Sex and sexuality are often awkward and difficult topics to discuss with our children. Some parents care not to deal with it until the child is of a certain age and maturity. Others may wait until after their kids are subject to that random sex education class around the 4th or 5th grade where they separate the boys and girls and thoroughly examine the stages of sexuality, sexual behaviors and sexual activity. Then there are the moms and dads who don’t hesitate to explain what sex is, how it happens and the consequences of such behavior.
I happen to fall in the realm of the latter category of straight-up parents, mainly because I shudder at the thought of anyone, aside from myself and my son’s father, introducing or explaining such substantial subject matter to my child. More over, I need him to feel comfortable approaching the two of us with any of his thoughts, ideas and questions regarding sex and sexuality.
In a recent episode of the Disney series “Good Luck Charlie,” a lesbian couple was introduced. The segment made headlines across mainstream media networks and the only reason it happened to catch my eye is because the sitcom has been on air for some years now and my son used to be an avid viewer before he decided Disney was too “kiddie” for him. One of the main characters, “Charlie,” was just a toddler when my son was watching the show and I happened to enjoy a few episodes with him from time to time.
It didn’t take too long for a clip of “Disney’s First Lesbian Moms” to go viral and considering the content, after viewing it, I thought it was harmless. Mia Talerico who plays “Charlie” is now about six-years-old and in this particular episode, Charlie befriends a new neighbor around her age and a playdate is set up. When the child arrives to Charlie’s house, two women show up at the door and introduce themselves as the “two moms.” Charlie’s mother and father welcomed the lesbian moms into their home and the kids played while both sets of parents engaged in conventional discourse – “Where are you from? What do you do?” and the like.
My position on this episode of “Good Luck Charlie” was neutral. I wasn’t overjoyed by the radical move by Disney producer to promote forward thinking nor was I outraged. What really perplexed me, however, was the hateful commentary from disapproving viewers. The remarks ranged from polite expressions of contempt to death threats via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter– all of which were directed to Talerico, a.k.a. “Charlie.”
I went from lukewarm to boiling hot simply because it was clear the little girl was an effortless target for hate-filled reviews only because she’s unable to defend herself. Instead of going after the producers and heads of the network, “Charlie” was being threatened with eternal rest and a life of hellfire and damnation. As a result, this little girl now has to be escorted by security everywhere she goes because her parents fear for her life!
Hmm, now let’s imagine for a moment what LGBT couples may encounter on a daily basis.
I was truly disturbed by the retaliation this televised gesture of acceptance received and just to be fair, I sourced the opinion of viewers within the show’s demographic – my son. Instead of watching the clip, we watched the entire episode via YouTube and my child was more impressed by “Charlie.” He smiled when he saw her and said, “wow, she’s getting big! She’s a really cute kid.” I agreed and prepped myself for his reaction once the lesbian couple was introduced.
He said nothing.
When the show was over he briefed me on how so much had changed in the storyline. He even questioned how much longer the show would be on air since Charlie’s older sitcom siblings have outgrown the teenage look. I was floored. Floored enough to ask his thoughts on the same-sex couple showcased in the episode. His response was profound and through his words I was reminded of the principles I’ve instilled in him throughout the years.
“You know what, Mom? We don’t judge. You always said that until I’ve walked a mile in someone else’s shoes, I have no right to judge and just because they’re different doesn’t make them evil or bad people,” said my son. “Honestly, I think it’s kind of cool! Like, Mom, you have lesbian friends who are married! How would you feel if they were mistreated because they adopted and provided a better life for an abandoned kid? It would tick you off a little, right? Plus, I’m sure you would do whatever you could to help them.”
I took pause in this moment and was overwhelmed with pride because my own child perfectly articulated my purest thoughts and reminded me to practice what I preach: treat others how we want to be treated.
While I wholeheartedly understand why some parents might feel slighted by their child being introduced to material earlier than preferred by way of this particular Disney show, at best it could be used as a springboard to have the conversation as opposed to lashing out in anger on social media sites to people who have no affect on your child’s behavior. And to be totally frank, television programming shouldn’t raise our children in the first place!
In the words of the wisest woman I know, my mother, “change is inevitable, growth is optional.” With that in mind, I’d encourage any parent to get used to idea of the LGBT community becoming more visible in our day-to-day lives in many forms regardless of how we may feel about it. So before spewing hate and disapproval, perhaps teach acceptance and non-judgment because we, as parents, eventually have to release our children to a cold world where we want them to be accepted based on their character … nothing more.
Mommies, what are your thoughts? Did Disney go too far? Check out the clip below and please share your thoughts.