I have two wonderful children, a daughter who is about to embark upon the world of driving and a son who is in the midst of going through puberty nearing age 12. We’re a normal American family who goes though ups and downs even though we try to stay as positive as possible. One thing is certain in our family and that is our kids shouldn’t be afraid to talk to either my wife or myself about any topic at any time, no matter what.
In the end any parent would hopefully just want their children to be happy. My wife and I want our children to be happy, no matter what that means, as long as they are safe. With so many unhappy teenagers choosing to end their lives because of being bullied about their sexual orientation I know that sometimes it is hard for parents to accept this aspect of life for their kids.
That being said I need to say that whether your child is the victim of being bullied over sexual orientation or if your child is the perpetrator of being bullied, it all starts at home with parents. Attitudes about sexual orientation and morality absolutely begin at home with the first example of behavior our children are exposed to in their lives.
Here are some ideas for how to talk to your kids about sexual orientation, being bullied, and what you can do to be proactive in your children’s lives regarding sexuality. No parent wants their kids to be looking over the precipice of the George Washington Bridge deciding whether to jump or not. A life saved is more important than trying to make your child be straight.
Let Your Kids Know You Love Them
First and foremost you must let your kids know that you love them no matter what. No one, as a parent, wants their children to be afraid of them. No matter what kind of adult your child chooses to be while you have your children under your care it is vital they know love is the overall feeling in your family situation.
That being said, if your child chooses to love someone of the same gender it should be met with the same feeling of love that you felt for your baby the moment they were born. When that child entered into your life you were the world to them. In times of jubilation and crisis since then it has not been any less true. You are still a huge part of your child’s world later on in life as well.
Many parents are fearful of homosexuality for religious reasons. That is completely understandable if you grew up in a religious household and you seek an answer to homosexuality and spirituality. It is a trying subject that organized religion has interpreted in many ways.
It is my both the belief of my wife and I that whatever higher entity created us put us on this earth to love our fellow human beings. Love is the most important emotion and love is the most important way to show each other that we care. Love also includes acceptance of everyone’s right to love in their own way.
Examples in My Own Life
I have an interfaith marriage. Much to the chagrin of my grandparents, my parents, and several aunts and uncles I fell in love with a Catholic girl instead of the dark-haired Jewish girl my parents had originally envisioned. The same was true for my wife when she fell in love with a young man who is Jewish.
Just because my own version of romantic love is one way it does not necessarily follow that my children’s view on love will be the same. We all have had girlfriends or boyfriends as teenagers that our parents didn’t agree with or like.
I view sexual orientation with my children in the same way. Their perspective on love will be different from my own and no matter what the heart sometimes chooses our partners for us without even realizing it. When I first met my wife I couldn’t help it-my heart literally skipped a beat and I had to take a deep breath to calm myself whenever she walked in the room. You must tell your children that being different is okay. Being different isn’t bad, having a different perspective on life isn’t abnormal. In fact, celebrating our differences is the purest expression of being human.
I couldn’t help who I fell in love with. My kids will be the same way. There may be aspects of my daughter’s boyfriend whose personality may be a little rough around the edges but that is not my relationship. My daughter’s dealings with her boyfriend will be her life lessons about love and romance. I can only be here for her when she has questions or difficulties. It is not my place to tell her how she should feel.
Help for Kids and Parents
If you have trouble relating to your children about homosexuality, lesbians, gays, bisexuality, or transgender topics there are several resources that may help. A good place to start is your child’s school counselor. Talking to a licensed counselor will get you a professional opinion about how to talk to your child about a difficult subject.
If you aren’t ready to go to a counselor for help, the Internet is a wealth of good information about how to talk to your children about homosexuality. A good starting point is this article on Education.com about why it is important to talk to your kids about sexual orientation at a young age. There is also a definition of terms and phrases to use that are age-appropriate for your child when you talk about sexual orientation.
My children already know that love is the most important aspect of life. They also know that it is acceptable in this family to fall in love with someone of the same gender. My wife and I both have relatives who are gay or lesbian so if we ever have a need for some practical advice we know who we can contact.
If your children have already come to and told you that they are gay, lesbian or bisexual another good place to start for support is GayFamilySupport.com. There are numerous parents on this website who share their story of what they went through whether it was shock or acceptance of their children.
Bullying and teen suicide regarding sexual orientation has been a huge topic in 2010. Some new support networks have started such as the It Gets Better Project, Love is Louder, and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. All of these websites have good resources and help for both kids and parents. The It Gets Better Project shows celebrities, politicians, and regular kids that being gay or lesbian isn’t something to be ashamed of.
Our children have enough to worry about when they are growing up. Messages from the media and society can sometimes be harsh when our kids see their own committing suicide because they feel hopeless, alone, and unloved. It all starts at home.
No matter what society says about gay marriage, “don’t ask, don’t tell”, or having the same full benefits of being in a committed monogamous relationship as straight people, the love and acceptance of our child’s sexual orientation absolutely and without fail must start at home. Only then can we as parents be in touch with our children and know when they need our help when something goes wrong regarding their sexuality.
Education.com “Why It’s Important to Talk About Sexual Orientation”.
Gay Family Support, “Parents of Gay Children”, GayFamilySupport.com.
“It Gets Better Project”, ItGetsBetterProject.com.
“Love is Louder”, LoveIsLouder.com.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, “GLAAD”, GLAAD.org.