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So your adult child is gay: 7 practical steps to take now Hot Conversation

As a parent whose daughter came out at 17, while I was in the midst of divorcing her father (after 21 years) I can offer some practical tips that helped me–and I hope that they help you.

  1. Immediately begin the process of trying to let go of your dreams for her, most of which our Cinderella society has given you.
    She may never walk down the aisle in the fluffy white dress. And if she does, it will NOT be to meet Prince Charming at the altar. Learn to accept that this was your dream and not hers. Once you come to terms with it(and hurry) then use it to open the communications door with her. “OK, I’ve gotten over myself about the Cinderella wedding thing, Tell me what YOUR dreams for your future are…”
  2. Let her know that you recognize that she is still the little girl you’ve always loved, but ask for her patience as you work through her newly revealed life script.
    And don’t be afraid to let her know what you are having trouble with–she may be able to help you since she has clearly thought about this for a much longer period of time than you. Understand that there may be places where you will need to agree to disagree–which happens anyway. Just be careful that those places do not amount to denial of who she really is.
  3. As you are sorting through your own thoughts on the situation, play a small mind game with yourself: would you be raising this or that issue if it she were hetero?
    This is especially important as you are presented with her partner choices. Not all of them will be good for her and as her mother you have a right to have these opinions. And when/if you choose to express them to her, preface the conversation with “I would be saying this to you if Roberta were Robert….”. She may not believe you at first, but I bet she will eventually.
  4. Read Ellen Degeneres’s mother’s first book, Love, Ellen: A Mother/Daughter Journey.
  5. Try PFLAG if one is near you
    .
    However, know that many of the participants may be having a really hard time with their issue–and may end up dominating the meetings while you get zero out of them. Don’t be afraid to walk away. You are in this for you and your daughter, period. Whatever helps, do it. If it doesn’t help, dump it.
  6. Meet her friends.
    Go to a Pride event (they are usually in June). What you will almost certainly find is that the vast majority of the gay/lesbian community is the same as everyone else except for this one issue. They want to be self-supporting, homeowning, caring members of the community in which they live. If they have chosen to have children, they want to be the best parents possible.
  7. Be prepared to see some friendships fade away because others may be unable and/or unwilling to accept gayness as the same reality as red hair.
    They may insist that it is a moral issue, with the obvious implication that you have somehow failed that part of your parenting responsibility. See #5 above and move on with your life. Your real friends will be there for you both.

Posted in family & relationships, live it! lists.

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14 Responses

  1. Scribbler Scribbler says

    This good advice – further take action for support by signing the pledge – one does not have to be Jewish to do so and if only one life is saved then it’s worth it, how many more can we impact? Plenty!

    http://jewishcommunitypledge.org/further-action/

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    • azul azul says

      Scribbler, here is the original site for It Gets Better and the pledge there.  I have signed the pledge and feel it is a very worthwhile cause. One we have to win.  Equality and respect for all people.

      http://www.itgetsbetter.org/page/s/pledge/

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    • Generic Image flashnomad says

      Thanks for this post and link!  I invite everyone to sign this pledge and forward it to all friends and family as part of the holiday season.  Here is the link to sign the pledge:

      http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/1285/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=2580

      It is time that each one of us realizes that we need to make a stand for gender equality.  It we just sit silently on the sidelines, we participate in supporting an atmosphere of hate.  Let’s let all our friends who are dealing with this issue know that we are on the side of their children.  No parent should ever feel that they or their children will be ostracized or mistreated due to their gender choices.

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  2. Generic Image cnelson2007 says

    Since coming out my daughter is a happier more contented person which means she is so much fun to be with. I can’t tell you how much our relationship has improved as we can now all be our real selves. Revel in reality!

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    • Generic Image flashnomad says

      We bring up our children to be responsible, independent and true to their own selves.  So neither we nor anyone else should criticize them for making the choices that are true to their own nature.

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  3. Generic Image Sherida says

    My son came out to us several years ago. Somehow he had gotten it into his head that because we were active in the church (ELCA Lutheran) we wouldn’t love him any more. We both made it crystal clear to him that he was our son, and that nothing could ever change how much we love him. He had been bullied horribly, and we took a very hard line. If people could not accept that his being gay was not a choice, or if they felt that they had to counsel us about “changing” him, we simply told tham that we had no room for them in our lives. We now have many more friends, and he has a huge support system. The best part? This support system/network of good friends has also helped a friend whose child was very sick, another when she herself faced serious illness and we all celebrate every good thing that happens in our children’s lives. The best advice I got was take the time to mourn your lost dreams.

    The best part? Frankly, he had the world’s worst taste in girlfriends, and his taste in guys has been SO much better. He is now engaged to a wonderful man and I think they will be very happy together.

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  4. Generic Image Joellen Hodge says

    When my son said he was gay, it was a lot easier to hear than when his doctors said he was a paranoid schyzophrenic…Look, you have loved  them through every childhood disease, every red faced fart at the dinner table and even calling you a bitch when you called for a curfew.  Love them, hug them, accept that no matter what YOU want, they are going to be themselves.  

    If your son cross dresses and your daughter prefers to date a cheerleader rather than be one, so be it.  Enjoy your child as long as possible.  You may lose them any moment…and you will forever regret that you did not accept him/her.

     

    I accepted my child as he was…and can always hold that close to my heart.  He knows somewhere inside himself, what little is left of his mind, that I love him unconditionally.

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  5. Generic Image Joellen Hodge says

    see corrected message below

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  6. Generic Image pattyb says

    Reassuring your gay child of your unconditional love is critical.  Their life will be tough enough without knowing that, no matter what, you are there for them.  I’m closer to my 32 year old, happily gay son than I have ever been and met some truly remarkable people thru him.

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  7. Generic Image Nettiedogg says

    I came out of the closet to my family and friends when I was 36 years old. I knew I liked girls from about the age of 10 (1968), but held it in to try and conform with what society accepted and what I was taught, as being morally correct. The one person I really didn’t want to disrespect or disappoint…was my mother. She was the first person I told and her response (at 75 yrs old) was, “As long as you’re happy, I am happy for you. I may not agree with your lifestyle, but I will never disrespect you or any woman you choose to have a relationship with.” That was music to my ears! Now, at 91 years old, I know she has never been thrilled about the choice I made, but she has always been my strongest supporter.

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    • sunny sunny says

      My son came out to us at 19 years old and said that he has known since he was 14 that he was gay.  My husband was totally beside himself and it was hard on me but I told my husband “he is my son, I love him and I will accept him and whoever he brings into our home because I could never live with the alternative”.  My son who is now nearly 22 is a great person and we are very close.     I would like to add that in the 70′s I had a cousin that married a man of a different race than our family.  The whole family thought how terrible but I realized, just recently, that she was raised in a home with good morals and values and she too has passed onto her children the same good morals and values.  She and her husband are both successful and have raised 2 great children who are also successful.  I told my husband that we raised our son with good morals and values and therefore we should not worry that the person he brings home will be any less and so far he (our son)  has not disappointed us.

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  8. mommyrankin mommyrankin says

    Being a mom of a gay daugher, I feel lucky to have her wife in my family, may all of you be so lucky!

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  9. Bea Bea says

    My son came out to me in his mid 30s after being with a woman for many years. No, I didn’t want my son to have yet one more hurdle to climb in his already challenged life; no one wants their son or daughter to be ridiculed or worse. Sure, I worry, because he is quite an alternative to all lives, but I love him and it’s his life. Sure, it’s hard to understand at times, but he’s still the loving son he’s always been. I don’t care what persuasion he is; he’s mine and I love him. I know he’ll be there for me when I’m old and senile and he deserves his mother to be there for him all the time. It’s not our life and our children deserve to choose what they want and understand who they are and get comfortable with their skin. Thanks for some excellent insights, Silverfox!

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