When you are going through a divorce and you have children, they should be your main priority. One of the biggest things that can throw a rock in a marriage and turn a child’s world upside down is when one of their parents is gay. While you might think that this is something that could affect your child in a negative way, you should understand that children are resilient, especially when parents take the time to talk with them about issues.
Coming Out to Your Children
There are actually three different waves of coming out that need to happen if you have children. The original step in this process is to come out to those whom you are closest to. The second step is for the spouse to begin to understand and deal with this. This can cause a great amount of pain for them so it can be a lengthy process and one where the spouse needs to take some time. Once the spouse has had the time that they need to cope, it is going to be time to talk to the children. You need these other things to happen first so that there is time to process and determine how you are going to tell your children.
Explaining your sexual orientation to your children is one of the most complicated things for a family to deal with. One of the reasons is that each phase has to happen and has to be dealt with on a different time line. As each family is dealing with things, they also have a completely different set of perspectives.
Talking to Children Under 6
There are many things that are different with how young children comprehend this situation. They are simply not capable of understanding the sexuality part. There are simple phrases that you can use like explaining that daddy now loves Bob or mommy now loves Sue, rather than mommy and daddy loving each other that way. You have to make sure that children understand that you both still love them and that they are in no way to blame for things. You have to explain that some families have a mommy and daddy, some families have two mommies or two daddies, some children are raised by grandparents, and yet others are in foster families or adoptive families. Make sure that you tell your children about different home types so that they understand that they are not alone and that this is just a new type of normal.
Talking with Older Children
As children get older, they are able to understand sexuality more. This means that the parent can briefly explain to the child that they no longer feel the same way that they once did. The parent does need to reassure the child that marrying their parent was not a mistake. They also need to make the child feel wanted and make sure that they know that they were not a mistake. Parents need to remember to be honest with questions that their children have. It is important that they try to help their children understand their sexuality and why they have felt a change.
What Effect Will Coming Out Have on My Children?
Coming out to your children is going to have some effect on them. Children are going to be effected when their parents get divorced. They will have even more to deal with as they understand that the divorce was in part because one of their parents is gay. This is something that will be especially hard on children in junior high as this is the time when homosexuality is hardest on children. Thankfully, today the topic of homosexuality is more mainstream and something that is more easily accepted. This means that children today have a much easier time then children would have in the past. That does not mean that there are not times when other kids might be cruel or mean to them.
By being able to take time to understand your own feelings and emotions before talking to your kids, you are going to be more likely to have a supportive conversation that they can understand. You want to remain honest while talking with them and make sure that you offer support to them if they are struggling. It might also be necessary to hire someone for your children to talk to so that you can ensure that they are dealing with their emotions in a healthy way.