Parenting in Pride month

We are in Pride month, when all things LGBTQ are celebrated. Here’s a message we received from a parent:

“We’re wondering what to do about the fact that our 4 year old’s nursery is having a Pride day … Do we send him in, and let the nursery know that it’s been hard for us as Christians to do that, but we want to show that we aren’t hateful people shunning the world? Do we keep him home and say nothing? Do we try to explain it to him?”

I expect that this parent is not alone in wanting to be sympathetic to their school’s desire to celebrate diversity, to be compassionate towards those who have been treated poorly and to be clear with their own children on Christian distinctives. 

The school is probably not intending to wage a culture war or isolate this family. They are simply blind to our perspective. They can’t imagine how anyone could be against the idea that “Love is love”. 

Personally, I would allow my four year old to attend the school on Pride day. At this age, they won’t be able to discern the conceptual differences in perspective. With older children, I would want to be more intentional and explain what we believe, preferably beforehand.

I would speak to the head teacher (or failing that, the class teacher). I would smile, arrive with grace and say that I am for the school, wanting good for the staff, children and families. I would aim for a conversation instead of a letter because it is harder to fill a letter with warmth, but I would offer to send a letter afterwards if it helps them. 

I would explain that Christians want to love everyone irrespective of circumstances, preferences, feelings and relationships. We celebrate inclusion and stand against discrimination and bullying. But, we don’t believe that all lifestyle choices and relationship decisions are equally good. We believe that marriage is between one woman and one man, while recognising that others are free to decide differently. We believe that God has made boys male and girls female, and those who are confused about that need support, love and care.

I would want to check that the school is teaching the love we need to have for all people rather than requiring children to agree with all lifestyle choices. It’s similar to teaching that we should love Hindus and Muslims, but we don’t teach our children to worship their gods or encourage them to follow those religions.

As parents, let’s not be afraid. We are the ones, more than any teacher, lesson or cultural pressure, who are shaping our child. Our words are the ones they trust. The Christian story is better than any other and we can deliver it with love, care and great patience. This subject is not covered by a single, long, comprehensive conversation, particularly with a four year old! We have years to do this, chatting on the walk to school, in the car at weekends and on the beach on holidays. And we’re not alone. We have the Holy Spirit and the help of others in our churches who bring brilliant wisdom and perspective. This Pride month, don’t panic – you’ve got this!

Ed Drew is the author of Raising confident kids in a confusing world, which equips parents to help their children to navigate the thorniest issues in the world they are growing up in. A longer version of this article appeared on Premier NexGen.