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Any advice for a parent who wants to support but not smother?

Discussion in 'For Parents or Guardians of LGBT+ Children' started by voltaire77, Jul 8, 2019.  |  Print Topic

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  1. voltaire77

    voltaire77 Lurker

    Jul 7, 2019
    +0 / 0 / -0
    Hello forum people, pleased to be here - though I don't yet know if I am in the right place. If not here, perhaps somebody could give me recommendations of other forums.

    I have three children, and I think the youngest, a boy aged 9, will be facing some angst and confusion in discovering who they are.

    Right now this manifests in many different ways, and perhaps few of them mean much in isolation, but taken collectively I think they do give enough cause for me to want to be prepared to support if and when needed.

    That said, I do not want to go over the top in some awful double-liberal guardian-reading way and create some unwitting 'assistance zone', as i personally think this can do more harm than good.

    All of the online resources I have found so far only give advice for the parent on how to react positively to a child who is coming out, nothing about helping your child before they have reached that stage.

    I do not know if my son is gay, bisexual, transgender or straight. It doesn't matter which, but it does matter that the journey may be all the tougher. Particularly in that most vicious environment of the playground.

    My thinking is based first on foremost on 'just knowing'. I can't expect people I don't know to accept that abstract concept at face value, but it is what it is.

    However there are more tangible 'signs' (I really do not like that term for some reason - it might be because you never here the same said as an example somebody is straight). He talks a lot about feeling he doesn't fit, and not belonging, that he 'shouldn't be here like this'. In his mannerisms he often acts as - am I allowed to say this? - a real queen. Striking a pose, combining a feather boa with a Hawaiian shirt, pirouetting about the place - but none of the above are done with confidence openly, he sees them as 'wrong'. He asks us to hide his 'girl' toys when his friends come round for example)

    This is just one very brief paragraph, please don't pick me up of the semantics of pirouetting not meaning you are gay - I know that, and I totally get the difference between camp and gay, and as I said, as a parent it is more 'just knowing'.

    What I do know without question is that he is struggling with his identity, and whether or not he is gay, bi, trans or straight, the next 6 years will be tough because of it.

    Here is an example that happened this weekend that I didn't know how to handle for the best. We were shopping for a school bag. He pointed out one that was all fur and big eyes made to look like a princess puppy thing. Do I say yes, great, be positive? Or do i point out that boys being boys he is likely to get viciously teased if he takes that to school? Having explained that, if he still wants it do I support it, or refuse to protect him? My wife's approach would be to sidestep the issue by telling him you couldn't clean it very well. I don't agree with that sort of avoidance, but I'll happily accept being told I'm wrong.

    I would like to talk about how I should support my son, but avoid smothering him. I would like to talk to people who have experience either as the child growing up or the parent of a child. Is this the right place? If not does anybody know similar?
  2. Jo A

    Jo A Reliable Advisor
    Premium Supporter Beloved Member

    Nov 22, 2018
    +620 / 0 / -0
    Welcome to a safe place.

    That being said, your questions are not easy.

    This is not a perfect response but I will try hard.

    Your wife and you both need to be on the same page and support with your love for child.

    It is sad that we have to tell them they could get teased or worse (I got the worse but I am old).

    Support them to allow them to grow into who and what they are and show them how to love themselves and that will help them be stronger.

    And I would say therapy, not that there is something wrong but what can be done to help them be mentally stronger and accepting of themselves. It will take work.

    I wish you luck but you sound like wonderful parents.

    Peace to all and hugs to the young one - Jo
  3. Kai Something

    Kai Something Greenhorn

    Jul 7, 2019
    +6 / 0 / -0
    Hello voltaire77 and welcome here.
    I’m new on this forum too and kind of lost and clearly not a professional so I don’t know if I can be much help, but you wrote some things that made me want to react.

    First of all, let me tell you, you sound like a wonderful parent and you children are lucky to have you. Coming here asking for advice when you’re not even sure what you’re searching for is a beautiful proof of love for your child.

    I don’t know if there are better sites to go about that, but we’re all human so maybe the experience and knowledge of some forum members can help.

    I have very little knowledge but some experience with social stereotypes and bullying (a lot about bullying actually) so I can at least tell you about that. I’m still struggling with my identity and I’m 24, but at least I can tell what I would have liked from my parents when I was your son’s age.

    To begin, I want to say that every child is a potential victim for bullying at school, in the street, and even now on the internet where it can easily be unseen by adults. When someone wants to bully someone else, they always find a reason: the victim is too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny, they have very good grades, or very bad ones, their clothes are too colored, too big, too short, too black, too old... A child that is bullied is rarely bullied for only one reason and a “girly” bag may be one more reason, or the first one that will start everything, but won’t probably be the only one.

    Whatever happens outside with the other children, home must always be the safe place. When they are at home, your children must be able to be themselves without fear of judgment. But from what I read, your wife and yourself already do that, and every parent doesn’t, so just that is a lot already.

    That being said, your children need to understand that home and school are two very different places and everyone at school will probably not be able to respect your child’s “difference” like you do. I used “” to highlight the fact that the “difference” here is from the societal and cultural point of view of the other children, and not universal.
    A child too young wouldn’t be able to understand that, but yours is 9 and by then the teachers have probably already talked about bullying with them at school. I think if you use the right words, simple words that maybe doesn’t mean exactly what you want to say but is enough for your child to understand, then maybe it would help to tell him. It may be sad to tell him that the other kids may make fun of him for simply being himself, but it would do more harm to let him discover it the hard way. I discovered it the hard way and it was horrible.
    I talk here about situations such as the one you wrote with the school bag. Avoiding the problem can be a solution sometimes when you think that, really, that would make more hurt than good and it’s totally out of the question for you, but it won’t work forever after all. Your wife and you need to be on the same page about that, maybe talk with her about what you can let your children decide for themselves and to what you need to give an absolute “no”.
    (It is important to keep in mind that we’re talking about situations only, a certain situation at a certain time, and not a definitive and unchangeable state or condition. I mean, if you say no to the bag, it’s understandable in the situation when you want to protect your kid from bullying at school, but in another situation when bullying wouldn’t have been a problem, he could have had it.)
    Of course, it’s important to be careful so you don’t make him afraid of going to school but he needs to understand that everyone doesn’t think like him and children sometimes react to difference with confusion and incomprehension, and some react to confusion and incomprehension with violence (physical or verbal).

    So, to talk about your example, let him choose what he needs first: to be himself, or to protect himself.
    If he still want that bag when he understands that the other kids might make fun of him, maybe let him have it and maybe everything will be alright and maybe not but then again, if they want to make fun of him, they’ll always find a way. At least he can be himself and he knows that you’re behind him whatever happens.

    I’ll just add one last thing that, hopefully, may never concern you, but I think it is important to be able to see when a child suffers from bullying:
    If one of your kids ever gets bullied, you need to keep in mind that it is not his fault (and you really need to tell him that), but it is not yours either. Even when you try to protect them, if the other kids want to make fun of them, they will. As a parent, it’s important to be here, ready to listen without judging, even when he doesn’t come to you about it. And that’s the worst thing with bullying, when one kid with a little influence on the playground begins to bully someone, others will follow, some because they think it’s fun, some only by fear of being the next target. But the victim doesn’t know that and after a while will think something along the lines of “if everyone says that, then they must be right” and then thinks that HE’s wrong. Self-esteem suffers a lot and guilt or embarrassment will prevent your kid to come to you. If you ever see one of your kids is low and sad on a regular basis, or if their grades becomes less good out of nowhere and stay that way, or if you ever think they’re afraid to go to school, then talk to them, try to understand why, ask them what you can do to help (maybe they’ll tell you “nothing” or “I don’t know” but maybe they’ll have an answer already and they were just afraid to ask, and at least you’ll include them in the decisions that are about them).
    Sometime talking to a teacher can help, sometimes it make it worse (it often depends on how the teacher handles the situation). Professionals will be able to help with that because they (sadly) are more used to it. Worst case scenario, changing school may be the only solution.
    Hopefully you’ll never get there, but I know too many people who actually got there to stay silent about it.

    And like Jo A said, if your child needs help accepting themselves, therapy could probably help.

    I hope I was able to help a little. I also hope your children stay safe at school.

    And I’m sorry because I keep writing too much.

    Keep being yourself because you sound like a wonderful parent.
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  4. voltaire77

    voltaire77 Lurker

    Jul 7, 2019
    +0 / 0 / -0
    Thank you so much for taking the time to reply Kai Something and Jo A. I can't see how to tag you so I hope you see this.
    Interesting that you both mention therapy. I've not considered that as i don't see anything 'wrong', but perhaps that is the wrong way to view therapy.
    Point taken re being on same page - we certainly are in the fundamentals.
    It is great to hear ideas and thoughts and experiences. I think that is what we need right now. I really appreciate the kind phrasing too.
    Thank you both,
  5. AudryLeigh

    AudryLeigh Proud tGirl
    Moderator Supporter Beloved Member

    May 13, 2016
    Somewhere Under the Rainbow
    +2,681 / 0 / -31
    Hey voltaire,

    I think you are probably in one of the best places you can be with questions like yours. We have people here from age 13 up, so you will probably get some input from kids who have been there and done that (don't think you'll get that anyplace else). I applaud your approach to this, and think with parents like you, your kid will do just fine. I am going to move this thread though. We have a forum just for Parents or Guardians of LGBT+ children. I think this thread would be more appropriate there. I think you are going to find what you need here, and much more. Welcome to the community.

    Audry Leigh
  6. voltaire77

    voltaire77 Lurker

    Jul 7, 2019
    +0 / 0 / -0
    Thank you Audry, that is great to hear and i appreciate you taking the interest. I see it is now in the parents forum. All does seem very friendly here. Which is nice.
  7. Jianghu

    Jianghu I got a big mouth
    Beloved Member

    Jun 15, 2019
    Northeast USA
    +194 / 0 / -0
    I couldn't agree more. I am moved by the love you've shown through this simple gesture.

    I'm a gay man in my 50s but I still suffer from memories of bullying and "being different".

    The world is cruel and it will demand that you take a stand sooner or later. So... if I had to make a suggestion: tackle the issue SOONER.

    You said your child is 9. Personally, by that age I already sensed I was "different", I just didn't have the words for it.

    You sound like the kind of parent who has nurtured your children in many ways and engaged them in much discussion. If I had to guess, your son is ready to "have a talk" about quite a few things, including bullying and being "different".

    Is this really an either/or choice ? Wouldn't it be possible to do both: to give your son positive encouragement - but also (as part of the "teachable moment"), to make him understand your fears ?

    Perhaps his responses could help you gauge his own understanding about his social environment. You might come away realizing that he needs to learn some difficult lessons, quickly ... and better he learn than from you, than from other children in the playground.

    I hope I'm not oversimplifying... I know nothing about his school, or your social milieu, or your wife's attitudes beyond a superficial evasiveness.

    I applaud you for being such a conscientious father. The world needs more parents and citizens like you.
    #7 Jianghu, Jul 12, 2019 at 6:02 PM
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019 at 6:07 PM
  8. Restless

    Restless Greenhorn
    Beloved Member

    Jan 5, 2018
    +16 / 0 / -0
    I started thinking I was gay at 7, I just couldn't name it.

    I think maybe watch something / read a story that has a gay character somewhere in it, so he can see you guys don't have an issue?

    I'm not saying cover the place in rainbows or anything. Simply seeing you guys don't take issue over the presence of gay people, shows him that IF he is gay, that you guys would be ok with it.

    I think your wife's way is ok for now, he's not getting the impression he's wrong for wanting the bag. Just that it's impractical- which saves him from bullying, but also doesn't make him feel it's wrong for him to want it.

    The main thing, is to make him feel he can be open and talk to you about anything. That's what's important.

    Sent from my SM-N960F using Tapatalk
  9. Iwilldance

    Iwilldance Look! There's a girl dancing slowly in the shadow!
    Beloved Member

    Mar 13, 2018
    +268 / 0 / -0
    You sound nice.
    Do not say no to buy that toy. Say yes, of cause, and then tell him the other boys mjght tease him because they are stupid. Always support his expression of self and when you warn him of other boys as you should, make it about them, not him. Make him proud to be different
  10. Guarani

    Guarani Addictive Contributor
    Beloved Member

    Feb 25, 2019
    +155 / 1 / -0
    A kid is a kid and should be free to express themselves in any way they like.
    You just react to it as if it is normal.
    If the kids feels and sees you think it is normal, they will be more confident about it and a confident kid doesn´t get teased or it doesn´t hurt it.
    Don´t plant doubt by telling that people might tease them over something. If they do, just tell the kid that it´s them being silly, maybe even just envious.

    Be aware of your nonverbal commication and examples you set....
    If you are being nervous about choices, even if you try to hide it, the kid will feel unsure and insecure....
    Bold, decisive and brave!
    #10 Guarani, Jul 14, 2019 at 10:21 AM
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019 at 10:27 AM
  11. angel70

    angel70 The Old Guy
    Beloved Member

    Apr 9, 2016
    +4,944 / 1 / -35
    Effeminate boys have an especially hard time in school, but they make it through okay provided they have friends around. If your son has a couple of good friends of either sex who have shown they're willing to stand up for him when he's teased, the hurt will not be nearly so great. You can insist that he be assigned to the same class as one or more of them -- and if you're insistent enough -- like threatening to go to the school superintendent or the school board -- you will get your way. School administrators hate dealing with irate parents, so they generally cave right away.

    If the fuzzy backpack will cause a problem for your son, he's probably well aware of that -- and wants it badly enough to take the risk. Show that you think it's okay by buying it for him -- and if he decides he needs a different backpack by the second week of school, buy him a new one. Nobody ever claimed being a parent was cheap! ;) 
    #11 angel70, Jul 14, 2019 at 2:56 PM
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019 at 2:57 PM

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