A family is struggling to know how to deal with their son telling them he’s gay and have asked our advice on how to accept this and offer support. Do you have any advice to share in this week’s A Problem Shared?
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My 15-year-old son has told me that he’s gay. I’m not homophobic at all but I keep wondering if we did something wrong. I think I’m in shock to be honest. My husband thinks it’s just a stage he’ll grow out of though but I’m not so sure. I don’t know how to support both my son and my husband.
Our FamilyPoint advice on how to react to their son ‘coming out’ to them
Thank you so much for getting in touch with us here about your concerns for supporting both your son and your husband.
The first thing I want you to acknowledge is how safe, secure, respected and loved both you and your husband must make your son feel for him to be able to share this with you. Many young people do not have this and have to resort to telling lies and hiding who they truly are, this must be a very unhappy way to live.
Dealing with the shock
It’s understandable that you’re a little shocked. This of course does not make you homophobic. Some parents will say that they always knew and they were just waiting for their young person to feel comfortable to tell them. For some, like you, it will be a bolt from the blue. This feeling will pass in time as you gain a greater understanding of what this might mean for you son.
Often parents say that they think it is a phase that will pass. Do you think your husband might be saying this because he finds the reality too difficult to accept maybe?
Don’t dismiss his feelings
Growing up can of course be confusing in particular where feelings are concerned. Your son telling you that he’s gay will most probably have taken a lot of courage. If your husband dismisses it as a phase it might make your son feel like he’s not been taken seriously. This could lead to his confidence being undermined, which in turn may make him less likely to talk to you both about important stuff in the future.
Learn to live with it
If it is however that your husband just ‘doesn’t agree with it ‘ then that is of course another thing. The reality is though, if he’s got a problem with the idea of your son being gay, he’s going to have to learn to live with it and accept it. The best thing you can both do is to focus on your son as a whole person. His sexuality is just one part of him. As loving supportive parents, your main wish will be for him to be happy. Your husband may need to realise that if his son is gay, there is no way he can be ‘turned straight’. If he rejects him because of his sexuality their relationship will be damaged, perhaps irrevocably. This would also of course put pressure on your relationship both with your son and your husband.
Did you do something wrong?
You mentioned also that you thought you might have done something wrong. This again is a common reaction. I can promise you however that there is no link between how young people are brought up and the experiences they have and the likelihood of them being gay. Gay people grow up in all sorts of families and come from all sorts of backgrounds. There’s nothing you did/didn’t to influence your son’s sexuality. You have however influenced how likely your son was to tell you about it, and how they feel about it, by creating the sort of loving, supportive and respectful environment where they think they can.
Talk and research
As time progresses there may be other questions or concerns that you have. Speak to your son; he may be able to put your mind at ease straightaway. However, there is help out there too if you want to do a bit of research yourself. Stonewall, are an organisation that provide information, advice and support for anyone from the LGBT community. They also have a booklet with answers to some of the questions/concerns that you may have as parents of a gay son. You could share this with your husband to support him through this too.
If you would like further information on national or local support services, then you can contact us at FamilyPoint Cymru via phone 0300 222 57 57, text 07860 052 905, or IM/Chat. We are open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.
Hope that helps.
The FamilyPoint Team
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