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Wedding Woes

Proceed with being OK with your kids being who they are

Dear Prudence, 

We are a large family and, I like to think, an open-minded one. My oldest son recently came out as bisexual, which we had long expected. Today our 13-year-old daughter blindsided us by saying she’s a lesbian. This came up in the middle of a lighthearted conversation about whether any of the siblings wanted to have kids someday. We are totally fine with this, and my husband rolled with the whole “You can have kids in many ways” thing. My issue: We live in a very small southern Indiana town. I’m telling her she should be true to herself, but also have to warn her that not everyone will be cool with it—specifically, her grandparents, with whom she’s planning to have a sleepover in the next few days. Plus, I told her that whoever she is is fine with us, but we’re hesitant for her to put a label on herself without a little experience, one way or another. She has led a somewhat sheltered life, but I really respect her for who she is and feel she should live a little before labeling herself. She’s home-schooled and has very minimal experience as far as relationships go. Suggestion on how to proceed?

—Big Gay Family

Re: Proceed with being OK with your kids being who they are

  • climbingwifeclimbingwife NYC 'burbs
    10000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Just because she hasn't "experienced" something, doesn't mean shit. People (especially by 13) know what they are attracted to. Continue to support both of your kids in who they are. 

  • Curious why she seems totally cool with her son being bi but not her daughter being gay? 
  • Just keep being her mom and supporting her.   Don't talk to her as though you doubt her.   Trust that she knows who she is attracted to (I'm thinking of Tess on This Is Us) and at the same time you may want to start talking to her about the real world so she understands that the world has some pockets of assholes that she may encounter in her life and she may need to talk through navigating what it means to grow up and deal with them.
  • Curious why she seems totally cool with her son being bi but not her daughter being gay? 

    I got the impression the LW's concern was more with the daughter's young age in announcing her sexuality than with the fact that she is gay.  Whereas the son may be a lot older, so the LW feels he is more "sure" of his sexuality.

    I'm not saying that's okay!  It is misguided to think she's "too young" or "inexperienced" to know.  That part of their response to her was patronizing.  As if pre-teens don't know the gender(s) they are attracted to. 

    My suggestion to the LW, in addition to apologizing for their assumptions, on "how to proceed?" is...stop home schooling her if you think she is so sheltered that she is having limited interactions with her peers.  To be fair, I'm wondering if the daughter is home-schooled because the closest schools are far away.  The LW mentions they live in a very small town.  But still.  Find some kind of programs for the daughter to interact with people her age.

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  • Lots of people will do the "but how do you know thing?"  So, I think it's time for mom and dad to find a support group of some sort so that they can ask those naive questions to a group used to handling those sorts of things.  It's okay to ask, but once someone points out, "Hey did you have to experiment to know you were straight?  When did you have your first crush?", etc. people realize what they're saying is uneducated and thoughtless.

    Daughter shouldn't have to navigate grandparent issue.  Depending on what daughter wants to do (and son too probably), parents need to run interference between her and grandparents.  If that means helping her hide it for now, or helping her explain to her grandparents, so be it.  That's their job.
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