7 Tips for Having a Happy Pride with Your Kids
By Alice Lawlor
Lead photography by agurovic © 123RF.com.
Jun 30, 2016
This piece is from June 2016, written in the days after the tragic event in Orlando.
There’s no denying that Pride is going to be a bit different this year. After the tragic events in Orlando, the celebrations will probably have a slightly different vibe — but not a sad or mournful one. This year, we are more defiant, more united and more determined than ever to show the power of our love. So whether you always take your kids to Pride, or you’re considering taking them for the first time, this is the year to come out (pun intended!) and show your support. Plus, what under-10-year-old doesn’t love an event that’s bursting with rainbows and glitter? I asked my fellow LGBT parents to share their best tips for a safe and fun Pride with your kids.
Explain what you’re seeing, and be ready for questions.
1. Be open-minded. There will bodies of all shapes, sizes and in all states of undress. For parents like Ian Duncan, dad to 3-year-old Carson, this is part of the experience. “We’re not body shamers,” he says. “It all feeds into my son’s emotional intelligence and development. And it’s never too early to think about that.” Consider the experience as a great opportunity for some interesting discussion. Explain what you’re seeing, and be ready for questions.
2. Make it fun. Yes there will be teaching moments, but this should be a fun day out, too. Bring bags for the kids to collect mementoes – stickers, beads and any other treasures they might find. Give each other rainbow manis and pedis the day before. Buy some plain white t-shirts and decorate them with matching rainbow motifs.
Photography by Frank Fennema © 123RF.com
3. Leave the car at home. Whether you’re going at parade time or not, road closures, traffic and lack of parking could mean a frustrating start to what should be a happy day. If you can take public transit or a cab, do it. Bring a baby carrier for little ones and, if you’re planning to be there all day, an umbrella stroller for bigger kids.
"I want our boys to broaden their sense of what a family is and to be reassured that ours is just as special and important as all the other types of families they see."
4. Picture a big crowd, then triple it. If you’re planning on attending the parade, you’ll need to plan ahead. Pack more water and snacks than you think you need. Situate yourself near a bathroom — or know how to reach the nearest one. If your children are big enough to wander off, ensure they can be identified. “Put a sticky label on your kid with your contact information,” says Jessica Keats, mum to 4-year-old Lucas and 1-year-old Amelia. “It only takes a second for little ones to disappear!” Dress kids in matching outfits so you can spot them in a crowd says Sheri Hebdon, mum of Nate, aged 7, and 4-year-old twins Maya and Zev. “Ensure they know your phone number or write it across their tummies with a sharpie,” she says. “Tell them if they get lost to find an adult with kids and get them to call you.”
5. It’s gonna be LOUD. For babies, consider investing in something to protect little ears, such as Baby Banz earmuffs. For everyone else, do your research ahead and figure out where the less crazy-busy areas will be (there are often designated quiet or alcohol-free areas).
Photography by yelo34 © 123RF.com
6. Go early and enjoy the preparations. The mornings of Pride weekend — when last night’s partygoers are still sleeping off their hangovers — can be a great time to soak up the atmosphere. Check out the schedule to see where and when family-themed events are happening, or just take a stroll through the stalls and general hoopla. “Bring a lot of loonies and toonies, and get your kids to put them in the donation boxes,” says Danny Smith, 3-year-old Carson’s other dad. “It’s a great way to show them that this fun event is about fundraising, too.” If you're not planning to see the parade, it can be almost as much fun to station yourself at the beginning of the route to see the floats and performers getting setup.
“Bring a lot of loonies and toonies, and get your kids to put them in the donation boxes. It’s a great way to show them that this fun event is about fundraising, too.”
7. Take a deep breath. Yes, this does sound like a lot of packing and planning. There may be a tantrum or two. But it will be worth it. Julie and Angela Burnett are mums to two busy boys under two — almost 2-year-old Liam and 4-month-old Ben — and they live about an hour’s drive from the city. “Despite the effort of loading up the car with baby and toddler essentials, we always attend because it instills a sense of pride in our children and our family as a whole,” they say. “I want our boys to broaden their sense of what a family is and to be reassured that ours is just as special and important as all the other types of families they see. Pride gives them that.” After all, whether your family is part of the LGBT community or not, who doesn’t want to raise children that grow up to be thoughtful and open-minded allies? Happy Pride!