Explaining Question 6 to a 7-Year-Old

Question 6 might not be a big deal for you but it's a HUGE deal for our family.


“Mommy what is this… vote for Question 6?” my youngest says to me on our way out of the door to school.

“Um, it’s a yard sign. Come on we are running late. Get your book bag.”

“But what does it mean? What is Question 6?” he asks with urgency.

I pause. It seems like every important conversation happens when we are rushing out the door or driving and I can’t focus. This time I stop in my tracks because I realize in this moment that school can wait; this is an important conversation for our family. It deserves my full attention.

“You know how when you take a test, there are a bunch of questions?”

He nods, his eyes are on me, and he’s paying full attention. I take a deep breath unsure of how exactly I’m going to explain this, and in a split second I remind myself “simplicity is key."

I feel like I did as a child jumping off a high dive for the first time, not knowing what will happen or how to go about it.

“Well when adults vote for the new president, there are other questions we have to vote on as well. This year there is a question, question number six, about same sex marriage. And we want people to vote for it, so that couples can get married in Maryland.”

I can see the confusion spreading across his furrowed brow. I jump right back in….

“You know how me and mommy got married in Washington, D.C.? Well this question 6 is for couples, like me and mommy, to get married in Maryland. Right now it’s not legal and we want it to be legal.”

“What do you mean? It’s against the law for you and mommy to be together?” The confusion on his face is changing to panic.


“Are you going to go to jail?” his voice is starting to get that quiver in it like he’s about to cry and he’s blinking his blue eyes furiously in order to keep the tears from falling.

“No sweetie. No one is going to jail. Some people don’t think that same sex couples should be able to get married like couples who are a man and woman.”

“I don’t understand. You’re my mommies.”

“And this question won’t change anything. We will all still be a family. Right now in our country two mommies can only get married in certain places, certain states, and we want mommies to get married in every state. But change takes time. And some people are really scared of change. Did you know that a long time ago people with dark skin were not allowed to marry people with white skin? Did you know that?”

“Like Miranda’s* mom and dad?”

“Exactly. A long time ago it was illegal for Miranda’s* mom and dad to get married and have kids. But now it’s not. And that’s a good thing. Some people sweetie, don’t understand that love is love regardless of the color of your skin or if you are two mommies. Do you understand?”

“Yeah I think so.”

He grabs his book bag, and we start to make our way to the car. My oldest son changes the tone of the morning by reenacting the Ninjago television episode he was previously watching before this conversation began.

As we pull into the school parking lot, my youngest son who has been eerily quiet the entire ride to school says, “Mommy I’m going to say a bad word.” I don’t realize at the time that I’m holding my breath, and I’m unable to stop him.

“Those people that don’t vote for Question 6 are just STUPID! People should be able to love whoever they want, and you and mommy are the best mommies, so it shouldn’t matter that you are both girls.”

I exhale, drawing him into my body and hugging him so tightly. And in that moment, I know that I’m doing a pretty incredible job raising boys who will become compassionate, open-minded men. And I say a quick prayer hoping that there are more parents like me who stop and explain these issues to their kids so we can change the way the next generation views love.

* Child's name has been changed to protect privacy.

Gretchen Schock is a mom, a writer and a yoga instructor. Check out her creative writings and crafty goodness on her blog, www.CocktailMom.com. Or come to a yoga class and be inspired! 

Jackie October 23, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Great job Gretchen. Keep up the good work. We hope Question 6 passes.
Gretchen Schock October 23, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Thanks for reading and commenting Jackie.
Amethyst Dwyer October 23, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Great story, Gretchen!! Aaaaah, the wisdom of babes........ Please vote YES on Question 6!!!!!
Gretchen Schock October 23, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Thank you Amethyst for reading!
tack8 October 23, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Hoping praying and crossing my fingers that it passes! great story.
Scott Wythe October 23, 2012 at 03:30 PM
I would vote yes for Question 6 if I still lived in Maryland. My daughter is 14 and supports same sex marriage despite a Catholic upbringing. But neither one of us calls those who oppose it stupid.
Tamarra Thomas October 23, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Great story Gretchen!
Raven October 23, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Awesome job Gretch!! So proud of you.
Gretchen Schock October 23, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Thank you for reading. And keep those prayers coming and fingers and toes crossed. Be well.
Gretchen Schock October 23, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Thank you for reading. I think everyone can admit that when in the heat of the moment, when your emotions are running high, you have engaged in name calling at some point in your life. My son is seven, we clearly don't promote name calling in our house which is obvious by his declaration that a bad word = stupid. There are many other seven year olds that think the s-word is something else entirely. Be well.
Gretchen Schock October 23, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Thank you for reading. Please share it with your friends on Facebook.
Gretchen Schock October 23, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Thank you for reading Raven!
J.C. October 23, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Calling people who don't agree with you stupid is so open-minded and compassionate. Great job!
Gretchen Schock October 23, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Thank you for reading J.C. I think everyone can admit that when in the heat of the moment, when your emotions are running high, you have engaged in name calling at some point in your life. My son is seven, we clearly don't promote name calling in our house which is obvious by his declaration that a bad word = stupid. There are many other seven year olds that think the s-word is something else entirely. Being open minded is accepting of all people. Hopefully you are openminded as well and treat everyone you meet with compassion as me and my family do.
Misty October 23, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Loved the article Gretchen! I also find it interesting that what some people are taking away from it is the fact that your son used the word "stupid". My kids think a whole variety of things are stupid...homework, bedtime, mean people. Trust me, if Ali warned me she was going to say a bad word and all she said was stupid, I'd call it a win. Doesn't make either of us bad parents. But some people I guess would rather not see the big picture. Keep up the good work!! :-)
RASF October 23, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Your "7 Year Old" is enlightened, smart, and right-on-the-money; a testament to both of his Mommies' wisdom and living example of universal acceptance. Have to add that 'car talks' are invariably important and often magical: I know, through my own mothering experiences. Last, KUDOS to your for explaining Question 6 so beautifully "on the fly." Keep up your fine work, Gretchen! RASF
Julia October 23, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Oh for goodness' sake, commenters JC and Scott. A seven year-old who hears that some people think his mothers shouldn't be allowed to be married and says that's "stupid"out of hurt and frustration is not an example of an intolerant person without compassion! That is the most backwards logic I've ever heard. Seven year-olds don't have the sophisticated vocabulary that adults do to express their feelings and thoughts. Z is a tender and thoughtful young man (yes, I know him) but again- he's SEVEN and just had his world rocked by the revelation that some people don't think his family is valid. Put your focus where it belongs.
Gretchen Schock October 23, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Thank you for reading Misty, you had me laughing out-loud.
Gretchen Schock October 23, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Thank you for reading RASF, I wish I had a hidden camera in my car to truly capture the conversations we have while on the road. It would make a great documentary!
Gretchen Schock October 23, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Julia thank you so much for reading and pointing our the obvious to others. The focus is not on the fact that a seven year old was angry and scared and used the word "stupid". The real focus needs to be on the issue of equality for all people regardless of who they love. One of my favorite signs during Greenbelt Labor Day Festival this year was the one that read: "I didn't vote on your marriage!"
jr October 23, 2012 at 09:32 PM
I totally agree~ another GREAT article Gretchen! The quote below is from a radio ad by Dr. Julian Bond, who served for 11 years as Chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and now serves as the organization's Chairman Emeritus. "I know a little something about fighting for what's right and just. Maryland's gay and lesbian families share the same values. And they should share in the right to marry. I believe people of faith understand this isn't about any one religious belief - it's about protecting the civil right to make a lifelong commitment to the person you love. Join me in supporting Question 6. It's the right thing to do."
Dawn Mooney October 24, 2012 at 01:26 AM
I've had similar conversations with my 6 year old daughter in recent times, and I love the simplicity of it all in our kids' minds-- what do you mean two grown-ups who love each other CAN'T get married?? While I'm frustrated that we're being called upon to VOTE for basic civil rights, I'm obviously hopeful that this passes in MD, and does so with a huge margin, to demonstrate that the majority in our state recognize that love is love, and rights are rights!
Polly October 25, 2012 at 11:28 AM
OMG! You did it again. Another outstanding story about raising children in a open minded, loving, compassionate way. Your stories often take me back to when my son was little. I remember so vividly all the times the most profound questions or statements came out his mouth while I was driving! I called them "Zingers" as in, he zings me while I'm trying to concentrate on driving. But, like you I had to stop, breathe and concentrate on the issue and respond to it accordingly. He seldom zinged me while we were doing nothing but enjoying each other's company. I just sent my absentee ballot in and I voted for Question 6. It's the right thing to do and above all else everyone should have the right to love who the love and have it recognized. Be well.
Gretchen Schock October 26, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Thank you for reading JR and for sharing that quote.
Gretchen Schock October 26, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Thank you for reading Dawn. I too wish more adults shared a child-like simplicity to life in general. Every child in both of my son's classes are so excepting of the two moms as parents idea, if only the rest of the world could be that open-minded.
Gretchen Schock October 26, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Thank you so much for voting FOR question 6! And for reading and commenting Polly. I love the "zingers"...I'm going to start calling those moments exactly that. Be well.
Chris Hill October 26, 2012 at 08:46 PM
"It's a question about whether or not it's okay for men to marry men and women to marry women." What is so difficult about that? People act like kids are these fragile little creatures that you have to bull*** when it comes to stuff like this. They're human beings who like being treated with respect. "It's a yard sign." And WHY exactly do with live in this tight-butt society with all these close-minded conservative nitwits?
KCMaryland October 27, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Wonderful article! Your son sounds wise beyond his years.
Gretchen Schock October 31, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Thank you KC, I've often thought the same thing about my boys.
michelle klimas November 03, 2012 at 10:59 AM
I must say WTG young man, I am a woman whom is in a relationship with a man and have always been with men HOWEVER That's me I am not in anyway the one to tell you whom you can or can't love or marry. I am so so glad that my mom taught us that all of us are the same inside we just look at things and feel things different but none are wrong. How in the world can or should I say why is this any of others business you fall in love with whomever you fall for and my goodnes no one can pick n choose who you fall for. I honestly say you go both of you mommies and love your children and live happy cause my goodness you sure deserve to. I honestly hope and pray it does change and I also hope they learn to worry about what's going on in behind there doors and leave others alone. God luvs us all and if your not him BUG OFF I wish you all the best


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