Your 9-year-old thinks she is gay. You’re neither upset nor convinced. How to proceed?
First, I’d stress your unconditional acceptance, that you love her and will support her regardless of her sexual orientation. Then you have to decide if this is a question that needs to be answered today. Is she matter-of-fact about it? Then maybe you can let it ride. Is she nervous or anxious or confused about it? Then it may be time to find a therapist who specializes in sexual identity issues.
– Phil Vettel
I would tell her that I appreciate her sharing this with me and ask her if she has any questions. I would try to assess if she actually understands what she is saying. I would tell her how much she is loved, and I would talk with her about how wonderful and interesting the world is because there are so many kinds of people with so many unique and individual interests. I would try to find a therapist for her to talk with to help sort out what actually is going on, to help deal with any confusion and to help adolescence go as smoothly as possible.
– Dodie Hofstetter
“A lot more parents are going to hear this as we see more openly gay couples in our culture and kids meet more families with gay parents,” said psychologist Anne Dohrenwend, author of “Coming Around: Parenting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Kids” (New Horizon Press). “It should be taken as a completely natural question.”
It’s possible a 9-year-old girl is simply feeling uncomfortable around boys and experiencing genuine affection toward her girlfriends and concluding, “I’m gay.” Especially if she knows neighbors, family friends or relatives who are gay, Dohrenwend said.
She may or may not be.
“Kids her age are just starting to ask those identity questions: Who am I?” Dohrenwend said. “Some people who turn out to be gay say they knew that young. Other people don’t know their sexuality until much, much later – gay or straight.”
Keep the conversation positive, and ask your daughter lots of questions in an interested, friendly tone.
“What do you think it means to be gay?” she suggested. “What feelings are you having? Let’s keep talking about all of your feelings.”
For a 9-year-old, you can focus the discussion on what makes a healthy couple and a healthy relationship, and keep sex and sexuality largely out of it, Dohrenwend said.
“Talk about what makes a good relationship and how people should treat each other when they’re a couple,” she said. “Ask if she has any questions about the couples she knows.
“I wouldn’t overanswer the questions,” she added. “That’s like the kid who asks where babies come from, and the parents go into a conversation about intercourse when the kid just wanted to know they come from a mommy’s tummy. The worst thing you can do is oversexualize the conversation.”
Have a solution? Your teen just declared himself atheist. You want him to celebrate the holidays. Help! Find “The Parent Hood” page on Facebook, where you can post your parenting questions and solutions.