I have a confession to make: I let all 4 of my children, ages 15, 13, 11, and 8, watch the show Glee on television.
I can almost hear the shocked silence out there. I know that many parents choose not to expose their kids to a show they find potentially inappropriate.
The thing is, I don’t find it inappropriate. At all. My kids have learned things from watching Glee that they could never learn at home.
Let me back up. For most of my life I have been a passionate advocate for “the underdog.” Discrimination or prejudice of any kind is the one thing in this world that makes me want to explode, or possibly move to some huge city, where no one cares what color you are or what religion you are or who you are attracted to.
When my kids started to be old enough to understand, I started talking to them about how in our family, we love everybody. People are people, and all are equal. We are not better than anyone else because of whatever advantages we may have, nor is anyone else better than us.
We live in a suburb of New York city, where most kids live in single-family houses with a mom and dad, where most dads go to work and many moms stay home. We are fortunate to live here and I am grateful that my kids are growing up in such a nice community. However, there is a “sameness” to living in the suburbs that concerns me. I often worry that by living here, we have traded a house and a yard and a prime public education system for the real world. A world where there are many differences between people.
So one thing I do is, I let my kids watch Glee. And in so doing, I am not just letting them be entertained by music and dancing and Sue Sylvester.
I am exposing them to a diverse crew of humans who are just like us. Except that in many cases, they are different.
Kurt and Blaine are the first gay couple my kids have been exposed to. I am so pleased at the example they are setting, with a healthy, loving, warm relationship.
My 8-year-old, Jamie, said the sweetest thing after watching Kurt and Blaine sing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” to each other this past holiday season. “Kurt and Blaine love each other,” he said simply. The word “Gay” is not yet a part of his vocabulary. All he knows is that these two human beings are in love. It is not strange to him, as it would have been to me at that age, since I only watched Happy Days and The Brady Bunch.
I could go on and on with examples, but I won’t, except to say that the “Born This Way” episode, with the theme of self-acceptance, was one of the best things I have ever seen on television. Each character in the Glee club learns to love, or at least openly accept, one thing they don’t like about themselves. Brown eyes, big nose, stupid, can’t sing, four eyes…who doesn’t have something about themselves that they’d like to change?
That’s why I let my kids watch Glee. It exposes them to a bigger world where all types of kids, kids who know they are different, are openly struggling to accept themselves. And I’m hoping it’s making my kids realize that whatever they might be struggling with, they are not alone.