Easter/Passover is a wonderful family holiday. Health experts advise that while you’re gathered around for carrots, lamb/ham, amid the tulips and colored eggs, that you ask your relatives about their inherited diseases so you can properly fill out those long medical questionnaires and know what to look out for with your own health. Did Uncle Ed die of cancer? Does cousin George have diabetes? Did Granny Smith have heart disease?
Subject Verboten, For Now
However, one topic that is off limits in a group setting is your daughter’s or son’s sexual orientation. Even if you are bursting to divulge the news or feel that if you don’t tell, you must be ashamed and are harboring a “dirty little” family secret, now is not the appropriate time to break the earth-shattering news. Just like you, relatives have to go through a process of adjustment. They also need space and support to digest this information.
One Instance Where The Child Should Be The Boss
Your child should be the one who decides whom to tell, when to tell them, and if he should be the only one to “come out” or does he want you both to reveal his or her orientation? Kevin Jennings, Ph.D., author of Always My Child (Simon & Schuster, 2003) suggests that you “respect where your child is in her/his process “(different stages most gay and lesbian kids go through such as denial, fear, shame, loss, guilt, to arrive at acceptance).
You can surmise how your relatives are going to react by how close that family member is to your child and is he savvy about LGBTQ issues? Is Aunt Susie open to diversity and what are her attitudes about homosexuality? Hopefully, the relative’s unconditional love for your child will outweigh the initial jolt.
Make A List and Check It Twice
Jennings uses the following criteria for deciding whom to tell out of the close family members:
· Evaluate your child’s relationship with so & so and your own.
· How often does your daughter or son see her?
· What is the nature of the relationship?
· Would you feel dishonest not sharing something so important with your sister?
· Be clear about your motives for making the disclosure.
Location, Location, Location
It’s important to pick a private place for this important discussion. Choose a time to talk when you won’t be interrupted. Anticipate questions.
“Begin The Way You Mean To Go”
It makes sense to begin “there’s something I want to tell you.” Leave time for questions and keep the door open for further discussions. Remember that you are a family who is working toward the same goal: to love and support one another,
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.