THE BLOG

Pride And Joy: Book Review

27/01/2017 13:06

Pride and Joy: A Guide for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Parents
Sarah Hagger-Holt and Rachel Hagger-Holt
(Pinter & Martin, 23 Feb 2017)

In contrast to most more prescriptive parenting tomes, Sarah and Rachel Hagger-Holt's easy-to-read LGBT parenting guide immediately reassures its readers that there are as many different ways to approach parenting as there are types of parent or types of family.

There's something for everyone here from the LGBT community and beyond, whether considering parenting, already with children, if the kids have flown the nest or if your parents are gay; whether single, in a couple, or in a less straightforward parenting arrangement.

A short-sharp history reminds us all just how much has been achieved in around just 25 years in terms of attitudes - not to say legislation - about LGBT life and families.

It's pleasing to be reminded that there are LGBT people becoming parents right now iwho will have been through their whole school life untouched by the ripples of the pernicious Section 28 legislation, which saw Margaret Thatcher scare teachers and parents into silence about LGBT to avoid 'promoting homosexuality as a pretend family relationship'.

One contributor expresses astonishment that not only had Section 28 been repealed when it once seemed so permanent, but that civil partnerships, same sex marriage, and fostering and adoption for LGBT couples had galloped in so quickly behind it.

But the book also reminds us that things remain far from perfect for LGBT parents. One gay man laments being asked, even by friends, why he doesn't just adopt instead of trying to biologically conceive his own child. A question he legitimately says he can just as well be level at any straight couple.

The book reminds us too of tight restrictions in statutory services and public opinion about the nature of 'proper' families. The law allows only one or two registered parents. That negates and disenfranchises the roles of 'donor dads' and 'special aunties' and other parenting arrangements that are a familiar theme of this book: many LGBT families celebrate relationships that often involve three, four or even more primary parent figures.

Even today, it appears, we might not mind families being gay, but we still want them to be nuclear.

But that's where this book really comes into it's own. It features such a diversity of stories that whatever your own situation, there's likely to be a similar one in here. Or at least inspiration and reassurance that it's probably all going to be OK. And just in case, there are helpful tips at the end if most chapters to provide practical advice, or to prompt further thinking.

Sharing voices like the Hagger-Holts have done here sets us all up - whatever our gender, sexuality, partnership or parenting status - to be what we all want to be at heart. Good parents.

Pride and Joy is refreshingly honest, free of bash-you-over-the-head political bleating. Instead, it offers a practical and ongoing conversation starter that is clearly written from experience and with love. Far from judgement or a correct pathway, it offers offers compassion for all, but particularly those who've had a difficult time than other more self-confident LGBT parents.

Perhaps most of us would welcome a time when a book specifically about LGBT parenting wasn't needed. And with it a time when it's readers didn't feel they were treated or felt so different from just being parents, or potential ones.

But until then, we're lucky that the authors have worked so hard to share their own and others experiences in such an inspiring and practical way.

Gideon Burrows
author, Men and Do It! The real reason men don't do childcare

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