Some parents may find it very difficult to discover their child is homosexual. Common reactions on learning that your child is homosexual include shock, disbelief, disappointment, sorrow, guilt and confusion.
Furthermore, parents also may also feel as though they have done something wrong, that their way of parenting was inappropriate or that they have failed in some way. Some feel embarrassed about other people finding out, or worried about how others will react.
On the other hand, parents may feel joy, proud and contentment with the good communication with the family.
Below are answers to common questions we are asked about parenting gay children:
Why did my child choose to be gay?
- Being gay is not a simply a choice. Sexual orientation comes from within a person, and is part of a person’s whole being. It is not caused by anything parents have done, and can’t be changed by anything parents do. The choice your child has made to come out means that he is ready to accept who he is and live happily.
Is it a phase?
- It is a normal part of development for a child or teenager to feel unsure about their sexuality. However, if your child tells you he or she is gay, then he or she is usually sure that is how he or she is. When they tell you ‘I am sure’, they need you to believe and support them.
Why didn’t our child tell us earlier?
- For a child to tell his parent that he is gay takes great courage. He may feel worried about hurting you or feeling guilty about you losing some of your dreams, such as natural grandchildren. The main reason young people withhold this information for so long is fear of rejection by parents, or other family and friends. The longer it takes to come out, the more this fear grows.
Is my child different now?
- Your child has not changed just because she has told you about her sexuality. There are many parts to your child that you know and love that have not changed, such as what she does, what she likes, and the many things that make up the person that she is.
Coming to terms with these changes
- Whatever your response is, you will be grieving in some way because every change involves some loss (as well as some gain).
- You might find it helpful to talk it over with people who understand what you are going through.
- Coming to grips with this information and accepting it takes time and there are no hard and fast rules as to how long it will take. It is different for everyone and there is no one right way.
The number one thing is to make sure that your kids are safe and accepted no matter what they do – it’s that unconditional love that they need. Try not to become too attached to the future in terms of the fulfilment of your own hopes and dreams. Be supportive of the individual choices your children make, and just see what happens.
The Quirky Kid Clinic can help parents and families with communication strategies as well as dealing with common issues that may arise when a family member communicates his sexuality. For more information, book to our ‘Sort it out’ workshop or please contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.