Usually the question arises of how to handle your children coming out to you, but what do you do as a parent when you realize later in life that you have same-sex sexual preferences and are ready to come out to your children?
The first thing you should know is there is no right or wrong way to come out to your kids. However, before you take this step, it’s important that you come to grips with your sexual orientation on your own because your children will take their cures from you. If you are comfortable and fully accepting of who you are, then you are ready to share this news with your family and these eight tips can make that process easier.
- Tell Your Children In A Private Setting. This creates a safe space for all reactions that can be explored privately and where your conversation can be confidential.
- Allot Enough Time For The Conversation. You want to leave enough time to fully have the conversation and to give your children the opportunity to ask all of their questions. Also understand that this is not a one and done conversation. There will be many discussions and you may be the one to have to keep it going. Remember, it is better to talk than not to talk and it is incumbent upon you to keep an open line of communication with your children.
- Prepare Yourself For A Variety Of Reactions. Reactions could range from shock to anger to no response. You know your child best, so allow them the space to process the information the way that works best for them. Some may ask you a billion questions, some may need time to think and process by themselves, and some may exhibit a combination of all of the above. Whatever they need to do to process this information, give them the space, respect, and time to do that.
- Listen. Understand that sharing this information with your children is as much about them as it is about you. Listen to their concerns, reactions, and questions and ask them questions if they aren’t sure how to react. Determine what they understand about LGBTQIA people and the LGBTQIA lifestyle.
- Practice. This may be one of the most important conversations you have with your children and naturally you may feel nervous about how to approach the conversation. If you do, practice with a trusted friend, write it down, talk to friends who have gone through a similar situation.
- Talk On Their Level. Speaking at an age-appropriate level is critical to ensuring your children’s understanding. Talk about the many forms love can take and what attraction to people of the same sex means.
- Give Them A Supportive Community. Introduce them to other children with LGBTQIA parents. Research shows that when children feel they are not alone and are supported by a community of people who are similar to them, they are more resilient and adaptable. Make sure they don’t feel alone and that they know they are part of a caring community of peers, where they are safe, supported, and able to express themselves.
- Shower Them With Love. Like most major revelations and changes in life, children will always wonder and worry if things are their “fault” and that somehow, as a result of this revelation, things will be different. Reassure them that when it comes to them, nothing has changed, that you love them the same, and that they are still your number one priority. Explain to them that you are happy, whole, and living your best life and that this self-realization regarding your sexuality and preferences is only about you. What they need most from you at this point is attention, regular communication, consistency, and love.
Even though coming out is about you and your identity, it is also bigger than you and will affect your children. As soon as you know, share it with your children, it is better that they hear it from you rather than from any other person or source. If you have multiple children, strive to tell them at the same time. This will allow them to process the revelation together and will remove the possibility of awkwardness for the children who know in terms of keeping secrets from the ones who don’t. Do your best to make your disclosure a positive experience, be confident in yourself when you tell them, and know that your child loves you.