I’ve tackled this one from the kid point of view, but parents need some encouragement, too, it seems.
Note: purely my opinions, yadda yadda.
Always remember, your kid’s sexuality is none of your business. Sure, when they are courting crime, imminent pregnancy or have porn debt collectors calling, you might assume this business has become your business, but only up to a point. This is still their rodeo and you may be only a spectator. You are not running the show.
When their choices are making you uncomfortable, try to keep in mind that it’s not their choices’ fault. You are uncomfortable because you want something for them that is not what they want. Your preferences are at odds, but it’s okay — your preferences about their preferences are for you to debate with yourself. That’s really the only constructive approach to this particular disagreement.
Again, I am assuming none of this is particularly dangerous. Once they are adults, you have only a few tools in the parent tool box, and you really want to save the big guns of shaming for the really hideous situations. Hopefully you won’t have any hideous situations, but if you do, you can feel comfortable freaking out, with love.
Shoplifting a lipstick or kissing a girl are not the type of events that should unleash your full fury. Maybe just take a walk instead.
Most parents have powerful feelings about sexuality, I mean, that particular passion may be how they got to be parents in the first place. There are things they consider taboo or shameful and those judgments are only amplified when it comes to their children–by that I mean their judgment of their children. A parent who is merely dismayed by sexuality in their own experience may be horrified at the prospect of having any awareness of sexuality in their kids.
This is before we add any whiff of deviation to the mix.
Throw in a dose of guilt and shame and you have a powerful soup of emotion right there.
For some parents they may dive directly into denial or others may reflexively dial the exorcist. Whatever reaction you have, you may convince yourself you are hiding it, but you are not. Your kids can cue on your slightest sigh or eye roll – they have been studying you for weaknesses for their entire lives and they essentially can read your mind.
You might try to remember, when you are in a conversation with a kid who is trying to share a bit about their self-discovery–they are being very brave to tip their hand to you. Don’t be like me and reflexively blurt, “Oh, you’ll grow out of it!” But instead, be the better mom and just listen with small questions.
Proceed with all the caution you can manage.
Even if you think your lack of disapproval is somehow approval of something you disapprove of, cool your jets.
Even if you are not interested in better communication with your kid, consider that you might not want to give them a hard wall of disapproval to push against. They love that.
Even if you are positively interested in their revelations, also cool your jets. Nobody wants to hear about your adventures in toy land, least of all your kids. As usual, this is not about you.
Hopefully, you will not be ambushed with difficult news when you aren’t up to the job of receiving the news gracefully. Hopefully, you will have a blessedly brief and helpful conversation and then you can dig into the real work.
It takes time to adjust to new things and it takes even more time to adjust to new things you don’t welcome or things that also remind you how incredibly old you are becoming. Whether the news is that Heather has an STD or that Winston is considering becoming Winstonia, you can handle this. You have already handled your own maturation (let’s hope!) and this is only a supporting role.
If you find yourself really revolted by some harmless hanky panky, remember again, it’s not your business. Your business is figuring out why it frightens you. You can understand it well enough to get on top of the fear. You do not have to solve it all right now.
It is not your rodeo and it will be okay. You can make it okay. Eventually.
Holy moly, I am writing a lot more these days. Maybe another book will be done before forever after all!!
Defective Pets, Inc.
She’s never found a way to strangle that she didn’t feel compelled to try!!