Christmas is a wonderful family holiday. A chance to regale about the past get-togethers, to guffaw about the near misses with the gravy.
Subject Verboten, For Now…
However, one topic that should be off limits in this 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 will look as if you are 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.
Follow the Lead
In this case, 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 sexual identity?
Kevin Jennings, Ph.D., author of Always My Child (Simon and Schuster, 2003). suggests that you “respect where your child is in her/his process.”
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
If you are told by your child to reveal his sexual orientation, consider this criteria that Jennings uses for deciding whom to tell out of the close family members:
· Evaluate your child’s relationship with so and so and your own.
· How often does your daughter/son see her?
· What is the nature of the relationship?
· Would you feel disclosure not sharing something so important with your sister?
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.