During the wild journey of discovering the rainbow, coming out to the kids was a nerve-racking experience for my gay husband, Rainbow. After scouring the internet and speaking to others in similar situations, these are the 6 tips for coming out to kids we found most helpful.
First, let me say both of my kids have been raised with an openminded approach to living and loving others. For various reasons, this is not always the case in childhood.
Yet, after my experiences, I strongly encourage all parents to gain a better understanding of homosexuality and discuss it through the lens of agape love. Explaining gay with non-judgemental love allows children the ability to form their own opinion when they are ready while helping prevent hate crimes against individuals that are different.
6 Tips for Coming Out to Kids
If you are in a similar situation to Rainbow and want to tell your kids, “I’m gay.”, here are some tips for sharing the news.
1) Now IS the right time.
Kids are never too young or too old to be told their parent is gay. Kids understand and feel lies (even unspoken ones) better than we know. My son’s reaction to divorce was telling. Hiding the truth only causes unanswered questions and more problems.
2) Share privately and in person.
This isn’t the time to make a public announcement. After all, I would never feel the need (or desire) to sit my kids down in a crowded restaurant and inform them a family member died, I have cancer or any other personally shocking news. So why would you tell your kids you are gay in a public space? And this certainly isn’t a text, email, or even phone call discussion. Being in person communicates your respect and love for your kids. It sends the powerful message of their importance to you.
3) Encourage questions and allow time for your kids to ask.
This is not a once and done discussion. Let your children know they can ask you questions now or anytime.
Leaving church one evening several weeks after telling my kids “dad is gay”, my daughter wanted to know “Will you have a boyfriend? Will Dad have a boyfriend?” A simple question but important for my daughter’s understanding of her new reality.
4) Express your unconditional love – and be prepared for it to not be returned.
This one can be hard without a doubt, but expressing your love via words and actions is critical. You never want your kids to feel you love them less because you are gay.
A childhood friend with a gay father told me how his dad once said to him, “I don’t want to be your father, I want to be your friend.” While the wound is healed, the scars of those words will forever be etched into my friend’s soul.
You are a parent just like anyone else – your sexuality does not matter to your kids. They want and need knowledge of your love, even if they don’t always return it.
5) Explain just because you are gay, doesn’t mean they are.
Depending on the age of your kids this may or may not be relevant. For my family, it is very important. I have expressed several times to my son and daughter, just because Dad is gay doesn’t mean they are. That if they are confused or have questions about their own sexuality, ask. Rainbow or I are happy to discuss any questions. Or find someone they are comfortable talking to.
6) Sharing is caring – but only if they want to.
Coming out is a huge milestone for the individual sharing, however, it may not be for your kids. Let them decide what friends they tell and when.
My daughter wanted to share the news of both the divorce and Dad’s homosexuality right away with her friends. I’m not sure if my son has ever said anything to his friends.
Both approaches are okay. Because of the current social environment my kids are being raised in, gay is just a part of life – not a paradigm shift like it is for Rainbow.
Show the Self-Love
Bottomline, as parents we have the power through our words and actions to encourage the love of all people in our children.
More compelling, Rainbow and I sharing the truth demonstrates to my children our own self-love.
Openly sharing your homosexuality with your kids is a very powerful message of self-love. On the flipside, my willingness to accept my kids’ dad being gay and making the decision to divorce my gay husband is another strong message of self-love.
For Rainbow (and any gay parent with kids), sharing the truth and living authentically isn’t always going to be easy, but the rewards are worth the effort.
The truth and the resulting life changes is an active way to show self-love and improve lives. As the bath bomb states:
Sharing your truth empowers your children to embrace and love themselves, so that they might, in turn, embrace and love others.
Do you have any other tips for coming out to kids to share? If so, please comment below.