How would you respond if your child came out?
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It’s an unusual challenge: This mom had to figure out the best way to respond to her 6-year-old child’s assertions that he is gay. According to Care2.com, Amelia’s son initially identified with gay characters on the sitcom Glee, saying that they are “just like me” because “They don’t like kissing girls. They just kiss boys.”
Amelia assumed that her son would probably “come out” as openly gay later on, but she was surprised when he insisted on declaring that he is openly gay from the age of 7. She responded calmly by telling him that she loves him, no matter what, and has spoken to the boy’s school to make sure that they understand, and that her son doesn’t become victimised or bullied.
The boy’s father also stood up for his son, saying in his blog that:
“I don’t see how a father, or any parent, can look at their son, the one they’ve loved since before the child was even born, and upon hearing him say, “Dad, I’m gay,” turn their back on him. The comments from men much older than me telling stories just like that break my heart. My wife always wants to adopt the teenage kids who write to her; I want to adopt the 60-year-old men who cry when they read that I tell my son how awesome he is. I don’t care if they are as old as my father; they deserve love just as much as anyone else.”
I like that.
What would you do?
I wonder how I would react. If my son came to and said, “Dad, I’m gay”, I don’t know that I’d have a script ready in my head. Some parenting moments are like that. I’d like to think that I’m supportive enough that I’d appreciate his bravery in standing up for himself, and that I’d do everything possible to make him comfortable with his identity.
I’m aware that gays face particular challenges from society, so I’d never deliberately add to those by ostracising him, but I’d definitely have to educate myself by reading and chatting to gay friends in order to make sure I understood how to be more sensitive to the hurdles he’d be facing.
My main goal, I think, would be to get rid of the label: He wouldn’t be my “gay son”, but just “my son”, or, even better, “my awesome son”.
Parents can choose to react in different ways to a child who says he or she is gay: They may react with resistance or denial- by telling the child that they’re confused or wrong, or try and stall the child’s coming out to the world. Parents can also choose to support their child and accept reality.
Although the kid in the story was 7 when he came out, it’s more common that, after a few years of wrestling with his identity, a child will get to the point of acknowledging that he’s gay, and this decision may come with feelings of insecurity, fears about the reactions of friends and relatives, and uncertainty about the bigger picture. An accepting parent will help to defuse at least some of those emotions.
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Do you think the 7-year-old’s parents coped well when their son came out?
By: Scott Dunlop