Hi there, this is Devon Mills from Thrive Counseling in Atlanta, Georgia (https://www.thrivecounselingatlanta.com/). First we want to say thank you for posing your question to us today. I know it takes a lot of courage to talk about these really hard issues that happen within our families. There are few things that really stress a family system as much as a member of the family, particularly It's one of our children, having
questions regarding their sexual identity.
The first thing that I would encourage you to remember is your 16-year-old told you this about his sexual identity is the same 16-year-old that you've known since the day he was born. He hasn't changed. He is the same child that you have loved, that you have nurtured, that you have cared for. This is just more information that you didn't know. And, it's distressing information. But above all do keep in mind, he's the same child that you loved before you found out this information and I always encourage parents that, even in the shock of it all, do try to remember to express to your child "Hey, I didn't see this coming, but I want you to know I love you and that we're going to make this, we're going to make it through this."
Secondly, I would try to take some time and really get my own emotions under control. Grieve, cry, feel what you need to feel, express what you need to express with someone that you trust, that is a peer to you, a family member, a spouse. Whomever it is in your world that you feel like you can turn to. Get your emotions out so that when you circle back to your son, you can really be in a stable and steady place and then where I would say to start with is curiosity. How do you become curious about understanding where he's at in all of this. Questions like, can you tell me more about this? When did you first start feeling this way? When did you first start recognizing that you felt that you were gay? When did you first start thinking that you were gay? When you say that you're gay, what what does that mean to you? And really get a good handle
on what it means? What is he actually talking about when he says this? One thing that we have really figured out through the research and through working with people is spending a lot of time on the how someone got there or why someone identifies as gay is not necessarily time well spent for anyone. It's more of a okay, this is the place they find themselves. This is this is what you're telling me. What are we going to do as a family system? What are we going to do is a family unit to work with this information that you've told us? So again, begin with curiosity, try not to get bogged down in the why or the how.
We really do have a lot of research that tells us that who someone is attracted to is a pretty fixed trait within that person. It doesn't mean they have to necessarily make choices to act on those attractions, but it does, there's strong indication that there's there's not going to be a moving of the needle most likely to moving from I'm attracted to someone of the same gender to suddenly I'm over here and I'm attracted to someone of the opposite gender. I've worked with numerous people that choose to live a heteronormative life, regardless of their attractions. That comes from more of a personal values-based space then it does a biological and attractions based space.
And, so I know this is a short time and a lot of information but again, the key things is realize there's probably not anything that's going to move the needle on changing who your son is attracted to.
Second, he, he's the same kid you've always loved. Keep loving him.
Third, find someone you can trust your emotions with, process through how you feel.
Fourth, really enter into some good hard conversations with curiosity and figure out what you can do moving forward as a family. Hope this helps point you in a direction. Blessings as you move forward as a family.