Tips for Discussion
Don’t wait for your child to bring up the subject seek out "talk opportunities." Although parents may agree that talking about sexual orientation with their kids is important, many don’t want to start with young children. But if you begin to talk with your child from an early age - with age-appropriate language - you’ll teach your child tolerance and respect.
When considering a discussion with younger children, remember that you don’t need to talk about sex when you talk about sexual orientation. Only part of being gay or lesbian is about a sexual relationship. It’s more important that children understand that an intimate, loving relationship is sometimes shared between two men or two women in the same way men and women who are heterosexual care for one another.
You can use "talk opportunities," like TV shows, experiences in your own life, or experiences in your child’s life to start a discussion. Teens tend to tune out more formal discussions anyway, often categorizing them as just another lecture from mom or dad. Keep an ear out for these "talk opportunities."
Listen. Listening carefully will help you to understand what your child really wants to know as well as what he or she already understands. It will keep you from talking above their heads and confusing them even further.
Talk about it again. Most young kids can only absorb small bits of information at a time. Let some time pass then ask your child to tell you what he or she remembers about your conversation. This will help you correct any misconceptions or fill in missing facts.
Relax. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers. You can always do a bit of research later (see the Resources section). What is important is how you respond. If you can convey the message that no subject - including sexual orientation - is forbidden in your home, you’ll do just fine.
"What I’ve always told my kids is that some people choose to be together in a long-term relationship just like their mom and I chose to be together. I discuss it in the context of a relationship not sexuality. I give an answer that’s appropriate for an eleven year-old. I think you need to keep it simple and short. Keep it in a realm that a child can handle. The important thing is just to have a relationship that’s open with your child and to be able to discuss anything."
father of two,
Last Updated 11/16/06