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The Stress of Coming Out

From Audio: OKAY, MY KID IS GAY

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station description Because you come first.
Sex Ed The Musical
Duration: 05:07
Even if a child knows their parent will accept them, coming out may still be hard. A mother shares her story of her child coming out on vacation.
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Supportive or not, coming out of the closet can be hard. How you react to your child when they come out of the closet can be the true test of parenting. Here, one mother details her experience with her child coming out as bisexual.
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So yeah, I've talked to a lot of kids where, you know, with their parents know what's going on, but most kids, they're afraid of what their parents are going to think and how they could possibly judge. And the parents don't realize that that's, you know, the divide that they're giving off. But it's definitely there, I know of at least 10 different families who have recently had a child announce a change in their assumed sexual orientation and it's definitely a test of your parenting skills. Sometimes you see it coming and other times it comes as a complete surprise as it was for this mom. We were on vacation and she just was kind of broody, but that seems typical teenage girl of that age. Um, and as our trip went, she just really started going downhill and I really thought it was mostly just, she was tired and ready to come home and she's kind of a home body and I sort of asked to take a minute with her and her head was just in her hands the whole time we were at lunch and then she just started sobbing and said, I think I might be bisexual, and I just was like, okay, like, well there's no reason to cry about it. Um but I think she was over tired and also had just been holding this thing in and just hadn't told anybody, and it definitely took me by surprise. I didn't expect it at all for any number of reasons, but um, but I want her to be well loved and I want her to love. Well, as far as I know, there's nothing in your life that probably would have made her afraid to come out. You have a very diverse friends, you're obviously very open minded in front of your house that basically says gay people are welcome. I can't imagine that she would be terrified. But that just goes to show how insanely difficult this is for kids, even when they believe that their parents would probably be okay. It's still very very challenging. Yeah. But I also think at that age, not really having had any romantic relationships, it's also just difficult to know where you are in the world. And so to make sort of uh declaration like that, which I think felt very true to her and very honest to her and is true and honest to her. Um I think she had feelings for a friend of hers and that was sort of what this was all more to. Um but it lived in the abstract at that age. You know if you haven't kissed anybody, you haven't been in a relationship with anybody. You know these feelings are coming up but they're sort of untethered. And so she says this to you and then of course you go all right, did she change after that? Did her mood change? I think she was relieved. But I also want to be honest that she was also going through a hormonal shift that 13 year olds go through, you know? So I would love to say yes from that moment on it was rainbows and unicorns, but now, I mean she was really trying to find herself and really trying to find herself in relationship to her friends and I think that was the next hurdle for her was coming out to her friends which took some time for her and then she did and they were very supportive and loving all of that is challenging all at one time. Yeah, I would say now she's she's moving into high school, she feels very much in her skin and spent this entire year evolving and being really loud and proud about her bisexuality and being part of the LGBT community and we just really want to support that. But I certainly have a lot of friends who it didn't go well for. I grew up with people who were desperately trying to come out and whose parents were trying to do conversion therapy and it's painful and it ruins people and it creates an enormous amount of shame for life and I can think of so many other things I would be horrified about her coming to me and who she loves is not one of them. So do you have any advice because you were caught off guard? Right. 100%. 100% had no idea. I've got two kids, this was not the kid I thought was coming to me. Um and again, there's nothing I want more than love for my kid for both of my kids. But that doesn't mean I wasn't taken off guard. And it took me a minute after the fact just to sort of process that what were my expectations, what we're my assumptions, but I think it's really important in the moment as best you can to show up in an open, loving and authentic way as a parent, as an adult, working through your own stuff if there's stuff to be worked through. But showing up authentically and lovingly is for me is the best offering as a parent that I can give my child is that she always has a soft place to fall and now you're p flagging like a boss with the rain.
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