by David-Elijah Nahmod
A former Bay Area resident who wrote a successful book for gay dads is back with another self-help guide for those with parenting questions.
Eric Rosswood's "The Ultimate Guide for Gay Dads: Everything You Need to Know About LGBTQ Parenting But Are (Mostly) Afraid To Ask" is newly published and aims to answer questions faced by gay men who want to be dads or are new to fatherhood.
Rosswood now lives in White Plains, New York with his husband, Mat Rosswood, and their 4-year-old son, Connor.
"When we first started talking about starting a family, we didn't know if we wanted to do adoption, foster care, or surrogacy," Rosswood said. "We tried researching online, but it was difficult to find a resource that compared all of the possibilities, and what we did find was mostly from the perspective of agencies or professionals. I wanted to know more from the perspective of other LGBT parents who went through the journey themselves.
"Since I couldn't find it, I wrote it myself. I collected stories from numerous other same-sex parents and had them write about what went well, what went bad, and what they wish they would have known before they started," he said.
That effort resulted in his first book, "Journey to Same-Sex Parenthood: Firsthand Advice, Tips and Stories from Lesbian and Gay Couples," which was published last year.
But being a parent presents itself with constant joys and problems, which are what Rosswood tackles in the new book.
"After we had our son, I realized that gay dads had to deal with so many issues on a day-to-day basis that straight parents don't," he said. "I wrote 'The Ultimate Guide for Gay Dads' to cover critical information specifically relevant to gay parents such as: What legal steps do gay dads need to take in order to protect their families? How can you find LGBT-friendly pediatricians or schools? What is the best way to answer awkward and prying questions about your family from strangers?"
These are just some of the questions that Rosswood answers. He emphasized that his books are available for all who need them, but that they are not meant to suggest that all LGBTQ people should opt for suburban family lives.
"I think that's a personal question and each person should do what makes them happy," he said. "For me, nothing makes me happier than being with my family."
Rosswood also pointed out that, though written from his own perspective as a gay man, there's information in his books, especially the first one, which also benefits lesbian couples.
"The first parenting book I wrote will help any same-sex couple looking to start a family regardless of what gender they are," he said. "While there is definitely some overlap with what gay and lesbian parents experience, there are also a lot of differences, too."
For example, Rosswood said the new book looks at how gay men support a daughter who's going through puberty, such as bra shopping and buying tampons.
"Also, gay men get asked very different questions from strangers than lesbian parents," he said.
Society seems to understand when a woman is alone with a baby, Rosswood said, but when it's a man, questions often arise, such as "Where's the mother?"
"I personally got asked that question every single time I went out alone with our son until he was about 2 years old," he said.
"Men get asked questions like, 'How did you get stuck with the kid?' and 'Are you babysitting?'" Rosswood added. "Again, these questions come from random strangers in places like the grocery store, the dry cleaners, the park, and the mall, and is often the first thing out of their mouth before even saying hello."
Gay dads often have to make a decision.
"If we choose to answer these questions, it opens the door for a ton of other questions, like, 'Which one of you is the real dad?'" Rosswood said.
The parenting books are especially needed, Rosswood believes, now that President Donald Trump and anti-LGBT Republicans run the country. He pointed to a New York Times piece about how much support same-sex parents can expect from the current administration.
"Mr. Trump's original plan for six weeks of maternity leave, released during the campaign when he was struggling to gain support among women, excluded fathers, adoptive parents, and gay couples," the Times reported. "The new plan, which also offers six weeks of paid leave, covers adoptive parents and fathers. Officials did not immediately say whether it would include gay or lesbian couples."