08-09-2021 09:10 AM - last edited on 08-09-2021 10:10 AM by Janine-RO
I am a new member to this forum. Today my Son took me to lunch and disclosed to me that he identifies as a Pansexual. He told me that he has been thinking about this since he has been 14 years old. Needless to say, I was shocked because I have asked him questions before on his sexuality and he always told me that he was a heterosexual male.
I just want to make sure that I am being fully supportive of my Son and his disclosure about his sexuality. Quite frankly, he could have told me he was a "unicorn" and I would have supported him no matter what because he is my Son and I love him very much.
My worry is how his father and society will react towards him. My son is also multiracial and has had comments of a racist nature made towards him and now add upon this his preference in sexuality.
How can I make sure that my Son remains safe and that I give him all the support necessary? Any advice would be appreciated.
You obviously care about your son a great deal. Even though he has been thinking about it for a while, it can take time for a young person to feel confident enough to tell someone (especially a parent) about their sexuality, and it is an encouraging sign that he was feeling ready to tell you.
The most important thing you can offer your son is your love and a genuine desire to support him, so you are off to a good start as it sounds like these are things you are already providing.
It’s understandable that you would be worried about how others might respond to your son’s sexuality, and the impact that this could have on him. As much as we might wish to, we can’t control what others do, only how we respond.
Don’t underestimate how much positive impact it can have on your son that you support him - this can really help protect him emotionally from the effects of other people not being accepting. Think about the things you usually do to help maintain your positive relationship (such as spending time with him, talking about things, letting him know when he has done something you are proud of, etc.) Make sure you keep doing these things, as they are particularly important when someone is feeling vulnerable about being accepted.
Another way of providing support is speaking up if people around you do make homophobic comments (whether these are about your son or general comments). Since your son has faced prejudice in the past, I encourage you to think about what was helpful when it came to supporting your son when dealing with racist comments, as this could also be applied to the current situation.
Asking your son if there are ways you can help him feel supported is also a great approach because it gives him choice regarding what kind of support he would like from you, and even if he is feeling unsure, it communicates that you are listening to him and respecting his choices. He might want to talk to you about how he is feeling, or he might be more comfortable discussing these things with peers.
If you’re noticing that you’re spending a lot of time worrying about this, it is also important to think about how you might look after yourself (this will put you in the best position emotionally to be able to continue supporting your son). These positive coping strategies are written as skills to teach your child, but actually are really useful for anyone (including parents) when they are feeling overwhelmed.
Lastly, I also wanted to mention that if it would be helpful for you or your son to have some phone-based support, QLife provides anonymous peer support for LGBTI people and their friends and families.
Linda is a psychologist experienced in working with people across the lifespan, including teenagers and their families, in a variety of settings, and is ReachOut's Clinical Lead.