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Finding the right time and place to talk with my kids about the issues facing us can be difficult and awkward at times. For my part, I often feel the need to discuss my being a gay ex-Mormon father. But I rarely do. For the kids’ part, they aren’t sure how to negotiate HAVING a gay ex-Mormon father. But they never bring it up. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As the kids mature they want to ask questions about sexuality, morality and values.

For me, one of the most helpful ways to introduce talking about those things has been  the TV show What Would You Do? If you’re not familiar with the show, it employs a hidden, candid camera technique to put random people into morally questionable situations.

It’s wonderful to see fellow human beings stand up for one another in the most unlikely locations. It can also be disheartening to witness the ones who fail to display any sort of backbone, or who unabashedly display some of the ugliest prejudices.

I love it!

My kids love it too and I appreciate how the moral dilemmas presented literally let me ask them What Would You Do?

  • What would you do if you overheard a gay boy coming out to his angry father?
  • What would you do if you witnessed a man publicly berating his wife?
  • What would you do if you saw a white father become angry at his daughter when she introduces her black boyfriend?
  • What would you do if you saw someone shoplifting?
  • What would you do if you witnessed a shop owner refusing to service a minority woman?
  • What would you do if you saw an obviously drunk woman stepping into her car?

When watching with your kids you get to react to people resisting or succumbing to peer pressure; you can observe heroes or cowards and discuss how you’d behave given the circumstances.

Tonight at the dinner table I had a great discussion on homophobia and racism as a direct result of having watched the show with the kids yesterday. And the best part is that it’s not ME bringing it up. It gives me a great chance to gauge their opinions and evaluate the way those are or are not being shaped when they are not with me.

This particular episode took place in Utah and so there was some discussion of the Mormon influence there. It wasn’t clear whether each person in the episode was Mormon or not, but let’s just assume they all were. I’d say in the end it was a wash between the moral, courageous humane ones and the bigoted narrow-minded ones…. probably just like any other community.

Every family should watch this show together. You can catch full episodes HERE

Speaking of parenting via the media. Doing so often makes you discuss touchy subjects you’d rather not. Sometime you should really pay attention to the ratings.

We watched Dinner for Schmucks (PG13) the other night and at one point Steve Carell says, “clitoris” about 3 times. So my kids asked me, “what’s that?”

Ayeyayayayay! Caramba!

Thirteen would have been a much better age to have to talk about that.

What would YOU do?