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Tips On Coming Out Gay To Kids

May 7, 2008
What could be more emotionally terrifying than telling your kids you are gay or lesbian? For those of us fortunate enough to have raised our kids in a two mom or two dad family, there is really no need to do this. But for those of us who were formerly married and had children, the issues are much different. There may be a distressed or even hostile spouse involved. Children may be older and dealing with their own burgeoning sexuality. The added burden of divorce may compound the stress. Even so, coming out to the kids is one of the most important and sensitive issues you will face. Here are some tips:

Generally, the younger your kids are when you come out, the better. Younger kids are more resilient and have not yet had a chance to develop many of the prejudices that teens or young adults have absorbed from society.

When you do come out, be ready to answer any questions your child might have, as honestly as possible. Make sure you give age appropriate information.

Ask your spouse to give you the courtesy to come out to your kids. It is much better if you do it rather than having them learning it from someone else.

Have a support system in place if things do not go well. Suggestions are reading material, a therapist or resources on the COLAGE website.

If your child does not seem to handle the information well, make sure you meet with the school counselor and let them know what is happening. Also ask them to watch for bullying, if you are in a small community and word has gotten out.

If your child does become upset, give him time to process this big piece of news. Many times after they take a few days to think about it, they will realize you have been a good parent and your sexuality does not matter in your relationship with them.

Be calm and confident when you speak. The more accepting you are of yourself, the more accepting they will be of you.

There are plenty of success stories about coming out to kids. Keep a positive attitude and do reading on the subject first to prepare yourself. Talk to others who have gone through this experience successfully. Chances are you will feel much better when you no longer have to hide this part of yourself from your child. When handled properly, your relationship with your child will likely be strengthened by the honesty you show and your faith in their ability to handle information. Good luck!
About the Author
Pat Cheney is a life coach working with gays and lesbians who are coming out in midlife and with spouses in gay-straight marriages. Pat's website is www.discoveringpride.com.
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