“My husband and I lost a few of our close friends when our daughter came out as gay. It upsets me, but it seems to upset my daughter even more. She feels extremely guilty. How do I get her to understand that it isn’t her fault?”
Question submitted Anonymously
Answered by Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo, co-founders of My Kid Is Gay
Kristin & Dannielle Say:
In a perfect world, you’d be able to say to your daughter, “Who needs them, this isn’t your fault, let’s go get some ice cream,” and everything would be solved. However, we all know that feeling responsible for someone else’s hurt feelings is complicated, and though ice cream may temporarily distract (it is a powerful tool, after all)… the feelings that both you and your daughter are facing right now are strong little buggers that just love to come back to visit as soon as they get the chance.
The best thing that you can do in this situation is remain honest about your own feelings, allow your daughter room to speak about hers, and give both yourself and your daughter the time needed to truly heal. It is okay that you are feeling hurt by the actions of people you considered friends — if you try to mask or hide that reality from your daughter, she will likely just feel worse. Talk through your feelings of hurt, and explain that this is a fundamental difference between you and those people who’ve left your friendship. That difference already existed before your daughter came out, and, in a sense, it is better for you (and her!) that you know about these differences. This isn’t just about you having a gay daughter — this is about you supporting family and differences in sexuality or gender identity. People who abandon you completely on those issues have a lack of compassion and an inability to be kind and open-minded. Those are core requirements for long-lasting friendship, period.
Tell your daughter these things. Explain the reasons why you aren’t friends with these people anymore. It isn’t just because she came out, it is because they aren’t behaving as true friends.
Here’s an example of a conversation you might have with your daughter (oh, and for the purposes of clarity/fun, we’ve decided your daughter’s name is Beyonce):
*ex-friend person comes up in conversation*
*Beyonce looks sad*
You: Hey, you know it’s not your fault that we’re not friends with them, right?
Beyonce: Eh. It kind of is, they only don’t like us because I’m gay.
You: First of all, if it was that simple, eff them anyway. Second of all, it isn’t that simple. Any person who would treat someone differently because of who they love is NOT a person I want in my life.
Beyonce: But it still sucks you’re losing friends because of MY life?
You: I understand why you feel that way, but I consider it to be a blessing. I want to have friends who will always support me and my family. This is something that would have eventually surfaced. My feelings are hurt, too, but I can promise you that I’d rather have a happy daughter and a full heart than a judgmental friend. You are the only thing that matters to me.
Beyonce: THANKS MOM *HUG*
Now, yes, we know that it won’t go down EXACTLY like this, but those words are very important for your daughter to hear… even if they don’t end in a warm hug with soft music playing in the background. This is where time to heal comes into play. She needs to know that (1) this is not her fault, (2) It would have happened anyway, and (3) your (ex)friend wasn’t the kind of person you would have hoped they would be / isn’t the kind of person you want mucking up your life with all that negative energy.
Remind her of this whenever you want or need to, let her hurt, and let yourself hurt (both for the loss of your friends and for the pain of your daughter). At the end of the day, she has parents who love her fiercely, and when she faces other hurdles she will look back on this experience to know that you persevered together as a family. She will know to surround herself with those who love and support her for who she is — this is the first glimpse she is getting into what those people look and act like.
Thanks for being a wonderful mom.
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