Parenting from pregnancy to teenage sexuality

Dear Ms. Behavior: My partner, Maya, and I are trying our first child. Maya is Mexican and I am white. We plan to have two babies and we’ve agreed that she will carry the first one. I think we should use sperm from a white donor for me, and a donor of color for her, so that we will each have a baby who looks like us. Maya does not want me to use any white sperm. She can’t bear the idea of my having a child who isn’t related to her, doesn’t look like her and leaves her out. There are lots of issues in our marriage. I am thinking not being able to agree on a donor is a bad sign. What should we do?

— White Mama

Dear White Mama:

You and Maya probably need assistance to resolve this issue. A couples therapist could help you to explore the big scary issues of identity that come up around having babies — (e.g., Can you feel equally attached to and responsible for a baby when only one of you is the biological mother? How do you deal with feelings about the child not looking like you?) — which in your case is also mixed with the politics of race.

One practical solution could be switching your plan around: Instead of each of you caring only about creating a reflection of yourselves from the fruit of your loins, it would be great if you and Maya could compromise and agree on one particular donor — so that the children will be biologically related to one another, too. But how do you agree about a donor if you’re committed to having a white baby and your wife is committed to a baby of color? Perhaps you can jointly choose a talented and attractive latte-colored donor and call it a day.

Dear Ms. Behavior:

We are two rather tired lesbians who have somehow managed to raise a pretty good male child into near adulthood. He is 19 and home for the summer from college. The problem is that Kirby wants us to allow his girlfriend (who is 17) to stay in his room and sleep over. This means having sex, we assume. Neither my partner nor I are comfortable with this idea. There have been many long family debates about the topic. Kirby says we are being sexist old farts by overprotecting his girlfriend who is perfectly capable of making her own decisions. What do you think?

— Concerned Moms

Dear Concerned Moms:

Many people are a little freaked out by the sexuality of their children; but old-style lesbian separatists may be even more sensitive to the appearance of male sexuality, even in the boy child who once sprang from their women-only wombs. However, there are a couple of issues that need to be teased apart: Does Kirby seem irresponsible? Does his girlfriend seem too young to decide to have sex? Can you remember your own teenage years and what if felt like to be young and juicy?

It isn’t actually clear whether or not you’ve met Kirby’s girlfriend. If so, you should be able to assess her level of maturity and find out (since she’s technically a minor) whether her parents know where she’d be sleeping. If all that seems kosher, and you’ve already talked with Kirby about things like birth control and STDs and condoms, you should let your son have his overnight guest, even if it means that you and your partner need to sit in the garage cross-legged and take some deep yogic breaths. You obviously mean well; now it’s time to give up some control. (And be thankful that you’re not the parents of a girl — who you’d probably feel that you needed to protect from all the turgid penises of the world.)

If you’re really afraid to condone adolescent sex (and not just plain horrified by the thought of heterosexual intercourse), think back for a moment to what it felt like to be young and sexually driven. Sexually active teens will find places to hook up, whether in cars, alleys, beaches or deserted buildings. Having sex at home is really rather safe by comparison, even without the four watchful eyes of Kirby’s Two Mommies.

Meryl Cohn is the author of “‘Do What I Say’: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette” (Houghton Mifflin). E-mail her at [email protected] or visit