Friday, May 31, 2013

Teenagers and Sexuality

“Mom, I think I might be gay.”

That's something more and more parents are going to hear. I say this because the fact that several popular television shows (Glee) feature positive gay characters have made some teenagers feel more comfortable about their sexuality. I see this as a very good thing because a lot of young people struggle with their sexuality-sometimes to the point of suicide. We want our kids to have things easier than we did, so the idea that a child of ours might struggle with something as intimate and confusing as sexuality can grieve even the best parents out there. The fact that there are a lot of stereotypes about how things 'should' be certainly doesn't help. I'm no expert, but here are a few ideas I have about how to handle this sensitive issue.

First of all-

1) Don't jump to conclusions. Some parents might be concerned that a child is gay because they don't show much interest in the opposite sex. This very well may be true, but not necessarily. For example, I thought I was gay for a long time. I was interested and attracted to boys, but I didn't really desire a relationship. I would much rather hang out with my girl friends and talk about boys than actually be around any. I didn't have a real boyfriend kiss anyone until I was nearly seventeen while most of my friends did those things long before we started high school. Well-meaning friends and relatives didn't help; having to answer the question about boyfriends with 'I don't have any' so many times made me think that there was something wrong with me. Your child may be in the same situation. Try not to worry, though. In a lot of cases, the absence of dating is much more complicated than 'she's gay'. In my case, it was that I didn't want to have to deal with the crap my sister and friends had gotten from men and didn't really know how to 'talk' to guys. As it turns out, I'm far from gay! I just wasn't ready for any of the things that so many people around me were doing. Maybe this describes your child too.

I've also known people who aren't interested in the opposite sex because they aren't interested in dating at all. For instance, a sorority sister of mine once said that she didn't date because she simply didn't care. She felt that she was 'called to be single' much the same way the apostle Paul was; not having a relationship meant that she could focus on missionary work. Even a non-religious child might be focused on things like grades to the point where relationships don't show up on their radar. Again, this is nothing to worry about. 


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