Have you ever wondered if your child is gay based on certain behaviours or preferences they show?
The truth is, you simply cannot make an assumption about a person's sexuality based on how they dress, what they look like, what they choose to wear (or not), or their interests. This is perhaps the fundamental mistake many people make that leads to all kind of stereotyping in society - including those related to sex and gender.
And just because a girl prefers cars over dolls, and a boy likes wearing pink shouldn't mean anything except that those are simply what they like.
However, as your child, there is also no one in this world who knows them better than you. If you do suspect he or she is gay, and you want to know more, but are not quite sure about how to go about this, here are 8 things you should NOT do, as a sensitive, caring parent.
1. Tell them not to 'act' gay
No child should be made to feel bad by their parents about their innate behaviour, when they have no control over it.
2. Think of them or treat them differently
Just because you suspect your child might be gay doesn't mean you should think of them or treat them differently. Regardless of their sexuality, they are still your child.
If you have a hunch your child might be gay, keep being there for them as you always have been. Don't suddenly reject them or assume things. Just be there for them like you always have been.
3. Push them into being attracted to the opposite sex
Sexual orientation is genetically determined and not something your child can change at a whim or command. Trying to convince them that they should be attracted to the opposite sex is a waste of time. They might do it to please you - and end up miserable. And no parent wants to see their child unhappy, right?
4. Keep them away from other kids of the same gender
Even if your child is gay, it doesn't mean they are going to suddenly make inappropriate advances on their friends of the same gender. Gay or straight, the law of attraction works in the same way. And gay or straight, a child needs friends of both genders in order to grow up as a well-rounded adult.
5. Get them the help of a counselor
Sexual orientation cannot be prayed or counselled away. And that's all there is to it. Unless your child opens up to you and asks for your help to talk to a counsellor, do not push them to do this.
6. Behave like it's the end of the world
Because it's not, even if he or she is gay.
There's no need for any drama. If you suspect your child is gay and bring on the theatrics, it's likely you're just going to push your child further and further away from you. What you want to do is to show your child that you are their safe space. They should be able to have a meltdown in your presence if needed, and not vice-versa.
7. Tell others
If you suspect your child might be gay, there's really no need to share your thoughts with others at this point. Keep your thoughts to yourself at this stage, and wait for your child to come to you.
8. Ask them if they are gay
The process of coming out needs to be handled with sensitivity by parents and your child will tell you if they are gay, provided they are comfortable enough to do so, and know that you will not judge them. Plus, it's just going to be terribly embarrassing for your child if you question them and they are not gay.
Parents, do keep in mind that regardless of your child's sexuality, they are still your baby - now and forever - and nothing will ever change this.