Prev Next

Teaching a Four-Year-Old About Marriage Equality


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

This week, as we’re getting ready to get two same sex couples legally married, and doing an APW fundraiser for LAMBDA Legal, I’ve been thinking about why this work is important. And then I got this email from Claire, about using APW Wedding Grads to teach equality to her four-year-old niece. And I cried.

Teaching a Four Year Old About Marriage Equality | A Practical Wedding

The other night I was playing with my four-year-old niece, and she was marrying off all her little dolls in some sort of cultish mass wedding ceremony. On a school bus. Anyway, she had two extra girl dolls and said something to the effect of, “I wish these two girls could just marry each other, but they can’t.” I said sure they could, and she said that was silly. “Girls can’t marry other girls.” I insisted that they could. She said fine, but it would have to be a silly wedding and not a real wedding. “Like not in real life, not for serious.” So we had a little conversation about it and she kinda believed me, but still seemed skeptical. “I’ve never seen a girl-girl wedding before. Only boy-girl weddings.”

At which point I said I could prove that weddings don’t have to be girl-boy. So I went Facebook and pulled up the beautiful wedding photos of a dear lesbian friend. She looked at them carefully and said their dresses were very pretty and she guessed it was a real life wedding after all.

Then she asked if boys can get married too. I immediately thought of APW, and a quick search pulled up “The Mad Gay Wedding” (with Mickey Mouse no less!). Well, that clinched it. We looked at a few more diverse weddings and she exclaimed that, “Any kind of people can have a pretty, real-life wedding!”

Then the two girl dolls got married with the rest of the dolls on the bus. “Because girls can marry whoever they want to.”

The end.

Photo: The Mad Gay Wedding, by SkyeBlu Photography

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and son. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

More in Recent Posts Staff Picks

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • cartascartas

    This brought tears to my eyes. How powerful! Enhorabuena, Claire.

  • Caroline

    And this is how we take over the world, one child at a time.

    • FawMo

      (Insert joke about right-wing fears here.)

  • http://thehoneymoonproject.com Emma

    YES. Thank you, Claire.

  • Paranoid Libra

    What a beautiful thing to read after a bit of a crazy day yesterday…And Meg probably thought going to NYC she wouldn’t encounter any earthquakes. I say the Earth is pissy cuz not enough equality exists.

    Claire thank you for sharing. More kids need exposure to a world of equality and respect, not a world of favoritism and hatred

  • Emilie

    Happy tears to go with my morning tea… What a special, wonderful moment! Thank you, Claire, for sharing–both with us, and with your sweet niece.

  • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.com/ Amanda

    Oh this is soo cute,

    “Any kind of people can have a pretty, real-life wedding!”

    Way to go Claire, and yes, I believe strongly in changing the world 1 child at a time like Caroline put so well. Made me smile.

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/sparrowgrey?ref=si_shop sparrowgrey

    An amazing post with an even more amazing message. “Any kind of people can have a pretty, real-life wedding!” : Here’s to hoping more members of the next generation come to the same kind of conclusion.

  • Esme

    How fantastic! I can feel my heart getting a little warmer and I’m thinking ‘how can we get all 4 year-olds to think this??!! x

    • Cass

      In my experience, 4-year-olds are fairly impressionable. So I believe we can get them all to think like this by TALKING about this.
      I don’t think we always give kids the whole picture when talking about weddings. Why not? They can certainly handle it.

  • lindsay

    Yes. This is all kinds of awesome.

  • http://meaghantothemax.wordpress.com Meaghan

    So wonderful! Kids have an amazing ability to see the world fairly. We should all try and tap into that sense more often!

  • http://justneedthisspace.wordpress.com ddayporter

    Holy…. That’s about the best thing I could expect to read ever. Happy tearssssss.

    • Kashia

      You took the words right out of my mouth! This just made my day.

  • http://www.christytylerphotography.com Christy T

    I have crazy goosebumps going on right now. This is amazing!! LOVE.

  • Lauren

    Yay! That was beautiful. So many goosebumps…

  • http://dylanandsarah.com Sarah T

    That is so simple, and so awesome.

  • http://www.familiarwilderness.com Erin

    AWWW. That’s adorable! Love it.

  • Kelly

    YES. Awesome.

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com Jo

    This is why we need pictures, and information, and publication for all types of weddings.

    Especially with Mickey Mouse.

  • http://lezgethitched.blogspot.com Diana

    Ohhhh so many happy tears! Just what I needed this morning.

  • http://emiliajanephotography.com Emilia

    AMAZING!! This brings me so much joy. How simple and yet exactly what needs to be said!

  • http://oversized-cliches.blogspot.com Zan

    This is adorable. It also reminds me of walking down a Brooklyn with the two kids I care for as the five year old boy announced loudly, “When Jacob and I grow up we are going to get married, and live together and have a baby and her name will be Ava.” And the passersby on the street just grinned, no one looked horrified or shocked. Granted, this is Brooklyn, but still, it made me really happy that this is the world they are going to grow up in. Hopefully, in this respect, more corners of the world will be like Brooklyn by the time this little boy decides who he really wants to marry.

  • JEM

    This is absolutely wonderful. Children do amaze me.

  • http://www.meanestlook.com Sara

    See, even a 4 year old gets it! But then again 4 year olds are way more awesome, smart and open-minded than, oh say, many legislators. Hooray for kiddos!

  • SEZ

    I bet that little girl would have a blast at the Yay NY party ’cause I hear that’s going to be chock full of pretty and real life! great work, Claire!

  • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

    :D
    My best friend is getting married to her partner in one month, and in two and a half months (whenI get to Argentina) I’ll organize her baby shower (she is expecting a baby girl). My children (3 year old, twins), will attend the baby shower and I hope this will help them realize, from such an early age, that two women/ two men can get married, and that they can have babies too (not the traditional way, but they CAN). I agree, we can build a better world, one child at a time, like Caroline said. :)

  • kyley

    agh!!!!!! so awesome!!!!

  • http://elissarphotography.com Elissa

    Lovelovelovelovelove!!

  • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

    This is so awesome!!!!

  • SBS

    Yes. Beautiful. I love that for it to be real to her, it has to be beautiful. If only everyone were so easy!

    • http://www.actsofbeauty.co.uk/wordpress ActsofBeauty

      Yes you’re so right. It’s like until you see the pictures of the beautiful same sex wedding it couldn’t be real. Documenting and sharing these pictures allows us all to create new fantasies, new story-myths and new ideas of what ‘real’ and ‘normal’ or even ‘possible’ is. Until we spread the new story-myths all little girls have is Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. Not enough.

      Thanks for the wonderful post!

  • http://www.twitter.com/leahruthie Leah

    now THAT is an awesome aunt! very, very well done. :)

  • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

    Oh this makes me happy. I love love love that moment when kids realize that things can be different from the only messages they’ve ever heard because they just GET it. Thanks so much for sharing Claire!!!

  • http://bettencourtchase.blogspot.com Helen

    Crap. APW makes me cry at work at least once a week. (But always in a good way!)

    And this is… perfect. Thank you, Claire.

  • http://txtingmrdarcy.wordpress.com Txtingmrdarcy

    Wonderful. Beautiful… AWESOME.

    What a perfect teaching moment, Claire. Your niece is always going to remember that she saw LOVE between two men and two women, and it will be hard to convince her otherwise.

  • Amandover

    That is astounding. Not in a “that-shouldn’t-be-possible” way, just a “kids-are-amazing-and-so-is-APW” way.
    I wish there’d been more pictures to see when I was that little.

  • http://www.leenmachine.com/blog Paulene

    This gave me goosebumps. Such a lovely moment!

  • april

    So awesome! This just totally made my day.

  • http://ladybrettashley.wordpress.com lady brett

    man, kids are so cool.

  • Susan

    Whats great about this is that our current generation (and that aunt) is working to change the perception of love and tolerance and practicality of it all. We are opening our eyes and eyes of others and for the first time advertising LGBTQ love and marriage and protecting it.

    Whats even better, is that when that little tolerant girl grows up, it will already be a normal accepted part of her life, and when an injustice occurs, or something in life is telling her different she will KNOW its wrong, she wont have to guess.

  • FawMo

    This made my heart sing! Yay Claire!

  • http://www.bridesanstulle.com Sharon

    Okay this post (and picking up my YayNY tote yesterday from our mail hold) is hands down the best way to come home from a vacation. Put a huge happy grin on my face this morning!

  • http://bunniesnbeagles.blogspot.com Ms. Bunny

    LOVE. SO. SO. HARD.

  • Cassandra

    I grew up in a household where being gay was just no big deal – my mom had friends who happened to be men loving men and women loving women, and it was never an issue, just how life was. I’ve always endeavoured to raise my daughter, who is 7 and a half, to see love for what it is, whoever it is shared between. A couple of years ago, we were visiting a gay friend of mine, and one day my daughter asked me “Why do you call H L’s girlfriend?” When I said it was because they were in fact girlfriends, and started to say that girls could have girlfriends too, she interrupted me and said “Yeah, mom, we all know that. I just wanted to be sure I got it right.” Talking to kids about these things like they’re the normal parts of life (which they are) really does enforce the idea that it’s all just a part of how the world works.

  • Jennie

    F*ck yes. That is all.

  • L

    I love it! How sweet – I always find it encouraging to be reminded of the innocent acceptance of children. If only more people could get in touch with that way of thinking in adulthood.

  • Kinzie Kangaroo

    A few years ago, I was nannying in Boston – and their eight year old daughter asked me who I was voting for and what my political beliefs were. (I know.)

    When the conversation turned to gay marriage, I got all awkward and clumsy with my words, worried that I’d offend this super conservative family that had hired me. But I wish I had just come right out and said it: that I supported marriage equality and I thought that we should be able to love our partners regardless of their sex. Why was I so afraid to offend these little ears?

    From now on, I’m going to talk up my beliefs to any kids who will listen — I don’t need to censor myself just because they’re young. In fact, this story makes me realize that maybe kids are, by default, better than many many adults are.

  • http://jessicaschillingphotography.com Jessica Schilling

    This is so awesome! I really love that it didn’t have to turn into a philosophical discussion, which could be tricky with a younger kid, but was as simple as pulling up photos and blog posts and saying “see, it already happens!”

  • http://victorialoustalot.com Victoria Loustalot

    This made me do a fist pump in the air! This is what we’re fighting for!

  • Jo

    Yay!!! Best post I’ve read all day :)

  • Rachel T.

    So in love with this! I hope more and more children learn it just like that!!! <3

  • http://ridiculouslyeverafter.blogspot.com nikki

    EFFING. AWESOME.

    I bet Meg did not realize she had started a directory for situations like this – “let me pull up a same-sex wedding real quick that will blow your four-year-old socks off!”

  • Claire

    Wow. I’m touched by the outpouring of support and affirmation from this community. I’m glad our little playtime exchange could brighten your day the way it did mine.

  • Ruth Abbott

    I’m a little late to this post but thought that other latecommers might get a kick out of what my 5 year old godson said to me. He was playing with my rings, sat on my lap when he asked if any of them were a wedding ring. When I said I didn’t have a one yet he patted my face sympathetically and said “that’s okay – just wait a few years and I can marry you”, when I told him I was going to marry my girlfriend (and that it wasn’t legal to marry your godson or I would totally wait for him naturally….) he laughed like mad and told me to stop being silly till I promised (pinky promised) that I wasn’t lying and two girls could too get married. He went very quiet and, thinking I had confused him, I enquired if he was okay and he answered “Yeah I’m just remembering where my specialist bow tie is for the wedding!”

    • Claire

      Oh wow! What a fantastic story. <3

  • Ashley

    Really late to this post, but I wanted to share my experience with my son. He was just shy of 5 years old. My best friend known as a uncle to my son recently came out. We decided to wait to approach it with my son until my friend was in a serious relationship, and we thought he was ready. Well it just so happens he caught his uncle kissing another man. He immediately yelled “Uncle! What are you doing? Boys don’t kiss other boys! Only girls can kiss other girls!” We laughed and then sat him down for the conversation. We explained that Mommy likes boys, and Daddy likes girls, but Uncle likes boys like Mommy does. He sat for a couple minutes processing, then he looked at his uncle and said, “Well, I guess you can like boys. You’re still my favorite.” I don’t think I have ever been so proud of him. Since then we have taken him to Rainbow Festival, which is similar to pride, but family friendly, his uncle has brought his boyfriend over at least once a week for the past several months, and nothing has been mentioned since.