“A few of the parents of my daughter’s friends have expressed their discomfort with my daughter being gay—going so far as to restrict their children from coming over to our house. How do I not take offense to this and keep my daughter healthy and happy?”
Question Submitted Anonymously
Answered by Kirsten & Lucy
Short answer? You can’t. Having your daughter cut off from spending time with her friends because of her sexuality IS hurtful and offensive, and my gut response to this question was to tell you to screw ’em. Who needs friends like that? But that’s not super helpful, and this isn’t about YOUR friends—it’s about your daughter’s. So I’m having to dig a little deeper and think this through. It’s hard to face the truth that there are people in the world who will decide that your daughter’s sexuality is her defining quality and will make decisions about her based on that factor alone. While change around LGBT equality has come incredibly quickly, lots of people just haven’t caught up. Hopefully, one day they will. But for now, there are people who are uncomfortable with LGBT people. And some of those people are unfortunately the parents of your daughter’s friends.
Before you march over to their house to give them a piece of your mind, I’d encourage you to have a frank conversation with your daughter about how to navigate this interaction. Does she want to just let it go and continue to see her friends on neutral territory? Does she want your help in having a conversation with her friends? Does she want you to talk to her friends’ parents on her behalf? I’d really let your daughter help guide the future interactions with both her friends and their parents and let her take the lead on what she’s comfortable with. I sometimes think that as the parents of LGBT kids, we feel an obligation to confront intolerance and ignorance head on wherever we see it—but that’s not always a war we can win. In this case, making sure your daughter knows that you have her back and want to keep her safe and comfortable is paramount. Maybe someday her friends’ parents will come around, and maybe they won’t—but your daughter knows she can depend on your support.
I have to agree with my mom on this, specifically her advice to talk to your kid first before having a conversation with friends or parents.I would start by asking your daughter how she feels, and be sure that she knows that you are just as offended and bummed as she is, and that you are trying to figure out how to help. Ask her about the situation. How do her friends seem to be reacting to the situation? Are her friends also isolating her or are they embarrassed by their parents’ reaction? Have they said anything to their parents about how they feel? Have an honest conversation about how both of you feel about the situation.
It’s a hard situation for the friends, too, because maybe they fully realize that their parents are being awful, but they have to live with them. Encourage your daughter not to take her frustration out on them and respect the difficult position they’re in. Picking a fight with her friends over this will force them to choose sides, and that won’t make their friendship stronger. The parents are being bullies, and that’s not OK. Excluding someone because they’re different in some way is classic bullying, and maybe another adult needs to point that out to them—and that’s where you can be helpful, if your daughter is OK with that.
Remind your daughter that she can still be friends with these kids at school. At least your daughter’s friends will know that they have a cool, supportive friend who just happens to be gay, and that’s something that they will take with them when they become adults. That’s how the world gets better for everyone.
I’m Kirsten. I’ve been married to Richard for 20 years (!) and in addition to Lucy, we have 2 dogs and 4 ¾ cats (one of them only has 3 legs!). I work full-time at a non-profit social services agency. I’m basically addicted to Instagram and I love to read, bake, and make art. I’m dying to get a new tattoo. Suggestions? Find me on Instagram or Twitter @kjerstieb.
I’m Lucy, I’m 15, I’m queer, and I have a real passion for making sure that dogs know they are loved. I post stuff on instagram @yung_olson
Photo by Neal Santos
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