Home for the Holidays. Ah! Tried-and-true traditions you can count on: church on Christmas eve, Mom’s turkey with giblet gravy, Aunt Elsie’s mulled cider, and Dad’s rants about gay marriage.
Some Tips for a Smoother, More Peaceful Holiday
· To keep the peace in your parents’ house, don’t push your agenda on your relatives. While you may want to educate them about your gay lifestyle and how you feel more honest and open being “out,” to your friends, the time to elaborate on your wellbeing is not now.
· If your parents have had a hard time accepting you for who you are, don’t expect things to be magically different during the holidays.
· You don’t want to lend more stress to the ubiquitous holiday quest for perfection: this time of year has built-in unrealistic expectations about creating a storybook holiday with the perfect meal, the perfect home, perfectly decorated, and perfect gifts to complement the receivers.
· Don’t introduce your significant other to the family at this time. Wait until “holiday craziness” is over and the family is more relaxed. Then, maybe your parents can focus on welcoming your boyfriend/girlfriend and getting to know them better.
· However, if your partner is with you in your parents’ home, and your parents put you in your old bedroom with twin beds, don’t grouse about it. Remember it’s their house! For a few days, you can put up with the sleeping quarters. Sleeping in a “matrimonial bed” may be too “in-your-face”for your folks and may dredge up feelings of disappointment that you’re not heterosexual.
· Have an escape plan. If parents make homosexual jokes, don’t get into a fight. Pick your battles. You should be treated with respect, however. For example, you could say to the offender: “ I don’t appreciate that, and quietly excuse yourself for awhile. Don’t compromise your own beliefs, but don’t demand that your family share all your beliefs. By leaving the scene, they can’t continue to harass you.
· Do have an ally such as an open-minded relative, whom you may prepare before your visit so there’s no arguing about politics, sex, religion during the holiday. Or perhaps a childhood friend who is supportive of you. Check in with your accepting internet buddies while you’re home.
· Remember that these are your parents’ and with time, will come to accept your orientation. You’re the same person you’ve always been and whom they’ve loved all along.
· Keep in mind that the visit with the family won’t last forever. Try to enjoy yourself. It will soon be over and you will be on your way to your own home.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.