Question from a mother
A mom writes:
My teenage daughter recently told me that she is bisexual. I told her thank you for sharing such a huge fact with me and for trusting me and that I am honored by her trust. I told her I love her and that God loves her and she will never be punished for loving someone. How do I continue to support her as she moves forward in life, knowing that at some point she will be met with negativity and persecution? She hasn’t told her father, and he will not be as supportive. Thanks for your answer.
Thanks for a great question!
I think you’re doing exactly the right thing already—letting your daughter know that you are a safe person to talk to about what she’s going through, and that you appreciate the trust. This is so critical, because whatever may come her way in the future, good or bad, if she knows she can talk to her mom about things, she’ll be much better off than if she thinks she has to handle everything on her own.
Having a teenager is difficult for any parent, because all teens—gay, straight, or bi—are attempting to find their own place in the world and assert their independence. That leaves parents having to walk a fine line, trying to give appropriate guidance and discipline without alienating their teens as they grow into adults who will make their own decisions in life. And that’s not counting crazy hormones added into the mix.
For parents of gay or bi teens, whatever your theological views, it’s important to be able to offer healthy guidelines about behavior (curfews, parties, dating, sex) just as you would with a straight teen. But it’s also very important to reaffirm your love for your child and let her know that you love her just as she is—sexual orientation and all.
This can be the most difficult for parents on “Side B” (those who believe sex should be reserved for heterosexual marriage). I can’t tell you how often I hear from teens who feel like their parents disapprove not just of particular sexual behaviors, but of who their children are. That’s not the message the parents want to send, but it’s the one the kids are receiving. As a result, the parents lose any influence over their kids’ choices, because the kids already feel alienated.
Thankfully, that’s not what you’re doing. My advice to you is to keep those lines of communication open. Make sure she knows she can talk to you about anything, and that you’re genuinely interested in how she’s feeling. If she has questions or negative experiences, listen to what she has to say about them. If she gets a crush on a girl, let her talk about it. If she gets a crush on a boy, let her talk about that too. Her self-identity may change with time, or it may not. But if she has a mother she can always count on to be compassionate and lend a listening ear, she’ll be in a much better place to handle any of the negativity or persecution she might encounter in life. And you’ll be in a good position to offer parental advice now and in the future.
Also, if you’re looking for a resource that explores what it’s like to be gay or bi and Christian (besides my book, of course!), the Gay Christian Network has a DVD called Through My Eyes that is all about the experiences of gay Christians in their teens and twenties.
Readers, do you have great advice or resources to share? Tell us in the comments!