Lesbian and Gay Parenting Questions & Answers Column With Arlene Istar LevDear Ari

A column by Arlene (Ari) Istar Lev

Daughter Heartbreaker

Posted By on September 15, 2010

Dear Ari:

I am a single lesbian with no children of my own. I just recently ended a relationship with the love of my life. It was not our choice to end it; it was her daughter’s who is now 10. At the start of our relationship she was 8. We as a couple decided to keep it from her because she wouldn’t understand. We see now that was a mistake. We actually were caught in a compromised position by my partner’s mother. She then thought it was her place to tell my partner’s daughter. We were a happy family. At the age of 10 all she is worried about is what people think about her and I tried to let her know it doesn’t matter. She gave my partner an ultimatum to choose between the two of us: either her daughter or her love. That doesn’t seem right to me. She has no one else but me and her parents they are from the west and moved to Tennessee 6 years ago. I wish I could help her through this hard time but I really don’t know what to tell her.

On the other hand there is me and they were all I had in life. I feel like I lost it all and it wasn’t our decision it was left up to her daughter. We as a couple do not want to cut ties but she says we have no choice. I refuse to give up. I wish there was a way we could sit her daughter down and help her understand we can’t help who we love. Her daughter has told her she will leave and go live with her grand-parents if she doesn’t break it off with me. Any answers or advice you could give us would be great.
— Susan

Dear Susan:

Well, your story is a sad reflection on why we should never try to hide our relationships from our children. I frankly don’t understand how we can hide our relationships. I mean our children have to see how close we are. They have to see us planning dinners, and vacations, and talking about daily household tasks. Generally, this is not something close friends do, at least not as frequently or intimately.

My strongest reaction to your letter, is why this ten year old child has so much power and control within a family? If she decided to not to go to school, or to sell drugs, or hell, to sell school supplies, would your partner simply just let her do that? Children do not get to make decisions about who with whom their parents are lovers, nor do they simply get to decide where they will live. So, in my opinion, this problem has very little to do with sexual orientation, and more to do with a child who things she is able to make adult decisions, and an adult who is encourages that mindset.

Unfortunately, you don’t have much power over what your ex does or does not regarding the upbringing of her daughter. My hope for you is that after being a part for a while, she will come to her senses and realize what she is throwing away. I also hope she will come to see how very dangerous it is for her daughter to think she has that kind of power of her mother’s intimate life decisions.

I am sorry not have anything more upbeat to suggest to you, Susan. You are grieving the loss of a relationship, and that is very painful. Your story is a glaring example of the impact of homophobia on our families. My heart goes out to you.