifestyle into your neighborhood. Remember that. They are not so worried about your feelings; their apparent consideration for others and their outward niceness have serious limitations.

 I think this outstanding point can’t be made strongly enough and on a whole range of topics but in particular when talking about homosexuals and immigration/races relations. The presupposition is that we traditional whites must always make considerations and we are the ones whose feelings, traditions and principals are to be compromised or disregarded out of hand.

Kathleen writes:

I’m confused by your response to the man in Kentucky who has several neighbors who are lesbians. Where are the same-sex couples supposed to live? I live next-door to a lesbian couple, and although I don’t socialize with them, they are good and quiet neighbors. Aren’t we supposed to “love our neighbors as ourselves”?

Laura writes:

Well, first of all, I never said they should be excluded from the neighborhood. I never said they should be excluded as openly practicing homosexuals have been excluded from family residential areas in most societies since the beginning of human history. I didn’t say that. I said James should consider moving.

Secondly, same-sex couples don’t need to be same-sex couples; they especially don’t need to be same-sex couples raising children. These women could have married men and were perfectly free to do so. If they did not have an active aversion to men, they presumably would have married men. So it is not they who had their liberty restricted, it is James. James is not free to buy a house in any nice middle-class neighborhood in Kentucky and be assured that his children will not be exposed to sexual perversion.  

Samson writes:

Laura writes, I’m not really satisfied with this answer to you but I don’t know what else to say. This is a very abnormal situation for you and your family. It seems there’s no completely healthy way to raise children in the company of pseudo-families and homosexuals.

Laura, perhaps it’s because I live in Canada, but I’ve got to say that if you think this is a “very abnormal situation,” you’d best prepare for the future. It’s happening – maybe not commonly, but not that rarely, either. We are all going to have to figure out fast what to do under these circumstances.

Children often feel sorry for other children who do not live a normal life and they rarely romanticize fatherlessness or divorce.

We know that currently, many adults look back on their parents’ divorce with terrible regret and tears. No one who’s been through it thinks it’s “okay” or a “normal” thing to do. I believe we are going to see this in the future among the “children” of homosexuals: many of them will come forward saying, yes, in fact, I have suffered lasting emotional trauma as a result of being raised in this way, without a proper father/mother dynamic at home. And, as Mark Shea is fond of saying, people will throw up their hands and say “How were we supposed to know?”

Laura writes:

I realize this situation is now fairly common. But ‘common’ is not the same as ‘normal.’ No matter how many neighborhoods are like this, they will always be abnormal. 

Some children raised by homosexuals have already told their stories. They don’t get a lot of press. But, yes, the public testimonials of unhappy childhoods will become more numerous in the years ahead, as if we need lives severely damaged before we recognize the obvious. Children raised by openly homosexual parents are also more likely to be homosexuals themselves.

Karen I. writes:

You suggested the lesbians’ child should play at the home of James’s child but James should not have his child play at their home. I would suggest that the children only play outdoors at the home of James’s child. I live in a large neighborhood full of children and find it much easier to maintain appropriate boundaries with neighbors and their children this way. The kids have a lot to do outdoors and there is no question of what is going on when all the kids are visible to all the parents. 

You are completely right in saying that James should refuse the stroller. Your statement that it would take the relationship to another level is correct. There are other ways, such as high-end consignment shops, to get top of the line baby gear at bargain prices. There may be strings attached to the gift from the lesbians. For example I have a neighbor who gives people things and then turns around and tells others about the gift. It gives the impression of friendship where there is really only casual acquaintance. Others will give gifts and then expect a favor in return. James may accept the stroller and find the lesbians later need a man to do a repair around the house. It would be hard to say “no” if he took the stroller.

James M . responds:

Thank you.

We are planning to move. We’re in our starter-home and are saving to move “into the country”, wherever that may turn out to be. I hope we can accomplish this before our daughter is old enough for us to worry about who she spends time with, and before the U.S. does it’s best impression of Greece (I hope to God it doesn’t happen).

Liberalism is getting better at putting us in seemingly impossible situations. For instance, we must teach our children some amount of racial-realism for their own protection, but small children do not possess judgment, wisdom, or tact. How do you delicately introduce healthy discrimination to your child without it blowing up in your face when she blurts out “My daddy says…” in her well-integrated school or neighborhood? I guess you have to homeschool and live in the country.

Laura writes:

When you homeschool, there’s so much opportunity to teach your children the right things at the right time that you can live almost anywhere and raise them as your own.

David K. writes:

Laura’s sense of conflict struck a chord. We’re all conflicted when it comes to our children. We want to be salt and light but keep them in the bottle. I remember criticizing a close friend whose family “was like a troop of elephants turned in on themselves with their tails to the world.” But as my own family increases and grows out of infancy, I find us doing the same thing.

It’s hard because my wife and I were born and raised in Christian families yet played with the neighborhood kids. Some of them were pretty rough. But our parents knew where we were and who we were with. They took an active role in our lives. Sometimes we thought they were too active like when they (thank God) forbade my going unchaperoned to the house of my first high school girlfriend. They taught us the Bible and took us to church. We understood who the good kids were and who the bad kids were. Bullies were no schoolbook story.

My dad was a pastor. He always ministered with love to the broke down and hard up. He was also tough on folks and held them accountable. He brought these people to church and to our house for coffee or Bible study. But we were taught discernment. We knew these folks were being ministered to. That their lifestyle was not commendable, but that God loves everyone and can forgive and change lives.

We were also secure as a family. We had a sense of ourselves as collective and distinct from others. That collective sometimes changed, like when we all but adopted a mom and daughter who were
Cambodian refugees. Or when we took in a Chinese exchange student who’d picked a crazy host family. As adults, we realize our parents didn’t always make the right choices. They turned out to be human after all. We turned out ok.

But analogy is the weakest form of logic. I went to a small Christian college and could tell you horror stories of children raised in very restrictive Christian homes who went wild. I could tell you stories of children similarly raised who turned out all right and are now raising their children the same way. My observation, and it is not a clever one, is that the difference in all these cases were the parents themselves. You as a parent need to be the best model of Christian living to your children. More is caught than taught.

To James, I’d say take the stroller. Invite the lesbians for tea and coffee. Be kind and charitable and gracious and loving. In short, minister to them. God knows they need it. This is not PC shtick. Quite the opposite. It is straight up condescension in the best of terms. Yours is not a 1:1 relationship with them. It is someone who has seen the light relating to someone still in the dark. Stop worrying about yourself so much.

Plus, moving to the country (or out of it, in our case) will not save you. For example, I teach at a Christian university and live in the faculty housing. We are in a Christian community that seen from the outside is the envy of all who visit. Yet, so many of the parents here fail to raise their children according to Godly standards. The children are undisciplined and lack even basic common courtesy. We call them the “feral children.” So we have decided to move away from this Christian community smack dab into the heathen world.

Hold fast to the promises of God for your children. Train your children up in the way they should go. Be encouraged and take cheer.

Michael S. writes:

Minister to them, by all means. As long as the means do not include accepting the “gift” of the stroller.

Lydia Sherman writes:

Two tragic events occurred in our area recently. Foster parents who were in the process of adopting a girl, found that the adoption was taken right from under them by a lesbian couple. It was found to be an inside job, where alternate lifestyle employees who saw the adoption coming up, quickly contacted people they knew and had them fill in their paperwork more quickly than the prospective adoptive parents. Another situation that brought even more grief was a grandmother whose daughter was not able to care for her toddler because of drug issues. The grandmother set adoption procedures in motion in order to be sure that her granddaughter would be able to live with her. Behind her back, on a Friday, she was issued with a notice that the child was already adopted out, and was to be taken to a large city on Monday, to live with two homosexual men. The woman did not know how to proceed, as the weekends do not offer any opportunity to intervene, with businesses and courts closed. The child had been with her since birth and was now four years old. One reason given for this sudden adoption is that the child had special needs and the male couple lived in a larger city where more medical help was available. The grandmother had previously been driving to that city for treatments and was glad to do it. This grandmother had given the child a stable life for several years. She was a homemaker, and could devote time to her. There was really no reason to adopt out either of these girls, There was an obvious bias going on here.

Youngfogey writes:

On the matter of whether or not the gift of the stroller should be accepted from the lesbian neighbors, I think many of the previous comments show a kind of naive optimism that needs to be reckoned with.

I would advise this reader to be polite to his neighbors and to take the stroller. I would not make any overt effort to get involved with them or to “minister” to them. What we traditionalists need to realize is that our culture is lost irretrievably. Having the lesbians over for coffee in order to “minister” to them will do nothing to repair the crumbling foundations of our culture that gave rise to the question of the stroller in the first place.

Efforts to “minister” in a situation like this, where the cultural support is overwhelmingly on the other side, are likely to end in nothing but loss, suffering and trouble for your reader’s family. To think otherwise is naive to the point of dangerous.

So, the only option is to be polite and wait for the culture to finish imploding. In the meantime, why turn down a free stroller?

Laura writes:

We all agree that politeness is important. But I’m sure there are many other people to whom the women might give an expensive stroller. Giving and accepting a gift are both signs of friendship.  I am inclined, again, to disagree both with Dave K., who sees taking the stroller as a desirable act of benevolence, and Youngfogey, who suggests taking the stroller because the offer doesn’t mean much.

There are ways to minister to these neighbors (how about praying for them?) without giving children the impression that homosexuality is normal. That’s what having homosexuals over for coffee and accepting gifts from them does. It sends the message to young children that homosexuality is just one of several acceptable choices. When we minister to the poor or to Cambodian refugees, we don’ t have to worry about our children becoming poor or Cambodian refugees. We do have to worry about them becoming homosexual. Older adolescents under guidance may be capable of making the more subtle distinctions implied by friendly overtures and socializing, but not young children. And it’s pointless to wait for years to help them make these subtle distinctions once they have received a different message repeatedly.

I don’t think James M. needs to go out of his way to make a point of tolerance and acceptance. These women are probably accepted many places they go but even if they are not, that’s the way it should be. They are violating norms of civility and decency by living openly as homosexuals and raising a young son. Youngfogey is right that the culture is overwhelmingly on their side. How is it possible to increase their sensitivity to the other side? That is the challenge. It’s not much, but maintaining some distance seems reasonable. I’m not advocating incivility.

[The discussion continues here.]


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