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“Dad, I decided I don’t care."
December 19, 2012 8:06 PM   Subscribe

Coming Out to My Child
posted by cthuljew (22 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I had a similar experience, announcing to my 5 year old nephew and 7 year old niece that "Kiki and Lola" were more than just friends, and were getting married. This, too was met with all sorts fo giggling. Like it was the funniest thing that had ever heard. Not in a mean way. But in a silly way, and it was nice to be reminded that at one point, I too laughed just because things were silly.


And my niece, after the big, wondrous discovery that you could marry whoever you wanted, decided that she was going to marry her best friend Isabelle.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:14 PM on December 19, 2012 [31 favorites]


the big, wondrous discovery that you could marry whoever you wanted

In your niece's state, maybe. Hopefully it won't require that qualifier when she's older.
posted by axiom at 9:01 PM on December 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


SDL previously on Metafilter.
posted by schmod at 9:13 PM on December 19, 2012


I still vividly remember Christmas 3 years ago, when I was early into my gender transition. I was opening gifts with my sister and her family, and she slipped and referred to me as "she". I'd had visited them extensively in the past pre-transition, and this was out first visit together with me fully out "full-time" to the extended family.

Immediately, her 7 year old son rolled his eyes and very sternly went, "Mooooooom, Wossname is a boy."

(On a related note, my 94-year old grandfather is the only other person who has NEVER had a pronoun slip and who absorbed everything the quickest, with no fuss. Whenever I visit him at his retirement community, he's quick and very proud to introduce me as his grandson to everyone.)

And to think family fears of the children (and Grandpa) not "understanding" delayed my transition by about 10 years...
posted by Wossname at 9:31 PM on December 19, 2012 [37 favorites]


Great blog. A friend of mine's father transitioned to female in his teen years, and my friend had a really hard time dealing with it. I hope the kids of the future have a much easier time of it.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:38 PM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the fits and fits of giggling when I told my then seven year old sister and five year old brother that I was transitioning and going to be living as a girl were very disarming. They cottoned on fairly quick, after asking a lot of silly questions, and a few really insightful good ones. My sister spent a few days laughing at me, thinking I was insane to be a girl when I had a dick, but started to accept it as just a fact fairly soon, which may have been the point where she got very interested in helping me do my hair. My brother got very quiet after the half hour or so of giggling, and then announced that he was sad to be the only boy now. By the following week, he was correcting everyone who ever referred to me by male pronouns or oldname. He still does. They're great little kids, fairly typical of their age in lots of ways, but treating the subject like a matter-of-fact 'eh, no big deal' thing got them to do the same pretty quickly. It's scary, but kids are generally awesome, and good at changing their worldview or way of thinking.
posted by Dysk at 12:32 AM on December 20, 2012 [18 favorites]


I think the fact that changeling surgically is more accessiable helps some with transition. I don't think kids have a 'natural' prejudice toward gay or lesbian people, just some idea of the pros and cons of being a particular gender.
Not usually the full picture, but some idea.
Children don't agonize over stuff as a rule. They just get on with their lives.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:03 AM on December 20, 2012


I remember very distinctly when I first attached the word "gay" to my dad. I was maybe five and my dad had lived with Leo my whole life that I could remember. I mean, I knew my parents had once been married and lived together but I had no recollection of that, and my life was exactly as I had always remembered experiencing it: Daddy lived with Leo, and Mommy and I lived with Peter. I was also perfectly clear who people shared their beds with, and I certainly knew lots and lots of gay people, but it had never been articulated that my dad was gay.

So my mother and I were curled up on her bed reading a book, some early 1970s pre-cursor to Heather Has Two Mommies. And my mom and I read this book, which I liked, and my mother asked me who we knew who was gay. I had loads of answers: Joe and Carl, Diane and Debbie, Kent and Victor, and on and on. She kept asking me "who else?" until I think I had named the entire population of Fire Island and Greenwhich Village and she asked me again.

And I remember so clearly the long, long pause before I said, "Daddy and Leo?"

I don't think my reluctance was because I didn't want my dad to be gay, but because what I already knew wasn't computing with my little five year old world - I didn't know anyone else with a gay dad, so I didn't know how that could be.

All of this is I guess just a long way of saying that every time a gay parent comes out, I cheer, because every out gay parent makes it easier for the next kid.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:42 AM on December 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


Children don't agonize over stuff as a rule. They just get on with their lives.

Wow, I could not disagree more with this.

My dad came out in 1996. We were 16, 13 and 10, and it changed our lives irrevocably. There were a lot of issues between our parents' impending divorce, homophobia in our community, being asked to leave our temple, being asked not to talk about it with our friends, etc. I'm not saying that we didn't get over it (obviously, we did), but I think there was a huge feeling of loss and a little betrayal, believing we had been lied to for so many years.

Maybe younger children who don't understand what their being told react differently, but we, as children, agonized over it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:01 AM on December 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I should also note that I commented without reading, because there's a TON of speculation about this particular blogger and what he says/does for blog hits.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:02 AM on December 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


The next morning I made him a bowl of hot cereal and while I peeled a banana to split with him, he said, “Dad, I decided I don’t care. I would never move far away and to Texas with mom.” ... It’s amazing how fast kids are able to evolve in their thinking. I wish I had that capacity.

He's five. That doesn't mean that he's comfortable with it yet, or even fully processed it for that matter. The only clear evolution is his thinking is "it can't be worse than completely uprooting myself." I'm sure it will be a non-issue in a bit, but a preconceived notion takes more than an evening for a five-year-old to process. Changing attitudes in young children are motivated primarily by self-interest-- totally normal and part of development, but not exactly beautiful.

What's interesting to me is that many children here in Massachusetts don't have the preconceived boy-girl notion-- boys can marry boys and girls can marry girls, and by now that's just a been a fact their whole lives. When kids ask about love and marriage, even people who aren't completely comfortable with gay marriage have to include that because it's reality and it's everywhere. My father-in-law (who lives in another state) is gay and lives with his partner and it hasn't resulted in so much as a clarification question-- he's just one of those boys who loves another boy.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:11 AM on December 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


My dad came out ... We were 16, 13 and 10 ... I think there was a huge feeling of loss and a little betrayal, believing we had been lied to for so many years.

I think that my wife, who was in her early 20s when her dad came out, would agree with you-- not that she (nor likely you) had negative associations with homosexuality, but it can make you feel that you didn't actually know one of the people to whom you're closest and that some of the things that you for granted as fact were an elaborately crafted lie.

5 years old is a world away from 10, but you're right: "Children don't agonize over stuff as a rule. They just get on with their lives," is a flip observation that lacks nuance. It's the touchy-feely equivalent of asking the congregation for an "amen." Good that he's getting it out there early, but that dad's not the parent that he seems to often congratulate himself for being if he thinks that news was processed and accepted in the span of a few hours.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:28 AM on December 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's a product of our living in a liberal city where they are exposed to families of every stripe everyday, my kids seem totally unfazed by these discussions basic as they may be at their age. Interestingly, they occasionally play "princesses" where the princesses get married to each other instead of to princes or where "I'm the baby's mommy and you are the baby's other mommy." Sometimes one of their friends will insist on being the prince or the daddy or a boy will play dress up with them. I've just looked on it as a hope sign that maybe we're moving beyond gender.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:30 AM on December 20, 2012 [1 favorite]



Children don't agonize over stuff as a rule. They just get on with their lives.

Wow, I could not disagree more with this.


It depends, I think, on the consequences. If daddy announcing that he is gay comes with the baggage of a divorce and upending of what the kid thinks is normal family life, then it is going to be troubling for the kid. If Daddy and Uncle Paul have always lived together and when the kid realizes that means they are gay, a non-troubled-by-something-else kid will just shrug it off.

In other words, kids easily shrug off things that are *their* normal.
posted by gjc at 5:41 AM on December 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


It depends, I think, on the consequences.

Well sure, but that's why it's not a rule.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:46 AM on December 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


R317: can you elaborate on what you've heard about this blogger?
posted by en forme de poire at 7:20 AM on December 20, 2012


This and this.
posted by zippy at 7:44 AM on December 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, basically that he lies. A lot.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:09 AM on December 20, 2012


I am an invisible bisexual, so although I have raised my kids to be as gay and trans friendly as can be, the issue of my own sexuality has never been discussed. I finally told my 17 year old during a discussion where it was germane, and he was exceedingly not interested. My 12 year old does not know, and I really don't know when or under what circumstances I will tell him. I used to be the loudest,proudest grrrl around, so it's strange to find myself being so circumspect.
posted by Biblio at 9:21 AM on December 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


To be fair, your kids don't want to know anything about your sex life, so I can see how mentioning it to them might be weird for both you and them. Doesn't have to do with bisexuality, just the squickiness of thinking about your parents getting busy.
posted by Night_owl at 10:08 AM on December 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


the big, wondrous discovery that you could marry whoever you wanted

In your niece's state, maybe. Hopefully it won't require that qualifier when she's older.
posted by axiom at 9:01 PM on December 19 [4 favorites +] [!]

Actually, no. Southerner here. But at her age, all she really knows in regards to marriage is love, commitment, and kisses. I didn't feel the need to explain to her that "my kind" of marriage wasn't met with equal rights by the government.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:17 PM on December 20, 2012


Yeah, my parents had cold, passionless intercourse twice only to create my brother and me, otherwise they share affection tastefully. Anything other than that narrative will be rejected by my brain.

...la,la,la, I can't hear you, la,la,la...
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:55 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


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