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Son’s homosexuality comes as a surprise

A mother is shocked by revelations that her 16-year-old son is gay.

QUESTION:

My daughter has told me her brother is homosexual. She said that he doesn’t want anyone, including me, to know.

I am surprised at how shocked and saddened I feel. I thought I had an open mind. I believe people should be free to follow their preferred way of life, so long as it is legal and not harmful to others.

My son is 16, so is it possible he will grow out of it? If this is to be a permanent situation I shall of course be as supportive and loving towards him as it is appropriate to be.

I would like some guidance on how to cope now, and after he tells me.

ANSWER:

Difficult as it must be to receive this information second-hand, it does provide an important opportunity to examine what you have been told, and to prepare for future conversations with your son.

It is common for parents of young people identifying as same-sex-attracted to initially experience some degree of shock and/or grief.

You may experience changes in your perception of your son and the future, causing you anxiety or worry.

Anticipatory grief for future losses such as grandchildren, and fear of discrimination, is also common.

This will moderate as you adjust and realise your child is still the same person, and many of your worries are unfounded.

Many parents report feeling surprised at their own reaction(s) largely due to the ideas we carry such as what is “normal”. Some degree of homophobic ideas and beliefs affect most people, including (it is likely) your own son. Working through these feelings and reactions is important. Consider the possibility that this may be more of a crisis for you than for your son.

It may be helpful to bear in mind that your son has not actually identified himself as gay, to you. When he does confide in you, aim to approach conversations with interest and respect and let your values be the best guide. This will ensure you convey the love and acceptance you have expressed in your letter.

The panel recommends you seek information and support. The following agencies offer valuable help.

PSP Flag SA (Parents Supporting Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) is a South Australian Support group for parents and their children who are gay, lesbian or bisexual. See www.pspflag.org.au or email pspflagsa@hotmail.com. Alternatively contact them via Bfriend at Uniting Communities www.unitingcommunities.org/Bfriend.

SHine SA is the lead sexual health agency in South Australia offering information, networking and education. Phone 1300 794 584, email sexualhealthhotline@health.sa.gov.au or visit the website www.shinesa.org.au

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