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.
Kimberley O’Brien, our principal child psychologist, discussed sexual identity and homosexuality amount children with reporter Justine Davies from Essential Baby. You can find more information on how to discuss sexuality with your children by visiting our resources page or discussing it on our forum.
The Quirky Kid clinic runs a workshop called ‘Sort it out” that discuss sexuality and family communication. You can book online.
You can read the full article at ‘Essential Baby website.’
If you have a story and would like to discuss it with us, please contact us to schedule a time. Kimberley O’Brien enjoys sharing the best of her therapeutic moments with the media. View our media appearances to-date.
For most parents, getting children to eat vegetables can sometimes be a difficult task. Dinner table tantrums and cries of distaste are a familiar scene to many households, leaving parents to come up with clever ways to coax vegetables into fussy tummies. From hiding vegetables in children’s meals to dramatic battles between wills, (“no you can’t leave the table until those carrots are gone!”), these techniques can be exhausting and certainly, exasperating. In response, we have prepared the following fact sheet with suggestions for taking a different approach.
Tips for Parents:
Instead of trying to force your children to eat vegetables, encourage them to simply try them, individually. If your child doesn’t like a certain vegetable, try to maintain a positive attitude and do not get upset. Consistently encourage your child to try a new vegetable. Through this trial and error process, your child will likely discover some vegetables that they can, at the very least, tolerate.
Teach your child about the nutritional value of vegetables. While your child may not like them, it is still important that children understand why they are necessary to eat. This may make them more inclined to eat vegetables in the future.
Try to work around your child’s individual tastes. Most children do not hate ALL vegetables. Experiment with creative recipes using some of your child’s favourites.
Tricks for parents:
Make vegetables the most easily accessible snack to your child. This may mean keeping pre-cut vegetables in the fridge or on the table. When children are hungriest, they may be inclined to eat the vegetables that they wouldn’t otherwise choose.
Make your child familiar with vegetables by serving them in some form at every meal.
Add additional vegetables to ready-made packaged foods. This will add some nutrients to the meal without largely changing the taste.
Serve vegetables with salad dressing or sauce for dipping. When children can use these sauces to mask the taste of the vegetables, they may be more willing to eat them.
Cook with vegetable based sauces whenever possible. This way, children consume a serving of vegetables without even realizing it.
When grocery shopping, let your children choose their favorite vegetables, and get them involved in the meal preparation. When children are given input and their preferences are considered, they may be more willing to eat the meals that are prepared.
Practices to avoid:
Avoid constantly trying to hide vegetables in everyday foods. If your child notices the hidden vegetables, they may feel deceived and distrustful about future meals. Also, children need to recognize that vegetables are part of everyday foods. This way, they can identify the importance of vegetables in daily eating.
It is often said that children seem to be growing up quicker than ever before. In light of this phenomenon, parents can feel both confused and conflicted when it comes to their child’s independence. They wonder at what ages certain events should be permissible, and how much freedom is appropriate. We have prepared some useful information below as well as a video from one of Kimberley’s appearances on the Today Show
When Should my Child be Able to:
Sleep at a Friends House (7+): Sleepovers should only be encouraged if children are in a good night time routine at home. It’s also important for both sets of parents to meet and establish certain ground rules before a sleepover, so that you can be sure that your child is going to be both comfortable and safe in these new surroundings. There is often at least a six-month build up to a sleep over both for the child and the parents. While going to a birthday could be at the start of a friendship, a sleep over is often a step up from that.
Go out Unchaperoned (14+): That first trip to the movies without Mum or Dad is now almost a rite of passage for children. On average, children between the ages of 13 to 16 are allowed to go out to a public place, only if they are being dropped off and then picked up. After that, daytime trips to the shops or movies where they make their own way there by themselves, is often determined on the basis of whether it feels safe and reasonable for all family members.
Get their own Mobile (16+): Parents are not encouraged to purchase a mobile phone for their child under the age of 16. It is important that children are made aware that phones are expensive, and it is recommended that they have a part time job to contribute to the cost of their mobile. This way, children are able to learn the value of money and develop a sense of responsibility.
Have their own Email (16+): There can be a lot of pressure for parents to give in and allow their children to have their own email account. However, all the media attention that has been given to internet predators isn’t just hype. Experts recommend that children be carefully monitored on the internet up until the age of 16. A good idea is for you to have a shared family account that your children can email their friends from. That way, parents can control the situation and know exactly who their child is communicating with. Installing a ‘Net Nanny’ type device (that blocks certain websites) is also essential if your children are going to be surfing the net.
Wear Make-up (depends on the occasion): While most parents would agree that wearing a dusting of sparkly eye shadow to a fairy-themed birthday party is perfectly acceptable, plastering on a full face of make-up is an entirely different matter. Also, while make-up may be okay for special celebrations, wearing make-up everyday shouldn’t be allowed while children are still at school.
Although children need not be given full independence, despite their clear desire at times, it is recommended that children are consulted on major issues that effect their lives. While it is ultimately the parents’ decision, asking your children to give their opinion, helps them feel that their views are valued. This often helps make children feel more comfortable in novel situations. For example, kids may feel less apprehensive about starting a new school if they help choose which school they would be attending.
If you would like some assistance in establishing independence with your child, please contact us. Some of our resources are very useful for establishing good communication with your child. You can purchase them at our online shop
Information for this fact sheet was sourced from Kimberley O’Brien, Child Psychologist, and the Raising Children Network
Kimberley O’Brien and Jacqui Olsson attended a seminar on Assessment and Treatment of Abusive families on Tuesday, 16th November 2009. The seminar was presented by Dr Chris Lennings, an expert who has been working in this field for over 30 years.
Topics covered in the seminar included an examination of the victims of abuse, the effects abuse has on the family, how to assess abuse, and providing treatment for both victims and perpetrators.