Talking with Children About Your Sexual Orientation
Sooner or later every gay and lesbian parent has to sit down with their children and talk about their sexual orientation. When it is the right time to talk with children is of course up to each parent to decide but the earlier this conversation is led the better. Why? Because it won’t only help prepare children for potentially unpleasant situations but will also strengthens child-parent bond and mutual trust.
Children are much more aware of their surroundings than they may seem and before you know it, they may start asking why they have two mums or dads rather than one of each. The conversation about your sexual orientation should of course be adjusted to your children’s age and level of understanding but it should above all be based on:
Honesty. It is highly important for your children to understand what means to be homosexual and what having same-sex parents means for their lives. They must be made clear that homosexuality is not a disease and that there is absolutely nothing for them to be ashamed of. They should be presented with the advantages of having two mums or two dads as opposed to a single parent but they should also be discussed about potentially negative realities. It is highly important for them to be aware that sexual orientation of their parents may make them a centre of ridicule, teasing, bullying and discrimination. This is unfortunately a reality and therefore it is crucial for children to be prepared for this possibility.
Understanding. Young children and often also older kids may have difficulties comprehending or/and accepting that their parent is gay or lesbian, especially if they used to live in a heterosexual family. They may be confused but they may also feel angry or scared. Negative reactions aren’t uncommon either. Therefore it is very important to be prepared and approach your children with lots of understanding.
Openness. Talking with children about your sexual orientation shouldn’t be a one way conversation. Be open for questions including unpleasant ones and answer them as honestly as possible. Children may not only have difficulties understanding some things but they may also have wrong perception about homosexuality as a result of misinformation they picked up from their schoolmates or even adults who have prejudices against same-sex parents.
Besides talking with children about your sexual orientation, it is also highly important to show them that it is ok to have same-sex parents with your actions. Children who see their parents in a loving, supportive and mutually-respecting relationship, and are provided with a loving and understanding environment are more likely to grow into happy, self-confident and successful individuals regardless of their parents’ sexual orientation and regardless of the type of family they come from.